Ellilä’s family participates in Finland’s independence struggles

The article first defines concepts related to wartime and then scratches the intersections between the Ellilä family and Finland’s struggle for independence.

Finnish Jaeger Movement

The Jaeger Movement was an initiative launched in the late 1914s among Finnish male students to acquire military training with the goal of separating Finland from Russia armed. Within this framework, questionnaires were sent to both Sweden and Germany to start military training. On February 2, 1915, Germany promised to train Pfadfinders for the Finnish army. On February 25, 1915, 55 Finnish men began training in Germany, and soon the number was increased to 200 men. In all, less than 2,000 men were trained as icebreakers in Germany.
Below the map is a map of Finland’s stage routes. The map shows an indication of the municipality of Simo, to the south of which, more than 10 kilometers away, was the Veska stage house, from which more will be found later.
Below right is a picture of a typical iceberg in the mid-1910s.


A Jaeger refers to a lightly armed and in some way specially equipped mobile infantry soldier who usually carries out reconnaissance and attacks in difficult terrain.

Lotta Svärd organization

Lotta Svärd was, for women, a volunteer-based national defense support organization that officially operated from 1920 to 1944. Women’s national defense activities were in progress on a small scale even before the establishment of protection municipalities in the 1910s. The creation of rules and forms of association began in late 1918.

The association got its name from a poem called Lotta Svärd, which was included in a book called The Stories of Lieutenant Stool written by J L Runeberg.

The Skirmish in Simo

The skirmish in Simo took place between the men of the Jaeger Movement, coming from Germany, and the Finnish and Russian authorities when the Jaegers were housed in a meadow sauna at Maaninkajärvi’s Ylioja in Simo on December 11, 1916.
There was a siege and firefight between the Jaegers and the authorities for about four hours, after which the Jaegers fled.

Most of the men in the Jaeger movement who took part in the skirmish were militiamen seconded from Germany. Their purpose was e.g. to contact the leaders of the Social Democrats in Finland and recruit new men to the Jaeger battalion.

In the skirmish, one died and three Jaegers were wounded. Two soldiers were captured. Two of the detainees were wounded. Armas Lyytikäinen, who died in the skirmish, was a Jaeger recruiter, only on his way to Germany for training.

The skirmish in Simo skirmish was the first battle on Finnish soil between Finns and Russians after the Finnish War. On this basis, it has even been considered the beginning of Finland’s armed struggle for independence.

The picture below shows a Jaeger cabin instead of a meadow sauna.

Veska Jaeger Tap House on the Kuivajoki river

Within the Finnish Jaeger Movement, 1915 was a busy time in the search for stage routes, support places and their trusted caregivers. One of the bases for the western leg route was Veska’s crown crest along the Kuivajoki River in Kuivaniemi and it was hosted by Fiia Sanaksenaho. In her memory, a memorial statue called “Kuivaniemi First Lotta” has been erected along the Oijärvi roads in Veska. She was arrested by the gendarmes and the police in the late autumn of 1916 and taken to Oulu Prison. She and her son-in-law were liberated during the Russian Red Revolution in the spring of 1917.

These events are rooted in the play “The First Lotta of Kuivaniemi” written by Erkki Paaso which was dramatized and directed by Seija Aho in the late 1990s. The play was performed for the first time in the summer of 1999 in connection with the 9th term meeting of Ellilä Sukuseura r.y and for the last time in the yard of the Veska Jaeger Tap House in 2002 in connection with the Jaeger trip of the national homeland days.
The content of the play is related to the events of Finland’s independence aspirations and the name of the play to the later Lotta Svärd organization.

The picture is from Heikki Paaso’s archive: Picture of a Jaeger Festival around 1985.
The flag of the gate reads: When the heads of the rest of the nation sank. We Jaegers still believed.

Heroes of the Ellilä Family during operations on Jaeger Movement

It is impossible to present all the Jaeger age heroes of the Ellilä family in this context, but there is not enough time or space for them.
Below are two heroes of the Ellilä family, some information about which has been preserved.

Viktor Walfrid Ellilä, b. 29.7.1897, d. 10.4.1974

Tornio militiamen and secret mail drivers. From left Walfrid Ellilä, Arvi Aikomus, Vilho Jääskeläinen.

At a very young age, Walfrid Ellilä was involved in the activities of brave patriot activists (Tornio stage).

He was involved in the War of Independence, once served in the Conservative Association (regional commander) and participated in the defense duties of the last wars, being a captain of military rank (1942).

Iivari Johannes Ellilä,
b. 1.12.1892, d. 10.4.1918

Pekka Ellilä’s grandfather’s younger brother Iivari Ellilä.

Graduated from Oulu Lyceum in 1913.
He immediately got to study at Alexander University in Helsinki.

He did not come to Kuivaniemi for the Christmas holiday of 1914. He had traveled via Tornio to Germany, being among the first 200 trainees at the end of February.

Promoted to captain in Libya,
returned to Vaasa on February 25, 1918 with the main group of Jaegers.

Passed away on April 18, 1918 in Vesilahti and is buried next to Kuivaniemi Church.

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