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  #1  
Old 10th August 2005, 03:30
MikeFox MikeFox is offline
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Thumbs up Finnish pilot Lauri Pekuri-POW adventure

Hello,

Finnish fighter pilot Lauri Pekuri was shot down in 1942 while at the controls of a Brewster fighter marked with the tactical code of BW-372. This fighter was located and restored in 1998 and I believe is possibly for sale. Again, Pekuri was shot down in the summer of '44. He was on the run for 5 days and travelled 60km in enemy territory before he was finally captured. Supposedly while in captivity he was betrayed by a fellow Finnish pilot (Trontii, I believe, who supposedly agreed to be a Soviet agent). Can anyone elaborate on Pekuri's five day trek prior to his being captured, his time as a POW and any additional info on Tronti?

Thanks,
Mike
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Old 10th August 2005, 09:19
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Re: Finnish pilot Lauri Pekuri-POW adventure

Hello Mike

BW-372 is now in Pensacola and IIRC it will be shown there in some time future and will be restored only to the condition it was when recovered from the lake. Tronti indeed agreed to spy for Soviets but when he was sent back to Finland he told this to Finnish officials and was posted away from frontline duties. That was not the first time when Axis soldiers used this trick to get back to their own forces. I have no knowledge on the possible betrayal of Pekuri by him.

On Pekuri's ordeals IIRC he wrote on them after the war but I recall only that he lost much weight during his time as PoW and spent much time in interrogation centre.
IIRC Tronti was ex-Fiat G.50 ace (7 kills) and was on his first Bf 109 sortie when he possible collied with Soviet ace Serov(28 kills) during an air combat. The Soviet ace was killed in the crash and Tronti wasn't the most popular with his captors, I quess. So his position wasn't very enviable.
He died in 1966.


Not much I admit

Juha

Last edited by Juha; 10th August 2005 at 16:58.
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Old 10th August 2005, 15:54
MikeFox MikeFox is offline
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Re: Finnish pilot Lauri Pekuri-POW adventure

Thank you Juha,

So BW-372 is in Florida....I'll have to keep my eyes open to see when it goes on display...it would be worth the trip to go see the aircraft.

Reference the Pekuri/Trontii situation all I know is this:

Trontti was downed on 26 June 1944 while fighting La-5s from 159IAP, I believe. The Soviet ace Serov (39 kills) was either shot down by Katajainen (who claimed 1 La-5 in this engagement) or Serov rammed Trontti's Me. Ultimately, Serov died in the encounter and was awarded the HSU.

I read on the internet Trontti and Pekuri were kept at the same POW camp for awhile and Trontti, under interrogation, told the Soviets who Pekuri was. Then he was sent back to Finland to act as a spy which he never did. All I know about Pekuri was that after he was shot down he managed to evade capture for 5 days during which time he had many close calls. What those close calls were and how he evaded capture for almost a week is what I am interested in finding out.

Thanks for responding,
Mike
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Old 10th August 2005, 16:54
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Re: Finnish pilot Lauri Pekuri-POW adventure

Hello Mike
Yes, Trontti was downed on 26.6.44 and Serov got Taran from that. Now Trontti wasn't allowed any credit from Serov's death by the FAF, so FAF probably allocated Serov to Katajainen but Soviet view seemed to be different.

And then corrections. Trontti had 7 kills, but he was a pilot in LeLv/HLeLv 26, so he was Fiat G.50 pilot not Hawk 75 pilot. Got 6 of his kills with G.50 and one with Brewster 239 on 17.6.44 and he was posted to HLeLv 34 on 25.6.44, so he indeed was in all probability on his first Bf 109 sortie when he was downed.
After the war he was a white collar worker in one office and died in 1966! at age of 45. So my memory made a trick once more.

Juha

Ps I checked the Katajainen's combat report on 26.6. He told that he "open fire on a La-5 while turning and then climbed because there were 2 a/c behind me. Lt Saarinen saw that the La-5 I have fired on crashed into Lake Lyykylä..." and as the witness Lt Saarinen wrote "Immediately after we met La-5 Schwarm I saw one plane falling into the Lake Lyykylä"

LATER ADDITION:

according to the info I have Serov crashed at/near village Vammelsuu(nowadays Serovo?) and the Lake Lyykylä is rather far away from that. It is near Tali. I don't have time of Serov's crash but the location (if correct) is IMHO too far away from the place of the victory allocated to Katajainen. Trontti went missing during air combat over Karelia Isthmus (rather vague info) time, probably take-off time, given 11.00. So if Serov was connected with Trontti's disappearance and times are correct then IMHO it is impossible that Katajainen's victim was Serov. I don't know who is connected the Katajainen's claim to Serov's demise. Most if not all Finnish claims on 26.6. seemed to concentrate Viipuri (Vyborg) - Tali area. Lt. Suhonen from HLe.Lv. 24 claimed a La-5 over Tammisuo (between Viipuri and Tali) during his 10.55 - 12.20 sortie and Ylik. Vahvelainen a Mustang (read Yak-9) over Tali on same mission.

It would be interesting research Trontti's downing more thorougly, but I ran out of time.
Juha

Last edited by Juha; 11th August 2005 at 08:37.
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Old 11th August 2005, 08:40
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I made a rather substantial addition to my last message

but in the hurry left out Katajainen's sortie flight time which was 13.05 - 14.20. And Katainen and Trontti belonged to different squadrons, the former to HLe.Lv. 24 and the latter to HLe.Lv. 34.

Juha

Last edited by Juha; 11th August 2005 at 22:56.
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Old 13th August 2005, 09:40
Kari Lumppio Kari Lumppio is offline
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Re: Finnish pilot Lauri Pekuri-POW adventure

Hello!


Pekuri wrote memories of his PoW time: Spalernajan sotavanki (Prisoner or War of Spalernaya). Book was published in 1999, ISBN 951-0-19062-4. In the foreword Pekuri told the book was written because of the nightmares of prisoner time kept haunting him during nights. Writing it down helped him to get rid of them.

I loaned the book years ago from library and can only rely on my memory regarding it. Don't ritemember anything extraordidary of his evading time after being shot down summer 1944. Interrogations seem to gone more or less with normal routine (including fake executions, though). I don't remember getting the feeling that Pekuri was betrayed by Trontti. Trontti just told openly to his interrogators what he knew about Finnish military. Post war this leak of information has sometimes been put (erroneusly) on Pekuri's shoulders. Understandably he was bitter of this. Actually the book corrected also my view on this issue!

Pekuri was kept isolated from other Finns during most of his early capture. Possibly to guard Trontti who was sent back to Finland to spy. During the early period he got severe diarrhea (IIRC), Russian cell mate advised him to eat coal from oven and not to eat anything. Pekuri got over the disease thanks to this. As an officer he also got cigarettes which he shared with his Russian cell mates. BTW if I remember correctly Pekuri's father had been prisoned in the same prison (Spalernaja) during Czar's time.

Later Pekuri was sent to normal prisoner camp and met also other Finns. Like majority of the Finnish PoW, Pekuri was repatriated quite early (already Dec 1944?).

Pekuri was likely shot down by an Il-2 he passed by (703/448 ShAP). But I would be very interested to hear what was the Soviet fighter unit providing cover for the Il-2 unit(s). A Soviet-era book of Estonian pilots in Soviet service has a short chapter of battle where eskadrille lead by "Estonian" Karl Kerro participated. (I put in the quotation marks because the man likely never set his feet on Estonian soil and judged from his career was active communist from young age). The description of the battle fits best with the battle where Pekuri was shot down. If this is the real match, then the covering fighter unit was detached regiment 283 OIAP. At the time the unit was subordinated directly to 13 VA (or actually army III Leningrad Artillery Corps). I would like much to hear from our Russian colleagues if it is possible to match this battle - date was June 16th, 1944 around 19.20 o'clock (20.20 Moscow time).


Regards,
Kari


PS Of the Trontti shoot down. Papers of the Bf 109 he was flying (MT-434) don't have anything about the cause/battle details. Trontti dissappeared during fight and was assumed to having been shot down. The flight might have been his first mission with Messerschmitt as he was transferred to the unit (at least officially) the day before being shot down. Don't remember if I have looked unit diary. The best would be if some Finnish interrogation document could be found of him. Otherwise we have only Soviet/Russian material.
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Old 13th August 2005, 14:11
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Re: Finnish pilot Lauri Pekuri-POW adventure

Hello Kari

Yes, it would be interesting to see Trontti’s interrogation papers. According to the Report on Activities 1.6.1944 – 31.8.44 of HLe.Lv. 34 Trontti went missing during an interception sortie to Juustila, which is some 85 km NW from Vammelsuu. Geust et al Red Stars in the Sky 3 gives the place of Serov’s taran as Terijoki (Zelenogorsk) and the crash location of Serov as Vammelsuu (Serovo), which is some km W of Terijoki. The fist claims of HLe.Lv. 34 on 26.6.44 were during 12.55 – 14.10/14.15 mission, which according to Juutilainen’s combat report was an escort mission.



Juha
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Old 15th August 2005, 18:58
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Re: Finnish pilot Lauri Pekuri-POW adventure

Hello

I checked the war diary of 3./HLe.Lv. 34

according to it Trontti took off to an interception mission to Tali-Lyykylä with 3 other Bf 109s at 10.50 on 26.6.44. Vääpeli (third highest NCO rank in Finnish Armed Forces) Paronen claimed a Yak-9 during the sortie and Trontti didn’t return. The others returned at 12.00. That’s all what is written in the war diary.

It is of course possible that for example Trontti had chased alone some Soviet a/c as far as to Terijoki and met Serov and co there. That would have been a foolhardy thing to do but some Finnish fighter pilots were rather foolhardy. I don’t know if Trontti was one of those risk takers or not.
I checked the victory list in Keskinen et al LeR 3 book against a list in Finnish War Archives (Luettelo Lentojoukkojen alasampumista viholliskoneista) which only gave info on victories at the level of squadrons and it seems that the Paronen’s forenoon victory wasn’t allocated to him but was put to regiment’s account. This happened in 1944 usually when there wasn't a witness to a claim.



Juha

Last edited by Juha; 15th August 2005 at 19:41.
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Old 20th August 2005, 13:10
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Re: Finnish pilot Lauri Pekuri-POW adventure

Hello

This is from Jaakko Hyvönen’s Kohtalokkat lennot (Fatal flights) 1939-1944 Apali 2001.

On Pekuri. Shot down on 16.6.44. Pekuri parachuted from his flaming Bf 109 G-6 MT-420 which crashed c. 1 km North of Jäppilä a/f (near Uusikirkko). Pekuri began his trek to northward towards own lines. On 25.6. he had got near Viipuri (Vyborg) and went to a side building of an empty house for some sleep hiding himself under hay. While asleep he was found by Soviet soldiers.

He was returned to Finland 22.11.44

On Trontti. Trontti got into air combat over enemy area (place given is only Carelia Isthmus, which very vague but according to 3./HLe.Lv. 34 war diary weather was rather poor 10/10 cloud and raining) . His a/c Bf 109G-6 MT-434 got hits and Trontti jumped. He was caught very soon afterwards and was transported to a field hospital near Terijoki. There he met among others WO Kleemola, whose Do 17Z DN-63 was shot down 30.6. near Lake Kärstilä (near Tali )

During interrogations Trontti accepted the offer to spy for Soviet Union for the return to Finland and so he reported to his superiors on July 10 and was transferred to rear and to an another branch of military service because of his situation.



Juha
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