From top left, standing: Eiland Vilepill, Valdeko Raig, Hans Hiiet, Ilmar Kiiss’s daughter (who accepted her father’s medal on his behalf); sitting: Lembit Kaselaan, Boris Ugandu. April 27, 2016. Photo by Embassy of Finland, Tallinn
ERR News – Finland celebrated its National Veterans Day on April 27th, and the Embassy of Finland in Tallinn marked the occasion this year by honoring the Estonian citizens, known informally as the Finnish Boys (“soomepoisid” in Estonian, “Suomenpojat” in Finnish), who chose to fight the Red Army in Finnish uniforms rather than in German ones during World War II.
29 men were awarded medals of the Knight, First Class, of the Order of the White Rose of Finland, of whom five were present at the reception at the Embassy of Finland in Tallinn on April 27th — Lembit Kaselaan, Boris Ugandu, Eiland Vilepill, Valdeko Raig, and Hans Hiiet. Ilmar Kiiss’s medal was accepted on his behalf by his daughter.
A total of 15 Finnish Boys took part in the event.
The first Estonian volunteers had crossed the Gulf of Finland to join the fight against the Soviet Union in the Continuation War in Finland in 1943. On February 8 of the following year, Finnish Field Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim ordered the formation of the Estonian volunteer regiment Infantry Regiment 200, which by May 4 consisted of 1,973 Estonians and 361 Finns, including 67 officers and 165 non-commissioned officers, and which was sent to the front to take part in defensive battles in the summer of 1944.
In remembrance of the approximately 2,000 Finnish volunteers, called the Sons of the North (Põhja pojad in Estonian, Pohjan pojat in Finnish), who fought under the command of Estonian Hans Kalm in the Estonian War of Independence, the Finnish Boys chose “For the freedom of Finland and the honor of Estonia” as their regiment’s motto.
The Infantry Regiment 200 was officially disbanded in August 1944, after which the majority of its Estonian volunteers chose to return home, and ended up continuing to fight the Red Army in South Estonia.
The 29 Estonian volunteers who were awarded medals of the Knight, First Class, of the Order of the White Rose of Finland were: Hans Hiiet, Hubert-Heiki Jõe, Ain Kaalep, Hans Karro, Lembit Kaselaan, Ilmar Kiiss, Arved Kraas, Harald Kruusma, Koit Loss, Karl Mutso, Arved Mändla, Elmar Pajus, Richard Part, Otto Peters, Leo Poman, Valdeko Raig, Uno Rebane, Evald Ruuda, Uno Saar, Endel Sakson, Endel Suuresaar, Erich Teus, Endel Tonka, Boris Ugandu, Madis Vaarma, Rein Valmet, Eiland Vilepill, Lembit Vink, and Evald Wiiburg.