Who is Corporal Frisk?
Johan Danielsson Jubbila was born in Kokkola, Finland, in 1694. Sometime around 1720 (most probably in 1721) he married Carin Eriksdotter Lööf, the daughter of an old couple from the bourgeoisie in the nearby city of Nykarleby. After this, the newlyweds moved back to the Jubbila homestead, where Johan was noted as the master in 1724. They then lived a long life together, with Johan dying sometime around 1787 and his widow a few years later. 1721 he is noted as serving as a corporal, using Frisk as his last name during his service.
The details of his service are unconfirmed, but trough the general history of the Swedish Army units of Finland an educated guess can be made. Most probably he joined Kalajoki Kompani of Österbottens Regemente (the company from Kalajoki of the regiment of Ostrobothina) when it was reformed in 1710. The Great Northern War was by then going poorly for Sweden, and the original regiment had been wiped out in the years before. One battalion was stationed in Riga when it fell that same year, and the other battalion was lost in the surrender at Perevolochna that followed on the Battle of Poltava the year before that.
In 1710, Johan would have been sixteen, and as such probably eligible for drafting, at least as Finland was getting short on manpower after several long years of war. In 1714 the regiment took part in the Battle of Storkyro (fi. Napuen taistelu), where it formed the centre of the Swedish battle line, being the strongest of the seven infantry regiments of Armfelt’s force. The battle ended in a decisive Russian victory, and after suffering a large number of casualties the remnants of the Swedish army had to retreat to Sweden, leaving Finland to be occupied by Russian forces until the end of the war in what is known as “The Great Wrath” (fi. Isoviha, swe. Stora ofreden). In 1718 the regiment joined the rest of the Finnish regiments as well as a few Swedish regiments (Hälsinge and Jämtland) as part of Armfelt’s corps that marched into Northern Norway to try to capture Trondheim. The main Swedish army operated in southern Norway, where it failed to capture Fredriksten. During the siege Charles XII died, and the whole campaign was called off. Armfelt received word of the failed siege, and ordered his units back into Swedish territory during the early days of January 1719. However, while crossing the mountains, a blizzard struck, and of the close to 5,800 men that set out, only around 2,100 reached the safety of the Swedish village of Duved, today a peaceful ski resort. The event has since become known as the Carolean Death March. By this time, Johan was 25 years old.
The Swedish ambitions had been crushed, and with the death of the king, no one was interested in trying to go for yet another round with the Russians. Peace was signed, and in 1721 the Finnish regiments could finally return home. By that time, the regiments were as ravaged by the war as their home country, with Johan’s Ostrobothnians numbering only 364 man, when the regiment had had 775 men on strength at Storkyro seven years earlier. At some point Johan had advanced to the position of corporal, but this should not be confused with the modern rank. The chain of command was markedly flatter and the room for individual initiatives far smaller in the age of line infantry. At Storkyro, the regiment had 20 officers and 34 non-commissioned officers commanding 721 soldiers, at a ratio of 1:1.7:36.
Okay, but who are you?
My name is Robin Häggblom, and I am the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of the real Corporal Frisk. Born and raised in the same city of Kokkola, my own military career is markedly less exciting, being limited to 362 days of conscription service as a skipper/machinist on the landing crafts of the Nyland Brigade in 2007. After this, I was sent into the reserve with the rank of Private, and took up studying mechanical engineering at the University of Oulu, before taking up a position at the local boatyard Kewatec AluBoat, where I worked in a number of different positions for three years, learning the ins and outs of modern aluminium vessels. This spring, I moved on to take up a position as contract manager for Rolls-Royce waterjets. In the meantime I had also married a wonderful girl, and we now have a small family with our three energetic kids.
I’ve also continued to spend a part of spare time in volunteer reservist organisation, in Oulu as part of Pohjanmaan Akateeminen Maanpuolustusseura ry (the academic defence association of Ostrobothnia, formerly the reserve officers’ club of the University of Oulu), and now in Kokkola as a board member of Keski-Pohjanmaan Meripuolustajat ry (the association of the naval reserve of Central-Ostrobothnia).
Since being a child I’ve interested in aviation (blame Biggles!) and defence forces. With time, the interest in warfare matured into a more dedicated interest in the field of the art of war. This is still one of my main areas of interest, and you can blame Field Marshal Montogmery’s “A History of Warfare” for that, the 700-something page book is found at the public library of Kokkola in both Swedish and Finnish, and provides for a very interesting read for a teenager. Today, I’ve got my own little library, with some 500+ books on topics related to those dealt with on the blog.
During my teenage years I bought a naval warfare simulation (a.k.a. “a computer game”) Dangerous Waters, which safely and securely made me hooked on maritime warfare. Here my interest in tactics and technology found a common ground, and guided my choice of service branch a few years later.
By the time I was at the university, I found out that there was a very active circle of Swedish blogs dealing with defence and national security. They were extremely interesting, and offered up to date information on current issues. I found myself wanting to add my own voice to the discussion, but also questioned how much of value a grad student/private in the reserve would have to add to the information shared by active duty officers and research fellows. After a few years, I decided to launch a Twitter-account with associated blog under pseudonym. I chose to use a pen name to let the texts be judged on their own merits, especially given my lack of formal credentials.
In hindsight, I don’t know if that was necessary. The people I have gotten to “know” on both sides of the Gulf of Bothnia, and in some cases from further abroad, are a warm-hearted and inclusive bunch, and do not distinguish between officers, academics, and “normal people”. As long as you present your message in an orderly fashion, and respect others and their opinions, you are almost always welcome to discuss matters of defence and national security. A big thank you to you all who welcomed me into your community!
However, after just over half a year, I noticed that people seemed to assume that I was an active duty officer in the navy. This meant that whether I wanted it or not, my choice of operating under a pen name also became a part of the ongoing discussion about to what extent officers on active duty in the Finnish Defence Forces openly could express views diverging from the official view, something which has been discussed after a few cases where senior officers have clashed with leading politicians over contemporary topics, e.g. Finnish politics vis-à-vis Russia.
In addition, I also felt that I wanted to take part in the discussions held in other forums, such as newspapers and debates/discussion. The last straw was my new work, which meant that a number of topics that otherwise would fit into the topic of this blog, i.e. certain military fast craft equipped with our waterjets, would be left out due to me now having insider information on these, which I naturally will not share, either due to these being under NDA’s or due to normal courtesy towards customers (you don’t disclose information that there’s even slight possibility that your customer might not want to share openly, which basically means that I prefer to not discuss them at all unless there is readily available open-source material). For the benefit of openness, I also prefer to be open about my connections to the marine and defence industry.
All in all, I decided it was time to step out into the open, which I have now done.
Robin Häggblom / Corporal Frisk