A tough time in the snow, 80 years ago

Finnish soldiers belonging to the “Company of Death.” Summa, 20 December 1939 during the Winter War with the Soviet Union.

The covers are Great War-era Austro-German M16/17/18 stahlhelme, some 80,000 of which were bought surplus for pfennigs on the mark in the 1920s.

The Finns later received as military aide large quantities (estimated 40,000) of updated German M35/40 helmets as well as smaller amounts of Czech M34s, Italian M33s, and Hungarian M38s during the Continuation War against the Soviets, a period during which most of the preceding were outright martial allies.

Finnish soldiers loading a heavy mortar, possibly a 120mm Krh/40, 7 July 1944, near Vyborg. Their headgear consists of Italian, German and Czechoslovakian helmets, also, note the very well-worn uniforms.

The Finns liked the German design so much that, in 1955, they ordered another 50,000 M40 type helmets from East Germany to equip their forces. These consist of both new-made and refurbished M35/40/42 models and carry the post-war M55 designation to set them apart.

The Finns used their stahlhelme until as late as the 1970s in various reserve units and kept them in arsenal storage until the end of the Cold War, just in case. They are readily available on the surplus market–especially the M55s– for about $50 smackers, skeletons not included.

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