Tag Archives: winter war

Warship Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021: Behold, the Destroyerzooka

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021: Behold, the Destroyerzooka

Here we see the Soviet Orfey (Orpheus)-class destroyer Engels (formerly Desna) with his (Russian warships are always masculine by tradition) unique stern 12-inch (305mm) Kurchevsky pattern “Dynamo-Reactive” recoilless rifle, circa the summer of 1934. A tough little ship going past his goofy one-off experimental gun, he had an interesting life.

Background

With a shredded naval list after the Russo-Japanese War, having lost two out of three fleets, the Tsarist Imperial Navy needed new ships of every stripe in the 1910s as they were facing an increasingly modern Ottoman fleet in the Black Sea as well as the Swedes (always a possible opponent) and the German juggernaut in the Baltic. Part of the naval buildout was a series of 52 destroyers derived from the Novik.

Novik was a great destroyer for 1910. At some 1,600-tons full load, he could make 37.3 knots, which is still fast for a destroyer today, and carried four twin 18-inch torpedo tubes (eight tubes total) as well as four 4-inch guns.

The follow-on Orfey-class upgrade from Novik, planned to number 23 vessels, ended up being trimmed back to just 16 due to the Great War and Russia’s series of revolutions and civil war, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Some 1,440-tons when fully loaded, the 321-foot tin cans used a plant that had two Curtis-AEG-Vulkan turbines and four Normand-Vulkan boilers on two shafts to make 32 knots, making them still very fast for the age but slightly slower than the 6-boiler/3-turbine/3-shaft plant seen in Novik. However, they carried more torpedo tubes, a total of nine, in addition to their four 4″/60 Vickers-Obukhovski Pattern 1911 guns.

Ofrey class destroyer plan. These ships, benefiting from the Russo-Japanese war experience, had double the main transverse bulkheads of pre-1904 Russian destroyers with 12 watertight sections (each with their own pumping systems) as well as individually compartmentalized boilers, hence all the funnels. The keel was made of doubled 6mm steel sheets set at angles to each other, creating a double hull of sorts. Lacking true armor, the conning tower/bridge was made of half-inch ordnance steel sheets to provide splinter and small arms protection. Interestingly, the topside radio room (one 2 kW transmitter and two receivers) and two 45-cm searchlights were fed by a separate 10kW Penta kerosene dynamo protected centrally, rather than the rest of the ship’s power which was provided by two 20 kW turbo generators.

Desna, shown here in fitting out at the Kolpino Metalworks in Petrograd (Great War-era St. Petersburg) had nine 18-inch torpedo tubes.

Closer detail on those tubes

And even closer

His initial armament, as with the rest of the class, included four long-barreled 4″/60 Vickers-Obukhovski Pattern 1911 guns, one over the bow, and three crowding her stern. These could fire a 66-pound HE or 52-pound “Diving” shell at 12 rounds per minute, providing the crew was drilled properly, to a range of 17,600 yards. Two 150-shell magazines, fore, and aft, were installed below deck. The guns were directed by a 9-foot Barr & Stroud 30x stereoscopic rangefinder of RN F.Q. 2 pattern.

Laid down in November 1914, three months into the Great War, Desna was named after the famed tributary of the Dnieper that runs through Smolensk to Kyiv.

Commissioned 16 August 1916, he was rushed into operations and famously came to the defense of the heroic but obsolete Borodino-class battleship Slava during the long-running Battle of Moon Sound, in which the Russian battlewagon gave, by all accounts, a full measure against a much larger and more powerful German force.

Slava, after the Battle of Moon Sound

Helping to evacuate Slava’s crew, Desna fired torpedoes into the stricken battlewagon to prevent it from falling into German hands. Desna’s brother, Grom, was sunk during the operation.

Caption: A newly -completed Destroyer of the improved “Novik” Type, either DESNA (1915-1941) or AZARD (1916-1919). Courtesy of Mr. Boris V. Drashpil of Margate, Fla., 1983. Catalog #: NH 94295

Same, NH 94294

Same, NH 94296

Civil War

Becoming part of the Red Baltic Fleet by default during the Russian Revolution and Civil War, Desna took part in the “Ice Campaign” during which the force broke through the frozen Baltic to escape Helsinki ahead of the Germans in April 1918.

Based at the fortress island of Kronstadt, Desna took part in operations against the British in 1918-19. (During this period, brother Gavriil helped sink HM Submarine L-55 and three British torpedo boats, while brothers Konstantin and Vladimir/Svoboda were sunk in turn by British mines. Another classmate, Kapitan Miklucha Maklai/Spartak, was captured by the British and turned over to the Estonians.)

Then, in the continued evolution of counterrevolution, Desna and company fought against the Bolsheviks in the 1921 revolt of the Red Fleet.

Rudolf Franz’s 1936 painting depicts the storming of Kronstadt by the Red Army to put down the revolt. Over a thousand were killed on both sides and an estimated 2,100 rebellious sailors were executed or disappeared into labor camps.

In part to wipe out the stain of his role in the brutally suppressed Kronstadt revolt, Desna was renamed in 1922 to Engels, celebrating the German socialist philosopher of the same name who helped develop Marxism.

An ice-bound Engels

Then came several years of lingering operations and refits, as the Soviets were cash strapped for operational funds throughout the rest of the decade. During this period, classmates Orfey and Letun, in bad technical condition after Great War damage, were broken up after the Civil war.

Dynamo-Reactive!

In 1932, Engels was refitted and rebuilt, emerging two years later with a new engineering plant as well as a new gun over his stern in place of two of his 4-inchers.

A design came from the mind of weapon engineer Leonid Kurchevsky, who was fascinated with recoilless rifles. He had spent time in Stalin’s gulag system then emerged in 1929 to catch the eye of Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky, the “Red Napolean” military theoretician who wanted to see Kurchevsky’s simple designs fitted on everything.

Kurchevsky and some of his recoilless rifles in the early 1930s.

The Kurchevsky gun fitted on Engels was awkward, only able to fire to port and starboard with a low train and elevation.

It fired a 660-pound shell to 14,000 yards but proved inaccurate, unreliable, and prone to malfunction. A larger 15-inch model was to be installed on a cruiser but never made it off the drawing board.

I mean, come on…

While some 2,000~ Kurchevsky guns were delivered, fitted to tanks and vehicles as well as ships, it turns out they sucked.

Via Global Security: 

Soon the “bubble” burst. It turned out that the armor-piercing shells of anti-tank DRP, even when fired at point-blank, were not able to penetrate armor thicker than 30 mm. The accuracy and range of field artillery guns do not meet the requirements at all. At the same time, the guns themselves are unreliable and unsafe during operation, there had been numerous cases of rupture of barrels during firing.

Aircraft and naval automatic cannons of the Kurchevsky caliber from 37 to 152 mm gave constant failures and delays during firing due to incomplete combustion of the nitro-fabric sleeves and the unreliable operation of the pneumatic recharge mechanism, which made this weapon absolutely not combat-ready. Soon all PDDs were removed from the troops and destroyed. By June 22, 1941, there was not a single Kurchevsky gun in service with the Red Army.

While Tukhachevsky was sacked in 1937 for other reasons and scapegoated as a Trotskyist in the Great Purge before WWII, Kurchevsky got the wrap at around the same time directly for his funky weaponry. Thrown back in the gulag the inventor was executed sometime in the late 1930s.

War, again, and again

With the Russians flexing against the Finns in the 1939-40 Winter War, Desna/Engels, his Kurchevsky gun landed, and his old 4-inchers reinstalled, bombarded Finnish positions and installations, a task for which his 9-foot draft no doubt assisted.

When the Germans invaded in 1941, Engels was used in coastal minelaying and convoy duty.

Just two weeks after Barbarossa kicked off, on 6 July, he and two other destroyers (Serditogo and Sil’nyy) clashed with two German minesweepers (M-23 and M-31) in what is known today as the Battle of the Irbensky Strait. Famed in Russian naval lore as it was the largest surface battle they fought in the Baltic in WWII; it is much less known outside of the Motherland. This is probably because all vessels involved sailed away after the engagement, a tactical draw.

Damaged extensively on 7 August 1941 by a 550-pound bomb dropped via Stuka, Engels was soon patched up and two weeks later sailed from Tallinn in occupied Estonia to Kronstadt as part of one of the desperate convoys headed north from the doomed port. That month, some 190 Soviet ships and 40,000 souls attempted to escape. The seaborne evacuation of encircled Tallin to Krondstadt and Leningrad went down in history as the “Soviet Dunkirk.” 

With the route obvious to the Germans and Finns, the Axis planted 2,000 mines in what became known as the Juminda Barrage. 

A German map from 1941 showing the location of the Juminda mine barrage

It was on this voyage that he stumbled across a German minefield off Cape Juminda, hitting one with his bow and shrugged it off, damage control successful. However, while the damaged destroyer was being rigged for towing by the icebreaker Oktyabr, Engels hit a second mine that exploded under her stern and triggered the aft 4-inch magazine. That was it and she rolled over and sank. 

Four days later, classmates Pobiditel/Volodarski and Azard/Artyom were lost in a similar minefield in the same Tallinn-to-Kronstadt run. Some 80 ships eventually hit mines in the Jumidia Barrage, with at least 21 Soviet warships, including five destroyers sent to the bottom in August alone. 

Epilogue

As with Desna/Engels, few Orfey-class destroyers made it out of WWII. Three units that survived by nature of serving with the Northern Fleet out of Murmansk and two more with the Pacific Fleet out of Vladivostok remained in service into the early 1950s but were soon discarded. The last remaining example of the class, Spartak, spent her final days in Peru’s Pacific coast as the Estonians had sold her to that Latin American country in the 1930s.

The class is remembered in some Soviet-era maritime art.

Meanwhile, a fishing net-wrapped wreck off Estonia’s Cape Yuminda, documented in 2016, could be the bones of Engels.

As for Leonid Kurchevsky, he was “rehabilitated posthumously in 1956” after the end of the Stalin regime. The next year, Marshal Tukhachevsky and his codefendants in the Purge trial were declared innocent of all charges and rehabilitated, posthumously.

Specs:


Displacement: 1,260 tons (standard) 1,440 tons (full load)
Length 321 ft 6 in
Beam 30 ft 6 in
Draught 9 ft 10 in
Machinery: 4 boilers (30,500 shp) 2 steam turbines, 2 shafts
Speed 32 knots
Range: 1,680 miles @21 knots
Complement: 150 (8 officers, 6 michman, 136 ratings)
Armament:
(1917)
4 x 4″/60 Vickers-Obukhovski Pattern 1911 guns in single unprotected mounts
1 x 40/39 Vickers AAA pom-pom anti-balloon gun
2 x Maxim machine guns (7.62×54)
9 x 18-inch torpedo tubes (3×3)
80 M1908 style sea anchor mines
10 depth charges

(1934)
1 x 12-inch recoilless rifle (experimental)
2 x 4″/60 Vickers-Obukhovski Pattern 1911 guns in single unprotected mounts
1 x 3″/28 Lender AAA
4 x 1 12.7mm/79 DK Heavy machine gun (drum fed)
9 x 18-inch torpedo tubes (3×3) with more modern 45-36Н torpedoes
2 x depth charge racks
58 mines

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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.

Echoes of 1939

Here we see a group of neutral Swedes and Finns joining forces in NATO-allied Norway for Trident Juncture 2018 last week, anti-armor weapons at the ready.

A joint Swede-Finnish mechanized unit has been working together to figure out commo and networking, specifically calling in indirect fire.

The above reminds me of an interesting story.

During Finland’s 1939-40 dustup with the neighboring Soviet Union, one of the greatest David and Goliath conflicts of modern military history, volunteers came from all over the world to help the Finns.

One of the largest was the roughly 8,000-10,000 men (sources vary) of the Swedish Volunteer Corps who formed several ancillary units, an aviation detachment, and a two-battalion strong infantry task group– Stridsgruppen Svenska Frivilligkåren (Ts.R SFK)– who got some hard contact in before the war settled down.

Swedes and Finns alike fought with whatever they could get.

Finnish soldiers use a slingshot to fire grenades at Soviet troops during the Winter War, c.1940

And they wrote Stalin a hefty butcher’s bill.

As noted by Al Nofi, during the 105-days of the conflict, “the Soviets suffered a daily average of 1,252 dead, 2,523 wounded, 1,259 frostbite cases, 52 captured, and about 114 missing, a rate of casualties nearly three times greater than those France suffered during the 302-day Battle of Verdun in 1916, while Finnish daily losses were about 213 dead, 412 wounded, and 8 captured.”

White Sniper: Simo Hayha’ by Tapio Saarelainen

During the 1939-40 Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union, a hunter and farmer by trade by the name of Simo Hayha returned to his reserve unit and picked up 542 confirmed kills with iron sights.

While versions of Hayha’s story is well known in the West, the 192 pages of Tapio Saarelainen’s White Sniper goes past the second and third-hand accounts and brings you, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.

It should be noted that Saarelainen is a career military officer who spent two decades training precision marksmen for the Finnish Army and even helped write that Scandinavian country’s manual for snipers. Besides this obvious resume to prepare him to write the work on Hayha, the author also met and interviewed the Winter War hero dozens of times over a five year period.

That’s a good part of what makes White Sniper such an interesting read is that it is drawn largely from first-hand accounts from a man who has been referred to as the deadliest sniper in history, but also from those who lived next to, fought alongside with, and knew the man personally. As such, it sheds insight on the man not known in the West. Such as the fact that he used his own personal Finnish-made Mosin M/28-30 rifle that he had paid for with his own funds. That his outnumbered fellow Finns, fighting alongside him in the frozen Kollaa region during that harsh winter, called him “Taika-ampuja” which translates roughly as the “Magic Shooter.” That he took almost as many moose and foxes in his life as he did Russians. That he was unassuming in later life, spending most of his time calling on old friends in his yellow VW Bettle.

More of my review here.

To check out Saarelainen’s book on Amazon here.

Warship Wednesday Aug 26, 2015: The Finnish Lighthouse Battleships

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday Aug 26, 2015: The Finnish Lighthouse Battleships

ilhm

Here we see the Väinämöinen-class panssarilaiva (“armored-ship”) FNS Ilmarinen of the Merivoimat (Finnish Navy) dropping it like its hot on some pesky Red Army positions in 1941. This big Baltic bruiser and her slightly older sister were a matter of Finnish pride from the 1920s through World War II– and gave the Russkies a far bit of heartburn at the same time.

In 1809 when the Russians carved the Ducy of Finland away from the Swedish Empire, Finland was largely left to their own bit, even being allowed to keep their local rule (the Diet) form their own army units, military academy and a small navy (the Suomen Meriekipaasi)– the latter of which served well when the Brits came a calling in the Baltic during the Crimean War.

Well by 1878, Tsar Alexander II decided to Russify the Finns and implemented conscription into the segregated units of the Russian army, disbanded the navy and a host of other measures that only ensured that by 1918, with the Tsars swept away, Finland broke free of St. Petersburg’s yoke.

They formed a new, independent Finnish Army (Maavoimat) and Navy (Merivoimat), fought a brief but brutal civil war against Bolshevik-backed Red Guards, and kept an eye peeled for the day when the Soviets decided to renegotiate the status of Finn sovereignty.

While the Merivoimat inherited a dozen or so small ex-Imperial Russian Navy gunboats, torpedo slingers and minesweepers left behind post-1918; as well as a corps of professional former mariners and officers to sail them, they needed some legit vessels if they expected to keep the Red Banner Fleet out.

They were in luck with the respect that in Turku there was a shipyard, Crichton-Vulcan, which had repaired Russian naval ships as well as constructed small boats. (The company later became Finnish mega yard Wärtsilä in 1936). In the mid-1920s the Germans were restricted from building certain military ships (um, U-boats, battleships, cruisers, you know, all the good stuff), but they struck a deal to build three small Vetehinen/Vesikko-class U-boats submarines at Crichton-Vulcan to improved WWI designs, which, though the ships never sailed for Germany, helped keep the flower of their sub industry nurtured until 1933 when the gloves came off.

Therefore, in 1927 Parliament approved a plan to build two rather unique armored ships (panssarilaiva) as well as order some off the shelf motor torpedo boats from the UK to help round out their burgeoning fleet.

These two ships were laid down at Crichton-Vulcan within a month of each other in 1929.

Väinämöinen

Väinämöinen

Layout of the Väinämöinen class

Layout of the Väinämöinen class

Weighing in at 3,900-tons and with a 305-foot long hull, today these ships would be considered a frigate. At the time, the size made them either large destroyers or small cruisers.

finn battleship 2

However, unlike either of those types, these ships were glacially slow, with a top speed of just 14 knots on their good German-supplied Krupp engines. Further, they could only keep this speed up for a few days as they carried only enough fuel oil to make it 300~ miles away from port before they had to turn back for more.

Different guns of Väinämöinen nicely visible: the huge 254 mm main guns, 105 mm multi-purpose guns and 40 mm Vickers AA guns.

Different guns of Väinämöinen nicely visible: the huge 254 mm main guns, 105 mm multi-purpose guns and 40 mm Vickers AA guns.

But that’s OK, because they weren’t designed to run, or to chase down ships on the high seas, these ships were designed to lurk in 15 feet of shallow water close to Finland’s craggy coastline, and plaster approaching Red Navy amphibious assaults or Red Army troops ashore.

They were given four 254mm/45cal Bofors guns (if you do the math, those are 10-inch guns there, homie!). These big guys could hurl a 496-pound AP shell at a rate of 2-3 per minute per tube out to 33,140 yards.

Via Navweaps

Via Navweaps

Via Navweaps

Via Navweaps

In effect, allowing one of these destroyer-sized ships to blast off a dozen sumo-wrestler-sized shells off in the first 60 seconds of an engagement.

The two twin 10-inch turrets were augmented by eight 105mm/50cal. Bofors DP guns in four turrets that could coat either shore or airborne targets with 15 rounds per minute per tube, allowing 120 55.6-pound shells to rip out from the ship in 60 seconds.

WNFIN_41-50_m1932_front_pic

These had a range on land targets to 19,900 yards and could reach as high as 40,000 feet to pluck random enemy aircraft down.

A very tall centerline fire direction center/tower directed the fall of shot, giving these two ships an instantly recognizable silhouette.

Väinämöinen Photo colorized by irootoko_jr http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

Väinämöinen Photo colorized by irootoko_jr

Class leader Väinämöinen was commissioned 28 December 1932 while follow-on sister Ilmarinen was commissioned in 1934.

Prior to WWII, the two ships sailed the summer months around the idyllic waters of the Eastern Baltic, and wintered near the shipyard at Turku when the ice came, then hit repeat.

With Mannerheim aboard

With Mannerheim aboard

A great view over the front of the bow from above the rangefinder

A great view over the front of the bow from above the rangefinder

They took part in the fleet parade at Spithead, where they participated in the festivities for the coronation of King George VI-- but had to be towed due most of the way due to their short legs

They took part in the fleet parade at Spithead, where they participated in the festivities for the coronation of King George VI– but had to be towed due most of the way due to their short legs

When the Soviets picked a fight that led to the Winter War of 1939-40, the two ships sailed to secure the Ahland Islands between Finland and Sweden but were soon forced back to port with the coming winter.

daea0b93d55764ce1578b94ef88cd96a finn battleship

While in Turku, the ships, whitewashed as camouflage and powered by shorelines to prevent exhaust from giving them away, fought off a number of Soviet bomber attacks, receiving slight damage.

Finnish coastal defense ship Ilmarinen anchored at Turku harbor, Finland, 10 Mar 1940

Finnish coastal defense ship Ilmarinen anchored at Turku harbor, Finland, 10 Mar 1940

When Finland came into World War II proper against the Soviets in 1941, both ships proved very active in supporting advancing troops ashore.

However, Ilmarinen soon ran into trouble when, accompanying a German fleet to seize Soviet-held islands off Estonia, struck a sea mine on 13 September 1941 and sank with heavy loss of life, some two-thirds of her crew in all.

Väinämöinen had a more charmed existence, patrolling the Gulf of Finland with a force of patrol boats and minelayers and waiting for an eventual Soviet naval thrust that never came.

These ships camo'd well. Photo colorized by irootoko_jr http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

These ships camo’d well. Photo colorized by irootoko_jr

The Reds did not forget the big V, however and demanded she be turned over as reparations after the war, to which the Finnish Navy reluctantly agreed to, handing the proud ship to her new communist masters on 29 May 1947.

vain va

Renamed Viborg after the Russian name for the Finnish city of Viipuri seized by the Soviets in 1944 and still part of Russia, the ship served the Baltic Fleet for two decades until she was scrapped in Leningrad.

As for Ilmarinen, she was discovered off Estonia in 230 feet of water, turned turtle but otherwise intact. If you speak Finnish, there is a very interesting documentary of her discovery, here.

Specs

lopull

Displacement: 3,900 t
Length: 305 feet
Beam: 55.5 feet
Draught: 14.5 feet
Propulsion: Diesel-Electric “Leonard System” powertrain, four Krupp engines 875 kW, two shafts, 3,500 kW (4,800 hp)
Speed: 14.5 kt (15.5 on trials)
Range: 700 nm on 93 tons of fuel oil
Complement: 403 (September 11, 1941)
Armament design:
4×254mm/45cal. Bofors (2×2)
8×105mm/50cal. Bofors DP (4×2)
4×40mm/40cal. Vickers AA (4×1)
2×20mm/60cal. Madsen AA (2×1)
1941:
4×254mm/45cal. Bofors (2×2)
8×105mm/50cal. Bofors DP (4×2)
4×40mm/56cal. Bofors AA M/36S (1×2, 2×1)
4×20mm/60cal. Madsen AA (4×1)
1944
4 × 254 mm/45cal. Bofors
8 × 105 mm/50cal. Bofors
4 × 40 mm/56cal. Bofors M/36
8 × 20 mm/60cal. Madsen

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

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Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

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Simo Hayha: The world’s deadliest sniper?

In the annuals of renowned military sniperdom, many names stand out. Carlos Hathcock, Chris Kyle, John Plaster, Vasily Zaytsev, Simo Hayha, and so forth. Wait, Simo who? Well, pull up a chair and lets talk about that.

Born in the small village of Rautjärvi in what was then part of Imperial Russia (Finland did not become independent until 1918), Simo Hayha was a pretty normal man. He wasn’t very tall or robust, standing just 5′ 3?. In 1925, at age 19, he did his mandatory 350 days of active service in the Finnish army but was otherwise an unremarkable soldier at the time. He remained a member of the Civil Guard (much like the US National Guard) and drilled with his reserve unit until 1939. It was in that year that the 33-year old part time soldier and full time farmer picked up his rifle and went to war to repulse a Soviet invasion of his country.

In November 1939 over 400,000 Soviet Red Army troops invaded tiny Finland, whose own Army of some 80,000 was grossly outnumbered in what was later known as the Winter War. Hayha reported to duty and having extensive experience in hunting and target shooting was selected to be a sniper.

The rest, as they say, is history….

Simo was 500 reasons not to mess with Finland

Simo was 500 reasons not to mess with Finland

Read the rest in my column at Guns.com