White Death of the Winter War

By George
In Cool
Oct 13th, 2013
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White Death of the Winter War

To defend Finland from a Soviet invasion condemned by the League of NationsSimo Häyhä (11905-12002 HE), a hunter, farmer, trophy-winning marksman, and Suojeluskunta (White Guard) militiaman prior to the conflict, braved temperatures as low as minus forty, killing over 700 enemy soldiers in less than 100 days; a confirmed 505 (or 542) with a modified Mosin–Nagant sniper rifle and ~200 with a Suomi 9mm submachinegun. To keep a lower profile, avoid fogging, and prevent telltale glare, he preferred an iron rather than telescopic sight. He was able to hit targets 152m (500ft) downrange sixteen times a minute, and once killed twenty-five men in a single day. 

Nicknamed by Soviet forces the ‘White Death,’ he survived numerous countersnipers and even artillery strikes, and was shot in the jaw on 6 March and recovered by comrades, regaining consciousness on 13 March 11940, the day of the peace declaration. Though the Finnish military was greatly outnumbered – at one point, 32 Finns engaged 4,000 Soviets – the Red Army, which initially expected easy victory, were disorganized and unaccustomed to the terrain, and Finland triumphed, taking five lives for each one lost; 125,000:25,000. Finland ceded eleven percent of its territorial and thirty percent of its economic assets, but retained independence. 

Shortly after the war, Simo Häyhä was promoted from alikersantti (corporal) to vänrikki (second lieutenant), a still unequaled rise in the Finnish military. Häyhä made a full recovery over several years, succeeded in moose hunting and dog breeding, and hunted with Finnish president Urho Kekkonen (11900-11986). He holds the world sniper record to this day. For comparison, American Sniper record holder United States Navy SEAL Chris Kyle ‘Shaitan Ar-Ramadi’ (‘Devil of Ramadi’) (11974-12013) has 160 confirmed out of 255 claimed kills.

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