Saturday, November 30, 2013

Winter War

November 30 marks the anniversary of Russia's invasion of the Karelian Peninsula in 1939. Their stated reason was to provide a buffer zone for the protection of St. Petersburg. The Finns, of course did not appreciate this and fought a defensive war against mass wave attack tactics that devastated the Russian Army. The Russians used the mass attack tactics because Stalin had seen fit to purge the army of competent leadership and replace it with officers more politically aligned to Stalin.The war ended in March, 1940 with Finland giving up territory to Russia.

There were 70,000 Finnish casualties to Russia's 323,000 causalities: a ratio of 4.6 to 1!

Russia's poor showing in the Winter War helped convince Hitler to invade Russia. The Germans, however, were not as adept at winter fighting as the Finns.

The war gave us the "Molotov Cocktail". In fact, a Finnish distillery mass produced them and made almost 500,000 of them. It should be noted that petrol bombs had been used earlier in Spain but the Winter War gave them a name that stuck.

The worlds most prolific sniper, Simo Hayha, came out of this war. He was credited with 505 kills using a Moisin Nagant rifle with iron sights. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 96.

I've written about Larry Thorne a few years ago. His is an interesting story.

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