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  1. Sisu Suomi-The White Death, appx. 250,000 dead Red Army soldiers & twice that many wounded in 105 days of the Winter War.
    Daz Va Danya Comrade Stalin.

  2. The Finns despite their small numbers really kicked some serious Soviet ass!!! The Sovs even brought with them, a regimental band, complete with instruments – for the victory parade down the streets of Helsinki…a parade that has yet to happen!!!

    Broz

      • It was a victory in the sense that Finland remained independent with her government and constitution intact, which is pretty much all that a small country without massive support from major powers could wish against a much larger country. It is noticeable that the Soviet peace terms were considered very harsh by the Finnish public opinion, so there was no talk about victory at the time.

        The military leaders of course knew, and also managed to convince the civilian government that a collapse of the Finnish defenses was imminent if the Soviets continued to push relentlessly. It was estimated that critical sectors of the front would endure only 2 or perhaps 3 weeks maximum when the armistice started. There were no strategic reserve left, and in many part of the front what little tactical reserves could be gathered consistent of rear echelon troops, that is cooks, logistical personnel and the like. Artillery had already been given orders to support the infantry with maximal effort, even though it meant that it would run out of ammunition in about a week (the ammo situation of Finnish artillery was very bad even at the start of the war). There were already plans to use the artillerymen as infantry when that would happen.

        • I imagine about the time the Finns would have collapsed the Russians would have been drafting 6 year olds, considering the rate of losses. Both Britain and France were considering an intervention on the side of the Finns. Worse the Soviet performance influenced German appreciation of the eefectiveness of the Soviet military.

          It is hard to imagine a more lopsoded performance during WW2 then the Finns against the Soviets.

          • Well, the Soviets were not running out of men by any means. Their losses were in the millions against the Germans and they still kept fighting.

            In any case, the threat of an Anglo-French intervention was a a big reason why Stalin decided to settle for a negotiated peace treaty instead of total conquest. Stalin was quite cautious in his foreign policy and did not want to risk a war against the Anglo-French alliance, because he knew that one day he would have to fight against the Nazis, and might need the Allied support. He just badly underestimated Hitler’s willingness to take big risks and didn’t expect the invasion until 1943 at the earliest.

          • I’ve long thought it would have been interesting if England & France had sent in large military force to fight the USSR.

            And then see what they would have done when Germany attacked the USSR. Become Hitler’s ally instead of Stalin’s or fought both.

    • The poor performance of Soviet Army was caused by The Great Purges, when the many commanders were executed or sent to GULags after short and unfair trials. It also applies to the designers like for example L.Kurchevsky (known for recoilless guns).
      However in the effect of heavy losses some steps to improve army performance was done, for example the Marshall Rokossovsky was release from prison and returned to service. The Winter War was also used by the Soviet Army as a “combat providing ground”. It caused that:
      Single-turret was chosen against multi-turret tank design, the KV-1 tank was put into mass production not the T-100 or SMK.
      Sub-machine gun were returned to service. Due to the urgent need of firepower on short distances the Fyodorov Avtomats were delivered from weapons depots and the production of PPD-series submachine gun were resumed. The improved model of this family was developed: PPD-40. It also caused that the PPSh-41 was designed (before the Winter War Red Army considered that don’t need smg-s).
      DS-39 machine gun proved itself to be unreliable. However this problem was “solved” in 1941 by resuming the production of the venerable Maxim gun (model 1910).

      • Do you know why PPD-38 was not in inventory? Was it too early? The report I supplied is praising (Suomi) SMG highly.

        • Do you mean the PPD-40 7.62x25mm submachine gun? My understanding is that it was only issued to NKVD troops and Border guards up until the German Barbarossa invasion in mid-1941. From there it was dispersed to partisan ranks and officers and what not, and then of course, the PPSh41 Shpagin became the predominant Soviet smg. Certainly during the so-called Continuation War, 25 June 1941 to September 1944 the Finns used numbers of captured PPSh41s and DP lmgs and SVT-40s (along with very many other Soviet weapons and artillery and tanks and so on…). By Finland’s acceptance of Soviet terms in 1944, the Finns had designed a 9mm copy of the Soviet PPS-43, which could use KP31 Suomi magazines and drums. It was used until the 1970s, as were the M/39 service rifles using the Mosin-Nagant action and magazine.

          • The M/39 rifles and M/31 Suomi SMGs were in fact warehoused until 1993, because there was not enough assault rifles for all the troops in the planned wartime strength… In addition Sten SMGs (76,115 Mk II & III; the British were still using the Mk V at the time) bought from British surplus in 1958 were warehoused at least until the mid-1980s.

            The Mosin-Nagant is still used by the Finnish army in the guise of the M85 Sniper Rifle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7.62_Tkiv_85

    • Yes, foreshadowing of many later 20th century civil wars between conservative and communist/socialist forces. Many atrocities were committed by both sides, although numerically the “White” payback for the “Red” atrocities committed during the war was much more severe. On the positive side Finland avoided dictatorship, because the White leaders remained committed to democracy.

      • The Finnish Civil War is considered the 2nd or 3rd bloodiest civil war in the last 200 years. The US Civil War is considered the bloodiest. The other one is the Spanish Civil War.

        The basis is the % of the population that was killed in it. I’ve never researched into the details of this by studying other civil wars and suspect that this might be only for civil wars western countries.

        • Probably, because otherwise the China would lead by wide margin. It commenced with Boxers revolution by break of centuries and ended by proclamation of communist China in 1947 – full half of century of strife. Then of course the cultural revolution began in earnest.

        • Even when civil wars do not result in a large percentage of the population dying, they frequently result in a large percentage being forced into exile.

      • Um, well, at least after the German intervention was rendered moot by the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the defeat of Germany in WWI… The victorious whites in Finland actually proposed a Finnish monarchy (a Hohenzollern from Germany) but the end of WWI and the continuance of post-WWI fighting and civil war throughout the old Russian Empire (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and the Russian Civil War, and the Soviet-Polish War) eventually did allow an independent Finland to coalesce.

        • The proposed monarchy was actually the most legal option, since the Swedish constitution of 1772 was still legally effective in Finland (but not in Sweden). The constitution stipulated that a new monarch should be chosen by the diet if there were no legal heirs to the old monarch, which in Finland’s case had been Nicholas II, Grand Duke of Finland (the Russian Czars ruled Finland formally as Grand Dukes). However, the monarchists never wanted to give the new monarch a similar level of power as the Swedish kings and the Czars had possessed.

  3. @ Daweo & Euroweasel :

    I was going to write a summary with my comments along similar lines, but between the two of you, you have said it all and then some — very good, objective and substantial historical observations, and many thanks to the both of you!

    • By the way, judging from the photo, young men anywhere will always be young men, won’t they,regardless of ethnicity, politics, affiliation or belief! 🙂

  4. The M31 submachungun, was made as A joint wentiure between tickakoski Madsen dIS), and The danish arsenal factory(VA) tickakoski made the frame and sights DIS, made the wood, barrelschroud and trigger mekanism and VA, made the barrels. this way The army got 800 gunsm DIS got some for sale. The finnis Amy got what they needed. they had the desin, witch was made by Aimo Lathi.

  5. What is the approximate date of the photo?

    The prefab building in the background and the weather writer style map case that the youngsters have the picture of the girls in, both look surprisingly recent. 1960s?

    Finnish friends tell me that in May and June, the Finnish population come out of hibernation and hit the manic phase of their weather and daylight enforced annual cycle.

    • It’s good to go thru attached archive, at least partly. They all see to be genuine documents from 1941-433 period. One thing I noticed was that people in pictures be it soldiers or civilians do not super excited one way or the other; in some instances even entertained themselves with music and dance. Since many pics are from winter time, you can see vividly how cold is out there.

        • On that basis, you’ll have to admit that our friend pdb is a perfectly normal and healthy fellow with well-balanced interests :):):)! Just trying to say he’s alright as far as I’m concerned :).

          • I have no doubt about that Earl; Pdb is a healthy and normal chap, just like rest of us.

            But at the same time, I feel the subtitle of FW might as well be: “Guns no Women” similar to one known blog which is labeled: “Guns, NO politics”, yet there are politics all the time.

        • This exchange between you and Pdb just reminded me of famous British / Irish comedian Spike Milligan’s ( yes, he of the “Goon Show”, et al. ) incredibly funny yet poignant autobiography covering his service during World War Two in the Western Desert campaigns as an artilleryman, entitled “Rommel? Gunner Who? — A Confrontation In The Desert” ( Michael Joseph, 1974 / Penguin Books, 1976 ). I first read this book way back in 1976 and still find myself laughing out loud whenever I think about it.

          On an obverse note, the book is actually a factual account, based on Milligan’s war diary, of the realities of day-to-day existence for ordinary soldiers coupled with the sort of tongue-in-cheek humor that enables them to get through their often horrific experiences, which reminds one of that famous line from Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet On The Western Front” about how soldiers have to be in a good humor in the front line because otherwise they would go mad under the stress.

          For those who have not had a chance to read it as yet, I will not preempt anyone’s enjoyment of the book by mentioning too much, but the following Prologue by Milligan should warn you of what to expect :

          ” Of the events of war, I have not ventured to speak from any chance information, nor according to any notion of my own. I have described nothing but what I saw myself, or learned from others of whom I made the most careful and particular enquiry — Thucydides, Peloponnesian War.

          I’ve just jazzed mine up a little — Milligan. World War II. ”

          This is one book I would highly recommend without reservation for a lighter yet equally serious personal look into the front-line experience. By the way, there is also a short aside that mentions how Milligan first met a young fellow serviceman named Peter Sellers ( yes, THAT Peter Sellers ) during the Tunisian Campaign, who eventually became a major “partner in crime” during the heyday of British Comedy’s widespread international influence.

          The only technical errors I can find in the book are relatively minor, such as the reference to FW-109’s ( obviously ME-109’s or, more correctly, BF-109’s ), and these may have been editorial errors rather than personal ones. Incidentally, the book constitutes Part Two of an equally-serious yet facetious trilogy based on Spike Milligan’s wartime memoirs.

          • Oh yeah… British have humour without reproach. I loved acting of Peter Sellers!

            Its good to have Pdb around to quip in.

          • Into same category belongs humour of Jaroslav Hasek in his novel “Good soldier Shveik”.

            That particular character is in one of scenes calling back into Russian lines: “…. do not shoot – people are here!” I think this particular line says it all.

  6. Sorry for repeating what has already been said, but kudos on the high level of this discussion. I have long since stopped expecting objectivity or factuality in internet discussions of anything even loosely related to military history. This seems to be especially true of Nordic military history, it usually devolves into either a historical pissing contest or a series of rants about the sad state of present day Sweden/Denmark/Russia/etc. The comment sections on this site always stay on topic and are informative and interesting 🙂

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