Saturday, January 3, 2015

White Death

Simo Hayha Nicknamed – White Death

Simo Hayha nicknamed White Death by the Red Army, was a Finnish marksman. Born in Rautajarvi, Finland on December 17, 1905, Simo lived as a farmer and a hunter and lead a very simple and a peaceful life. Once Finland gained its independence and the Soviet Union was formed, his town was only a very short distance from the Russian border.

His childhood was spent with a lot of hard work on the farm and the Finnish wilderness moulded him to be a tough man and a patient person. Towards 1925, he served for a year in Finland’s army and during that time he made the best of it and by the time he was honourably discharged, he had been promoted to the rank of corporal. He then joined the Finnish Civil Guard, which was a military organization as the National Guard in the United States.

 He had gained a lot of knowledge and training during his time with the Civil Guard which comprised of target shooting and shooting was always an interested focus for Hayha. He utilised his every spare moments with outdoor shooting at any target that came his way. His first rifle was a Russian built Mosin-Nagant bolt action M91. This was later introduced to be an improved M28/30 and the 9mm Suomi submachine gun.

Simo_Hayha 1
An Excellent Sniper

With his interest in shooting together with the training that he received, Hayha was capable of hitting a target, 16 times per minute at around 500 feet away which made him an excellent sniper, a skill which served him well in his later stage of life.

The Soviet Union made an attempt to invade Finland in 1939 and Hayha being a member of the Civil Guard, was called to serve under the 6th Company of JR 34 on the Kollaa River and under the command of the Major General Uiluo Tuompo, the Finns faced the 9th and the 14th Soviet armies and were fighting against a total of around 12 divisions at one point of time with about 160,000 soldiers.

Moreover, there were only 32 Finns fighting against over 4,000 Soviets, in the same area. Inspite of being outnumbers, the Finns gained victory at the end of the day. The invading Soviets seemed to be unorganized, spoke several languages and were also not accustomed to the harsh Finnish winters. Besides, the winter of 1939-40 also happened to be very snowy with temperatures ranging from -40 to -20 degrees Celsius.

Racked up 500 Kills in 100 Days

The involvement of Hayha in the Winter War was remarkable. With his Mosin-Nagant M91 rifle, he would attire himself in white winter camouflage, carrying with him a day’s supply of ammunition and hide in the snow. He would then take out any Russian who would enter his range of shooting using his iron sights on his guns instead of scopes. Scopes had a tendency to glare in the sunlight, revealing the position of the person.

Acquiring the skills of shooting, he racked up over 500 kills over the course of 100 days during winter which lead him to receive the nickname `White Death’. He was feared by the Soviets to such an extent, that they mounted several counter sniper as well as artillery attacks to eliminate him which failed miserably. But on March 6th, 1940, he had was hit in the jaw by an explosive round from a counter sniper and fell into coma for a period of eleven days and woke up only when the war came to an end.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.