White Death: the Sniper Who Killed 700 Soviets in 100 Days

Discussion in 'The Howard Stern Show' started by chapped, Jan 17, 2015.

  1. chapped

    chapped Well-Known Member

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    In April of 1938, representatives from the USSR approached the Finnish government and expressed a concern that Nazi Germany could attempt to invade Russia, and such an attack might come through parts of Finland. The Finns replied that they were officially neutral, but any Nazi incursion on Finland's borders would be resisted. This did not mollify the Soviets. Hitler's manifesto, Mein Kampf, was published thirteen years previous with specific note that the Nazis would need to invade the Soviet Union. The Red Army was determined to "advance to meet the enemy" and refused to accept promises from the smaller country. As negotiations continued, the Soviets tried to coax Finland into leasing or ceding some area to serve as a buffer to Leningrad. In November 1939, however, all negotiations ceased, and on 30 November 1939 the Soviet Red Army invaded Finland.

    In the municipality of Rautjärvi near the Soviet/Finnish border, 34-year-old Simo Häyhä was a farmer and hunter leading a flagrantly unexciting life. Upon news of the hostilities, he gathered up food, plain white camouflage, and his iron-sighted SAKO M/28-30--a variant of the Soviet Mosin-Nagant rifle--and went to defend his country. Before the four-month war ended, humble Häyhä would gain infamy among the Russian invaders, and come to be known as the "White Death."

    Simo Häyhä's vacated farmhouse was littered with trophies he'd won for marksmanship. Reportedly, Häyhä could hit a target 150 meters away 16 times in one minute. He served his required year in the Finnish military starting in 1925, and was discharged as a corporal. Thereafter he joined the Civil Guard, the Finnish analog of the US National Guard. Over the years, Häyhä drilled with the Civil Guard until he was called back into service.

    At the time, the entire population of Finland numbered around three million, while the USSR was nearer to 171 million. The Finns knew they were outmanned at about one hundred to one, and therefore opted for a defensive, guerrilla-style strategy. Häyhä's first active-duty assignment was with Jaeger Regiment 34 stationed along the Kollaa River.

    [​IMG]
    The Winter War was brutally cold. Rarely did the temperature exceed zero degrees Fahrenheit, but the genital-constricting cold was inadequate to stop Häyhä. Usually he would don his warmest uniform and wrap it with a white snowsuit, mitts, and mask, wrap a few days' worth of food in cloth, pocket fifty to seventy rounds of ammunition, and hike out into the bush with his rifle and a submachine gun. He would find himself a vantage point in some brush or in the boughs of a tree, and wait--sometimes for days--for a target of opportunity. The invading Soviets tended to adhere to established roads, and Häyhä would entrench himself in the terrain within view. Often he would choose to forfeit possible targets to engender a sense of security and lure more appealing prey like officers and supply trains into his sights.

    The Soviets began to react to Häyhä's success by ordering artillery strikes on suspected sniper nests, and employing counter-snipers. One Russian sniper killed several Finnish soldiers and three officers, and was on the hunt for a particularly troublesome Finn with a Mosin-Nagant M91. He made one kill early in the day, giving Häyhä a general location of his adversary. Häyhä slowly crept through the snow to gain position. When the sun began to set, the Soviet sniper decided that his chance was past and rose to his knees. The sun glinted on his 3x scope; Häyhä was still patiently waiting and caught sight of the movement. Häyhä put a single shot through the Soviet's head from 450 meters.

    Despite Häyhä's success, the Soviets were winning the war. The Finns were forced to fall back almost 40 kilometers, to the banks of the Kollaa River. The Finns knew that if the Soviets gained a path across the river they would be able to attack the defensive lines from the rear. An area known as Kollaa Hill suddenly became a high-priority target for the Soviets as a chance to cross the river. Jaeger Regiment 34, though in need of supply and reinforcement, was ordered to defend the hill. Both sides knew the Finns were outmanned, and what artillery they had was old and useless against the Soviet Armored Infantry. A Soviet division tried to take the hill from a Finnish regiment, but did not account for the defenders' indefatigability. They failed. The Soviets thought two divisions could overcome the same regiment, but the Finns adopted a formidable battle cry: "They shall not pass!" The battle carried on for weeks while the Finns lost soldiers and depleted their supplies, and the Soviet forces were reinforced. During the daylight hours, the Soviets would bombard the Finnish lines. The Finns would hunker down in shelter until nightfall brought an end to artillery fire, and then sneak out to make repairs during the bitter cold darkness. The Finnish forces lost several men to exhaustion as the battle continued unabated.

    [​IMG]
    Finnish defenders sometimes took fallen, frozen Russian soldiers and posed them upright as psychological warfare.
    Early in the Battle of Kollaa, the Soviets employed tactics of overwhelming force, but the Finns developed a counter-strategy called "Motti" tactics, a name derived from the Finnish word for "encircled." The Finns would open their lines for the Soviet advance and allow the leading elements through. Once the Soviets passed, the Finns would rally, close the line again to prevent any aid from arriving, and attack the leading element from the sides and rear. As the Soviets lost units to this unconventional tactic, they were forced to alter their attacks to hold territory, and therefore slow the advance while increasing their investments of manpower and equipment.

    21 December 1939 was Häyhä's personal record for a single day with 25 confirmed Russian kills. Around this time, Häyhä surpassed 500 confirmed kills between the rifle and SMG. When the Russians finally figured out there was just one guy with a rifle killing dozens of their men, they started referring to him as "The White Death."

    Come mid-January, the Soviets were still fighting for Kollaa. In an effort to break the deadlock, the advance was halted for the Soviets to resupply. After two days to regroup, the attack resumed with renewed fervor to break the Finnish lines. One component of this attack was the Battle of Killer Hill where 32 Finns faced an onslaught of four thousand Soviets. Each side gained and lost ground over several days. Eventually the Soviets opted to refocus their efforts on another target--presumably due to having lost four hundred men in the engagement. Of the original 32 defenders of Killer Hill, only four survived to see the battle victoriously ended.

    Even as France and Great Britain sent offers of aid to the Finns, the frustrated and desperate Soviets rallied for one final push. Air raids and artillery barrages escalated. Ground troops pushed forward only to be attacked, usually by smaller forces at all sides. The Soviets, however, were now acquainted with the Finnish Motti tactic, and knew better than to pursue the attackers into the woods, become isolated, and be systematically killed. This time they opted to dig in and entrench whatever position they could. Little circles of Soviet forces cropped up through the countryside, too well armed for the Finns to dislodge or destroy, but also without supplies and unable to advance.

    On 6 March 1940, newly promoted Lieutenant Simo Häyhä was with a small group of ski-troops, fighting against a much larger Soviet force. As noon neared, Häyhä had forty confirmed kills for the day, but his luck changed. A single explosive round hit him in the upper-left side of his jaw. The men who evacuated Häyhä reported "half his face missing," but loaded him on a train toward care. He remained comatose for four days. He awoke with a shattered jaw only hours after the signing of the Moscow Peace Treaty which officially ended the Winter War.

    [​IMG]
    Hähyä in 1940 following his injury
    The terms of the treaty allowed the Soviets to retain a large swath of Finland's territory, including Häyhä's home of Rautjärvi. Häyhä was but one of 422,000 Finns left homeless by the war. One Soviet general remarked, "We have won enough ground to bury our dead."

    Some historians have speculated that in the early days of World War II, Hitler and his advisers looked at the Soviets' heavy losses against Finland and concluded that the Soviets might not be able to properly defend Leningrad, and it could be taken with little fight. If so, this may have been the Nazis' greatest logistical error.

    As for Häyhä, he was awarded five medals after the war, wrote a book about his service, and was occasionally invited to appear at events honoring military service. Described as quiet and congenial, when asked the secret of how he accumulated 505 confirmed sniper kills, he would smile and reply, "Practice." Simo "The White Death" Häyhä died of natural causes in 2002 aged92 96.

    http://www.damninteresting.com/white-death/
     
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  2. LaserT

    LaserT You have to have fun. Gold

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    Jesus, now that is a killing machine. Interesting read. All those kills and just a part of his face. Not bad. Especially the 40 kills on one day. Scary.
     
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  3. Calloused Shins

    Calloused Shins Well-Known Member

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    Dude finished men like was killing cockroaches. Wander if he felt any guilt in his old age. Awesome read
     
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  4. chapped

    chapped Well-Known Member

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    Dude was protecting his homeland and proud of it as he should have been
     
  5. FSFN

    FSFN Well-Known Member

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    Cliff notes edition next time.
     
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  6. Finns Wake

    Finns Wake Well-Known Member

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    Good question. You would think that in times like that a guy could get some peace of mind doing what he has to do to defend his country, but then again, killing 500 people might fuck with your mind a bit.
     
  7. check1

    check1 VIP Extreme Gold

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    That was cliff notes.
     
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  8. chapped

    chapped Well-Known Member

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    what is crazy is that he used open sights and no scopes...


    [​IMG]

    Many remember Simo Häyhä only as using the Mosin Nagant M28 or M28/30 rifle with open sights and only credit his high kill total to his role as a sniper; however, this is not entirely correct as Häyhä was also an expert with the Suomi K31 SMG and a large number of the Soviets that he felled were from his K31. Above are examples of the tools of Simo Häyhä in his hunts in Kollaa.

    Mr. Häyhä was credited with over 500 kills in his service during the Winter War with his service cut short as he was wounded on 3-6-40 by a Soviet sniper. Simo was shot in the face with what turned out to be
     
  9. chapped

    chapped Well-Known Member

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    it really was
     
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  10. 2 Ag R8Cs

    2 Ag R8Cs Member Banned User

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    I prefer the complete version but for those that like Cliffs

    He was a tough SOB, and killed a poop load of people
     
  11. kingship

    kingship Well-Known Member

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    Hell. I'd like to read more!
     
  12. yaddc

    yaddc Well-Known Member

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    Excellent post.
     
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  13. skylarbrie

    skylarbrie VIP Extreme Gold

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    https://41.media.tumblr.com/7409a4ac4a8fa01af779315ff29d8ea3/tumblr_nhzh2b86NV1tszxwao1_1280.jpg
     
  14. dexterdog

    dexterdog Well-Known Member

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    Killing 500 men is a mindfuck...
     
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  15. boognishstern

    boognishstern Well-Known Member

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    i remember reading about this a couple years ago on cracked. awesome story & post. there some other really good reads in this link: http://www.cracked.com/article_17019_5-real-life-soldiers-who-make-rambo-look-like-pussy.html

    #3. Jack Churchill
    [​IMG]

    Who Was He?

    An allied commander in WWII, and an avid fan of surfing, Captain Jack Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill aka "Fighting Jack Churchill" aka "Mad Jack" was basically the craziest motherfucker in the whole damn war.

    He volunteered for commando duty, not actually knowing what it entailed, but knowing that it sounded dangerous, and therefore fun. He is best known for saying that "any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed" and, in following with this, for carrying a sword into battle. In WWII. And not one of those sissy ceremonial things the Marines have. No, Jack carried a fucking claymore. And he used it, too. He is credited with capturing a total of 42 Germans and a mortar squad in the middle of the night, using only his sword.

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    Churchill and his team were tasked with capturing a German fortification creatively called "Point 622." Churchill took the lead, charging ahead of the group into the dark through the barbed wire and mines, pitching grenades as he went. Although his unit did their best to catch up, all but six of them were lost to silly things like death. Of those six, half were wounded and all any of them had left were pistols. Then a mortar shell swung in and killed/mortally wounded everyone who wasn't Jack Churchill.

    When the Germans found him, he was playing "Will Ye No Come Back Again?" on his bagpipes. Oh, we didn't mention that? He carried them right next to his big fucking sword.

    After being sent to a concentration camp, he got bored and left. Just walked out. They caught him again, and sent him to a new camp. So he left again. After walking 150 miles with only a rusty can of onions for food, he was picked up by the Americans and sent back to Britain, where he demanded to be sent back into the field, only to find out (with great disappointment) the war had ended while he was on his way there. As he later said to his friends, "If it wasn't for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years!"

    The Best Hollywood Could Come Up With:

    Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert DuVall) from Apocalypse Now, of "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" fame.

    [​IMG]

    Why It Doesn't Compare:

    Well, truth be told, they're pretty much the same person. They're both at home on the battlefield, they have the same philosophies of war and both of them seem to be immune to mortar fire and bullets. Churchill's basically a crazier, Scottish version of Kilgore. With a big fucking broadsword. Like if Kilgore was played by William Wallace from Braveheart on crystal meth.
     
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  16. RenchFries

    RenchFries Official Dawgshed Dutch representative Gold

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    Bookmarked to read tomorrow at work.
     
  17. Tipsey Russell

    Tipsey Russell VIP Extreme Gold

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    Churchill also carried out the last recorded bow and arrow killing in action, shooting a German NCO in 1940 in a French village

    that's neat
     
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  18. Snotty

    Snotty My Snothand be strong!!! VIP Gold

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    Stumble in ignorance..............Whilst I laugh..................
     
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  19. Snotty

    Snotty My Snothand be strong!!! VIP Gold

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  20. chapped

    chapped Well-Known Member

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