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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Simo Häyhä (White Death)- SNIPER with the most kills!

Mr. Chris Kyle (see previous posts: "Chris Kyle: Deadliest US Sniper career highlights of a   real American Hero"; and "Chris Kyle- Deadliest Sniper in US history shot dead.") does not hold the record for most kills. That belongs to Simo Häyhä, a Finnish sniper aka “The White Death”, who reportedly killed 542 Russian troops during the Soviet invasion of Finland in the Second World War.

Simo Häyhä was born in 1905 in the farming town of Rautajärvi a very short distance from the Russian border. He grew up working on the farm and exposed to the Finnish wilderness. In 1925, Häyhä served a mandatory one-year service in Finland’s army where he made a mark for himself as by the time he was honorably discharged, he had been promoted to the rank of corporal.

Later on he joined the Finnish Civil Guard, comparable to the United States National Guard. He received a great deal of training during this stint which included target shooting.His first rifle was a Russian-built Mosin-Nagant bolt action M91,

The Mosin–Nagant (Russian: Винтовка Мосина, ISO 9: Vintovka Mosina) is a bolt-action, internal magazine-fed, military rifle invented under the government commission by Russian and Belgian inventors, and used by the armed forces of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and various other nations.
and later introduced was the better-performing M28/30 and the 9mm Suomi submachine gun. Due to his training and natural skill, Häyhä was eventually able to hit a target 16 times per minute at about 500 feet away, making him an excellent sniper.
Besides his sniper kills, Häyhä was also credited with over 200 kills with a Suomi KP/-31 submachine gun. 

In 1939, the Soviet Union attempted to invade Finland. As a member of the Civil Guard, Häyhä was called into service, serving under the 6th Company of JR 34 on the Kollaa River. Under Major General Uiluo Tuompo, the Finns faced both the 9th and 14th Soviet Armies against as many as 12 divisions— about 160,000 soldiers. At one point during the war in the same area, only 32 Finns fought against over 4,000 Soviets!

Despite being outnumbered, the Finns were still victorious at the end of the day. The invading Soviets weren't as organized as one would expect due mainly to communication problem (they spoke many different languages) and they weren't used to the particularly harsh Finnish winters of 1939-40 with temperatures ranging from -40 to -20 degrees Celsius. The Finns were also tactically smarter most notably their “Motti”-tactics: Since Soviets would invade by the roads, the Finns would hide out in the surrounding wilderness, let the invaders cross the border and attack them from behind!
Häyhä after being awarded the honorary rifle model 28.
Hayha’s involvement in the Winter War was very extraordinary. With his Mosin-Nagant bolt action M91 rfile,  he would dress in white winter camouflage and carry with him only a day’s worth of supplies and ammunition. While hiding out in the snow, he would then take out any Russian who entered his killing zone. Hayha preferred to use iron sights on his gun instead of scopes, as scopes had a tendency to glare in the sunlight and reveal his position. Over the course of 100 days during the winter he racked up over 500 kills, earning him the nickname “The White Death”.

Tired of getting their heads blown off all the time by Simo, the Soviets eventually dispatched a group of snipers and a series of artillery strikes to try to get rid of “Belaya Smert” (“White Death”) all of which failed miserably.   However, on March 6th, 1940, he was finally shot in the jaw with an exploding bullet by a counter sniper in a pitched battle against a large group of Russian soldiers. He survived even though, as they said, “half his head was missing”. He fell into an 11-day coma, awakening on the day that the war ended. Hayha was given numerous awards, and was also promoted from corporal to second lieutenant, a jump in the ranks that had never been seen in Finland’s history. Despite being slightly disfigured, he recovered from his injury, and went on to live until the age of 97.

Despite gaining around 22,000 square miles of Finish soil, the Soviets lost the Winter War, with 1,000,000 of their original 1,500,000 troops killed by the defending Finns. A Russian general later remarked that the land they had conquered was “just enough to bury their dead”.

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