Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Discussions on the Winter War and Continuation War, the wars between Finland and the USSR.
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Mangrove
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Post by Mangrove » 11 Jul 2007 15:56

patrik.possi wrote:How was the finnish snipers organized during the Continuation War? Were they in a seperated unit or did, say every commpany have one?


It seems that Finnish snipers were not usually organized (as far as I have found out at Sota-arkisto). A man was selected as sniper based on his marksmanship. Usually he belonged to the Suojeluskunta and maybe had participated to shooting contests pre-war.

However I haven't dug deep enought into this to say was there special sniper teams at Finnish army during the wars.

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Post by patrik.possi » 11 Jul 2007 16:01

I remember finnish snipers apering in a novel written by Paavo Rintala, if im not completly wrong, it must be 15 years since i read it.

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Post by Steady » 11 Jul 2007 20:47

patrik.possi wrote:
One intresting note here is in his book Jatkonsodan taistelut Jatkosodan taktiikkaa Col Järvinen shows a ToE list where the number of scoped rifles in a division is 492. ofcurse this dont mean they hade 492 snipers but they have the mean.


There were probably more scoped rifles in use, because many captured weapons were kept with the units and not reported forward about. If reported, there was a good chance that the valuable and effective (and fancy) weapon would be taken away to arm some pesky conscript unit. Also many scopes were smuggled home as trophies and for use in hunting.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Mangrove » 13 May 2008 20:23

I wonder how the Häyhä's kills were confirmed. Some sources say they were written down to the company's (6./JR34) war diary but I was unable find it when I visited the Kansallisarkisto. Another interesting fact is that most of the people seems to think that Häyhä killed over 500 soldiers with a rifle alone but when he got the "trophy rifle" at February 1940 he only had about 250 kills with a rifle + the Suomi-KP kills!

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by JTV » 14 May 2008 06:25

Martti Kujansuu wrote:I wonder how the Häyhä's kills were confirmed. Some sources say they were written down to the company's (6./JR34) war diary but I was unable find it when I visited the Kansallisarkisto. Another interesting fact is that most of the people seems to think that Häyhä killed over 500 soldiers with a rifle alone but when he got the "trophy rifle" at February 1940 he only had about 250 kills with a rifle + the Suomi-KP kills!
Well, there was recent discussion about this matter in Gunboards, so I am just going to loan my own text here. What I have read there seems to be two slightly different, but not necessarily differing (things might have changed from one to another once Juutilainen became battalion commander for example?) versions about how they were verified:

"When the war started Simo Häyhä started sniping the Soviets and after some time his superiors heard that Simo had shot many enemies (10 or so according one old interview?) - by that time nobody had been counting them. So Simo's company commander (Lieutenant/Captain Aarne Juutilainen) decided that Simo should start marking his kills to a small book. According book "Kollaa kestää" (Kollaa Persists/Holds) other soldiers were used to verify his kills and Simo reported his kills of the day every evening to Juutilainen in the command post. However I also remember reading a article according which Juutilainen ordered one of his soldiers to stay with Simo and spot the kills, so that they could be verified."

What I remember reading during his most "productive" days Häyhä got as many as 25 kills with his rifle in the single day - with that kind of rate getting from 250 to 500 would not have necessarily taken too long.

Jarkko

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Janne » 14 May 2008 06:42

To add to the perennial argument about the existence or non-existence of Finnish "cuckoos": I've just read Olavi Linturi's account of his war and he tells about Finnish snipers who used wooden frames (platforms?) built well-hidden inside the branches of a big fir tree. This took place during the "trench war" on the Karelian Isthmus during the Continuation War.

This is the first ever actual mention in Finnish histories or veterans' stories that I've seen and AFAIK such constructions had solely been used by artillery fire observers. Anyway, I remain highly sceptical about the "cuckoos" in other theatres of the war or during rearguard or other mobile operations - at least until someone finds even one single reference to them in a field manual or training pamphlet.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Mangrove » 14 May 2008 11:20

Janne wrote:Anyway, I remain highly sceptical about the "cuckoos" in other theatres of the war or during rearguard or other mobile operations - at least until someone finds even one single reference to them in a field manual or training pamphlet.
"The Finnish officers put their machine gun nests in the trees, choosing solidary trees growing alongside the road. I saw how one these "Forest Eagles" was brought down from a tree. He had no time even to fire a single round before our snipers knocked him down".

- Politruk Oreshin. December 1939.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Mangrove » 07 Mar 2009 12:42

Janne wrote:This is the first ever actual mention in Finnish histories or veterans' stories that I've seen and AFAIK such constructions had solely been used by artillery fire observers.
15. Divisioonan sotapäiväkirja (SPK 6167; F124/206). Bolding by me. "Private O. Halla shot three russkies, of whom two from a tree [...]".
9.10.1943. JR 15. klo 18.20.
[...] Tarkka-ampujamme tuhonneet päivän kuluessa 6 ryssää, joiden lisäksi vielä 3 epävarmaa tapausta. Ampujat ylik. Niemi ampui yhden ryssän vartiomiehen Kapujärven luoteispäässä, stm. O. Halla 3 ryssää, joista kaksi puusta Kiviojan maastossa (lisäksi kolme epävarmaa tapausta), stm. Junnila 2 ryssää Viisjoki "j":n maastossa.
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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Harri » 10 Mar 2009 22:48

Martti Kujansuu wrote:
Janne wrote:Anyway, I remain highly sceptical about the "cuckoos" in other theatres of the war or during rearguard or other mobile operations - at least until someone finds even one single reference to them in a field manual or training pamphlet.
"The Finnish officers put their machine gun nests in the trees, choosing solidary trees growing alongside the road. I saw how one these "Forest Eagles" was brought down from a tree. He had no time even to fire a single round before our snipers knocked him down".
- Politruk Oreshin. December 1939.
I doubt this "story". Probably a fairy tale, the start already prove that: "The Finnish officers put". No they didn't, Finnish officer wouldn't order any of his soldier to climb any tree and especially not with the most important weapon he had: MG. And no Finnish soldier would have voluntary climbed tree without any possibility to survive. Because Soviets self used that kinds of methods and didn't bother their soldiers' lives they supposed also others would. In other words Finns are not that stupid [= "pöljä" in Finnish]. In RKKA Politruks were the persons whose task was to spread propaganda among troops. I think most of such stories are from that kind of "source".

I agree with Janne. The only tree platforms I know were for the visual air surveillance or artillery observation. The last ones were noticed unsuitable and dangerous already during the early Winter War and they were not used later.

Finnish Army consisted of tens of thousands hunters who perhaps had their personal Civil Guard rifle with them on the front too (these were used also in hunting during peace time), so it was not hard to find numerous excellent sharp shooters virtually from any unit.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Scharf » 11 Mar 2009 00:14

This is not actually about scores and things like that, but my gd's brother was in sniper-training and he told that men had to took all bullets in 10(what was the target-size, that I do not know) from 300 meters, or man was not accepted in training. So, it seems qualifications were quite tight...if there was any. I really do not know were there some standars or was that just some unit's qualification.
They were using typical m-91 variations, not scope-rifles.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Mangrove » 11 Mar 2009 06:25

Harri wrote: I doubt this "story". Probably a fairy tale, the start already prove that: "The Finnish officers put".
The story was written on his personal diary and found after his death. See http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 9&t=139005 . Another matter of debate is the question is it real of faked.

"This diary was found at Loima during the Finnish-Russian war of 1939-40. It was kept by Politruk Oreshin, who belonged to the 37th Infantry Regiment and later to a detached Ski battalion."

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Mangrove » 11 Sep 2009 21:46

This Häyhä mystery enthral me. I have crawled through a shelf meter of Jalkaväkirykmentti 34's folders and the only document with his name on it is the loss table from March 1940. I still have some important files to go through but it is not looking good for his "world best sniper" image.

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Mangrove » 16 Sep 2009 11:39

Were there any Soviet officer losses due of sniper fire on the first days of the Winter war at the Pyhäjoki area? Pyhäjoki is c. five kilometers SE from Suvilahti at "Hyrsylän mutka".

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Mangrove » 29 Oct 2009 00:50

Häyhä's actual score according to my research. Bold text indicates the figure is from a Finnish Army document; other figures are from literature. His first kill was a Soviet officer at Hyrsylä. 6./JR34 sent a patrol to Hautavaara ferry on 30th November 7.30 a.m. Finnish time so the kill could have been in this area. [1]

22.12.1939 = 138 [2]
+61
26.01.1940 = 199 [3]
+20
16.02.1940 = 219 [4]
+40
07.03.1940 = 259 [2]

[1] JR34:n toimintakertomus 30.11.39-1.12.40. SPK 1327. Finnish National Archive Sörnäinen; Alikersantista vänrikiksi. Hurtti Ukko 1/1941.
[2] Rantamaa, A. J. 1942. Parlamentin palkeilta Kollaanjoen kaltahille. WSOY, Porvoo. Pg. 84, 206.
[3] Perus 2962. Finnish National Archive Sörnäinen; "[...] Hän on ampunut suomalaisella pystykorvakiväärillä 199 ryssää, jos tilanne on ollut kireämpi tai komppaniamme ollut hyökkäämässä, niin silloin S. Häyhä on toiminut pk. tai kp. ampujana, joten hänen konetuliaseilla ampumansa ryssämäärä kohonnee vähintään yhtäsuureksi kuin kiväärilläkin ammuttujen luku. [...]"
[4] Perus 1161/3. Finnish National Archive Sörnäinen. "[...] Hänen tekonsa - 219 vihollista vain kiväärillä ammuttuna ja suunnilleen saman verran konepistoolilla - [...]"

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Re: Finnish snipers during the Winter & Continuation War

Post by Lotvonen » 30 Oct 2009 14:03

For the convenience of those who do not happen to be able to read Finnish:

[3] Perus 2962. Finnish National Archive Sörnäinen; "[...] Hän on ampunut suomalaisella pystykorvakiväärillä 199 ryssää, jos tilanne on ollut kireämpi tai komppaniamme ollut hyökkäämässä, niin silloin S. Häyhä on toiminut pk. tai kp. ampujana, joten hänen konetuliaseilla ampumansa ryssämäärä kohonnee vähintään yhtäsuureksi kuin kiväärilläkin ammuttujen luku. [...]"
"He has shot using a Finnish army rifle 199 Russkies, and in critical situations or if our Company has been attacking then S. Häyhä has been a LMG or SMG gunner. So the number of Russkies he has shot with automatic weapons may be equal to the number of kills with rifle"

[4] Perus 1161/3. Finnish National Archive Sörnäinen. "[...] Hänen tekonsa - 219 vihollista vain kiväärillä ammuttuna ja suunnilleen saman verran konepistoolilla - [...]"
"His achievement - 219 enemies shot with rifle only, and about the same number with a SMG..."

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