What If-Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Discussions on the Winter War and Continuation War, the wars between Finland and the USSR.
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CanKiwi2
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Rucksacks

Postby CanKiwi2 » 24 Oct 2012 20:51

Returning to Rucksacks

Soldiers must carry what they need to fight with. This is an axiom that is true to all armies, even those that are heavily mechanized as at some stage, soldiers will need to dismount and fight with what they are carrying. This was even more so in WW2 when no armies were mechanized (although some had mechanized units) – and for the Maavoimat, whose frontline combat strength consisted almost entirely of infantry, this axiom was as true as for any. Even more so when the nature of Finland’s terrain outside of the Karelian Isthmus called for a mobile defensive war to be fought on foot in forest, lake and swamp terrain along a thousand miles or border. In this sort of warfare, the load carrying capabilities of the individual soldier are critical.

In managing load, the most important point to keep in mind is that an infantry rifleman should carry only the items necessary to complete the immediate mission at hand. The more weight the soldier has to carry, the more rapidly he becomes exhausted. And while fatigue is the infantry soldiers life in the field, fatigue can reduce an effective unit to a leaderless gaggle even in the most benevolent terrain. With rough terrain and bad weather, the effects of fatigue multiply exponentially. The more hills you have to climb and the worse the weather (and in winter in Finland, think VERY cold – and add in a snowstorm or blizzard together with deep snow), the faster you are going to tire. Physical training reduces that rate of fatigue, but does not eliminate it. On the other hand, carrying too much weight can quickly accelerate exhaustion – and carrying too much weight in an uncomfortable position or in a position that throws off natural balance and the soldiers life becomes even harder than it already is.

Day Eight of Basic Training for Maavoimat conscripts in the first training intake of 1938. Fatigue shows on the faces of the young infantrymen. Typical of central Finland weather in January, the days were cold and the nights were colder still, often marked by heavy snow. The sergeant-instructor worked hard to keep the soldiers motivated and moving under their combat loads. No one wanted to be cold or wet, so the rucks were especially heavy. With combat loads of ammunition, grenades, iron-rations, bedrolls, cold weather clothing and their individual share of rhymaa equipment each soldier carried around 80 pounds of gear. After seven days of constant day and night operational training, the effects of carrying that weight were showing. Even the fittest of the platoon were hollow-eyed with fatigue. Their reactions were slow and their minds fuzzy. They rucked up and moved on toward their next mission, an attack on a suspected strong point five kilometers away. Less than 500 meters into the movement, the tired point man missed seeing movement ahead as he cleared the edge of a small grove. The opposing force ambushed the platoon with complete surprise. No one survived.

An even more direct effect of overloading soldiers beyond the effect of fatigue on combat capability is the physical effect of fatigue and stress on the soldiers themselves. Though the common sense rule of "the higher the load, the slower the movement" applies, it is often ignored. The effects can be more long term with an increased risk of back injury. Army doctors even have a term for it - "Infantry back." Symptoms are lower back pain, fatigued spinal muscles, back strains, or, in extreme cases, scoliosis (curvature of the spine). With the Maavoimat, units were trained to operate independently with mobility and flexibility emphasized. In the 1920’s and early 1930’s, this often meant even heavier loads than were the “standard” were carried to allow for problems with the logistical tail keeping up. No-one wanted to be without ammunition at a critical point in a mission for example. And during winter the weight of the load carried increased. This was due to carrying extra clothing and cold weather gear. In summer however, much of the weight reduction from not carrying winter equipment is offset by the need to carry more water.

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Image sourced from: download/file.php?id=55117
Maavoimat infantry rhymaa in winter, seated around portable stove inside tent.

The Maavoimat, as with other armies, carefully studied infantry combat (“fighting”) loads and load-bearing kit to carry this. Load-bearing equipment, designed as a combat harness and intended to carry the “fighting load”, is generally made up of a belt to which equipment may be attached or hung, and belt suspenders which perform a similar function as well as helping to support the weight of the equipment belt when loaded. The “fighting” load generally includes ammunition (both in magazines and loose in additional pouches), grenades, a small pouch with first aid materials, fighting knife in sheath, a bayonet and a water bottle. Additional small pouches could also be attached to carry a compass or watch. These are all essential items for the combat infantryman to fight with and are essential to his effectiveness in combat. Everything else - rucksacks, bedrolls, extra water - are by definition “existence load” added on top of the combat load. Those “existence” items may be necessary for long-term survival but they may also make a soldier comfortably dead if he is too tired to function as a result of carrying them.

In addition to the individual fighting load, the soldier’s load also consists of “existence” items which are required to sustain or protect the infantry rifleman, which may be necessary for the infantry rifleman's increased personal and environmental protection, and which the infantry rifleman normally would not carry when fighting. When possible, the individual existence load items are transported by means other than man-carry. Otherwise both the “fighting” and “existence” loads are carried by the infantry rifleman. Individual existence load items are usually carried in the field pack, or rucksack.

Normal winter equipment issued to a Maavoimat infantryman, as per the Sk.Y publication (Helsinki 1933), “Manual for Soldiers Field Gear Maintenance” and confirmed Jan 1, 1934 for Enlisted Men.

Clothing generally worn: Tunic m27, Pants m27, Underwear, Sweater, Field cap m27, Overcoat m27, Snow coat (winter whites), Gloves, Leather gloves, Leather belt, Belt buckle, Suspenders or Y-Straps, Boots, Socks or cloths used as socks in the Finnish Army, Helmet, Skis & ski poles, Dog tags, Cockade, Bandolier, Snow goggles or mask;

Weapons and combat load: Rifle, Rifle sling with buckle, Rifle muzzle cover, Bayonet, Bayonet frog, Bayonet metal hooks, Ammo pouch (s), 1 ration rifle ammo (number of pieces of ammo not mentioned but standardized in 1938 as 8x20 round magazines for the new Lahti-Saloranta 7.62 SLRs being issued), Personal medical kit, Compass (group or officer gear), Binoculars (group or officer gear), Grenade(s), Water bottle (canteen), Puukko Knife and sheath;

Existence Load: Reppu (Rucksack), Breadbag, Leather straps for pack, Groundsheet, Blanket, SY cleaning kit for Rifle, Rifle cleaner fluid, Oil bottle marked SY, Gas mask, Shovel and belt holder (for use in attaching to rucksack), Messkit, Mess kit leather straps, Cutlery, Cup, Shaving kit or personal kit, 1x8 foot length of rope, iron rations, Share of rhymaa equipment (share of shelter, portable stove, machinegun ammunition, additional loose rifle ammunition, mine(s), additional grenades).

Note that no additional clothing was carried, only what was worn. In extreme cold however, more than one blanket might be carried and additional sweaters and a scarf might be worn. Over the period from 1935 on, equipment improvements and the introduction of new weapons led to a steady increase in the amount of weight an individual infantryman was expected to carry. From 1938 on, pistols began to be issued for individual riflemen as a backup weapon (this was a matter of individual choice) and infantry ryhmaa began to be issued with new anti-personnel mines which had to be carried. The issuing of the new Lohikäärme Vuota body armour starting in late 1939 added an additional 8-10 lbs of weight to the individual soldiers load. The introduction of new weapons with high rates of fire such as the rhymaa (section) light machinegun, the Sampo, and the Suomi submachinegun all required the infantry rhymaa to carry a considerable amount of additional ammunition to feed these weapons. And while the Sampo was a tremendously effective light machinegun, it could use a lot of ammunition in a short timeframe. There was also the Rumpali (the new shoulder-fired mini-mortar – more commonly now referred to as a grenade launcher) whose rounds were not light, particularly when each infantryman carried an additional dozen or more rounds – and when you were going into battle, you certainly wanted as much ammunition available as possible. There were also the new man-portable Nokia radios which the Company (and as more became available, the Platoon) needed to carry.

Over the same period, serious efforts were made to improve the Maavoimat’s logistical supply capabilities. One of the biggest determining factors in infantryman loading is a soldiers confidence in the logistical system. The Pohjan Pohjat volunteer unit that had fought in the Spanish Civil War had identified this as a consistent issue – that soldiers at the platoon level had lacked confidence in the logistical system. This had lead to the soldiers overloading themselves with items they considered essential when going into combat – generally ammunition, water and food. Analysis of the experiences of Pohjan Pohjat made a point of emphasizing that this had to be addressed – when soldiers request ammunition, water and food, those requests must be command priorities. Effective staff planning should forecast when those demands would arise and emergency resupply, in a reactive mode, should be the exception in all phases of operations. In the defense for example, soldiers should not have to wait to be supplied with barbed wire, anti-personnel and anti-tank mines and additional stockpiles of ammunition. They should get these critical items as soon as they begin to move into a defensive posture.

To this end, numerous improvements in the Maavoimat logistics organization took place over the period between 1935 and the start of the Winter War – to provide the support needed, logistical operators needed both the physical assets (including security) and the training opportunities necessary to ensure they could perform their mission during operations. This topic will be covered in subsequent posts as we look at the organization and equipment of the Maavoimat in later posts. For now, suffice it to say that the emphasis was twofold – one emphasis was on ensuring that soldiers knew that they could rely on regular resupply (and ensuring this happened) while the second was on managing the individual load carried by each rifleman.

Tailoring the Load

The Infantry Manual advised that “the load an infantryman carries should not include any other item that can be carried in any other way. Determining the soldier's load is a critical leadership task. The soldier's load is always mission-dependent and must be closely monitored. Soldiers cannot afford to carry unnecessary equipment into the battle. Every contingency cannot be covered. The primary consideration is not how much a soldier can carry, but how much he can carry without impaired combat effectiveness." The 1939 manual goes on to state that the soldier's combat load should not exceed 75 pounds. That limit combines the fighting load – weapon, magazines with ammo, grenades and water canteen weighing in total about 35 pounds together with 10 pounds of body armour - and the rucksack and selected items at 30 pounds. Remaining equipment and materials needed for sustained combat operations form the “sustainment load” to be brought forward by company and battalion when needed.

Officers and NCO’s were advised to ensure the men carried only what was required to carry out the assigned task, allowing only the minimum necessary of “comfort” items. With the type of task, terrain, and environmental conditions influencing the clothing and individual equipment requirements, the unit commander was instructed to set out to the infantrymen the essential items that were to be carried. Leaders were trained to conduct load inspections to ensure load instructions were adhered to.

There were four standard load configurations specified in the manual as a guide:

Fighting load - Only what is worn = 46.9 pounds
Fighting light - Worn plus a small assault “breadbag” = 59 pounds
Approach march - Worn plus the rucksack = 74.9 pounds
Everything - Worn plus the rucksack, assault breadbag, additional ammunition and rhymaa equipment = 95 pounds

During summer exercises in 1938, the initial soldier's load was sampled. Some units entered the exercise area at fighting light (59 pounds), some at the approach march (74.9 pounds). Of the 13 units samples, only one unit entered the fight at fighting load (36.9 pounds). Typically, units in the summer exercise entered the fight at fighting light (59 pounds) or the approach load (74.9 pounds), and in the winter exercises at the end of 1938 entered the fight either at approach load (74.9 pounds) or everything (95 pounds). Putting this into task, enemy, troops, terrain, and time available (TETT-T) perspective, during the summer exercises units came into the fight between 13 and 35 pounds heavier than they should have been. The winter exercise units came into the fight between 15 and 35 pounds too heavy. The net effect was that units in both summer and winter overloaded themselves to the extent that for some, their fighting ability was impaired.

As a result, Officers and NCO’s were advised to consider the risk versus gain aspects of combat loading soldiers. They were advised that as long as soldiers had their mission-essential equipment, they might be uncomfortable at times, but they would be able to sustain their combat effectiveness. Conversely, if soldiers were overloaded and they collapsed from the weight of non-essential items, they might not even reach the objective. By overloading their men with comfort-related items, leaders in effect expended them before they had the opportunity to fight. In considering all of this of course, load-carrying kit and rucksacks were essential. In late 1939, as the Maavoimat mobilized, it was not only uniforms that they were short of. The Maavoimat certainly had rucksacks, but in 1937 they had begun to reassess rucksack design as a result of the increased load that was being carried and had finally settled on an improved rucksack design – but this had only just started being produced. As a result, there was a substantial shortage or combat rucksacks. Rear-area troops had their rucksacks returned for reissue to combat troops and instead, were issued with whatever was available.

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Image sourced from: http://digi.lib.helsinki.fi/pienpainate ... =4&type=hq
Whatever civilian rucksacks were available were requisitioned and issued to rear-area troops. Swedes would also donate many civilian rucksacks.

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Image sourced from: download/file.php?id=288911
The Norwegians would donate 37,000 military rucksacks to Finland. These were suitable for use by combat soldiers and made up a good part of the shortfall for the frontline units.

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Early Maavoimat rucksack

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As you can see, two carrying straps, no reinforcing where the tops of the straps are attached to the canvas. With a heavy load, this type of rucksack was uncomfortable and also, with no waistband,, insecure when moving strenuously.

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Standard early Maavoimat rucksack – 1 backpocket, 2 sidepockets, top loading main compartment.

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Same backpack, view of carrying straps, again no waistband. Note there is no frame for support – this type of frameless rucksack is essentially a carrying sack with all the weight supported by the shoulders. Colloquially known as a “kidney crusher” as that’s where it bounced when you walked or ran while carrying it. Most unsuitable for the carrying of heavy loads, and worse still when anything hard with straight edges was inside it and close to your back. Nevertheless, they were available and remained in use throughout the Winter War although by 1944 they had been largely retired.

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The so called "satulareppu" (saddle rucksack) was the “new” design intended to replace existing rucksacks. With a larger capacity, ergonomically improved design and more comfortable to wear, it was an excellent design for the time. Manufactured domestically, large quantities of canvas and leather donated to Finland by the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation would make the ongoing manufacture in large quantities of this model rucksack possible.

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Note the improved load-bearing and support design – waistband, criss-cross straps on the back helping to support the load, metal frame which assisted in keeping the load off the back, leather straps on the sides and top for fastening external items to the rucksack easily. This was a vast improvement over the earlier models. In late 1939, manufacturing of this rucksack had been underway for only just over a year and numbers in stock were limited. Large numbers (well over two hundred thousand) would be manufactured and issued over the course of the Winter War and by 1943, this rucksack would be the standard issue to all Maavoimat soldiers - largely made possible by the large shipments of canvas and leather dispatched from Australia.

Over the course of the Winter War, the Maavoimat would also acquire large numbers of Red Army rucksacks from their previous owners. As with much other captured and recovered Red Army equipment, these would be reissued within the Maavoimat and many would see service through to the end of WW2.

Next Post: Uniforms
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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CanKiwi2
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Re: What If-Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Postby CanKiwi2 » 26 Oct 2012 15:28

And now, moving on to Uniforms……

Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus were well aware of Australia’s (and to a lesser extent New Zealand’s) reputation as an exporter of wool and hide. Prior to WW2 Finnish cargo ships had been regular visitors in Australian ports, loading shipments of grain, wool and hides for export. As has been noted in an earlier post, some of the last sailing ships in the world transporting commercial cargos were the Finnish-owned sailing ships on the grain route, the “Cape Horners”, loading grain in Australia and then sailing across the Southern Ocean, rounding Cape Horn and thence to Europe. (For a fascinating insight into life on these ships, read Eric Newby’s “The Last Grain Race” and his “Learning the Ropes: An Apprentice on the Last of the Windjammers” which has an amazing collection of photos showing what life was like on these sailing ships). With a Finnish consulate in Sydney, Finland was well-briefed on the Australian economy and Australian industries and the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus team (and the Purchasing Team that accompanied them) were well-prepared.

Finland had generally imported what wool that was not produced locally from Argentina and from the British Commonwealth countries of Australia and New Zealand – and with a fairly large domestic textile industry, business ties with Australian exporters existed. War planning had identified both Australia and New Zealand (and Argentina) as a potential source of supply for wool, canvas leather for the manufacture of military uniforms and military equipment and this was in fact one of the key areas that the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus team in Sydney was intended to focus on when negotiating for assistance. And there WAS a major need. As has been mentioned a number of times, Finland had spent a considerable amount of the state budget on defence, together with loans and fund raising through Defence Bonds. However, the main focus of spending had been on weapons, munitions and equipment – NOT on uniforms and uniform “accessories” such as belts, webbing, suspenders, sheaths for knives, winter hats, gloves, etc. “You can’t shoot someone with a uniform” was the general thought through the last years of the 1930’s and the emphasis had always as a result been on weapons and munitions – and despite the all-party support for increased defence spending, there was in Finland a continuing strong under-current of resistance to any expenditure thought of as “unnecessary”. And so, while there were just enough uniforms for the conscripts undergoing training, and for the Suojeluskuntas and Lotta Svard members who had paid for them themselves, there were to few uniforms available in military storage depots and warehouses for the soldiers mobilized from the general reserves.

As the Finnish military had quietly mobilized over the summer and autumn of 1939, this had become more than obvious, with mobilized reservists referring rather sarcastically to their “Model Cajander” uniforms. This was a pointed reference to the Finnish Politician and Prime Minister Aimo Cajander, who even at this late stage and despite the intelligence reports and aerial reconnaissance photographs taken from Ilmavoimat Wihuri photo-recon aircraft flying at high altitude over the USSR, did not believe that the Soviet Union would actually attack Finland – he had consistently been strongly opposed to increased defence spending and had at one stage stated that “I would rather see the money that we waste on defence spending go to build schools for our children rather than pay for uniforms for soldiers to molder in warehouses.”

This statement had been made at the height of the debates over increased defence spending following the Munich Crisis and it had been with bad grace that Cajander had allowed himself to be overruled, with the defence budget drastically increased while other “social” spending, which he regarded as far more useful, was cut. Cajander had however scored a minor victory – he had his way in ensuring that no defence funds were “wasted” on uniforms – “we’re paying for the defence of Finland, not for the military to display themselves like peacocks” as he put it – with the end result being that Cajander's name is now best remembered for the "Model Cajander" uniform which most Finnish reservists wore at the start of the Winter War: Soldiers were given a utility belt, an emblem to be attached to their hat — to comply with the Hague Conventions — and otherwise, they had to use their own clothes. Fortunately, the Finnish Army had more than enough weapons, ammunition and increasingly, the new “Lohikäärme Vuota” body-armour – but of uniforms, nowhere near enough.

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Image sourced from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... jander.png
Aimo Kaarlo Cajander: Prime Minister of Finland on the outbreak of the Winter War (born 4 April 1879 in Uusikapupunki – died, 21 January 1943 in Helsinki) was, outside of botany, best known as Prime Minister of Finland at the start of the Winter War. He was a Professor of Forestry 1911–34; Director-General for Finland's Forest and Park Service 1934–1943; Prime Minister in 1922, 1924, and 1937–1939; Chairman of the National Progressive Party 1933–1943 and a Member of Parliament. Cajander came to politics in 1922 when President Ståhlberg asked him to take office as Prime Minister, although he had not up until this time participated actively in politics. Ståhlberg asked him to take office as Prime Minister a second time in January 1924. Cajander's short-lived cabinets were merely caretakers before parliamentary elections. In 1927 Cajander joined the National Progressive Party and in 1928 he was chosen as Minister of Defence. He was elected to Parliament in 1929. When Kyösti Kallio was elected President in 1937, Cajander was asked as the chairman of the National Progressive Party to form a majority government. Cajander formed a coalition government of the two largest parties in parliament – the Social Democrats and the Agrarian League – the so-called “Red-Earth government”.

He personally opposed increased defence spending to the end, refusing to the very last day of peace to believe that there was any threat of war from the Soviet Union (although fortunately, his views on defence spending were over-ruled both from within his own party and from almost all other parties in Parliament, something he acquiesced to less than gracefully). The outbreak of war and the attack on Finland by the Soviet Union left him stunned, perhaps resulting in his allegedly stating after he was advised that war had broken our "Tarkoittaako tämä, että hallitus kokoontuu ennen virka-aikaa?" (“Does this mean that the Government will meet before the official time?”). His government was given a unanimous vote of confidence in Parliament, but then resigned immediately, after which Cajander’s high-flying political career collapsed. He remained in parliament as an MP and continued to work as Chairman of the Finnish Forest Service until his death in Parliament House in January 1943.


Nevertheless, despite Finland’s otherwise high state of preparedness for a war, the supply of Uniforms suitable for wear in winter combat-conditions remained an enormous gap – and with the entire nation in arms, excepting only old women, essential industry workers and children 14 and under, large numbers of uniforms were needed. Adequate winter uniforms were also needed for the rapidly increasing numbers of foreign volunteers, including the large numbers of Polish soldiers already in Finland who had arrived with only what they were wearing at the time of their evacuation. Finland did in fact have a textile industry where uniforms had been made in small quantities, but there was no possibility of producing the hundreds of thousands of pieces of uniform clothing required in a short timeframe. This was where the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus team (and the small Military Purchasing Team attached) in Sydney came in (as did similar teams elsewhere in the world). The Military Purchasing Team (which was actually made up of a mere half a dozen purchasers, too old to fight but with decades of experience in the textile business in Tampere) had travelled to Australia with the specifications for a range of both Winter and Summer uniforms, as well as samples and specifications of the fabrics.

With regard to Uniforms, there had been very little delay. As war looked probable rather than possible, the Military Purchasing Team had been allocated a budget by the Defence “Tsar”, Rudolph Walden, to kick start uniform manufacturing, with additional funding budgeted for immediate release should war break out. As a result, emergency orders were placed with selected Australian and New Zealand clothing manufacturers in mid-November 1939. Large orders for textiles (woollen fabrics, cotton and canvas) and leather for shipment to Finland were also placed and with large stockpiles existing in Australian warehouses, one Finnish cargo ship which had just arrived in Melbourne was already well en-route loaded with a cargo of Australian grain, raw wool, textiles and leather when the Winter War broke out. On the outbreak of the Winter War, the existing Finnish orders that had been placed were increased substantially, and in anticipation of a prolonged war, orders were placed for large numbers of lightweight summer uniforms.

As we look at the orders placed, we will also look at the Finnish uniforms themselves as well as taking a brief look at the history behind them, and their development over the inter-war decades.

A somewhat cursory background to the development of Finnish Uniforms

(Please note that some of the content below is summarised from an article by Vic Thomas, “The military uniforms and accessories of the Finnish Army and Civil Guard” – for the full article and illustrations please go to http://www.mosinnagant.net/finland/Finn ... evised.asp. Photos are taken from a number of different sources. Any screw-ups with the actual uniforms are definitely mine :oops: )

In the years just after the Finnish Civil War (1918-1919), the nacent Maavoimat (Finnish Army) had not only to acquire weapons and train soldiers but was also faced with the need to equip itself with field gear and uniforms. The early Maavoimat used tunics and field uniforms of all sorts and nationalities including altered and even “as issued” Imperial Russian, German, and Swedish tunics, not to mention the widespread use of civilian clothing. This made for a rag-tag look that was viewed as unsuitable for issue in the newly organized armed forces and also made it difficult to distinguish enemy or friendly troops, so field command could be problematic. The Finns decided to work on a standard issue tunic and a design was selected that was similar to the German/Prussian tunics that were worn by the Finnish volunteers of the 27th Jaeger Battalion and by German troops that came to the aid of the "White Finns" during the civil war. These first tunics were designated the model 1918 and model 1919 tunic. The Finnish m/19 tunic was the initial tunic produced for issue but were made in very low numbers. The material of the m/19 was of fine quality and the tailoring of exceptional craftsmanship, having more of a dress appearance to them and being much more suited for the parade ground and the officers clubs of the professional officer than for wear in battle. They were not suitable for any kind of prolonged field or combat use, and with the high neckline of the collar and the tailored fit of the waist and shoulder area they were not particularly comfortable. There are also no exterior cargo pockets of any capacity that a proper combat tunic would need.

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Image sourced from: http://www.mosinnagant.net/images/Uniformfinnishm19.JPG
The Finnish Model 1919 tunic. The cap is of a later model but of the same service branch. Note the color of the piping on the epaulettes and on the edge of the cap

Somewhat incidentally, Field Marshal Mannerheim gave the job of designing the rank insignia and badges to his aide-de-campe, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, who incorporated a great sense of style and national imagery into his designs in an effort to create a national feeling among the armed forces personnel.

The model 1922 uniform

In order to improve the comfort and function of the m/19 uniform and also to make mass-production easier, it was decided to modify the design to make the uniform more practical for general use and also to reduce the costs of making the uniforms (one must remember that the budget for the armed forces of Finland at this time was very small). The new design was approved and became the model 1922 (m/22). With the founding officers of the Maavoimat being largely made up of ex-Jaegers, the Germanic influence was strong and the design influence of the German tunics was seen in the m/22. The m/22 tunics were designed to be a general issue tunic and were produced in two color variations. The standard color was a steel gray but there was also a blue version issued to those in the naval forces. The Ilmavoimat (Air Force) and Coastal Artillery wore a combination of the two uniform colors - generally the gray blouse with the darker blue trousers. A lightweight version of the m/22 was produced for officers wear in the summer - this was made with a lighter cotton material and was worn primarily for ceremonial functions and for office work

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Image sourced from: http://www.mosinnagant.net/images/Uniformfinnishm22.JPG
Model 1922 Tunic: The classification and rank insignia on the M/22 tunics was ornate and formal, with great differences between branch of service designs as well as in rank insignia. These tunics made comfortable formal or garrison wear but proved completely unsuited for field use, being deemed a disappointment as a combat issue tunic.

While the m/22 addressed some of the flaws of the earlier 1919 style with the addition of two large cargo pockets on the bottom of the blouse, the fabric was too delicate for prolonged field issue and did not hold up to rigorous use. What was needed was a uniform for combat troops that would be easy to produce, cheap in material and labor costs and of a sufficiently rugged design and construction to be an adequate combat tunic under severe conditions.

The model 1927 Tunic

In 1926 a committee under Eversti (Colonel) Kaarlo Lauri Malmberg was established to address and correct the problems associated with the m/22. Before we go any further, a quick review of Malmberg is in order as he will appear more frequently as this history proceeds.

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Kaarlo Lauri Torvald Malmberg (8 May, 1888 Helsinki, Finland - 14 March 1948) graduated from school in 1908 and continued his studies at the University of Technology Mechanical Engineering Department from 1908-1914, at the end of which he achieved a Master of Science degree. After graduating, he worked at the Gottfried Strömberg machine shop. He was one of the first to volunteer to go to Germany for military training in 1914 and enlisted on 6 March 1915. He was assigned to the Royal Prussian 27th Jaeger Battalion in the Engineers, but volunteered for the artillery. Major Bayer, the battalion CO, chose 26 men for the battalion artillery on the basis of interviews – Malmberg was one of these 26. He was transferred on 17 March 1916, which was the official establishment date for the battalion artillery. Over WW1 he took part in fighting on the Eastern Front with the 27th where he was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class for bravery and initiative in battle.

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Kaarlo Lauri Malmberg with field artillery howitzer on the Eastern Front.

In February 1918 Malmberg joined the Finnish White Army, arriving in Vaasa on 25 February 1918 with the main body of the Jaegers. From Vaasa he was ordered to Pietarsaari and assigned responsibility for forming and training artillery units. The Jaeger Artillery under Malmberg participated in the capture of Tampere, after which Malmberg was appointed to the command the Jaeger Artillery Brigade. In the last big operation of the Civil War, the capture of Viipuri, he was the commander of the artillery throughout. This was the first battle where the Finnish Artillery fired to a coordinated plan. After the war ended, Malmberg was ordered to design artillery training in 1918, together with Colonel Vilho Nenonen. In May 1918 he was ordered to Headquarters and on 12 July 1918, he was appointed Director of the Finnish Artillery School, and on 24 July 1918 Commander of 1 Field Artillery Regiment. He married Ragni Ståhlberg (1890-1965), a dentist, in 1918 (she was the sister of Jaeger Major Armas Ståhlberg).

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Image sourced from: http://photos.geni.com/p6/7484/2357/534 ... medium.jpg
Ragni Ståhlberg (1890-1965) was Lauri Malmberg’s wife and a Dentist in Helsinki. Her father was a cousin of Kaarlo Juha Ståhlberg, the first President of Finland (from 1919-1925). She was heavily involved in the setting up of the Finnish School Dental Nurse program in the last half of the 1930’s and worked closely with the New Zealand consultant to the Finnish Government on the program on technical aspects of setting up the training program for School Dental Nurses. Colonel Hunter and his wife Greta were frequent guests at Malmberg’s home.

The next step in Malmberg’s military career was in September 1921 when he was appointed Commander of the Suojeluskuntas (Civil Guard), a position he held until he retired in 1945. This was a position of some responsibility, increasingly so following the Defence Review of 1932 and the ongoing reorganization of the defence forces through the 1930’s. On first being appointed, Malmberg saw that the Suojeluskuntas were disorganized but he also saw the positive aspects of the Suojeluskuntas and Lotta organisations. Taking his new role seriously, after visiting units across the country, he ensured that what was unessential was dropped, with the main focus being battle and field exercises. “Combat Exercises opened my eyes to see what power lay in this voluntary organization”, Malmberg said. “These men and women I met had plenty of pent-up power and the military training offered unsuspected possibilities.” As Commander of the Suojeluskuntas, Malmberg was responsible for the rapidly increasing effectiveness of the Suojeluskuntas in the 1930’s, as well as the setting up and success of the Military Cadet program over the same decade.

He served as Minister of Defence from April 1924 to October 1925 and as Acting Commander-in-Chief of the Army in 1925. Between 1928 and 1928 he was Chairman of the Uniform Committee. He served as President of the Association over 1920-1922 and as Jaeger League chairman over 1921-1922, as well as being a member of the Defence Review Committee in the years 1923-1924. He was promoted to Major-General in 1927 and was promoted to Lieutenant-General in 1936. Over the inter-war years, he kept abreast of military affairs in other countries, naking a number of Maavoimat-commissioned study trips abroad to Sweden, the UK, Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland. He was also a member of the Defence Council from 1923 to 1939 and as such, was closely involved with the ongoing strengthening of the defence forces through the 1930s, a program of which he was, as might be expected, a strong supporter. In this position, he was largely responsible for the turning of the Suojeluskuntas and Lotta organizations into semi-apolitical organizations in which SDP members were welcomed, if not with open arms, then at least without overt hostility. He was also responsible for many of the training programs that were introduced through the 1930’s and was an enthusiastic advocate of the increasingly popular KKT martial art, both within and without the Suojeluskuntas and Lottas.

As Commander of the Suojeluskuntas, Malmberg was also largely responsible for encouraging the tremendous effort that went on from 1934 through to 1939 in developing the defensive positions on the Karelian Isthmus through the participation of volunteers. The first series of volunteer camps in the summer of 1935 saw 65,000 men participate, of which an estimated two-thirds were Suojeluskuntas, with around 2,500 Lottas attending to the catering and accommodation. Year by year the numbers grew, with the encouragement of patriotic organisations, the government and employers, until at its peak over the summer of 1938 and 1939 some 130,000 men and teenagers took part in the construction activities. As commander of the Suojeluskuntas, Malmberg also visited Switzerland a number of times through the 1930’s – both countries faced a similar military challenge and both maintained defensive postures that were strikingly similar. There were a number of mutual visits between the Swiss and Finnish militaries, with valuable information exchanged. Shooting teams from both countries also participated regularly in competitions in each other’s national and local competitions.

Malmberg would take away a number of Swiss practices which would be introduced into (or would influence) the Suojeluskuntas and into military reserve practices within Finland. Perhaps chief among these was the progressive issuing of individual military equipment to every Suojeluskuntas member, and then to the Reserves. Initially this was limited by the number of weapons and field kit items available, but as items became available they were progressively issued to Suojeluskuntas members, then to members of the Active Reserves, then to Lottas and Cadets. Malmberg’s stated objective was that, as with Switzerland, every Finn old enough to carry a weapon should be issued a weaponto keep at home and be trained in its use as well as being a member of a Reserve or Home Defence unit, thus markedly speeding up the mobilization of the military. Malmberg was also instrumental, at first somewhat reluctantly and then with growing enthusiasm, in the training and assigning of Lotta’s to roles in the mobilized military. In this he met with considerable resistance but the inexorable demands on manpower as the military was reorganized and strengthened lent a great deal of weight to his arguments in favour of assigning Lottas to non-combat roles such as logistics, signals, intelligence, medical, AA and searchlight units and to rear-area units.

During the Winter War and indeed through to the end of WW2, Malmberg was the Home Defence Force Commander – a position of some responsibility. The Home Defence Force (which included many of the Lottas, the Cadets and men too old or medically unfit for front-line service or in war-critical industrial positions) augmented the mobilized defence forces, taking responsibility for manning depots and warehouses, performing logistics tasks away from the front-line and immediate rear-areas, conducting recruiting and training for additional troops and front-line Lottas and manning security positions around important factories, transport facilities and the like. In addition, the Home Defence Force took care of horses and vehicles, located clothing, administered rationing, located equipment and tools, manned AA Guns and searchlights, co-ordinated the movement to safety of refugees and performed numerous other tasks, many of then not planned for but which needed to be done.

As the war went on, the Home Defence Forces also provided replacement troops to replace those killed and wounded, with the 16-17 year old Cadets first undergoing military training and then being sent first to the 3 Replacement Divisions, and from there to the frontlines. In January 1940, the front needed 10,000 trained men to replace those who had been killed or were wounded. In February 1940, the number needed for the month was 14,000 and month by month through the war, more replacements were needed. These were all found from the Home Defence Forces. Home Defence units would also come to take responsibility for scouring battlefields for reusable Red Army equipment, collecting and transporting these to depots where it could be evaluated, cleaned, assigned for repair or scrap, collected and reissued, freeing up combat capable units from this needed work. Much valuable equipment was recovered and reused in this way, much of it was reissued to arriving foreign volunteer units who lacked much in the way of equipment, many, such as the British Commonwealth troops, not even having Rifles. Home Defence units would also be responsible for the collection, transportation and guarding of the increasingly numerous numbers of Red Army prisoners (very few in the first months of the war, but far more numerous over the summer of 1940).

After the Winter War, the Home Defence Forces would be organized more formally based on the lessons learned. When Finland re-entered WW2 in 1944, the Home Defence Forces were again mobilized and performed similar roles. As the Maavoimat advanced southwards down the Baltic littoral, special units of the Home Defence Forces would move in behind them, tasked with assisting in the temporary administration of the liberated areas, providing care for refugees and relief to civilians, supporting the establishment of Government and the re-establishment and re-equipment of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian militaries through the redirection of lend-lease equipment from the US and Britain (in general the Finns had concealed the amounts of equipment they had built and stockpiled and asked for far more than they actually needed – this was then reissued to the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian militaries that were rapidly re-established as soon as the frontline had passed by. The local American and British commanders knew what was happening but turned a blind eye. The US State Department remained oblivious until the Soviet Union protested, by which time it was a fait accompli). Malmberg in large part also responsible for the logistical side of this effort and for the establishment of the training units which guided the reformation of the militaries of the Baltic States.

As such, Malmberg’s was a critical role through the last year of WW2 and towards the end, the pressure told. Always something of a heavy drinker (as were a number of his fellow Generals incluing Aksel Airo, Taavetti Laatikainen and Martti Wallenius), the situation came to a head in the summer of 1945 when Mannerheim rather pointedly addressed the matter of his drinking with Malmberg. The result was that Malmberg was required to apply for threemonths sick leave, which Mannerheim granted with strict conditions set. However, Germany surrendered before Malmbergs sick leave was up and Malmberg resigned at his own request. He died in Helsinki on 14 March 1948 of severe cardiac illness. He is buried in Hietaniemi Cemetery, Helsinki. The Home Defence Units that he had led so capably for so many years would miss his leadership as they, together with the rest of the Finnish military and their allies from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia faced the challenge of maintaining their freedom from the Soviet Union. Such was the caliber of the Officer who was in charge of the Uniform Committee in its early days.


The committee soon decided that the m/22 was not suitable and that a new combat uniform was needed. This decision led to the development and issue of the Model 1927 (m/27) tunic. This would be made of coarse heavy wool and was to to be issued to all branches of service for combat use, including both the Finnish Army and the Finnish Civil Guard (who often procured their own equipment outside of Army controls and decrees). There was also to be a standard uniform color (a brownish-green) regardless of service branch. Sometime in the early to mid 1930's the green color or tint became the more dominant color shade of the wool dye for the m/27. It is not known why this change in color dominance occurred, whether from new material or as a result of an official order. Some of the major improvements over the m/19 were the addition of oversized front breast pockets, an oversized collar that offered some protection from the elements in colder conditions, and an inner pocket for personal items or a field dressing. The tunic was also made with an inner belt for ease in fit for all body types. The m/27 was a vastly superior uniform to the m/22 for field duty and combat issue. They were strongly constructed and could hold up under almost any usage no matter how vigorous or challenging. The new issue uniforms generally met with approval by troops in the field.

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Image sourced from: http://www.mosinnagant.net/images/uniformcgm27.JPG
The M/27 tunic as issued to all branches of the Finnish Armed Forces. This is an early tunic issued to a Civil Guard trooper showing the brown tint commonly seen on first versions of the m/1927 style uniforms

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Image sourced from: http://www.mosinnagant.net/images/m27ci ... rkings.JPG
Inside of a Civil Guard m/27 tunic. Here the inner pocket and the waist belt can be seen. Tightening the inner belt gave the uniform a much more custom fit. It also allowed for a general one-size-fits-all type feature as the uniform had some self adjusting capability.

These tunics were meant to be issued as both summer and winter wear. One of the first problems to arise was that the fabric used was thick and heavy-duty and as such could be uncomfortable to wear in warmer months. Another related problem was the cost of the heavy wool used in the construction of the tunic, the added expense of which began to be looked upon as an unnecessary strain on the tight military budget. Senior officers also felt that the m/27, with its large bulky appearance, was not appropriate for the more "formal" duties a uniform was required to perform on garrison duties and outside of “field” exercises and combat. There was a distinct “garrison” mindset in many among the Finnish military of the 1920s that, post-1932 and as one of the starting points of the strengthening of the Finnish armed forces, would be ruthlessly stamped out.

And indeed, in 1932 yet another joint committee was established to discuss not only uniforms but the redesign of many of the outdated field issue items in use by the Finnish armed forces. A general modernization of uniforms, field issue and weapons was to take place throughout the entire Finnish armed forces over the remainder of the decade. It was this commission that recommended that the m/27 uniform be modernized. These commissions set into motion the research and development of the tunic that was to replace the m/27 - the Model 1934 (m/34) uniform. This new uniform was to change the look and design of the Finnish issue uniform for the next 30 years. We will cover the uniform in this Post as it was these uniform items that would be manufactured for Finland in quantity by Australia and New Zealand (and later by Argentina). Field issue and weapons will be covered in later posts where we examine the Maavoimat in detail).

The beginning of change-1932 to 1934

The 1932 committee started by acquiring current issue combat uniforms from Germany, Britain and Sweden through the Finnish military attaches stationed abroad. These were to be used in a comparative evaluation in respect to the function, color and design of the new Finnish combat uniform. While all were examined in detail, it was the German-style uniform that was decided on as the model on which to base a new Finnish design. The style of the British tunic was seen to be inadequate in respect to the weather conditions that Finnish troops are faced with – and the brown wool color scheme was rather to reminiscent of the Soviet Army's colors. The Swedish uniform was considered a suitable design but buying the cotton material that was used posed a problem for the budget-constrained Finnish military. It was also obvious that the basis of the Swedish uniform was in any case rooted in the German designs.

In regard to a summer uniform, the 1932 committee on equipment upgrades approved a new lightweight cotton blouse for wear in the warmer summer months. The m/32 summer tunic was primarily reserved for officers but proved to be so popular that the committee decided in May of 1933 to approve its issue to general enlisted troops as well. An order was placed with Armeijan Pukimo (the Army Clothing Store and often abbreviated inside the tunic with a black ink stamping of AP) but very few of the summer blouses were delivered to field units before another switch was ordered in 1936.

In February of 1934 the trial production in limited quantities of a new uniform was approved for field-testing. This would be known as the experimental uniform Model 1934 (m/34). These tunics were produced in very limited numbers, being issued to possibly only nine units in the Finnish Army for testing. These first trial tunics were made in two colors- those being gray and a green-brown shade of the earlier m/27. It is believed Germany supplied the wool material used to manufacture these tunics, but this has never been confirmed as fact. Small numbers of these m/34 uniforms did see issue in the Winter War of 1939 but these were very rare to encounter and the issuing of these to combat troops can be attributed to the shortage of uniforms at the start of the Winter War. These uniforms made use of a much lighter and less coarse wool than seen in the earlier m/27 tunics and as such were quite a bit more comfortable to wear in warmer months when compared to the earlier m/27. The German influence on these tunics could be seen in the design of the open collars that now were smaller and less confining. The collar could also be worn unclasped so that it fell open. A special scarf was worn around the neck. The front breast pockets were now pleated, and the shoulder epaulets were similar to those seen in the German Army and constructed of the same material of the tunic.

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Image sourced from: http://www.mosinnagant.net/images/Germanm32.JPG
The Finnish prototype model of the 1934 tunic was modeled off the German model 1932 combat tunic. Photo is attributed to "Asepuku m/36" by Petteri Leino.

The m/34 also saw the first wide spread transfer of the rank and service branch identifying patches and badges from the shoulder boards to the collar. This was a practical move based on two decisions. One was that shoulder boards were reminiscent of the earlier Czarist designs and the second is that ranks displayed on shoulder boards made the ability to identify the rank and service impractical under combat conditions or if covered by a jacket or coat. With these being moved to the collar as a patch sewn on, it allowed a quick and easy identification of who was who. Both the m/32 summer tunic and the m/34 were a great success and a foundation was laid for the development and manufacture of the next version, which was based strongly on the m/34.

Next Post: Decision made - the model 1936 Uniform
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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Re: What If-Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Postby CanKiwi2 » 26 Oct 2012 21:07

Decision made - the model 1936 Uniform

The final decisions of the 1932 committee and the reports from the field on the testing of the new model 1934 uniform were reviewed and some small changes incorporated to ease manufacture over the 1934 trial version. The two most important changes were to the color and the style of the collar. It was decided to deviate from the open lapel style of the German tunic to that of the more traditional m/22 collar style but in a lower height. The final design of the new tunic would serve not only as a combat tunic but also as a suitable uniform for non-combat functions. On May 29th of 1936 the order was given for the production to begin of the new m/36 tunic. As soon as sufficient supplies were in store, it was to be issued to replace all existing styles of uniform in service. The decision was made that it would not be fiscally responsible to remove the older style uniforms like the m/22 and m/27 from service completely. Instead a transfer of the existing stockpiles of the older uniforms would take place. The Suojeluskuntas and the Border Guard units were to use the older pattern uniforms until wear and tear eventually ensured their removal from service.

The first tunics were made from existing stores of cloth for the m/22 uniform and as a result were of a lighter gray color than that finally adopted. These early tunics also often converted from existing stores of m/22 tunics and updated to the m/36 specifications. This resulted in not only the lighter color cloth but also the use of buttoned sleeve cuffs in a darker color. As soon as the existing stockpiles of the cloth and uniforms of the earlier styles were depleted by the manufactures, a more uniform darker gray color emerged as adopted. In keeping with the approved design features of the m/34 tunic, the new m/36 retained the four pockets with scalloped closure flaps on the front of the uniform. Two smaller pockets were placed on each breast with pleated centers.

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Image sourced from: http://www.mosinnagant.net/images/Unifo ... onhame.JPG
Early pattern m/36 winter tunic worn by an HRR Dragoon (Hame Cavalry) trooper

The new m/36 incorporated the same style belt hooks as used on the German tunics and the trial m/34 uniform. These stainless steel belt hooks were attached to the rear of the tunic by two heavy cotton cloth straps in the interior of the jacket. They then slid out of one of four slits or reinforced buttonhole type openings on the rear of the tunic. They were a great aid in load bearing and helped to hold the tunic belt up when loaded with full cartridge pouches or the bread bag and canteen.

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Image sourced from: http://www.mosinnagant.net/images/Uniformbelthooks.JPG
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Image sourced from: http://www.mosinnagant.net/images/Unifo ... thbelt.JPG
The belt hooks that protrude through the rear of the tunic in the 3 slits provided for various heights. It allowed for the belt to be supported, especially with a heavy load of ammunition or equipment suspended from it. The top photo shows the tunic with the hooks installed and the bottom illustrates the belt supported by the aluminum belt hooks.

In line with an increasing emphasis on combat readiness rather than garrison duties, there was no differentiation between uniforms for officers and those for NCO’s and enlisted men, although some officers had their uniforms privately tailored. These tunics were generally of a higher quality in material and manufacture as well as style. While the pattern is the same for each tunic it was common for the cloth color to deviate from tunic to tunic depending on the source and what was in stock from the suppliers at the time of manufacture.

Greatcoats

In addition to the uniform reforms of 1934 it should be noted that the winter wear of the Maavoimat included Army issue great coats. Other varieties were issued like the m/22 sheepskin and sheepskin lined oilcloth coats but those were only issued to certain units like the Cavalry and Artillery units and were not the norm. The primary greatcoat of the Finnish Army came into use with the m/22 uniform and was calf length and made of heavy coarse wool. The interior was lined in a cotton cloth. Privately tailored greatcoats often used higher-grade wool and had full length lining material. The m/22 greatcoat was made of medium gray cloth and used a dark gray wool for the collar and sleeve cuffs. This was later dropped and the 18cm cuffs were made of the same material as the coat. These m/22 great coats were made in large numbers and many served on up into the wartime period with the m/36 uniforms. The m/27 uniform had a great coat as well in the matching green/brown wool color of that particular uniform.

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Image sourced from: http://www.kevos4.com/images/long_coat_1a.jpg
Maavoimat M/36 Greatcoat

The m/36 greatcoat followed the same pattern as the m/22 but was simplified in construction. Early greatcoats had a button closure on the rear kick pleat that allowed it to close all the way down when on guard duty or when standing. It could be unbuttoned for marching or ease of running when extra space was needed for movement. The m/36 greatcoats were well made from heavy wool with silk and cotton linings. There were other greatcoats made in the m/36 such as a the cotton raincoat and oil cloth version as often issued to naval units but these fell largely into voluntary issue and are not encountered in any quantity or frequency today.

As mentioned, an alternative to the m/22 and m/36 greatcoat was the “fur” or sheepskin coat that was more commonly used by the Border Guards, who had more latitude with their clothing and equipment than did the Maavoimat soldiers.

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Image sourced from: http://s12.postimage.org/3oo343ztp/Finn ... r_Coat.jpg
Border Guard units had a large variety of different types of fur coats bought over the years. The most common one seems to have been a civilian-type sheepskin with a cotton or viscose windproof fabric shell, one with a wool fabric shell was much rarer. The second most common type was an unlined lightweight calfskin "fur" without a shell.

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Image sourced from: http://s12.postimage.org/e00fwrrj1/Fur_ ... er_War.jpg
“Fur” coat, photo from the Winter War. The fur coats were much preferred to the m/22 or m/36 wool greatcoats by the men due to the weight saving ( 4 kgs for the greatcoat compared to 1.7 kg for the fur coats).

Both types of coats were in short supply for issue to the mobilized reservists immediately prior to the Winter War – but both coats were also easily made by clothing manufacturers in Australia and New Zealand from available materials. Clothing companies in both countries were able to complete manufacturing large quantities of these coats in a short timeframe – and with the Purchasing Team in Sydney advising somewhat informally that the soldiers themselves preferred the sheepskin coats, these were in large part what were manufactured and delivered. These were generally manufactured with a heavy cotton windproof shell and a “sheepskin” lining. The cutting for these coats was generally fast, with the assembly by sewing taking most of the time. In both New Zealand and Australia, clothing factory sewers were augmented by large numbers of women volunteers under the auspices of the Finland Assistance organizations who carried out the assembly and sewing by hand, vastly increasing the quantities of winter coats and of windproof trousers that could be produced in the timeframe available. (This, incidentally, was not unique to Australia and New Zealand but also occurred in Britain, Canada and the US – see this link for a short newsclipping on this subject- http://www.wharfedaleobserver.co.uk/features/featuresnostalgia/9905324.War_effort_backing_Finland_is_sew_good/).

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Image sourced from: http://www.wharfedaleobserver.co.uk/res ... eLandscape
It was a beautiful setting for this sewing party when they got together to make clothes for people in Finland in January 1940. The group met at Denton Hall, near Ilkley, to make garments as part of the war effort. In the Ilkley Gazette of January 19, the sewers were said to be members of the Denton Depot. Mrs Arthur Hill and Miss K Hill were pictured with the group, left, as they worked on a special consignment of goods for Finland. The garments shown were part of a large consignment, much of which had already been collected and dispatched.

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Image sourced from: http://www.royalalbertamuseum.ca/virtua ... /2-6-1.jpg
In New Zealand, the Roslyn Mills clothing factory would produce 25,000 pieces of military uniform per week for the Finnish Defence Forces in the period from mid-November 1939 to the end of January 1940 when the last of the Finnish cargo ships and troop transports departed. Here, Roslyn Mills sewers at work. The piles in the background give an idea of the pace at which these skilled workers could put together uniform items. Note that Roslyn Mills was one of only half a dozen large manufacturers in New Zealand who for some ten weeks dedicated their production facilities to the Finnish orders – and their were many such factories in Australia also.

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Image sourced from: http://www.royalalbertamuseum.ca/virtua ... /2-6-3.jpg
A staff photo taken outside the Roslyn Mills clothing factory in January 1940 to commemorate the factory’s contribution to the Finnish War. Roslyn Mills, as with other large New Zealand textile manufacturers and clothing factories, had built their business and reputation on high quality workwear and fair employment practices. If anything, the workers strove to deliver even higher quality clothing for the soldiers of Finland – the end result was that the uniforms and coats from New Zealand were of extremely high standard and much sought after.

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Image sourced from: http://www.magazine.utoronto.ca/new/wp- ... ity480.png
Here, Australian women of the Country Women’s Association gather in a local Church Hall to sew everything from shirts, pyjamas and kit bags to uniforms – as the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation advised “some goods are better made by hand than bought.”

The end result of this mammoth effort was that by the end of January 1940, a period of ten weeks, some twenty large clothing factories across Australia and New Zealand, producing on average around 20,000 uniform pieces each per week, had manufactured approximately four million items of uniform clothing. A further hundred odd smaller, together with thousands of women volunteers contributing their own time, had pieced together and additional six and a half million pieces of military uniform clothing items in the same timeframe – and anticipating shipment times, these were a mix of winter and summer weight items. In total around ten million items of uniform clothing would be completed by the end of January and these would fit out a sizable percentage of the Maavoimat. In addition, enough raw materials (textile, leather, canvas, etc.) would be shipped to Finland to allow Finnish clothing manufacturers to run at full capacity for the duration of the Winter War. The first shipments left at the end of November - the initial two weeks production had been dedicated to winter uniform items, and this shipment included 200,000 winter coats, 200,000 winter pants, 200,000 winter-weight tunics and 200,000 winter hats. This shipment would take six weeks to get to Finland, arriving in mid-January 1940 and being issued to the troops some two weeks later - where they were warmly welcomed. A similarly sized shipment of winter uniforms would arrive some two weeks later and would included additional items such as sweaters, scarves, gloves and winter underwear.

Next Post: Uniforms, continued....
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Finnish Trilogy of wargames

Postby CanKiwi2 » 27 Oct 2012 09:11

Just FYI, for anyone following this thread and interested in gaming the Winter War and Continuation War, Mikugames now has their Finnish War Trilogy ready to start production. This is a monster Trilogy of wargames covering the Winter War, Continuation War and Lapland War and looks to be beautifully detailed and finished. (http://www.mikugames.com)

The Designer of this game series, Mikael "Miku" Grönroos, has been developing this game in his spare time for the last nine years. His dedication to perfecting this wargane is a fitting tribute to those Finns who gave all they had for their Nation. His is no quest for profit, it is the deepest Labor of Love. Even if you have no interest in wargaming, I would ask you to support this project in any way you can.

And for myself, my order is already in. And after I have it I will be doing some mods to play out this ATL scenario. Now THAT should be fun

Kiitos!............Nigel

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Re: What If-Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Postby John Hilly » 27 Oct 2012 16:49

Thanks, Nigel! :D

Sorry to be a pettifogger again, but a scorpion is a scorpion no matter what!

In your rucksack-post ryhmä is spelled rhyma. :oops:

By the way, one other reason to move rank insignias from shoulder patches was that in field use even the arm of service badges were removed (used only in leave dresses). To leave shouders without metal badges resulted that rucksack slings didn't chafe shoulders so much.

BTW, I wore m/36 uniform as field coat in RAuK, "Reservialiupseerikoulu", "Reserve NCO School". It was quite unconfortable compared with the newer m/65 uniform I used elsewhere.

As for the cargo carried by men, I think one should remember that in forests there weren't so much snow, so horses with sleighs could move there pulling heaviest things and extra ammo, tents etc. closely following the advancing troops. In OTL horses were essential to all Finnish supplies in the Winter War.

Keep up the good work.
Nice to be back in AHF! 8-)

Juha-Pekka :milwink:
"Die Blechtrommel trommelt noch!"

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Re: What If-Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Postby CanKiwi2 » 27 Oct 2012 17:22

John Hilly wrote:Thanks, Nigel! :D

Sorry to be a pettifogger again, but a scorpion is a scorpion no matter what!

In your rucksack-post ryhmä is spelled rhyma. :oops:

By the way, one other reason to move rank insignias from shoulder patches was that in field use even the arm of service badges were removed (used only in leave dresses). To leave shouders without metal badges resulted that rucksack slings didn't chafe shoulders so much.

BTW, I wore m/36 uniform as field coat in RAuK, "Reservialiupseerikoulu", "Reserve NCO School". It was quite unconfortable compared with the newer m/65 uniform I used elsewhere.

As for the cargo carried by men, I think one should remember that in forests there weren't so much snow, so horses with sleighs could move there pulling heaviest things and extra ammo, tents etc. closely following the advancing troops. In OTL horses were essential to all Finnish supplies in the Winter War.

Keep up the good work.
Nice to be back in AHF! 8-)

Juha-Pekka :milwink:


And I mis-spelt ryhmä a couple of times too. Good to see you back. I will have to write the above in for sure, thats the kind of comments that really help, especially when one is extrapolating more often than not - my army experience was all NZ and Australia, altho up in the centre of the North Island in the army training area it does get a bit cold and snowy in winter....
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Decision made - the model 1936 Uniform (continued)

Postby CanKiwi2 » 30 Oct 2012 17:24

A postscript on the Coats and Tunics

One other reason that the rank insignias were moved from shoulder patches to the collar was that in the field the epaulettes resulted in the rucksack rings chafing. Removing the epaulettes / rank insignia removed this problem, or at least reduced it. It should also be mentioned that despite the design improvements, the m/36 greatcoat and uniform was still not entirely comfortable in field use. Post Winter-War, the new m/43 uniform would be introduced which would be based on a detailed assessment of the performance of the m/36 in the Winter War. Assessment, re-design and field trials in 1942 based on almost a year of combat use through 1940 by the entire Maavoimat would result in a new uniform that was a vast improvement over the old.

Trousers

No self-respecting uniform is complete without trousers (unless of course you’re Scottish). Finland, as has been mentioned, was heavily influenced by German uniform design and opted for breeches for the m/36 uniform. These were worn by pretty much every soldier in all ranks. The pants featured a high waist, button fly and adjustment tabs on the sides. No belt loops were fitted, as the breeches were meant to be worn with suspenders. The leg cuffs tapered towards the end, and were secured with a strap that went under the foot and buttoned up to the side. At the time, breeches were still widely worn by civilians (and would remain so well into the 1950's, and probably even later in northern Finland).

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Image sourced from: http://www.varusteleka.com/pictures/16129.jpg
Maavoimat M/36 Uniform – Tunic, Breeches and Boots

M/36 Caps

The caps worn by the Finnish soldier remained unchanged. The first m/22 style remained in service throughout the war as summer and dress versions for the troops. Minor alterations were made in construction and color but the style remained virtually unchanged. The m/22 was intended to be replaced by the all-purpose m/36 cap but in practice both were used. An m/34 cap was also trialed and for winter wear this had a separate quilted liner (of quilted cotton or silk) that could be snapped into the inside of the cap for added insulation. The sweatband was leather. The m/34 experimental and the simplified wool m/36 cap (which did not have the snap in liner) were essentially the same style but the m/36 cap used a gray soft cotton cloth lining.

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Image sourced from: http://www.mosinnagant.net/finland/images/m36_caps1.JPG
Notice the different wool colors. The middle hat, 2nd row, is the summer m36 hat with National emblem.

Both of these all season caps were hot in the summer months and so the m/22 style continued to be worn in the summer months. This prompted a change and in 1939 an updated version of the m/22 was made to correspond with the new m/36 uniform. This was made of lightweight cotton. 1939 also saw the adoption of a fur winter cap made of heavy gray wool with a sheepskin inner, it had flaps that tied at the top to hold them up. The front brow flap was attached in the up position with a small metal snap.

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M/39 Winter Hat: Australian and New Zealand clothing manufacturers would supply large numbers of m/39 fur winter hats manufactured in the heavy wool / sheepskin inner combination. There was no shortage of sheepskin or woolen textile material in either country.

Boots

With the introduction the m/36 uniform came new footwear. No less than five different versions were tested for use. The standard high calf type leather boot with sewn leather sole was standard issue. An ankle height boot was also approved. Many of the early boots used wooden studs on the sole like hobnails but these quickly wore down and it does not appear that they were replaced. Another version of the calf boot was a half-felt version for winter use. These boots kept the shoe portion leather but the upper half was fabricated in black felt/wool material and they used a rubber sole. The use of Laplander style boots was fairly common amongst the Suojeluskuntas but Army stores produced a generic version for issue to ski troopers. If footwear was not available to the troops (more common than not at the start of the Winter War) then civilian foot-gear was worn in the field. The last version of the boot was strictly a winter version. Felt boots were fine insulators and were available they were prized possessions. Most boots worn by Finnish soldiers in the early months of the Winter War came into Finnish service from home-use along with their owners - or in circumstances where their original Russian owners were no longer in need of them.

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Image sourced from: http://www.mosinnagant.net/images/lapan ... rboots.JPG
"Lapp" boots on the left with the distinctive curled toe for engaging the cross country ski bindings and a pair of black issue boots of the Army on the right. The Lapp boots are also of Army issue but modeled after the local boots. Many Lapp boots had a large flap to fold up the leg to prevent deep snow from entering via the top of the soldier’s boots.

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Wartime Felt-lined boots on left. The Finnish ski boots on the right have a turned-up toe for fitting into skis.

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Finnish military boots - brown

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[Image sourced from: http://digi.kansalliskirjasto.fi/pienpa ... =4&type=hq
Another type of boot that was less common, but highly prized by its owners, were the Suomen Gummitehdas Oy ("Nokia") Wellington Boots (in fact, before its entry into the mobile phone business, rubber boots were among the best-known products of Nokia outside of Finland). As early as 1935 and 1936, all Border Guard companies received a batch of different Suomen Gummitehdas Oy ("Nokia") wellingtons for testing. They were generally preferred over leather and rubber-tipped leather boots in wet and wet & cold weather. Most Border Guard units ordered a few dozen short "Pelto" and longer "Laatokka" wellingtons from Nokia after the trials. While the Finnish Defence Forces did not issue wellington boots prior to the Winter War, they were on the shopping list “if available”. Worn with winter socks or foot-cloth wrappings, they were warm and kept the feet dry in the sometimes muddy conditions of the trenches and in the wet conditions of spring and autumn.

Similarly to Finland, there are two British Commonwealth countries where “Wellington” boots were (and are) ubiquitous. These are Canada and New Zealand. In Canada, Wellingtons specifically made for cold weather, lined with warm insulating material, were especially popular practical footwear for Canadian winters – and large numbers of such boots would be sent to Finland from Canada early in the Winter War (as we will see when we look at aid from Ca. In New Zealand, Wellingtons were generally called "gumboots" or "wellies" and were essential foot wear for New Zealand farmers as well as for abattoir workers, butchers, fishermen and schoolchildren in winter. In the early 1930’s, the largest footwear company in New Zealand was “Hannahs”, with 19 stores across the North Island, 11 in the South Island and a factory in Wellington which manufactured, among other shoe types, large quantities of Wellington Boots.

Hannahs had been founded by Robert Hannah, an Irish emigrant from Country Antrim (who had been apprenticed as a boot-maker in his youth), who opened his first boot shop in 1868 during the West Coast (of the South Island of New Zealand) gold rush. He moved to Wellington when the gold rush ended, and in June 1874 advertising in the Evening Post newspaper announced the opening on Lambton Quay of Robert Hannah & Co., who "had long and practical experience in the business" and sought the patronage of the people of Wellington.The business prospered and by 1879 there was another branch (and factory) in Cuba Street, followed by stores in Molesworth Street and Willis Street a few years later. By 1897, there were 10 stores in the North Island, set up with the assistance of Robert's younger brother, William, who had come out from Ireland in 1879. Although Robert was a manufacturer and retailer of footwear, he was also an importer, and claimed this was the profitable side of the business. The top floor of the Cuba Street premises was originally a small factory but by the early 1890's it had become too small, and the "Palace G" boot factory (of five floors) was built behind the Lambton Quay premises.

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Image sourced from: http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/etexts/Gov1 ... il018a.jpg
Handworkers on heavy boots, Hannah's Shoe Factory, Wellington, New Zealand

This building was designed by the New Zealand architect Thomas Turnball, and began a long business relationship between the two men. Some 124 staff were employed here, and its weekly output was about 3000 pairs of boots - or about half the boot trade in New Zealand at the time. By 1908, business was so good that a combined factory/warehouse (of 2 floors) was built behind the Cuba Street premises. This was further expanded when adjoining properties were purchased. The building was also the company's head office for many years. Robert Hannah himself was an entrepreneur of his times, a shrewd and hard businessman, who also cared deeply for his staff. He paid them above the going wage, and worked hard to keep them employed during the Depression years. Robert Hannah died in 1930 but his family continued with the business. By late 1939, Hannahs owned 42 retail branches across New Zealand, employed more than 750 people and were the largest footwear manufacturer in New Zealand, rivaling the largest boot manufacturing plants in the British Empire (Hannahs is still in existence today and is New Zealand's most famous footwear brand. They have 52 stores nation-wide, as well as stores in Australia).

In November 1939, a single Finnish Purchasing Team representative from Sydney travelled to New Zealand together with the Secretary from the Finnish Consulate in Sydney to place orders with New Zealand clothing and footwear manufacturers. Following an inspection of the Hannahs factory, an order was placed for “as many Wellington Boots as the Company

Excerpts of his report on the Hannahs factory, dated January 1 1940, translated from Finnish and republished in the “New Zealand Railways Magazine” (http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Gov14_10Rail-t1-body-d6.html) reads as follows:

“I was taken through the vast establishment by a foreman whose service with the company exceeded forty years. He had spent two years in America, familiarising himself with the methods of the famous Selby Factory, and the assembly of plants and the systems of any countries were familiar to him. He was sincerely of the opinion that Hannah's were abreast of modern footwear-making in all respects. The huge factory is rather like a self-contained township; its spaciousness and actual size are impressive, and one gets the feeling of a large and busy population. Hannah's make the whole range of footwear, from the smart feminine street shoe to the man's welted brogue, from the schoolgirl's sandal to the heavy military boot.”

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The “Clicking” room at Hannah's factory, Wellington, New Zealand

“We went first to the preparing rooms, where the multitudinous patterns are cut, where skiving, perforating and other processes are carried on. “Skiving,” means shaving off the leather, and “clicking” means cutting out the uppers, and so on. This work is done by hand at Hannah's, for with leather at three shillings per foot, human care is worth its place. The various leathers come from all parts of the world, a substantial proportion of course being New Zealand-grown and tanned. Leather is a natural product, and its variations depend largely on environment and other regional circumstances. For instance, calf-skins come largely from France and the other countries that eat veal freely. The “chain” system of operations enters largely into this modern factory's organisation. Each man does one operation with skill and speed, and the article passes on, after inspection at chosen points.

At the ends of these lines, the shoes pour off for the finishing processes, and the imagination boggles at the moving masses of five-tier trolleys laden with shoes, taking selected routes like a crowd of trams at a Helsinki Exhibition rush hour. I had a look at a “Consolidated Laster.” This uncanny, almost human mechanism, grabs the leather upper, pinches and shapes it round and tacks it on, all in the same operation, at the rate of 150 tacks a minute, the operative working a simple knee-grip device. The Shoe Seat machine puts in eighteen tacks at one shot, and the Pulling Over machine pulls the toe into position and drives in the tacks at the same time. The tacks run down parallel tubes into their proper positions. The machine stitching of a welted shoe is an interesting operation, for no handwork could get the same strength and durability. All shoes are re-blocked, that is to say they are put back on the lasts and go through levelling and fitting processes. The making of heels has more to it than I imagined. The shaped leather layers are stamped out to the exact size, placed together, joined, and then a crusher compresses them and makes the hollow necessary for attachment to the sole.”


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Shoes on trolleys moving to the finishing department, Hannah's factory, Wellington, New Zealand

“The soles themselves are cut out by instruments resembling die-presses, and the number, shapes and variety of sizes are bewildering. In the leather storeroom, there is a lesson in general geography. Although a substantial proportion of the materials come from New Zealand, the world is combed by Hannah's for the extraordinary diversity of coloured leathers, fabrics, crepe rubbers, ornaments, and the other thousandand-one things needed to make footwear for New Zealanders. I found one outstanding fact about wholesale boot-making; the secret is inspection. Hannah's inspection is constant and thorough-going, and, as they sell their goods only through their own stores, they guarantee every purchase. This giant institution, the achievement of one of New Zealand’s pioneers, is something of which even Nokia could be proud. Hannah's is, in truth, a National Footwear Service.”

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The huge modern factory where Hannah Footwear is manufactured to-day. The largest and most up-to-date Shoe Factory in New Zealand

Hannahs could manufacture some 7,000 military style boots per week (OTL note: this was in fact the actual production capacity of the Hannahs factory, there were also other footwear manufacturers in New Zealand with similar production capacity such as Ducksworths in Christchurch) and in the first meeting with the Finnish Purchasing Team representative, indicated a willingness to place the complete factory workforce on the manufacturing of boots to meet any Finnish order as long as payment was guaranteed. In addition and unasked, Hannahs stated that they would collect donated Wellington Boots at every Hannahs retail outlet across New Zealand and collect them for shipping in Wellington together with the shipment from the Factory in Wellington. As we will see a little further on in this Post, the New Zealand Government stepped in with a Guarantee for all purchase orders placed by the Finnish Purchasing Team with New Zealand manufacturers. The end result was that in the second week of November 1939, the Finnish Purchasing Team placed an order for some 40,000 Wellington Boots with Hannahs, to be collected in Wellington for shipment at the end of December. Production would commence immediately.

Hannahs offered to do their best to produce more if this would help and the offer was accepted, up to a maximum of 100,000 boots. In the event, by hiring retired employees, paying overtime and advertising for skilled workers on a temporary basis, Hannahs managed to manufacture 65,000 Wellington Boots. In addition, a further 15,000 boots were collected at Hannahs retail branches around New Zealand, some used, some new. In total, 80,000 Wellington Boots from New Zealand would arrive in Finland at the end of February 1940. Australia, on the other hand, would contribute large numbers of leather boots to Finnish military design. These would be the standard Finnish military boots and some 200,000 would be shipped off at the end of December 1939, with a further 150,000 pairs leaving in early February 1940.

Leather Uniform Items

In addition to the sizable quantities of military boots from Australia, there was another little-known advantage in purchasing uniforms made of leather (such as those used by tank crews for example) from Australia. This was the large supply of kangaroo leather available. Leather made from kangaroo hide has a number of features which were, at that stage, little known outside of Australia. To start with, kangaroo leather is lighter and stronger than the hide of a cow or goat. It has 10 times the tensile strength of cowhide and is 50% stronger than goatskin. When compared to other leathers, such as that made from steer hide, kangaroo leather can be cut much thinner than steer hide leather whilst retaining the same strength. Similarly, when split into thinner sheets, kangaroo leather retains considerably more of the original tensile strength of the unsplit leather than does, for example, calf (when split to 20% of its original thickness, kangaroo retains between 30 to 60% of the tensile strength of the unsplit hide. Calf on the other hand split to 20% of original thickness retains only 1 to 4% of the original strength).

(Empirically, in 1939 this was known. The reason why was not. Studies of the morphology of kangaroo leather have now explained these particular properties. The collagen fibre bundles in cattle hide are arranged in a complex weaving pattern. The fibres are often at angles as much as 90 degrees to the skin surface. Cattle hide also contains sweat glands, erector pili muscles and a distinct gradation in elastin levels, concentrated in the upper part of the skin. Kangaroo on the other hand has been shown to have a highly uniform orientation of fibre bundles in parallel with the skin surface. It does not contain sweat glands or erector pili muscles and elastin is evenly distributed throughout the skin thickness. This structural uniformity explains both the greater tensile strength of the whole leather and the greater retention of strength in splits. Bovine skin is much more complex in cross section. Hence in whole section it has many more weak points from which tears can start when placed under tension. In addition when sliced into splits the collagen fibres running at significant angles to the skin surface will be cut. These then become weak points in the structural strength).

The end result however was that in 1939, it was known that thinner kangaroo leather could be used while having the same strength as thicker and heavier steer-hide leather. In addition, kangaroo leather was substantially cheaper – the kangaroos were shot as vermin, with no costs involved in raising them, and there were large quantities available. The Finnish Purchasing Team was flexible on the type of leather to be used and prepared to listen to the Australian experts. The end result was that when ordering leathers for tankers of the Armoured Division, as well as leathers for Ilmavoimat pilots and aircrew, kangaroo leather was accepted as a permissible material. The result was that a large percentage of the tanker and aircrew leathers supplied to Finland from Australia were made from kangaroo leather – and the kangaroo leather uniforms were of a lighter weight and had greater flexibility and comfort than steer-hide leather. In combat, this gave Finnish tankers and aircrew a slight advantage in physical dexterity and freedom of movement inside the tanks and aircraft that they fought in. This may not seem like much, but in combat, even a fraction of a seconds speed in reaction time can make a difference – and kangaroo hide leather uniforms sometimes gave the Finnish soldiers that miniscule advantage that was the difference between life and death in combat.

Finland would continue to buy kangaroo hide leather from Australia through WW2, and by the time Finland re-entered WW2 and declared war on Germany, the tank crews of the 4 Maavoimat Armoured Divisions in existence in early 1944 were equipped with kangaroo-hide leather uniforms, as were the tank crews of the Polish 1st Armoured Division and the 3 Norwegian Panserbataljonen that formed the armoured component of the 1st Norwegian Division attached to the Maavoimat.

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Norwegian Army Panserbataljonen insignia. The 3 Panserbataljonen were equipped with American supplied lend-lease equipment and were manned by Norwegian volunteers who had been regrouping in the Finnish-occupied Finnmark region of Norway from mid-1940 on. The Panserbataljonen were formed in late 1943 after the Finnish decision had been taken to enter the war against Germany.

Below are a series of illustrations of Maavoimat and Ilmavoimat uniforms and uniform items made from Australian leather.

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Leather tankers helmet. Australia would manufacture a considerable number of these from kangaroo-hide. Kangaroo leather was selected as the leather of choice for tanker uniforms manufactured in Australia for the Maavoimat.

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Here a complete tank commanders uniform can be seen in detail with the special m/36 tunic made of black leather along with the black leather "breeches”. His padded leather tankers helmet is held in his left hand. Prior to the Winter War, this tunic was rare due to the small number of armored crews and the limited production of the leather tunics. Where leather uniforms were not available, a heavy canvas type jumpsuit or the simple winter wool or lightweight cotton summer version of the m/36 uniform was used.

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Here you can see the leather m/36 commander’s tunic on the left along with the padded tankers helmet worn for protection while in the fighting vehicle. The radio earphones are incorporated into the helmet. You can see the plug in cord for this headgear in the commander’s hand. The right side figure is shown with the grey canvas jumpsuit that was used as an alternative to the leather uniform. This figure is more than likely a radio operator/gunner than a commander due to the lack of rank insignia on his uniform and the standard enlisted mans cockade worn on his m/36 cap.

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Image sourced from: http://www.ww2incolor.com/d/689434-1/Fi ... Oct12_1941
Finnish tank crew in front of their T-28 during a parade in Petroskoi on October 12, 1940, shortly prior to the withdrawal to the new Finnish-USSR border. The uniforms are Finnish Army standard issue M/36, the headgear looks like captured Soviet tank helmets rather than the better quality Australian kangaroo-hide leather headgear. An additional factor in using Soviet headgear was that the tanks for two of the three Maavoimat Armoured Divisions (as of October 1940) were very largely captured Soviets ones and these had Soviet interphone systems and if equipped with radio, typically also the original Soviet tank radios. Hence the microphone and headphone systems inbuilt in the Soviet tank helmets were compatible with this signal equipment. BTW, the second soldier from the left has interesting footwear which look like the extremely rare Finnish Army M/36 marching boots. Despite the uniforms and additional shipments of tanned leather supplied from Australia, the Maavoimat would experience a shortfall of leather tankers uniforms through until after the Winter War. With three Armoured Divisions by September 1940 (two of them equipped with captured Red Army tanks), the Maavoimat would, as in the photo above, issue most of the tankers with the m/36 uniforms. Generally, only the troopers of the 21st Armoured Division (the first to be formed) were fully equipped with leather tanker uniforms.

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Image sourced from: http://www.wiking.fi/kuvat/kustannus/asepukum36.jpg
The Finnish Army M/36 Uniform was the main uniform used in the Winter War of 1939-40. It was worn by hundreds of thousands of fighting men. “Asepuku M/36” by Petteri Leino (published by Wiking-Divisioona OY) is the standard reference on the M/36 Uniform and provides comprehensive coverage, containing many previously unpublished period pictures. Written by a uniform specialist, the colour pages show authentic uniforms worn together with authentic weapons and equipment. The book has English photo captions and an English summary for every chapter. Highly recommended if this is something that interests you.

Finnish Uniforms – supply during the Winter War

After the first year or two of production when older styles were updated and material was standardized, the model 1936 uniform remained unchanged through the Winter War. The biggest problem with the m/36 uniform however was the lack of them. When the Winter War broke out between Russia and Finland, the mobilisation of the reserves and the movement of the standing conscript army saw only the conscripts doing their period of military service outfitted in combat uniforms – and less than 30% of the mobilized reservists (and the bulk of those with uniforms were in point of fact Suojeluskuntas members and members of the “active” reserves who trained regularly and who had been issued uniforms as a result). With the war taking place in winter, the issue of proper winter jackets and great coats to the Army was in even more dire straights, as only 150,000 of some 750,000 troops and Lottas were outfitted with current army issue great coats and cold weather boots. The remaining troops, lottas, home guards and cadets (the boy and girl soldiers) wore the so-called "model Cajander Uniform" that was a mix and match of primarily civilian clothing augmented here and there with any available uniform issue. This was a serious problem but as mentioned, Prime Minister Cajander did not believe, even on all the evidence, that the USSR would attack Finland. And while he approved both mobilization and emergency arms purchases, he would stubbornly and seemingly without reason dig in his toes on the issue of purchasing uniforms.

Incidentally, in addition to a lack of uniforms, there was a general lack of rank insignia and service branch patches and the Finnish military would in large fight through the Winter War without these. In the immediate post-war analysis of combat experiences, it was found that there was actually a significant difference in casualty rates between units where rank insignia was worn, and those without. As a direct result, the Finnish military would go into battle against Germany in 1944 wearing no rank insignia or distinguishing features of any kind on combat uniforms.

With the outbreak of war, clothing manufacturers across Finland geared up to supply the troops. By December of 1939 over 45 different clothing manufactures including the state owned uniform producers as well as private makers were involved in the contract production of uniforms, boots and great coats for the Finnish Army. Many members of the Lotta Svard organization also made uniforms from fabric, as well as snow suits, gloves and winter hats. By February of 1940 over 200,000 additional woollen tunics and a similar quantity of winter greatcoats had been produced as well as an astounding 350,000 new pairs of woolen trousers. This however met only around half the needs of the mobilized Finnish armed forces and did not include the more than 100,000 uniform-issues needed for foreign volunteers.

The part played by Australia and New Zealand

Some immediate assistance was provided by Britain which, in late December 1939 shipped 100,000 British uniforms to Finland. These were generally issued to Cadets (the younger teenage Boy and Girl Soldiers) as in general they were too small for the average Finn. The brown colour was also easily mistaken for a Russian uniform. However, as we have seen, both New Zealand and Australia responded to the urgent Finnish requests for assistance – and for orders placed with textile and clothing manufacturers by the Finnish purchasing agents in Sydney. With funds available (and in the case of New Zealand, both a loan made available direct to the Finnish Government by the New Zealand Government to fund all textile and clothing purchases made in New Zealand) and guarantees of payment to New Zealand manufacturers signing orders with the Finnish Government, the response was immediate. Large stockpiles of wool existed in both countries (as has been mentioned) and both countries also had experienced workforces – still with some significant unemployment. With guaranteed payments and a bonus for rapid delivery, manufacturers in both countries responded quickly. By early January 1940, two of the first Finnish cargo ships to leave Australia (& New Zealand) were en-route, packed with uniforms, boots, donated clothing, textiles, canvas, leather and bales of raw wool for the Finnish textile industry.

In support of Finland, sheep farmers had donated bales of wool to the campaign, amounting to shiploads of raw wool. Fortunately, with the outbreak of the War and the mobilization of the Finnish Merchant Marine, there were large numbers of Finnish merchant ships that could be utilized and a number of these were sent to Australia (and New Zealand, which similarly could not provide much in the way of military material but could certainly provide raw wool – which the small Pacific country did, filling a number of cargo ships with donated bales from sheep stations all around the country). Australia in turn would in the end fill half a dozen Finnish cargo ships to capacity with bales of unprocessed wool – enough to fill warehouse after warehouse in Tampere and indeed, these shiploads together with a similar donation from Argentina would provide Finland with sufficient wool to last through the entire Winter War period.

Australian and New Zealand textile mills produced woollen cloth to the specifications needed for the various pieces of Finnish uniform issue – underclothing, trousers, shirts, tunics, great coats and hats. Australian and New Zealand clothing manufacturers worked day and night shirts to produced finished pieces of uniform clothing while the growing Finland Assistance organization in both countries form “knitting circles” to knit woolen sweaters and scarves and to hand-sew various other pieces of needed military-clothing. The manufacturers in both countries were modern, efficient and well-run – and the labour force was highly motivated both by the overtime pay offered and by the knowledge that they were providing tangible assistance to “gallant little Finland” as well as supporting their own volunteer troops on the way to fight in Finland alongside the Finns. In New Zealand, the encouragement and support offered to the Finland Assistance Organisation by both the highly popular Prime Minister, Michael Joseph Savage, and the Leader of the Opposition, Adam Hamilton, would also go a long way to ensuring support across the length and breadth of the country for anything related to the provision of assistance to Finland.

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Michael Joseph Savage (23 March 1872 – 27 March 1940) Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand at the start of the Winter War

Michael Joseph Savage (23 March 1872 – 27 March 1940) was the first Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand. He is commonly known as the architect of the New Zealand welfare state and is consistently regarded as one of New Zealand's greatest and most revered Prime Ministers. He was given the title New Zealander of the Century by The New Zealand Herald in 1999. Born in Australia, Savage first became involved in politics while working in that state. He emigrated to New Zealand in 1907 at the age of 35. He worked in a variety of jobs, as a miner, flax-cutter and storeman, before becoming involved in the union movement. Savage initially opposed the formation of the 1910 New Zealand Labour Party as he viewed the grouping as insufficiently socialistic and instead he became the chairman of the New Zealand Federation of Labour, known as the "Red Feds". In the 1911 general election Savage unsuccessfully stood as the Socialist candidate for Auckland Central. During World War I he opposed conscription, arguing that the conscription of wealth should precede the conscription of men. After the war the voters of the Auckland West electorate put Savage into Parliament as a Labour member in the 1919 general election, an electorate that he held until his death. He in due course became the Labour Party leader in 1933 and helped engineer the Labour/Ratana (maori political party) alliance. During the Great Depression Savage toured the country and became an iconic figure. An excellent speaker, he became the most visible politician in New Zealand and led Labour to victory in the 1935 election. Along with the Premiership he appointed himself the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Maori Affairs. The first Labour government swiftly proved popular and easily won the 1938 general election with an increased popular mandate. Savage, suffering from cancer of the colon at the time, had delayed seeking treatment to participate in the election campaign.

Savage led the country into World War II, officially declaring war on Nazi Germany on 3 September 1939, just hours after Britain. Unlike Australia, which felt obligated to declare war, New Zealand did so as a sign of allegiance to Britain, and in recognition of Britain's abandoning its former appeasement of the dictators, a policy that New Zealand had vehemently opposed. At first doubtful, Savage would come to strongly support the sending of New Zealand volunteers and assistance to Finland. Announcing the decision to send the first battalion of New Zealanders to Finland in December 1939, Prime Minister Savage declared (from his sickbed) that: “With confidence in the future we range ourselves without fear beside Finland in the struggle against totalitarianism wherever it may be found. Where Finland fights, we fight; where Finland stands, we stand. New Zealand, as with Finland, is only a small and young nation, but we march with a union of hearts and souls towards a common destiny.” Savage brought an almost religious fervour to his politics and wholeheartedly encouraged New Zealand support for Finland up until his death in March 1940. Savage become something of an iconic figure to the Left and his picture hung in many Labour supporters' homes decades after his death.

Savage’s successor as Prime Minister, Peter Fraser, would maintain New Zealand’s policy of providing whatever support for Finland could be provided without weakening New Zealand’s contribution to the British Empire’s military strength. As Minister of Health, Fraser had been involved in the negotiations with the Finnish government that had led to New Zealand providing assistance to Finland in setting up the School Dental Program and had been supportive of providing assistance to Finland from the start. Another influencing factor had been Fraser’s opposition to Communism (although initially enthusiastic about the Russian October Revolution of 1917 and its Bolshevik leaders, he rejected them soon afterwards, and eventually became one of the strongest advocates of excluding communists completely from the New Zealand Labour Party).


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Peter Fraser ((28 August 1884 – 12 December 1950) would succeed Savage as Prime Minister of New Zealand in March 1940. Fraser would also maintain New Zealand’s support, such as it was, for Finland through the war years. As Minister for Foreign Affairs between 1942 and 1949, Fraser would also keep foreign affairs under his control as well as focusing almost exclusively on the war effort. Throughout WW2 Fraser was concerned with ensuring that New Zealand retained control over its own military forces. He believed that Britain viewed New Zealand's military as a mere extension of their own, rather than as the armed forces of a sovereign nation. After particularly serious New Zealand losses in the Greek campaign in 1941 (and comparing these to the successes of the Commonwealth Division in the Winter War under Finnish command), Fraser determined to retain a say as to where to deploy New Zealand troops and on how they were to be used. Fraser insisted to British leaders that Bernard Freyberg, commander of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, should report to the New Zealand government just as extensively as to the British authorities. When Japan entered the war, Fraser had to choose between recalling New Zealand's forces to the Pacific (as Australia had done) or keeping them in the Middle East (as Winston Churchill requested). Fraser eventually opted for the 2nd New Zealand Division to remain in the Middle East (the 1st Division was a Home Defence unit). In late 1943 Fraser would order the New Zealand 3rd Division formed and sent to Finland together with a number of RNZAF squadrons. The under-strength 3rd Division would include the Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles (QAMR), the New Zealand Army’s only armoured battalion and would fight alongside the Maavoimat until the end of the war.

Fraser had a very rocky relationship with U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, particularly over the Canberra Pact and the dispatch of New Zealand troops to Finland. When Fraser visited Washington D.C. in mid-1944, Hull gave Fraser a sharp and rather demeaning dressing-down over New Zealand support for Finland and opposition to the Canberra Pact, which resulted in New Zealand's military becoming sidelined to some extent in the conduct of the Pacific War. It also resulted in New Zealand strongly supporting Finland and Poland’s position on the Baltic, Poland, East Prussia and northern Germany issues and on war-crime trials in the immediate post-WW2 timeframe. After the war ended, Fraser devoted much attention to the formation of the United Nations at the San Francisco conference (UNCIO) in 1945; this was the apogee of Fraser’s career. Noteworthy for his strong opposition (in conjunction with Finland and Poland) to vesting powers of veto in permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, he often spoke unofficially for smaller states. He earned the respect of many world statesmen through his commitment to principle, his energy, and most of all his skill as a chairman. With dwindling support from traditional Labour voters, and a population weary of war-time measures, Fraser's popularity declined. In the 1949 elections the National Party defeated his government and Fraser became Leader of the Opposition. He died on 12 December 1950.


The end result would be that by early January 1940, New Zealand and Australia had in combination produced large volumes of military uniform pieces – enough to make a significant difference in the quantity of uniforms available for issue in Finland after they arrived. In addition, very large numbers of leather and wool gloves, mittens, sweaters, scarves, hand-made woolen undershirts and white snow-suits had been made and packed for shipment. Significant quantities of other kit was also included, often based on Australian or New Zealand Army issue but made up to as closely as possible match Finnish Army specifications.

Other items sent included medical kits, messkits, shaving kits, woollen hats (and with typical Aussie humour, even in the midst of a World War, large numbers of Australian “slouch” hats which would go on to be worn by many thousands of Finnish soldiers through the summer months of the Winter War as well as over 1944-45 in the fight against Germany).

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Maavoimat Medical Kit: Volunteers in Australia and New Zealand would pack thousands of these medical kits, as closely as possible matching the Maavoimat specifications.

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In the above is a Finnish pioneer with a British-style messkit attached to his back (close-up below – when I was in the New Zealand Army we still used these – and I still use my old one for hiking…. 30 years old and going fine)

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British-style messkit used by the Maavoimat. Messkits were another item that was in short supply – some 250,000 messkits were supplied by Britain, another 150,000 were shipped from Australia and New Zealand. Finland also managed to source 100,000 German style messkits from Germany and during the Winter War, many thousands of messkits were from Red Army units that had been destroyed were collected and re-issued. Over the early months of the Winter War however, improvisation was the name of the game.

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Finnish Army shaving kit: Australian and New Zealand school children would put together thousands of these shaving kits for shipment to Finland – and many an Australian or New Zealand father would curse his children as he found essential shaving items missing….. The brushes are wartime boot, uniform, and tooth brushes. The shaving kit is actually an officers kit with Gillette and Finnish blades. Swedish wartime razors. Estonian made glasses in wartime case. In the lower right are sewing needles and thread.

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Finnish sweater and 2 different neck scarves. The leather gloves on the left have a separate index finger on the right glove for the trigger. The mittens have separate liners.

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Close-up shot of mittens and wool liners. The gloves have SA stamps.

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Long Underwear: The square cloths on right are actually socks. The underwear on left is made of linen and wartime stamped. Again, large quantities of both linen and woolen winter-underwear would be manufactured and supplied to Finland, largely from Australia.

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One last non-clothing item that would be supplied in large numbers was the standard British Army entrenching tool (used by all the Commonwealth armies). In the UK, there were large numbers of these stockpiled, and a request from the New Zealand Government would result in 250,000 entrenching tools being shipped to Finland direct from the UK early in the war. Together with captured Red Army entrenching tools and existing Maavoimat entrenching tools, this would go a long way to ensuring every soldier in the Maavoimat was equipped with this very useful tool.

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Finnish machinegunner with a tool case and spare parts box on his belt (this case would hold some essential tools and spares to keep his machine gun operating). Behind this case he has tucked an entrenching tool. The entrenching tool can be used to either dig, or, using its sharpened edge, it can hack away small branches and twigs which may interfere with his selected machine gun site. Before the Winter War the Finnish Army seems to have used a rather complicated leather frame system, which went around the blade of the entrenching tool, for carrying them. But just before mobilisation in late 1939 a simple carrying strap with hook to attach to the belt was introduced. However, this had a considerable downside - carrying the entrenching tool with this hook-system was really uncomfortable and noisy - the entrenching tool hung loose at the soldiers side without cover of any kind. Stuffing the entrenching tool under the belt (as seen above) was suggested as alternative method - neither of these worked that well. As a result, during the Winter War Finnish troops had a tendency to discard their Maavoimat-issue entrenching tools. By contrast, the British entrenching tool, which broke down, was easier to carry and also had a canvas cover, was far more popular. As a direct result of these experiences, the Finnish company Fiskars would work with the Maavoimat to design a practical new folding entrenching tool which would be issued in 1942 and which all Finnish soldiers would carry through the fighting of 1944 and 1945.

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The new (m/43) Maavoimat entrenching tools were manufactured by the Finnish companies Fiskars and Savotta. Fiskars Oyj Ab was and is a metal and consumer brands company founded in 1649 at Fiskars Bruk (Finnish: Fiskarsin Ruukki) in the town of Raseborg, about 100 km west of Helsinki on the old main road from Turku to Viipuri. Fiskars is best known today for its scissors, axes and high-quality knives. Prior to and during WW2, Fiskars would design and develop the new-model entrenching tool as well as a fighting-knife developed by Gustaf Johannes Lindbergh, the founder of the Finnish military martial art, KKT (KäsiKähmäTaistelu) that would be issued to all Maavoimat soldiers

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The Isotalo-Taistelut-Veitsi (“Isotalo Fighting Knife, so named in memory of Antti Isotalo, the famous Finnish knife-fighter) would be designed during the Spanish Civil War by Fiskars and Gustaf Johannes Lindbergh, the founder of the Finnish military martial art, KKT as a direct result of the use of Puukko knives by Maavoimat soldiers in hand to hand combat. Lindbergh would produce a knife specially designed to use in hand-to-hand combat and by late 1939, this was starting to be issued in large numbers. By the end of the Winter War, all Maavoimat combat soldiers would carry an Isotalo-Taistelut-Veitsi, as would most of the foreign volunteers in Finland.

The above is of course not all-inclusive, many other items found their way into the Aid shipments (such as very large quantities of blankets), but it is indicative of the types of material aid that were supplied to Finland for use by the military from two countries which had no significant armaments industry to speak of but which still did what they could to assist. However, with an approximate six to eight week timeframe for the journey by ship from New Zealand and Australia to Lyngenfjiord, and then additional time for off-loading and transport to Maavoimat depots and then transport to the troops at the front and issuing, it would not be until later in the winter that the first issues of these uniforms and uniform and kit items would occur. But by this time, manufacturing within Finland together with the large quantities of New Zealand and Australian made clothing would ensure that the Finnish military and the foreign volunteer units were adequately clothed in winter-issue uniforms – and the shiploads of raw wool from Australia, New Zealand and Argentina had served to replenish Finnish warehouses, ensuring that a large stockpile of wool, woolen fabrics, leather and canvas was available through the next one to two years – a stockpile that ongoing trade between Finland and Argentina together with sporadic shipments from Australia and New Zealand would see maintained over the war years.

Next Post: the Australian-Finland Assistance Organisation, Australian politics, the formation and dispatch of the Australian Volunteer Units and the Australian commanders
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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CanKiwi2
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Re: What If-Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Postby CanKiwi2 » 31 Oct 2012 18:44

The Australian-Finland Assistance Organisation, Australian politics, the formation and dispatch of the Australian Volunteer Units and the Australian commanders

The Australian-Finland Assistance Organisation


We have already seen the accomplishments of the Australian-Finland Assistance Organisation in the substantial volumes of food, material assistance and fund-raising that was generated by the many thousands of members of this Australian-wide organization that seemingly sprang into being overnight. We will also in the near future look at the political pressure that this Organisation exerted on the Australian Government such that a large group of volunteers was actively supported in their efforts to travel to Finland and fight. However, despite appearance, it was not the case that this Organisation sprang up spontaneously - the Organisation itself was the result of some solid prepatory groundwork which had taken place after the arrival in Sydney of the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus team members but before the Winter War actually broke out.

One of the early steps taken by the Finnish Consul, Paavo Simelius, in mid-1939, after receiving the first official communications that all was not well, had been to gather together the Executive Board of the Finnish Society of Sydney at his home and review with them what could be done. There was very little that Simelius could do in the way of harnessing Australian political support for Finland – Finland itself was not an unknown quantity, but it was, as a country, by and large irrelevant to Australia and to Australian interests. Simelius certainly did his best, meeting with the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs but receiving only a non-committal response. The small Australian-Finnish community began to do what little they could, largely through the raising of funds from Society activities. In addition, Nestori Karhula, a former officer in the Finnish Army began to put together a list of Australian Finns who would, if necessary, be willing, able and suitable to travel to Finland to join the Finnish Army. The Finnish Consulate in Sydney made a request to the Australian government to obtain the necessary permissions for collection of funds for Finland and in this they did receive an immediate affirmative answer, according to which the permit was issued for fund-raising for Finland “non-military purposes”. Consul Simelius had already, on being advised that the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus Team was en-route, arranged for the rental of office space with the limited discretionary funding available and Pastor Hytönen was appointed office manager and delegated the task of setting up office facilities, assisted by Mrs. Mimmi Tuomi and a number of other volunteers.

Real progress however began to be made with the arrival of the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus team in Sydney in early November 1939. one of their first meetings had been with the Executive Board of the Finnish Society – which at this time consisted of James Aalto (Chairman), clearest Kari Vice Chairman, Johan Kaasalainen (Secretary), John Partanen (Deputy Secretary) and Vilho Pullinen (Treasurer). James Aalto later recounted how Consul Simelius called up each of the Board members and asked them to come to an urgent meeting at his home where they met the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus team, who described what was at stake and what their plans consisted of. The members of the Board were astonished and pleased to meet again the Rev. Kurkiala, whom they knew well from earlier years. Members of the Board and Consul Simelius made numerous suggestions which the Team added in to their plans.

The objective of the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus team was to establish multiple approaches to the gaining of assistance for Finland in the event of a war with the USSR – by garnering official Australian government support, gaining wide-spread popular support via the news media, raising substantial funds through private and public fund-raising, gaining approval for the purchase of military and non-military materials and lastly to, if possible, negotiate the dispatch of Australian volunteers to assist in the war that was looking more and more likely. In all of these approaches, it would be necessary to both establish a close relationship with Australian politicians the government and also to move well beyond the small Finnish Society and tap into mainstream Australia – to reach out to the man and woman in the street and involve them in Finland’s struggle at many levels. That this was done so successfully, and in so many countries around the world, speaks highly of the abilities of the men and women of the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus teams who were plucked from their day-to-day lives in Finland and dispatched around the world – and for many of these men and women, it would be their first trip outside of Finland. Finland would own much to the way in which these men and women persevered and succeeded so admirably.

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One of the first acts of the Sydney Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus Team – a dinner with the Finnish Society of Sydney where the Team introduced themselves and briefed the local Finnish community on their mission if the war that was expected actually broke out….early November 1939

In all of this, it was first necessary to secure the whole-hearted support of the local Finnish community as these would be the men and women on whom the small Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus Team would rely on for much of the drudgery – the answering of phones, mailing of letters, all the day to day administrative work that would be necessary. Meanwhile the new Finnish Consul, Paavo Simelius had been working non-stop to secure introductions for the 20 man Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus Team, some of whom were in turn working furiously with Australian journalists and advertising companies to put out material supportive of Finland. Elsewhere, members of the team, including the Rev. Kurkiala and Jorma Pohjanpalo were establishing their own contacts in the religious, political and business fields. Simelius had been successful in securing an appointment with the Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, in mid-November 1939. Menzies was non-committal at this time, advising Simelius that if Finland was attacked, there would be little that Australia could do beyond providing moral support. However, Simelius did gain permission for the small Purchasing Team to place orders with Australian manufacturers for non-weapons related orders such as clothing and food. In addition, Simelius gained Menzie’s blessing for a “large” fund-raising and publicity campaign to support Finland in the event of a war with the USSR. These approvals were communicated officially and in writing to the Finnish Consulate in Sydney from the Prime Minister’s Office.

For Simelius and the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus Team this was a major coup. They had the approvals they needed and much of the legwork had already been done. Orders were placed immediately with a number of manufacturers and stock agents, the results of which we have already covered. With regards to a “large” fund-raising and publicity campaign to support Finland in the event of a war with the USSR, the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus Team and the Re. Kurkiala had already done much legwork prior to securing approval from the Government. Chief among their accomplishments had been the preparatory work needed to set up a viable and effective “Assistance” Organisation. In this, the Rev. Kurkiala had achieved a notable success in securing the wholehearted commitment of a well-known Australian politician and organizer, Colonel Eric Campbell, while Consul Simelius had been in discussions with Dr. Lewis Windermere Nott, an Australian Dr., politician and, in 1939, a Member of the Council administering the Australian Capital Territory (within which Canberra is located). Colonel Eric Campbell, Dr Lewis Windermere Nott and the Rev. Kurkiala would, on 1 December 1939, become the joint Founders of the Australian Finland Assistance Organisation. Before we delve into the Australian Finland Assistance Organisation, a quick look at these two Australians is in order.

Dr Lewis Windermere Nott

Lewis Windermere Nott (12 February 1886 – 27 October 1951) was an Australian politician, medical practitioner and hospital superintendent. He was born at Windermere, a sugar-plantation located near Bundaberg in Queensland and was educated at Maryborough Grammar School, after which he studied assaying at the School of Mines and Industries, Ballarat, Victoria. He subsequently completed a medical degree at the University of Sydney. In 1913, he married Doris Ashbury in Sydney. The newly-wed couple travelled to Scotland where he continued studying medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. At the outbreak of World War One he enlisted in the Royal Scots as a Captain and was made adjutant. In 1916 he was wounded and twice mentioned in dispatches. His affectionate letters to his wife, describing conditions in the field, were edited by his son David and published as “Somewhere in France” (Sydney, 1996). He then resigned his commission and resumed his medical training in December 1916. On graduation in 1918 he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps.

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“Somewhere in France – The Collected Letters of Lewis Windermere Nott” by David Nott

Nott returned to Australia, took part in the campaign against hookworm and was then appointed medical superintendent of the Mackay District Hospital. From 1924 to 1927 he was Mayor of Mackay. In 1925 he won a seat in the Australian Federal Parliament for the Nationalist Party after unexpectedly defeating the Australian Labor Party candidate Ted Theodore, who had resigned as Premier of Queensland in order to enter federal politics. In 1928 Nott lost the seat to the Labor candidate, after which he ran unsuccessfully in North Sydney (1929) and Calare (1934). Nott moved to Canberra in 1927, the year that it became the national capital. In 1929 he was appointed Medical Superintendent of the Canberra Hospital and held this position until 1934 and again from 1941 to 1949. He campaigned for the creation of an advisory council for the Federal Capital Territory (in 1938 renamed the Australian Capital Territory, ACT) and was elected as a member of the council from 1935 to 1949.

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Dr Lewis Windermere Nott

When approached by Consul Simelius, Dr. was immediately sympathetic to the Finnish cause and agreed to take a leading role in the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation. An inveterate politician, he was a well-known figure in Australia and an effective and fiery public speaker. His credentials as both a soldier and a Doctor were impeccable. From the start, Dr. Nott would take a leading role in the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation and would also, as a medical practitioner and former soldier, organize a field hospital for the Commonwealth Division. Immediately on agreeing to co-found the Organisation, Nott wrote a series of letters to the Prime Minister, Australian politicians, Branches of the Nationalist Party, numerous Australian organizations such as the Country Womens Association, the Returned Services League and others and to the daily press advising them of the upcoming establishment of the Organisation, its intentions and asking for their support.

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The inaugural meeting of the Australian Finland Assistance Organization in Sydney on the 3rd of December 1939 was packed to capacity.

Two days after the USSR attacked Finland, the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation held its inaugural meeting in Sydney. The Hall selected was packed to capacity, with Dr. Nott receiving a standing ovation to his speech, which along with others was reported in full in newspapers across Australian on the morning of the 4th of December 1939. Accompanying the reports on the meeting was an open plea from Dr. Nott to the Government for the whether the Prime Minister to give his imprimatur to a voluntary ambulance unit and field hospital to be dispatched to Finland immediately. There were, Nott said, many professional men like himself, who though medically fit, and with excellent civil and military records, were not allowed to go overseas with the second A.I.F. (Australian Imperial Forces). Nott pointed out that Australia’s fate was inextricably bound up with that of Finland, and Finland’s “gallant resistance” was an inspiration to democracy at its intelligent best. There was, Nott repeated, not one obstacle in the path of staffing the Unit at once, but the question of transport, stores and upkeep was the major consideration and Nott could only visualize the unit succeeding over an extended period of time by a combination of government and voluntary assistance. Nott and the organization were almost immediately inundated by an overwhelming response from surgeons, specialists, dentists and nurses from all states, even as far afield as North Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

Leaving aside for a moment the success of the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation, Nott would be appointed to command the Medical Units made up of volunteers that Australia would dispatch to Finland. As the volunteers grew into what would be the Commonwealth Division, Dr. Nott was appointed to command of the Divisional medical units, a command position he would accept and hold until the end of the Winter War, after which he would return to Australia and his former positions as Medical Superintendant and Councilor. In Finland, Dr. Nott was instrumental in introducing mobile medical units along the lines developed by the Canadiuan Dr. Norman Bethune in the Spanish Civil War. A frequent cause of death on the battlefield is medical shock brought on by loss of blood. A casualty whose wounds do not appear life-threatening suddenly dies. Bethune had conceived the idea of administering blood transfusions on the spot and developed the world's first mobile medical unit. The unit contained dressings for 500 wounds, and enough supplies, medicine and equipment for 100 battlefield emergency operations. Bethune organized a service to collect blood from donors and deliver it to the battlefront, thereby saving countless lives. Nott introduced similar units, Mobile Battalion Aid Stations, to Finland, designed to get experienced personnel closer to the front, so that the wounded could be treated sooner and with greater success.

The system that Dr. Nott designed was based on immediate aid from a unit medic, after which the casualty was routed to a near-frontline Battalion Aid Station for emergency stabilizing surgery, after which the casualty was evacuated to a Field Hospital for more extensive treatment. This proved to be highly successful and as these innovations percolated outwards through the Maavoimat medical units, during the last months of the Winter War, a seriously wounded soldier who made it to a Battalion Aid Station alive had a greater than 87% chance of survival once he received treatment. The ability of the Battalion Aid Station’s (and in some cases even Company Medics) to perform immediate blood transfusions on the spot proved of perhaps the most benefit – where blood transfusions could be administered on the frontline within minutes, survivability increased to 97% where the casualty was wounded rather than killed outright. This had a significant impact on morale – knowing that if one was wounded, one stood a high chance of surviving made a great deal of difference to the individual soldier’s mindset in combat.

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A group of Army Nurses of the Commonwealth Division Field Hospital (400-bed capacity, commanded by Lt-Col. Dr. Lewis W. Nott) posing in front of a US-supplied 1/4-Ton Truck. The Field Hospital arrived in Finland with the Australian volunteers and would remain until November 1940, before transferring to the UK and then to the Middle East. Note that by later summer 1940, when this photo was taken, the Australian Nurses are wearing military-style trousers and shirts. This was another innovation introduced by Dr. Nott for practical reasons – working as nurses in the field, wearing military-style trousers and shirts for women proved to be a significant benefit. Although this was a change that would percolate only slowly, by 1944 some Maavoimat medical units would make similar changes, issuing military-style trousers and shirts to Lotta’s.

In 1949, Nott was elected as an independent as the first representative of the Division of Australian Capital Territory in the Federal Parliament, where he had unlimited speaking rights but could only vote on matters affecting the ACT. He was one of only five people who have represented more than one state or territory in the House of Representatives, and the only one to represent both a state and a territory. He was defeated by the Labor candidate Jim Fraser in the 1951 election. He was subsequently appointed as a medical officer in Victoria, but collapsed on the flight to Melbourne and died the next day of leukemia in the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Nott is buried in the Presbyterian Section of the Woden Cemetery, Canberra.

Dr. Nott’s funeral was no simple family ceremony. Representatives of almost every phase of his life paid their last respects at an impressive funeral service at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Canberra. Members of practically all public bodies in the A.C.T. attended, crowding into the main church and the Warriors Chapel, the nave and overflowing outside, where approximately 200 persons listened to the service through amplifiers. The President of the Senate, Senator E. W. Mattner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. A. G. Cameron and the Minister for the Interior, Mr. W. S. Kent Hughes, who represented the Prime Minister, were present. The Opposition was represented by Messrs. A. A. Calwell and J. R. Fraser. Among many members of Parliament present were Mr. W. M. Hughes, whom Dr. Nott opposed in the 1929 election for North Sydney, and Senator W. J. Cooper. Both were members of Parliament from 1925 to 1928, when Dr. Nott was member for Herbert. Members of the diplomatic corps who attended included the High Commissioner for Ceylon, Mr. J. Aubrey Martensz, the Minister for Ireland, Dr. T. J. Kiernan, Mr. J. A. M. Marjoribanks, representing the Acting U.K. High Commissioner, Mr. Paavo Simelius, the Consul for Finland and Mrs. N. M. Lifanov, wife of the Soviet Ambassador.

Many of the congregation had taken their seats in the church almost an hour before the service was to begin.A large detachment of police attended the funeral. The church was almost full when Mrs. Nott arrived and, assisted by her son and daughters, placed a wreath of red roses at the head of the raised flag-draped oak casket. Wreaths from many other organisations lay at its foot. Mrs. Nott was obviously under great strain, but carried herself bravely. Among family mourners were the deceased's cousins, Messrs. L. G. Priestley and R. G. Norris from Sydney. The service opened with a hymn of the family's selection "Onward Christian Soldiers." The service was conducted by the Rev. Hector Harrison.

In his panegyric, the Rev. Mr. Harrison said: "As we gather here this afternoon to pay our tribute of respect to the memory of Lewis Windermere Nott, there is common to each one of us a very real and unaffected sense of personal sorrow. And that sorrow is shared to the humblest in this fair city, by all classes, from the highest. During this past week we knew that we were losing a public figure who had brought much colour into the civic life of Canberra, and the best wishes of their many friends followed Dr. and Mrs Nott as they left us to live in Yallourn. But not for one moment did anyone dream that the city's loss would deepen into grief through his untimely death. The shock of the dread news shivered through the community over the week-end in a manner which left many stunned and incredulous at the thought of this buoyant spirit being laid low in death. There is a saying that God sometimes makes a man and then breaks the mould, so that the world never looks upon his like again. Many of us feel that the mould was broken when Dr. Nott was born. We cannot imagine another such as he appearing on the platform of public life in Canberra.

To-day the wells of memory are stirred to their very depths as hundreds think of Dr. Nott's life and work. There are some here today whose minds hark back to the grim, grey days of the depression years, when the Doctor was one of a group who battled to keep hope alive in the hearts of the despairing and who helped men, women and children with means of subsistence in the hour of their dire need. Others will remember the long fight that he waged for the representation of the Australian National Territory in Federal Parliament and of the reward which came to him when he took his seat as the first elected member for the Territory. The memories of a great many more will fly back to the years when the Doctor gave added medicine of a merry heart to the prescribed treatment at the Canberra Community Hospital. And the aged will recall his continued advocacy for Eventide Homes to lighten the passage of their years.

Further, hundreds of ex-servicemen will remember that there was one who understood them, because he too had lived and fought and suffered wounds amid the mud, blood and misery of those terrible Flander's fields in the First World War as well as on the battlefields of Finland at the height of the Winter War, where he was instrumental in bringing aid and succor to the soldiers of Australia and of Finland. Dr. Nott touched life at so many points that one can only mention a few of his interests. In Parliament, on the Advisory Council, in the Returned Servicemen's League and the Legacy Club, as founder of the Australia-Finland Assistance Organization, as a patron of the arts, and a lover of animals, his was an abounding life. All barriers of class or creed fell when he was about, and even those who oppos- ed him in public life were quick to appreciate his good humour, ready wit and warm fellowship, for his heart was too big to allow differences to divide.

So he laboured on for the good of all to the very end. His only hate was a deep-rooted hatred of injustice, and his was a voice that was heard whenever Canberra residents desired to ventilate any grievance. But kindness, sympathy and gener- osity flowed from his colourful personality and radiated goodwill wherever he went. And the background of his public life was an ideal home where he could be rested and refreshed for the work he loved. To Mrs Nott, who shared in so many of the Doctor's good works and to the members of the family we offer our deep sympathy and pray that the peace of God may abide in their hearts. So, in the ever-shadowing mystery of death, Lewis Windermere Nott has been taken. His name is written in the hearts of the people as well as on the records of the State. We give thanks for that best portion of a good man's life, his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love. We pray that others may follow the example of the one whose body we shall soon commit to the ground, and whose soul we commend to Him who gave it birth."


The service concluded with the hymn "Be Still My Soul."

In an atmosphere intensified by the solemn Funeral March by Chopin, the pall-bearers bore the casket from the church, followed by the relatives of the deceased and official representatives. Preceded by three police motor cyclists and a floral float loaded with beautiful wreaths, the cortege started for the cemetery. The slow-moving procession was approximately one and a half miles long, the last vehicles leaving the church as the hearse passed the Prime Minister's Lodge. It took the vehicles almost 20 minutes to pass a given point. At every street intersection, onlookers stood in silent reverence as the hearse passed. Windows at West Block and at Legations along State Circle were filled with spectators. A number of motorists who did not attend the church service joined the cortege. Mrs Nott did not attend the graveside ceremony, at which approximately 500 persons were present. Ex-servicemen who had served with Dr. Nott in WW1 and in the Winter War in Finland marched in front of the hearse to the site. The acting president of the A.C.T. branch of the R.S.L. (Mr. H. Preston-Stanley) paid a short tribute to the work of the deceased in the Canberra community, following which the Finnish Consul, Mr. Paavo Simelius, paid a short tribute to Dr. Nott’s contribution to the freedom of Finland.

As the service concluded with "The Last Post" and "Reveille," played by Corporal N. Rundell, ex-servicemen comrades cast their Poppies of Remembrance into the grave, and the many dozens of wreaths were placed in position. They included wreaths from the Administrator, Sir John Northcott, the Deputy Prime Minister and Lady Fadden, from the Government and Army of Finland and from members of the diplomatic corps. Together with dozens of wreaths from private families or individuals, were floral tributes from the Commonwealth Government, the President, members and officers of the Senate, from the County of Cumberland Kennel Association, the Goulburn Kennel Asosciation, the Victoria League in Canberra, the Canberra Ambulance Station, the Greek Community, the Transport Section of the Department of the Interior, the staff of the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms, the Trades and Labour Council, the Canberra Technical College, Canberra Legacy Club and the Women's Auxiliary, R.S.L. sub-branches in Canberra and Queanbeyan, the Canberra Hospital Auxiliary, the domestic staff of the Canberra Hospital, the Canberra Services Club, the Canberra Workmen's Club, the Canberra Community Hospital Board, the Canberra Highland Society and Burns Club, the A.C.T. Advisory Council, the Liberal Party, the Legion of Ex-servicemen, the Ex-Navalmen's Association, the Australia-Finland War Veterans Association, the Management and staff of 2CA, the Airforce Association, the nursing staff of the Canberra Community Hospital, the Canberra Guild of Archers, the staff of Hotel Kingston, the A.C.T. branch of the R.S.L., the Police Association, "The Canberra Times," the A.C.T. division of the Australian Red Cross and many other organisations.

Next Post: Colonel Eric Campbell
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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Colonel Eric Campbell

Postby CanKiwi2 » 02 Nov 2012 20:42

Colonel Eric Campbell

Eric Campbell (1893-1970), solicitor and leader of the New Guard movement, was born on 11 April 1893 at Young, New South Wales, fourth son of native-born parents Allan Campbell, solicitor, and his wife Florence Mary, née Russell. He was educated privately and was a cadet-member of the Coronation Contingent which visited England in 1911. While an articled clerk in his father's law office, he was commissioned in 1914 in the volunteer Australian Field Artillery. In April 1916 he joined the Australian Imperial Force as a Lieutenant, was promoted Captain in May and Major next year. He served first in France with the 27th battery of the 7th A.F.A. From August 1917 until the Armistice he was with the 12th Australian (Army) Field Artillery Brigade, attached to General Headquarters, in Flanders, on the Somme, and in the final advance to the Hindenburg Line. He was gassed in November 1917, twice Mentioned in Dispatches in 1918, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in January 1919.

Campbell returned to Australia in February 1919, resumed his legal studies and was admitted as a Solicitor on 29 August 1919. Between 1920 and 1926 he was in partnership with S. G. Rowe, then established with his brother Campbell, Campbell & Campbell, a successful practice with a clientele of pastoralists, merchants, professional men and financial institutions. On 22 October 1924 he married Nancy Emma Browne (daughter of a grazier) at Memagong Station, near Young. In 1931 he was a reputable businessman living at Turramurra: a director of Australian Soaps Ltd, Discount and Finance Ltd and other companies, he belonged to the Imperial Service Club, the Union and New South Wales Clubs and Royal Sydney and Killara Golf Clubs; he was also a Freemason and a member of the Rotary Club of Sydney. He was fond of tennis, gardening, surfing and motoring.

Actively interested in the Militia, Campbell commanded the 9th Field Artillery Brigade in 1924 and was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel in 1925; he was transferred to the reserve in 1932. He turned to paramilitary activity in 1925 when, with Major John Scott, he recruited a secret force of 500 ex-officers to try to put down a seamen's strike. In 1930 he became recruitment officer for an organisation run by (Sir) Robert Gillespie and (Sir) Philip Goldfinch, a secret vigilante group of businessmen, ex-officers and graziers alarmed by the Depression and the election of J. T. Lang's Labor government; they were later known as the Old Guard. At a meeting at the Imperial Service Club on 18 February 1931 Campbell, disappointed with the Old Guard, was the principal founder of the New Guard, which stressed loyalty to the throne and British Empire, and wanted “sane and honourable” government and the “abolition of machine politics”. Campbell saw patriotism as its key virtue. The New Guard aimed at uniting “all loyal citizens irrespective of creed, party, social or financial position”. Campbell organized the movement on military lines. With a peak membership of over 50,000 within Sydney alone, the New Guard rallied in public, broke up “Communist” meetings, drilled, vilified the Labor Party and demanded the deportation of Communists. There were other similar “radical conservative” movements in Australia - The “All for Australia League”, for example, which rapidly amassed a membership of 130,000 in New South Wales in 1931, similarly sought to unite the nation through appeals to patriotism and the national interest – rather more successfully than the “New Guard” as the “All for Australia League” was more in the political centre.

(The “All for Australia League” was formed from defectors from the Australian Labour Party and dissident Nationalist Party members. In March-May 1931 the League worked to establish a new party, the United Australia Party (UAP) from the merger ALP members, the Nationalists and anti-Labor citizens' groups. Joseph Lyons, a former Labour Party member and ex-Premier of Tasmania was elected to the UAP leadership unopposed. Lyons announced the new opposition party arrangements in the Federal Parliament on 7 May 1931, to the accompaniment of vehement denunciations from his former ALP comrades. The Australian Labour Party government fell through the loss of a confidence motion on 25 November 1931, when UAP opposition and Lang Labor (another group of ALP defectors led by the NSW Premier) combined to defeat the Government. Parliament was then dissolved. In the subsequent general election on 19 December 1931, the ALP was bundled from office by an electorate battered by the depression, tired of ALP disunity and dissatisfied with government's handling of the economy. The UAP won an absolute majority and was able to form a government without having to rely on a coalition with the Country Party – the “other” conservative party – Lyons would become the Australian Prime Minister and would lead the UP to victory at the general elections on 15 September 1934, and 23 October 1937. At the October election the UAP lost its absolute majority and was forced to enter into coalition with the Country Party. Lyon, suffering from ill-health, would die of a heart attack in April 1939, to be replaced as Prime Minister by Robert Menzies).

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“...Campbell cut an impressive figure. He was a tall man of about forty years, broad shouldered and immaculately dressed in a double-breasted suit of fashionably light fabric. He was bald on top with the remaining fringe cropped short in military style. His face was surprisingly soft, his smile broad under a small brush-like moustache...”

The stated ideology of the New Guard was as a response to a perceived communist threat, one of the criticisms made of communism was that it took away individual freedom and was therefore antithetical to democracy. Many First World War veterans also viewed the Russian Bolshevik armistice and treaty with Germany as a betrayal and the revolution also went against the notion that subjects should remain loyal to their rulers. In any case, the agreement took Russia out of the war and allowed Germany to reallocate troops from the eastern front to the western front, making life more difficult for Australian troops. The 1930s was also the decade of the Great Depression, which caused extreme hardship around the world. Financial hardship in Australia meant that the possibility of popular uprisings did not seem then as distant and remote as it would now. The name New Guard, then, suggested not only the idea of guarding a set of values but also of physically guarding the community, if necessary, against a communist revolution.

While some historians have called the “New Guard” a fascist group, it’s a label that does not fit well. The movement arose at a time of great crisis. The world was in the midst of the Great Depression, with little sign of improvement. In Europe, Mussolini’s Fascists ruled Italy, Adolf Hitler was on the rise and would become Chancellor of Germany in January 1933, and Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists had begun to attract attention. Closer to home, an increasingly unpopular Labour government in New South Wales seemed to be moving further to the Left, with many of its members regarded by the conservatives as little more than Communists. The “New Guard” then was more of a radical conservative movement which emerged as a manifestation of the not unfounded fear of communism and of societal disruption. It certainly captured the attention of major newspapers and prominent politicians, as well as leading business and commercial associations. The “New Guard” brought together thousands of discontented conservatives with a variety of ideas, both radical and traditional, on how to combat the Depression and the political Left.

The New Guard began as a relatively peaceful outfit that used lawful means to advance its objectives and its platform was immediately popular with many First World War officers and veterans as well as others with conservative beliefs and attitudes. Numbers of Army officers were also members of the New Guard. The movements membership peaked in the early 1930’s, with an immediate threat within Australia being seen as Jack Lang's Labor Party government of New South Wales, which was elected in October, 1930. Despite its appeal to unite the entire country, the New Guard’s membership was drawn very largely from the middle and upper-middle class. Its ranks overflowed with businessmen, professionals and farmers, with a smattering of journalists and teachers. The average New Guardsman was white, male, in his mid-30s-to-late 40s, and had seen service during the Great War, often as an officer. Many were also involved in local government and in groups such as Rotary, local Chambers of Commerce and the Returned Soldiers’ Association.

Many of the reform policies that Lang introduced during his term were not welcomed by the New Guard, in particular, his administration’s proposals to default on foreign debt repayments at the height of the Great Depression. In January 1932 Campbell asserted that Lang (the Labour Party Premier of New South Wales) would never open the Sydney Harbour Bridge, referred to him as a “tyrant and scoundrel”, and claimed to prefer Ebenezer (Lang's bull) as Premier. Fined £2 at Central Police Court for using insulting language, Campbell successfully appealed. In the tense atmosphere of early 1932, rumours were rife that the New Guard was plotting a coup or the kidnapping of Lang; but Colonel Francis de Groot's Harbour Bridge ribbon-cutting antics instead provided an anti-climatic ending to the episode.

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Colonel Francis de Groot's Harbour Bridge ribbon-cutting antics: A former officer who had served in the 15th Hussars in WW1, de Groot in 1932 was an antique dealer and furniture manufacturer in Sydney and a member of the New Guard. He became famous when on 19 March 1932, he upstaged Labour Party Premier of NSW, Jack Lang at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. He was not a member of the official party, but dressed in his military uniform he was able to blend in with other soldiers on horseback who were guarding the dignitaries. Lang was about to cut the ribbon to formally open the bridge, when de Groot rode forward, drew his ceremonial sword and, reaching down from his mount, flamboyantly slashed the ribbon, declaring the bridge open "in the name of the decent and respectable people of New South Wales." The Mayor of North Sydney, Alderman Primrose, an official participant at the opening ceremony, was also a member of the New Guard, but whether he was involved in planning de Groot's act is unknown. De Groot was arrested, and his ceremonial sword confiscated but legal intervention by Superintendent Bill Mackay had him released. According to Mackay, De Groot would not be gaoled because he deemed him to be "clinically insane".

De Groot was later charged in the Supreme Court with carrying a cutting weapon, but when he was able to show that he was an officer in the Army Reserve and entitled to wear his uniform, which included his sword, this charge was dropped. Then he was charged with offensive behaviour. At the time this charge only applied to public property, and the law case then depended on whether the unopened bridge was public or private land. If private land, the charge had to fail, and if public, it meant that the road across the bridge was part of the King's highway, and under common law any of His Majesty's subjects was entitled to remove any obstacle, including ribbons, barring free progress along the King's Highway. In the end the court fined him £5 for trespassing. A large part of the plan to humiliate Lang was for all of de Groot's acts to be legal. After the court case he sued for wrongful arrest on the grounds that a police officer had no right to arrest an officer of the Hussars. An out-of-court settlement was reached, and de Groot's ceremonial sword was returned to him. De Groot managed to make a profit out of the whole charade. The horse ridden by de Groot at the opening ceremony was a 16.5-hand chestnut named "Mick". The horse belonged to a Turramurra schoolgirl, Margo Wishart, and was borrowed by the leader of the New Guard, Eric Campbell, from her father. The horse, which was returned to its owner after de Groot's escapade, lived to an old age.


However, in 1932 Lang was dismissed by the Governor-General and in the ensuing elections of 11 June 1932 Lang and the Australian Labor Party were defeated. With the easing of tension following Lang’s dismissal, members of the New Guard melted away along with the threat, and there was dissension among those remaining as Campbell grew more authoritarian and right wing, although he eschewed outright fascism after a visit to Germany and Italy. In 1933 he tried to take the remnant of the New Guard into party politics as a right-of-centre political party and formed the Centre Movement, but was defeated for Lane Cove at the 1935 State election. Many former members of the New Guard subsequently played a role in the more traditional conservative political parties. In 1938 Campbell was charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and to cheat and defraud Du Menier Laboratories Ltd, a subsidiary of Australian Soaps Ltd, of which he was chairman. He was acquitted. Next year, arising out of an Equity suit brought by him, Judge (R. H.) Long Innes submitted a report alleging that Campbell had committed perjury; however, the Full Court ruled that the charges were not sustained and that his name should not be struck from the roll of solicitors; but it directed him to pay costs.

It would be the Rev. Kurkiala who would initially approach Colonel Campbell in early November 1939 and ask for his assistance in establishing the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation. Finnish overtures to more mainstream Australian politicians had met with little success – the Australian Labour Party was heavily influenced by communists or sympathizers and these tended to view Finland as a proto-Fascist state (rather ironic given the Red-Earth SDP/Agrarian coalition that governed Finland actually had more in common with the ALP than with the right). Nevertheless, the ALP was not disposed to support Finland and the governing United Australia Party under Menzies was largely focused on the war with Germany and Australia’s contribution to this. A possible was between the USSR and Finland was of decidedly peripheral interest. Colonel Campbell however saw the approach from the Rev. Kurkiala as a god-send and a way in which to rehabilitate his political career and bring himself back into the public eye. He would accept the offer to jointly found the Australian Finland Assistance Organization and after accepting, would resurrect his old contacts and supporters.

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Colonel Eric Campbell, Chairman and co-founder of the Australian Finland Assistance Organization. Campbell would remain active in the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation throughout the Winter War, working closely and harmoniously with the Finnish Consul, Paavo Simelius and the small but highly professional Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus Team.

In this, he took a low-key approach, but after the Soviet attack on Finland and the subsequent announcement of the setting up of the Organisation, support quickly grew, with membership far surpassing that of the New Guard. It seemed for a while as if every conservative group in Australia had signed up to support Finland – and Colonel Campbell found himself at the apogee of his political career. His life became one of endless travel, speeches and fund-raising campaigns over the length and breadth of Australia. He commented at the time that he thought he had flown on every passenger aircraft in Australia. Within the organization, Campbell’s role, along with Dr. Nott’s, was very much that of the public speaker and motivator. The small but professional Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus Team had, behind the scenes, set up a very professional head office structure with a number of different sections focused on media relations, membership, fund-raising campaigns, donations in kind, logistics and transportation, purchasing and the like and staffed largely with very capable volunteers. Colonel Campbell and Dr. Nott supplied the inspiration while the Head Office team supplied the underlying organization and support, with small teams accompanying Colonel Campbell and Dr. Nott on their peregrinations around Australia.

In setting up the nationwide organization, Colonel Campbell, Dr. Nott and their support teams relied heavily on existing organizations – chief among them the large and established Returned Services Association and the Country Womens Association as well as on Colonel Campbell’s still-extent network of former New Guard members and on members of the United Australia Party (UAP) who were, to a man (and woman) remarkably sympathetic to Finland’s plight, as would become evident from the massive support that the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation engendered. As Chairman of the Organisation, Colonel Campbell was in his element with his fiery anti-Bolshevik speeches and his well-articulated support for the cause of Finland. Along with Dr. Nott, his name and photo were blazoned across the front pages of the Australian newspapers, his speeches (carefully prepared with professional Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus editing and input) were quoted extensively, he found himself meeting with leading business and society figures as well as with “honest hard-working Australian patriots” at every stop on his well-orchestrated travels. Already well-known, Colonel Campbell became a household name across the length and breadth of the country, and a name firmly associated with the campaign to support “gallant little Finland.”

The Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation went from success to success, and the departure of Dr. Nott together with the large contingent of Australian Volunteers early in 1940 left Colonel Campbell as the sole leading public figure of the ongoing campaign. The Organisation itself was, by February 1940, firmly embedded in Australian society and the ongoing news of the Finnish successes in the fight against the invading Red Army, together with the first news reports covering the ANZAC Volunteer Battalion and its Australian soldiers, cemented that ongoing support. Australians continued to support Finland, albeit at a lower tempo than that leading up to the departure of the Volunteers, funds continued to be raised, donations collected, news from Finland continued to flow back into the Australian news media. New Zealand Army volunteer John Mulgan’s regular radio broadcasts “ANZACS in Finland” were listened to in Australia with the same enthrallment as in New Zealand, and indeed across the English-speaking world.

With news and photos of the fate suffered by inmates of the Soviet prison camps on the Kola Peninsula and along the length of the White Sea Canal emerging over the summer of 1940, Campbell’s efforts on behalf of Finland would reach a fever-pitch as he condemned the “…outrageous Bolshevik atrocities and mass-murders” and condemned the totalitarian regimes of both German and it’s partner in crime, the Soviet Union. As the Winter War ended and news of the peace agreement and its clauses regarding refugees and the deportation from the USSR to Finland of the Karelians and Ingrians was communicated, Colonel Campbell and the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation’s efforts turned to raising funds and sending shipments of aid, primarily civilian clothing, raw materials for the Finnish textiles industry and food for the refugees. Colonel Campbell would continue in these activities through to after WW2, expanding the Organisations role in 1944 and 1945 to include assistance for the peoples of the newly liberated Baltic States and Poland.

In this role, Campbell would speak out vociferously against both Nazi and Soviet atrocities in the Baltic States and Poland and would in fact come to influence Ben Chifley (who had succeeded Curtin as Prime Minister on Curtin’s death in 1945 and who would lead the Labour Party to victory in 1946) on Australia’s foreign policy with regard to the post-war issues regarding the Baltic States, Poland, Finland and the USSR and on immigration from eastern Europe, particularly of the large numbers of refugees who had fled before the advancing Red Army and who were now stateless. It was a strange and unexpected role for the former leader of the “New Guard” but it was one that he embraced wholeheartedly, continuing to be a strong advocate for the admission of large numbers of eastern European refugees to Australia through the 1950’s and up until his retirement in the late 1950’s.

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Ben Chifley, 16th Prime Minister of Australia (1945-1949). Under Chifley, Australia, in the immediate aftermath of World War II, established the Federal Department of Immigration and thereby launched a large scale immigration program under the slogan “populate or perish”. In keeping with policies of the previous governments, Chifley announced a preference for promoting immigration to Australia of mainly British settlers but at the same time, influenced by Campbell, announced that refugees from Eastern Europe as well as immigrants from Finland, Poland and the Baltic States would be accepted. Campbell had convinced Chifley and the Minister for Immigration, Arthur Calwell, that the Eastern Europeans refugees from the Red Army were mostly anti-Communist and so politically acceptable; and that many of them were, like Chifley and Calwell, Catholic. The British and Eastern European component still remained the largest part of the immigrant intake until 1953. Between 1953 and late 1956, those from Southern Europe outnumbered the British and Eastern Europeans, and this caused some alarm in the Australian government, causing it to place restrictions on Southern Europeans sponsoring newcomers and to commence the "Bring out a Briton" campaign, although Eastern Europeans continued to be accepted with no qualms.

After WW2, Campbell practised as a Solicitor in Young, was president of the Burrangong Shire Council in 1949-50, and bought a property near Yass where he settled in 1957. In 1961 he threatened a libel suit against The Nation (newspaper) for an article on 11 March on the New Guard: no further articles appeared. He published his own account, “The Rallying Point” (Melbourne), in 1965. Next year he moved to Canberra where he practiced law, but his health was increasingly impaired by serious injuries received in an accident in 1959. Survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters, Campbell died of cancer on 2 September 1970 in Canberra and as per his own wish, was buried in a simple family ceremony.

Good-looking, with a neat military moustache, he had a certain panache: in retrospect he had “thoroughly enjoyed” the experience of the New Guard, “the association with so many grand loyal Australians in the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation” and “helping the people of eastern Europe escape Soviet tyranny and find a new life in a free and democratic Australia.” He was a strong admirer of Ben Chifley, “the disparity of our political views dissipated over the years” and was deeply distressed at his death in 1951. “We sometimes find we have the warmest friendships among people whose politics are not ours. Mr Chifley served this country magnificently for years,” he was quoted as saying.

Next Post: The Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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Re: Decision made - the model 1936 Uniform (continued)

Postby John Hilly » 04 Nov 2012 11:52

CanKiwi2 wrote:A postscript on the Coats and Tunics
Another type of boot that was less common, but highly prized by its owners, were the Suomen Gummitehdas Oy ("Nokia") Wellington Boots (in fact, before its entry into the mobile phone business, rubber boots were among the best-known products of Nokia outside of Finland). As early as 1935 and 1936, all Border Guard companies received a batch of different Suomen Gummitehdas Oy ("Nokia") wellingtons for testing. They were generally preferred over leather and rubber-tipped leather boots in wet and wet & cold weather. Most Border Guard units ordered a few dozen short "Pelto" and longer "Laatokka" wellingtons from Nokia after the trials. While the Finnish Defence Forces did not issue wellington boots prior to the Winter War, they were on the shopping list “if available”. Worn with winter socks or foot-cloth wrappings, they were warm and kept the feet dry in the sometimes muddy conditions of the trenches and in the wet conditions of spring and autumn.


In summer time rubber-tipped leather boots – “kumiteräsaappaat” - were second to none, at lest if we trust to Finnish long-range patrol men during “Jatkosota”.
They were, of course, in short supply. These boots were good in keeping feet dry but simultaneously breathing from up the angle. They were also easier to dry near “nuotio” - campfire.

Foot-cloth wrappings originated from Russia. They were pretty comfortable actually, especially when you were “syylingit” - felt socs - on top of them. This is my personal experience, probably not shared with many of my countrymen.

Juha-Pekka :milwink:
"Die Blechtrommel trommelt noch!"

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Re: Decision made - the model 1936 Uniform (continued)

Postby Mangrove » 04 Nov 2012 13:57

John Hilly wrote:In summer time rubber-tipped leather boots – “kumiteräsaappaat” - were second to none, at lest if we trust to Finnish long-range patrol men during “Jatkosota”.


As I wrote before, all pre-war Border Guard units preferred rubber boots over the rubber-tipped leather boots. Likewise all long-range patrol reports I have read mention that patrols also wore rubber boots if they were given the chance. This is due to the fact that leather boots chafe the feet when wet.

John Hilly wrote:Foot-cloth wrappings originated from Russia.


This not might be true as there is an Iron Age finding from Karelia that could be a footwrap. An invention simple as a footwrap is probably universal in nature.

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Re: Decision made - the model 1936 Uniform (continued)

Postby CanKiwi2 » 04 Nov 2012 14:25

Martti Kujansuu wrote:[As I wrote before, all pre-war Border Guard units preferred rubber boots over the rubber-tipped leather boots. Likewise all long-range patrol reports I have read mention that patrols also wore rubber boots if they were given the chance. This is due to the fact that leather boots chafe the feet when wet.


And I should use this opportunity to thank Martti for the help with Finnish uniforms and equipment. As well as his great and informative posts, the links and extra information Martti has pointed me to were (and will be :D ) invaluable for someone with my limited ability to track down and read the Finnish books and articles on this aspect of Finnish history.

Cheers..........Nigel
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Re: Decision made - the model 1936 Uniform (continued)

Postby CanKiwi2 » 04 Nov 2012 14:33

John Hilly wrote:In summer time rubber-tipped leather boots – “kumiteräsaappaat” - were second to none, at lest if we trust to Finnish long-range patrol men during “Jatkosota”.
They were, of course, in short supply. These boots were good in keeping feet dry but simultaneously breathing from up the angle. They were also easier to dry near “nuotio” - campfire.

Juha-Pekka :milwink:


Interesting the difference the climate makes. In New Zealand, farmers are generally heavy users of rubber boots but in the Army and for hiking we used the leather boots and used to drill small holes to let the water out. Hiking in NZ, there are usually a lot of rivers to cross or walk up or down and its often not worth the effort to keep your feet dry, so we would simply drill holes in the boots to get rid of the water faster. No use in snow of course, but even in a wet winter your feet stay warm as long as you are moving. Did not personally find rubber boots comfortable for hiking but on the farm they were great.

By contrast, In Canada, I love my rubber boots with felt lining in winter. Could not survive winter without them!!!! Life in Canada really makes me see their vale and usefulness in the kind of conditions you get in Finland in winter.

Cheers.........Nigel
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Re: What If-Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Postby John Hilly » 04 Nov 2012 16:45

Martti Kujansuu wrote:As I wrote before, all pre-war Border Guard units preferred rubber boots over the rubber-tipped leather boots. Likewise all long-range patrol reports I have read mention that patrols also wore rubber boots if they were given the chance. This is due to the fact that leather boots chafe the feet when wet.


I am sorry, Martti. Being away for a long time I've missed so much material here in AHF. :oops:

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Re: What If-Finland had been prepared for the Winter War?

Postby CanKiwi2 » 06 Nov 2012 15:52

The Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation

On the 30th of November, 1939, the Soviet Union attacked Finland with no declaration of war. The Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus team in Sydney had been warned that this was probable and was well prepared, with contacts in the Australian news media by now well established and background information prepared. Immediately the Soviet attacks commenced, telegrams to Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus teams around the world were dispatched, instructing them to initiate the plans that had been prepared for this eventuality. Short of any news on the Phony War, the Australian news media splashed the new of the Soviet attack on Finland across the front pages. Along with the front page headlines were a continuous stream of background articles filling the newspapers, describing Finland, setting out the situation, providing a background to the unprovoked attack on a small neutral country which wished only to remain at peace, suggesting ways in which Australians could assist Finland. The immediate Australian public reaction was one of indignation and condemnation of the USSR’s actions. Editorials stridently critical of the USSR blazed across every newspaper in the country. Well-prepared and prominent supporters of Finland spoke on the radio and seemingly overnight, the Australian Finland Assistance Organisation emerged, announced on the 3rd of December 1939 at a packed public meeting in Sydney where the prominent speakers included the joint founders (whom we will cover in the next Post), Dr Lewis Windermere Nott and Colonel Eric Campbell together with the Rev. Kalervo Kurkiala.

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The inaugural meeting of the Australian Finland Assistance Organization in Sydney on the 3rd of December 1939 was packed to capacity.

Dr Lewis Windermere Nott and Colonel Eric Campbell had laid the foundations for the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation well. The day that the war broke out, letters and telegrams began to pour out of the Sydney Office asking those who had indicated their willingness to help to start work immediately whilst newspaper articles nationwide reported the founding of the Organisation and provided contact details for those who wished to setup branches or to join. Within days, branches of the Australian Finland Assistance Organization had been established across Australia, with offices prominently positioned in main streets. Churches, factories, schools, Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia Halls, the Australian Country Women’s Association, the Australian Red Cross, all were pressed into service as popular enthusiasm led to the organisation’s membership soaring into the thousands within days and into the tens of thousands within a fortnight. Fund-raising activities commenced almost immediately, with Churchs taking up Collections for Finland, street corner collectors in the cities and large towns, collections in the factory and the office, fund-raising fetes and, on a larger scale, requests to businesses for donations. Within days, thousands of pounds had been collected, within weeks, tens of thousands as the Australian public responded to the call. By mid-December 1939, it seemed that a large percentage of the Australian population were involved in the campaign to support Finland. It was a cause that stirred enthusiasm in the public, far more so than the war with Germany. And this enthusiasm was in large part the result of the skilful and ongoing distribution of information, news articles and commentary provided by the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus team.

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The Head Office of the Australian Finland Assistance Organization was staffed by Volunteers and was a large and meticulously organized hive of industry. The Sydney Finnish community played a large part in the initial establishment of the Office but were soon joined by hundreds of Australian volunteers eager to help the cause of Finland as the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation rapidly became an “Australia-wide” organization. The small Finnish community would continue to play a strong supportive role in the Organisation in Sydney, working in the Organisation’s Head Office performing the mundane administrative work that any such Organisation needs carried out efficiently in order to be successful.

Two Australian organizations were perhaps the most instrumental in the rapid expansion of support for the Australia-Finland Assistance Organization. These were the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia and the Country Women’s Association of Australia, both large and well-organised groups with memberships of well over one hundred thousand and with branches in every city, town and small rural farming community in Australia. Both were also fairly conservative patriotic organizations in all the best senses of the words.

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RSL sub-branch club-rooms in Wagga-Wagga: The Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia was founded in 1916 and had originally been established out of concern for the welfare of soldiers who had served in the military in WW1. As well as arguing for veterans' benefits, it entered other areas of political debate and was very much politically conservative, with members supporting the British Empire and the King. In most areas of Australia, sub-branches of the League established clubrooms where war veterans could meet and socialise with their old comrades, with the land for the club buildings often donated by the various State governments. The Clubs were generally run on commercial principles and served alcohol and food. They were highly popular with veterans of WW1. From 1938 on, the RSL began to operate retirement homes for the care of aged veterans. Many RSL members, particularly those who had been officers, had also been members of the New Guard and as such, Colonel Campbell was able to recruit the support of RSL branches and sub-branches across Australia to the support of the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation.

In working to gain the support of the RSL, Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus would constantly highlight that Finns and Finnish-Australians had fought and died for Australia in WW1 out of selfless patriotism and loyalty to their adopted country. And now, when Finland was in need, Finnish Australians were rallying to support their old homeland, and asking for the support of all Australians to help their country remain free from Soviet tyranny – and the Soviet Union was the ally and friend of Nazi Germany, with whom Australia was officially at war. Stalin and Hitler were described as but two faces of the same totalitarian enemy whom free peoples around the world were fighting. Much was also made of the way in which Germany under Hitler and the USSR under Stalin had jointly attacked Poland – and now, while Germany attacked Britain, the USSR was attacking Finland. As a returned Finnish-Australian WW1 veteran, Niilo Kara would find himself speaking at fund-raising events throughout New South Wales in support of Finland.

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Pihlajaveteläinen Niilo Kara osallistui vapaaehtoisena ensimmäiseen maailmansotaan Australian joukoissa haavoittuen rintamalla. Toivuttuaan hän palasi Australiaan ja toimi jonkin aikaa farmarina. Kuva Siirtolaisinstituutti, Turku / Niilo Kara fought in the First World War as a volunteer in the Australian Army, where he was wounded at the front. After recovering, he returned to Australia and was for some time a station hand (a “station” in the Aussie and Kiwi vernacular is a very large sheep or cattle farm). Picture from the Migration Institute, Turku, Finland

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A rural Australian CWA branch: The Australian Country Women’s Association was in some ways the female equivalent of the RSL but was formed out of rather more desperate needs than the desire to socialize and support one’s old WW1 comrades. Rural Australian in the early 1920’s was a large area, and rural women often lived lives of isolation, with an appalling lack of health facilities. The Country Women's Association was formed in both New South Wales and Queensland in 1922 by women who had to watch helplessly as their children died from minor illnesses. These women realised they had nowhere to turn but to themselves - and the result was staggering. Within a year, the Association was a unified, resourceful group that was going from strength to strength. The members worked tirelessly to set up baby health care centres, fund “bush nurses”, build and staff maternity wards, hospitals, schools, rest homes, seaside and mountain holiday cottages - and much more. At the same time they continued to run homes in which they were often mother, nurse, teacher and general hand. The women of the CWA, while believing deeply that their role in the family was vitally important, provided social activities and educational, recreational and medical facilities. The CWA expanded into South Australia in 1929 and by 1936 there was a branch in each of the States and Territories of Australia. During the depression years, the CWA helped those in need with food and clothing parcels. In the late 1930’s, as now, it was the largest women’s organisation in Australia.

While Australian newspapers wrote in glowing terms of Finnish bravery as Finland defended itself against the attacker from the East, Australian Finns worked to support their Fatherland. Much had been made in the Australian newspapers of the Lotta Svärd organization and how they supported the Army and the war effort in Finland. In Sydney, Miss Aino Potinkaraa publicly opened a Sydney branch of the Lotta Svärd on the 4th of December and in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, spoke about the 30 Finnish women who met every night to knit woollen clothes for the Finnish soldiers and Finnish children. The news article sparked off a flood of inquiries about establishing similar clubs which were responded to quickly, the net result being similar groups under the aegis of the Australian Country Women’s Association being established across Australia, with the results that we have seen in an earlier post. Within days, Miss Aino Potinkaraa found herself the very public figurehead of the Australian Lotta Svärd, travelling around Australia making speeches at CWA branches, in Churches and at Schools, advising as to how women and schoolchildren could help Finland.

Similarly, the Rev. Kalervo Kurkiala, as a Lutheran minister, would speak at both Protestant and Catholic Churches throughout Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. The Australian Catholic Church was large (in pre-WW2 Australia, Irish Catholics and the descendants of Irish Catholics made up a significant part of the country’s population), influential and was stridently anti-Communist, with the Spanish Civil War having magnified Australian Catholic fears that the Communist menace would spread across Europe. The Soviet attack on Finland served only as an illustration that these fears were well-founded, albeit Finland was a Lutheran Protestant country rather than a Catholic country. Still, this made little difference to Australian Catholics and the Catholic Church were firmly and whole-heartedly supportive of Finland and of the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation. The Australian Catholic Church would also throw their political weight behind the increasingly vocal campaign to send Australian volunteers to Finland. A widely circulated newspaper, the “Catholic Worker”, edited by Bartholomew Augustine Santamaria, played a prominent part in Catholic support for Finland.

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Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide Matthew Beovich with B. A. Santamaria at the first Catholic Action Youth rally in support of Finland, mid-December 1939. Archbishop Daniel Mannix, the acknowledged leader of the Australian-Irish community, was also a close friend and supporter of Santamaria’s.

Bartholomew Augustine Santamaria (14 August 1915 - 25 February 1998), known as Bob Santamaria, was an Australian political activist and journalist. A highly divisive figure, with strongly held anti-Communist views, Santamaria inspired great devotion from his followers and intense hatred from his enemies. Santamaria was a political activist from an early age, becoming a leading Catholic student activist and speaking in support of Franco's forces in the Spanish Civil War. He also was a strong supporter and wrote about Mussolini's regime in Italy, but denied that he had ever been a supporter of fascism. He always disliked and opposed Hitler and Nazism. He attributed Mussolini's alliance with Hitler to the failed policies of Anthony Eden and expressed regret that Mussolini aligned himself with Hitler. In 1936 Santamaria was one of the founders of the Catholic Worker newspaper and was the first editor of the paper which declared itself opposed to both Communism and Capitalism. In 1937, at the invitation of Archbishop Daniel Mannix, he joined the National Secretariat of Catholic Action, a lay Catholic organisation. Santamaria was also close to many influential Catholic Labour Party politicians, including Arthur Calwell and James Scullin (who would go on to become Labour Party Prime Minister). Bob Santamaria would strongly support the work of the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation and would be a leading member and speaker for the Organisation throughout the Winter War and for that matter, through WW2.

During WW2he would found the Catholic Social Studies Movement, which recruited Catholic activists to oppose the spread of Communism, particularly in the trade unions. The movement gained control of many unions and brought him into conflict with many left-wing Labor Party members, who favoured a united front with the Communists during the war. During the 1930s and 1940s Santamaria generally supported the conservative Catholic wing of the Labor Party, but as the Cold War developed after 1945 his anti-Communism drove him further away from Labor. In 1954 H V Evatt, leader of the Labour Party, publicly blamed Santamaria for Labor's defeat in that year's federal election, and his parliamentary followers were expelled from the Labor Party. The resulting split brought down the Labor government in Victoria. During the 1960s and 1970s Santamaria regularly warned of the dangers of communism in Southeast Asia, and supported the United States in the Vietnam War.His political role gradually declined. But his personal stature continued to grow through his regular column in The Australian newspaper and his regular television spot, Point of View (he was given free air time by Sir Frank Packer, owner of the Nine Network). A skilled journalist and broadcaster, he was one of the most articulate voices of Australian conservatism for more than 20 years and was greatly admired by conservative politicians. Santamaria had the satisfaction of living to see the fall of the Soviet Union.


Many fund-raising events took place through December 1939 and January 1940. One of the more notables was a series of concerts organized by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in conjunction with the Australian Broadcasting Company. The guest conductor was Georg Schnéevoigt (8 November 1872 – 28 November 1947), a Finnish musician and conductor who was also a close friend of the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The first concert of the series was graced by the presence of the Governor of NSW, John de Vere Loder, 2nd Baronet Wakehurst and his wife. The program began with the playing of Finland's national anthem, followed by Sibelius' Symphony No. 1 E Minor, Opus 39 and after the interval, the Karelian Rhapsody, Palmgren’s "Pastorale" and Sibelius's Suite "Walse Triste" and finally, Finlandia.

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Guest Conductor Georg Schnéevoigt, a close friend of the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.

The wife of the Finnish Consul, Mrs. Simelius, also took on a public role with the organization, herself managing the group within Head Office that organized the collection of clothing donations from the Australian people. The volume of clothing collected in this way was large, and the logistical management task was substantial, with large volumes of winter clothing collected or made by volunteers of the CWA being transported by the Australian railways from all around Australia to warehouses in Melbourne from where large groups of volunteers further assisted in sorting and packing for shipment. In addition to funds collected by local branches of the Australia-Finland Asssistance Organisation, donations also poured in to the Head Office in Sydney, with hundreds, and then thousands, of letters arriving daily. All had to be opened, read, donations collected and replies written and posted. Perhaps fortunately, the Australian Post Office, on the instructions of the Postmaster-General, provided postage free of charge to the organization for both incoming and outgoing mail.

Examples included a lady who wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald urging donations to the Organisation’s funds and as an example to others, she sent in £200 to help Finland. A Sydney suburban school sent a letter that read in part: "We're just little kids, and we do not have a lot of money, but we hope that the 10 shillings we have sent will help to buy bandages for small Finnish children who have been injured.” At the same time, the Australian Government announced it was donating £10 000 to the Finnish Red Cross as a starting point and would match all privately donated monies sent in to the Organisation. The administration of the Australia-Finland Asssistance Organisation’s accounts were entrusted to Sir John Peden, a noted Barrister, Professor of Law and President of the NSW Legislative Council (the Upper House of the New South Wales Parliament, the President of which was the equivalent of the Speaker in the Lower House) from 1929 to 1946 as well as to Lady Kater (appointed as Secretary) and Mr. R. S. Maynard, Treasurer. In all, the Australian-Finland Assistance Organisation raised funds of slightly more than £1,400,000 (more than 200,000,000 Finnish marks) from public donations. This was of course in addition to donations in kind of food, clothing and the numerous bales of war wool which Australian farmers donated and was matched by the Australian Government. It was a magnificent fund-raising effort for a small country as far removed from Finland as it was possible to be.

Australian Politics and the dispatch of the Australian Volunteers

In Australia, as elsewhere, public opinion had been aroused by the appeal of the Finnish government to the League of Nations for assistance against Soviet aggression, and the subsequent resolution of the Assembly which called upon every member to furnish Finland with all possible material and humanitarian assistance. Typical of the Australian public response was that of a woman in Sydney who signed her letter on December 6th 1939 to the daily newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, as “Woman Sympathiser.” She wrote that she had been waiting in vain for some public figure in the Government in Australia to take the lead in standing beside New Zealand in sending help to the heroic Finns. Recognising that it was hard for Australians, in their isolation and with their deep rooted sense of security, to visualize the epic struggle, the woman argued that the Finns were fighting not only for their homes and liberties but for Australia’s as well. Her letter garnered much support and many supporters wrote in a similar vein. Despite this support, the Menzies Government remained non-committal. The Government’s military advisors did not think that the Finnish Army could hold out against the might of the Red Army and advised the Government that the war would be over before any Volunteers from Australia could reach Finland.

However, the news reports from Finland on the fight the Finnish Army was putting up, the large casualties being inflicted on the invading Russians, the early Finnish victories, all fed a demand to send volunteers that was carefully and discretely fanned by the Valtioneuvoston Tiedotuskeskus team. And it wasn’t hard to fan - opinion from the countryside and from the influential Returned Servicemens :eagure was best illustrated by the vitriolic abuse hurled at the Soviet Union by the weekly Bulletin, where the bush ethos and the radical tradition were still served by the pen of Norman Lindsay. The Catholic Worker, edited by Bob Santamaria, we perhaps not as vitriolic but was certainly equally strident in it’s call for the dispatch of Volunteers. Within the pages of the media, there was little opposition to the calls to support Finland. The main opposition to these calls would come only from the small Communist Party of Australia and its leader, Lance Sharkey.

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Lawrence Louis "Lance" Sharkey (1898 – 1967) joined the Communist Party in 1924 and emerged in 1928 as a strong advocate of the Comintern line when he was elected to the CPA's governing Central Committee. In 1929 he was appointed editor of the party newspaper “Workers' Weekly” and would edit that paper and another party publication, “The Tribune”, through the 1930s. He became Chairman of the CPA in 1930 and would hold the post until 1948 (from 1948 to 1965 he served as the Secretary-General of the Party - closely following the prevailing Soviet line in each major turn of policy). In the summer of 1930 Sharkey visited the Soviet Union for the first time.When Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies declared the CPA illegal in June 1940, Sharkey and other party leaders went underground. A year later when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the ban on members of the CPA was relaxed and Sharkey resumed open political activity. In March 1949 Sharkey told a Sydney journalist that "if Soviet Forces in pursuit of aggressors entered Australia, Australian workers would welcome them." For this statement Sharkey was tried and convicted of sedition. The High Court upheld his conviction; and in October he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment. He remained prominent in the Australian Communist Party where he minimised Khrushchev's repudiation of Stalin in 1956 and the Soviet invasion of Hungary later that year. He died of a heart attack on 13 May 1967 in Sydney.

In January 1940 Sharkey explained the facts as Australian communists saw them. Finland had been ruled by Mannerheim’s clique for twenty years. The clique had come to power at the point of the bayonets of German imperialism which had overthrown the socialist government that the workers had established in Finland during the course of the Russian revolution, murdering between 30,000 and 50,000 Finnish and Russian workers in the process. Australian communists were told that Mannerheim had established a White Terror Dictatorship in which the Communist Party was suppressed and trade union recognition was illegal until the last hours before the War. The government of Kuusinen was, by this account, the legitimate successor to the government of the Finnish People which had been overthrown by the bayonets of Mannerheim and Von Der Goltz in 1920. Sharkey argued that the Finnish White Guards were the mortal enemies of the Soviet Union and stressed that Finnish Reaction was dangerous because it was a puppet of world imperialism, a dagger in the hands of British, French and German imperialism. It was a danger because the Finnish terrain, in the hands of a strong Army, would make it a most powerful military base, especially as Finland commanded the approaches to Leningrad and Murmansk. The Finnish White Guards, added Sharkey, could have had a treaty with the Soviet Union on the same terms as the three Baltic States. This they had refused, believing in the support of British and French imperialism and, behaving provocatively, even firing on Soviet troops. Sharkey concluded by describing the Finnish negotiations with the Soviet Union as sabotage. But he was glad to report that the mutual assistance treaty between Kuusuninen’s Finnish Government and the Soviet Union made Finland and the Soviet Union secure from attack (noting in passing that the capitalist rulers of Finland are of Swedish extraction), and he comprehensively predicted that the toiling people of the whole world would rejoice at the liberalization of their brothers in Finland, and would spit on the lies of capitalism, the millionaire press, the labour imperialists and the Trotskyite hirelings. That this of course did not fly with the Australian public is more or less needless to state. The only believers were the credulous supporters of the official Communist Party line and these were few and far between.


In Australia, the question of raising Volunteers to fight in Finland unsurprisingly received a great deal of public support. The substantial and nation-wide network of voluntary organizations that had sprung up to raise money and collect aid for Finland had, as it had in many other countries also, taken on a life of it’s own. The news media fed the public mood with continued stories of the heroic fight being put up by the Finns and the stories of the early volunteers (and in Australia and New Zealand in particular, the rapid dispatch in late December 1939 to the frontlines of the ANZAC Volunteer Battalion). The news that New Zealand, Australia’s minuscule neighbour in the South Pacific, was planning to dispatch a second volunteer Battalion to Finland acted like bait to a Great White Shark as far as Australian public opinion was concerned. The debate grew heated, the editorial pages in the Australian newspapers castigated the Australian government for a lack of support for a small fellow-democracy fighting for its life and used the dispatch of TWO volunteer battalions from tiny New Zealand as a whip with which to lash the Menzies Government – whom they were already criticizing for not dispatching troops of the Australian Imperial Force to Europe to fight with the British Army in a timely manner.

It is idle to suppose that government in Australia took no notice of public comment. Response to public opinion was a cornerstone of the Westminister style of government, and the Menzies administration took criticism seriously enough to look at the Winter War in Cabinet. H.S. Gullet briefed the Cabinet on facts and information necessary for them to deliberate on the question of aid for Finland. The obvious vital issue was whether aid to Finland should be confined to humanitarian assistance or whether Australia should also offer military assistance. The first ction taken, on the 10th of December, was that in light of the strong Australian support for Finland, the Government would match all private donations made to the Australian-Finland Assistance Organisation on a one for one basis. Cabinet was also advised that the Finnish Government had been advised that all orders placed for the purchase of non-armament related items would be approved without hesitation. It was spelled out in some detail to the Cabinet as to what these orders consisted of and that these did not threaten in any way the ability of Australia to support the war against Germany. This information was passed in code to the Australian High Commissioner in London, who was instructed to inform the United Kingdom Government and the Finnish Government. Gullett also recommended to the Cabinet that they send the League of Nations a telegram stating that Australia was fully in accord with the resolution expelling the Soviet Union from the League, and was prepared to offer Finland such assistance as was practicable. The Cabinet also approved these actions.

Once the decision to permit fund raising, donations and the selling of goods to support the Finnish war effort was approved, the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation and their supporters began to press their claims harder. The pressure came from two distinct quarters: from medical practitioners who wished to man field hospitals in Finland, and from Australians who wished to fight there. Dr Lewis W. Nott, a medical practitioner, former member of the House of Representatives and one of the founders of the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation was foremost among those trying to organize a Field Hospital and medical units for the Winter War. He wrote a series of letters to the Prime Minister and to the daily press in which he pointed out that in Britain organized recruiting was going on for military as well as medical aid for stricken Finland. Following the governments substantial commitment to Finnish Aid, Nott asked whether the Prime Minister would give his imprimatur to the ambulance and medical units and field hospital that Nott was organizing. There were, Nott said, many professional men like himself, who though medically fit, and with excellent civil and military records, were not allowed to go overseas with the second A.I.F. (Australian Imperial Force).

Following his first article in a Sydney newspaper offering to organize the field hospital, medical and ambulance units, Nott was inundated by an overwhelming response from surgeons, specialists, dentists and nurses from all states, even as far afield as North Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. In a further article the following day, Dr. Nott pointed out that Australia’s fate was inextricably bound up with that of Finland, and Finland’s “Gallant Resistance” was an inspiration to democracy at its intelligent best. There was, Nott repeated, not one obstacle in the path of staffing the Unit at once, but the question of transport, stores and upkeep was the major consideration. Nott could only visualize the unit succeeding by a combination of government and voluntary assistance. Even as Dr. Nott led the campaign, the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation, with the assistance of retired, reservist and militia officers, put together the proposed medical units and assessed and signed up Volunteers to serve in them should approval be given.

A parallel campaign was also underway supporting the dispatch of a Volunteer contingent to Finland. This aspect of the campaign was spearheaded on the one hand by Colonel Campbell, and on the other by a Mr. Charles C. K. Foot, of Western Australia. The point was made that the crucial test of Australian intentions in the fight against totalitarianism in all its guises was the issue of whether Australian volunteers would be permitted to go to Finland to fight. Traditionally Australians had been quick to volunteer and there was a long tradition also in effect by which all service overseas was voluntary. Australian volunteers had been among the first to fight in the Boer War in South Africa at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1914 they enlisted in droves to volunteer for overseas service. The view that men needed to be conscripted for overseas military service split the nation as the First World War dragged on, and there was a hard dying tradition that the need would find the men. Therefore it was hardly surprising that Australians should volunteer by the thousand to fight in Finland – and the Australian newspapers continually pointed out that hundreds of men every day were writing or visiting the Assistance Organisation’s offices and signing up as Volunteers to fight.

Colonel Campbell and Charles Foot pleaded their cause, with the at times strident support of every newspaper in Australia. Even the Labour Party opposition joined the chorus, perhaps influenced by their large Irish Catholic constituency and the support of such articulate activists as Bob Santamaria. The War Cabinet first debated the issue at its meeting in Melbourne on 20 December 1939. Gullet introduced the agenda item with a brief sketch of Finlands appeal to the League of Nations, and the Leagues request for clarification of the Australian Governments intentions. Gullets information was that while the United Kingdoms reply to the Secretary General of the League merely stated that it would give “such assistance as was practicable”, the government was assisting materially with the provision of aircraft, anti-aircraft and artillery guns and ammunition. Further, Gullett had been informed that the United Kingdom was already in the process of considering the dispatch of Volunteers and that the UK and France had also jointly made proposals to both Norway and Sweden that, in the event of their rendering every possible assistance to Finland and as a consequence themselves becoming involved in hostilities, Great Britain would be prepared to consider what assistance it could give to these countries.

The Cabinet further considered the sending of volunteers on the next day. H. S. Gullett pointed out the legal difficulties. The British Foreign Enlistment Act of 1870 made it unlawful for a British subject to enlist in the military or naval service of a foreign country which was at war with a state at peace with His Britannic Majesty. This Act applied to Australia, and had been invoked at the time of the Spanish Civil War to prevent Australians from leaving the country to join the International Brigades. There was however, Gullett admitted, provision in the 1870 Act for the King to grant a license which would permit British subjects to enlist and help Finland. Gullett recommended however that no action be taken over Australian Volunteers for Finland. He pointed out that apart from the obvious practical difficulties and the need for concentration on the official Australian war effort. He also stated that it was doubtful whether any effective assistance to Finland could be provided as it would be months before volunteers from Australia could have received adequate training and reached Finland, and by that time the question of Finlands ability to resist Russian aggression would in all likelihood have been decided. On the information Gullett had at that time it appeared that unless Finland received Allied help on a substantial scale in the near future she would be compelled to sue for peace. If the Allies decided that they were not in a position to give such help, the sending of Australian volunteers would serve no useful purpose. The Cabinet agreed with Gullett to postpone a decision on the matter and further consider it in the New Year.

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Sir Henry Somer Gullett KCMG (26 March 1878 – 13 August 1940) was an Australian Cabinet Minister and member of the House of Representatives. After leaving school, he worked as a journalist, writing for newspapers. In 1908 he travelled to London where he also worked as a journalist and in 1914 published a handbook on Australian rural life, The Opportunity in Australia to promote emigration to Australia. In 1915, Gullett became an official Australian correspondent on the Western Front. In July 1916, he joined the first Australian Imperial Force (AIF) as a gunner. From early 1917 he worked with Charles Bean collecting war records and later with the AIF as a war correspondent in Palestine. In 1919, he was briefly director of the Australian War Museum. He started writing volume VII of The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, covering the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, which he completed in 1922. In 1920, Billy Hughes (the Australian Prime Minister at the time) appointed him head of the Australian Immigration Bureau. He won a seat in Parliament for the Nationalist Party in 1925 and held it until his death in August 1940. In April 1939, Gullett became Minister for External Affairs in the first Menzies Ministry and Minister for Information from September 1939. He met with the Finnish Consul, Paavo Simelius a number of times in the weeks preceding the outbreak of the Winter War, and rather more frequently thereafter up until his death. He tended to defer to the Australian High Commissioner in London, the previously mentioned Stanley Melbourne Bruce, on matters of Foreign Affairs – and Bruce regarded the Russo-Finnish war in general as an unwelcome distraction which Australia should best avoid entanglement in.

However, the Press and the Public were not to be denied and the public campaign orchestrated by the Assistance Organization grew every more vociferous and intense. The headlines of the major newspapers grew ever more critical of the Government, steps by which Volunteers could reach Finland and join the fight were articulated, Members of Parliament were pressured by their constituents and questions began to be asked. The official Opposition, the Labour Party, stepped into the fray in support of the dispatch of Volunteers. "Not a token force, but a substantial number of Volunteers who can make a real difference" stated Scullin. In this, many members of the Labour Party had been influenced by the strongly stated views of Bob Santamaria. Within the governing coalition, many MP's, pressured by their constitutents, began to press for approval and support for the dispatch of a Volunteer Force. Spurred on by the increasingly bad press the Government was receiving, the Australian Prime Minister, Robert Menzies made the decision, publicly announced in early January 1940, that two Battalions of Australian Volunteers together with supporting troops and a Field Hospital and Ambulance Unit would be raised and dispatched to Finland – and that this would occur within days. Dr. Lewis Nott was placed in charge of all medical units to be raised and it was stated that volunteers would be accepted from both Regular Officers, the Citizen Force and the A.I.F as well as from civilians.

The implication was made that preparations had been underway for some time but the need for secrecy had meant that the public could not be informed until certain prepatory actions had been taken. This was of course nonsense, but it served to assuage the media and the public. Menzies’ announcement stated that in the interests of speedy and large-scale assistance to Finland, men without prior military training would be accepted and that Volunteers from the AIF and the Militia could apply through the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation. The Organisation of course had no real capability in place to handle such recruiting and processing of volunteers and the situation moved rapidly towards farcical. Menzies however, was not Prime Minister of Australia for nothing. Army Headquarters were instructed to second Officers and NCO’s to the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation and carry out the assessment and selection of Volunteers, who were to be gathered in Melbourne for dispatch by sea within a fortnight. Organisation of the men into units would take place in Melbourne prior to departure.

The Army Command, taken completely by surprise and not consulted by Menzies before his announcement and his demands on the Army, scrambled to put some sort of structure in place to deal with what was now a fait accompli – particularly as Menzies had made it more than plain that this was something that needed to be seen to be done quickly and efficiently. At the same time, rapid decisions needed to be made on the size of the Volunteer unit, the numbers of men to be sent, equipment to be provided, shipping, and all the minutiae of dispatching a small and self-contained military force that politicians take for granted when they make political decisions regarding military matters.

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Volunteers for the Australian Finland Force at the Melbourne Showground, early January 1940

The miracle was that the Australian Army succeeded. Exactly two weeks from Menzies’ announcement, a small convoy of Finnish merchant ships, some of them hastily converted into rudimentary troop ships, departed Melbourne unescorted with some 5,150 volunteers jammed on board but with no equipment other than a few hundred old Lee-Enfield .303 Rifles. The Australian Army had no artillery, mortars, AA guns or Anti-Tank guns to speak of, very few machineguns and there was a shortage even of the old .303 Rifles. In the short time between the announcement of the volunteer force and departure, a flurry of telegrams took place between Australia and Finland, the result of which was that the Finns were to arm and equip the Australians (and indeed, the Commonwealth Division) from their war reserves. This would mean that the Division would more than likely go into battle using the old Mosin-Nagant Rifles that the Maavoimat had been replacing as fast as possible with the newer semi-automatic Lahti-Salaranta SLR. The Australian Government howevever, was more concerned with getting the volunteers on their way than in how the Finns would manage to provide them with weapons and equipment (although the ladies of the CWA did ensure the volunteers were plentifully equipped with warm clothing, coats, hats, scarves, mittens and felt-lined boots. They might have no rifles or machineguns, but at least they would be warm in their Australian woollies).

The announcement that volunteers were actually being dispatched aroused the patriotic fervour of the Australian people – and the Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation found itself flooded with more volunteers than could be handled and further donations of money and materials. At the same time the Australian Government stating that the Government was committed to paying outright for all travel costs, the provision of uniforms as well as paying an allowance to the Volunteers – which were in fact the majority of the costs). As mentioned in an earlier post, Ford Australia very publicly donated 250 Ford trucks at cost straight of the Geelong Assembly line and had these crated for shipment to Finland, together with 50 Ambulances which were donated outright, with the fitting out as specialist Ambulance trucks being carried out by Ford workers on a voluntary basis. The Australian Pharmaceutical and Medical Supplies industry provided large quantities of medical and pharmaceutical supplies at cost and these were transported to Melbourne by the Railways free of charge where they were sorted and packed by volunteers. In addition to the shiploads of Volunteers and accompanying military and medical cargo, shiploads of Australian wheat, frozen mutton and lamb and canned meat were dispatched, paid for by the Assistance Organisation. The Finnish ships would proceed together as a small convoy to Cape Town and thence to the UK, where they would be routed to a suitable port in Norway for unloading.

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Image sourced from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... 333%29.jpg
Recruiting Poster for the Australian Finland Force - “Join the A.F.F. Now!” The recruiting poster depicts a happy young man in civilian clothes, holding an Army uniform and rifle, the newsclip in the background refers to the fighting prowess of the Australian Infantry. Such was the popularity of the cause that there were three times as many Volunteers as places, the standard of selection was thus high.

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Image sourced from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... -01%29.jpg
Five women bid farewell to one of the last troop ships carrying the Australian Volunteers as it leaves Melbourne in late January 1940, bound for Finland. The Volunteers would take seven weeks by sea to reach Petsamo, arriving in late March 1940

With the dispatch of the Volunteers to Finland, the Australian Government breathed a great sigh of relief and turned its collective attention back to the “real” war. Public opinion was assuaged. The newspapers praised the decisiveness of the Prime Minister and the War Cabinet, then continued to report on the progress of the Russo-Finnish War and the ANZAC Volunteers already in Finland. The Australia-Finland Assistance Organisation continued its work, albeit at a lesser pitch of fervor and intensity.

Next Post: The Commanding Officers of the Australian Volunteer Units
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army


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