Equipment used by the Border Guard before the Winter War

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Mangrove
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Equipment used by the Border Guard before the Winter War

Post by Mangrove » 08 Jun 2012 16:32

I have been doing archival research on equipment used by the Finnish Border Guard (fi: Rajavartiolaitos) before the Winter War, during the years 1934-1939. The Border Guard was and is subordinated to the Ministry of the Interior and not to the Finnish Defence Forces but it was supplied by the former. Despite of this the Guard had a great freedom of choosing its equipment and uniforms.

Before the year 1934 all units wore the same m/27 as the Army. During the same year some m/34 experimental uniforms were distributed to the Border Guard companies but m/27 kept its position as the main uniform until m/36 uniforms began coming available during the year 1938. However the Border Guard HQ (fi: Rajavartiostojen esikunta) privately purchased military fur coats from Friitala Oy for some 1/2 of the man strength in late 1934 onwards. The coats were available either in white or green colour and the latter one was preferred due of its neat appearance. These much replaced m/22 wool greatcoat hated by the men due of their great weight (c. 4 kg compared to 1.7 kg of the fur coats).

During years 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 units decided to ordered few dozen short "Pelto" and longer "Laatokka" wellingtons from Nokia later that year. Notice that the Finnish Defence Forces did not issue wellington boots in great quantities before the 1960s.

During the 1930s different units also bought wooden skis and leather mittens from small shops based on their preference. This is again in contrast to the Army where one ski and mitten models were used.

Sources:
Finnish National Archive. Rajavartiostojen esikunta. T 16374/12. Yl. kirjeistöä 1935.
Finnish National Archive. Rajavartiostojen esikunta. T 16376/3. Yl. kirjeistöä 1936.
Finnish National Archive. Rajavartiostojen esikunta. T 16379/12. Yl. kirjeistöä 1938.

Links:
Friitala Oy - 1933 Catalog
Suomen Gummitehdas Oy - 1937 Catalog

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Re: Equipment used by the Border Guard before the Winter War

Post by Mangrove » 26 Jun 2012 16:49

I observed from the 1939-40 papers that most, if not all, of the Border Guard units had a large variety of different type of fur coats bought during different years. The most common one seems to have been a civilian-type sheepskin with cotton or viscose windproof fabric shell, one with wool shell was much rarer. The second most common one was unlined lighweight calfskin "fur" without a shell.

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Re: Equipment used by the Border Guard before the Winter War

Post by Mangrove » 21 Sep 2012 05:27

It might be that many of the Border Guard fur coats were given to the regular Army after the start of the Winter War. Here are few photographs from Lapland.

Image

Image

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CanKiwi2
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Re: Equipment used by the Border Guard before the Winter War

Post by CanKiwi2 » 21 Sep 2012 11:24

Martti Kujansuu wrote:I observed from the 1939-40 papers that most, if not all, of the Border Guard units had a large variety of different type of fur coats bought during different years. The most common one seems to have been a civilian-type sheepskin with cotton or viscose windproof fabric shell, one with wool shell was much rarer. The second most common one was unlined lighweight calfskin "fur" without a shell.
Any idea where the sheepskin came from? Finland not being known for sheep farming I assume it would have been imported? I was thinking perhaps Argentina or Australia/New Zealand may have been sources for sheepskin.

Also, a question on the boots. Did the wellington boots have felt linings or were they plain unlined boots and you wore your own socks / footwraps for insulation?
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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Re: Equipment used by the Border Guard before the Winter War

Post by Mangrove » 21 Sep 2012 15:03

CanKiwi2 wrote: Any idea where the sheepskin came from? Finland not being known for sheep farming I assume it would have been imported? I was thinking perhaps Argentina or Australia/New Zealand may have been sources for sheepskin.
Most of the wool yarns were imported from Great Britain & Commonwealth and Argentina. However I understand that Friitala used mostly Finnish sheepskins when making the fur coats. According to Statistics Finland, there were 1,072,307 sheeps in Finland at the end of year 1937.
CanKiwi2 wrote: Did the wellington boots have felt linings or were they plain unlined boots and you wore your own socks / footwraps for insulation?
All the rubber boots I have seen on the period catalogs are unlined ones. The recommendations were to wear two pairs of footwraps and a felt liner or a pair of footwraps, a sock and a liner or two pairs of socks and a liner.

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Re: Equipment used by the Border Guard before the Winter War

Post by Mangrove » 12 Oct 2012 09:33

I noticed from Finnish Defence Forces depots' annual reports that during the mid-1980s they still had a hundred or so fur coat m/53s (fi: kenttäturkki m/53) manufactured by Friitala. This was the last official item made out of real fur used by the Finnish Defence Forces and the Border Guard, although one individual donated a pair of traditional dog fur mittens to be used by the guards serving at the Jaeger Brigade at Sodankylä in 1984!

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Re: Equipment used by the Border Guard before the Winter War

Post by CanKiwi2 » 14 Oct 2012 08:15

Just reading thru The Red Army Moves by Geoffrey Cox (journalist in Finland in the Winter War) and on P94, he mentions staying at the Pohjanhovi hotel in Rovaniemi. Then comes this:

Its porter was a burly Finn with, of all things, a strong Australian accent when he spoke English. He had emigrated to Australia after the last war and had been for a time a kangaroo hunter. The best Finnish fur hats were, incidentally, made of specially imported kangaroo hides. ... (P94)

Wondered if that was true, that imported Australian kangaroo hide was used for Finnish fur hats?
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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Re: Equipment used by the Border Guard before the Winter War

Post by Mangrove » 14 Oct 2012 08:30

CanKiwi2 wrote: Wondered if that was true, that imported Australian kangaroo hide was used for Finnish fur hats?
I highly doubt it. Although the material listing for making a m/39 fur hat did not specify the type of leather used, the instructions connected to list imply that only sheepskin could be used. Kangaroo hide or leather from any warm climate animal is not at all good for insulation.

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Question on Sleeping out in Winter?

Post by CanKiwi2 » 17 Oct 2012 19:27

Hope you don't mind me using this thread for equipment related questions in general. Otherwise, I could start a new thread if you prefer.

So, my question: Sleeping out in the Winter War.

What did Finnish soldiers use when sleeping out in tents /dugouts in the Winter War / Continuation War. I assume some sort of a bedroll? Groundsheet & blankets? Was there any type of blanket used specifically and how many were used, given it gets a bit chilly. Also, did Finns use blanket pins for making sleeping rolls with blankets? Were there any early sleeping bags in use? And what about insulation between the bedroll and the ground? Was that usually things like branchs / leaves?

Image
And would this be a Finnish Army blanket and rucksack circa ww2?


Thx.........Nigel
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: Question on Sleeping out in Winter?

Post by Juha Tompuri » 17 Oct 2012 20:32

Hi Nigel,

If possible, Finns used stoves to heat the tents, but near the front line that could not be done as the smoke would have revealed the rest area position. Usually the soldiers slept just with all their clothes on. Blankets (like at your pic) were used if they were availlable.
Insulation is a good question (revealing that you really know about "camping" at low temperatures)
Usually it was done by removing all the snow under the tent and bringing in a thick layer of conifer tree branches

At least I haven't heard/read about sleeping bag usage at those days.

Here a link to a older thread: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... it#p506959

Regards, Juha

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Re: Question on Sleeping out in Winter?

Post by JTV » 17 Oct 2012 21:38

CanKiwi2 wrote:And would this be a Finnish Army blanket and rucksack circa ww2?
The rucksack looks like one of the standard designs used during World War 2, but color of the fabric suggests that it may have been manufactured in post-war era. Fabrics used in wartime rucksacks, breadbags and gas mask bags tend to be usually gray or light brown, but impossible to say for sure. This rucksack design remained in military use long after the war (at least until 1960's?), so there was plenty of post-war production.

Some photos of the Finnish wartime rugsacks:
http://www.pkymasehist.fi/phpBB2/viewto ... lit=+reppu

Friittala seems to have had this sort of rucksack (and other military rucksacks) in their catalog of year 1933:
http://digi.lib.helsinki.fi/pienpainate ... currPage=1

The blankets used in 1990's were all gray, but I have no idea about the wartime ones. Might be worth noting that long after the war standard issue Finnish sleeping gear was blanket and greatcoat.

Jarkko

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Re: Question on Sleeping out in Winter?

Post by Juha Tompuri » 17 Oct 2012 22:13

JTV wrote:Some photos of the Finnish wartime rugsacks:
http://www.pkymasehist.fi/phpBB2/viewto ... lit=+reppu
AFAIK the ones there with the metal framing , so called "satulareppu" (saddle rucksack) were quite rare during the war.

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Re: Question on Sleeping out in Winter?

Post by Mangrove » 18 Oct 2012 06:40

CanKiwi2 wrote:Groundsheet & blankets?
At least some Finnish troops and patrols had impregnated "laavukangas" groundsheets. The size varied but two by two meters seems to have been the most common. These were also made by civilians after the start of the Winter War.
CanKiwi2 wrote:Were there any early sleeping bags in use?
According to some patrol manuals I have, sleeping bags were used in some extent by long range patrols starting from 1942 onwards. However the regular forces did not use them. I have not seen any specifications for a special Defence Forces' sleeping bag, so I assume the models used were either civilian kapok filled bags or simple paper sleeping bags.

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Re: Equipment used by the Border Guard before the Winter War

Post by CanKiwi2 » 22 Oct 2012 16:25

Can anyone give me a bit more background information on Armeijan Pukimo (the Army Clothing Store?) Or point me to any links with a bit of info and any photos?
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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Re: Equipment used by the Border Guard before the Winter War

Post by Juha Tompuri » 24 Oct 2012 08:51

When Winter War started Norway donated 37000 rucksacks to Finland.
Here some of them at a scan from book Viisi sodan vuotta (Five years of war):
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