Why did Finnish soldiers paint skulls on their helmets?

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Mangrove
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Re: Why did Finnish soldiers paint skulls on their helmets?

Post by Mangrove » 22 Jan 2016 22:11

Medic with a skull on his helmet. Photographed in Hennala/Lahti during July 1942. SA-Kuva 95461 (adjusted and cropped):

Image

veeteetee
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Re: Why did Finnish soldiers paint skulls on their helmets?

Post by veeteetee » 24 Jan 2016 09:55

See also SA-kuva.fi number 2224: "Kuoleman komppania Summassa. Summa 1939.12.20", "Death´s Company at Summa"

Lotvonen
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Re: Why did Finnish soldiers paint skulls on their helmets?

Post by Lotvonen » 29 Jan 2016 10:55

Psychological explanation provided by Dr.Ph. Ville Kivimäki in his book "Murtuneet mielet" ("Broken minds. The battle of the nerves of Finnish soldiers 1939-1945) 2013. ISBN 978-951-0-37466-5

"Also soldiers had to involve themselves intimately with death and violence and they developed a skill to control these experiences. The minimum method for a soldier to cope in an odd situation comprised the ability to create protective layers, a kind of psychological barriers, between themselves and the violent reality of the front line. This could be seen in the very appearance of the front line soldiers. Compared with the barracks conscripts with their regulation gear the front line man adopted a habit to grow "grunt beard". They also modified their gear and uniforms to make them more useful in the front line use but also to emphasize their status as real front line soldiers. They decorated their helmets and sleeves with official and inofficial symbols of which skull symbols appear to have been specially popular." (p.214)

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alpinoinMT
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Re: Why did Finnish soldiers paint skulls on their helmets?

Post by alpinoinMT » 08 Feb 2016 00:38

Lotvonen, is this book available in English?
a reporter once asked me, after an awards ceremony
"are purple hearts for soldiers & bronze stars for officers?'

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Re: Why did Finnish soldiers paint skulls on their helmets?

Post by Lotvonen » 08 Feb 2016 06:20

Actually Kivimäki´s book we are now talking about is a popularized version of his doctoral dissertation. I believe the thesis is available.

From Internet about Kivimäki and his research:

Battled Nerves: Finnish Soldiers' War Experience, Trauma, and Military Psychiatry, 1941–44. Väitöskirja (Doctoral thesis) . Tampere, omakustanne, 2013.
Finland in World War II: History, Memory, Interpretations. Tiina Kinnunen and Ville Kivimäki (eds.), Leiden: Brill, 2012.
"Between Defeat and Victory." Scandinavian Journal of History, Vol. 37, No. 4, 2012.

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Re: Why did Finnish soldiers paint skulls on their helmets?

Post by d1ea » 28 Mar 2017 18:16

Images from 18. division Mannerheim 75 birthday parade, Haukijärvi 4.6.1942. Lots of soldiers using the skull mark. No info which unit.
Image
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veeteetee
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Re: Why did Finnish soldiers paint skulls on their helmets?

Post by veeteetee » 29 Mar 2017 20:31

The ever so important - and always missing from AH messages - SA numbers are 91739-42, 173226-7, 173232-5. Acc. to original captions they are Pajari´s troops.

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Re: Why did Finnish soldiers paint skulls on their helmets?

Post by d1ea » 30 Mar 2017 14:19

yeah sorry forget about those.

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Re: Why did Finnish soldiers paint skulls on their helmets?

Post by HerrHetzer » 22 Apr 2017 17:33

Good to see that accurate information is being relayed onto forums.

Since all the information of the recent posts on this thread were copied directly from an original post in Sotapolku-facebook channel, you missed to copy the single most important picture, which indicated which division (and partially which units) took part in the parade; That is, the scan of Infantry Regiment 48's war diary. It was included in the original facebook post, so I will go ahead and include it here, so someone who reads this thread can confirm the information to be valid immediately. (Also known as a historical source)

I've gone down the list of war diaries of the 18th division, and so far it is certain that the participants in the parade were:
IR 48 (I&II-battalion, except mg-platoons on duty, + 13.Company, as indicated in the picture)
PionP23 (all companies, indicated in the pictures)

As for the others. So far I know that IR 6 and IR 27 (or their main elements) were stationed in the frontline on that day. NB! I will include a link to the war diary - database, where you can go and check these claims.

Still remains to be researched; KTR 19, RaskPsto 26, VP24, 253. ItKKK, and KevOs 7. Earlier SA-photos of KevOs 7 indicate that they did NOT have paintings on their helmets, and ontop of that, they did not have german-style helmets.

Below you will see IR48's and PionP 23's war diary pages which confirm their participation in the parade.

Here is the link to all Finnish units' war diaries. https://digihakemisto.appspot.com/index ... in+sodan+s
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

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Re:

Post by HerrHetzer » 22 Apr 2017 22:42

patrik.possi wrote:This picture here is one of my alltime wwii favourt picture, ill think it was originally from the german "Signal" as cover. But does anyone know anything about its background? Where it was taken and witch unit this chaps belongs to?
The photo was taken in June 1942. The picture is owned by Ullstein Bild, then Deutscher Verlag. You can find the photo along with their captions (in german) at their website. --> https://www.ullsteinbild.de/ullstein-we ... wMode=tile

All the actual evidence (ie. historical photos, war diaries) suggest that these are men from a unit in the 18th division. The soldiers in the parade photos have identical paintings on their helmets.

Guesses and unsourced forum posts always attribute those paintings to Kevyt Osasto 4 (KevOs4), because they had skulls on their helmets too. A lot of militaria websites also erroneously do this, which adds to the problem.
1. KevOs4 skulls look completely different
2. Kevos4 had older, M17/M18 - model helmets (in all the pictures I have seen)
3. Kevos4 was a winter war unit, disbanded and divided /integrated to other units in the continuation war.

I've also seen other amazingly uneducated forum posts, claiming that the men are SS-volunteers, which they quite obviously are not.

See pictures below
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HerrHetzer
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Re: Re:

Post by HerrHetzer » 25 May 2017 17:11

HerrHetzer wrote:
patrik.possi wrote:This picture here is one of my alltime wwii favourt picture, ill think it was originally from the german "Signal" as cover. But does anyone know anything about its background? Where it was taken and witch unit this chaps belongs to?
The photo was taken in June 1942. The picture is owned by Ullstein Bild, then Deutscher Verlag. You can find the photo along with their captions (in german) at their website. --> https://www.ullsteinbild.de/ullstein-we ... wMode=tile

All the actual evidence (ie. historical photos, war diaries) suggest that these are men from a unit in the 18th division. The soldiers in the parade photos have identical paintings on their helmets.

Guesses and unsourced forum posts always attribute those paintings to Kevyt Osasto 4 (KevOs4), because they had skulls on their helmets too. A lot of militaria websites also erroneously do this, which adds to the problem.
1. KevOs4 skulls look completely different
2. Kevos4 had older, M17/M18 - model helmets (in all the pictures I have seen)
3. Kevos4 was a winter war unit, disbanded and divided /integrated to other units in the continuation war.

I've also seen other amazingly uneducated forum posts, claiming that the men are SS-volunteers, which they quite obviously are not.

See pictures below
****UPDATE*****
A recent find indicates that I-battalion of Infantry regiment 46 was present. This battalion had some skull-insignia in use. So it might be that the guys are IR 46 troops. That would make them a part of 4th Division.

d1ea
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Re: Why did Finnish soldiers paint skulls on their helmets?

Post by d1ea » 27 May 2017 21:24

Here are some images from SA-kuvat. IR46, Valkeasaari 19.2.1942
Image
sa-kuva 84423

Image
sa-kuva 84417

Teemu S
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Re: Why did Finnish soldiers paint skulls on their helmets?

Post by Teemu S » 02 Nov 2017 06:55

veeteetee wrote:See also SA-kuva.fi number 2224: "Kuoleman komppania Summassa. Summa 1939.12.20", "Death´s Company at Summa"
Hello,

Does anyone have a definite answer to which unit these guys were from?

Kev.Os.4 is the usual answer, but did they ever fight at Summa? I was under the impression they (4.D) fought to the west, on the coast of Gulf of Finland. The other unit I've seen mentioned somewhere is Kev.Os.5 of 5.D which did indeed fight in Summa area.

Thanks,
- Teemu S.

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Caselius
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Re: Why did Finnish soldiers paint skulls on their helmets?

Post by Caselius » 02 Nov 2017 20:06

I'd still argue that the most famous continuation war era picture (Signal cover) is from 3. Pr, not from the 18th Division.

You can see the shoulder-board insignia of the "Blue Brigade" which was posted about in the last page. - Unless if the colored version is later colorization and wrongly colored.

Following illustration is from Suomen puolustusvoimien joukkojen tunnuksia ja asevelimerkkejä 1941-194, page 24

Image

According to the same book, there is no information on some of the infantry regiments' insignias. Only known unofficial infantry regiment insignias of the division were held on the sleeve. Artillery of the 18th Div had red-black in similar style but it formed an chevron, not an straight lane.

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Laurance.Robinson
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Re: Why did Finnish soldiers paint skulls on their helmets?

Post by Laurance.Robinson » 14 Nov 2017 08:38

Teemu S wrote:
veeteetee wrote:See also SA-kuva.fi number 2224: "Kuoleman komppania Summassa. Summa 1939.12.20", "Death´s Company at Summa"
Hello,

Does anyone have a definite answer to which unit these guys were from?

Kev.Os.4 is the usual answer, but did they ever fight at Summa? I was under the impression they (4.D) fought to the west, on the coast of Gulf of Finland. The other unit I've seen mentioned somewhere is Kev.Os.5 of 5.D which did indeed fight in Summa area.

Thanks,
- Teemu S.
I believe that it is Kevyt Osasto 5:n jääkärikomppani. The information fits the whole thing.

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