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Article on Simo Häyhä, a great Finnish Soldier and Hero of the Winter War

Text of article reprinted here with kind permission from Mosinnagant.net

Finnish militaria, hats, puukko knives, books and dvds about the war. 

Brief Background On Simo Häyhä

Simo Hayha was born in 1906 or 1905 (there seems to be two dates of his birth depending on the reference materials) in Rautajärvi, Finland.  The town was in the shadow of the Soviet Union and as was the case with many border areas, the home of Mr. Häyhä  was lost to the Soviets in the spoils of the Winter War.  Like many of the towns and villages of this region the area was rural, and Mr. Häyhä was what people here in the U.S. would call an outdoorsman spending much of his time outside letting his skills sharpen.

In 1925 Mr. Häyhä joined the Finnish Army for his one year of mandatory service.  He must have been suited well for the Army in some regards as when he left he had achieved the rank of corporal.  Later Simo Häyhä  joined the Suojelskunta (Finnish Civil Guard) serving in his home district.  The Civil Guard is a difficult organization to explain to those in America but putting the Civil Guard in US terms it is much like a very well trained National Guard Unit.   Even this description is far from perfect but should suffice for the purposes of this article.  After his initial service he was content to join the rest of the population for a peaceful existence; however, the USSR under the dictator Stalin was to forever change the life of Mr. Häyhä and all of Finland with the Soviet invasion at the end of November 1939. This invasion was slated to be the end of Finland but in reality was just the opening of the Winter War, a war in which against all odds Finland remained free. While known before the war as a skilled marksman, Simo Häyhä was known more for his quiet disposition and good nature. While an expert marksman he was not a man of war but a man of peace that enjoyed the simple life around him.

Simo Häyhä During The Winter War

Simo Häyhä During The Winter War

Simo Häyhä was called into action during the Winter War with his service under the 6th Company of JR 34 on the Kollaa River.  The Finnish stand at Kollaa is often referred to as "The miracle of Kollaa,"  as the Finnish action here was most heroic.   The Finnish forces in the region were under the command of Major General Uiluo Tuompo and they faced the 9th and 14th Soviet Armies.  At one point the Finns at Kollaa were facing 12 divisions, some 160,000 men.  The Red Army losses in this arena were staggering as the brave Finns took their toll on the communist invaders.  There have been those that called the Finnish defense of this key region "fanatical", and it was in the Kollaa area were the famous battle of "Killer Hill"  took place with 32 Finns battling 4,000 Soviet soldiers.   These were the hunting grounds of Simo Häyhä and it should be noted that even against massive odds the Kollaa positions were still in Finnish hands at the end of the war (March 1940).

 

Many remember Simo Häyhä only as using the Mosin Nagant M28 rifle with open sights and only credit his high kill total to his role as a sniper; however, this is not entirely correct as Häyhä was also an expert with the Suomi K31 SMG and a large number of the Soviets that he felled were from his K31.  Above are examples of the tools of Simo Häyhä in his hunts in Kollaa. Many remember Simo Häyhä only as using the Mosin Nagant M28 rifle with open sights and only credit his high kill total to his role as a sniper; however, this is not entirely correct as Häyhä was also an expert with the Suomi K31 SMG and a large number of the Soviets that he felled were from his K31.  Above are examples of the tools of Simo Häyhä in his hunts in Kollaa.

Mr. Häyhä was credited with over 500 kills in his service during the Winter War with his service cut short as he was wounded on 3-6-40 by a Soviet sniper.   Simo was shot in the face with what turned out to be an exploding bullet and he was taken out of action due to these wounds.  The total time that Simo Häyhä served in the Winter War was 100 days with about 500 kills credited to him. His record is truly remarkable and is long since remembered in the nation of Finland.

In times of trouble it is often the quiet men that rise to greatness. This was indeed the case of the Finnish hero Simo Häyhä, who served on the horrendous Kollaa front in the Winter War of 1939-1940. The Finnish exploits on this front are known widely today as "The Miracle Of Kollaa" where the Finnish Army Infantry 34th Regiment’s  6th company overcame colossal odds against their survival. They did not just endure as they gave the Red Army invaders a fight that will forever be remembered. The Finnish lines continued to exist till the end of the War, being a true testament to the nation of Finland and the Finns that held the area. Simo Häyhä was a symbol of this front and he represents the true meaning of the word sisu - loosely translates to "Guts" in English.    Article by Brent Snodgrass, webmaster MosinNagant.net 

Simo Häyhä meets with a group of us in 2000 at the Salpa Line museum. We had lunch with him and he told us how he had fared during and after the war. In this picture, he autographs some pictures and books for us, which we deeply appreciated. He fought for his country and suffered a great deal. He made his stand on Finnish soil and that should be remembered by all.

Picture taken by Marshall Kregel, author and webmaster www.KevOs4.com

I have 2 documents autographed by Simo if you are interested in having one for your collection. Each document is 200.00. Contact me if you are interested. kevos4@yahoo.com

Read the new book by Michael Cleverly about a Finnish soldier who served in both the Finnish and German armies during the war, then came to the United States and joined the U.S. Army Special Forces. An amazing story of courage and valor.

Click here to meet the author, read the review, and purchase the book.

 

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