A frozen hell : the Russo-Finnish winter war of 1939-1940 by William Trotter

By William Trotter

At 10:30 A.M. on November 30, 1939, a formation of Russian bombers dropped from a cloud financial institution to sell off a salvo of bombs on Helsinki, the capital urban of Finland. The wintry weather battle used to be underway. Overwhelming superiority in manpower and guns eventually prevailed, yet no longer prior to Finland had written a saga of heroic resistance. it really is this too-seldom-remembered tale that William R. Trotter recounts in fireplace and Ice. sixteen pages of photos

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From Helsinki, Foreign Minister Elias Erkko indignantly wired back that if Russian troops had been killed, it was not by Finnish shells. Indeed, it was impossible, because all Finnish artillery had been pulled back beyond range of Soviet territory days before, precisely to avoid even an accidental shot from crossing the border. 36 Molotov did not deign to reply; the cover story was on record, now, and Radio Moscow was filling the air waves with outraged indignation. These broadcasts continued for two days, claiming that numerous unspecified border violations were continuing.

Far better, he argued, to give those men a few days’ respite, time to occupy their assigned bunkers and earthworks, build up their stocks of anti-tank weapons, and prepare themselves psychologically for the avalanche of steel bearing down on them? By midnight, December 3-4, the wisdom of Ostermann’s foresight was becoming all too apparent. It was one thing to lecture infantry recruits about how vulnerable tanks were, in the landscape of Finland, to close-assault with satchel charges, hand-placed mines, and souped-up “Molotov cocktails” (*), but this anti-tank indoctrination had taken place against wooden mock-ups.

Somewhat better odds obtained on the next threatened sector, some 100 kilometers south-east of the Kuhmo front, along the road to Ilomansti (a Finnish air base) and Joensuu, where the administrative and supply facilities were located for the regional Civic Guard. Finnish intelligence analysts had no idea why the Soviet 155th Division – presumably tasked with capturing those two objectives – was so relatively weak (7500 men, augmented by a mere dozen tanks and about 40 pieces of artillery). Mannerheim even toyed briefly with the notion of a counterattack, for that enemy thrust was being vigorously resisted by two battalions of Finnish regulars, and their morale seemed high.

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