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Tuesday, 18 June, 2024
16December 1939

Skilful Finland halts Soviet invasion

The outnumbered army of Finland has managed to stop the invasion by the Soviet Union. Using a combination of better tactics, equipment and knowledge, the Finnish troops over overcome the odds to halt the expectations of Stalin.

Barely a month into the Soviet invasion of Finland, the Finns have developed effective strategies to defeat the invading forces. Fighting skilfully on skis and camouflaged in white to blend in with the snow, they are inflicting terrible casualties on the Russians. One tactic developed by the Finns was called ‘motti’ (Finnish for a stack of wood ready for chopping). The Finns hunt down columns of slow-moving Soviet troops on forest roads, snipe at them hidden from the trees, chopping the columns into smaller groups. The Finns then either disappear on their skis, or move in and wipe out the small pockets of surviving invaders.

The Soviet Union was so sure of a swift victory, it neglected to equip its troops with adequate winter equipment, leading to many invading troops dying from frostbite. The Soviet troops called the white-clad Finnish enemy ‘Bielaja Smert’ (‘White Death’).

Other tactics used by the Finns include:

  • Laying mines on train tracks
  • Setting booby-traps in farm animals to kill Red Army soldiers
  • Burning down Finnish farms to deny the invaders shelter
  • Throwing bottles filled with petrol and with burning rags around the necks (Molotov cocktails) at Red Army tanks.

Finland and the Soviet Union share an 800km border, and Finland lacked enough troops to defend the entire length, meaning some Soviet troops were able to move further into the country than units.

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