Simo Häyhä, the Greatest Sniper

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Aggie08, Nov 26, 2007.

  1. Aggie08

    Aggie08 Active Member

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    Simo Häyhä the Greatest Sniper: Credited with as many as 700 kills during the Finnish Winter War
    Simo Häyhä the Greatest Sniper
    Credited with as many as 700 kills during the Finnish Winter War
    © Christopher Eger

    Aug 16, 2006

    Using a bolt action rifle with iron sights this hardy little outdoorsman killed over five hundred Soviet invaders single handedly during the Winter War of 1939-1940.
    Simo Häyhä (190? - 2002) of Finland is regarded by many as the most effective sniper in the history of warfare. He was nicknamed "Belaya Smert" (White Death) by the Soviet troops he stalked in the forests of Finland during the four month long Winter War between those two countries in 1939-1940. Using a relatively primitive Russian made Mosin-Nagant Model 28 rifle with no scope, Häyhä sniped no less than 542 Soviet Union soldiers.

    He was born in the small town of Rautjärvi in 1905 or 1906 (records conflict). In 1925 he joined the Finnish army for one year of mandatory service and left as a corporal with a bicycle unit. He joined the Civil Guard (much like the US National Guard) and drilled with his reserve unit until war broke out. On November 30, 1939 the Soviet Union, with a population of 171 million invaded tiny Finland whose population was only three million over territorial issues. This war brought Häyhä, now approaching middle age, to active service for the first time as a sniper assigned to Jaeger Regiment 34 along the Kolla River. Along some parts of this battlefront the Soviet Army outnumbered the defenders in ratios as high as 100:1.

    Working in temperatures that almost never came above zero degrees and dressed completely in a white camouflage suit, the five foot tall Häyhä declined the use of a scoped Swedish Mauser rifle for the smaller Mosin carbine with iron sights. The Soviet leadership placed a price on his head and tried several ways to specifically get rid of him. Teams of Soviet snipers aided by artillery were deployed with the sole purpose of eliminating the tiny Finnish 'cuckoo'. Finnish snipers were called cuckoos by Russians, because they thought that all Finnish snipers were located in trees (and all trees contained snipers!). He was promoted to lieutenant personally by the Finnish commander Baron Field Marshal Mannerhiem. His 'confirmed kills' were listed at 542 with another two hundred unconfirmed. Most of his shots were taken while acting alone, shooting from a sitting position at ranges at or over 400 meters. Like most snipers he preferred to shoot officers and weapons crews.

    On March 6, 1940, Häyhä was shot in the jaw while on the frontline and went into a coma. When he came out of his coma in the hospital nine days later Finland had lost the war. The town he was born in, Rautjärvi was lost to the Soviets in the peace settlement and remains part of that country (now Russia) to this day.

    When interviewed by a group of American Mosin-Nagant collectors just before his death of old age in 2002 he was asked what his secret was to being such a good sniper he answered, "Practice."

    Controversy
    Two World War Two snipers on the Eastern Front, Mikhail Ilyich Surkov, a sergeant-major with the Soviet 4th Division, and SS Major (Sturmbannfuhrer) Erwin Konig of the Nazi Army were credited sometimes with having more confirmed kills than Hayha. Surlov was even mentioned in some sources as having over 700. Post war analysis has shown that these figures were inflated for propaganda purposes. It is doubtful that Konig even existed at all and Surkov is a shadowy figure at best. The top scoring Soviet ace that is accepted is Ivan Mihailovich Sidorenko of the 1122nd rifle regiment with 500 confirmed 'kills'.
     

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  2. Aussie1001

    Aussie1001 Member

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    wow... that guy is good...
     
  3. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    Quite a score. Everybody knows Carlos Hathcock (USMC)... I was quite
    fortunate, he lived about five blocks up Plaza Trail from where I live. I
    saw him several times, sitting outside in his wheelchair, but never had the
    balls to stop. He had an impressive score, too, especially his .50 cal.
    shot.

    Charles
     
  4. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    I think that we a thread somewhere about snipers.....can't remember where though...
     
  5. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Roger that Lucky, I made a thread about this deadly type of warfare once, I remember that.
     
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