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Simo "White Death" Häyhä: 700 men in less than 100 days

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posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 06:43 PM
Simo "White Death" Häyhä
Nickname: White Death

Born: December 17, 1905 Rautjärvi, Finland

Died: April 1, 2002 (aged 96) Hamina, Finland

Allegiance: Finland

Years of service:1925–1940

Rank: Alikersantti (Corporal) during the Winter War, promoted to Vänrikki (Second Lieutenant) shortly afterward

Unit: Infantry Regiment 34

Battles/wars: Winter War

Awards: Cross of Liberty, 3rd class and 4th class;
Medal of Liberty, 1st class and 2nd class;
Cross of Kollaa Battle

Weapon of Choice: M/28 or M28/30 Soviet Mosin-Nagant rifle (rejecting the scoped version due to his stature and for stealthier maneuvering)

Ensconced in the snow, his white camouflage suit rendering him invisible to the invading Soviet soldiers he stalked, Simo Häyhä steadied himself to fire. During the 1939–1940 Winter War, in temperatures as low as –40 °C, the Finnish sniper undertook a killing spree that saw him single-handedly take the lives of at least 700 men in less than 100 days. Over 500 of these he shot using a standard, bolt-action rifle with non-telescopic sights. Is it any wonder he earned the nickname White Death among his enemies? Meet the man who would take Rambo to the cleaners. The sharpshooter who would later be credited with the highest number of confirmed kills in any war in history came from humble rural beginnings. Born near the present day Finnish-Russian border, Häyhä was a farmer and hunter before entering combat, though it’s no shock to learn he already had his share of marksman’s trophies. His skills sharpened by the sort of training only life can offer, this tough little outdoorsman was always going to be a handful, and when the Red Army invaded Finland three months after the outbreak of WWII, Häyhä heard the call of duty. Little was the operative word. Häyhä stood just 5 ft 3 in (1.6 m) tall, which was one basis for his choice of weapon, an M/28 or M28/30 Soviet Mosin-Nagant rifle that suited his small frame. He also rejected a scoped rifle in favour of basic iron sights for other reasons: it meant he presented less of target as he could keep his head lower; it negated the risk of his position being exposed by sun glare in a telescopic lens; and lastly open sights were not prone to fogging up or breaking, which was a concern in the snow and ice of the Winter War. Häyhä was a professional. Of course an iron-sighted rifle also made aiming more difficult, but with 505 confirmed kills as a sniper – the other 200 he shot using a sub-machine gun – Häyhä clearly had a keen eye. Another tactic this greatest of gunmen used to conceal his own position from the enemy was to compact the snow before him so that his shot would not disturb the snow, and in true commando fashion he also kept his mouth was full of snow so that his breath did not give him away. Despite such measures, Häyhä’s fearful reputation preceded him, and the advancing Soviets tried several strategies specifically designed to dispose of this deadly lone menace. Teams of counter-snipers and artillery units were deployed with the sole purpose of eliminating White Death, but the snow-covered forests of Finland were his hunting grounds, not theirs.
Eventually, however, the Finnish sharpshooter’s exploits caught up with him. On March 6 1940, he was shot in the face while on the frontline by a Russian soldier. The exploding bullet went through his jaw and blew off his left cheek, with the soldiers who picked him up and brought him back to base reporting that "half his head was missing". Yet Häyhä – said to be a quiet, affable man – was still able to survive, awakening from his coma on March 13, the day peace was declared. The heroic stand taken by Simo Häyhä and his fellow Fins against Soviet forces that outnumbered them by as much as 100:1 is often referred to as The Miracle of Kollaa. When the war had ended, Häyhä was promoted straight from corporal to second lieutenant. He went on to become a successful moose hunter and lived to the age of 96. When he was asked about his service, he stated, "I only did what was ordered, and did it as well as I could." Asked what the key to his success was, his short answer was, “Practice... and clear days.”

A Young White Death
White Death in Winter Camo
Before and After Picture of the White Death

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 07:30 PM
The mosin nagant is a simple yet dependable rifle - many different favorite is the finnish M39
Good example to show that skill is more important than the size of your clip. Thanks for the story.

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 07:53 PM
Bravo! Star and flag. Who among us now would step up and commit such brave acts for the sake of our country? We are not being invaded by Soviets, but by bankers.

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 10:05 PM
Real men have no need for telescopic sights

I'm glad you posted this thread because I've acquired an interest in the history and culture of the Finland lately.

edit on 21-8-2012 by Mkoll because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 10:31 PM

Originally posted by Mkoll
Real men have no need for telescopic sights

edit on 21-8-2012 by Mkoll because: (no reason given)

Yeah... when I first looked up the top snipers in the world and I get to "White Death"... it was incredible! Before hearing that he didn't even use a scope! 700 confirmed due to body count... I wonder how many were behind enemy lines that they weren't able to confirm? Just reading the story of the Winter War alone is amazing!!! That deserves a thread all by itself! The courage and honor they had. They were outnumbed like something similar to the Spartans up against the Persians. But they stood their ground and I know there are MANY unnamed heroes we don't know of because they don't really care about fame or recognition as they did it for their country.

There's a movie on Vasily Zaytsev, Enemy at the Gates, there should be ten movies on the Simo "White Death" Häyhä

posted on Aug, 22 2012 @ 06:45 PM
Simo was a beast. By far the largest body count I've ever heard of. That takes skill. Plus he operated in pretty harsh environmental conditions.

posted on Aug, 22 2012 @ 07:27 PM
Simo was a the man.

No surprise he used the Mosin. It's a great gun. accurate 54R rounds. Solid dependable stock and barrel. THe bolts a little stiff. But I'm sure he buffed the hell out of it to make it glide real nice. I simply love shooting the Mosin. it just feels good in your hands. Very instinctive rifle.

Have no doubt he got 700 of them using one.

posted on Aug, 27 2012 @ 04:05 PM


Great thread, what a human.

posted on Aug, 29 2012 @ 02:14 AM
In the WWII grand strategy simulator Darkest Hour, and one of its' best mods, Kaiserriech (about the central powers winning the Weltkrieg (the world war)) Finland actually gets a pretty good chance to hold it's own and even fight back against the Russians (no mention of our man sim Hayha though

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