For this month, let’s talk about the greatest sniper who lived in Finland, Simo Hayha. Josef Stalin sent over half a million men across Russia’s western border to invade Finland. For three months, the two countries fought in the Winter War. Hayha, also recognized as “The White Death” is commonly regarded as the most skilled and successful sniper there ever was, with over 500 kills to his name. He helped defend Finland from the Soviets during World War II. Hayha was born in the municipality of Rautjarvi in the Grand Duchy of Finland, in present-day southern Finland near the border with Russia, and started his military service in 1925. He was the second youngest of eight children in a Lutheran heritage family of farmers.
During the 1939–1940 Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union, Hayha served as a sniper for the Finnish Army against the Red Army in the 6th Company of JR 34 during the Battle of Kollaa in temperatures between −40 °C to −20 °C, dressed completely in white camouflage. Because of Joseph Stalin’s purges of military experts in the late 1930s, the Red Army was highly disorganized and the Soviet troops were not issued with white camouflage suits for most of the war, making them easily visible to snipers in winter conditions.
Hayha was given many awards, and was also promoted from corporal to second lieutenant, a jump in the ranks that had never been seen in Finland’s history. Despite being slightly disfigured, he recovered from his injury, and went on to live until the age of 96.
The bullet had crushed his jaw and removed most of his left cheek.