The White Death – World’s Greatest Sniper
Simo Häyhä was credited with over 500 kills in his service during the Winter War with his service cut short as he was wounded by a Soviet sniper. Simo was shot in the face with what turned out to be an exploding bullet and he was taken out of action due to these wounds. The total time that Simo Häyhä served in the Winter War was 100 days with about 500 kills credited to him. His record is truly remarkable and is long since remembered in the nation of Finland.
Häyhä’s specialty was his knowledge of the forests, his enduring patience, and his impeccable rifle marksmanship. A sniper by trade, he would dress up in all-white camouflage, sneak through the woods with only a day’s worth of food and couple clips of ammunition, and then lie in wait for any Russian stupid enough to wander into his kill zone.
Simo Häyhä was born in 1906 or 1905 (there seems to be two dates of his birth depending on the reference materials) in Rautajärvi, Finland. The town was in the shadow of the Soviet Union and as was the case with many border areas, the home of Mr. Häyhä was lost to the Soviets in the spoils of the Winter War. Like many of the towns and villages of this region the area was rural, and Mr. Häyhä was what people would call an outdoorsman spending much of his time outside letting his skills sharpen.
In 1925 Mr. Häyhä joined the Finnish Army for his one year of mandatory service. He must have been suited well for the Army in some regards as when he left he had achieved the rank of corporal. Later Simo Häyhä joined the Suojelskunta (Finnish Civil Guard) serving in his home district. The Civil Guard is a difficult organization to explain but putting the Civil Guard in US terms it is much like a very well-trained National Guard Unit.