Simo Häyhä

Nicknamed ‘The White Death’
705 confirmed kills (505 with rifle, 200 with submachine gun)
Was a Finnish soldier who, using an iron sighted bolt action rifle, amassed the highest recorded confirmed kills as a sniper in any war…ever!!

Häyhä was born on December 17, 1905 in Rautjärvi on the Russian border and grew up to be one of 8 children of a farmer’s family. Like most people in these parts of Finland, Häyhä learned skiing and hunting from necessity rather than passion.

He served as a sniper for the Finnish Army during the 1939–40 Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union. During the Battle of Kollaa, at the temperatures between Böl40 ° C (−40 ° F) and −20 ° C (−4 ° F), he was in the 6th Division 34th Infantry Regiment, fully camouflaged in white. On the other hand, there were Soviet troops with clothes that could not adapt to the winter conditions and were easily visible to snipers.

Häyhä took his Russian-made Mosin-Nagant rifle and entered the nearby forests, trying to serve his country during the war. His loss to the Russians was less than 100 days. There was no separate binoculars in his rifle and he reached an incredible number using the existing iron sight.

There were advantages to not using binoculars. He didn’t have to raise his head to aim. In addition, the location of the binoculars could be detected by the light to be reflected.

Using all these advantages, he reported that on December 21, 1939 he had killed 25 soldiers in just one day, and at first his commanders did not believe him. The number of snipers killed was based on their own discourse with the approval of their fellow gunmen, and only certain deaths were taken into account.

The reputation of “White Death‘ was spreading on the enemy side. When the Russian generals learned that their soldiers had been killed by a single rifle man, they also sent a sniper team. When they didn’t come back, they shot the whole area with artillery. However, none of them could stop Simo Häyhä.

He was shot in the chin in a clash on 6 March 1940 and remained in a coma for 13 days. He suffered severe damage to his face, but survived until April 1, 2002.

Häyhä never spoke openly about the number of soldiers he had killed. However, in his private diary, discovered in 2017, he shared the number 500 and stated that he had “a list of sin“.

Some numbers of Häyhä were taken from a Finnish Army document enumerated from the beginning of the war on 30 November 1939:

December 22, 1939: 138 enemies in 22 days.
January 26, 1940: 199 enemies (61 in 35 days)
February 17, 1940: 219 enemies (20 in 22 days)
March 7, 1940 (when Häyhä was seriously injured): a total of 259 enemies (40 in 18 days)


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