Get To Know More About “The White Death”, The Deadliest Sniper In The History Of Wars (31 pics)

Posted in INTERESTING       18 Oct 2018       6156       GALLERY VIEW

542 Confirmed Kills

To understand the heroic acts of this story, you need the following brief history from the beginning of World War 2: When Hitler launched the Blitzkrieg on Poland in 1939, the Soviet Union (Russia) had carte blanche to invade countries to their West. This all changed when Nazi Germany decided to invade the USSR…preceding that, one of the countries Russia attacked was Finland.


This short forgotten battle took place in the freezing months from ’39 – 1940. It gave rise to history’s deadliest sniper…the Soviet adversaries called him “The White Death”.


The following comes from an article by Taipo Saarelainen, who wrote the book: “The White Sniper: Simo Häyhä”. It’s a fascinating over-view and if you want to learn more, I’ll end with a link where you can purchase his book.


From author Taipo Saarelainen: “According to an American study, an average of 7,000 rifle-caliber shots were required to achieve one combat kill during the First World War. During the Vietnam War this number had increased to 25,000. Considering, however, that a professionally trained sniper only requires an average of 1.3 shots to attain the same outcome, these figures are startling…”


“So for Simo Häyhä’s 542 kills:

13,550,000 bullets would have been used in Vietnam to kill an equal number.”


“Häyhä’s count of 542 is an all-time record for a sniper in any conflict and was achieved in only 98 days of the ‘Winter War’ between Häyhä’s Finland and the Soviet Union.”


“For those 98 days, Häyhä conducted lone missions to the front lines, tormenting the Russians and picking off soldiers one-by-one…even killing 25 men in one day.” 

“On one occasion, after Häyhä had once again killed an enemy sniper with a single shot, the Russians in turn tried to kill him by shooting indirect fire, a mortar bombardment, at the vicinity of his firing position. Incredibly, Häyhä was not wounded or killed, making it out without a scratch.”


“On another occasion, an artillery shell landed near his firing position and tore apart the back of his greatcoat; Häyhä survived this with only a minor scratch to his back.”


“But what made him the deadliest sniper ever?”


“Häyhä, in many ways, had the perfect preparation for becoming a sniper. He grew up on a rural farm and loved to hunt, feeling that you are only entitled to something from nature if you are willing to be part of it. His specialty were foxes, one of the more difficult animals to hunt, due to their small stature, speed and ability to hide. He would test himself with birds which would flee at even the slightest sound, reflection or sudden movement.”


“He developed techniques so he could remain silent and hidden for long periods to ensure he got his target and learnt about how a gun would react to wind and rain. Also, from all his experiences, he grew very adept at estimating distances, so he could prepare his rifle suitably when attacking the target.”


“His attitude and personality to hunting was reflected in his approach to sniping. In my interviews with Häyhä, he told me that he had never been scared during the war, and that he felt no hatred for the enemy.”


“Instead, he only concentrated on ensuring his weapon was well supported and stable, and that his personal feelings and emotions would not impinge on his ability as a marksman. Häyhä did not mind spending hours upon hours on his own and would even go to his shooting ‘nests’ at night to ensure they were well hidden and strong.”


“His behavior might be described as obsessive, because of his dedication to the job at hand. He would clean his weapon more often than most soldiers. He would perform maintenance operations before starting a mission and immediately upon completing a mission.”


“Especially in the -20 temperatures of the Finnish winter, proper gun maintenance was essential to avoid it jamming. His gun was an M/28-30, one that he had owned before the war, WITHOUT even a telescopic sight.”


“This rifle was the standard issued one for Finnish infantry in the late 1930s and Simo liked the reliability of the model and the consistency of its shot. It was a basic weapon but one he had mastered from years of experience with it.”


“Häyhä, when conducting his operations, took every detail into account. He would even pour water into the snow in front of him so that the muzzle blast would not expose his location by disturbing the light snow.”


“He became a master of using sounds, smoke and artillery fire to cover his movements when changing positions. And when tracking the enemy, he would memorise the shapes of the terrain, depressions, shadows, tree trunks and such. If anything had changed in appearance, it was a possible sign of enemy activity.”


“With maps very scarce during the war, Häyhä relied on his memory to find the best hiding positions.”


“One thing Simo NEVER did was climb trees to shoot the enemy. In fact, he laughed when I asked him that question. He said he would have been exposed immediately and with no escape route. It is a persistent myth that snipers do this.”


“His weapon was ‘zeroed’ [the sights adjusted] for 150 meters, the most common combat distance of the time, which enabled him to rapidly adjust to the proper setting as needed.”


“Häyhä’s father had taught him a very important hunter’s skill: the ability to estimate distances. This was not a skill he was born with – he had a lot of practice, first by estimating the distance to a target and then pacing out by steps. In most cases his estimate was almost perfect: when checking out his estimates, a typical variation from the actual distance was one or two steps either way at distances of approximately 150 meters.”


“Another myth that Simo busted for me was that snipers aim for headshots. The head is a small size compared to the torso and for that reason Häyhä always fired at the centre of the torso. Shooting an enemy should only be done so when the probability of killing the enemy is at its highest, and if aiming at a head, a slight misjudgment leads to a miss which can give away your position with no gain taken.”


“Häyhä knew that when a hunter shoots at his target, he must be able to observe the impact, as any game will try to escape if the first shot is not lethal, unless the game is injured beyond movement…”


“…Any animal will try to defend itself until dead or unable to move; this grim reality also applies to humans on the battlefield.”


“Simo Häyhä was the best sniper who ever lived because he understood everything going on around him. He was a skilled trekker and hunter who knew exactly how to stay hidden.”


“His gun too was one he had used for years and he knew exactly how it would react in its environment, and his personality was ideally suited to sniping, with his willingness to be alone and ability to avoid the emotions many would attach to such a job.”


“On 6 March 1940, in the forests of Ulismaa…he was hit by an explosive bullet during a Russian attack; he lapsed into a coma from which he would not awake until one week later, by which time the armistice had already been signed. Following his injury, Häyhä suffered from lasting facial scarring and near-constant pain for many years.”


“Considering his small stature, he was born to hunt and sniping lent itself to him well. The Russians nicknamed him ‘The White Death’ and it is not difficult to understand why. Simo Häyhä passed away in 2002 at the age of 96.”


“During my many interviews with him in the twilight of his life, he was always keen to remind me of his most valuable insight: “War is not a pleasant experience,” he said, “but who else would protect this land unless we are willing to do it ourselves.”









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