On 30 November 1939 Stalin’s Red Army attacked Finland, expecting to crush the outnumbered, ill-equipped Finnish forces in a matter of days. But, in one of the most astonishing upsets in modern military history, the Finnish defenders broke the Red Army’s advance, inflicting devastating casualties and destroying some of the divisions that had been thrown against them. Eventually, in March 1940, the overhauled Red Army prevailed through the deployment of massive force. The Finns were compelled to cede territory and cities to their overbearing neighbour, but the moral victory was theirs. The courage and skill their army displayed in the face of the Soviet onslaught – and the chaotic and reckless performance of their opponents – had an important influence on the massive struggle that was about to break out between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. For this highly illustrated and original portrayal of this famously unequal struggle, Bair Irincheev has brought together a compelling selection of eyewitness accounts, war diaries, battle reports, and other records from the Finnish and Russian archives to reconstruct the frontline fighting, and he analyses the reasons for the Red Army’s poor performance. Never before has the harsh reality of the combat in the depths of the northern winter been conveyed in such authentic detail. The arduous daily experience of the troops on both sides, the brutality of combat and the constant struggle against the elements are recalled in the words of the men who were there.
WAR OF THE WHITE DEATH Finland Against the Soviet Union 1939-1940
With its reliance on primary sources from both sides and its narrow focus on tactical ground operations this is a useful title. The meat of the book is in how it describes the fighting at a tactical level everywhere it occurred through the entirety of the war.