War movies love to highlight snipers, and I know why, they appear to be mysterious, accurate and have the patience of 1,000 old school mothers packed into one. But you have to wonder, how much of what is shown in Hollywood is true? Are they revered or are they scoffed at as cowards? Are they really that accurate, or do they have a whole shit-ton of gadgets to help? The biggest question is, can one man, hidden away for days with a weapon, have the ability to wipe out droves of unsuspecting men like a movie? Apparently the answer to this question is yes, the answer to this crazy sniper legend can be summed up in two words – White Death.
Finnish hero and dead-eye marksman Simo Häyhä was credited with over 700 kills in the Finnish winter war of 1940. When the Soviet Union with a population of 171 Million invaded his small country of 3 million, Simo was sent to the front lines, his age at the time being about 35 years old. Simo Häyhä had originally joined the military in 1925 and had been promoted to corporal before leaving. Now as an older man, he rejoined to fight the invaders as a sniper in the Jaeger Regiment 34. Dressed completely in white camouflage and packing a Mosine carbine with iron sights, Simo managed to put down over 542 men with his gun. The Soviet leaders were infuriated at their inability to take out Häyhä and multiple contracts were placed on his head, all falling short or dead before his gunfire.
One thing we should realize is that the overwhelming odds in this war was so much so that the Soviet side outnumbered the Finnish at 100 to 1 in most instances so it wasn’t as if Simo had a bloodlust. He simply had to do what he had to do to protect his homeland and survive. The majority of Simo’s kills came at over 400 meters, while in a sitting position and by himself. There were times when multiple assailants would be bearing down on his position and he was able to stay alive and remove them before they got to him.
Simo was wounded through the jaw by an exploding bullet that landed him into a coma for 9 days, his face was permanently disfigured (as you can see in the images) but he lived. When he came to the war was over and Russia had taken 22,000 square miles of territory and lost close to one million men, that was about 40 times that of the Finnish. With his amazing feat and survivability Simo Häyhä is easily named as one of the greatest snipers to have ever lived. Regarding his weapon, the below zero conditions and the kill count, he could very well be the greatest sniper ever. He went on to live a very long life and died in 2002 of old age (97 or 98).See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.