By William Trotter
At 10:30 A.M. on November 30, 1939, a formation of Russian bombers dropped from a cloud financial institution to dump a salvo of bombs on Helsinki, the capital urban of Finland. The iciness struggle used to be underway. Overwhelming superiority in manpower and guns finally prevailed, yet no longer earlier than Finland had written a saga of heroic resistance. it truly is this too-seldom-remembered tale that William R. Trotter recounts in fireplace and Ice. sixteen pages of pictures
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Extra resources for A frozen hell : the Russo-Finnish winter war of 1939-1940
By midnight, December 3-4, the wisdom of Ostermann’s foresight was becoming all too apparent. It was one thing to lecture infantry recruits about how vulnerable tanks were, in the landscape of Finland, to close-assault with satchel charges, hand-placed mines, and souped-up “Molotov cocktails” (*), but this anti-tank indoctrination had taken place against wooden mock-ups. Few Finnish soldiers had ever seen a modern tank, except in newsreels, before being ordered to face large formations of the real thing.
That absolutely could not be allowed to happen! But, at the moment, Mannerheim believed the threat to Suomussalmi was not yet urgent. Even to reach the outskirts of that town, the enemy would have to drag two ponderous mechanized divisions through a metaphorical needle’s eye: a pair of narrow, ice-glazed tracks that were utterly unsuited for tanks and other heavy vehicles. His intelligence concerning those two divisions was timely and detailed. Since crossing the frontier, they had been moving at the rate of two or three miles a day, no more.
More than any other factor, it was the psychological impact of the Red Army’s tanks that doomed the Forward Zone strategy. Even though, at this stage of the campaign, the 57 Russians’ armor tactics were clumsy and primitive, Ostermann, in his memoirs, described their psychological effect upon his soldiers as “shattering”. Moreover, while the invaders might have been timidly led and prone to lose cohesion every time they ran into determined Finnish resistance, they were not altogether stupid. Each Russian division committed to the Isthmus offensive had well-trained squads of Finnish-speaking Karelians who proved highly effective at wire-tapping and breaking the Finnish Army’s wireless security protocols.