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What can one man with a rifle do?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Happiness Is A Warm Gun, Aug 19, 2008.

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  1. Happiness Is A Warm Gun

    Happiness Is A Warm Gun Member

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    What can one man with a rifle do?
    Well if the man is Simo Hayha and the rifle is a Mosin Nagant M28 the answer is a lot.

    My mother was born in Finland and I am ashamed to say until recently I knew of very little about Finnish history.

    I recently began reading historical non-fiction about the "Winter War" in which Finland and it's defense force of a mere 160,000 troops, lacking proper numbers of heavy weapons, tanks, artillery, air support, or naval support stopped a Soviet onslaught of over 1.5 million invading troops supported by 3000 tanks and armored cars, and 1000 aircraft.

    Simo Hayha a short man (less than 5ft) and farmer by trade. He served his one year mandatory service in the Army prior to the start of hostilities. After his one year obligation he remained in the civil guard (similar to national guard). Even before the war he showed exceptional talent with firearms. In one contest with friends he scored 16 of 16 hits at 150 meters in under a minute. Many people considered him a quiet, thoughtful man, not what one would expect as the world's deadliest sniper.

    simohayha.jpg

    When hostilities broke out he made a sniper despite no formal sniper training. He was given a Mosin Nagant M28 but no optics because they were in short supply. Here is a sight picture of what Simo saw from his iron sights.
    SightM28.jpg


    Later as he ranked over a hundred kills with iron sights he was given a scope as a gift which he declined. He explained when shooting with open sights you didn't need to raise so much up as with a scope, and [for a sniper] death often waited a few centimeters above.

    He was credited with killing 3 Russian snipers. His first counter sniper kill was on December 21, 1939. A Russian sniper had been killing Finnish officers in the area. He went out alone to stalk the Russian. Near the end of the day the Russian got up to leave and the sun low in the sky glinted off the scope. Simo filed one shot which pierced the Russian snipers skull killing him instantly. Years later the interviewer asked him if what he though of optics. He said they were good, good for being seen.

    The Russians called him the "White Death" and used everything from artillery bombardment to counter snipers to stop him with no effect.

    Durring the winter war he made over 500 confirmed kills (unofficial field log books put the number at 543) by rifle. His one day record was 25. To put the 500 kills in perspective he only served 100 days and the Finnish winter has very short days with only of only 5-6 hours of daylight. That averages out to one kill per hour during every daylight hour of the war. In addition he killed over 200 more Russians with the M-31 sub-machinegun.

    Untitled-39000.jpg

    On March 6th 1940 a major Russian offensive broke Finnish lines driving the Fins into a bloody retreat with massive losses. At near point blank ranges he was shot in the face with an explosive rifle round and instantly slipped into a coma. He awoke 7 days later one day after a armistice with the Russians had been signed.

    The armistice was brutal on the Fins. Despite holding off a Russian force 10x larger off for 3 months the Finnish army was exhausted, equipment was in short supply and the majority of heavy weapons supplied (covertly) by Sweden and Norway had been destroyed. Finland agreed to give up 10% of its territory, displace 420,000 civilians, and lose its second largest city.

    The Russians paid an even higher price. Over the 1.5 million Russians who invaded Finland, over 1 million would never leave. Russia lost 2,300 tanks/armored cars, and over 1000 aircraft. One General said "we gained 22,000 miles of territory, just enough room to bury our dead". Russia inability to dislodge an much smaller force likely led to Hitler decision to attack Russia.

    So what can one man with a rifle do? A lot if he is willing to risk everything to defend his homeland.
     
  2. Maelstrom

    Maelstrom Member

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    If the man is Lee Harvey Oswald he can devastate the most powerful nation on Earth and change the face of history.

    A man with a rifle can do a lot.
     
  3. Barr

    Barr Member

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    Thank you for posting this story. I will definitely have to look him up and do some reading.
     
  4. RonE

    RonE Member

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    If the man is Sgt Alvin York, he can win the CMH, and capture and kill many Germans.
     
  5. SamG.

    SamG. Member

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    A-lot
     
  6. Aran

    Aran member

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    I prefer my M44 (Gotta have the bayonet)
     
  7. torpid

    torpid Member

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    Some people can do even more with words.
     
  8. Loomis

    Loomis member

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    Excellent story.

    I just brushed up on the winter war. Amazing. The swedes, norwegian, french, and brits were all on the finns' side AGAINST the russians. Even though the russians were allied with the USA against the nazis.

    What a tangled mess.
     
  9. GunKid's_Wheelbarrow

    GunKid's_Wheelbarrow Member

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    That is very interesting. I have to admit I don't know very much about the Finnish/russian war, but it sounds like the russians got their backsides handed to them.

    Did the russians fair any better against the Germans? I know they kicked the Germans out, and invaded Berlin, but did they take more casualties than the Germans?
     
  10. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    The Russo-Finnish War and the Continuation War are fascinating reading for history and military buffs. It is also fascinating reading from a human story perspective when you consider that Finnish grandmothers set their own farmhouses ablaze so the Russians could not use them for shelter against the cold as Finns fell back.
     
  11. tn-dave

    tn-dave Member

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    thanks for posting this. Very interesting
     
  12. TehK1w1

    TehK1w1 Member

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    Anyone wanting to know more about the Winter War ought to check out A Frozen Hell by William R. Trotter. I just 'finnished' :D reading my father's copy of it yesterday.
     
  13. Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow

    Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow member

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    Outstanding; thank you.
     
  14. Vaarok

    Vaarok Member

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    Is it bad that I read the title and wondered if it was about Charles Whitman?
     
  15. thegoodfight

    thegoodfight member

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    what about the shot heard around the world? Pretty sure that was fired from a rifle of some kind.
     
  16. Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow

    Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow member

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    I thought that was a .32 pistol that killed Archduke Ferdinand and started WWI?
     
  17. jaholder1971

    jaholder1971 Member

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    I don't remember the complete details, remids me of a story i read years ago about back in the 30's one of these Scandinavian countries held a military exercise involving its home guard, placing something like 1 million men at arms into the field.

    One German officer observing the manuevers asked one of the Scandinavian Generals involved what they would do if the Germans invaded with several Field Armies of 10 million men.

    The General shrugged, then told them his men would fire 10 shots and go home.
     
  18. tpaw

    tpaw Member

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    The power of the pen still rules.
     
  19. machinisttx

    machinisttx Member

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    Dad had a M28(I think, might have been a M29) and sold it. If I ever run across one for the right price I'm going to buy it.

    Currently, I have a M39.

    Finnish marksmanship was feared by those who invaded....

    102_0610.jpg
     
  20. Elm Creek Smith

    Elm Creek Smith Member

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    jaholder-

    That was the Swiss.

    ECS
     
  21. CWL

    CWL Member

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    Don't forget that Carlos Hathcock destroyed an entire NVA company with his rifle.
     
  22. Happiness Is A Warm Gun

    Happiness Is A Warm Gun Member

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    machinisttx,

    I would love to pickup an M28. I saw a couple at gunshows. One was in horrible condition. I wished I had picked it up. It would have been a nice project to restore it. The others were asking way to much $600-$800.
     
  23. halfacop

    halfacop Member

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    Or if your name is Charles Whitman you could kill 14 people and wound 31 others as part of a shooting rampage.

    Or if you happen to be a female by the name of Ludmilla Pavlichenko you could have 309 confirmed kills including 36 german snipers. Or Lidiya Gudovantseva with 76 confirmed kills in WWII.
     
  24. max popenker

    max popenker Member

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    [​IMG]
    30785.jpg

    note that she preferred SVT-40 semi-automatic over slightly more accurate, but slow-firing Mosin M1891/30
     
  25. bowl443

    bowl443 Member

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    Very interesting; I'll have to do a little reading on this. Thanks for posting.

    Carlos Hathcock recounts almost the same story of shooting thru another sniper's scope. Maybe, maybe not; who knows?
     
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