I Am The Best Sniper That Ever Lived – The White Death

It’s November 30th, 1939, just three months
after the outbreak of another World War. The Soviet Union has declared war on my home
country of Finland. Within days Soviet troops advanced across
the nation, but they had no idea of the resistance they would run into. The -45 degree weather (-43 C), would be the
least of the communist invaders concerns when they found themselves in my sights, because
I am Simo Häyä, the deadliest sniper in history. I am The White Death. Prior to war’s start, Germany and the Soviet
Union had agreed to divide up eastern europe into spheres of influence, and Finland landing
within the Soviet’s reach. Stalin quickly made impossible demands of
Finland, including that we cede large amounts of territory along the Finnish-Soviet border
supposedly for security reasons such as the protection of Leningrad which lay only (32km)
from the border. My nation flatly refused, and the Soviet Union
quickly declared war. With 750,000 soldiers, 6,000 tanks and over
3,000 aircraft, the Soviet military absolutely dwarfed our Finnish military, which was comprised
of just 300,000 soldiers- mostly reservists and civil guardsmen- a few dozen tanks and
100 aircraft. Stalin ordered the invasion of Finland, giving
no thought to the coming winter as he assumed his armies would roll over us long before
the worst weather set in. Just as Napoleon had underestimated the Russian
winter over a hundred years before, Stalin too severely underestimated winter weather
and the impact it would have on his army. As the unseasonably cold winter of 1940 set
in and slowed Stalin’s beleaguered armies down in a frozen hell, our Finnish resistance
moved in to halt the Soviet advance. Knowing we knew we couldn’t match the Soviets
on a one-on-one basis, we adopted “Motti”, or what today would be called asymmetrical
warfare tactics. We would routinely allow Soviet forces to
push deep into our territory, leaving them overextended- then we’d attack their supply
lines while running lightning raids against the Soviet flank. Frozen in by the severe weather and plagued
by terrible logistics, the Soviet war machine quickly ground to a halt. But the greatest of the terrors awaiting the
Soviets in the winter woods was me, an unassuming, 5′ (1.5 meter) tall farmer named Simo Häyä. I was born in a farming town near the Russian
border, and I spent my entire life in the harsh Finnish countryside. As a child I naturally took to shooting, becoming
a prolific hunter and sharpening the marksmanship skills that would make me a legend one day. In 1925, I served a mandatory one-year term
in Finland’s army where I was introduced to an M28/30 rifle, replacing my Russian-made
Mosin-Nagant M91. Honing my shooting skill even further, I was
able to achieve a firing rate of 16 shots per minute at a range of 500 feet (152 meters)-
every single one on-target. After a year’s service, I was honorably discharged
with the rank of Upseerioppilas Officerselev, or Corporal. Years later, I joined the Finnish Civil Guard,
and at the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, I was called into active service. I refused the M28/30 rifle the military provided
me with though, pulling my trusty M91 out of storage instead. Immediately ordered to the defense of Pyhäjoki,
me and my unit dug trenches and strung up barbed wire in preparation for the Soviet
assault. That very same night, the Soviets attacked,
but we were able to repel the assault. After several days of heavy fighting, we were
ordered to withdraw, yet despite the retreat we suffered relatively few casualties. My next engagement with the Soviets came outside
of Suvilahti, with the Soviets once more suffering heavy losses. Stalin’s bloody political purges had decimated
military leadership within the Soviet military, and the inexperienced and poorly led Soviet
army suffered greatly in the first few weeks of the war for those purges. My extraordinary marksmanship did not go unnoticed
by leadership, who soon made me a sniper. After an enemy sniper killed three platoon
leaders and an NCO, my company commander, Lieutenant Juutilainen, ordered me to “knock
that man out”. I replied simply, “I’ll do my best.” I took off for the woods alone, dressed in
thick winter gear and a body-length white hooded coat. Making note of the terrain, I identified a
few possible positions that I would choose if I were a Russian sniper and then selected
a spot with good oversight of all of them. Digging into the thick snow in early morning,
I lay perfectly still, letting the snow build up around me all day long. Not moving for fear of giving my position
away, my patience and endurance paid off when finally, towards dusk, I spotted a flicker
on the horizon- the telltale glint of the setting sun’s rays reflecting off another
sniper’s scope. Moments later, the Russian sniper began to
rise, likely returning back to his unit after a long day on alert. Without hesitation, I gently squeezed the
trigger and placed a single 7.62 round straight though the enemy sniper’s cheek, killing him
instantly. My reputation began to spread amongst my fellow
troops, and I would soon earn my nickname of ‘the White Death’ amongst Russian troops. With our unit under fire by a skilled enemy
sniper, my Lieutenant once more reached out to me with a simple mission: find the sniper
and kill him before he can kill more of our own. Just as before, I once again took off into
the wilderness alone, carrying a day’s worth of food and several pouches of ammunition. Having seen how a scope had given the Russian
sniper away, I now refused to use one, and instead stuck only to my reliable M91’s iron
sights. It was with these iron sights that I spotted
and eliminated the Russian sniper from 400 meters away. After that kill my name spread amongst the
Russians, and I became a priority one target. In the months that followed, Soviet forces
responded to my attacks by calling in artillery bombardments, devastating dozens of acres
of woodland to try to kill just one man. Yet for all their efforts, I was able to survive
each bombardment, getting only a minor scratch when a shell landed near my position and tore
the back of my greatcoat. In turn, I continued my methodical assassination
of Soviet targets undeterred, once knocking out the sniper protecting a forward artillery
observer. The observer quickly called in fire support
and over 50 rounds rained down harmlessly around me. But skill with a gun is only one part of becoming
a deadly sniper. I would often have to stay in my firing position
for hours, sometimes even an entire day, and it’s that resilience in the midst of our
brutal Finnish winter that made me the stuff of legend. In order to not give away my firing position,
I very slowly and carefully moistened the snow around me so it would freeze, preventing
puffs of snow from flying up when I fired. When changing firing positions I would move
incredibly slowly- inches per hour- making my movements all but imperceptible to the
human eye. In order to prevent steam from my breath from
giving me away, I would hold mouthfuls of snow in my mouth, taking slow, deep breaths
and letting my breath cool as it left my lungs. And of course, to never inadvertently give
myself away due to the low winter sun, I never used a scope, sticking to my tried and true
iron sights for even the longest and most difficult of shots. Though I usually worked alone, I did employ
the use of a trusted spotter occasionally. Observing Russian movements during the day,
we would then take off into the pitch black night and hunt for a good firing position
from where we could enjoy a target-rich environment. Once selected, we would have to sit patiently
waiting for the first light of dawn, and then begin our long day of precision shooting. I was eventually wounded though. Shot by an enemy sniper with an explosive
bullet to the left side of my face just one week before the end of the Winter War. I awoke in a surgical tent the day the war
ended. The bullet left me with a fractured jaw and
a life-long deformity, but I quickly recovered the ability to speak and more importantly:
shoot. With over 500 confirmed kills by the end of
the war, my legacy was cemented as the deadliest sniper in history. But ultimately I am a man of peace, and I
refused to take part in the Finnish-Soviet Continuation War, which saw my beloved Finnish
forces ally with German forces and invade the Soviet Union in a bid to retake lost territory. For me, my war was done, and I had no interest
in invading another man’s land the way my own had been. It’s early in the morning on April 15, 1912. It should have been a night like any other. Just the end of another day on my final voyage
that would cap off a sterling career. But history won’t speak of my impeccable record
or my years of devoted service. No, I will be remembered solely for this one
ill fated night, because this is the night that the most famous ship of all time would
meet her disastrous end. I am the Captain of the RMS Titanic There’s a new episode every week so subscribe
now, and turn on notifications to make sure you’re one of the first to see what it’s like
to live through history in I Am.

Comments 100

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *