Winter War ‘White Death’ – The Russo-Finnish War 1939-40
The Russo-Finnish War 1939-1940
Day One: Fly London to Helsinki and Kajaani.
We fly to Helsinki and take a domestic flight to Kajaani further north.
This tour is about the battles that occurred along the famous Raate road from the Russian border to Suomussalmi, and follows another Soviet invasion route to Kuhmo further south. Road bound Soviet mechanized and motorized units were sliced up and annihilated by ski-borne Finnish soldiers, nicknamed ‘white death’ employing motti tactics, fighting in temperatures as low as 40°C. The tour is set amid wild Finnish Taiga countryside, with its mirror lakes, fast flowing rivers and streams, with reindeer, elk and other wildlife. When conducted in June, its beautiful scenery is bathed in a celestial golden sunlight, that lasts through the night hours, a creative feast for the keen photographer. The trip is ‘off-piste’ from the usual European battlefield tour experience.
Day Two: The Kuhmo Battlefield.
This covers the invasion and defeat of the Soviet 54th and 163rd Divisions along cut off motti encircled positions at Palovaara and Juntusranta and other sites, where they were fragmented and destroyed. Finland’s excellent Winter War museum is visited en route. Many of the original Finnish encircling and Soviet perimeter earthworks still survive, with Russian tanks still standing amid the forests where they were abandoned.
Day Three: The Raate Road.
We drive to Suommusamali to explore the entrapment and destruction of the Soviet 44th Division along the Raate Road, beginning at the original Russo-Finnish frontier post at the eastern end of the route. It has since been restored to its 1939 condition and includes a museum, dealing with the events of the Russian invasion. Many original and restored trench and bunker systems remain at the side of the road.
Day Four: Suomussalami.
The tour continues along the road to Suomussalmi Village, now a small town. It was partially occupied by the Russians during the invasion and almost completely destroyed in the fighting. There is an excellent museum dedicated to the battle and impressive monuments to both sides, including the famous Liekki flame monument, dedicated to Finnish soldiers and the Winter War monument. We explore both sides positions around the then frozen Lake Kianta at Hulkonniemi and discuss the difficulties of fighting and operating in hostile sub-zero arctic temperatures.
Day Five: Return.
We drive to kajaani airport and visit the local ancient castle en route before transferring to Helsinki and then onward to London.
See Bob’s battlefield tours via Alan Rooney’s Cultural Experience
Read Robert’s Books
Arnhem was a resounding defeat for the British, but in human endurance terms, the stuff of legend. Press glamorization at the time laid the basis for a ‘legend’ upheld by Allied historians for years. Exhaustive research of the few remaining German post-operational reports corroborated by numerous contemporary eye-witness accounts revealed a new perspective. This was how the battle appeared to the ordinary German soldier, from private to battalion commander level. Kershaw interviewed many veteran participants throughout Germany.