The War Illustrated No 27 Vol 2 March 8th 1940

194 The. War Illustrated March 8th, 1940 Finland’s Three Months’ Ordeal of Bloody War After nearly a month of furious assault the Finn lines in the Karelian Isthmus were withdrawn almost to the gates of Viipuri. But undaunted as ever, though tired and strained by the incessant air bombardment, the gallant little country continued to play its magnificent part as the standard-bearer of Liberty. The Russo-Finnish frontier on February 23,1940. The Soviet bases. Areas shaded horizontally, Soviet advance into Finland shaded diagonally, Finnish advance into Russia. xxx patrol activity. ^—Russian drive. White arrows, Finnish drive. I B SovietS attack on Mann erh eim Line. Courtesy of “Free Europe' I twas on ^tbe last day o f November that the advance guard o f the Red Army crossed the frontier into Fin­land. They stepped out bravely, with the bands playing (so it is said) the Inter­nationale they confidently expected to be in Helsinki within a week, and ”“President Kuusinen no doubt had his proclamations ready for that happy hour when he would be able to com­pensate himself for all the slights and discomforts of his years in exile, spent as the pensionary of the Bolsheviks in Moscow. It was not long, however, before the bands ceased to play. Their tune was unwelcome, and so was their presence. The Red “Liberators ”were greeted not by cheering crowds, eager to throw off the yoke o f the“ Mannerheim-Tanner clique o f White murderers,” but by a people in arms, determined to fight to the last to resist the invader who, on the most trifling and unworthy o f pretexts, was bringing fire and sword into a peaceful and peace-loving land. W e are not told what happened to the bandsmen possibly they took shelter in the nearest ditch. But the soldiers dug in as fast as they could, and so what was to prove along and murderous war began. A t first the Russiana seemed to have a marked advantage, and no one was surprised. Had they not an overwhelm­ing superiority o f numbers, tanks, and warplanes %How could the Finns con­tinue to resist when their enemies were as forty to one ?Within the first week or two the Reds had occupied the southern portion o f the Karelian Isthmus, up to the fortified ozone f the' Mannerheim Line they had overrun the “Finnish Corridor ”between Russia and Norway— the Petsamo sector, as it came to be called and at many a point along the frontier from Lake Ladoga to opposite Salla, in Finland’s “ waistthey had succeeded in penetrating some distance into Finnish territory. In the outside world people who knew little o f the Finns and o f their commander, the war-bitten veteran, Field-Marshal Baron Mannerheim, shrugged their shoulders and muttered darkly about the “Russian steam-roller.” On paper, the Finns ought to have been crushed out o f hand, but not for the first time in history— nor, we maybe sure, for the last— a little nation has shown what it can do against a freedom- destroying colossus. The Finnish army, almost insignificant in numbers but magnificent in courage and determination, slowly retreated into the interior, drawing the enemy after them until their lines o f communication trailed through the practically trackless forest for mile upon mile. Then “General Winter ”proved that the Finnish confidence in him had not been misplaced. Snow blinded the advancing legions, and in the fleecy drifts tens o f thousands o f unhappy Russians, many o f whom had never seen snow or ice before, sank into the sleep o f death. Frozen lakes cracked beneath the weight o f the invaders’ tanks and lorries, and The people of Helsinki were greatly heartened by an exhibition of war materials captured from the Russian Army. It included wrecked ‘planes, among them two bombers, and light guns, while several magnetic mines with their parachutes still attached hung from the ceiling. The banners are the flag of Finland, a blue cross on a white ground. Photo, Central Press
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