Finland against USSR (1939-1945)

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,100
#21
Some, but they turned away a lot more.

You have to remember that Finland has brutal weather, even surviving out in the front lines was a full time job you had to know how to do it. The Russians didnt and they suffered appalling casualties, the Finns did either using locally specific tactics like warming rooms in their trenches or locals used to moving and hunting like Simo Hayha

Foreign volunteers just didnt have the skills to survive on the front lines never mind fight even before you add in the communication problems. They could be used in the rear lines but the war didnt last long enough to be worth training them.
That sounds pretty darn bizarre actually.

The Finns were fighting for the life of their nation as they saw it. The reason more foreigners didn't end up in the fight was that – provided they had their basic soldier training done – they first had to make it to Finland, and secondly do so before the war ended in early 1940. It only lasted 4,5 months (comes out as a war generating about 100 000 casualties/month).

As for preferences of use, the Finns – for I think obvious reasons – would opt to use green troops in quieter sectors, so they could send their experienced troops to the real hot-spots. Which was done.

As for the survival aspect, "furriners" provided with Finnish army winter gear, bivouacs etc. would be fine. (The biggest problem recorded with pushing soldiers to breaking-point in the Winter War seems to have been lack of sleep. I've seem it claimed that 6 consecutive nights and days seem have been what the Finnish armed forces arrived at as the human breaking point, when you simply had to send soldiers behind the lines for some very needed RnR.)

The winter conditions have been pointed out. While the climate by the Gulf of Finland is cold it's not extremely so, but they factor that makes a difference is that it is close to a large body of water, and so there is rather a lot of moisture. The locals around the Baltic consequently adopt to having to deal with a nasty form of wet cold. (It seeps in, you can't just have think warm clothing, it has to resist moisture as well.) The Soviets did send Siberian units that did not fare so well because while used to and equipped for brutal cold weather, that was rather to inland climate dry cold conditions.

Because the climate factor really wasn't some kind of absolute hindrance in the situation. It wouldn't have mattered a fraction as much IF the Soviet army that attacked Finland on Nov 30 1939 had been seriously prepared for a proper war. Soviet lack of preparation, not expecting the Finns to actually make a fight of things, would relatively have to be pointed out as the more compelling reason the Soviet troops suffered as badly as they did in the first part of the war.

The Soviets came back prepared, and in numbers, in early 1940. And then they won.
 

Vaeltaja

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
3,682
#22
As I have written. perhaps it is the original title and opening question that may have caused confusion. The title give the years 1939-45 but the opening question had to do with international brigades. The international brigades were limited to the Winter War and all those other statistics seem to have to do with the entire period. I am interested in the Winter War from a genealogical perspective but there is a much more scholarly study of that period--and only that period, 1939-1940-- by Dr. Norman Berdichevsky: The Other Forgotten International Brigade. While his politics indicate a slant on more recent topics, his work here seems solid.
He discusses volunteers. But you should not be carried away with the 'international brigade' thing. The volunteers coming to Finland were integrated into the Finnish military even if they occasionally had their own sub-units. The volunteers for Finnish Winter War were not paramilitaries fighting alongside the army (like international brigades of the Spanish Civil War) but instead were part of the army. Having volunteers on the other hand was not particularly strange - there were some foreign volunteers in most of the armies.
 
Jun 2017
133
maine
#23
He discusses volunteers. But you should not be carried away with the 'international brigade' thing. The volunteers coming to Finland were integrated into the Finnish military even if they occasionally had their own sub-units. The volunteers for Finnish Winter War were not paramilitaries fighting alongside the army (like international brigades of the Spanish Civil War) but instead were part of the army. Having volunteers on the other hand was not particularly strange - there were some foreign volunteers in most of the armies.
I am carried away with it because the initial question had to do strictly with them. But the years given include time beyond that of the international brigades--hence the confusion. During the Winter War, the Norwegians (who did not have their own officers) fought with the Swedes.
 

Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,321
South of the barcodes
#24
sorry i might be one of the ones who misunderstood, i was talking about the Winter war, Christopher Lee (aka Count Dooku or Dracula depending on your age) was one of the volunteers who got turned away even after he got to Finland.

The British volunteers he went with were trained riflemen but none of them could ski so they were useless at that point in the war.
 

Vaeltaja

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
3,682
#25
I am carried away with it because the initial question had to do strictly with them. But the years given include time beyond that of the international brigades--hence the confusion. During the Winter War, the Norwegians (who did not have their own officers) fought with the Swedes.
There weren't any 'international brigades' in the Winter War. Plenty of volunteers though.
 
Jun 2017
133
maine
#26
There weren't any 'international brigades' in the Winter War. Plenty of volunteers though.
The Scandinavians fought in 3 brigades (all under the name of "Svenske Fivilligkåren...which means Swedish Volunteers), separately and under their own officers. The first was under Lt.-Col. Dryssen (killed?), Capt. Bonde and Lt. Col. Agell; the second under Lt.-Col. Tamn and the third under Lt. Col. Eckströ m. The Swedes in charge of the overall body were Ernst Linder and Karl August Ehrensvärd. An important contribution of the Swedish brigades was their taking over of the Salla Front from five Finnish battalions--freeing up the Finns for deployment on the gulf coast.
 

Vaeltaja

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
3,682
#27
The Scandinavians fought in 3 brigades (all under the name of "Svenske Fivilligkåren...which means Swedish Volunteers), separately and under their own officers. The first was under Lt.-Col. Dryssen (killed?), Capt. Bonde and Lt. Col. Agell; the second under Lt.-Col. Tamn and the third under Lt. Col. Eckströ m. The Swedes in charge of the overall body were Ernst Linder and Karl August Ehrensvärd. An important contribution of the Swedish brigades was their taking over of the Salla Front from five Finnish battalions--freeing up the Finns for deployment on the gulf coast.
Not quite. The Svenska Frivilligkåren (which translates into 'Swedish Volunteer Force') didn't fight separate from the Finnish command. It was actually formed part of the Finnish 'Lapland Group'. It didn't consist of 3 brigades but it was roughly a brigade strength unit consisting of three 'battlegroups' which were roughly like reinforced battalions. And no one has been trying to downplay their importance, but they still were not any kind of 'international brigades' (which is a totally separate concept).
 
Jun 2017
133
maine
#28
Not quite. The Svenska Frivilligkåren (which translates into 'Swedish Volunteer Force') didn't fight separate from the Finnish command. It was actually formed part of the Finnish 'Lapland Group'. It didn't consist of 3 brigades but it was roughly a brigade strength unit consisting of three 'battlegroups' which were roughly like reinforced battalions. And no one has been trying to downplay their importance, but they still were not any kind of 'international brigades' (which is a totally separate concept).
By definition, an international brigade is *exactly* that: foreign volunteers.