In the winter of 1939, while much of the world was involved in WWII, Finnish sniper Simo Hayha was fighting the Winter War. This lesser-known conflict occurred when the Soviet Union successfully invaded Finland after entering a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany. However, the Finnish soldiers of the Winter War did not go quietly into the night in the face of overwhelming Soviet numbers. While they ultimately lost the war, the Finns had ferocious soldiers who fought tooth and nail for their country.
One of the most famous snipers in history emerged during the battles of the Winter War. Simo Hayha mercilessly exacted a heavy toll against all Soviet forces he caught in his crosshairs. In fact, if his alleged kill count - 505 - is proven, it would be the most sniper kills in any major war. Read on to discover fascinating facts, stories, and feats of the one of the most effective sniper of all time.
During the Winter War, the legendary sniper Simo Hayha struck terror into the hearts of the invading Soviet troops. They knew that somewhere out in the snow, clad in white camouflage, Hayha was waiting for them. So feared was Hayha that the Russians referred to him as "Belaya Smert" - which translates to "White Death." His fellow Finns, on the other hand, called him “Taika-ampuja” (Magic Shooter).
Simo Hayha is credited with as many as 542 official sniper kills (or with 505 at the very least, depending on the source). This is the most by any sniper in any war. The runner-up is the Soviet sniper Ivan Sidorenko at 500 in WWII.
Simo is also said to have gunned down a few hundred people with a Suomi 9mm machine gun, bringing his speculated total kill count to around 800. Most of these kills were at a distance of less than 150 meters.
The entire Winter War occurred in a single winter. The short timeframe that Simo worked in makes his tally almost inconceivable. That averages 5.5 kills per day. His record days were 23, 25, and 40 confirmed kills. He was also promoted from Alikersantti (corporal) to Vanrikki (second lieutenant), the fastest jump in rank in Finland's history.
He made all his kills using an iron sight. He thought that the scope made a sniper an easier target for enemy snipers. It added a few inches to the profile and had a tendency to glint in the sunlight. He often spotted enemy snipers before they saw him because of the reflected light on their scopes.