Saturday, December 1, 2012

Finnish Democratic Republic

One day after the war started an unknown radio broadcast was heard announcing that the Finnish Communist Party (which was set up in Moscow by the 'exiled' leaders of the Social Democratic Party of Finland, it was illegal in Finland until 1944) had set up a Democratic Republic and appointed Otto Kuusinen as its Chairman. Kuusinen was an exiled Finn, who had fled to Moscow when the Red Guard was defeated during the Finnish Civil War. He had been Commissar of Education in the short lived Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic which was set up at the outbreak of the January 1918 revolution. The government was made up entirely of exiled Red Guard Finns.

The place where this Republic had been set up was the beach resort town of Terijoki (today known as Zelenogorsk), it was the first 'major' population centre to be 'liberated' by the Soviet Union. The Red Army was greeted at Terijoki by hundreds of booby traps and snipers' bullets (the local population had been evacuated). 2 battalions of Group U were assigned to the area on the orders to delay and harass the enemy, they placed snipers in the church tower and the higher buildings of the town, prepared ambushes at street level. Soon tanks were scattered and left without infantry support, unable to attack what it couldn't see, communications broke down between units as fighting descended to a level of barbarity akin to Stalingrad several years in the future; knives, grenades, submachine guns and even fists. The Soviet Baltic fleet made things worse for the Red Army by offering inaccurate fire support that landed amongst their own units, doing less damage to the defending Finns than themselves. This group held up the 70th Rifle Division for over 24 hours and only withdrew after setting up pipebombs, mines and improvised explosives that would hinder the Soviets for many days after, they even blew up the tactically important Leningrad-Viipuri railway bridge. Thanks to the efforts of these units, they dented Kuusinen's plans and the radio broacast asking for urgent Soviet help was made a day after the Soviet invasion, it was a policical embarrassment for the Soviet Government. It is a wonder how any Government was formed so quickly under such chaos. Many modern historians believe that Kuusinen never held Government in Terijoki and that it was impossible to set it up on the 1st December due to the heavy fighting except on paper.

The Officers Club of the 1 Bicycle Battalion in Terijoki, it would become the  'Government' Building which the Finnish Democratic Government was ran from.

The first action by this new Republic was to enter into talks with the Soviet Union. Molotov and Kuusinen must have had a pleasant meetings because the Soviet Union got all the things they wanted from the pre-war negotiations with the Finnish Government. Soon Broadcasts and Leaflets dropped by Soviet Bombers informed the Finnish people that all great Landowner Estates would be broken up and that an eight hour day would be instituted. The main problem with this promise was that an eight hour work day had been brought into Finnish law in over 20 years earlier and the land reform program was such that only a few hundred estates were left with over 300 acres of land. Many of the leaflets dropped on Finnish lines had the message "Let us not shoot each other; let us turn our guns on the common enemy: the White Guard government of Tanner and Mannerheim" or similar. 

The general opinion of the Finnish People of this 'People's' Government was the opposite of what the Soviets thought would happen. Finns thought it laughable and it united them even more no matter their political alignment (There were still some old wounds from the Civil War). They had seen what had happened to the Baltic states and knew that if the Soviets won, then they would no longer be an independent country but a puppet of the Soviet Union. The Democratic Republic was used as the excuse by the Soviet Union to invade Finland, Pravda's front page read "Only the Soviet Union, which rejects the principle of violent seizure of territory and enslavement of nations, would agree to place its armed might at disposal, not for the purpose of attacking Finland or enslaving her people, but securing Finland's independence." When a League of Nations council was called to discuss the conflict, the Soviet representative rejected all attacks on his countries character by stating Russia was not at war with Finland, that's absurd! On the contrary, its relations with the legitimate Kuusinen government were, verifiably, the last word in cordiality and mutual trust! The League did the only thing it could do, it expelled the Soviet Union, not that Stalin would lose any sleep over it. The Winter War would be the final blow to the League of Nations and soon after it would dissolve. 

The crowning achievement for this charade was the formation of the Finnish National Army or as it appeared on the Red Army order of battle, The First Finnish Corps. Not much it known about this short lived unit or how seriously it was taken by the Red Army high command. The propaganda never claimed more that 6,000 men in strength and witnesses only counted 1,000 on display. The majority of its number were of East Karelia and exiled Red Guardsmen (who would be a bit grey by now), however there were probably some turncoats in their ranks but it is not possible to say on exact numbers and as only 1,000 Finns were POWs during the whole war, it can be assumed the number was small. The biggest POW camp held 600 Finns and during a recruitment drive in December only 16 men signed up, so this small percentage shows what the Finnish soldiers thought of it. It was reported, very mockingly, by Finnish sources that the armies first assignment was guarding the headquarters of Kuusinens government dressed in Swedish Royal Army uniforms of the Great Northern War (1700-21) that had been looted from a nearby museum. 

The Finnish National Army first paraded in Terijoki in uniforms similar to this, taken from a local museum.

The Army was effectively a Red Army unit under the jurisdiction of the Leningrad Military District, who provided the line officers. It also had numerous NKVD troops to fill out its ranks. It would fall under the command of Akseli Antilla who was a Red Army officer of Finnish origin and was made Kuusinen's 'minister of defence'. The corps would not be used in any battles but was used more as a militia force behind the lines acting as a recruiting tool, enforcing Popular Front activities that would soon infest the captured territories and helping in the interrogations of prisoners (Kuusinen was at many interrogations).

One of the few photos of the First Finnish Corps, Finnish National Army.
Even though the Government never received any official recognition (except from the Soviet Union), many leftist writers and activists voiced their support, these included John Steinbeck, George Bernard Shaw and Jawaharlal Nehru. State ran newspapers in Nazi Germany also showed support for the Government, this was down to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

The ploy never worked but became an obstacle as it stood in the way of any negotiations, it definitely prolonged the war and caused the deaths of thousands of men on both sides, even if indirectly. The Finnish Democratic Republic saw itself disestablished on the 12th March (one day before the end of the War) and merged with Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to form the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic which was made up of territory ceded to the Soviet Union at the end of the Winter War.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Start of the Winter War

Today (November 30th) marks the 73rd Anniversary of the start of the Winter War.

As I wrote in a previous post, one of the background causes of this conflict was the Soviet false flag which is now called the Shelling of Mainila, as well as demands for Finnish territory. The Soviet Union very confidently thought they could bowl over the small Republic within a matter of days. N.N. Voronov, who was in charge of logisitcs for the artillery arm of the invasion was asked what was the state of the ammunition stocks that could be drawn for the invasion. "That depends, Are you planning to attack or defend... and by the way, how much time is allotted for the operation?" he record saying to two officers at Meretskov's HQ.           "Between ten and twelve days," was the reply from the men.
Voronov, who had been studying the plans and maps of Finland replied "I'll be happy if everything can be resolved in two or three months". This answer did not sit well with the officers and Voronov was mocked. Commissar Kulik then ordered Voronov that all his estimates were to be based on the assumption that the entire Finnish operation would last no longer than twelve days.

The Red Army possessed three times the amount of soldiers, thirty times more aircraft and hundred more times of tanks (Finland only had 2 companies of FT-17 Renault light Tanks and 2 companies of Vickers 6-ton Medium Tanks). Soviet Propaganda portrayed the Red Army as invincible, the righteous liberators of the oppressed peoples of Finland from the hand of the bourgeois Mannerheim-Cajander Gang.

The first day of the conflict saw a singular plane fly over Helsinki and drop leaflets urging the citizens to overthrow the Government, then in a twist dropped five light bombs in the area of Malmi Airport. Then about an hour later 9 SB-2 Medium Bombers from Estonia bombed Helsinki, first aiming for the harbour (which all bombs fell into the water) and than banked to head towards the heart of the city. Bombs dropped around the architecturally brilliant Helsinki Railway Station but missed, however they did hit the public building in front of the station, killing forty civilians and injuring many more. The entire raid damaged one hanger at the airport, hit the Helsinki Technical Institute (killed several staff and students), several houses of the working class population and ironically, the Soviet Legation Building.

This was not the only raid that day, another raid hit Helsinki at 1430 (Helsinki saw 200 civilians dead at the end of the day), as well as similar raids on Turku, Viipuri (now known as Vyborg), a hydroelectric plant at Imatra and a gas mask factory in Lahti.

The Soviet Baltic Fleet landed marine parties on the islands of Sieksari, Lavanssari, Tytarsaari and Suursaari with little resistance  These islands had been part of the demands made by the Soviet Government in the run up to the war.

Luckily the Finnish army was well trained  despite its lack of munitions. They knew the area, were fighting for their homes and family. The entire conflict would touch everyone in Finland, over 340,000 men were serve on the various fronts along the border. They would account for nearly 127,000 dead Russians and injury another 188,000. They would suffer over 25,000 dead and 43,000 wounded, as well 1,000 becoming POWs.

The war would last 3 months, 1 week and 5 days. It would see the Red Army being given a massive bloody nose, with the Finnish forces winning on almost every front (Only on the Karelian Isthmus would the Finns retreat to their last line of defence).

This is just a small overview of the beginning of the Winter War. I am planning to write more articles over the next 3 months to coincide with various battles, important dates and interesting facts of this very obscure conflict of what became known as The Second World War.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The First Shots of War

On November the 26th 1939, tensions were high with all the negotiations between the Soviet Union and Finland and the mobilisation of the military on both sides. Near the Village of Mainila, on the boarder between the two countries, three Finnish Observation posts and several other Boarder Guards on patrol heard and witnessed 7 shells, and there subsequent denotations, within Soviet territory. Within hours of this incident, the Finnish delegation was informed by Soviet Authorities that due to Finnish Aggression that the Non-aggression pact that was signed in 1932 and also in 1934 were null and void and all diplomatic avenues between the countries were to cease. The incident was possible inspired by the Gleiwitz incident that had taken place earlier that year, this was used by the Third Reich as an excuse for it to withdraw from its non-aggression pact with Poland.

Why did this False Flag incident happen?

The Soviet Union had been negotiating with Finland for several bits of territory in an attempt to expand its influence. It had succeeded in incorporating several other Baltic states using a similar tactic and thought Finland would be its next victim. However Finland refused the Soviet Union in its demands for the Finnish Border to be pulled back 25 miles from its current position which would mean it would lose its defences on the Karelian Isthmus, the lensing of the peninsula of Hanko which would be the site of a Naval Base for the Baltic Fleet and in conjunction with Coastal Artillery in Estonian would effectively seal of the Gulf of Finland, as well as other demands. In return Finland would receive 3,450 square miles of Soviet Karelia but the exchange was not advantageous to Finland. Finland gave two counter offers, respectively on 23 October and 3 November and would mean the cedeing of only Terijoki to the USSR. These were flatly refused and the Finnish delegation in Moscow returned to Finland on the 13th November, hoping the negotiations would continue.

The Set-up

It was a Sunday afternoon and Finnish Border Guards did what they normally did, patrolled the border, played cards, listened to the radio, chatted about things back home mainly of the female variety and maintained their weapons. All knew about the recent negotiations and how high the tension was (from the 9th of October the Finnish Army had been slowly mobilised under the guise of refresher training), they also knew they were be the first line of defence against the tidal wave of the Red Army. At about 1440 the Border Guards heard 7 successive artillery shots being fired, soon it was worked out that the shots hand landed 800 meters behind the border and that the weapon used was a high trajectory Trench Mortar. The Guards thought it was training exercise and recorded a smoke screen going up soon after the shots, which thus blocked all observation. Three Guards saw a officer on Horseback approach their Russian counterparts who were standing about the nearest building in Mainila, soon all 12 men marched off in an easterly direction and within ten minutes 7 shells landed on that very same spot. The guards also reported six men coming back to inspect the damage and saw no sign of dead or injured people.

At 2100 Moscow Time (2200 in Helsinki) Baron Yrjö-Koskinen received a call asking him to report to the Kremlin. He was informed by Molotov that Soviet Border Guards stationed at Mainila had been fired upon resulting in the deaths of three privates and one NCO, two officers and seven privates were also wounded. The Finnish Government attempted to deal with this incident in the diplomatic way and drafted a letter which stated that the shots had come from the Russian side of the border and that to put in place protocols relating to border incidents that were part of the 1932 non-aggression Pact (which was extended in 1934) and that both sides should withdraw their forces to the same distances. It was impossible for Finnish Artillery to have fired the shots because on the orders of Field Marshal Mannerheim, all Finnish guns were withdrawn from range of the border for several weeks before the shots were fired.
The Soviet government was unwilling to accept such an answer stating that “the deep hostility of the Finnish government towards the Soviet Union” was forcing the tensions to boiling point and “The fact that the Finnish government denies that Finnish forces fired upon Soviet forces with artillery and inflicted casualties, can only be explained as a device to mislead public opinion”, and so Molotov informed the small Republic of Finland that the Soviet government was no longer bound by the non-aggression pact. Within four days of this announcement Helsinki was on fire from Soviet Bombs and troops had crossed the border in several locations.


When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 hundreds of documents were declassified and Russian Historian Pavel Aptekar analysed the dairies and reports of the units who were posted in the area and found no record of any losses on the day of the 26th or in the immediate dates surrounding it. Nikita Khrushchev (who at the time was a Commissar and served as an intermediary between Stalin and the Generals of the Red Army) claimed in his memoirs that the incident was set up by Marshal of Artillery Grigory Kulik, an infamous NKVD General who would contribute to the failure of the Soviet defence during the first weeks of the German invasion. However he very coy about who fired the first shots and is quoted as saying “It's always like that when people start a war. They say, 'You fired the first shot,' or 'You slapped me first and I'm only hitting back.' There was once a ritual which you sometimes see in opera: someone throws down a glove to challenge someone else to a duel; if the glove is picked up, that means the challenge is accepted. Perhaps that's how it was done in the old days, but in our time it's not always so clear who starts a war.” Boris Yeltsin, the First President of the Russian Federation (which followed the Soviet Union) made a statement in 1994 denouncing the Winter War as a War of Aggression.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Comparison of Typical Finnish Infantry Division to Typical Soviet Rifle Division

Below is a simple comparison between a standard Finnish Infantry division and a typical Soviet Rifle Division. They are not exact figures but only paper strength at the time of the outset of the Winter War. Both division use the same basic 'triangular' structure, meaning they both have three Infantry regiments which had three infantry battalions.  

It is very hard to exact the exact composition of a Soviet Division during the Winter war because changes to the organisation had been made in 1938 but not all changes had taken place. Also many sources differ greatly on the subject. As such I have tried to make my list as average as possible given the available information.

These are only 'official' paper strengths and do not represent actual numbers. An example is the Finnish army rarely ever had 4 AT guns let alone the full paper strength of 18. 

We can see that a Soviet Division had about twice as many automatic weapons than its Finnish counterpart. A Soviet Division also had three times the amount of artillery with, what seemed like, an unceasing supply of shells. Another advantage the Soviet Division had was it could call upon numerous support units like tank brigades, artillery batteries and air power. However all this strength was the Achilles heal for the Soviet units, they were designed to fight in the open fields of Europe and with such a high degree of motorisation were restricted to the poorly constructed roads of the Finnish countryside. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The first Victoria Cross and the Finnish connection

The first award of the Victoria Cross (by date of action in which it was awarded) was during the little known Baltic Campaign during the Crimean War.

The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for 'most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy', to members of the armed forces of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Nations.

The Baltic Campaign has not been a very well published affair of the infamous Crimean War between the Russian Empire and an alliance between the declining Ottoman Empire, Kingdom of Sardinia, French Empire and British Empire. Most eyes and subsequent publications have been focused on the land actions that took place on the Crimean Peninsula. It has been described as the first 'modern war', it was the first war in which was extensibility covered by numerous new reporters and photographs.

With the prospect of war with the Russian giant, Britain knew that the greatest threat to its shores were from the area of the Baltic. The majority of the Russian fleet and indeed her principle arsenals were situated at Kronstadt and the area surrounding the capital of St Petersburg. It was decided that an Anglo-French Fleet was to be sent to operate a blockade on the Baltic and thus stop any attack on France or Britain by Russia's main fleet.

The Russian Fleet throughout the Campaign refused to leave their heavily fortified safe haven of Kronstadt and the Anglo-French soon went on to raid the then Autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland. It was here, on 21st June 1854, that the steam sloop HMS Hecla, alongside the paddle steam frigates HMS Odin and HMS Valorous launched an ill thought out raid on the fort of Bomarsund. Bomarsund was a Russian Fort built on the island of Sund, Aland Islands, it was designed to be a big naval station for the Russian fleet with the advantage of being ice free for one month less on either side of the seasons than the nearest Russian naval base of Sveaborg (now known as Suomenlinna). It was however not completed when war broke out, having only three towers of twelve constructed. It was while this squadron were sailing through the channel of Angosund that it came under fire from two companies of Finnish Grenadier Sharpeshooters and 4 cannons. It was one of these cannons that a live shell landed on the upper deck of the Hecla. Immediately all hands were ordered to fling themselves onto the deck but one man ran forward and picked up the shell, its fuse fizzing away, and proceeded to carry it to the side of the ship to drop it overboard. The shell exploded before it hit the water and as a result two men were injured slightly, but it is without a doubt that the consequences could have been a lot worse if it weren't for this one man.

So who was this brave individual?

His name was Charles Davis Lucas, an Irish born 20 year old Midshipman who had been posted to the Hecla just before it left for the Baltic Campaign. The ships Captain, William Hall, promoted Lucas to Acting Lieutenant and praised him in his reports. The British fleets commander, Sir Charles Napier also echoed Halls praise and recommended confirmation of Lucas' promotion. The Royal Humane Society awarded Lucas the Gold Medal of their society for his actions that day. It was on Friday 26th June 1857 that Lucas received the Victoria Cross. He was fourth in line at the first investiture of the medal. He may have been fourth in line, due to the seniority of the other recipients, but the date of the action which resulted in the award of the Victoria Cross made it the first. The official write up for his deed was:-

“On 21 June 1854 in the Baltic, Hecla, with two other ships, was bombarding Bormarsund, a fort in the Aland Islands off of Finland. The fire was returned from the fort, and at the height of the action a live shell landed on Hecla's upper deck, with its fuse still hissing. All hands were ordered to fling themselves flat on the deck, but Lucas with great presence of mind ran forward and hurled the shell into the sea, where it exploded with a tremendous roar before it hit the water. Thanks to Lucas's action no one was killed or seriously wounded and he was immediately promoted to lieutenant by his commanding officer.”

Lucas went on to have a prosperous career, marrying Captain (who retired an Admiral but had deceased the year before the marriage) Hall's only Daughter, Frances Russell Hall; promoted to Post-Captain and later Rear Admiral. He also served as a Justice of the Peace for both Kent and Argyllshire. He died in Great Culverden peacefully in his home on 7th August 1914 and his body was buried in St Lawrence's Churchyard in Mereworth. 

This is the replacement copy of the Victoria Cross presented to Charles Lucas. His original VC, as well as his other medals were misplaced on a train journey. Notice the blue ribbon as original awarded to Navy recipients until the formation of the Royal Air Force in 1918.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Moscow Armistice

Today, 19th September, is the 68th anniversary of the signing of the Moscow armistice between Finland on one side and the Soviet Union and United Kingdom on the other. This marked the official end of the Continuation War (Jatkosota).

The war started on 25 June 1941 and lasted 3 years, 2 months, 3 weeks and 4 days and resulted in the loss of over 1 million people. The reason it was named such was because the Finns wanted to make it clear that it perceived the action as continuing from the preceding Winter War (Talvisota). The Soviets saw it as an addition to its fight against the Third Reich and its allies, called the Great Patriotic War.

Finland only wanted to retake the areas which they lost as a result of the Winter War; which they had regained by September 1941. The advanced on the Karelian Isthmus stopped at the pre-winter war boarder which was 30km from Leningrad and as such did not participate in the Siege of Leningrad. Much to the annoyance of Third Reich Commanders and Hitler. They held all pre-Winter War land and secured their boarder for nearly two years, it was not till the Soviet Vyborg-Petrozavodsk Offensive which started in the summer of 1944; that Finland started to struggle in its defence. Even though Finland scored some major victories against the Soviets at the likes of Tali-Ihantala and Ilomantsi, the hardy Finns knew they could not hold of the massed ranks of Russian Soldiers. A cease fire was declared on the 5th September with the Moscow Armistice being signed on the 19th September.

Areas ceded by Finland to Russia
(Taken from Wikipedia)
The Armistice essentially restored the same conditions as the Peace Treaty of 1940 at the end of the Winter War but with a few changes. The 1940 treaty forced Finland to cede parts of Karelia (The entire Isthmus including the ancient fortress city of Vyborg) and Salla and some of the islands within the Gulf of Finland. The Soviets renounced their lease agreement on the port of Hanko (gained from the Finns after the Winter War but lost during the Continuation War) but demanded the Porkkala peninsular instead; for 50 years (it was given back to Finland in 1956 and soon became one of the main Finnish naval bases). In addition to the 1940 Treaty Finland had to hand over all of Petsamo and thus lose its access to the Barents Sea.

Finland was also made to pay $300,000,000 (around $4 billion today) in compensation which came in various forms of commodities over a period of six years. The Communist Party of Finland was also legalised, it had been banned in the 1930's, and to ban parties that the Soviets considered Fascist like the Patriotic People's Movement (Isänmaallinen Kansanliike). Further more to the already harsh conditions, individuals that had been responsible for the war, in the Soviets eyes, were arrested and put on trail. The armistice also forced Finland to remove German troops from its soil, this became know as the Lapland War (Lapin Sota).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The First Dogfight

The first encounter between Soviet and Finnish aircraft took place on the 1st December 1939 (the day after hostilities began). At around 1145 six Polikarpov I-16s of the 7.IAP (Fighter Aviation Regiment) got the jump on two Bristol Bulldog Mk.IVAs from LLv26 (Squadron). Both bulldogs were separated and Ylikersantti (Staff Sergeant) Toivo Uuttu soon found himself alone against the Soviet planes. He engaged one I-16 ( nicknamed 'Siipiorava' Flying Squirrel by the Finns) and scored several hits before he himself was shot down. He crashed near Muolaanjärvi (A lake now known as Glubokoje since the area was ceded to Russia) and suffered injuries as a result. The I-16 Uuttu had engaged was also reported to have crashed and so became the first aerial victory for the Finns over Finnish Soil, and indeed it was the first aerial engagement over Finland in history. The kill was recorded as probably as it wasn't witnessed. 

A Bristol Bulldog of the type used by Ylikersantti Uuttu 

Uuttu reported:-

"I flew southeast of Muolaanjärvi but I did not see any movements so I descended lower. Suddenly I saw tracers flying all around me. When I looked over my shoulder, I saw three I-16s attacking me. I pulled up and left and as they overtook me, I was able to fire a short burst on passing I-16. I hit his engine and saw black smoke coming out of the engine. It started sliding downward smoking. Tracers were flying all around my plane. Suddenly my plane shuddered and when I pulled on stick, it did not move. I considered jumping, but in fear that they might shoot me on parachute I decided to fight it out to the last. I continued evading my attackers using only rudder and aerlions. We had descended to altitude of 200m and when I looked behind, I saw one still shooting. I shut off my engine and tried to make a forced landing to forest. When landing, I pulled with all of my strength on the stick and it moved back a little bit, but then the Bulldog hit the woods and I passed away."

The 7.IAP reported that day one Reconnaissance Aircraft was shot down between 1230 and 1315 at Muolaa. It was claimed by three pilots, Starshiy Leytenant (Senior Lieutenant) Fedor Shinkarenko (Eskadrilya/Flight leader), Starshiy Politruk (Senior Political Commissar) Gabriel Didenko and B. A. Grigoryev. The I-16 that was reported to have crashed appears to belong to Leytenant Petr Pokryshev who was forced to land at Kerrola, Muolaa after suffering engine failure, possibly due to the engagement with Ylikersantti Uuttu.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Introduction to Finnish Military History

The military history of Finland can be divided into four distinct periods. The first period being 'Pre-Swedish Era', the Second 'The Swedish Empire Era', Third 'Grand Duchy of Finland/Russian Empire Era' and the fourth being the 'Independent Republic of Finland/Modern Era'.

The Pre-Swedish Era consists of poorly documented battles, most coming from Nordic Sagas, Germanic/Russian Chronicles and Swedish Legends. Archaeological evidence shows Bronze Age (1500-500BC) Finns specialising in weapons such as the battle axe and swords, there are also indications of hill forts. Viking attacks from Sweden and Norway have been found with runic inscriptions as well as unhistorical sources.

The Swedish Empire Era which began officially ran from 1352 till 1808 in which Finnish soldiers fought in at least 38 wars of note for Sweden. Whether they be during the power struggles of the Swedish Royals or in wars between Sweden and other nations.

During the period in which Finland was known as the Grand Duchy of Finland; we see Finland changing hands from Swedish to Russian rule as a result of the 1808-1809 Finnish War. Fighting on its on soil against the British and French during the Crimean conflict and on the Eastern Front during the First World War.

From when Finland declared its independence in 1917 to present day it has been involved in a civil war, which saw the country torn apart by two opposing factors, the Reds (Communists) and the Whites (Right wing groups, Liberals and centralists, all allied and against Communist beliefs). The Kinship Wars in which Finland helped other Baltic states, the most notable being the Estonian War of Independence. There was also the Soviet Invasion of 1939-'40 which is known as the Winter War, this was soon followed by the joint Finnish and Nazi Germany attack on Soviet Russia (The Continuation War). When the Finns signed a peace treaty in 1944 with the Soviet Union they fought against their former German Allies in the Lapland war. Since the foundation of the United Nations in 1945, Finnish Troops have served in various peacekeeping operations.