Simo Hayha – The sniper who killed 505 Soviet soldiers

By Narendra V


simo hayha

Simo Hayha was a Finnish soldier and sniper who killed 505 soldiers of Soviet Army during Winter War between Finland and Soviet Russia. He holds record of the highest number of kills for a sniper of any war on history. He was shot in the lower jaw by Soviet Army sniper, then he went into coma and wake up at the end of the war.

Early Life

Simo Hayha was born in 1905 in ‘Rautajarvi‘ a small town near Finland – Soviet border. He was a hunter and farmer before joining Finnish Army in 1925. It was one year mandatory service in the army, where he rose to the rank of corporal in that period. After that he joined Finnish Civil Guard, there he received training in target shooting which he was very much interested he used to do shooting hours together. He used to practice with rifle M28/30 and attained to hit 16 rounds per minute which made him good sniper in the army.

Winter War 1939-40

In 1939 Soviet army invaded Finland. Simo Hayha also called in for army service. In the war Finns were outnumbered by Russians, but harsh Finland winter where temperatures  goes to -20c to -40c which becomes against Soviet Army. Finland Army used tactics like attacking enemy from behind after they enter into their territory.

Hayha and his fellow soldiers wear white camouflaged clothes and shoot enemy soldiers. Hayha took more precautions  like using iron sights of his gun and not using telescope while shooting to conceal from enemy as the telescopes glass can reflect and easily targetable by enemy snipers. He uses tactics like putting snow in the mouth while shooting to avoid steamy breaths which can be detectable by enemy. He would hide in the snow and target Soviet soldiers who entered his rifle’s range like that he killed 505 enemy soldiers in a span of 100 days and earned nick name “White Death”.

Soviet Army deployed many counter snipers and artillery units to kill Hayha but failed. On 6th March 1940 he was hit by Soviet sniper, the bullet gone through his lower jaw on the left side, then his fellow soldiers rescued him to hospital where he was in coma for 11 days and wake up on the day the war ended with peace treaty.

Life after the war

After war he was in hospital for several days as his lower left face was completely blown off. It took several years for him to completely recover from that injury. He was given many medals of honour and promoted to Second Lieutenant from Corporal. With disfigured face he went on to live 97 years. He died in 2002. In an interview he said about his success as sniper was his practice, when asked about any regrets of having killed so many people he said “I only did my duty, and what I was told to, as well as I could.”

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