The prospects for Finland, a country of 3.6 million people, did not look good, she had a 1,200 km frontier with Russia to defend. Her army of 160,000 men faced an initial Russian force of 460,000 troops and over 2,000 tanks.
“There was the father-and-mother of a row. They were all after my blood at GHQ. But my Corps commander (Brooke) saved me by insisting on dealing with the matter himself. This he did in no uncertain manner and I received from him a proper backhander.”
‘There was a possibility that the mine had devices other than the magnetic one, which added to the hazard. If we were unlucky the notes which the two watchers had taken would be available for those who would have to deal with the next available specimen. ‘
‘After a short while the German ships opened fire – one on each side of us. Their aim was good. They first hit the wireless cabin, then two hits demolished the bridge. Our guns opened up in retaliation, and we hit one of the ships several times causing some casualties. I had gone to the ammunition hoist to get some Star Shells, but when I returned my gun and fellow gun crew had all been blown over the side.’
Some stalwarts dig snow from a hole with a plank they have found, while others use their mess tins. Afterwards, like badgers in their setts, they cover themselves with everything available and try to sleep. If only I had the option of sleeping! For many of the men hunger is all-consuming as a result of the painful stress the march has inflicted, crushing their bodily strength.
The latest book in the Images of War series uses over 300 rare contemporary photographs to capture the scale, intensity and brutality of the fighting that was unleashed on 22 June 1941