Q. regarding the arms of Russian casualties of the Winter War.
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Thread: Q. regarding the arms of Russian casualties of the Winter War.

  1. #1
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    Default Q. regarding the arms of Russian casualties of the Winter War.

    Morning Gents,
    I have been wondering for some time if there is any information regarding the recovery of arms of Russian casualties of the Winter war.
    We read of huge numbers of casualties, many simply vanishing in the forests and lakes when attempting to break out of the mottes, and wonder if /how long it took to recover these casualties and their arms, or if they were in effect found by chance some time later?
    I can imagine these could keep popping up in remote areas for quite some time, but wondered if there was an organised recovery plan?

    I do not wish this to sound macabre, but when we come across arms very pitted, we -(I) tend to wonder if they were in fact laid out in the elements for some considerable time.
    Anyway! There is a huge hole in my knowledge in this area, so any informationj will be most appreciated!

    Richard.

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    Part of me says that if you are going to escape in the woods, you will leave your rifle behind. You don't want to be found wandering alone in the woods with a rifle in your hands - you'll get shot on sight. I'm pretty sure they recovered the weapons were the motti was or very near it.

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    I have a captured 91/30 that fits your description fairly well. Looks like it was lost in the snow, only to be recovered at a later date. I am reminded of the photo of the 2 Russians frozen to death in the uncovered foxhole...
    Better to have it & not need it, than to need it & not have it...

    "The politics of failure have failed!" -Kang

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    Would be interesting to see any documented history in this area. But being the speed of war I can see where maybe some noncom unit might be assigned to this kind of duty but things as they were at the time? The Finns may not have had extra personal and just ordered the troops on hand to police the area into piles. By spring time who knows what was found under the snow but I imagine a whole lot of gear and bodies who had crawled off or tried to escape. Then again sounds like they had a pretty good grip most of the time and escaping probably wasn't an option if you waited till you were sure this was a bad place to stay? Gruesome as it sounds I find it interesting reading about what is found in Russian battlefields just under the surface or still laying visible at times. Like the area around Gettysburg or any other large CW battlefield for the first few years afterwards there was probably a lot to be found all over the place. Even after the army picked up and the local scavengers picked up. Stash the weapon and surrender or E&E. Or just panic and run without your weapon. I am sure some of these battlefields in Finland are being gone over with metal detectors and I bet they are still finding all sorts of stuff. Hopefully not to many grenades and other ordinance that goes boom. Think we all have that curiosity when we find a old rifle pitted badly on one side like it laid in the wet for a long period. Got a real nice NEW M91 that is like that. Outward appearance is almost frightening on the one side, normal the other. Bore near pristine? Some of the clean up would surely brought a lot of supply by the pictures. Must of been surreal at the end when the battle was over. Interesting but humbling if nothing else. Regards, John.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pukka Bundook View Post
    We read of huge numbers of casualties, many simply vanishing in the forests and lakes when attempting to break out of the mottes, and wonder if /how long it took to recover these casualties and their arms, or if they were in effect found by chance some time later?
    During the Winter War, there were no units solely dedicated gathering ("evacuating" according to the Finnish military slang) captured weapons. Each military branch had its own units and depots that sent personnel to evacuate equipment they were familiar with. For example, the captured Soviet armoured vehicles were mostly taken behind the front by the men from the armoured battalion who knew how to operate the vehicles needed for the task. Most of the captured equipment were evacuated during the Winter War as most of the battles were fought in areas that were handed over to the Soviet Union (Petsamo, Suomussalmi and Kuhmo regions being noticeable exceptions).

    According to one unit report written shortly after the Winter War, a few dozen men could gather and sort thousands of rifles, tens of artillery pieces and smaller equipment in matter of a few weeks near the front. After the Moscow Peace Treaty was signed on 12 March 1940, there were a few days before the Finnish troops had to leave their wartime positions. Most of the troops marched to the new border while the lorries and train cars were used to transport as much of the captured equipment as possible over to Finland.

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    I wonder about what many of my Mosins have seen and I'm glad not to know I think. Sad histories on both sides and in some cases for earlier guns, history going back to the 1800s.

    We know that the Russians also captured 10s of thousands of Finnish arms in the Winter War - a couple years ago somebody posted a list of Finnish arms available for militias defending Moscow in 1941. Most of these were of course non standard and were probably used for parts later on. For example, this receiver could have been captured in the Winter War - a 1944 Tula hex refurb with Civil Guard number on a NEW receiver!



    Separately, at the end of Summer 1944, there were very few Finnish victories and chances to retake large areas along with the fact that 1944 rifles might not be in every unit and so this probably accounts for the very very few 1944 Finnish captured Soviet weapons. And the Soviets also probably captured large amounts of Finnish weapons at this point in time but most also probably were used for parts/scrapped as they were non standard - the exceptions are the recaptures and one of my favorites - Soviet captured Tikka 9130s:



    See my post here for more examples:
    http://forums.gunboards.com/showthre...re-Tikka-9130s

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    Quote Originally Posted by sparky236 View Post
    We know that the Russians also captured 10s of thousands of Finnish arms in the Winter War - a couple years ago somebody posted a list of Finnish arms available for militias defending Moscow in 1941.
    Hardly tens of thousands as according to Palokangas the reported Finnish small arms losses were as following during the Winter War:

    5568 rifles,
    467 machine guns,
    488 light-machine guns,
    476 sub-machine guns,
    168 pistols and
    6 anti-tank rifles.

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    I found a SA marked recapture in a bunch of CAI refurbs at a local shop a few years ago. It had distinct pitting down one side of the receiver as if it had laid on that side on the ground for a while; but no way to tell for sure. It was the pitting pattern that drew my eye to it for a closer look and led me to spot the small boxed SA. Another forum member now owns it.

    PA
    Looking for PU scope number 10062. See post http://forums.gunboards.com/showthre...light=pashutr3

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    There were dedicated units that followed the troops and collected firearms. There are some excerpts from their reports in Chumak book on SVT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mangrove View Post
    Hardly tens of thousands as according to Palokangas the reported Finnish small arms losses were as following during the Winter War:

    5568 rifles,
    467 machine guns,
    488 light-machine guns,
    476 sub-machine guns,
    168 pistols and
    6 anti-tank rifles.
    The primary Soviet records seem to indicate a much higher number according to this September 1941 document: http://sovietguns.blogspot.com/2013/...s-militia.html

    Of course some of this could have come from Summer 1941 but Soviets were going backwards and didn't have much chance to capture things.

    This is just in Moscow but maybe all Finnish guns were in one place.

    Numbers are functional and (in need of repair):

    7.62 mm Finnish rifles and carbines 2406 (8190)
    7.62 mm Finnish Suomi hand-held machineguns 38 (261)
    7.62 mm Finnish Maxim machinegun (no mount) 25 (339)


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    Quote Originally Posted by PAshutr3 View Post
    I found a SA marked recapture in a bunch of CAI refurbs at a local shop a few years ago. It had distinct pitting down one side of the receiver as if it had laid on that side on the ground for a while; but no way to tell for sure. It was the pitting pattern that drew my eye to it for a closer look and led me to spot the small boxed SA. Another forum member now owns it.

    PA

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    Sparky what indicates that the 41 Tikka is Russian captured? Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by sparky236 View Post
    The primary Soviet records seem to indicate a much higher number according to this September 1941 document: http://sovietguns.blogspot.com/2013/...s-militia.html
    Soviet records were renowned to be inaccurate during and after the Winter War. For example, according to the Soviet primary sources (RGVA, Fond 34980, Opis 1, Delo 686) the Soviet 7th and the 13rd Armies operating in the Karelian Isthmus during the Winter War captured 12 pieces of 310 mm guns of which Finns had none. The Soviet lists also count captured Renault FT-17 pillboxes as tanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sparky236 View Post
    The primary Soviet records seem to indicate a much higher number according to this September 1941 document: http://sovietguns.blogspot.com/2013/...s-militia.html

    Of course some of this could have come from Summer 1941 but Soviets were going backwards and didn't have much chance to capture things.

    This is just in Moscow but maybe all Finnish guns were in one place.

    Numbers are functional and (in need of repair):

    7.62 mm Finnish rifles and carbines 2406 (8190)
    7.62 mm Finnish Suomi hand-held machineguns 38 (261)
    7.62 mm Finnish Maxim machinegun (no mount) 25 (339)

    I take these are from the Soviet report listing various weaponry reserved for militia in Moscow in 1941, which has earlier appeared in several websites? It seems that at least the number or rifles is way off. Could be that the Soviets had accidentally mixed to that category some 7.62-mm rifles originating from other sources (Baltic States or Poland)?

    Jarkko

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaws2 View Post
    Sparky what indicates that the 41 Tikka is Russian captured? Thanks
    Jaws -
    If you go to the link, you'll see more pictures but the Russian refurb depot stamps are all over it. It came from Ukraine in the last 5-6 years with the millions of others and has the billboard also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mangrove View Post
    Soviet records were renowned to be inaccurate during and after the Winter War. For example, according to the Soviet primary sources (RGVA, Fond 34980, Opis 1, Delo 686) the Soviet 7th and the 13rd Armies operating in the Karelian Isthmus during the Winter War captured 12 pieces of 310 mm guns of which Finns had none. The Soviet lists also count captured Renault FT-17 pillboxes as tanks.
    Accuracy wasn't a virtue in the USSR to be certain!

    What is certain is that very few Finnish made weapons that were captured by the Soviets are available in the west today - save the handful of Tikka 91-30s of which I provided an example above.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sparky236 View Post
    The primary Soviet records seem to indicate a much higher number according to this September 1941 document: http://sovietguns.blogspot.com/2013/...s-militia.html

    Of course some of this could have come from Summer 1941 but Soviets were going backwards and didn't have much chance to capture things.

    This is just in Moscow but maybe all Finnish guns were in one place.

    Numbers are functional and (in need of repair):

    7.62 mm Finnish rifles and carbines 2406 (8190)
    7.62 mm Finnish Suomi hand-held machineguns 38 (261)
    7.62 mm Finnish Maxim machinegun (no mount) 25 (339)

    Having been a Russian history student, researcher, and lecturer in a past life, take soviet sources with a grain of salt. The victories and achievements are highly charged with propaganda, and the defeats and setbacks marginalized, almost always. Casualties, sniper performance, movements, captured men and weapons are almost certainly doctored. Unfortunately they are often all we have, but be wary of the accuracy, because numbers can range over huge margins. A good example is the official Russian death toll diring the winter war, and Kruschev's later account.

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk

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    Kruschev was very candid in later interviews Krieger, so I am quite sure you are right on this.

    Thanks to all who have contributed to this thread and opened my eyes to some previously unknown facts.
    Thank you for the information regarding a fairly orderly recover program, Mangrove. A
    fter reading several books on the Winter War, I had sort of got the feeling that walking in the forest could still turn things up from this time!.........or whilst fishing, keeping an eye open on what is on the bottom of the lake,... if not too murky!

    Thanks again,

    Richard.

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    Found this site which may be of passing interest to some;

    http://www.warrelics.eu/forum/battle...ivision-12909/

    As can be seen, it isn't strictly Finnish , but is in an area that was partly Finland until the end of the Continuation war. It is focussed on the SS Nord Division, but quite a few Finn finds are amongst those to be seen.
    It appears that the main people finding these relics and the accompanying dead, are aided by both the Russian and Norwegian Gov'ts, and any bodies with ID are sent 'home' for proper burial.
    There are about 150 pages in this thread. Some interesting and sobering finds. Not read it all yet.

    Actually some finds from lakes are in incredibly good order. Grenades and ammunition still in containers look as good as new. Some arms also in incredibly good order.

    The "Grave robber" aspect is addressed in the thread, as I was rather dubious when I started reading! Still a bit concerned....
    Last edited by Pukka Bundook; 03-09-2017 at 10:31 AM.

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