American, Irish, and British volunteers in Finland?

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Garfunkel
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Re: American, Irish, and British volunteers in Finland?

Post by Garfunkel » 11 Sep 2020 12:11

the Hungarians stand out by virtue of being one of the few nationalities sufficiently numerous to form a battalion.
Winter War ended up being too short for all the plans to come to fruition but the Hungarians weren't the only ones to form larger units. The Swedes were supposed to form a division but SFK was roughly the size of a brigade in March 1940.

Hungarians were to form a 4 (or 5, there's some confusion about it) company battalion but without heavy weapons. Due to German opposition, they had to travel by train through Italy, France and England to end up in Scotland, where they took Finnish-chartered Norwegian-sailed ships into Bergen, Norway, and then back to trains for the last leg of Oslo-Stockholm-Tornio. Hungarian authorities were skeptical of this route and only allowed the first company to depart. They wanted to make sure those men made it safely into Finland before sending further volunteers.

The British contingent that arrived a day after armistice was merely the vanguard and there were about 800 more volunteers that hadn't yet departed UK but had signed contracts and gone through medical examinations and interviews by the esteemed gentlemen of the Finnish Aid Bureau - FAB consisted of a dozen upper class Britons, all with connections to Westminster, Whitehall and the military branches.

Recruitment of volunteers had also (finally) been approved of in Norway and Denmark on a large scale, and Finns were cautiously optimistic that those countries would eventually provide several thousand volunteers to match Sweden - SFK was over 8000 strong by the end of the Winter War and the Swedish government had approved it to be reinforced to 10,000 men and would probably have increased the size more if asked.
What was their particular primary motivation? Two possibilities occur to me: (1) Remote racial and linguistic affinity, and/or (2) Anti-Bolshevism as a result of the Bela Kun soviet twenty years before.
Your instincts are sound, these are the reasons. The remote affinity wasn't quite so remote, as there had been a revival of such genetic and linguistic ties in the 1930s. Several conferences had been organized in Finland, Estonia and Hungary where academic scholars went over their research regarding these ties and that knowledge had spilled over into the public consciousness in a big way. Pretty much everyone in those three countries considered the others to be "brothers" in the nationalistic sense that was so popular in the late 19th and early 20th century.

And of course we cannot discount the role of anti-Bolshevism, which was a strong force across Europe at the time.
Did it have any official support?
Yes. This is a major point I'm making in my thesis, the somewhat hypocritical attitude of European countries towards Finland when compared to their attitude towards Spain. Just like the British government was willing and eager to allow volunteers to go to Finland, so was the Hungarian government eager and supportive. High-level politicians recruited volunteers and/or gave their blessings to them.
Was there any connection or continuity with the "Ragged Guard"
I don't know. At least the Finnish Foreign Ministry did not know of such things.
Did the Finns draw any lessons from the use of the International Brigades in Spain over 1936-38 that were applicable in their own situation, or was it a case of parallel evolution??
Parallel evolution. I am still going through the military archives so I can't say anything definite now but from what I have seen so far, the Finnish Army was not prepared for the arrival of large numbers of volunteers, and plans had to be drummed up quickly. Original idea was to create a Foreign Legion of sorts, but this was abandoned later and replaced with what I wrote about above.
It would have been, for want of a better term, a brave Finnish army officer who'd suggest following a communist model. The phrase career suicide springs to mind.
Not necessarily so. The Army Foreign Office, responsible for gathering intelligence about foreign powers, made continuous studies of the Soviet Union and published booklets about Soviet doctrine, organization, training, and equipment. These would also include recommendations that the Finns could adopt for themselves. Whether these recommendations were accepted or not, I do not know, but they existed.
that there were 14 Finnish volunteers with the Nationals
Most famously Ratsumestari von Haartman, later a captain in the Spanish Army, returned to Finland and became a war hero in the Winter War as well. Aside from him, Finnish authorities (Valtiollinen Poliisi) were just as suspicious of Finns serving the Nationalists (Fascists) as they were of Finns serving the Republicans (Communists).
Last edited by Garfunkel on 11 Sep 2020 15:14, edited 1 time in total.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: American, Irish, and British volunteers in Finland?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 Sep 2020 13:13

Hi Garfunkel,

A most complete and well informed reply.

It is answers such as yours that justify the existence of forums like AHF.

Many thanks,

Sid.

antwony
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Re: American, Irish, and British volunteers in Finland?

Post by antwony » 01 Oct 2020 11:19

Garfunkel wrote:
11 Sep 2020 12:11
What was their particular primary motivation? Two possibilities occur to me: (1) Remote racial and linguistic affinity, and/or (2) Anti-Bolshevism as a result of the Bela Kun soviet twenty years before.
Your instincts are sound, these are the reasons. The remote affinity wasn't quite so remote, as there had been a revival of such genetic and linguistic ties in the 1930s. Several conferences had been organized in Finland, Estonia and Hungary where academic scholars went over their research regarding these ties and that knowledge had spilled over into the public consciousness in a big way. Pretty much everyone in those three countries considered the others to be "brothers" in the nationalistic sense that was so popular in the late 19th and early 20th century.

And of course we cannot discount the role of anti-Bolshevism, which was a strong force across Europe at the time.
It really was a remote affinity. English language is, I've been pretty reliably told, closer to Persian than Hungarian is to Finnish. Estonian on the other hand is very, very close to Finnish as are the countries, histories and peoples.

Although, as you point out, there were some, for the modern mind, really sketchy theories of racial identity in 1930's Europe. "Brothers" to me sounds a bit much, but why not? People were weird then.[/quote]
Garfunkel wrote:
11 Sep 2020 12:11
It would have been, for want of a better term, a brave Finnish army officer who'd suggest following a communist model. The phrase career suicide springs to mind.
Not necessarily so. The Army Foreign Office, responsible for gathering intelligence about foreign powers, made continuous studies of the Soviet Union and published booklets about Soviet doctrine, organization, training, and equipment. These would also include recommendations that the Finns could adopt for themselves. Whether these recommendations were accepted or not, I do not know, but they existed.
That's very interesting, could you provide a source for that please?
Garfunkel wrote:
11 Sep 2020 12:11
that there were 14 Finnish volunteers with the Nationals
Most famously Ratsumestari von Haartman, later a captain in the Spanish Army, returned to Finland and became a war hero in the Winter War as well. Aside from him, Finnish authorities (Valtiollinen Poliisi) were just as suspicious of Finns serving the Nationalists (Fascists) as they were of Finns serving the Republicans (Communists).
Have you read: Tuija Hietaniemi Lain vartiossa Poliisi Suomen politiikassa 1917-1948 ? t has a couple of pages in English at the end.

https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/162296254.pdf

She describes how the Valtiollinen Poliisi (VP) gained some support from the SDP as VP were almost entirely recruited from the Suojeluskunta and were mainly focussed on ex SDP members in the Soviet Union and underground (because their party was illlegal) Communists in Finland and both these groups were opponents of the then (interwar) SDP. From my understanding of Hietaniemi, VP did have withspread support from across the political spectrum pre WW2. But to say the VP was just as suspicious of Fascists as Communists is wrong. During the Winter War von Haartman was given command of an army battalion, the ex Spanish Republicans lost their citizenship rights and were rounded up, probably by the VP, and jailed in Tammisaari for reeducation.


Editted to add: ValPo didn't form till 1938, most of what Hietaniemi wrote about was concerning Etsivä keskuspoliisi. Are you maybe getting mixed up, Garfunkel, with the post WW2 Valtiollinen Poliisi and the pre war one. They were very different organisations

antwony
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Re: American, Irish, and British volunteers in Finland?

Post by antwony » 06 Oct 2020 10:11

First of all can a mod delete my duplicate posts #18 and 19 above.... Thanks in advance.

Was just reading an article about Finns in the Spanish War and it would seem I was wrong about every, single, Finn who served with the Republicans getting gaoled in Finland. According to that article, at least a couple of Finns weren't interned. Although, one of them, Anton Kanerva had lied when questioned by ValPo about what he did in Spain. How the other stayed free, I don't know.

But the article doesn't, in any way, agree with Garfunkel's claims that ValPo was just as concerned with Finnish fascists as they were were with Finnish communists.

https://puheenvuoro.uusisuomi.fi/veikko ... npaluunsa/

Garfunkel
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Re: American, Irish, and British volunteers in Finland?

Post by Garfunkel » 27 Oct 2020 23:04

That's very interesting, could you provide a source for that please?
I'm not sure if I actually can! I came across the pamphlets I talked about when I visited the National Archives the last time but since they weren't relevant to my current research project, I did not photograph them. Anyone who is in Helsinki can, of course, go to the National Archives themselves and look them up, but I don't know when I'll be going the next time. Eventually, all the material will be digitized so if nothing else, in a couple of years it'll be available online.
But the article doesn't, in any way, agree with Garfunkel's claims that ValPo was just as concerned with Finnish fascists as they were were with Finnish communists.
What you linked is not an article but rather a blog post, where Mr Huuska has summarized what a Finnish historian (Jyrki Juusela) has written but most of what he writes he bases on his own research. Unfortunately, he does not cite sources in the actual text, he just claims his sources include "Spanish, American, German, British, and Russian primary sources" without actually defining what they are. I'm not saying he's making things up but I would not take this blog post as an authoritative source and trust it over others, like Juusela's book.

Furthermore, to pick up on what you wrote earlier:
But to say the VP was just as suspicious of Fascists as Communists is wrong. During the Winter War von Haartman was given command of an army battalion, the ex Spanish Republicans lost their citizenship rights and were rounded up, probably by the VP, and jailed in Tammisaari for reeducation.
This is taking one example - Haartman - and generalizing it to mean all Finnish fascists. Haartman was the only one to forge such a good career in the public eye in the 1940s. None of the others achieved the same and those are the people I was talking about - but my earlier post certainly wasn't very clear on that aspect, my apologies for that! Nevertheless, ValPo did interrogate Finns who were going to Spain to fight for Franco and who returned from Spain afterwards and depending on said interrogation, they were classified as either "youthful hotheads" or "fascists". Mind you, this going from memory as I don't have my photocopies of the ValPo reports in front of me.
ValPo didn't form till 1938, most of what Hietaniemi wrote about was concerning Etsivä keskuspoliisi. Are you maybe getting mixed up, Garfunkel, with the post WW2 Valtiollinen Poliisi and the pre war one.
Good point and a valid concern but no, I'm not. I was specifically looking at ValPo reports from 1939 and 1940 as I was hoping to find them reporting on foreign volunteers coming to Finland. Instead, I found them reporting on Finnish veterans of the Spanish Civil War, some of whom were coming back to Finland during the Winter War.

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CanKiwi2
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Re: American, Irish, and British volunteers in Finland?

Post by CanKiwi2 » 24 Jan 2021 20:30

Here's another thread om more or less the same topic which includes a lot of links to.... previous discussions on the same topic. Some interesting reading if you browse through them all.

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=227933&p=2073798&h ... s#p2073798
Juha Tompuri wrote:
10 Apr 2017 18:52
Hi ,

Something about the issue from the past:

Foreign volunteers in the Winter War:
http://www.axishistory.com/axis-nations ... winter-war

Volunteers in Winter and Continuation Wars:
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=90016&hilit

Polish nationals in Finnish army:
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=109626&hilit

Polish pilots in Ilmavoimat during Winter War:
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=204848

British Troops In Finland 1940:
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=104475&hilit

The Finnish American Legion in the Winter War:
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=196393

Irishmen in Finnish Army:
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=9423&hilit

Dutch soldiers in Winter War?
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=96869&hilit

Danish Finnlandkorps?
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=75806&hilit

Danish workers / engineers at VL
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=190222&hilit

Questions about Hungarian volunteers for Finland 1939-1940
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=9472&hilit

Czechoslovak volunteers in the Winter War
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=174337&hilit

Norwegian volunteers:
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=70953&hilit

Flemish/Belgian volunteers
viewtopic.php?f=59&t=223440&hilit

Regards, Juha
ex Ngāti Tumatauenga ("Tribe of the Maori War God") aka the New Zealand Army

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Sheldrake
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Re: American, Irish, and British volunteers in Finland?

Post by Sheldrake » 24 Jan 2021 21:08

Sid Guttridge wrote:
24 Aug 2020 17:20
Hi driftwood.

There was a British volunteer Battalion raised, but the war ended before it got into action.

There is a book on it: The Volunteers by Justin Brooke.

Sid
The British Army prepared a battalion for operations with the Finns. Charles Mather mentions it in his memoirs.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/When-Grass-Sto ... 0850525764
This volunteer unit was a mixture of guardsmen and officer cadets.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: American, Irish, and British volunteers in Finland?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 26 Jan 2021 09:03

Hi Sheldrake,

It seems improbable that a force as short of officers as the expanding British Army would create a battalion of officer cadets. As an American general once said, this would be like eating your own seed corn.

Cheers,

Sid.

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