Finnish People's Army, 1940

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Finnish People's Army, 1940

Post  mconrad on Thu 01 Dec 2011, 12:13 pm

From Novyi Chasovoi, No. 10, 2000, a Russian language military history journal published in St. Petersburg. The article was written by E. M. Gyunninen, a one-time member of the signal battalion of the 1st Corps of the "Finnish People's Army." This was formed by the Soviet army from conscripted ethnic Finns still living in the area around St. Petersburg (Ingermanland). According to Gyunninen, the formation was thoroughly Red Army except for the uniform:

"We were dressed in a strange military uniform of greenish-yellowish ("tobacco") color--greatcoat, "French" tunic with four pockets with flaps, golf breeches--all of good thick cloth; the greatcoat and tunic had shoulder straps, which was especially strange: in the USSR shoulder straps were associated with the enemy's style. On our feet--Russian cowhide boots, on our heads--ushanka fur hat. Now we know that our uniforms were Polish in origin, trophies of our forces in the Polish campaign [1939?]. This is how a certain artificial construction was made: USSR citizens, in Polish military uniforms... 'a soldier of the Finnish People's Army'!"

From the photo, I believe the collar tabs were standard Red Army.

After service in the debacle of the Russo-Finnish War of 1939-40, the Finnish People's Army was reorganized as the 71st Rifle Division of the Red Army. Gyunninen served in the signal battalion of the both formations for the entire war. Meanwhile, the Ingermanland Finn population suffered typical Stalinist repression, deportations, arrests, and executions. Today there may be still 10,000 to 20,000 ethnic Finns living in Russia.



Last edited by mconrad on Fri 02 Dec 2011, 9:01 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Finnish People's Army, 1940

Post  Animal on Fri 02 Dec 2011, 2:50 am

The uniform's not Polish, not with the fly front, concealed buttons, pleated pockets, and large collar.

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Nor cuffs

Post  mconrad on Fri 02 Dec 2011, 5:49 am

The tapered sleeves ending in a pleat into a buttoned cuff don't look like the Polish tunic of the 1930s, either.

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What if he's talking about the Polish war of independence c. 1920?

Post  mconrad on Fri 02 Dec 2011, 9:04 am

What if he's talking about the Polish war of independence c. 1920? Is it possible the Soviets kept captured uniforms in storage for 20 years?

I myself have doubts that the Soviets captured that much materiel in 1920 (they lost that war, didn't they?), or that they would have kept it, unissued, in significant numbers for 20 years.

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More misses on Polish army uniforms

Post  mconrad on Sun 04 Dec 2011, 9:57 am



The 1936 model Polish uniform, which would be the obvious style if Polish uniforms really were the source for the Finnish People's Army, doesn't match.


This older pattern, a 1926 officer's summer weight blouse, might be a match except for the front buttons.


Of the numerous coat and tunic patterns shown in Wielecki's book, from the 1920s and '30s, all have front buttons. None are fly front. I also found other sources on the internet repeating that the Army's uniforms were from Polish sources, but the evidence of Gyuninnen's photo does not support that at all.

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