​Deadliest Sniper In History? A Five-Foot Finnish Farmer Nicknamed The White Death, That's Who

We love hearing tales about life's underdogs - the ones that prove you don't have to come from a privileged background to be filthy rich, or be absolutely stacked to win a fight. Gives us all a bit of hope, doesn't it?

Well, this guy might just be the most badass of them all, being one of the deadliest killing machines in history - at just five foot (152cm) tall.

Born on 17 December 1905 in Karelia - which used to be in eastern Finland but is now part of Russia - Simo Häyhä played an instrumental role in Finland's 1939-40 Winter War against the USSR, as BBC History Magazine reports.

Credit: Finnish Military Archives

Aged 33 when the war began, he racked up 505 confirmed sniper kills for the Finnish Army during the conflict's run, giving him such a reputation that he was nicknamed 'The White Death' by the Russians. Not bad at all as nicknames go - definitely beats the ones the rest of us usually get.

Häyhä was a farmer by profession before the war - where 25,900 Finns died to protect their new-found independence against the Soviets, who lost 126,900 soldiers - while his hobbies included snow-skiing, hunting and shooting. Kind of explains why the dude was so good as a sniper, then, and was used to the brutal winter conditions that many others couldn't cope with.

During the conflict he targeted Russian soldiers with deadly accuracy, managing to hit the Soviets from 300 yards away. He even claims to have once killed 25 men in one day.

Credit: Finnish Military Archives

After 98 days his lucky streak ran out when he was hit in the jaw, and was left unconscious in hospital for a week. When he woke up on 12 March 1940, it was the exact day that the Peace of Moscow was signed, ending the war after 105 days - albeit on Soviet terms, and the Finns had to hand over western Karelia and part of the Hanko Peninsula for a naval base.

He also lived through the Second World War and became a successful moose hunter and dog breeder. In the end, he made it to the ripe old age of 96, dying 15 years ago in a war veterans' home in Hamina, Finland.

Puts that Call of Duty killstreak of yours to shame, doesn't it?

Source: BBC History Magazine, Daily Mail

Featured Image Credit: Finnish Military Archives

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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