The Winter War, 1939-1940
The Winter War was a war between Finland and Russia for some five months, between November 1939 and March 1940. The Finnish state was quite small, and maintained only a minimal peacetime army and small reserve forces, as well as very limited artillery. The Finnish forces were immensely outnumbered by the Russian army. Russia sent some 810,000 troops to invade Finland; however, Finland was intensely nationalistic and its troops knew how to operate in small groups in Finland’s heavily wooded landscape. Russia’s army was used to fighting on open ground, and could not operate independently.
The Finns were effectively able to pick off Russian tanks, and to take down Russian convoys by blocking the roads and attacking from the back and sides. The small Finnish force effectively controlled the war from November 1939 to January 1940 in a number of engagements.
While the small Finnish army won many of the battles of the Winter War, they did not win the war. The Winter War ended with a peace settlement, the Treaty of Moscow, in March 1940 after significant Finnish concessions.