6. The Dreaded Detachment Torni
Lauri Torni’s unit was informally designated “Detachment Torni” in 1943, and became legendary. In addition to his tactical skills and instinctive feel for the terrain, Torni inspired his men and earned their respect by sharing their hardships. One of his men, Mauno Koivisto, who later became Finland’s president, described his commanding officer thus: “Torni, as a leader, was liked. In many ways he emphasized that we were all the same bunch, and he bore his share just like the othersâ¦ He did not ask anyone to do something he did not do himself. He carried his own load, marched at the lead, and was one of us.”
Torni forged the men under his command into an elite reconnaissance and raiding formation, which he led on dangerous missions behind enemy lines. His exploits inspired his own side, while instilling fear into the hearts of the enemy. He was such an effective guerrilla fighter, and inflicted such damage and casualties upon the Red Army, that the Soviets put up a bounty of 3 million Finnish marks for Torni’s capture – the equivalent of about $650,000. He is the only Finnish soldier for whom the Soviets offered a bounty. It went uncollected.