The Christmas Quiz is quickly told if one lets
the New York Time story by the reporter James Aldridge published on the
25th of December speaks for itself:
NYT 24 December 1939:
“The cold numbs the brain in this Arctic hell, snow sweeps over
the darkened wastes, the winds howl and the temperature is 30 degrees
below zero Fahrenheit. Here the Russians and Finns are battling in
blinding snowstorms for possession of ice-covered forests. …I
reached the spot just after the battle ended. It was the most horrible
sight I had ever seen. As if the men had been suddenly turned to wax,
there were two or three thousand Russians and a few Finns, all frozen
in fighting attitudes. Some were locked together, their bayonets within
each other’s bodies; some were frozen in half-standing positions;
some were crouching with their arms crooked, holding the hand grenades
they were throwing; some were lying with their rifles shouldered, their
legs apart….(T)heir fear was registered on the frozen faces.
Their bodies were like statues of men throwing all their muscles and
strength into some work, but their faces recorded something between
bewilderment and horror.”
Is this story an imagination and an
outrages lie? But why should the reporter
have done so? Fact is that the weather run amok. On the 21 December a
sudden low pressure center had developed at the Lofoten (see the graphic). Fact is also that latest since the 21st the
temperatures had been well below 30° C, presumably more than
20° lower than the usual mean temperatures in December, which makes
the story puzzling.
Is it reasonable to assumes that the soldiers
even if insufficiently prepared for the winter war could have turned to
“monuments”? No doubt, minus 30 degrees can be deadly but
not make from a hand grenade throwing soldier a statute of wax, which
presumably would require a much bigger ‘shock’, e.g. the
use of war gas or a shock freezing. Had there been for a brief period
temperatures much lower than recorded? Would it not be time for climate
and weather experts to explain what has happened during the Christmas
season 1939 under the Polar Circle, and why the weather had started to
run amok in Northern Europe with the beginning of WWII, as explained HERE.
In Finland the days before Christmas looked as
Friday, 15 to Thursday 21 December – Third week
17 December 1939: “Last week’s
fighting took place on days, that saw the thermometer in Central
Finland go no lower than 4 degrees below zero (-20° C), while in
Karelia temperatures ranged from 5-14 degrees above (-15 to -10° C). (NYT, The Week in Review, 17 December 1939).
18 December 1939; The German weather service observed that
cyclone activities in the high North have become strongly active again,
at the same time the extreme cold had been continuing in that area. At
Spitsbergen, in a strong northerly air current -15° C has been
measured, providing the European arctic sector with a very cold air
December 1939: A
squadron of the Soviet Baltic Fleet (one battle ship Oktjabrskaja
Revolutsija, five destroyers and further support vessels) shelled
the 254mm Finnish coastal battery at Saarenpaa on Koivisto, with the
arrival of a further battle ship, Marat, on
the 19th. Also planes bombed the island.
„The Finnish coastal batteries have been
in lively combat for the last few days. Time and again they have been
attacked by Russian planes or bombed. The coastal batteries around
Koivisto have been especially exposed to bombardments”. (NYT, 20
1939: A highly spectacular
weather event took place in the longest night north of the Polar Circle
off the Roest (Lofoten), near the Norwegian port of Narvik. On
the 20th December a cyclone developed suddenly, pushing air
pressure down by 54.6 mb in 24 hours.
20 December 1939: “Russian
drive was stalled in the far north by blizzards and temperatures 25
degrees below zero F (-31° C)”. (NYT, 21 December 1939).
20 December 1939: “Fierce fighting surged across the
Karelish Isthmus in sub-zero temperatures (below -17.8° C) today,
as Russians lost hundreds of tanks in a savage drive, they deployed 200
Red Air Force planes in widespread bombing attacks on the rest of Finland. The roar of artillery could be heard from one side of the
65-mile-wide Isthmus to the other”. (NYT, 21 December 1939).
21 December 1939: “Russians retreat from Finland, in
Arctic cold and snow”.
“By mid-afternoon the Finns were reportedly fighting in heavy
snowstorm and subzero cold”. (NYT, 22 December 1939).
21 December 1939: At the Arctic front the Russians retreat in
less than minus 30° C. (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, NZZ, 22 Dec.
193939). North Finland temperatures down to -30 ° /-36° C.
(Hamburger Anzeiger, 22 Dec. 1939).
For further details see the book: Climate
Change & Naval War; Chapter 2_41, p. 127-140;
PDF-File Russia invades Finland, December 1939: http://www.seaclimate.com/2/pdf/2_41.pdf
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