The Supreme Commander’s Order of the Day on 14th March 1940

After peace was made following the Winter War between the U.S.S.R. and Finland from 30th November 1939 to 13th March 1940, Marshal Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim issued the Supreme Commander’s Order of the Day number 34 dated 14th March 1940 with the following words: 


Soldiers of the glorious Finnish Army!

Peace has been concluded between our country and the Soviet Russia, an exacting peace, which has ceded to Soviet Russia nearly every battlefield on which you have shed your blood on behalf of all that we hold dear and sacred. 

You did not want war; you loved peace, work, and progress, but you were forced into battle where you have made magnificent feats, deeds that will shine on the pages of history for centuries to come.

More than 15,000 of you, who left for the battlefield, will no more see your homes, and how many those are who have lost their capacity for work for ever. But you have also dealt hard blows, and now when two hundred thousand of our enemies rest in the snow and gaze with broken eyes at our starred sky, the fault is not yours. You did not hate them or wish them ill, but you followed the harsh law of war, to kill or to die yourself. 

Soldiers! I have fought on many battlegrounds, but never yet have I seen warriors akin to you. I am proud of you as if you were my own children, I am equally proud of the man of the mountains of the North as the son of Ostrobothnia plains, Karelia forests, Savo hills, fertile fields of Häme and Satakunta, and temperate groves of Uusimaa and Varsinais-Suomi. I am equally proud of the sacrifice offered by the son of a poor cabin as well as that of a rich one.

I thank you all, officers, non-commissioned officers, and men, but especially I wish to emphasise the self-sacrificing gallantry of reserve officers, their sense of duty, and their prowess, with which they have fulfilled the mission, which was originally not theirs. Thus their sacrifice is by its percentage the highest of the war, but it has been given with joy and unwavering sense of duty. 

I thank officers in Commands for their skill and tireless work, and finally I thank my closest assistants, the Chief of the General Staff and the Quartermaster General, the Commanders of Armies, Army Corps, and Divisions, who often have made the impossible into possible.

I thank the Finnish Army with all its branches of arms, who in the noble contest have performed heroic feats from the first days of the war. I thank for the bravery with which it has gone against an enemy with multiple superiority and equipped partially with hitherto unknown weapons, and for the resilience, with which it has held onto every inch of homeland. The destroying of more than 1,500 Russian tanks and more than 700 bomber and fighter aircraft tells about heroic feats, often carried out by single men. 

With joy and pride I think of the Lottas of Finland – their attitude of sacrifice and their tireless work in various fields that has freed thousands of men to the lines of fire. Their noble spirit has encouraged and supported the Army, whose gratitude and appreciation they have fully achieved.

Posts of honour during the hard time of war have also been held by those thousands of workers, who have often volunteered to work at their machines even during air raids producing for the Army its equipment, and those who under enemy fire have relentlessly worked to prepare positions. I thank them on behalf of the Fatherland.

Despite of all the courage and spirit of sacrifice, the Government has been forced to make peace on severe terms, which can nevertheless be explained. Our Army was small and its reserves and cadres insufficient. We were not prepared for war against a great power. While our gallant soldiers defended our borders, it was necessary to make overpowering efforts to obtain what was missing. Non-existent lines of defence had to be built. Efforts had to be made to obtain help that never came. Weapons and equipment had to be procured at a time when all countries were making feverish preparations for a storm that is rolling over the world. Your heroic deeds have aroused admiration over countries, but after a war of three and a half months we still remain nearly alone. We have received no more than 2 reinforced battalions with their artillery and aircraft of foreign aid to our fronts, where our own men in combat day and night without opportunity for relief have received the attacks of ever new enemy forces, straining their bodily and mental powers beyond limits.

When the history of this war is once written, the world will know your work!

Without the positive aid in arms and equipment that Sweden and the Western Powers have given us, our struggle thus far would have been impossible against the countless guns, tanks, and aircraft of the enemy. 

Unfortunately the valuable promise of help, given by the Western Powers, could not materialise, as our neighbours taking care of themselves denied right of transit from the troops.

After bloody battles of 16 weeks without rest for day or night our Army still stands undefeated this day facing the enemy, who despite of its terrible losses has only grown in number, and neither has our home front wavered, where countless air attacks have spread their death and horror among women and children. Our burned towns and villages in ruins far beyond the front, even on our Western border, are visible evidence of the suffering of this nation in the months passed. 

Our fate is hard as we are forced to leave to an alien race, with a different view on the world and different moral values, the land that we have toiled with sweat and labour for centuries. But we have to take hard measures to be able to prepare homes for the homeless in what we have left, and make better opportunities for life for all, and we must be prepared as before to defend our smaller Fatherland with the same determination and the same tough measures, which with we have defended our undivided Fatherland.

We are proudly aware of our historical mission, which we continue to fulfill: protecting Western civilisation that has been our heritage for centuries, but we also know that we have paid off up to the very last penny the debt that we have owed for it to the West. 




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