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FIELD MARSHAL MANNERHEIM
IN THE NEWS J
FIELD MARSHAL MANNER- I
HEIM, former Commander- |
in-Chief and President of ¿
Finland, hos gone to Portugal, where | " he it seeking o climate more favour- I ||.. obie to his health. I
Known as the "Father of Finland," I Field Marshal Mannerheim achieved J prominence os a strategist and na- |
tional leader in the Finnish war of I
liberation in 1918. He had previously | ll served in the Russo-Japanese war and |
ll with the Russian armies in World ? 11 War I. lt was he who designed the ¿
"Mannerheim Line," working out with . *
consummate skill every available tac- | I tical device to make it a deadly j
menace to attacking forces. |
Remarkable for his youthful ap- f . pearance and military bearing at an I
advanced age, he played polo and rode i horseback until he was well over 70. f ? Cultured and widely-read, he was con- ¿ II sidered to be one of the best-informed I
, statesmen in Europe. !
Field Marshal Mannerheim
'THE FATHER OF
SOLDIER, statesman, explorer
and diplomat, Field Marshal Baron Mannerheim is one of the world's most remarkable men. Called from retirement in 1939 at the
age of 72, he led his country's forces with brilliant strategy against over- whelming odds, repeating successes.he had achieved in Finland's war of in- dependence 20 years before. He was the virtual founder of modern Finland and has been sometimes called its un- crowned king.
FJORN In June, 1667, Carl Gustav Emil Man
nerheim was a son of one of the foremost * noble families of Finland. After attending the
Corps of Cadets and a cavalry school he entered the Russian army as a cavalry officer in 1689. His first active service was in the Russo-Jap- anese war of 1904-5 in which lue served with the rank of lieut-eolonel, being later promoted to colonel for bravery in the field. Zn 1906 he undertook a combined political and military expedition on horseback through Central Asia.
In 1910 he was given command of à guards regiment and in the following year was pro- moted major-general. Puring World War I he commanded Russian cavalry and Rumanian forces, serving on the Polish, Galicien, Bukovi nian and Bessarabian f ronts.
^FTTER the Bolshevik revolution in the
autumn of 1917 he returned to Finland and on the outbreak of the Finnish war of libera- tion in January, 1918, he became leader of the volunteer corps. He disarmed the Russian garrisons in North Finland and beat off the attacks of the Russian and Finnish Bolsheviks until a White Army had been organised.
In March, 1918, he started a big offensive and aftçr a fierce struggle captured Tammer fôrs, Viborg, Konvola, and Kotka. In May he made a triumphal entry with his army into
Helsinki which had in the meantime been taken by the German Baltic Division under Von der Goltz. In the same year he was pro- moted general of cavalry.
In autumn, 1918, General Mannerheim paid official visits to the Allied Powers to obtain the recognition of Finland. From December, 1918, to July» 1919, he acted as Regent of Fin- land and hi that capacity secured the recogni- tion of his country by most of the great Powers,
besides obtaining food supplies for the people who were on the verge of starvation. The only Finnish order, that of the Cross of Freedom, was founded at his instigation. As Regent he signed the republican constitution.
Struggle Against Russia
Y^THEN the Russian invasion began in Novem-
ber, 1939, Field Marshal Mannerheim was again called on to lead the Finnish forces and he inflicted a succession of smashing defeats on the enemy in the early stages of the war. Although then aged 75 he conducted the Fin- nish campaign in the renewal of war with Russia in 1943. After the peace treaty in August, 1944, he was appointed President of Finland by decree. He had married- in 1892 Mellie Anastasie Arapov, of a well-known Mos- cow family.
Mannerheim's skill as a strategist and his inspiring leadership became evident in the war of libération in 1918. He had to pit an un- armed country, scarcely yet a nätion, against a vast foreign army already occupying the best of Finland. Handicapped by shortage of arms and munitions he nevertheless succeeded , in making a powerful striking force out of Fin- nish peasants and factory workers. The Reds fought without mercy, but the Finns, inspired by their aim of independence, snatched victory after victory from ah astonished enemy.
The same military genius was displayed by Mannerheim when Russia struck again in 1939.
By a series of bold outflanking movements and the element of surprise he inflicted crushing defeats on superior Russian forces, destroying, among others, one of the crack mechanised units of the Soviet army. The odds were too heavy, however, and in March, 1040, the Fin- nish troops were forced to capitulate.
Ride Across Asio
PHASE of Mannerheim's career not widely known is his horseback ride of over 8,000 miles across Central Asia. In 1906 he was asked by the Chief of the Russian General Staff to undertake an expedition tb collect military and political data, starting from Rus- sian Turkestan and terminating at Pekin. The expedition occupied two years and in addition to obtaining the data required, Mannerheim also conducted on his own initiative a num- ber of archaeological and anthropological in- vestigations. During the journey he lived in the tents of wandering Kirghiz shepherds and was given an audience With the Dalai Lama
Finnish ski troops in action.