Soviet Trucks Abandoned On the Kemi-Salla Road

Abandoned Soviet vehicles litter the Kemi-Salla Road. The Finnish "Lapland Group" under Major General Kurt Martti Wallenius (July 25, 1893 - May 3, 1984) destroyed the Red Army's 122nd and 88th Divisions, stopping their attempt to cut Finland in two. LIFE Magazine correspondent Carl Mydans visited the Salla Front in December 1939 and his photos appeared in the January 29, 1940 edition: "Russian Ford trucks with windshields, radiators, and bodies bullet shattered. Bloodstained seats told what happened to the drivers. But back on the narrow icy road and in the woods was a sight that even the most hardened war reporters have called the most horrible they have ever seen. Trucks and supply sleds stood jamming the road. All faced Finland. Here and there they had gone into the ditch on either side, thrown or driven there by necessity. Dead Russians lay about like fallen leaves With them were their horses, and a shattered truck filled with black bread, a big pile of old leather shoes, heaps of bologna tied with string and hauled like ropes, helmets, gas masks, packages of rice, of red powder for making soup, cases of canned fish, cotton sacks of tobacco, machine gun clips, shells, ammunition, sleighs, harnesses, arms and legs, pink blood in the snow." Mydans was troubled by the lack of Western support for the Finns; he felt LIFE's articles that accompanied his photographs portrayed the Finns as winning, when he knew they were slowly being pushed back.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Date Photographed: 
Friday, December 15, 1939