- "Betty Sewed Them"
- A newly independent Finnish Army, and Finland, is born.
A lumber dealer R. from Oulu became the person in charge of supplies
for a certain company in the Finnish War of Independence. To strengthen
discipline within the company, he was made an officer and was required to wear
the appropriate stripes. So upon his departure from Oulu, he had stars and
stripes here and there on his uniform, both front and back, according to his
story. But then not even old Eero knew what the correct markings of Finnish
Army officers really were.
After many battles, they arrived at
Tampere, in central Finland. At the railway station R. met his old friend, a
Colonel in the Finnish army. The following discussion ensued: "What is it that
you are actually?" The Colonel asked. "The supply officer of company X," was
"What are all these?" Asked the Colonel, as he slid his
fingers along the ribbons and stripes. "Well I really don't know myself. Betty
(his wife's name) sewed them before I left when she saw them on others. She
would have sewn more, but I thought this was enough," explained
- Devils by the Gravel Pit
Even the brave can be afraid in wartime of, if nothing else, then devils. According to Civil Defense member K., Antti H. and Jussi P. were two of those brave men, but at least once they were afraid of devils. On smoke breaks, they always made it clear, without embarassment, and to everyone present, that the world's bravest men were just these men, Antti H. and Jussi P. They hadn't said so directly, but one got the impression by their comments, for example: "and if that Antti hadn't been there with us, we would all be dead. But the forest doesn't frighten him at all, any more than myself, so we were all saved in that game..." Or Jussi would comment, "Antti, just gave them fire as always, we're not from timidville..."
Civil Defenseman K. thought that these men couldn't possibly be as fearless as they claimed. When he was made acting platoon leader, he put Antti on night guard duty, at a drying barn where there were some bodies. But before Antti had got to his post, K. had snuck over himself and hid amongst the sheet-covered bodies, hidden by a sheet. K. was looking forward to scaring the living daylights out of Antti. First Antti, then Jussi, he thought. Antti, pondered about why K. had put him there to guard the bodies. Who would want to rob these bodies, poor men every one of them. Antti thought he may as well take a little nap. He had just laid down to sleep when, K. raised his head and began a graveyard moan that sounded like it came straight from the pit of hell. The moon shone in through a window and K. could see as Antti calmly looked at him, and grabbing a birch log, approached in his direction. "The dead do not have permission to peek," he uttered. At that moment K. panicked and he had to quickly announce that he was alive and who he was. Antti just told K. not to become a corpse without permission, and left it at that. K. understood right then that Antti did not understand fear of ghosts. He thought it was probably useless to try something on Jussi as well, because they were of the same suit.
So instead, K. invented another plan to frighten Jussi. In a few days he had set up a two meter post beside the forest road, and on it he made a "scarecrow". He nailed a cross stave to the post and dressed it with a soldier's uniform: a hat with a red bandana, some spruce boughs hanging down as beard - which in twilight appeared as a scary face. He set it up in a snow-bank by the side of the road. One arm was pointing at an angle upward, towards the road, the other over the edge. He then strapped a revolver to the hand pointing toward the road. He tied a fishing line to the trigger, and hid the other end in a near-by gravel pit.
K. then went over to his men and announced that the road must be guarded, beginning at 20:00. They must keep an eye especially on the gravel pit area. Two men are to be on duty at a time, and Jussi and Antti will be the first. At 19:30, K. arrived at the gravel pit. He decided that his scarecrow should have gloves, even though it was well below 0 degrees Celcius. He only had his own dog-skin gloves to put on its "hands." He slinked into the pit and grabbed a hold of the line.
Antti and Jussi were on their way. He peered over the edge of the pit and could see these fearless men coming his way. Then back into the pit to listen. All of a sudden K. could hear Jussi say "the enemy is standing over there!" At the same time a shot, then another. K. had pulled on the line and sent the wooden bullets flying. A hail of bullets followed. They flew over the pit and broke off branches nearby. The scarecrow would answer a few times, whenever he pulled the line. The scarecrow took a lot of hits, but remained on its "feet." Then there was silence. K. heard Antti say, "what do we do now, we have no more bullets?" Jussi said, "let's grab our knives." K. panicked and shot out the rest of the bullets.
What if they came with their knives and Antti might see him. He would remember the previous encounter, and perhaps kill him. K. crept up to the thing and gave out an awful scream. Antti remarked "he has unlimited supplies and he won't die with a knife since even bullets won't harm him. He is the devil himself, and nobody else. I think we should go and report this and decide with them what to do about this. After that Antti and Jussi went back the way they had come, but a little faster.
When they had disappeared from site, K. took down the scarecrow and removed all evidence of it. Then undetected, he hurried back to camp. When he arrived, he immediately met Antti and Jussi. They were explaining to several sergeant majors that there are devils at the gravel pit. K. let them elaborate about what had happened at the gravel pit. After that K., a sergeant major, Antti and Jussi went off to see the "devils", every man having taken enough ammunition. Of course there was nothing untoward happening at the pit. They found trampled snow, but not much else, probably stomped on by the enemy. The sergeant major, not knowing anything about the caper, announced: "you boys must have had your hearts in your throats when you saw the enemy, when you couldn't shoot straight enough to kill him even though you shot up all your ammunition. "Your fear is what made you miss the target, and your fear is what caused you to see, in the place of an honest enemy, a devil. You could end up in a courtmartial from your cowardice." K. thought perhaps he should reveal the caper, but thought he would do it later. The next day, fighting was fierce, and K's company of whites were commanded to retreat. Antti and Jussi would not. "And now Antti isn't moving anywhere even if devils come." Jussi added "me neither, even if our ammunition is gone as well."
In the morning, the whites retook their position, and lots of snow had fallen. Returning to where Antti was last seen, they found him with a bayonet wound, but still alive. "They couldn't hit me with a bullet like they did Jussi. He is there under the snow. When my bullets were gone, we used up Jussi's. After that I defended myself with my bayonet and knife. I was just waiting for you to come back. I knew you would. Now I am tired. Put something under my head, and tell the men I wasn't afraid of even devils." Antti's head flopped back onto the snow. Antti was dead. "They were truly fearless men, both of them. Which of us has not at one time in their lives been afraid," said K. as he ended his story.
- "Shoot That Rabbit!"
The Reds' and Whites' lines were often very close to each other. Shots were often fired from boredom. Comments could be heard across the line.
Suddenly a rabbit appears between the lines. "Hey!" A shout came from a group leader on the whites' side. "Shoot that rabbit!"
At the same moment, an enemy soldier popped out of a bush. "No, no - you don't have to shoot, I surrender."