20/6/17. We forgot to mention that yesterday, shortly after leaving Savukoski, we saw what appeared to be tall, roughly hewn tombstones lined up in rows about 3 metres deep on either side of the road. We then noticed an information board which explained that these were a tank barrier from the 1939-40 “Winter War” when Russia invaded Finland.
Tim Moore’s book about cycling EuroVelo 13, referred to in the Books Read update yesterday, devotes several pages to this remarkable conflict which saw the poorly equipped and hopelessly outnumbered Finns valiantly defending their country against the Russians who were woefully led and lost a tenth of their troops to frostbite before they even crossed the border. The Finns held the invaders off for a long time before succumbing to vastly superior numbers.
We have seen a few other memorials to this war since but much of the signage is in Finnish which is a bit of a struggle, even for Christine’s linguistic abilities, Finnish being a complete outlier in European languages other than Estonian and Hungarian.
This war is an event in history that Stephen would like to know more about when he has time and ready access to the internet and books.