Swedish Volunteers in the Winter War
Immediately after the Winter War broke in 30 November 1939, Sweden started to round up volunteers to help the Finns. Volunteers reported from many other countries, too, but only the Swedish group, Svenska Frivilligkåren, and Swedish 19th aerial squadron, Flygflottilj 19, were significant. The Swedish volunteers were deployed in Lapland and Salla.
The Swedish troops arrived to the front in January 1940. The 19th aerial squadron attacked Russian troops for the first time on 12 January 1940 in Märkäjärvi, Salla. Later, the squadron handled air defence for the entire northern Finland, north of the Oulu – Paanajärvi line.
Lieutenant-general Ernst Linder assumed command on 27 February 1940. He also commanded the Finnish troops. Thanks to the Swedes, the Finnish war leadership could transfer 5 battalions from northern Finland to the Karelian isthmus, where the decisive battles were being fought.
There were 8,260 Swedish volunteers altogether, of whom 30 died and 185 suffered injuries. 420 Swedes served in the air force, bringing 12 fighters, four bombers and a dozen of other planes with them. The 19th aerial squadron lost six planes. Sweden paid the expenses of the air defence.