The Red Army Moves
- Publication Date:
- 18th Aug 2022
- Marble Hill Publishers
- 280 pages
- 8 black and white photographs. 10 maps.
The Red Army Moves
The Finns were expected to capitulate within days before the overwhelming forces of the Soviet army. Instead, the poorly equipped and badly led invaders met fierce resistance from well-organised, courageous, mobile Finnish troops determined to defend their homeland. The expected ‘easy victory in a few days’ became a bitter conflict of many months.
The importance of The Red Army Moves is as great today as it was when it was first published more than eighty years ago. Cox’s dramatic account of the military, political and diplomatic aspects of the war and his powerful descriptions of Finnish sacrifice and the Soviet military weaknesses have an astonishing relevance to events we are witnessing now.
- A book of the moment
- A forgotten war is sharply revived by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- A brilliant account of a life and death struggle by one of the great war correspondents.
- All royalties will be given to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.
The story behind the reissue of The Red Army Moves
Over a number of years I have built up a small collection of books by Second World War correspondents. Re-reading them recently, I was struck by how vivid these accounts were, written by men and women who took enormous risks in their efforts to establish the truth of what was happening as it happened. Their accounts were written, of course, without any idea of how the conflict would end.
Hearing these voices so many decades later made me realise how distant we have become from those first-hand accounts, and how they add a new dimension to our understanding of what war is like. Was I the only person who would respond to these books in this way? I was sure I wasn’t. That is how this series, Writing About War, was born.
One of the books I wanted to reissue was Geoffrey Cox’s Countdown to War, his account of the years 1938 to 1940 when he witnessed the Germany’s seizure of Austria in the Anschluss, Hitler’s drive into the Sudetenland, Finland’s Winter War and the Fall of France. But the book was published in 1988 and was therefore still in copyright. I needed the permission of Cox’s descendants to reissue the book.
For three months I tried every avenue I knew to locate his family - but without success. In despair I asked my friend, the publisher Richard Balkwill, for help. Where else should I look? I asked. Leave it to me, he said. A matter of weeks later, he announced he had found Geoffrey Cox’s daughter. It was an extraordinary piece of detective work. I was overjoyed.
I contacted her and we arranged to meet when she was next in London. She then told me that the book she would prefer me to reissue was The Red Army Moves. Why? I asked. Read and you’ll see, she replied.
I did read it and I understood at once what she meant. The book is an account of the Soviet invasion of Finland in 1939, known as the Winter War. What astonished me were the extraordinary parallels with what is happening now in the Ukraine. The huge, poorly equipped, poorly led Soviet army is told that Finland will collapse in a couple of days and the troops will be welcomed as saviours. How wrong the Soviet leaders were. Without suitable clothes and equipment, thousands of young lives were lost as the invaders came up against a much smaller force, fired with determination to defend their homeland.
Does history repeat itself? It would seem so. The Finns won the first ‘war,” but the Soviet generals, fully prepared to sacrificed ever more young lives, were slowly overcame the Finns by sheer force of numbers. The cost for both sides in lost lives and materiel was enormous. General Mannerheim called a truce and seceded Karelia to the Russians to prevent further slaughter.
This is a remarkable book about a little known war that is of great relevance to what is happening now. It deserves to be read again.