Thursday, 8 January 2009

Lauri Allan Torni

Lauri Allan Törni is a famous Finnish soldier who was born in Viipuri, Finland on the 28th May 1919. What makes Lauri Törni so famous is the fact that he is the only soldier to have ever fought in armed forces under the flags of three different countries.

Lauri Törni enlisted in the Finnish army in the Autumn of 1939 when the Soviet Union started the Winter war with Finland. While serving in the Finnish army Lauri Törni was heavily involved in the battle at Lemetti where the Finnish army encircled the Red army and won a decisive battle.

It was from the battle at Lemetti that Lauri showed heroic courage that gave him the opportunity to train as an officer, becoming a 2nd Lieutenant by the time the Winter War finished.

By 1941 when the Red army left Finland Lauri was transfered to the German army to serve with the Waffen-SS although he didn't serve for long and left to go back to Finland. Upon arriving back in his homeland Törni took control of a detachment unit named Detachment Törni where he fought deep behind enemy lines in the Soviet Union in the Continuation War (1941-1944).

At the end of the Continuation War Törni returned to Germany where he embarked on training in sabotage with the Waffen-SS so he would be able to organise a resistance should the Red army try to invade Finland. It was during this time that British troops entered Germany and Lauri surrendered to the British troops.

Lauri was put in a British PoW camp in Germany but he managed to escape after a time. Upon escape Lauri travelled home to Finland where he was arrested for treason for serving in the German army. His sentence for treason was 6 years in prison which ended up being three years (1948) after being pardoned by the Finnish president of the time, President Paasikivi.

Lauri died in 1965 while serving in the American army in Vietnam. It was on a clandestine operation not far from Da Nang the helicopter Lauri Törni was travelling in crashed.

Years of service with each country

1938-1945 (Finnish Army)
1945 (Waffen SS)
1954-1965 (U.S. Army)

Rank at end of military career with each army

Captain (Finland)
Hauptsturmführer (Germany)
Major (USA)

Awards

Iron Cross 2nd Class (Germany)
Mannerheim Cross (Finland)
Bronze Star (USA)
Purple Heart (2) (USA)
Distinguished Flying Cross (USA)

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