On this day in 1939, the Soviet Red Army -- probably on direct orders from the Politburo -- shelled one of their own villages on the Karelian Isthmus and immediately began pointing fingers at Finland.
Four days of intense Soviet propaganda later, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili -- in a tactic that had served him so well previously in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia -- sent his troopies over the Finnish border.
Unfortunately, most of what Uncle Josef managed to do was severely irritate a large part of the population of Finland in general, and a certain five-foot, three-inch skinny little farmer in particular.
Over the next three-ish months -- 30NOV1939 to 13MAR1940 -- the 250,000 grunts of the Finnish military faced off against 1,000,000 (one million) Soviet soldiers.
There are numerous scholarly works explaining the results -- the Soviet officer corp was still recovering from one of Uncle Josef's little purges; Finnish tactics were simple (Charge!) and flexible; the Soviet armies being used were drawn from the south of the Soviet Union and weren't really accustomed to brawling in -40 degree weather; and the Finns quite happily cheated (a favourite target of Finnish attacks and artillery barrages was the Soviet field kitchens. Nothing wrecks morale quite like never, ever seeing a hot meal during 90+ days of fighting in Arctic weather.)
Whatever the reason, the Finnish military (metaphorically-speaking. Sort of.) hauled off and place-kicked the Soviet Red Army right in the wedding tackle and kept on punting until they were dragged, kicking and screaming, to the peace table on March 12, 1940 -- 105 days after the Soviets started the whole thing -- to sign a brutal and dishonourable cessation of hostilities.
Soviet casualties were almost 400,000 men dead, wounded and missing; with another 5,600 POWs. They managed to inflict less than 70,000 dead and wounded on the Finns, with only about a thousand Finnish POWs.
And that skinny farmer? Well, he picked up his iron-sighted Finnish copy of the Mosin-Nagant M28, sewed himself an oversuit of white bedsheets, and (with the occasional judicious application of a KP-31 submachine gun) proceeded to personally turf between 500 and 700 Soviet solders in front of Saint Peter's desk until 06MAR1940 when a Red counter-sniper got lucky and put Simo Häyhä out of the fight for the rest of the (all-too-brief) war.
That averages out to about five enemy personnel a day for 100 continuous days. With iron-sights.
While Finland ultimately lost the Winter War that was started this day, 69 years ago, the cost of that defeat was best summed up by a Soviet general officer, who later stated: "We gained just enough land to bury our dead."