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Russian Women in Combat Positions

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  • #16

    Last edited by stalin; 19 Jun 07, 02:32.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Erkki View Post
      I believe that German womens served as nurses at field hospitals , and telephone operators at HQ:s .
      Far away from the front and combats.
      The closest they came to battle was probably when the hospital was bombed or attacked by partisans.
      The Germans thought that womens place was at home racing children.
      I've occasionally run across descriptions of German women fighting. All were from the Spring of 1945 & the incidents located in Germany. Perhaps the 'enemy at the gates' changes attitudes.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Kunikov View Post
        At the moment I'm reading 'Russian combat methods' written in the late 1940's by German veterans of the Eastern Front. I suggest taking it with a grain of salt if you decide to read it,
        This information was obtained because the "cold war" was in place. I'd take it for a "silo of salt" if I were you. Everything in it was verified.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Erkki View Post
          I believe that German womens served as nurses at field hospitals , and telephone operators at HQ:s .
          Far away from the front and combats.
          The closest they came to battle was probably when the hospital was bombed or attacked by partisans.
          The Germans thought that womens place was at home raising children.
          In fact, it was not unusual they made the flak crews at home or defendings fabrics.
          Sometimes as their ordinary placement, but more often they had their working place say in a factory or hospital, but during the air-alarm they did service at the AA-cannons nearby. Sometimes being almost entirely woman crew.
          But there was a curious exception: The person pulling the fire string was always a man!

          Ie: the german woman could help with almost everything, but she wasnt supposed to kill. Killing was the mens doing.

          Had I read somewhere, and I believe this.

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          • #20


            Major Lyuchmila Mikhalovna Pavlichenko
            Highest scoring female sniper with 309 kills
            Attached Files
            Dearest of all my Friends(Vlad in max payne 2)

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            • #21
              Bit of an old thread, but I figured I would jump in here all the same. Better late than never, right?

              Women served in all major combat roles in the Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War. There are two examples of women tank drivers, and dozens of examples of women combat pilots. Up to 40% of all Soviet combat medics were women, according to the Osprey book "Heroines of the Soviet Union" by Henry Sakaida. In addition, women served as snipers, machine gunners, infantry soldiers, and partisans. In "Blood on the Shores" the memoir of Viktor Leonov, a Soviet Naval reconnaissance soldier (their equivalent to our Navy SEALs), he mentions that there was a female medic in his unit. She helped him when he got a shell fragment in his foot, and fought right alongside the men. And this was a very elite unit.

              My major interest is in female combat pilots. My avatar is Night Witch, and Hero of the Soviet Union, Lt. Natalya Meklin. She flew 982 night combat missions during the course of the war in an antiquated U-2/Po-2 biplane - a plane whose top speed was less than 100mph. Here is an image of a U-2, and a larger image of Natalya Meklin:





              The Night Witches, the regiment Natalya Meklin flew with, were one of three women's only regiments formed by Hero of the Soviet Union Marina Raskova in October of 1941. Marina Raskova was a famed pre-war aviator, primarily for the flight of the Rodina, an ANT-37 aircraft flown by three women, which attempted to set a world distance record. (I believe they achieved that record). At any rate, Marina Raskova was forced to bail out when they ran out of fuel, and spent a week alone in the Siberian wilderness before she found her plane, and her comrades (who had crashed landed). The women were all given the Hero of the Soviet Union award.

              In October 1941, Raskova used her influence with Stalin and other Soviet higher-ups to create three women's regiments: the 586th IAP (Fighter Aviation Regiment), the 587th BAP (Bomber Aviation Regiment), and the 588th NBAP (Night Bomber Aviation Regiment). The 587th would later be renamed the 125th GvBAP (Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment) and the 588th would later be renamed the 46th Taman Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment. The 588th/46th, however, is much better known as being the "Night Witches."

              The 586th IAP was put on home defense duty, not as a frontline unit. As a result it achieved mixed results. It was integrated with men during the war, even having a male commander, and by the end of the war it was nearly fifty percent male. The most famous 586th pilot was Raisa Surnachevskaya pictured here:



              Raisa Surnachevskaya achieved 3 personal kills during the course of the war, falling short of the title of ace. She was the most successful pilot who remained in the 586th throughout the course of the war.

              Two women, the most famous female aviators of all time, left the 586th to join male regiments in Stalingrad and fight. Those women were Lidia "Lily" Litvyak and Yekaterina "Katya" Budanova. Both of these women transferred out of the 586th and ended up in front line service in Stalingrad. They first arrived in the 9th GIAP, but were quickly transferred to the 73rd GIAP. It was there that they achieved most of their victories. Sources vary, but it seems that the consensus is that Lily Litvyak achieved 12 personal kills, plus several shared. Katya Budanova achieved 8 personal kills - though one source claims twenty. Both women died in eerily similar fashion. Their deaths came in combat, in the summer of 1943, fighting alone against swarms of German fighters.

              Katya Budanova:

              Lily Litvyak:

              Litvyak, Budanova, and Mariya Kuznetsova (in order):



              The 587th/125th was a dive bomber regiment. Originally, the women were trained on the Sukhoi Su-2 dive bomber. However, this was changed to the Petlyakov Pe-2 Peshka when Marina Raskova was able to use her influence to get the new planes for her girls. The Pe-2 was a fast, highly advanced, two-engine bomber, and the fact that it was given to a bunch of "schoolgirls" caused a lot of friction with male pilots who were forced to fly the Su-2. At any rate, this change necessitated that the regiment integrate with some men. So, men were taken on as gunners and mechanics. Only one male pilot and one male navigator ever entered the unit, however. It also slowed their arrival on the front until late December 1942 when they flew their first missions over Stalingrad.

              Marina Raskova died in December 1942 when her flight of Pe-2s crashed in bad weather on the way to the front. Captain Yevengiya Timofeeva was named the interim commander until a permanent commander could be found. This happened in early February with the arrival of Major Valentin Markov, and he served as the commander for the regiment during the rest of the war. In his memoirs, he talks about "his girls" quite a bit, often mentioning how good they were, and how they sometimes surpassed the performance of male units. He stressed that the women did the same jobs as the men, and the regiment was treated no differently from male regiments. However, he didn't take the assignment with that same optimism. In his memoirs, he stated of his initial appointment to the squadron: "I knew women's nature very well, and I knew because of their caprice and susceptibility to offense it would not be an easy job to rule them."

              I personally met two women from this regiment, Yelena Kulkova, and Galina Brok-Beltsova. Both of these women were wonderful, and their stories were very touching - especially to hear them in person. Yelena was actually wounded in the stomach by a German shell and was bleeding to death in the cockpit. She had to fly home with her navigator waking her up every few minutes with smelling salts. She nearly died, but fortunately was able to survive her wounds. She gave me a signed picture of her and her navigator (also named Yelena I believe, though I didn't get her last name. I've narrowed it down to two possible navigators named Yelena as a third died during the war and I don't think this navigator did). This is the picture, minus the signature as my scanner automatically clipped it out. I apologize for the image quality, as resizing it kind of messed it up. If anybody wants a PDF copy then PM me and I'll sort it out for you. Yelena Kulkova is on the right, and her navigator on the left.



              Galina also had several close brushes with the enemy. Her most memorable story that she told me was of her plane being singled out and attacked by "Fokkers" (Russian nickname for Focke Wulf 190s). The enemy plane was right on her tail, blasting her aircraft. It knocked out one of her engines, and was continuing to fire. Galina, being the navigator, was in the rear-facing cockpit of the Pe-2, manning her machine gun, and thusly was able to get a clear view of the German pilot in his airplane. As the Peshka pilot dodged and weaved, he seemed to be taunting her, and continued firing at their plane. Then, very suddenly, several Yak escorts dove down and drove off the 190. Galina remembers them saying "Don't worry girls, we're here to save you." (Which I thought was a cute line).

              The most celebrated regiment of the three was the 588th/46th. They flew the Po-2 at night, at low level, dropping small bombs on the Germans. They flew up to fifteen sorties in a single night, from their bases close to the enemy. They were never integrated, remaining entirely female until the end of the war. They were also the most highly decorated of the regiments. Their nickname, Night Witches, came from the German soldiers who experienced many sleepless nights from their raids.

              Women also served in all-male regiments. One of the most famous was Anna Yegorova. She flew the IL-2 Sturmovik in an all-male regiment, and eventually became a squadron leader. She was shot down over enemy territory. The explosion threw her from her cockpit, and she barely managed to pull the ripcord. Her parachute failed to open fully, and she sustained serious injuries (including a broken back) on landing. She was taken by the Germans to a concentration camp. She healed up there, and eventually made her way back to Soviet lines, only to be arrested by the NKVD for desertion. She finally convinced the NKVD that she wasn't a deserter, and returned to her unit, but she was so badly crippled from her injuries that she was unfit for duty. She wrote an autobiography of her experiences in Russian, and the translation is forthcoming. I'm really looking forward to it, as this brief paragraph doesn't do her story justice at all. She was a really amazing woman. Here's a pic of her:



              And for those not familiar with soviet aircraft, here is a Sturmovik:




              Anyway, there were other women serving in other regiments in the air, including bomber and fighter regiments. In addition, there were loads of women doing the grunt work on the ground. But, I'm more into flying than slogging through mud, so I don't have as much research done on them. If you want to know more about the female combat pilots, googling their names brings up some good sites. Also, the following books are excellent:

              "A Dance With Death" by Anne Noggle (herself a WASP)
              "Wings, Women, and War" by Reina Pennington

              Oh, and if anybody knows where I can pick up a Peshka cheap, lemme know

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              • #22
                DamnvAlina, why did you have to live in California? Come back to Russia.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Cmde.Slavyanski View Post
                  DamnvAlina, why did you have to live in California? Come back to Russia.
                  I'm actually an American, but I plan on visiting Russia as soon as I learn the language. I don't like going places and not knowing the language. I studied some Ancient Greek in University though, so I can read the alphabet. Now I just have to learn all the words

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Alina View Post
                    I'm actually an American, but I plan on visiting Russia as soon as I learn the language. I don't like going places and not knowing the language. I studied some Ancient Greek in University though, so I can read the alphabet. Now I just have to learn all the words
                    Something I also try to do.
                    But you forgot the best part: the grammar
                    It is not as hard as Swedish though.
                    “For there is nothing more serious than a lunatic when he comes to the central point of his lunacy.”

                    Max Sterner

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Alina View Post
                      I'm actually an American, but I plan on visiting Russia as soon as I learn the language. I don't like going places and not knowing the language. I studied some Ancient Greek in University though, so I can read the alphabet. Now I just have to learn all the words
                      You will not learn the language before going to Russia, I guarantee that. I live in Moscow so if you ever get here look me up. I too was born and raised in America.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Alina View Post
                        I'm actually an American, but I plan on visiting Russia as soon as I learn the language. I don't like going places and not knowing the language. I studied some Ancient Greek in University though, so I can read the alphabet. Now I just have to learn all the words
                        You are the first woman here.... Welcome!

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Andrey View Post
                          You are the first woman here.... Welcome!
                          Thanks, Andrey, I thought this place could use a delicate, feminine, touch. Maybe I'll be like Lily Litvyak and paint flowers all over everything.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Alina View Post
                            Thanks, Andrey, I thought this place could use a delicate, feminine, touch. Maybe I'll be like Lily Litvyak and paint flowers all over everything.

                            Paint flowers on whatever you like, but please don't be delicate. KILL KILL KILL!!!

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Cmde.Slavyanski View Post
                              Paint flowers on whatever you like, but please don't be delicate. KILL KILL KILL!!!
                              Don't worry, the only delicate thing about me will be the way I press the firing button on my Pe-3bis, just before blowing away another fascist invader

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                              • #30
                                Wow, a girl into military history! Lets get married!

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