I grew up believing that women had contributed nothing to the world until the 1960′s. So once I became a feminist I started collecting information on women in history, and here’s my collection so far, in no particular order.
Lepa Svetozara Radić (1925–1943) was a partisan executed at the age of 17 for shooting at German soldiers during WW2. As her captors tied the noose around her neck, they offered her a way out of the gallows by revealing her comrades and leaders identities. She responded that she was not a traitor to her people and they would reveal themselves when they avenged her death. She was the youngest winner of the Order of the People’s Hero of Yugoslavia, awarded in 1951
23 year old Phyllis Latour Doyle was British spy who parachuted into occupied Normandy in 1944 on a reconnaissance mission in preparation for D-day. She relayed 135 secret messages before France was finally liberated.
Catherine Leroy, War Photographer starting with the Vietnam war. She was taken a prisoner of war. When released she continued to be a war photographer until her death in 2006.
Lieutenant Pavlichenko was a Russian sniper in WWII, with a total of 309 kills, including 36 enemy snipers. After being wounded, she toured the US to promote friendship between the two countries, and was called ‘fat’ by one of her interviewers, which she found rather amusing.
Johanna Hannie “Jannetje” Schaft was born in Haarlem. She studied in Amsterdam had many Jewish friends. During WWII she aided many people who were hiding from the Germans and began working in resistance movements. She helped to assassinate two nazis. She was later captured and executed. Her last words were “I shoot better than you.”.
Nancy wake was a resistance spy in WWII, and was so hated by the Germans that at one point she was their most wanted person with a price of 5 million francs on her head. During one of her missions, while parachuting into occupied France, her parachute became tangled in a tree. A french agent commented that he wished that all trees would bear such beautiful fruit, to which she replied “Don’t give me any of that French shit!”, and later that evening she killed a German sentry with her bare hands.
After her husband was killed in WWII, Violette Szabo began working for the resistance. In her work, she helped to sabotage a railroad and passed along secret information. She was captured and executed at a concentration camp at age 23.
Grace Hopper was a computer scientist who invented the first ever compiler. Her invention makes every single computer program you use possible.
Mona Louise Parsons was a member of an informal resistance group in the Netherlands during WWII. After her resistance network was infiltrated, she was captured and was the first Canadian woman to be imprisoned by the Nazis. She was originally sentenced to death by firing squad, but the sentence was lowered to hard lard labor in a prison camp. She escaped.
Simone Segouin was a Parisian rebel who killed an unknown number of Germans and captured 25 with the aid of her submachine gun. She was present at the liberation of Paris and was later awarded the ‘croix de guerre’.
Mary Edwards Walker is the only woman to have ever won an American Medal of Honor. She earned it for her work as a surgeon during the Civil War. It was revoked in 1917, but she wore it until hear death two years later. It was restored posthumously.
Italian neuroscientist won a Nobel Prize for her discovery of nerve growth factor. She died aged 103.
A snapshot of the women of color in the woman’s army corps on Staten Island
This is an ongoing project of mine, and I’ll update this as much as I can (It’s not all WWII stuff, I’ve got separate folders for separate achievements).
File this under: The History I Wish I’d Been Taught As A Little Girl
Häyhä’s count of 542 kills is an all-time record for a sniper in any conflict and was achieved in only 98 days of the ‘Winter War.
The Winter War erupted in 1939 with the Soviet invasion of Finland, and the mild-looking Simo was called into service.
Despite vastly outnumbering the Finns, the Soviet Army suffered massive casualties due to their inexperience, the freezing temperatures and of course, Simo Häyhä, all of 5'3"(1.6002m) tall.
For those 98 days, Häyhä conducted lone missions to the front lines, tormenting the Russians and picking off soldiers one by one, until he was shot and injured by an exploding bullet a few days prior to the war ending. The bullet had crushed his jaw and blown off part of his left cheek.
Häyhä, in many ways, had the perfect preparation for becoming a sniper. He grew up on a rural farm and loved to hunt.
His specialty were foxes, one of the more difficult animals to hunt, due to their small stature, speed and ability to hide. He would test himself with birds which would flee at even the slightest sound, reflection or sudden movement.
He felt no hatred for the enemy, instead, he only concentrated on ensuring his weapon was well supported and stable, and that his personal feelings and emotions would not impinge on his ability as a marksman. Häyhä did not mind spending hours upon hours on his own and would even go to his shooting ‘nests’ at night to ensure they were well hidden and strong.
Especially in the -20 temperatures of the Finnish winter, proper gun maintenance was essential to avoid it jamming. His gun was a Mosin-Nagant M/28-30, one that he had owned before the war, without even a telescopic sight.
Häyhä, when conducting his operations, took every detail into account. He would even pour water into the snow in front of him so that the muzzle blast would not expose his location by disturbing the light snow. (Excerpt by Author Taipo Saarelainen, The White Sniper: Simo Häyhä)
(Simo also kept snow in his mouth while sniping, in order to prevent steamy breaths from giving away his position in the cold air.)
Smart, beautiful and deadly, 19 year old Russian sniper Roza Shanina had 54 confirmed kills during World War II.
<<OK so I know for a fact I’ve blogged most of these photos before but I sincerely don’t give a rat’s ass. I have no qualms about reblogging Ms. Shanina 100 times a day if it suits me…hell, no doubt I could devote a blog entirely to her remarkable accomplishments. I am totally intrigued and mesmerized by her. And not simply because she is amazingly beautiful and modest and bold, but also because of the unequivocal expertise she displayed in her “trade”. Maybe it’s also because she has that certain look about her like she might be just a little too shy to come up and talk to you…and yet have zero reservations about calmly dispatching your ass from 1000 meters.>>
Shanina volunteered for the military after the death of her brother in 1941 and chose to be a marksman on the front line. Praised for her shooting accuracy, Shanina was capable of precisely hitting moving enemy personnel and making doublets (two target hits by two rounds fired in quick succession).
Allied newspapers described Shanina as “the unseen terror of East Prussia”. She became the first Soviet female sniper to be awarded the Order of Glory and was the first servicewoman of the 3rd Belorussian Front to receive it. Shanina was killed in action during the East Prussian Offensive while shielding the severely wounded commander of an artillery unit. Shanina’s bravery received praise already during her lifetime, but came at odds with the Soviet policy of sparing snipers from heavy fights. Her combat diary was first published in 1965.
The Soviets found that sniper duties fit women well, since good snipers are patient, deliberate, have a high level of aerobic conditioning, and normally avoid hand-to-hand combat. They found the same with women as bomber crews, very fine adjustments and intense technical expertise actually gave them a better reputation than most all male bomber squadrons.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Steve’s decorations in the MCU—or rather, the lack of them—and especially about Bucky’s medals, which are nonexistent. I’m writing a fic where there’s some discussion about decorations, valor, and the fact that Bucky was a war hero, trying to make sense of the incoherent hack writing of CACW that has the media identifying the “infamous Winter Soldier” as James Buchanan Barnes, but apparently no one seems to also be talking about the fact that this is Howling Commando James Barnes, Captain America’s best friend James Barnes, decorated war hero James Barnes. (laporcupina has a nice examination of this here.)
The first time we see Steve in his Captain’s uniform, he’s wearing these ribbons and badges
Sigh. He’s so dreamy… There’s a few different posts floating around identifying what those ribbons and badges are, but the most important is that he’s wearing the ribbons for only two medals: one is the purple heart with an oak leaf cluster, which signifies that he was wounded in action at least twice (once for the original medal, the oak leaves for another award). That one’s interesting because we don’t see him get wounded, really, in the First Avenger; it could mean, though, that the multiple purple hearts were for meritorious service because they were given for that at that time. He’s also wearing an American Service Defense Medal ribbon, which confuses me, because in the MCU he shouldn’t wear it: they were given for active service from 1939–1941, so he wouldn’t have had this. (In the comics, yes, but not the movies.) I chalk this up to Marvel’s notoriously terrible props department, the folks who gave us a museum display with two different birthdates for Bucky on the SAME DISPLAY, and use quotation marks and apostrophes for feet and inches, when no self-respecting museum would do that. (Those are the tip of the props issues iceberg but my personal pet peeves.)
Now, this shot is presumably in the scene where he blows off Senator Brandt in London, where he’s supposed to receive a “Medal for Valour” which is never specified. And it’s irritating because: which was it? Was it the Medal of Honor, the highest award you can earn? Or was it the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest award for valor? It could even be the Silver Star, although I feel like that’s unlikely because single-handedly rescuing 400-plus men from a heavily guarded prison camp is a lot more than Silver Star-worthy. My feeling is that it was the DSC, maybe because they figured they’d save the MoH for later since he’d probably be raking in medals as he won the war. I can buy him not wearing it right then since the ceremony just happened, but…it’s a stretch.
Then immediately after, we see Steve with the men who will become the Howlies, and no one has any decorations on their uniforms/they’re not in full uniform…and then there’s Bucky. He has no decorations even when we see him in the service uniform at the start of CATFA, and he’s certainly not wearing any in the pub.
Soviet sniper during World War II who was credited with fifty-nine confirmed kills, including twelve soldiers during the Battle of Vilnius. Shanina volunteered for the military after the death of her brother in 1941 and chose to be a marksman on the front line. Praised for her shooting accuracy, Shanina was capable of precisely hitting enemy personnel and making doublets (two target hits by two rounds fired in quick succession).
That uniform makes you look fat! —
Lyudmila Pavlichenko in America
One of the most celebrated snipers in history as well as the deadliest female sniper in history with 309 kills , Lyudmila Pavlichenko goes down in history among the great Soviet snipers during World War II. Lyudmila was certainly one who was tough and cool under fire, however it would be her experiences in America that would prove the most challenging. After being seriously wounded by a mortar in June of 1942, she was sent on a propaganda trip to the United States to drum up support for the Soviet War effort while she recovered. She toured the country, speaking about the war, her achievements, and most importantly how women were every bit as tough as men when it came to fighting. In Chicago, she stood before large crowds, chiding the men the men to fight in the war saying, “Gentlemen, I am 25 years old and I have killed 309 fascist occupants by now. Don’t you think, gentlemen, that you have been hiding behind my back for too long?”
During her tours she visited or was visited by many important and famous people; including Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and New York City Mayor LaGuardia. She became especially good friends with Eleanor Roosevelt, another larger than life woman in history who originally invited her to America and accompanied her throughout most of the tour. Throughout her tours she was given many awards, usually presentation pistols and rifles. Even the popular folk singer Woodie Guthrie wrote a song about her entitled, “Miss Pavelichenko”. By the end of her American tour she had visited 46 major American cities.
Despite her popularity and reputation, she was viewed more often than not as an oddity rather than a war hero, and the prejudices against women common in 1940′s America became apparent. Press reporters asked her questions about her nail polish, how she curled her hair. One reporter criticized how she didn’t wear any makeup. Another commented, “Isn’t it a part of military philosophy that an efficient warrior takes pride in his appearance? Isn’t Joan of Arc always pictured in beautiful and shining armor?” When one dipshit commented that her uniform’s skirt was too long, stating that American women’s uniforms were shorter, and that her uniform made her look fat, she angrily responded,
“I wear my uniform with honor, it has the Order of Lenin on it! It has been covered with blood in battle! It is plain to see that with American women what is important is whether they wear silk underwear under their uniforms. What the uniform stands for, they have yet to learn.”