Friday, January 1, 2016

Women's Battalion of Death

My kid's friend has some mad skills . . . 

skills like rebuilding engines . . . 

you know skills that are actually useful . . . 

and unfortunately, skills that I know nothing of. 

The other day, two of my girls did some vehicular magic involving valves, oil and recycling. 

My automotive skills are limited to complying with the dashboard warning lights, leaving my vehicle at the mechanics for an indeterminate amount of time and paying for something expensive that will make no perceivable difference.

The dad of my kid's friend is behind the acquisition of useful skills . . . 

and promoting skills of self sufficiency for teen girls is a great dad skill.

They recently went out to do some supervised shooting. 

While my firearm skills are on par with my vehicular skills, I still classify gun competency as useful.

Being interested in atypical skill proficiency, I came across the Women's Battalion of Death. 

It sounds fictitious, especially when considering the date the battalion was created. 


That was three years BEFORE the US congress ratified the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.

So 1917, women, weapons and a catchy battalion title . . . want to guess the likely country of origin?

Granted WWI shuffled gender expectations . . . but this was an exclusively female fighting force. 

In 1917, Russia was experiencing a litany of issues. Casualties from the war were astronomical, the economy was a disaster and people were starving. The Czar had recently been removed in a revolution and because Russia does things in a big way, the Bolshevik revolution was just around the corner. 

The New Provisional Government, attempting to correct the military and economic disaster, decided Russia desperately needed . . . 

Religion? Food? Shelter? Stability?


The New Provisional Government identified propaganda as the immediate need for societal improvement and they started putting together exclusively female battalion.

They reasoned that these battalions would . . .

Boost the declining number of male troops? Improve front line communication? Dispatch enemy soldiers by appearing to be defenseless until it was too late? 

Nope. The governmental plan was to embarrass Russian male soldiers who were refusing to fight.  

Yep - formed to shame the menfolk.

At the beginning of the war, female volunteers were integrated into military forces including a peasant named Maria Bochkareva. She was wounded twice, decorated for bravery three times and killed at least one enemy soldier with her bayonet. 

She created the 1st Russian Women's Battalion of Death, accepting 300 volunteers from 2,000 applicants.   

The female volunteers shaved their heads, and removed other "impractical feminine features." They were outfitted with male uniforms including over sized footwear. Male behaviors like spitting, smoking and cursing were encouraged. 

The 1st Russian Women's Battalion of Death were sent to the front lines and ordered to go over the top of the trenches. 

Male soldiers refused while the women fought and gained some ground from the Germans. Eventually, without support, the battalion was forced to retreat and then eventually disbanded after increasing hostility from male troops.

Approximately 6,000 Russian women served in battalions during WWI and many fought later in the Russian revolution.

"Even when the Women’s Battalion proved itself both disciplined and courageous under fire, male soldiers remained angered and insulted by their presence." 

"They were prepared to fight the Germans, to be tortured by them, to die at their hands or in prison camps. But they were not prepared for the torments and humiliations that they were made to suffer by our own men. That had never entered into our calculations at the time that the Battalion was formed." 

After the Bolsheviks seized power, soldiers who fought under the New Provisional Government were considered criminals. 

Bochkareva was scheduled to be executed when a soldier who had been in the military with her, convinced the authorities to let her leave. 

She traveled to America and tried to convince the US Government to intervene in the Russian revolution. After failing, she traveled to Great Britain who also refused. 

She returned to Russia where she was captured and executed by firing squad. 

During WWII, the USSR 588th Night Bomber Regiment were called the Nachthexen ("Night Witches" in German).

By the time Hitler decided to lose the war by attacking Stalin, the Soviet Air Force was not in good shape. Female avatars were given crop dusting, biplanes to pilot. 

The biplanes were slow and had a stall speed lower than the German planes. The USSR pilots would idle the engines and glide quietly to the target.

The crop dusters couldn't carry more than six bombs and the women would fly several missions per night. Overall, the regiment flew 23,000 sorties, each pilot completing over 800 missions.

Currently, there is a female combat unit fighting against ISIS. The Kurdish female militia consists of 10,000 volunteers. Along with other Kurdish militias, they have rescued thousands of people trapped by ISIS including young girls kidnapped as sex slaves.

"We need to control the area ourselves without depending on [the government] . . . we defend everyone . . . no matter what race or religion they are."

One of the best female combat skill? 

(I'm not sure this is true, being refuted on one site but espoused on several others, but it is one of those things that I really, really want to be true.)

ISIS fighters believe they can not go to paradise if they are killed by women.

No comments :