Art and Faith

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Marat Samsonov. Little Sister. no date (1960s?)

Little Sister

Marat Samsonov

undated (1960s?)

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This work is dedicated to all of the women serving in the forces. During the Second Great Patriotic War, many women served at the front. True, they were mainly not in the “combat arms” (although some did indeed serve as fighters, primarily as snipers, where women were found to have better aptitude for the task than men), but, they did serve in duties that put them into harm’s way, especially as combat medics and military police. The bravery shown by these women was inspiring, some won recognition as “Heroes of the Soviet Union”, and their performance should put to rest doubts about the ability of women to serve at the front (although most women don’t have the physical strength to serve in the direct combat arms).

For the Motherland!

unknown artist

2002

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Perhaps, one of the most famous all-female combat units (such did exist, in the aviation branch) was the 46th Guards Night Bomber Regiment under Major Yevdokiya Bershanskaya. Even the maintenance personnel were all women! When the unit was formed, Major Marina Raskova (one of the pioneer female aviators in Russia) said to the crowd of hopefuls, “Aren’t you frightened to go to the front? Don’t you know that these bad men on the other side will be shooting at you?” One of the women recruits shouted back, “Not if I shoot them first, Major Raskova!” The Germans dubbed this unit the “Night Witches”. They flew slow Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes on bombing missions that disrupted the German rear areas. Because the MAXIMUM speed of these craft was below the stall speed of most German fighters, they were difficult to shoot down. They were so effective that the Germans had to send special units to oppose them. It was the most highly decorated unit in the VVS (Voenny Vozdushny SIl, “Military Air Force”), and 23 of its members received the honour of being “Heroes of the Soviet Union”. Over 1,000 women served as combat aircrew in all units during the war. The most famous female fighter aces were Lieutenant Lydia Litvak (“the White Rose of Stalingrad”) (14 victories) and Lieutenant Yekaterina Budanova (12 victories), both of whom died in battle. Vechnaya Pamyat to the heroines Lydia and Yekaterina!

Captain Maria Smirnova (1920-2002), Hero of the Soviet Union, a hero-pilot of the “Night Witches”, she flew nearly 1,000 sorties against the Fascists…

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So, I extend my respect and appreciation to all women in the forces now. You have a glorious history, and you are writing a new chapter in those annals as we speak. Thank you for serving.

BMD

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