The Russian Snipers proved to be some of the best of the war, scoring multiple kills and having numerous sniper aces. Unusually, the Red Army fielded many female snipers and they proved their worth with many confirmed victims. Some would go on to lead entire companies of snipers, such as Nina Lobkovskaya at the Battle of Berlin, who commanded 100 sniper-trained women, who were also posted to the Soviet Naval brigades when needed. Many died young, of the 2000 snipers, only 500 would survive the war in the valiant defence of the Motherland.
Klavdiya Kalugina was one of the youngest snipers in the army – at 17 she had already graduated from sniper school. The role of a Russian female sniper was also shared, with two snipers forming a team, taking turns as spotter and sniper. One sniper would pick her target, usually an officer, NCO or other important target. The role of any sniper is to sow discord into the enemy, and she did just that, she was quoted as saying:
“Because a sniper’s task was to eliminate commanders, machine gun emplacements, messengers that would be running around. They also had to be eliminated. Soldiers were not necessary, mostly — officers, commanders. You would fire one shot, let go of the rifle, and lie there. You would wait until your partner fired her shot. When it became dark, we left our position. During the day we walked around, looked for a good spot to lie in wait. Then we lay there without moving a muscle until the next evening, because you couldn’t crawl away in the daylight. If there was an attack, that was different, then you would get up and run. Otherwise, you would lie in that spot to the end.”
Lyudmila Pavlichenko was the most successful female sniper in history, with a tally of around 300 enemy kills. She was one of the first to volunteer for sniper training at the outset of the war with Germany. After her first assignment, where she killed two of the enemy, she later went on to fight in Odessa and Sevastopol. As her fame increased with each action, and her wounding by a mortar round the decision was made to withdraw her from active duty. She was one of the lucky few who would survive the war, and go on to be recognised for her achievements.
Roza Georgiyevna Shanina earned the nickname “Terror of East Prussia”, she specialised in shooting moving targets, earning herself 59 kills. When her all female unit came under attack from German infantry, their opponents were promptly defeated by a combination of sniper fire, hand-to-hand combat and a few were even captured. Sadly, like many of her comrades she died at the age of twenty, defending an officer of an artillery unit. The heroism of the female snipers during World War II is legendary, and continues to inspire to this day.
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