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They’ll slap you silly, you try any of that monkey business

“The armored spearhead of 16th Panzer Division had advanced virtually unopposed across the steppe for nearly twenty-five miles. ‘Around Gumrak,’ the division recorded, ‘enemy resistance became stronger and anti-aircraft guns began firing wildly at our armored vehicles from the north-west corner of Stalingrad.’ This resistance came from the batteries operated by young women volunteers, barely out of high school. Few had fired the guns before, owing to the shortage of ammunition, and none of them had been trained to take on targets on the ground. They had switched targets from the bombers over the city on sighting the panzers, whose crews ‘seemed to think they were on a Sunday promenade’. . . . The anti-aircraft battery crews were astonishingly resilient. According to [one officer], ‘the girls refused to go down into the bunkers.’ One of them, called Masha, is said to have ‘stayed at her post for four days without being relieved . . . . Russian soldiers treat such women with great wariness.’ “ – Antony Beevor, Stalingrad

Published inAntony BeevorThe Second World War

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