The Art of Tetman Callis The Second World War They were not to be trifled with

They were not to be trifled with

“When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Soviets mobilized their women swiftly. . . . an estimated 800,000 women served in the Soviet armed forces. The Soviet Union was the only country in World War II to send uniformed women into combat. About a third of the women soldiers received instruction in handling mortars, machine guns, or automatic rifles; another 300,000 served in antiaircraft batteries, in which they performed all duties, while still others fought as tankers, field artillery gunners, and even snipers. Although the Red Army had a few all-female ground combat units, most army women served in integrated formations. More than 100,000 Soviet servicewomen were decorated during the war, including 91 who received the highest award for valor. While Soviet women on the ground fought and suffered through the great, bitter campaigns against the German army on the Eastern front from 1941 to 1945, others made history as fighter and bomber pilots. They were the first women to fly in combat.” – The World War II Desk Reference, Douglas Brinkley and Michael E. Haskew, eds.

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