Spies, aviators, soldiers, snipers – men were not the only ones who showed courage, ingenuity, and determination during World War II. During that time, there were thousands of amazing women who showed courage, skill, and energy, just like their husbands, fathers, and brothers. It is very likely that you have not heard anything about these women before, but here are 7 most badass ladies of WWII.
1. Nancy Wake (1912-2011)
During one of the raids, Nancy allegedly killed an SS soldier with her bare hands to prevent him from raising the alarm. Being an agent for the Office of Special Operations, Wake was an essential link between the French Resistance Movement and London at the end of World War II.
The Nazis gave her the nickname “”White Mouse.”” During the war, she was one of the most wanted Gestapo agents. After it was over, she worked for British intelligence in Paris and Prague embassies. In 1985, she published the autobiography White Mouse, which became a bestseller.
2. Lyudmila Pavlichenko (1916-1974)
German soldiers on the Eastern Front were exposed to many dangers. But there was nothing more dangerous than this young history student, whom the Soviet press called “”Lady Death.”” During the war, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, with the help of her sniper rifle, downed 309 enemy soldiers. Today she is considered the most successful female sniper in the history of the Soviet Union. In 1942, Pavlichenko became the first Soviet citizen to meet with Roosevelt. After her death in 1974, Pavlichenko was awarded a portrait on two commemorative coins and on several stamps in Russia.
3. Susan Travers (1909-2003)
Susan Travers came from a wealthy family, she spent her youth in the beautiful palaces of Europe, where she lived for her pleasure. But she was tired of champagne, parties, and endless lovers, she wanted to start an adventure. When the war broke out, Travers enrolled. She began working for the French Red Cross as a nurse. She later worked as a driver in the Foreign Legion and was very active during the heavy fighting in Africa in 1941-1943. She was awarded the Military Cross and the Legion of Honor and became the only woman in history to be accepted to the French special forces.
4. Jacqueline Cochran (1906-1980)
Jacqueline Cochran was a pioneer of American aviation, she became one of the most outstanding pilots of her generation. In particular, she became the first woman to break the sound barrier. Also, Cochran played a vital role in the creation of the Women’s Support Corps and became the first Director of the Air Force Service for Women Pilots.
She taught rookie female pilots how to fly and drop bombs on Nazi-occupied countries, for which she received several medals after the war ended.
5. Faye Schulman, born in 1919
Fay Shulman happened to survive the death of her entire family at the hands of the Nazis in 1941. This Polish girl, who was then 23 years old, managed to survive because she was a talented photographer. But in return, she was forced to take pictures during the massacre that cost her family their lives. In the end, she managed to escape and became a nurse. She’s the one we should be thanking for taking the unique photos of Jewish and Russian partisans during World War II. Today, Shulman lives in Toronto, Canada, with two children and six grandchildren.
6. Frances Wills (1916-1998) and Harriet Pickens (1909-1969)
People of color in the USA were considered second-class people until the 1960s when the struggle for civil rights began. And the military was no exception. African Americans were denied participation in battles; instead, they were sent to secondary jobs. The worst examples of racial segregation were found in the Navy. But on December 21, 1944, Wills and Pickens inscribed their page in history, becoming the first African American female officers in the US Navy.
7. Veronica Foster (1922-2000)
One of the most iconic posters of the Second World War era depicted the factory worker “”Rosie the Riveter”” with the slogan “”We Can Do It!” ” Few people know about Veronica Foster, her Canadian prototype. Foster Worked at a weapons factory in Toronto and became famous thanks to several propaganda posters that portrayed her at work. Perhaps the most outstanding picture depicts Foster with an assembled machine gun, wearing work clothes and a scarf, and having a smoke break. Foster inspired about a million Canadian women who came to work in plants and factories and became a kind of a sex symbol for soldiers abroad.