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Remembered Today:

A Russian View


ericwebb
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Exploring new territory today I found:

'Sometimes it was rather monotonous on board, but we had some excellent. lectures delivered by a certain Russian lady who led the famous “Legion of Death” in Russia during the early part of the War. This woman had been wounded four times, and had been over the top eight times; she joined as a Russian soldier, but at the request of nearly all her officers received her commissioned rank and eventually rose to the rank of Colonel, an unique and praiseworthy distinction.'

Cojones that Russian dame I surmise, the size of footballs.

And a proper sense of equality, liberty, fraternity [sorority?] on the part of her comrades in arms.

A random grenade! Comments please, ad lib!

Eric

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello Eric

There are two very good books on the subject of the Russian Women's Battalions. 'Yashka : My Life as Peasant Officer and Exile', by Maria Botchkareva and Isaac Don Levine (New York, 1919) and Laurie Stoff 'They fought for the Motherland' (University Press of Kansas, 2006).

Maria Botchkareva commanded the Women's Battalion of Death which was raised in Petrograd in 1917 and was sent to the front. Originally it was about 1000 strong but because of Maria Botchkareva's strict discipline, it was soon reduced to about 200 women.

Another Women's Battalion which was also raised in Petrograd, probably from the 'rejects' of Maria Botchkareva's Battalion, was charged with defending the Winter Palace. These battalions are often confused with each other .

Maria Botchkareva also mentions visiting another a Women's Battalion which was raised in Moscow, although she did not think much of it because they were allowed to wear makeup.

According to Laurie Stoff's book there was about 15 Women' s units, though some are just mentioned as existing on paper.

If you type in 'Womens Death Battalion' on google images, you should find some photographs of the battalion which defended the Winter Palace.

I hope this helps

Ally

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  • 9 months later...

Hi Michael

I have not studied this, but I read a couple of articles/chapter in Higgonet, Margaret R. 1999. Lines of Fire. Women Writers of World War One. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-452-28146-46. pp155-171.

It is an interview with / extract from the writing of Maria Leot'evna Botchareva and an account of her service with the Battalion

It is mostly extracted from her autobiography "Yashka, My Life as a Peasant Officer, and Exile." (Isaac Don Levine trans.) which I believe is available as a reprint of the 1919 edition.

Hope this is of interest,

Chris

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Thanks for the replies guys.

From looking at 'The Blood of our Sons-Men, Women, and the Regeneration of British Citizenship During the Great War' by Nicoletta F Gullace,

it seems that in 1917 Mrs Emeline Pankhurst went to visit Maria Leot'evna Botchareva in Russia to express her support for the Women's Batallion of Death' and to urge the new Russian government to keep fighting in the Great War ; this was a few weeks before the Bolsheviks took power.

It must have been quite an interesting meeting. Ramsay MacDonald was also on his way out to Russia to encourage the new government to withdraw from the War.

Chris, have not heard of 'Lines of Fire', will try and find a copy. Appreciate your help.

Regards

Michael Bully

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There a few brief references and a portrait of Maria Bochkarova in the new book Anzacs in Arkhangel by Michael Challinger ISBN 978 8 74066 751 7,

whilst this book is not directly concerned with womens battalions from Russia is not a bad read about the post war operations in that area.

David

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Thanks for the links Ally -appreciated. I have just bought 'The Virago Book of Women and the Great War' edited by Joyce Marlow, which has a few pages on the Russian Women's Batallion of Death. The whole book is an anthology of women's writing from the Great War itself. Intriguing.

Ally Sloper said:
There is a book on this subject 'They fought for the Motherland', see the forum page, see

Also Wikipedia also has a page on the Women's battalions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women's_Battalion

Hope this helps

Ally.

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The interesting thing about the Russian imperial army was that women weren't prohibited from serving as combat troops, even before the establishment of the Battalions of Death. It was apparently up to local commanders whether to accept women or not. Women who wanted to fight were sometimes asked to get written permission from the Tsar, which was often granted.

Here are two women serving as infantry, captured by the Germans in 1915.

post-7020-1276494200.jpg

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Thanks for posting the photos Tom. Much appreciated. Just curious-where are they from?

Regards

Michael Bully

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