Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko (12 June 1916 – 10 October 1974) was a Soviet sniper in the Red Army during World War II,credited with 309 confirmed kills,[making her the most successful female sniper in history. Lyudmila was nicknamed "Lady Death" due to her incredible ability with a sniper rifle. She served in the Red Army during the Siege of Odessa and the Siege of Sevastopol, during the early stages of the Eastern Front in WWII. After she was injured in battle by a mortar shell, she was evacuated to Moscow. After Pavlichenko recovered from her injuries she trained other Red Army Snipers and was a public spokesperson for the Red Army. In 1942, she visited the White House and toured the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. After the war ended in 1945, she was reassigned as a Senior Researcher for the Soviet Navy. She later died at the age of 58 due to a stroke on 10 October 1974.
In June 1941, 24-year-old Pavlichenko was in her fourth year studying history at Kiev University when Germany began its invasion of the Soviet Union. Pavlichenko was among the first round of volunteers at the Odessa recruiting office, where she requested to join the infantry. The registrar pushed Pavlichenko to be a nurse but she refused.
After seeing that she had completed multiple training courses they finally let her in the army as a sniper. Thus she was assigned to the Red Army's 25th Rifle Division. There she became one of 2,000 female snipers in the Red Army (although female soldiers were still just 2 percent of the Red Army's total number), of whom about 500 survived the war. Although she was in a combat role, she was only given a frag grenade due to weapon shortages. On 8 August 1942 a fallen comrade would hand her his Mosin-Nagant model 1891 bolt-action rifle. She achieved her first two kills and proved herself to her comrades. She described this event as her "baptism of fire", because after this she was officially a sniper.
Pavlichenko fought for about two and a half months near Odessa, where she recorded 187 kills. She was promoted to senior sergeant in August 1941 when she reached 100 confirmed kills. At age 25, she married a fellow sniper whose name was Alexei Kitsenko. Soon after the marriage, Alexei was mortally wounded by a mortar shell. Kitsenko died after a few days in the hospital. When the Romanians gained control of Odessa on 15 October 1941, her unit was withdrawn by sea to Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula, where she fought for more than eight months. There she trained almost a dozen snipers, who killed over a hundred Axis soldiers during the battle. In May 1942, newly promoted Lieutenant Pavlichenko was cited by the Southern Army Council for killing 257 Axis soldiers. Her total of confirmed kills during World War II was 309, including 36 enemy snipers.
In June 1942, Pavlichenko was hit in the face with shrapnel from a mortar shell. After her injury, the Soviet High Command ordered that she be evacuated from Sevastopol via submarine.[ She was too valuable to lose as she was the perfect example of Soviet womanhood. She spent around a month in the hospital; she did not go back to the Eastern Front after her injuries. Instead she became a propagandist for the Red Army. Due to her high kill count, she was nicknamed "Lady Death". She also trained snipers for combat duty till the end of the war in 1945.
What a life! Had you ever heard of Lady Death? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!