Regarded as one of the best snipers of all time, Lyudmila Pavlichenko was born in Tserkva city in Ukraine(formerly part of the Soviet Union). Pavlichenko is also considered the greatest female sniper of all time.
Facts About Lyudmila Pavlichenko:
- She was born on 12 July 1916.
- Her full name was Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko.
- She got married at 16 and had a son. Her marriage was short lived and ended in divorce.
- She studied at Kiev University from where she got a Masters degree in History.
- When Pavlichenko was young, she joined a shooting club and became a skilled marksman.
- At the age of 25, Pavlichenko was recruited as a sniper in the Soviet Red Army after initially being refused a combat role. Pavlichenko’s superiors thought she was pretty and delicate, and was more suited to being a nurse. Pavlichenko proved them wrong by showing them her shooting skills.
- She joined the 25th Rifle Division of the Red Army in 1941.
- Pavlichenko was promoted to Sergeant, when she got her first 100 kills.
- In less than 3 months of joining the red army she scored over 187 kills. Most of them Nazi soldiers
- In May 1942 after her number of kills went up to 257, she was promoted to a Lieutenant.
- She was wounded four times during the war.
- A lot of her kills took place during the Battles of Odessa and Sevastopol.
- The Germans feared her and even tried to bribe her via loudspeakers. They would call her out and ask her to join them, promising a superior officer rank and gifts like chocolates and candies for her.
- When this didn’t work out, the Germans resorted to threats. They promised to tear her into 309 pieces which was equal to her sniper kills.
- In June of 1942, Pavlichenko got hit by a mortar shell and received injuries that included her face too. By this time, she had already became famous, even in enemy circles.
- The Soviet higher command decided to pull her out of combat duty given her high profile status. They didn’t want her to die in combat, fearing that it would demoralize the Soviet troops. Besides, they also thought that given her field experience, she would be better suited to the role of training troops from then on.
- Pavlichenko went on a world tour in 1942 visiting the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to get support for the war.
- When in the United States, she had to face some sexist questions by reporters. One reporter told Pavlichenko that her skirt was too long and her uniform made her look fat.
- She was gifted a Winchester rifle from Canada and a Colt semi-automatic pistol from the United States.
- As a sniper she scored a total of 309 confirmed kills. Some estimate her total number of kills at 500.
- She killed 36 enemy snipers and about a 100 German officers in battle. One of the German snipers she killed, himself had a total number of 500 kills.
- Pavlichenko’s weapon of choice was the Soviet Mosin–Nagant rifle.
- Later in her career, Pavlichenko was promoted to Major and she became a research assistant in the Soviet Navy.
- Pavlichenko was awarded the military honor ‘Gold Star’ Hero of the Soviet Union for her service.
- She was also honored with the ‘Order of Lenin’ civilian honor twice.
- The Soviet government also issued two stamps in honor of Pavlichenko.
- American Folksinger Woody Guthrie made a song about her in 1942 called
- She died on 10th October 1974 at the age of 58 and was survived by her son.
Pavlichenko joined the military at a time when it was considered taboo for woman to be in combat. However, she broke past all these barriers and proved how formidable women can be as soldiers fighting side by side with men. She is buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow, Russia.