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June 8

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This version of Women of Achievement has been taken
from the draft of an unpublished book based on
Irene Stuber's files on women of achievement and herstory.
The full text of this episode of Women of Achievement and Herstory
will be published here in the future.


Soviet Women Flew Combat Missions in WWII


QUOTES by Kathy Cravens and Marguerite Yourcenar.

More "How It Really Was," or what HIStorians don't tell you:

      Event 06-08-1942, Soviet WOMEN pilots flew their first combat mission against the Germans in World War II.
      Three bombers without any guns to defend the women occupants (pilots, navigators, and bombadiers) from German fighter pilots went out at night to drop bombs on a German headquarters.
      Navigation was by stop watch and map. Nearing the target they had to cut their engines because of the loud distinctive pop-pop of their tiny PO-2s engines and they glided over the targets. Getting home again was almost as harrowing. The exhausted pilots (sometimes making six or more bombing runs per night) had to find the airfield's landing light system that was masked to be visible only at very low altitudes. There were no navigational aids to find the field, no radar, or radio homing beacons... no radio between planes or between the planes and the airfield. The pilots had to depend on their own eyesight.
      Mid-air collisions with defending fighters and others bombers in the darkness were common.
      The PO-2 was a basic training aircraft that was modified slightly so it could carry bombs. It was never intended for combat.
      SOME of the information above was taken from Bruce Myles' NightWitches - the untold story of Soviet Women in Combat. Myles' book has some good information but unfortunately he tends to tell romantic stories of young girls' infatuations rather than give much insight into the horrors of living as a Soviet combat and bomber pilots in the air war. In fact, he's rather patronizing towards women doing a man's job.

      The story of Soviet women fighting in ground and air combat is one of the most suppressed tales of World War II in the U.S. The horror of these women (and men) who fought the German invaders in their own country, often over land where their families lived, is an experience that, fortunately, most Americans have missed.
      We heavily depend on WOAH accuracy on Reina Pennington who did her Ph.D. disertation on the subject and made several trips to Russia to do on-spot research. She speaks Russian.
      Yes, Soviet women were in combat during WWII as bomber pilots and fighter pilots and mechanics (often working in the open in sub-zero weather) and there were a number of aces. There were any number of women who fought alongside male soldiers on the ground. More on these brave women in later episode of WOAH.

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B. 06-08-1816, Mary Lucinda Bonney - U.S. educator and reformer who organized and headed a successful women's shool in Philadelphia as well as the Central Indian Committee which campaigned for the U.S. to honor its Indian treaties. Under her leadership, the plan to allot land to individual Indians was developed and approved by Congress.

B. 06-08-1893, Dorothy Deming - U.S. author of the Penny Marsh books on nursing as a career.

B. 06-08-1903, Jessie Bernard - U.S. sociologist whose studies of the interaction of families and the effects of community were major advancements in the field.
      Like so many women, after years of writing about society's ills affecting minority groups, her later works reflected a growing feminist stance regarding the oppression of women as even stronger than that of other minorities.

B. 06-08-1903, Marguerite Yourcenar (pseudonym of Marguerite de Crayencour), ranks as one of the great authors in the French language.
      She was the first woman to be elected to the Acad‚mie Fran‡aise (French Academy), the ultra-exclusive literary institution limited to 40 members.
      However, because she become an American citizen to live with her female college professor partner in New England, the French president had to give her dual citizenship so she accept the honor. She had continued to write in French although she lived in the U.S. for several decades.
      At the podium when she made her acceptance speech to the all-male French Academy members, she said:
      "This uncertain, floating me, whose existence I myself dispute, here it is, surrounded, accompanied by an invisible troupe of women who perhaps should have received this honor long before, so that I am tempted to stand aside and let their shadows pass."

B. 06-08-1906, Margaret Rawlings - gifted British actor who was ranked as one of the two best of her day in Shavian and Shakespearian roles. She came to great public attention in 1931 when her dance of the seven veils was so erotic that several members of the audience were reported to have fainted.

B. 06-08-1907, Billie Pierce - U.S. boogie-woogie piano player with a distinctive blues shouting style that was unforgetable.

B. 06-08-1921, Alexis Smith - U.S. actress who starred with many of Hollywood's most sought-after leading men including Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and Errol Flynn in the 1940s and 50s. She won a Tony in 1972 for her sensational performance as the cynical and aging former showgirl in Follies.
      She was the patron for U.S. novelist Rita Mae Brown.

B. 06-08-1937, Joan Rivers - U.S. actor and comedic entertainer. She was guest host on the Tonight Show 1983-86, and is a perennial Las Vegas performer.
      JR was touted as Johnny Carson's replacement but it was decided that a woman couldn't do the job.

B. 06-08-1941, Paula Robison - noted U.S. flutist solist, one of the founding members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

B. 06-08-1946, Judith Jane Irving - U.S. film producer and director. She has won several Emmy awards for her documentaries.

B. 06-08-1947, Sara Paretsky - author of the Chicago- based detective series featuring the opera singing, liberal feminist, Victoria Warshawski who lacks the house cleaning and cooking genes expected in women.
      Good reading!

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      "If a man is vain, flatter. If timid, flatter. If boastful, flatter. In all history, too much flattery never lost a gentleman."

"I am tempted to stand aside and let their shadows pass... "
-- Ed. Note: we have used this quote extensively and consider it one of the great written lines (see above.)

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