Hey everyone! I am excited to be doing my second post for the new feature I started last month! If you're curious about it or want to see my first post, check out the page I made for it! The link is in the bar at the top!
Today I'm going to talk about another great WWII era historical fiction book I read this year!
Front Lines by Michael Grant
Soldier Girl #1
Front Lines is about an alternate world where a court decision makes girls subject to the draft and eligible for service in the military. The story follows three girls from very different backgrounds who joined up to serve for different reasons.
You can read my review here.
So since this book is about girls fighting in WWII, I'm going to talk about a few badass women of World War II!
I used this list to pick the amazing women I chose to talk about!
1. VIRGINIA HALL
Virginia Hall was considered by the Gestapo to be "the most dangerous of Allied spies". She was hunted by the Nazis who were on the lookout for the "woman with the limp".
She studied languages in several countries to attain her goal of becoming a US Foreign Services Officer, but after a hunting accident resulting in the loss of the lower part of her left leg, her dreams were crushed.
So instead she worked as an ambulance driver for the French Army before fleeing to England and joining the British Special Operations Executive as a spy after the Nazi invasion. She was sent into occupied France undercover as an American reporter. She used this position to help create safe drop zones for bringing in new agents, supplies, money, and weapons.
After awhile the Nazis started to move into the area of France that Hall was in and the SOE ordered everyone out. To escape, part of the journey required her to trek like 30 miles to Spain through the Pyrenees Mountains. WITH ONE LEG! And a prosthetic. And when she arrived with no papers, they threw her in prison for six weeks!
After arriving back in London she was trained as a wireless radio operator and joined the Office of Strategic Services (which later became the CIA). She requested to be sent back to France despite her high profile.
To avoid the detection of Nazis who were trying to track her radio signals, she disguised herself as an elderly milkmaid, dying her hair grey and wearing heavy skirts to hide her limp. During this mission she coordinated drops of supplies for resistance workers and reported the movements of the German troops to London. She also trained three groups of French resistance fighters to sabotage the Germans.
After the war, she was privately given the Distinguished Service Cross to keep her name from getting out so that she could continue in her same line of work.
Virginia Hall (1906-1982), World War II Spy for the Allies by Kate Kelly
Wanted: The Limping Lady by Cate Lineberry
2. SOPHIE SCHOLL
Like most young people in Germany during the WWII era, Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans enthusiastically joined the Hitler Youth. Their parents were not so enthusiastic about it, not believing in Hitler or the war to come. Over time, Sophie and her brother came to realize that their parents were right and Hitler was leading Germany down a path of destruction.
While most people in Germany believed that they had to support everything going on during this time, Sophie and Hans believed differently. They believed that they needed to stand up against an awful regime that was sending so many of their own people to their untimely deaths.
Along with a group of like-minded people, the Scholl's began to practice passive resistance. This practice included creating and passing out leaflets they wrote that basically called for social justice and for the German people to rise up against the Nazi's evil ways.
This little group of friends became known as The White Rose. They authored six pamphlets calling for the German people to passively resist the Nazis and calling out Hitler on his crap.
On February 18th, 1943, the Scholls' luck finally ran out. They brought a suitcase full of leaflets to a university and dropped them off in the halls while no one was around. Finding a few extra leaflets stuck in the suitcase, they thought that it would be a shame to not distribute them so they flung them from the top floor of the atrium and were busted.
Sophie and Hans Scholl, along with their friend Christopher Probst, were put on trial and found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. They were beheaded shortly after their trial. Sophie went with courage to her execution and her last were words, "The sun still shines."
Holocause Resistance: The White Rose - A Lesson in Dissent by Jacob G. Hornberger
3. GERTRUDE BOYARSKI
Gertrude Boyarski lived quietly with her family in Derecyzn, Poland until the Nazis invaded in 1941. Because her father was a butcher and a housepainter, he was considered useful and when all the Jewish people were put into the ghetto, they were able to live just outside of it.
In 1942, the Germans began the extermination of the 3,000-4,000 Jews in the ghetto. Gertrude and her family managed to escape to the nearby woods, hoping to join with a unit of partisan fighters. In order to prove themselves to the group that they met up with, a group of the Jewish men who escaped the ghetto had to return to attack the nearby police station and bring back some much needed ammunition.
The mission was successful and Gertrude and her family were accepted into the partisan unit. Several surprise attacks on the partisans resulted in her entire family being murdered. She went to the leader of the partisans, Commander Pavel Bulak, and requested to join a fighting unit to seek revenge for her entire family. Impressed by her conviction, she was allowed to join on the condition that she proved herself.
She spent two weeks standing guard, alone, a mile from the camp to prove she was cut out to be a fighter. She came through and was accepted by the group. She spent about three years fighting with the group and attacking German soldiers. In honor of International Women's Day, Gertrude and one of her friends volunteered for a dangerous mission to burn down a bridge that was often used by Nazi soldiers.
They had no supplies so they went to the nearest village to request some kerosene and straw. When neither was given to them, they pulled out their rifles and asked again and received the supplies. They successfully completed the mission and were awarded one of the Soviet Union's highest honors, the Order of Lenin medal.
In 1945, after the war, Gertrude learned that one of her cousins had survived by joining another partisan unit. They were married and moved to the United States where she regularly talks to school audiences.
Fighting Back: Gertrude Boyarski: From Frail Girl to Partisan Fighter
4. LYUDMILA PAVLICHENKO
When WWII started, Lyudmila Pavlichenko was at University in Kiev studying history. Within a year of the war starting, she had become the deadliest female sniper of all time with 309 confirmed kills. Her count is probably higher than that, but in order to be a confirmed kill, there has to be a third party there to witness it.
When the Nazi's invaded the Soviet Union, Lyudmila rushed to join the Soviet army, but was denied because she was a female. Not even showing her marksmanship badge from a paramilitary sporting organization specializing in teaching young people to use weapons could get her in. She was eventually allowed to join after "auditioning" by easily shooting two targets who were working with the Germans.
She was sent to battle in Greece and within her first 75 days at war, she had killed 187 targets. Her reputation earned her increasingly dangerous missions until she was going one on one with enemy snipers. She killed 36 enemy snipers, some of whom were highly decorated.
The Germans knew of her and tried to entice her to defect to their side, saying that they would give her candy and make her an officer. When that didn't work, they resorted to threats, saying that they would tear her into 309 pieces, proving that they had been paying attention and knew her score.
After being wounded in battle from taking some shrapnel to the face, she was pulled from combat and used to train new snipers.
Meet the World's Deadliest Female Sniper Who Terrorized Hitler's Nazi Army by Alex Lockie
Eleanor Roosevelt and the Soviet Sniper by Gilbert King
5. Nadezhda Popova
Nadezhda Popova joined the Soviet Army shortly after the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. She was inspired both by patriotism and the need to get revenge for the death of her brother who was killed when the Germans commandeered her home as a Gestapo police station.
She became a part of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment that was known to the Germans as the "Night Witches". Over the coarse of the war, Nadezdha flew 852 missions, doing as many as 18 per night. The Germans called them "Night Witches" because of the whooshing sound the canvas biplanes made as they flew by reminded them of a witch's broomstick.
Over four years, the Nightwitches flew 30,000 missions, dropping 23,000 tons of bombs on the German invaders and chasing them back to Berlin. German pilots were awarded an Iron Cross if they were able to shoot down a Night Witch. Nadezhda was shot down several times, but was never hurt badly.
One time after being shot down, she found herself in a crowd of retreating troops and civilians and she met a downed fighter pilot with whom she hit it off and they ended up getting married after the war.
She was named Hero of the Soviet Union, which is the nation's highest honor. She also received the Gold Star, the Order of Lenin, and the Order of the Red Star.
Nadezhda Popova, WWII 'Night Witch," Dies At 91 by Douglas Martin
Nadezhda Popova: Rising To Her Times by Manny Frishberg
6. Nancy Wake
When Germany invaded France in 1940, Nancy Wake headed right on over to sign up for the army to work as a nurse and drive an ambulance, which she used to help refugees fleeing from the advancing Germans. She spent the first few years of the war recovering escaped prisoners of war and downed Royal Air Force pilots, hiding them out in her house until she could get them fake papers, and then getting them safely through the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain. She helped about 1,000+ soldiers this way.
She quickly became a suspect and was watched by the Gestapo. They tapped her phone and opened her mail. They put a 5 million dollar franc reward on her head! She became so good at evading the Germans that they nicknamed her the "White Mouse". By 1943, she was number one on the Gestapo's most wanted list.
When it became too risky for her to stay in France, she made six attempts to cross the Pyrenees into Spain to escape to London. On one of these trips, she was caught and interrogated for four days before she tricked her captors into releasing her. She didn't give them anything in those four days of torture. Not even her real name.
When she finally made it to Britain, she joined the French section of the British Special Operations Executive. There she learned sabotage, espionage, survival skills, silent killing, radio operations, night parachuting, and how to work with explosives and guns.
In April 1944, she parachuted back into France to prepare for D-Day. Her job was to organize the resistance groups. She led them in guerrilla warfare, sabotaging factories, raiding depots, cutting train tracks, and performing countless other missions to sabotage the enemy. During one raid, she killed a Nazi with her bare hands before he had a chance to sound an alarm.
Nancy was the one who interrogated captured prisoners of war and determined whether they would live or die. She was the one who received coordinates for supply drops and made sure there were men there to pick them up. She bicycled 125 miles in 72 hours in order to radio London for help after her cell was attacked and her radio was destroyed. She took control of a battle after the leader died and formulated an escape plan that kept anyone else from dying.
After the war, Nancy Wake became the most decorated female Allied soldier. She received many medals including: the British George Medal, the American Medal of Freedom, the French Legion d'Honneur, and three Croix de Guerres. Finally in 2004, she was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia. In 2006 she received the RSA Badge in Gold, which is the New Zealand Returned Services Association's highest honor.
In addition to all of the above, she could also pretty much drink any of the men she worked with under the table.
Nancy Wake: The White Mouse by Paul Stanley Ward
What do you think of this?! Did you know about any of these badass women of WWII? Do you know of any other women that could have made the list?