Saturday, 28 June 2014

Women Warriors - the Woman who bought her own Tank

One of my friends has a great interest in tanks, and obscure corners of military history, so when he mentioned "the woman who bought her own tank" I had to investigate further.

This is another Soviet story (like the Night Witches I've blogged about previously).
Mariya Vasilyevna Oktyabrskaya was the wife of a Soviet army officer. Her husband was killed in 1941 - some accounts say her sons were also killed - and she donated her entire savings to the Red Army on the condition that they used the money to buy a tank, and that she would be allowed to drive the tank.
Seeing the good propaganda potential, the Red Army agreed, and Mariya qualified as a tank driver and mechanic. Her tank was a T-34, which she named "Fighting Girlfriend" and she took part in tank battles around Smolensk in 1943, where she was promoted to Sergeant.

In January 1944, she was involved in a tank battle in which her tank was hit by enemy fire. She jumped out of the tank to repair it, and was hit by shrapnel - she spent two months in a coma in a military hospital before dying of her wounds. She was made a Hero of the Soviet Union posthumously.

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