It was said about Lily Litvak, the legendary woman fighter-pilot, known as the “Free Hunter” and the “White Rose of Stalingrad”, her photo is to the right. The cover of the book “Night Witches” by Bruce Myles on the photo is to the left.
Three entire regiments of women fought in combat: 586-th Fighter Regiment, 587-th Bomber Regiment and 588-th Night Bomber Regiment. No other country involved in the war had women combat pilots. The stories based on in-depth research and over twenty personal interviews with survivors, are dramatically re-created by journalist Bruce Myles. This book is a rare opportunity to see combat pilots as human beings and the reader comes away with a new appreciation of the human dimension of warfare. Book is a good romantic thriller, immensely vivid and moving.
Most of the aviators were still teenagers, and a high proportion were very attractive. (P.147)
What on earth motivated them?
The best answer one can find on Page 172 of the description of the special moment of the announcement “that 588-th Women’s Night Bomber Regiment will from today be given the title of the 46-th Guards Regiment”. “The women’s commander Yevdokiya Bershanskaya knelt in the snow, took the thick cloth of the red banner in both hands and, burying her face in it, kissed the flag. The tears that now welled from her eyes owed nothing to the cold wind. She cried silently out of pride for her girls, anguish for her country, and a deep painful longing for her husband and child. It was a profoundly moving moment. She held on to the flag and raised her head, looking up at the general as she repeated after him the words of the oath. One by one the members of her regiment followed her across the snow to kneel, kiss the banner, and repeat the oath. They were the first regiment in their division to be awarded such an honour and, of course, the first women’s air regiment to achieve it.
Natalya Meklin’s new march of the 46-th Guards Regiment: “We’re flying ahead with fire in our breasts, let the flag of the Guards be red at the head…” was written in the typical heroic style of Russian patriotic songs and all joined in with great gusto…”
In the book we read on Page 121:
“Ina told to the story teller:”Lily’s love for Alexei was the thing that turned her into killer”.
Alexei and Lily were both ace pilots, fell in love with each other, both later were killed in action.
All the girls were doing their war job brilliantly in spite of male chauvinism and all the other hardships their motherland went through in 1941-1945 y.y.
The was as a tremendous disaster flew to the land, destroyed it, devastated the souls and took away the wonderful lives of the best people in the world.
Thanks to Bruce Myles their untold stories, their names became alive which is appreciated amidst us.
On these nearing November 11-th, Veterans’ days we would like to send our greetings to Canadian pilot Vern Flatekval (the photo of him is to the left)? wherever he is nowadays, wishing him all the best as we remember his war story about fighting Nazis over skies of Berlin who recollected his life rescuer at that terrible time – that was a Russian woman pilot who opened her cockpit at the end of the battle and he saw her long hair flying in the wind…
That is why we started the research on the topic: Russian women pilots in combat.
Thanks, Vern, for your faithful memory of that eventful day.