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'Lady Death' fought the Nazis in WWII and became the deadliest female sniper in history

'Lady Death' fought the Nazis in WWII and became the deadliest female sniper in history

A man's bragging inspired her to take up shooting - then WW2 broke out

There were many unsung heroes during the Second World War, and some of them are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

Case in point, the aptly named 'Lady Death' - so-called because she holds the prestigious title of being history's deadliest female sniper.

Lady Death was a force to be reckoned with.
Wikimedia Commons

Her incredible skills with a gun were something she used as a force for good during WW2 when she fought the Nazis.

Real name Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Lady Death was born in what is now Ukraine in 1916, and she showed a flare for sports from a young age.

But it was only when she heard a boy boasting about his skills with a gun that she took up what was certainly an unconventional pass time for a woman of the day.

"That was enough to send me running to the range," she wrote of his bragging.

A man's bragging led to the creation of history's deadliest female sniper.
Wikimedia Commons

Little did she know when she joined her first shooting club, the skills she was in the process of acquiring would help her kill a staggering 309 people in just a few months.

Her talent did not go unnoticed at the club, and she was soon awarded a sharpshooter badge and a marksman certificate.

A student at Kyiv University, she eventually decided that the next logical step for her was to join a sniper school.

As a result, when Hitler began his invasion of the then-Soviet Union through Operation Barbarossa in 1941, Lady Death was keen to sign up.

Operation Barbarossa was the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
Alamy / World of Triss

But because of her gender, officials suggested that she would be better suited to a job as a nurse.

However, when she revealed her credentials, they quickly realised that she would be invaluable in this department.

She went on to become one of just 2,000 female snipers when she enrolled in the Red Army's 25th Rifle Division.

To put how dangerous her job was into context, of these 2,000 women, only 500 lived to tell the tale.

A shortage of supplies meant that Lady Death did not even start out with a rifle - only a hand grenade, which she described as 'very frustrating'.

But she eventually got the gun she needed from a fallen comrade, who gave her his Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifle and so began her 'personal account with the enemy.'

Lady Death began her time in the war with a hand grenade and not a gun.

She immediately got to work in what she described as a 'baptism of fire' that saw her fire 'trial shots' so successful that she took out two Romanian soldiers.

Lady Death then went on to become one of her side's best assets, leaving early in the morning to hide as close as possible to the enemy, just waiting for a chance to pounce and shoot.

She remembered: "You need great self-control, will-power and endurance to lie fifteen hours at a stretch without moving.

"The slightest twitch may mean death."

Reflecting on what it was like to kill, she said felt nothing but 'the great satisfaction a hunter feels who has killed a beast of prey'.

Lady Death quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a Senior Sergeant after 100 kills and second to Lieutenant after 200.

The Nazis even tried to bribe her to switch sides.

The Nazis tried to get Lady Death to switch sides.
Wikimedia Commons

They pleaded over a loudspeaker: "Lyudmila Pavlichenko, come over to us. We will give you lots of chocolate and make you a German officer."

When she refused, they eventually resorted to threats including: "If we catch you, we will tear you into 309 pieces and scatter them to the winds!"

Lady Death was injured four times during the war, and her time in active combat came to an end in 1942 when she endured shrapnel to the face.

She was then evacuated and charged with inspiring more people around the world to sign up.

This saw her battle sexism that she handled firmly, but gracefully - such as when she was questioned about why she wore a uniform that made her look 'fat'.

Lady Death told a journalist: "I wish you could experience a bombing raid.

"You would immediately forget about the cut of your outfit."

She experienced sexism as she tried to drum up support for the war effort.
Wikimedia Commons

After beginning her journey into battle when she was upset by a man, she herself goaded men when she reached Chicago, telling the men in the audience: "Gentlemen. I am 25 years old and I have killed 309 fascist occupants by now.

"Don't you think, gentlemen, that you have been hiding behind my back for too long?"

This statement was initially met with silence before a round of applause erupted.

With her place firmly secured in history, Lady Death finished her education at Kiev University and became a historian herself before passing away from a heart attack in 1974.

Featured Image Credit: ruelleruelle / Alamy Album/alamy

Topics: News, World War 2