History Girls

During the Second World War, nearly a million women fought alongside their male counterparts and in October 1941, women’s aviation regiments began to be formed. Marina Raskova, already an ace pilot and member of the ‘People’s Defence Committee’, was allowed to organised three female aviation groups authorised by the Soviet high command. They were the 586 IAP (Fighter Aviation Regiment), the 587 BAP (Bomber Aviation Regiment) and the 588 NBAP (Night Bomber Aviation Regiment).

After being accepted to the training program, the young women underwent a rigorous six month flying and navigation course, fitting in to that time an amount of training that would normally take around a year and a half. In September 1942, Valerya Khomyakova of the 586 IAP’s or ‘Fighter Aviation Regiment’ became the first female Soviet pilot to shoot down an enemy aircraft at night when she downed a Ju 99.

A month later, the 586 IAP assisted in Operation Saturn and Uranus, which was successful in eliminating the German 6th Army at Stalingrad, after which, they were given the task of defending some important military logistical facilities and strategic locations. In 1944, the unit took part in the Soviet offensive in Hungry fighting with Yak-9 fighters and they finished the war on one of the captured airfields in Austria.

The 588 NBAP unit or ‘Night Bomber Aviation Regiment’ arrived combat ready in the Ukraine on the 23rd May 1942. They quickly earned the respect and fear of their enemies being given the nick name ‘night witches’. The decorated German Commander of II. /JG 52, Hauptmann Johannes Steinhoff, wrote of the 588 NBAP’s;

“We simply couldn’t grasp that the Soviet airmen that caused us the greatest trouble were in fact WOMEN. These women feared nothing. They came night after night in their very slow biplanes, and for some periods they wouldn’t give us any sleep at all.”

On 25th October 1942, a bomb strike by the 588 NBAP set alight a fuel depot at Armavir airfield. The fire spread and destroyed all but one of the planes on the airfield, leading to the quick withdrawal of the German fighters situated there. In January the following year, the regiments achievements were acknowledged and it was given the new title of 46th Taman’ Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment.

It was the most highly decorated regiment in the whole Soviet Air Force, with twenty-three of its pilots being awarded with the Gold Star of Hero of the Soviet Union, with a former navigator of the regiment becoming the twenty-forth to receive the award in 1995.

Marina Raskova took command of the third regiment herself, the 587th BAP or (Bomber Aviation Regiment). The regiment finished its training on 22nd November 1942 and was moved to the Stalingrad front line. After helping to liberate the town of Borisov, the unit became known as the 125th “M. M. Raskova” Borisov Guards Dive Bomber Aviation Regiment.

In one celebrated incident involving a pilot from the unit, Mariya Dolina flying a Pe-2 bomber, managed to shoot down two enemy plains at the same time. The regiment finished war operations in May 1943 after flying a total of 1134 combat missions dropping 980 tons of bombs in the process. A tribute made to the women of the unit by the Free-French pilots of the “Normandie-Niemen” Fighter Regiment who often fought along side them stated;

“Even if it were possible to gather and place at your feet all the flowers on earth, this would not constitute sufficient tribute to your valour.”

The 587 BAP and the 588 NBAP were involved in the fighting in the Kuban area of Southern Russia where they came up against some of the best fighter pilots the German air force had to offer including Erich Harmann of the famous JG 54 fighter group, who was the highest ranked fighter ace in the world with 352 confirmed combat kills.

Throughout the war, the Soviet female fighter pilots were involved in some of the heaviest aerial combat operations in history. They earned the fear and respect of enemy combatants and were often highly decorated for their efforts by their country.

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Women’s History Magazine


{June 10, 2010}   Who Were the Amazons?

What is known of the actual Amazons within the Aegean is very little, and yet intrigue about a race of dominant warrior women in the bronze age has flourished from ancient times into the present. The obvious question asked by most scholars has been, “who were the Amazons, and did they actually exist?”.

Research into the Amazons is extremely limited and at times contradictory. There are numerous accounts of the origins of the Amazons, most concurring that the black sea region was their original settlement. To what extent the Amazons settled into the Black Sea region has not been fully ascertained. Some sources say they reached as far south as Libya, some to the Anatolia peninsula, others as far west as the Mongolian region of Eurasia.

These accounts are further conflicted by the later Greek accounts of the Amazons. According to the Greek accounts, when the Greeks themselves began to settle into the area of the black sea, they found no Amazons.

As a result and to explain this discrepancy, the myth of Hercules and Hippolyte was created to explain their disappearance. According to the myth, Hercules led an expedition through the Amazon land to obtain the girdle of Queen Hippolyte (the queen of the Amazons), during this time he managed to expel and conquer all the Amazons in the district.

Regardless of the myth, modern and ancient scholars remain perplexed by the question of whether the Amazons existed at all. Plutarch, a Greek historian, concluded that the Amazons did not exist as a race of warrior women per se’, but were merely women fighting alongside men in battle. Herodotus, another Greek historian, believed that the Amazons did exist within Greece.

Other scholars have even ventured that the women were in fact male Persian soldiers who shaved their beards off and dressed as women in battle. These theories and questions have been compounded by the view of Amazons within Greek art. The early depictions of Amazons were similar in style and likeness of Athena, as time progressed Amazons were given the likeness of Artemis. The final depictions of Amazons share slightly Persian features, a likeness (since the Greeks were in constant conflict with Persia) which can be best viewed as anomalous.

Outside of the questions of the Amazon origins, other questions pertaining to Amazons concern their view of men, and if they were a fierce (blood thirsty) people. The Greeks often questioned (as do modern scholars) how the Amazons, a race composed entirely of women, were able to sustain themselves throughout the generations.

The most credible theory holds that the Amazons had contact with men from other lands, the Amazons kept the female children born to them, and sent the male children to live with their fathers. As to the Amazons blood thirsty nature, Quintus Smyrnaeus wrote of them during the Trojan Wars:

“In the pure rapture of triumph the Amazons charged, and with anguished groans and shrieks the Greeks perished, their manhood withered by the women from the fierce and untamed northlands. Like Goddesses amidst earth born heroes the Amazons pursued their reeling foes, dashed them down, cut them apart, and, scoffing, tossed them through the air – till the Greek formations dissolved in consternation.”

The Amazons by and large were a race of fierce warriors, who on numerous occasions laid siege in Attica, and were even a threat to Athens. What is certain is that the Amazons were formidable fighters which the Greeks feared, but as to the Amazons being blood thirsty the question still remains.

Source: mnsu.edu 
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Women’s History Magazine

{April 26, 2010}   Woman General Fu Hao

Little is known about the early life of the warrior and commander Fu Hao who lived during the later Shang Dynasty, some 3,200 years ago. Wife of the Shang emperor Wu Ding, all records of her, inscribed in ancient oracle bone scripture, lend historians to believe that she is one who, taking advantage of her position in that still semi-matriarchal slave society, was able to bring her talents fully into play. 

In her day, the emperor Wu Ding pushed the Shang empire to its zenith by extending his realm of power through the cultivation of loyal collaborators. Many local tribes came over and pledged allegiance to him. In good faith Wu Ding married one woman from each such tribe, and Fu Hao was one of those wives. Nonetheless, she has gone down in history not so much as a stateswoman and an outstanding strategist, in her own right…..

It can be seen from ancient historical records that the major functions of the state at that time fell into two categories: to conduct sacrificial and divination ceremonies and to do battle. The records show that Fu Hao played an important part in a series of wars during the reign of Wu Ding.

As the mere size of an army often determined the outcome of a battle, especially when fairly primitive weapons were in use, the Shang regime rulers paid much attention to recruitment, and in keeping with the spirit, Fu Hao drew soldiers form within her own country and from neighboring tribes as well. It is found in the records that Fu Hao led generals and a huge army of ten thousand soldiers in battles. The two big yue, or battle-axes, found in her tomb weighing 9 kilos each, and two smaller ones are bearing the inscription of Fu Hao, are indications of her military authority.

The Shang territories were surrounded by hostile tribes. The Tus inhabited about one thousand li north of the Shang capital and repeatedly violated the Shang borders, seizing men and materials. Shang emperors prior to Wu Ding fought them many times but could not defeat them. History tells us that they were at last forced to surrender by Fu Hao in a single decisive battle, after which they became compliant.

The Yis, to the southeast, were not very strong but sometimes also made incursions into Shang territory. Under Wu Ding’s order, Fu Hao’s troops defeated them easily. Her force also repulsed the attacks of the Qiangs from the northwest. The Bafangs in the southwest were also a belligerent people. Wu Ding made a surprise attack, forcing them to flee right to the hands of Fu Hao’s men who were waiting in ambush.
The Shangs suffered considerably after the death of Fu Hao. The Gongfang to the north took to battle against the shangs, threatening the latter’s very existence. Worried, Wu Ding made repeated appeals and sacrifices to the spirit of Fu Hao in the hope that she would help him defeat the invaders.

Source:  All-China Women’s Federation

Women’s History Magazine

{January 8, 2010}   Kyra Gracie

Kyra Gracie Guimaraes, born on May 29, 1985 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was welcomed into a clan of martial arts legends. From her grandfather Carlos Robson Gracie who founded the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), to Kyra’s title-holder uncles Ryan Gracie, Renzo Gracie and Ralph Gracie, it was expected that Kyra would practice the sport.

In fact, she began training in jujitsu when she was only 11 years old. Her mother Flavia Gracie also practices the fighting style. However, Kyra Gracie made history as being the first female to compete professionally in BJJ and win numerous titles. When Kyra Gracie was in her teens, she moved to the United States to train at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York and the Gracie Barra Academy in California.

By age 13, Kyra Gracie has already won the New York State BJJ and Brazilian BJJ Championships, both of which she earned in 1998. From then on, Kyra Gracie has managed to win four more Brazilian BJJ titles (in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004) as well as four otherNew York State BJJ titles (in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002).

Kyra Gracie has also won the World BJJ Championships in 2004 and 2005, the Asiatic BJJ Championships in 2006 and two Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships in 2005 and 2007. She has also become a Pan American BJJ Games Champion five times – in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

Kyra Gracie is now a black-belter in the sport. Thanks to her numerous titles and legendary name, Kyra Gracie has been featured in several magazines, such as Crosscombat, Black Belt magazine, BJJ Legends and VIP Magazine.

In most of her interviews, Kyra has stated that she can be a fierce fighter, but still remain feminine – a statement proven by thousands of her male fans around the world. However, in a 2005 interview with NY Mag, Kyra Gracie asserts that she never thinks of jujitsu as being sexy, but only as a sport.

Kyra Gracie, whose name is often misspelled as “Kira,” is currently living in California. Aside from competing around the world, she also teaches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the Gracie Barra Academy in Lake Forest, California. She also remains associated with the Gracie Barra Academy inRio de Janeiro.


Born in Knickerbocker, Texas around 1876 to a German mother and a Native American father, she met outlaws William Carver and Ben “The Tall Texan” Kilpatrick when she was just a teenager. 

Knickerbocker was a haven of outlaws and Laura’s own father was a bank robber, so it came as no surprise when the young girl followed a life of crime. When she was just 15 years-old she began a romance with Will Carver, who had been married to her aunt until she had recently died. Carver often worked with Black Jack Ketchum robbing trains before he moved on to Utah and hooked up with Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, where Laura ultimately ended up too. 

Somewhere along the line, Laura transferred her affections to Ben Kilpatrick, who cast his lot with the Wild Bunch in 1898. Laurie Bullion often helped the gang by fencing goods and money for them and was known to the group as Della Rose and often called the “Rose of the Wild Bunch.”

Having taken part in several train robberies with the Wild Bunch, Kilpatrick and Bullion returned to Texas with William Carver, where Carver was ambushed and killed by lawmen on April 1, 1901. Bullion and Kilpatrick then fled to to St. Louis, Missouri, where they were arrested on November 8, 1901. Kilpatrick was found guilty of robbery and sentenced to 15 years in prison, while Laura was sentenced to five. 

After serving 3 1/2 years, Laura was released from the Missouri State Penitentiary at Jefferson City, Missouri, on September 19, 1905 and lived the last years of her life in Memphis, Tennessee, under the name of Freda Lincoln, making her way as a seamstress and a dressmaker. She passed away on December 2, 1961 and is buried in Memphis under a tombstone that reads, “Freda Bullion Lincoln—Laura Bullion—The Thorny Rose.” 

She never saw her lover Ben Kilpatrick again. Kilpatrick, on the other hand, was released from prison in June, 1911 and immediately returned to a life of crime. While trying to rob a Southern Pacific express near Sanderson, Texas , on March 13, March, 1912, he was killed with an ice mallet.

Source: Legends of America

Women’s History Magazine

{November 4, 2009}   Legends of America – Rose Dunn

Rose Dunn met George “Bitter Creek” Newcomb, a former member of the Dalton Gang before their demise in Coffeyville, Kansas, through her outlaw brothers. In 1893, Newcomb became a member of the Doolin Gang, and it was somewhere around this time that he met Rose Dunn, often referred to as “the Rose of Cimarron,” through her outlaw brothers. The Doolin Gang terrorized Indian Territory for two years as they robbed banks, stagecoaches and trains in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

On the afternoon of September 1, 1893, while several members of the gang were holed up in George Ransom’s saloon in Ingalls, Oklahoma they were involved in a gun battle with U.S. marshals. After the lawmen surrounded the saloon demanding that the outlaws surrender, Doolin’s response was, “Go to hell.” As the guns began to blast and a hail of bullets flew, the frightened townspeople ran for cover.

Dunn, who was staying at Mrs. Pierce’s hotel allegedly ran through the raining bullets in order to deliver a Winchester rifle to her lover. The battle left nine people killed or wounded, including one deputy who died immediately and another two, who died of their wounds the next day. Three of the outlaws, including Rose’s boyfriend, were wounded and Arkansas Tom Jones was captured.

By May 1895, Newcomb had a $5,000 reward on his head and when he and Charley Pierce stopped to see Rose, her outlaw brothers turned them in for the reward and he was shot and killed by lawmen.

After her George Newcomb’s death, Rose retired from crime, became the wife of an Oklahoma politician and lived the rest of her life as a respected citizen.

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Women’s History Magazine

{November 2, 2009}   Female Gladiators

Martial, whose Spectacles were written to celebrate the inauguration of the amphitheater in AD 80, also speaks of women fighting in the arena, “It is not enough that warrior Mars serves you in unconquered arms, Caesar. Venus herself serves you too” (VII), and as venationes, “Illustrious Fame used to sing of the lion laid low in Nemea’s spacious vale, Hercules’ work. Let ancient testimony be silent, for after your shows, Caesar, we now have seen such things done by a women’s valor” (VIII).

Domitian, the younger brother of Titus, who succeeded him the following year, is explicitly said to have presented women as gladiators. He “gave hunts of wild beasts, gladiatorial shows at night by the light of torches, and not only combats between men but between women as well” (Suetonius, IV.1) and “sometimes he would pit dwarfs and women against each other” (Dio, LXVII.8.4). Juvenal, a contemporary of Martial (XII.18), is especially critical of women from distinguished and illustrious families disgracing themselves in the arena or, for that matter, being enamored of gladiators and prizing them above home and country (VI. 82ff).

“What sense of shame can be found in a woman wearing a helmet, who shuns femininity and loves brute force….If an auction is held of your wife’s effects, how proud you will be of her belt and arm-pads and plumes, and her half-length left-leg shin-guard! Or, if instead, she prefers a different form of combat [as a Thraex, both of whose legs were protected], how pleased you’ll be when the girl of your heart sells off her greaves!….Hear her grunt while she practises thrusts as shown by the trainer, wilting under the weight of the helmet…” (Satires, VI.252ff).

The desire for excitement and notoriety was such that several edicts were enacted to limit the participation of women in the arena, at least those who were not slaves or of low social status. Senators (but not equites) first were prohibited from fighting in the arena in 46 BC, when one had desired to compete as part of the games accompanying the dedication of Caesar’s new forum (Dio, XLIII.23.5; Suetonius, XXXIX).

There was another ban in 38 BC prohibiting senators (and their sons) from fighting as a gladiator (and appearing on stage) (Dio, XLVIII.43.3). In 22 BC, even the grandsons of senators could not appear on stage (Dio, LIV.2.5; Suetonius, Augustus XLIII.3). Performances in the arena were even more scandalous and must have been banned, as well.

Women, given their appearance on the stage, also were included for the first time. But this senatus consultum (senatorial decree) seems to have been ineffectual. Aristocratic women and equites continued to appear on stage and the ban was lifted (Dio, LVI.25.7). In AD 11, a SC declared that “no female of free birth of less than twenty years of age and for no male of free birth of less than twenty-five years of age to pledge himself as a gladiator or hire out his services ,” a ban reiterated in AD 19.

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Women’s History Magazine

{September 22, 2009}   Kunoichi – Female Ninja

Women played a very important roll in the ninja clans of the past. Known as Kunoichi, the female ninja could often use their own femininity to get very close to the enemy.

Using psychological warfare and mind manipulation as weapons, the kunoichi could get in close enough to poison the victim without leaving a trace.

Kunoichi were trained in a variety of weapons, similar to the ninja, but because of the different situations they would face some smaller close range weapons were used more often.

Weapons like blinding powders, poisons, daggers, rope and even the fan were often carried because they could be used at close range and would be easy to transport without notice.

Imagine a young woman crying, and how it would make you feel. You’d probably want to try to help her, and maybe even offer her some assistance. This is just one example of how the kunoichi could trick someone into walking right into a trap, a very powerful weapon.

The clothing worn by the kunoichi depended on the situation, maybe it called for no clothes, who knows?

Source: entertheninja.com

Women’s History Magazine

{September 3, 2009}   Tomoe Gozen

“…Tomoe was especially beautiful, with white skin, long hair, and charming features. She was also a remarkably strong archer, and as a swordswoman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an oversized sword, and a might bow; and she preformed more deeds of valor than any of his other warriors.”

Tomoe Gozen

{August 21, 2009}   Boudicca – The Warrior Queen

Boudicca’s Speech Before Her Last Battle.

It is not as a woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body,
the outraged chastity of my daughters.
Roman lust has gone so far that not our very person, nor even age or virginity, are left unpolluted.

But heaven is on the side of a righteous vengeance; a legion that dared to fight has perished; the rest are hiding themselves in
their camp, or are thinking anxiously of flight.
They will not sustain even the din and the
shout of so many thousands, much less our charge and our blows.

If you weigh well the strength of the armies,
and the causes of the war, you will see that,
in this battle, you must conquer or die. This
is a woman’s resolve; as for men, they may
live and be slaves.

Source – channel4.com

et cetera