Tales born in the confusion of battle can sometimes grow and change considerably by the time they get to you, particularly stories from long long ago. The old saying “History is written by the winners” holds true also, because accounts from the battlefield can be used for political purposes. Some are attempts to explain unexpected victories or defeats. Other stories just grew like any other strange tale. For all these reasons, war is full of urban legends, like the one about the White Tights.
According to Russian legend, the White Tights – or beliye kolgotky – are blonde, beautiful women who are as deadly as they are attractive. The stories began to circulate during the Chechen Wars, when men would tell of a group of women hired as assassins, targeting anyone they’re paid to dispatch.
The legend gives them something of a background, too. They’re reputed to be members of a biathlon team, doing their training right out in the open where they’re groomed for long-distance marathons that end with putting a bullet in someone. They’re also said to be originally from the Baltic states, born with a grudge against Russia that makes them the perfect, cold-blooded killers.
Russian soldiers would report their units receiving radio transmissions from the women, giving them fair warning that they were coming. Their goals were often to wound the regular soldiers and kill the officers – not with a head shot, but with a shot to the groin.
It’s one story that definitely walks the line between truth and fiction, and when members of the Russian Biathlon Federation issued a statement saying that their athletes absolutely weren’t a part of the secret society of assassins, it’s said that they had to double-check first just to make sure. There’s a historical basis for the idea, too – as far back as the Russian Civil War in 1918 women were often employed as snipers. They were patient, they were calculating, and it was easier for them in infiltrate certain areas – especially if they were armed with a child. But the White Tights take the idea of a secret group of deadly, beautiful blonde women who can kill with a single shot to a whole new level.
That’s just one of ten battlefield urban legends you can read about at Urban Ghosts. Others tell of monsters that only come out at night, angelic beings who saved the day, and propaganda stories about the evils of the enemy.