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Lyudmila Pavlichenko, the Greatest Female Sniper of All Time

Lyudmila Pavlichenko took up shooting as a young teenager to prove that she could be just as good at it as a boy she knew who bragged of his skills. She was better. Later on, in 1941, she dropped out of college to join the Red Army and use her ability as a sharpshooter to fight the Nazis. Army officials didn't take her seriously.

Army leaders initially wanted Pavlichenko to be a nurse. After some pleading with a registrar, she was able to join as a sniper because of her training. However, a lack of guns meant that she at first helped dig trenches instead. She wrote in her memoirs, “It was very frustrating to have to observe the course of battle with just a single grenade in one’s hand." Eventually, a colleague wounded by a shell splinter passed his rifle over to Pavlichenko when he was too injured to use it. Weeks later, she shot two Romanian soldiers a quarter-mile away, which served as a “baptism of fire,” she later wrote, and led to her being accepted by her comrades as a full-fledged sniper.

Pavlichenko only served as a Soviet sniper for a year before an injury caused her to be pulled from the front and made into a sniper instructor. However, in that one year, she racked up 309 confirmed kills, making her the most successful woman sniper in history and earning her the title "Lady Death." Pavlichenko the war hero traveled to the US in support of the war effort and encountered sexism that was even worse than in Soviet Union. Read the story of Lyudmila Pavlichenko at Mental Floss.


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