You’ve watched the reveal trailer for Battlefield V and are angry about seeing a woman fighting in World War 2.
You’re not alone – there’s quite a few people who’ve looked at that trailer and basically rage-hammered out some tawdry comment like “BUT NO WOMEN FOUGHT ZOMG UNREALISTIC SJW APPEASEMENT”.
Well, guys, I’m almost afraid to tell you this, because it could very well ruin your day and forever change your blinkered world view. But…
WOMEN HAVE ALWAYS FOUGHT.
And World War 2 was no different, and because it covered so many homefronts, women all over the world took arms to not only defend their homes, but also went out onto the fighting front to biff some Bosch, hammer some Hun, and generally kill the ever-loving shit out of a whole metric fucktonne of Nazis. Here’s just a short list of some of the most lethal, stone-cold, killers from World War 2, and trust me it is the tip of one seriously hardcore iceberg.
1. Nancy Wake
Nancy (the main pic for this article) earned a rather unlikely nickname during her time as an Allied spy in World War 2. The Germans who spent the whole war hunting her – and failed, by the way – called her The White Mouse. It’s a helluva cute name for a woman who made her name actually choking Nazis to death; and when she wasn’t doing that, she was helping French resistance groups and rescuing Allied POWs and downed pilots.
In her New York Times obituary – she passed away in 2011 – she famously said of herself that "I was not a very nice person - and it didn't put me off my breakfast."
2. Lyudmila Pavlichenko
Lyudmila wasn’t a spy – she was a front line soldier fighting in one of the most demanding and downright murderous theatres of the entire war: the Eastern Front. Like many women in the Russian army, she was a sniper, trained to target officers, lone soldiers, and otherwise scare the living shit out of any German downrange from her bolt-action Mosin-Nagant rifle.
And she was very, very good at her job, racking up a confirmed kill tally of 309 dead Nazis.
That, by the way, is more than Noble Sniper Vasily Zaytsev.
3. Gertrude Boyarski
Gertrude watched her whole family shot to death by SS goons, and decided there was really only one comeback from that kind of atrocity. The young Pole escaped, found a Russian partisan group, and told them “I want to fight and take revenge for my whole family."
She famously stole a dangerous amount of kerosene from a German supply dump, and proceeded to burn an important bridge – which linked the supply dump with local German forces. When she saw it wasn’t burning fast enough, she started pulling the burning bridge apart with her bare fucking hands.
I guess she just wanted it more.
4. The Night Witches
Not just one fighting woman, but A WHOLE GODDAMN REGIMENT OF THEM.
More formally known as the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, the Night Witches served from 1942 to 1945, flying 23,000 sorties against numerous German targets in canvas-covered wooden training aircraft. They flew in the Battle of the Caucasus, the Crimean Offensive, the East Prussian Offensive, and whole bomb-bay load more engagements, right up to the invasion of Germany itself.
23 women from the regiment were awarded with the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. These gals are just too damn awesome – you should definitely check out their entry on Wikipedia.
5. Susan Travers
You might have heard of the French Foreign Legion, a notoriously hard unit of French soldiers best known for courageous last stands and recruiting anyone, so long as they can speak the language. You may not have heard of one its bravest members – and the only woman in the unit at the time.
Susan was a driver during the siege of Bir Hakeim in Libya, and when every other woman was evacuated, she stayed behind, holding out against superior German forces for 15 days, until she drove the lead truck during a night time break out. Her truck was shot 11 times, but she gave zero fucks, leading out 2500 Free French to freedom.
Seriously, women fought in World War 2. They fought, they killed, and they died, and they left behind a legacy that deserves as much recognition as we can give them. If you’re salty about seeing a woman on the cover of Battlefield V, and featuring in the game’s trailer, you’re doing these brave soldiers, sailors, pilots, spies, and freedom fighters a massive disservice.
EDITED TO ADD: A colleague has pointed out - rightly so - that every article that talks about X women who did cool stuff during the war tends to look at Wake and the Night Witches, which is true, but it's apparent from what a lot of Battlefield fans have said that even so, these figures are still no well known.
So, if this is a topic that interests you, here are some links for further reading:
Badass of the Week, women (general, but some great entries nonetheless)
And there are so many more. It's a rich topic, definitely worth exploring.