7. Lyudmila Pavlichenko
At the age of 24, Pavlichenko was a graduate student at the University of Kiev in 1941 when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. Her patriotism outraged by the invasions, Pavlichenko headed straight to the army recruiting station to sign up. The recruiters tried to get her to enlist as a nurse, but thought again when she was able to show them that she was a crack marksman.
She was attached as a sniper to the Red Army’s 25th Infantry Division. Using a Mosin-Nagent 7.62mm rifle she was allowed to go off Nazi hunting by herself, and within a few months had 187 confirmed kills. She was then moved to the Crimea peninsula, scene of horrific fighting between the Germans and Soviets, and she bagged another 122 confirmed kills. Of the 309 men she killed, 36 were opposing snipers, including one of the Germans’ best. After she was blown-up but not killed by a mortar, she became a sniper instructor. After the war, she was awarded the Gold Star Medal and made a Hero of the Soviet Union.
For five years in the early 2000’s a gangster terrorist by the charming name of Abu Osama rampaged around the Indian region of Jammu. He was irrationally violent, indiscriminately taking what he wanted and killing anyone who tried to stop him, and he was also a commander in Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Al Qaeda affiliate. In September 2009 he decided that he wanted RukhsanaKauser, the daughter of a particular farmer. By ‘wanted her’ I mean he wanted to carry her off and use her as his sex-toy.
Osama and five of his men, armed with AK47s charged down Rukhsana’s family’s door and proceeded to try and grab her. Well, she may only have been 18, but she was not being taken by anyone. Charging Osama, Rukhsana grabbed the first thing she could, an axe. She grabbed the shocked Osama by the head, and smashed his skull against the wall with enough force to crack it. She then cut him with the axe, grabbed his AK, and shot him in the head at point blank range. Turning her attention to his men, she sprayed them with automatic fire, severely wounding two more. The rest fled outside the house. After a lengthy firefight, the remaining terrorists fled into the countryside. Rukhsana had killed one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists. She is currently in witness protection, although possibly, it’s the terrorist who need it.
5. Grace O’Malley
The Pirate Queen of Connaught was born in 1530 in Ireland. She learned her seafaring skill from her father, a successful merchant. Wanting to go with him into waters known to be swarming with pirates, he refused as she was easily identifiable as a woman, witrh her long red hair. So she cut it off, and her father couldn’t refuse to take her. By 16 she was an accomplished sailor, and known for her skill in leading men. She was married off to a man called Donal of the Battle, who had pissed off his neighbour to such an extent that they stormed his castle and took him prisoner.
Grace, returning from the sea, raised an army and took the castle back. She turned the coastal land that she had inherited from her father into a criminal empire, racketeering and levying ‘tolls’ on anyone passing through. With her tough, descended-from-Vikings army, she also turned to raiding coastal fortresses with cannons and battle axes. One story of her toughness was that she gave birth to her third son on board her ship. As she was finishing, the ship was attacked by Turkish pirates, so Grace handed the baby to a mate, grabbed a gun and lead the successful defence within minutes of giving birth. Eventually, the English became fed-up with Grace, and so sent an expedition to capture her. Grace fought off the attack, and then gave chase in her ships, destroying the English fleet. Eventually, the English capture her sons. Demanding a personal meeting with Queen Elizabeth I, O’Malley agreed to cease her piratical activity provided the English release her sons and call off the English governor of Ireland. She lived the rest of her life in relative peace.
4. Flora Sandes
Flora, a Victorian Englishwoman, wanted to join the army at the outbreak of WW1, but as a woman she wasn’t allowed. So Flora became a nurse and was sent to the Balkans to help the besieged Serbian army which was fighting the Austro-Hungarian Empire. She served on the frontline, helping wounded men under fire. She soon Rambo’d up in a Serb uniform, and leaving behind her nurse equipment she grabbed a gun and grenades and took part in the fierce fighting around Belgrade.
She was soon promoted to Sargent. As Belgrade fell in the winter of 1915l, she and the men of the Serb army fell back across the mountains toward Greece. Fighting recommenced on the Macedonian front, and Flora as in the thick of it, charging across no-man’s land, engaging in trench raids and generally being a bad-ass. She even had time to convince her native England to send supplies to the Serbs. Flora was seriously wounded in the chest by a grenade as she was charging a fortified infantry position near Monastir. While she recovered, she resumed her nursing career, but as soon as she could, she got sent back to the front to fight. She ended the war as a captain, and was awarded Serbia’s highest gallantry honor for her efforts. She died peacefully in Sussex, England in 1961 at the age of 81.
3. Harriet Tubman
Born a slave, Harriet Tubman escaped to the North in 1849, but immediately returned to the South to rescue her family, one by one, from slavery in Maryland. Then she turned her attention to other slaves, and brought dozens of them to freedom despite huge personal risk. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Harriet became a nurse, but soon became a scout and a spy.
She guided the troops to their target in the Combahee River Raid, a largescale attack on a series of plantations. The raid resulted in the liberation of 750 slaves. Harriet continued to work looking after escaped slaves, scouting for the army, nursing wounded soldiers for the remaining years of the war. Hailed for her bravery and energy, Harriet couldn’t escape the times she lived in. She was assaulted on a train to New York when she refused to leave the smoking car. She never received a salary or official compensation for her bravery or the hundreds of lives she saved.
2. Lydia Litvyak
Lydia Litvyak, born in 1921, was the first female fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy plane, the first of two female fighter pilots who have earned the title of fighter ace, and the holder of the record for the greatest number of kills by a female fighter pilot, all before the age of 22. Lydia had pre-war flying experience, but exaggerated it to join the all-female 586th fighter regiment. She was soon moved to the male 437th defending the skies over Stalingrad. That’s where she scored her historic first kill. By January 1943 she had become a ‘free hunter’ and acknowledged ace who could search for targets on her own initiative. She was shot down and wounded several times. She was eventually shot down and killed by a Messerschmitt 109 on 1 August 1943. Her body wasn’t found until 1989. Her record was twelve solo victories and four shared kills over a total of 66 combat missions.
1. Virginia Hall
Born in Maryland in 1906, Virginia Hall went on to become one of the greatest American spies of all time. At the outbreak of WW2 she was in the collaborationist Vichy region of France. Escaping to London, she joined the British spy agency, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), and volunteered to return to occupied France. She operated behind enemy lines even though the Gestapo were actively seeking her, and knew what she looked like. Risking imprisonment, hideous torture and death she travelled through France with a Colt .45 and a radio hidden in a suitcase broadcasting invaluable intelligence to the Allies.
She arranged airdrops of supplies to the Resistance, and recruited and trained fighters. She sabotaged bridges, railroads and other Nazi installations. And she did it all with a wooden leg she called “Cuthbert” (her own leg was amputated after a hunting accident when she was 20). After the war, Virginia spent 15 years working for the CIA behind the Iron Curtain. She was made a member of the British Empire, and received the US Distinguished Service Cross (the second highest medal for courage, and Hall is the only woman to have been given it). During WW2, Virginia was fleeing the Gestapo through the Pyrenees into Spain. She reported to London that “Cuthbert” was giving her trouble and hindering her escape. The reply came “If Cuthbert is giving you difficulty, have him eliminated.”. She ignored the order. Virginia Hall died in Maryland in 1982 at the age of 76.