10 Fearless Female War Heroes You Didn't Learn About in History Class
10 Fearless Female War Heroes You Didn’t Learn About in History Class

10 Fearless Female War Heroes You Didn’t Learn About in History Class

Stephanie Schoppert - March 1, 2017

10 Fearless Female War Heroes You Didn’t Learn About in History Class
Hannie Schaft. Alchetron

Hannie Schaft

Jannetje Johanna Schaft was born in 1920 in Haarlem and was a student in Amsterdam when Holland capitulated to the Germans in 1940. While still studying, she began committing little acts of resistance against the Germans. She started off going to swimming baths in order to steal identity cards which she could then distribute to her Jewish friends. Then she graduated to stealing weapons from the Germans and distributing pamphlets.

Eventually all university students were required to sign declarations of allegiance to the Germans in order to continue with their studies and Schaft refused. Unable to stay at school she moved back to live with her parents and decided to increase her involvement with the resistance. In 1943 she joined the communist resistance group Raad van Verzet. She started off gathering information and helping fugitives but soon her role within the group increased. She started going by the name of Hannie Schaft during this time.

She got a reputation for being willing to undertake missions that were considered too dangerous for women. Schaft took part in sabotage, weapon transports, and the liquidation of collaborators. She even learned German and would interact with German soldiers during her missions. Her reputation within the resistance and among the Germans grew and she found herself wanted by the Gestapo. The Germans knew her only as “the girl with the red hair” until her true name was revealed to the Germans by a captured resistance member.

To continue working with the resistance and to avoid capture, she started dying her hair black and wearing large glasses. As the war progressed her resistance efforts only grew until her capture in March 1945. The resistance made several plans to rescue her but none were successful. She was held in Amsterdam with the Germans having no clue to her identity, until her red roots began to grow out. Upon realizing they had “the girl with the red hair,” her captors executed her.

10 Fearless Female War Heroes You Didn’t Learn About in History Class
Ruby Bradley. Thefewgoodmen.com

Ruby Bradley

Ruby Bradley was a woman who never gave up and never stopped doing what she could to protect soldiers. She joined the United States Army Nurse Corps in 1934 and was at Camp John Hay in the Philippines when Pearl Harbor was attacked. A mere three weeks later she was captured by the Japanese Army.

In 1943 she was moved to the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila. She was housed with several other nurses, all of whom became known as Angels in Fatigues for the work they did to save their fellow captives. She was able to provide medical help to the prisoners in the POW camp and would even give up her meagre rations to feed starving children that she saw around the camp.

Her weight dropped drastically, which helped her to be able to smuggle medical supplies into the POW camp under her uniform. It was with this equipment that she performed 230 operations and delivered 13 children. On February 3, 1945, the camp was liberated and Bradley, weighing only 86 pounds, was rescued. Despite her ordeal, she continued her career in the army and earned her Bachelor of Science degree.

During the Korean War, she served as Chief Nurse for the 171st Evacuation Hospital. In November 1950, she refused to evacuate until every one of the sick and wounded in the hospital were on the plane to safety. She was the last person to evacuate, jumping onto the plane just before her ambulance was hit with an enemy shell. For her bravery and determination, she was made Chief Nurse for the Eighth Army. In 1958, she was made a colonel and became one of the most decorated women in the United States military earning 34 decorations, medals and awards. She retired in 1963, and died in 2002.

10 Fearless Female War Heroes You Didn’t Learn About in History Class
Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya. Beautifulrus.com

Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya

Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya was born in the Soviet Union in 1923 in the village of Osino-Gay. In 1930 her family moved to Moscow. She was known to be an avid reader with a flair for literature. She was just 18 when she joined a partisan unit in October of 1941. She was assigned to unit 9903, which operated on the Western Front.

She was one of 1,000 people who joined the 9903 that month, and only half made it home after the war. Some of her first assignments were at the village of Obukhovo, near Naro-Fominsk. It was there that she crossed the front line and officially entered territory that was occupied by the Nazis. Kosmodemyanskaya and her unit placed mines on roads and cut communication lines. But her time with the 9903 was short lived as she received her last orders on November 27, 1943.

She was assigned to burn the village of Petrischevo. A German cavalry unit was stationed there and the 9903 hoped to stop them. She succeeded in setting fire to the stables and several houses before she was noticed by a villager who alerted the Germans. She returned to her unit victorious but when she went back the next day to burn more buildings, the Germans were waiting for her. They brutally tortured her throughout the night, but she never revealed any information about her unit or their operation.

The next day the 18-year-old was marched into the town with a sign that read “Houseburner.” The Germans ordered the villagers to witness the scene and as a noose was placed around her neck. She remained defiant, telling the Germans she was not afraid to die and that 2 million Russians were ready to avenge her. Her body was left hanging for weeks and was defiled by German soldiers before she was finally buried on New Years Day in 1942.

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