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71 Yevdokiya Zavaliy: the Heroine of WWII

Yevdokiya Zavaliy: the Heroine of WWII

Posted on August 21, 2011 by team


The life story and military feats of an incredible woman, Yevdokiya Zavaliy, the only female commander of the platoon of marines during WWII.

Yevdokiya Zavaliy was born on May 28, 1926 in a small village located in the Nikolayev Region, Ukraine. Before the war, she worked on a farm. That’s how the war began for her.

“It was the 25th of July. I suddenly saw 4 black spots in the sky over our village and understood these were landing troops! After a terrible roar the enemy planes started bombing. We rushed to our houses. Having run into the yard, I heard someone moaning. Under an old apple tree there was a young border guard lying in a pool of blood. I don’t remember the moment when I entered the house, tore the sheet to pieces and bandaged him… Then I saw another wounded soldier, then another…

When the last military unit left our village, I persuaded the commander to take me with him. He didn’t refuse. When I was about to leave I ran across my grandmother. Having noticed me, she started wailing: “Oh, what are you doing?! Come back, treasure!” Then she suddenly hugged me, whispered something and said looking in my eyes: “My dear grandchild! You will bleed 4 times but white geese will bring you back…” After that she crossed me.

Don’t be surprised, my grandmother was a healer and could predict the future. She lived until 114 years old. ”

The unit which Yevdokiya Zavaliy joined was the cavalry regiment. In order to be taken to the front line, she had to add three years to her real age and say to the commander that she was 18. It’s worth noting that almost all materials about our heroine (including Wikipedia) state that she was born in 1924, although she said many times in her interviews that she had been about 16 when the war broke out.

In the regiment, she served as a nurse. She learned to shoot a rifle, a pistol and a machine gun. During the retreat near Khortytsya island she got a penetrating wound to the abdomen. The doctor wanted to give her an early discharge on medical grounds but she insisted on staying. After leaving the hospital Yevdokiya was sent to the reserve regiment. There she got her first order, the Order of the Red Star. During the bombing, she dragged an unconscious wounded officer to the safe place, bandaged him and brought to life.

This regiment became the place of Yevdokiya’s transformation into a man. Here’s what she says: “One day the people from the command came to take guys to the front line. One of them approached me and said that I had 15 minutes to pack my things. He didn’t even notice that I was a woman. At that time I really looked like a man – the same soldier’s blouse, riding breeches and a crew cut on my head (I had to shave off my plait at the hospital to get rid of lice). I was given ammunition, a uniform and then sent… to the bathhouse! While naked men were passing me one by one, I was thinking of what to do. This small lie could easily turn into execution. So I decided to smash my face in order to go to the doctor and avoid the revelation in the bathhouse.”

Finally, 2 hours later, Senior Sergeant Yevdokim Zavaliy (that’s how she called herself) took part in a battle near the village of Goryachy Kluch as a member of the 6th airborne brigade.

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71 Responses to “Yevdokiya Zavaliy: the Heroine of WWII”

  1. raaa says:

    Chwała bohaterom.

  2. alisalv says:

    beautiful and… great woman hero :)

  3. Archy Bunka says:

    God Bless her.

  4. Ostyak-Vogul says:

    “the liberation of Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria and Czechoslovakia.”
    Wow! Lets correct the true history: the soviet occupation and dictatorship of Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.
    Budapest 1956…Remind this event?

    • opticalsound says:

      Throwing a monkey wrench into the machine…

    • Chris says:

      Regarding Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary; these countries joined in the Nazi assault on Russia so I’m not going to cry for them.

      • tadekk says:

        In September 1939, collaborating with Hitler to the Soviet Union joined the war, not Hungarians, not Bulgarians and Romanians are not.

        • asdf says:

          C’mon Tadek, this is a Russian site, they don’t want to remember they were collaborating with Hitler. You won’t change it, they have no other thing to be proud of.

          • Jon says:

            What you obviously don’t know is that Stalin tried to ally with the west but the west refused. IMO they hoped Germany would stamp out socialism once and for all. The fear of the western elites was and always has been socialism. This fear goes back to the industrial revolution and the squalor and unspeakable living conditions it produced in the cities.

      • Hans says:

        @asdf: You don’t want to remember the Soviets crushed the genocidal Nazi maniacs. Soviets paid the highest price. You can’t change that either.

      • No Mame says:

        “asdf”, if you think russian, ukrainian and belorussian people can’t be proud after suffering and smashing Nazi Germany, well, that idea disqualifies all your arguments. Sorry, but these people should be very, very proud (just by the number of victims and losses there, if you want). So, you’re far too biased against many countries peoples. You can’t be taken seriously.

    • vla says:

      Yugoslavia was out of Soviet influence . Also,you said “Lets correct the true history” , true history cant be corrected.

  5. ile medali says:

    czy w rosji nosi sie tez medale na plecach bo na piersi nie ma miejsca????

  6. René De Beaumarchais says:

    All those medals rightfully deserved.

    • asdf says:

      At least she was not the one who was raping during the “liberation” of Poland.

      • Hans says:

        At least she did not suffered the Nazi planned extermination of all “inferior” Slavic people (including poles). Raping was bad, but nazi ethnic extermination was far worse.

        • testicules says:

          You can’t excuse bad behavior by pointing out other bad behavior. You can’t justify Russian atrocities by saying the Germans did it too. Wrong is wrong. Evil is evil. No excuses.

          • Hans says:

            I’m not excusing or justifying a bad behaviour that has nothing to do with the bravery of this woman.

            • testicules says:

              I don’t think anyone is accusing her of rape or disparaging her accomplishments. There is a theme on this site to excuse Russian excess by using German atrocities as an excuse. That is all.

          • Ball Breaker says:

            After the staggering civilian death count in Russia and the genocidal behaviour of the Nazis, the world didn’t have much sympathy for german raped victims. At least they weren’t burned with their families. These rape victims shouldn’t be forgotten, though. Or some would use your own cynical words: “they got it off easy”.

            • testicules says:

              I disagree. I wouldn’t call raping girls off all ages “getting off easy”. I don;t think they had any policy making decisions, military strategy decisions, or war fighting abilities. I think you’d sing a different tune if it was your little sister or your mom. You can never excuse the abuse of civillians. Rape is never an acceptable punishment. There is no gray area here. It is black and white.

          • ayaa says:

            Good point. Now apply it to the thousands of civilians killed in Japan, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. You cant justify sacrificing civilians just because someone else has no regard for innocent deaths.

        • Hans says:

          @testicules: As other readers, I was also appalled by your lame justification of ethnic cleansing in the US West, and your current position on WWII rapings… You don’t make sense (except only to bash russians). Anyway, that terrible behaviour of the Red Army wasn’t punished as it should. It was an atrocity, and as that should be remembered. And doesn’t diminish at all the heroism of this woman, and the soviet people who fought back Nazi German genocides, paying the highest price of all warring nations.

  7. Russian Fan says:

    Russian women, as tough as Russian men.

  8. SMERSH says:

    I don’t know. The story sounds a little fantastic to me.

  9. opticalsound says:

    I have to give credit. I probably would’ve been headin’ fer the hills, hiding from both the Nazis and the NKVD!

  10. raf says:

    medals with stalin are as good as those with hitler

  11. SGWW says:

    Why are you all so poison. She was a great woman. And made a lot of kind actions. She fought for freedom of all soviet people and people from over the world from the Nazi militarians and Hitler. Can you repeat this?? Who can judge her??? Nobody, except the God

    • D says:

      Because most Americans would have preferred Hitler to Communists.

      • asdf says:

        It was USSR that actually DID cooperate with Hitler. Not defending the Americans though.

        • Hans says:

          Yes we all know about Ribbentrop-Molotov pact in 1939. And we all know that without the Soviet victories in Stalingrad and Kursk (to name a few), there could never be an Allied victory in Europe.

          • testicules says:

            I think people are forgetting that America did actually fight against the Nazis. America helped supply Russia. America turned the tide of the war.

            • Hans says:

              The real brave US fight was against Japan, starting in 1942. The US was alone in that. But in Europe, US only helped with air bombings until the Normandy landing in mid 1944. Until then, it was the Soviets who turned the tide since 1942 in Stalingrad. And made possible the Anglo American invasion.

              • testicules says:

                I disagree. The US turned the tide in Africa. Won Sicily and Italy. It also did all the heavy lifting in the Normandy landings and all the way through the Rhineland. Not to mention the 1000 plane day light bombing raids that crippled German production (probably the deciding factor in the war) and the production of war material for all the allies. The US fought a two front war succesfully. If Hiler had not declared war on the US after Pearl Harbor, German industrial production would never have been affected and the Soviet campaign would have been better supplied and staffed. That does not mean the Soviets would not have won. It means the Russian would have had a tougher enemy and it would have taken a lot longer and a lot more Russians and Germans would have died.

              • Hans says:

                @testi: As you say, American industrial might shortened the war in Europe. American sacrifice was big in Europe, no question. The British, perhaps more. My point was that without massive Soviet victories in 1941, 1942 and 1943, the British and American allies could have never set foot in Europe. It stands. The US didn’t turn the tide there, the Soviets did it before, and cleared the way. Eastern Front was the bloodiest, biggest war scenario mankind has ever seen.

            • Ball Breaker says:

              In the Pacific, yes. In Europe, the US sat in an already served table after 4 years of the biggest confrontation the world has ever seen.

              • Asmodeus says:

                Agree. I think the unmatched US victory in the Pacific has been largely down played, in favor of the 10 month campaing of the US in France. British and Americans fought against mostly tired German reserve troops with low fuel or ammo. In my opinion, the US complete victory over Japan was far more important and difficult than the battles in France.

                • testicules says:

                  You can’t say that 1000 plane daylight raids over Germany (that crippled industrial production) did not affect the German soldier on the Eastern front. Without a US presence in the Med and UK, several German Armies could have been reslated to the east to fight against the Russians.

                  • Asmodeus says:

                    @testicules: This is a great forum. Great allied Bombing Raids began to be effective in late 1943, early 1944. Afrika Corps were retired (unsuccesfully) in 1943 to reinforce the Eastern Front. By then, gigantic battles of Kursk and Stalingrad had sealed the fate of Nazi Germany. This was where the fate of the world changed. As well as it changed in Midway. WWII will always be fascinating.

            • ayaa says:

              Yes, the US did fight the Nazis and did supply the Soviets and a lot of other forces. But in no way did the US turn the war around. That, my friend, was what the Soviets did.

              Three-quarters of all WWII fighting took place between the Soviets and the Nazis. 80-90% of all German losses were against fighting the Soviets.

      • No Mame says:

        Decades of Cold War propaganda have made some westerners forget the courage and suffering required to fight back and win by the soviet people. Big mistake (again). Americans helped (a bit late), but tide was turned by the Soviets, no doubt. The scale of the Eastern Front numbers is staggering: 15-20 Million soviet CIVILIANS dead…; “…80-90% of all German losses were against fighting the Soviets…”. 100,000 armored cars produced by only the soviets… More and more unbelievable figures. Easily, the Soviet Front was the main reason of German defeat. No debate here.

  12. Otis R. Needleman says:

    I respect and am grateful for this lady’s service and sacrifice. Undoubtedly she put a number of Nazis in their graves.

  13. marxistworker says:

    I understand, but this War was Stalin’s War. I believe the Bolshevik heroes Bukharin, Lunacharsky, Trotsky, Kamenev, Tomsky, Frunze, Rykov, etc. would never have negotiated with fascists (Molotov-Ribbentrop) only to be tricked later. Stalin’s admiration of Hitler before the War speaks volumes.

    • historian says:

      What should Stalin do? England and USA asked Hitler for cooperation against communisms, luckly for the world the crazy adolf refused. Then Hitler asked russia, and russian army wasnt yet modernized, so Stalin couldnt just start the war at that timepoint.
      Moreover Stalin thought Hitler would wait this the invading of russi till he concered England. That was another fail by Hitler.

      • asdf says:

        Dude, what are you talking about? When did England and USA ask Hitler for cooperation? In Munich Conference or what? And what did Hitler ask Russia for? In fact Soviets have started 2 wars in 1939 and 1940 and what’s more before common aggression against Poland nazis were no threat to USSR as they had no common border! Keep to the facts if you want to deserve your name, ok?

        • Hans says:

          Without the Soviets, the British and Americans would’ve never defeated Nazi Germany. 80-90% of German total soldier losses were made in the east, and Churchill knew this very well. History is not black and white. Allies knew they could give good use to a sinister tyrant like Stalin. And won.

        • historian says:

          Read some books, this is emberassing..

  14. Terminatrix PMS says:

    … Where is John Connor?

  15. wing says:

    I see that many comments have been suppressed due to ‘low rating!’ That has a definite Soviet feel to it. By the way, the feminine form of ‘hero’ is ‘heroine,’ and there were lots of them in WWII in many nations. Most probably even the Nazis had them!

    • ayaa says:

      Actually they really are poorly-rated. If you thought about it, its democracy. When you read someones comment and dont like it then you thumb it down, if not you thumb up.

      Typical hypocrisy.

      You would cross an ocean and invade a whole country and risk thousands of lives for “democracy”, but when it doesn’t work out in your favor it’s all ‘repression’ and ‘oppression’ , isn’t it.

    • testicules says:

      Interesting comment. You’re probably right.

    • historian says:

      German heroine got a lot of medals by goebbels. Yes, but they got them for making children. New children Hitler could send to war..

    • Hans says:

      Yes, Nazis had some condecorated “heroines” in service. The problem was that some were sadic Aufseherin in charge of slaughtering women and children at extermination camps.

  16. Yojimbo says:

    Actually the Soviet Union was the only nation that allowed women to serve in direct combat during WWII so you are 100% incorrect wing.

  17. Arnold says:

    She’ll be baack!

  18. Johan Kotze says:

    A true Herione.

  19. Musa says:

    Impressive Lady, sometimes it takes a woman to go in and get the job done. :)

  20. asdf says:

    Guys, what’s wrong with this? Were they not allies, was Stalin not an evil man or was he not responsible for the Holodomor? Facts, please, facts!

  21. John P says:

    What a woman of courage!

  22. Hans says:

    Yes Stalin was a very evil tyrant. Russian people chose to be defended by him or face total extermination from the Nazis. And that was very close. You seem to forget this central point, and more than 20 million dead only in USSR… This was an amazing brave woman.

  23. Gen. Electric says:

    @asdf: Remember that soviets didn’t face only an occupation, they faced a war of ethnic extermination and tens of millions did die. Soviet people had to fight for their homes and mere survival, led by a ruthless autocrat against the best army in the world. No choice. You should respect these people’s courage. Normandy or Sicilian landings would have never been possible without the Soviets destroying entire German armies and resources long beforehand (you seem to omit all of this)… That’s why this woman is a true heroine. And all Soviet people’s descendants should be very proud of themselves.

  24. Gen. Electric says:

    @asdf: Remember that soviets didn’t face only an occupation, they faced a war of ethnic extermination and tens of millions did die. Soviet people had to fight for their homes and mere survival, led by a ruthless, paranoid autocrat against the best army in the world. No choice. You should respect these people’s courage… Normandy or Sicilian landings would have never been possible without the Soviets destroying entire German armies and resources long beforehand (you seem to omit all of this)… That’s why this woman is a true heroine. And all Soviet people’s descendants should be very proud of themselves

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