Lyudmila Mykhailivna Pavlichenko was born in the Ukrainian town of Belaya Tserkov on July 12th, 1916. She moved to Kiev with her family at the age of fourteen. There she joined a shooting club and developed into a sharpshooter, while working as a grinder at the Kiev Arsenal factory. In June 1941, 24-year old Pavlichenko was in her fourth year of studying history at the Kiev University when Nazi Germany began its invasion of the Soviet Union. Pavlichenko was among the first round of volunteers at the recruiting office, where she requested to join the infantry and subsequently she was assigned to the Red Army’s 25th Rifle Division.
In one of the battles, Pavlichenko replaced the batallion commander killed during the fight and was later wounded but refused to leave the battlefield.
Lieutenant Pavlichenko participated in battles in Moldavia and Odessa. When the Germans gained control of Odessa, her unit was pulled to be sent to Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula, where she fought for more than 8 months. Her total confirmed kills during World War II was 309,including 36 enemy snipers. Besides, she became an instructor and trained Soviet snipers until the war’s end.
Pavlichenko would “go hunting” either alone or with Leonid Kutsenko – who joined the division together with her – everyday at dawn lying still for hours or days waiting for an enemy. She often emerged the victor fighting a duel with German snipers.
Once the two snipers were spotted by German officers who opened mortar fire. Leonid was badly wounded and Pavlichenko managed to evacuate him from the battlefield but he still didn’t survive.
Since then, she would fight even more courageously taking vengeance on the enemy for her late friend.
In June 1942, Pavlichenko was wounded by mortar fire. Because of her growing status, she was pulled from combat less than a month after recovering from her wound.