Second Lieutenant Ecaterina Teodoroiu
January 14, 1894|
Vădeni, Kingdom of Romania
September 3, 1917|
Muncelu, Kingdom of Romania
|Years of service||1916–1917|
|Battles/wars||World War I-Romanian Campaign|
|Awards||Military Virtue Medal, 1st Class and 2nd Class|
Ecaterina Teodoroiu (Romanian pronunciation: [ekateˈrina te.odoˈroju]; born Cătălina Toderoiu; January 15, 1894 - September 3, 1917) was a Romanian woman who fought and died in World War I, and is regarded as a heroine of Romania.
She is favourably compared to Queen Maria of Romania.
She was born in the village of Vădeni (nowadays part of Târgu Jiu), in the historical region of Oltenia, in the family of Elena and Vasile Toderoiu, both farmers. Cătălina had five brothers (Nicolae, Eftimie, Andrei, Ion, Vasile) and two sisters (Elisabeta and Sabina). After studying for 4 years in Vădeni and Târgu Jiu (at the Romanian-German Primary School) and graduating from the Girls' School in Bucharest, she was to become a teacher when the Romanian Kingdom entered World War I on the Allied side, in 1916.
A Scouts' member, she had initially worked as a nurse but she subsequently decided to become a front-line soldier, being deeply impressed by the patriotism of the wounded and the death of her brother Nicolae, Sergeant in the Romanian Army. It was an unusual decision for a woman of that epoch, so she was sent to the front rather reluctantly. However, with the support of the Romanian royal family, soon she proved her worthiness as a symbol and as a soldier.
Working as a nurse, on October 14 Ecaterina joined the civilians and the reserve soldiers fighting to repulse the attack of a Bavarian company of the 9th German Army at the bridge over the Jiu River, in front of Târgu-Jiu. Impressed by her bravery, the Royal Family invited Ecaterina to Bucharest on October 23.
On October 30, she went to the frontline to see her brother Nicolae, Sergeant in the 18 Infantry Regiment (Gorj), who was shortly killed afterwards, on November 1, by a shell during fighting near Porceni.
Wishing to avenge her brother's death, Ecaterina requested Colonel Obogeanu to be allowed to join the 18 Infantry Regiment as a volunteer. She would soon prove her military skills by using a ruse in order to avoid that her company, surrounded by the enemy, be taken prisoner.
Nevertheless, she was later captured during fighting on the Răşina-Peşteana-Tunşi heights on the night of November 3/4, 1916, but managed to escape with light wounds by killing with a concealed revolver the German soldier who was guarding her. On November 6, Ecaterina was involved in the skirmishes close to Bărbătești and Țânțăreni. Soon later, during fighting near Filiași she was wounded in both legs by a shell, evacuated to Craiova, then to Bucharest and later hospitalized at the "King Ferdinand" Military Hospital in Iași.
On January 23, 1917, she was released from the hospital and, previously having met Second Lieutenant Gheorghe Mănoiu (the brother of a former school colleague) in hospital, she requested to be allowed to join his 43/59 Infantry Regiment as a voluntary nurse.
For her bravery, she was awarded the "Scout Virtue" Medal and the Military Virtue Medal, 2nd Class, on March 10, 1917. On March 17, 1917, she was awarded the Military Virtue Medal, 1st Class, made honorary Second Lieutenant (Sublocotenent) by King Ferdinand and given the command of a 25-man platoon in the 7th Company (43/59 Infantry Regiment, 11th Division), commanded by Second Lieutenant Gheorghe Mănoiu.
Starting with April 25 (O.S.), the regiment was quartered in Codăești, Vaslui County. On August 4 (O.S.), the 43/59 Regiment, part of the reserve of the 1st Army led by General Eremia Grigorescu, prepared to join the upcoming offensive. On August 5 the regiment left Vaslui for Tecuci, crossed the Siret and camped in the Malta Seacă forest, close to the frontline.
On August 17, the commander of the 11th Division, General Ernest Broșteanu, kindly asked her to stay at the mobile hospital behind the front, but Second Lieutenant Teodoroiu strongly refused him, requesting to be allowed to join her platoon in the upcoming battle.
On September 3, 1917 (August 22 Old Style), the Romanian lines were attacked in force by the German 40th Reserve Regiment of the 115th Infantry Division. While leading her platoon in a counterattack, she was hit by machine gun fire in the chest (according to some accounts), or in the head (according to other accounts). According to the General Order No. 1 issued the next day by Colonel Constantin Pomponiu, the commanding officer of the 43/59 Regiment, her last words before dying were: "Forward, men, don't give up, I'm still with you!"  Henri Berthelot even named her the "Jeanne d'Arc of Romania" for her outstanding bravery, patriotism and self-sacrifice.
Initially buried close to the front, in Fitioneşti, her remains were interred in June 1921 in a crypt in the city center of Târgu Jiu. Her grave is honored by a monument erected in 1936 by Milița Petrașcu.
- "Legenda Ecaterinei Teodoroiu: Ce spun Arhivele Militare" (in Romanian). Historia.ro. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
- Ecaterina Teodoroiu's biography Archived 2006-10-05 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Casa memorială Ecaterina Teodoroiu" (in Romanian). Gorj Museum. Archived from the original on 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2015-12-08.
- Ion Mocioi, Ecaterina Teodoroiu: eroina poporului român, Scrisul Românesc, 1981.
- Arina Avram, Femei celebre din România, Editura ALLFA, 2014.
- Bucur, Maria "Between the Mother of the Wounded and the Virgin of Jiu: Romanian Women and the Gender of Heroism during the Great War" Journal of Women's History - 12, 2, (2000), pp. 30–56, The Johns Hopkins University Press
- Constantin Kiriţescu, "Istoria războiului pentru întregirea României: 1916-1919", 1922
- Kathryn J. Atwood, Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics, Chicago Review Press, 2014.
- (in Romanian) Ecaterina Teodoroiu's biography on www.mariromani.ro