Yevdokiya Bershanskaya

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Yevdokia Davidovna Bershanskaya
Бершанская Евдокия Давыдовна (cropped).jpg
Native name
Евдоки́я Давы́довна Берша́нская
Birth nameYevdokia Davidovna Karbut
Born(1913-02-06)6 February 1913
Dobrovolnoye, Stavropol Governorate, Russian Empire
Died16 September 1982 (aged 69)
Moscow, Soviet Union
AllegianceSoviet Union Soviet Union
Service/branchFlag of the Soviet Air Force.svg Soviet Air Forces
RankLieutenant Colonel
Unit588th Night Bomber Regiment
(later renamed the 46th Guards Night Bomber Regiment)
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsOrder of the Red Banner Order of the Red Banner Order of Suvorov (3rd Class) Order of Alexander Nevsky (USSR) ribbon.svg
Order of the Patriotic War (2nd class) Order of the Badge of Honour 100 lenin rib.png Defcaucasus rib.png
Medal "For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945" 20 years of victory rib.png 30 years of victory rib.png Ribbon Medal For The Liberation Of Warsaw.png
VeteranLaborRibbon.png 50 years saf rib.png 60 years saf rib.png 800thMoscowRibbon.png

Yevdokia Bershanskaya (Russian: Евдоки́я Берша́нская; Dobrovolnoye, Stavropol, 6 February 1913 – 16 September 1982 in Moscow) was the regimental commander of the 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment during World War II and became the only woman ever awarded the Order of Suvorov.[1] Under her command twenty-three aviators in the regiment became Heroes of the Soviet Union for their successful bombing missions against the Axis.[2]

Early life[edit]

Bershanskaya was born on 6 February 1913 in Dobrovolnoye, in what was then the Russian Empire. After both of her parents died in the Russian Civil War she was raised by her uncle. After graduating from secondary school in Blagodarny she enrolled in the Bataysk School of Pilots in 1931, where after graduating she trained other pilots from 1932 to 1939, before she was appointed as commander of the 218th Special Operations Aviation Squadron and became a deputy of the Krasnodar City Council. Before the German invasion of the Soviet Union she married Petr Bershansky with whom she had a son, but their marriage quickly fell apart. She continued using the surname Bershanskaya until she married her second husband, Konstantin Bocharov, after the end of the war.[3]

World War II[edit]

In 1941, Marina Raskova gained Stalin's approval to form three women's aviation regiments: the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, the 587th Bomber Aviation Regiment and the 588th Night Bomber Regiment. As pilot with ten years of experience, Bershanskaya was chosen to lead the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, which flew Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes.[4] In 1943, the regiment received the Guards designations and was reorganized as the 46th Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment. Later she was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. The women pilots were so fierce and accurate that the German soldiers began calling them Night Witches.[5] They were called this because often during missions they would cut the engine of their planes and glide over their targets before dropping their bombs and turning the engine back on.[6] Until its disbandment in October 1945, the regiment remained totally female.[4][6] Collectively, they flew over 23,000 sorties, and dropped over 3,000 tons of bombs on enemy forces.[1][4][2]

In addition to twenty-three members of the regiment receiving the title Hero of the Soviet Union, two were eventually declared Heroes of Russia, and one was awarded the title Hero of Kazakhstan.[7]

External image
Headstone

Later life[edit]

After the war, Yevdokia married a man named Konstantin Bocharov, the regimental commander of the 889th Light Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, which had worked closely with the 46th Guards Night Bomber Regiment during the war where they had met. The wedding was attended by many members of their regiments. Together they had three daughters. In 1975, she was awarded the title of Honorary Citizen of Krasnodar. She lived in Moscow where she died of a heart attack in 1982 and was buried at Novodevichy Cemetery.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Бершанская Евдокия Давыдовна - Орден Суворова III степени". podvignaroda.ru. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  2. ^ a b Маслов, Михаил (2017-09-05). Прославленный По-2. «Небесный тихоход», «кофемолка», «чокнутый будильник» (in Russian). Litres. pp. 98–104. ISBN 9785040214082.
  3. ^ "Бершанская (Бочарова) Евдокия Давыдовна - советский военный летчик - Красные соколы: русские авиаторы летчики-асы 1914-1953". airaces.narod.ru. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  4. ^ a b c Linda Delaine (2000). "Women Combat Aviators of the Patriotic War". Russian Life.
  5. ^ Streather, Adrian (2010). Red & Soviet military & paramilitary services: Female Uniforms 1941-1991. England: Veloce Publishing Limited. p. 28. ISBN 1845840674.
  6. ^ a b Bellamy, Chris (2010). Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War. Great Britain: Vintage Books. p. 488. ISBN 0375724710.
  7. ^ "Герои Советского Союза и России". tamanskipolk46.narod.ru. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  8. ^ "В бой идет "Дунькин полк"". Известия (in Russian). 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2018-04-26.