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Emilia Plater Independent Women’s Battalion

Half-way through September of 1939, soon after the attack by the German Army, the Soviets invaded Poland, as per the recently signed Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Poland quickly fell, and many residents of the eastern part of the country were interred in the Soviet Union. Two summers later, the Germans turned on their former ‘allies’, launching Operation Barbarossa, and to counter the new threat, the Red Army began to raise Polish units from ethnic Poles who had been interred.

One of the most unique of these units raised was the first all-women Polish infantry unit - known as the Emilia Plater Independent Women’s Battalion - raised in 1943 and named for a Polish national hero of the November Uprising of 1830. Whereas female units of the Western forces were raised with the intention of serving an auxiliary function behind the lines, the Soviets, who had shown much more willingness to incorporate women into combat roles, organized the Emilia Plater Battalion with the original intention of seeing the women serve as combat troops.

Despite this, the Battalion, once attached to the First Polish Corp - expanded to the First Polish Army eventually - never was posted to the front lines. They remained in support roles, mostly out of an unwillingness to sustain heavy female losses on the part of commanders, serving most often as sentries, military police, and POW guards. Although numbering well shy of 1,000 personnel at any one time, perhaps a tenth of the total number of Platerowki (as the Polish Army women were known) serving with the Red Army, a much greater number passed through their ranks, either new enlistees receiving training before duties elsewhere, or else veteran officers who were transfered to take command elsewhere, sometimes even heading all-male units.

By the end of the war the Battalion had suffered some 70 killed, including their lone Hero of the Soviet Union, Aniela Krzywon, who fell at the Battle of Lenino. Following the end of the war with Germany, they were disbanded in late May of 1945.

(Sourced primarily from Women and War:
A Historical Encyclopedia from Antiquity to the Present)



Emilia Plater Independent Women’s Battalion

Half-way through September of 1939, soon after the attack by the German Army, the Soviets invaded Poland, as per the recently signed Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Poland quickly fell, and many residents of the eastern part of the country were interred in the Soviet Union. Two summers later, the Germans turned on their former ‘allies’, launching Operation Barbarossa, and to counter the new threat, the Red Army began to raise Polish units from ethnic Poles who had been interred.

One of the most unique of these units raised was the first all-women Polish infantry unit - known as the Emilia Plater Independent Women’s Battalion - raised in 1943 and named for a Polish national hero of the November Uprising of 1830. Whereas female units of the Western forces were raised with the intention of serving an auxiliary function behind the lines, the Soviets, who had shown much more willingness to incorporate women into combat roles, organized the Emilia Plater Battalion with the original intention of seeing the women serve as combat troops.

Despite this, the Battalion, once attached to the First Polish Corp - expanded to the First Polish Army eventually - never was posted to the front lines. They remained in support roles, mostly out of an unwillingness to sustain heavy female losses on the part of commanders, serving most often as sentries, military police, and POW guards. Although numbering well shy of 1,000 personnel at any one time, perhaps a tenth of the total number of Platerowki (as the Polish Army women were known) serving with the Red Army, a much greater number passed through their ranks, either new enlistees receiving training before duties elsewhere, or else veteran officers who were transfered to take command elsewhere, sometimes even heading all-male units.

By the end of the war the Battalion had suffered some 70 killed, including their lone Hero of the Soviet Union, Aniela Krzywon, who fell at the Battle of Lenino. Following the end of the war with Germany, they were disbanded in late May of 1945.

(Sourced primarily from Women and War:
A Historical Encyclopedia from Antiquity to the Present)


   
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