Operation Barbarossa

Vera Krylova

Vera Krylova was a Russian nurse and fighter in World War 2. 

Originally a schoolteacher, Krylova joined the Russian medical corps as a nurse in the summer of 1941. The role involved her frequently working on the battlefield, often within 100 feet of the enemy lines, where she dressed wounds of injured soldiers. She is credited with having dragged hundreds of wounded men to safety from the battlefield.

In August 1941, at the height of Operation Barbarossa, Krylova’s company became separated and was caught in a German ambush. The commanders of the company were shot, causing confusion. Reportedly, Krylova rallied the Russians by mounting a riderless horse and firing a gun several times into the air, leading them into the nearby forest for shelter. Linking up with a retreating unit of Russian artillery, she then led her men in a series of counter-attacks to keep the Germans off-balance as the company made its retreat back to Soviet lines.

An unconfirmed story tells of another engagement Krylova was involved in a year later, where she hurled grenades to against a German tank formation to buy time for her comrades to escape.

While accounts of Krylova have been skewed by the attention given to her by the Russian media, it is known that she survived the war and later returned to teaching.