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Old 10-28-2016, 10:59 AM   #1
CtahhR
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#3 Smashing A Myth - The Men Of The Night Witches Regiment.

The Legendary "Night Witches" Regiment, the 588th Night- Light Bomber Aviation Regiment later renamed the 46th Guards Night-Bomber Aviation Taman Red Banner Order Suvurov III Regiment were a film maker's dream. Supposedly the only female only regiment in history with Heroines coated in awards (including Gold Stars) and an almost endless supply of bravery exposed through hundreds of daredevil feats.

The regiment was nicknamed the "Skirt Regiment" by fellow Soviets and for the last seventy years there has been a very strict line that the entire regiment was wholly women for the entire duration of the war (with the exception of the staff driver - who was awarded the Medal "For Combat Merits" - but one staff driver isn't going to change the momentum of the regiment)

Having spent several months researching the Regiment in depth (and randomly obtaining the driver's Medal) I have found that he wasn't unique or alone as a man in the "Women's Regiment".

The 46th's entire ПАРМ-1 (Mobile Automobile Restoration Workshop) also consisted of male personnel, other than that men were very rare but not missing.

The daring, darling female Pilots and Navigators is the propagated hook of the regiment, with almost as much focus being given to the "all" female ground crew supporting them all the way through the war.

But here are some stories of the men of the 588th/46th.
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Old 10-28-2016, 11:39 AM   #2
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Re: #3 Smashing A Myth - The Men Of The Night Witches Regiment.

This 6th May 1943 dated Order of the 46th Guards Night-Bomber Aviation Regiment rather conclusively proves that the 46th's ПАРМ-1 was comprised of male personnel. Signed and authorised by Commander Guards Major Evdokija Bershanskaja and Chief Of Staff Guards Senior Lieutenant Irina Rakobol'skaja (who died only last month at the age of 96).

The Order awards four Medals "For Combat Merits" to the following men;

Mechanic For Aircraft Armament Sergeant Filipp Fedorovich Kachka (Showing him with the 588th from at least 23rd September 1942.)
Mechanic For Electrical Systems Sergeant Pavel Egorovich Denisenko
Welder-Body Worker Sergeant Jakov Mifod'evich Suhno (A 37 year old man doesn't fit the myth of 17-24 year old women.)
Brazier Sergeant Sergej Konstantinovich Cheridnichenko (Another 37 year old man.)


Kachka had been transferred to work under the 282nd Interceptor Aviation Division by 19th April 1944 where he was awarded a Medal "For Bravery". Its citation mentions that his speciality lies with U-2s (The Night Witches' plane), Jak-1s and Jak-9s.
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Old 10-28-2016, 11:58 AM   #3
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Re: #3 Smashing A Myth - The Men Of The Night Witches Regiment.

This next citation to Carpenter Junior Sergeant Technical Service Ivan Fedorovich shows that men were with the 588th from as early as June 1942 (The first combat flight was 27th May 1942).

He worked on U-2 #1187, #10243 and #11393, it is very likely that these planes can be attributed to their particular female crews.

Although presented for a Red Star he was awarded a Medal "For Bravery" by the 46th on 16th May 1943.

He too was transferred out of the 46th (also to the 282nd Interceptor Aviation Division) in August 1943.

As both men were transferred to the 169th PARM it is possible that the entire male PARM-1 was transferred to the 282nd in August 1943.

Does that mean that the Staff Driver Sergeant Konstantin Pljuta was the only male serving in the 46th after August 1943?
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Old 10-28-2016, 12:25 PM   #4
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Re: #3 Smashing A Myth - The Men Of The Night Witches Regiment.

Unfortunately these 29th May 1945 citations for 30th June 1945 awarded Medals "For Bravery" show that at no time after June 1942 was there less than two males with the 588th/46th.

Chief Of Searchlight Stations Senior Sergeant Il'ja Sergeevich Prutskov, like Sergeant Pljuta, was also of the 461st Battalion Of Aerodrome Supply under the command of the 46th.

Serving with the 588th/46th from September 1942 in the Northern Caucasus, Kuban, Taman and Crimean peninsulas, Belorussia, Poland and Germany. Servicing 23672 combat flights

Searchlight Electrician Senior Sergeant Afanasij Denisovich Smolenskij of the 6th Separate Company under the command of the 46th.

He served with the 46th from August 1944 in Belorussia, Poland and Germany. Servicing 10275 combat flights.

These eight men have all been "attached" to the 46th and placed under its command so maybe someone could argue that there were still no male members of the 588th/46th during the war?
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Old 10-28-2016, 12:40 PM   #5
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Re: #3 Smashing A Myth - The Men Of The Night Witches Regiment.

This final piece of evidence proves that there were indeed men in the ranks of the 46th during their wartime combat activities (Their last combat sorties were on 4th May 1945).

This 26th October 1945 Order awards a pair of Medals "For Combat Merits" to male ground crew of the 1st Squadron of the 46th Guards Night-Bomber Aviation Taman Red Banner Order Suvurov III Regiment.

Rifleman-Armourer Guards Private Petr Fedorovich Orlovskij (Age 38, formerly of the 672nd Rifle Regiment)
Rifleman-Armourer Guards Private Aleksandr Fedorovich Sinitsin (Age 39, formerly of the 601st Rifle Regiment)

Both serving in the 46th from April 1945 after recovering from being wounded.


Although the myth is hopefully now totally smashed (and these are just the men who received awards), Pljuta's Medal "For Combat Merits" is a really outstanding researched Medal in the collection and will be held in the prestige it deserves.
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