publicity photo and official formal portrait of Pavlichenko
1943 stamp honoring participants of the Great Patriotic War
Major Pavlichenko mastered the art of stealth and recorded 309 kills. The black and white publicity photo (above) was used in part, for a Soviet postage stamp (right) issued in 1943 honoring the participants of the Great Patriotic War. It is part of a 5 stamp series. Color image (top right) shows the formal portrait of Major Pavlichenko.

The greatest female sniper of all time was Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko, an Ukrainian. She was born on 12 July 1916 in the small village of Belaya Tserkov (the name means "white church" in Ukraine. As a child, young "Lyuda" was a gifted student. She had an independent streak and was very opinionated. When she completed ninth grade, her parents moved to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. She found work at an arsenal where she was employed as a grinder. She also joined a shooting club and developed her talents as a sharpshooter. When the Germans attacked the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a 24-year-old student at Kiev State University, majoring in history. Like many of her classmates, she rushed to join the military to fight against the Germans. The recruitment officer eyed her in amazement. She looked like a model, with well-manicured nails, fashionable clothes, and hairstyle. Pavlichenko told the recruiter that she wanted to carry a rifle and fight. The man just laughed and asked her if she knew anything about rifles. She pulled out her marksmanship certificate and proved it. Then the recruiter tried to persuade her to become a field nurse, but she refused. She joined the Soviet Army as a shooter, attached to the 25th Infantry Division. In August 1941, Private Pavlichenko scored her first two kills near the village of Belyayevka when her unit was ordered to defend a strategic hill. She worked with a spotter. Her weapon was a Model 1891/30 Sniper Rifle fitted with a P.E. 4-power scope. It was a 5-shot bolt action rifle which fired a 148 grain bullet at 2,800 feet per second, with an effective range of over 600 yards. Anyone who has ever fired a Moisin-Nagant can tell you that it kicks like a mule! Pavlichenko fought for over two and a half months near Odessa and recorded 187 kills. When the enemy gained control of Odessa, the Soviet Independent Maritime Army was pulled out and sent to Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula. In the fierce fighting, Pavlichenko was wounded by a mortar blast in June 1942. At this time, her score stood at 309. The Soviet High Command ordered the wounded sniper to board a submarine and leave Sevastopol. She was a heroic role (...continued )

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