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Lt. Anna Alexandrovna Timofeyeva-Yegorova (Анна Александровна Тимофеева-Егорова; September 23, 1918 – October 29, 2009) was a pilot in the Red Army Air Force (VVS) during the Second World War (or the Great Patriotic War, as it is known in Russia). She learned to fly and became a flight instructor before the war, then volunteered for the front when Germany invaded. In 1941-2, she flew reconnaissance and delivery missions for the 130th Air Liaison Squadron in a wooden bi-plane, the Polikarpov Po-2. After being shot down, she transferred in 1943 to the 805th Attack Aviation Regiment and flew more than 270 missions in the Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik, including battles above the Taman Peninsulamarker, Crimeamarker and Polandmarker.

During an August 1944 mission to destroy German forces at the Magnuszew bridgehead near Warsaw, Yegorova's plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire, killing her tail gunner and setting the plane ablaze. Rolling inverted, Yegorova was burned as she left the plane at a low altitude; her parachute only partially opened and she suffered broken bones and other internal injuries on hitting the ground. She was given first aid by the German captors, then taken to a prisoner of war camp.

Back at her air base, Yegorova was presumed dead and 'posthumously' granted the status of Hero of the Soviet Union, although in actuality she had been taken to a German prisoner-of-war camp, where her wounds were tended by Dr. Georgy Sinyakov.

On January 31, 1945, Yegorova was liberated after Soviet forces overran the Kustrin prisoner camp where she was being held. Arrested by the NKVD, Yegorova was suspected as a potential traitor and interrogated continuously for eleven days. (Stalin and Soviet law viewed any Soviet who was captured alive as a traitor, subject even to the death penalty or to a term in a penal battalion). After other POW inmates vouched for her injuries and her conduct, she was released, but still suffered persecution and suspicion for many years. She was invalided out of the VVS for medical reasons in 1945.

In 1961, Yegorova was the subject of a feature article in the Literaturnaya Gazeta in 1961, and in 1965, she was finally awarded her Hero of the Soviet Union medal.

Notes

  1. Sakaida, Henry, Heroines of the Soviet Union 1941-45, Osprey Publishing (2003), ISBN 1841765988, 9781841765983, p. 20


References

  • Cottam, Kazimiera. Women in War and Resistance: Selected Biographies of Soviet Women Soldiers. Nepean, Canada: New Military Publishing, 1998.
  • Noggle, Anne. A Dance With Death: Soviet Airwomen in World War II. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 1994.
  • Timofeyeva-Yegorova, Anna. trans. Margarita Ponomaryova, Kim Green. ed. Kim Green. Red Sky, Black Death: A Soviet Woman Pilot's Memoir of the Eastern Front. Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2009.



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