In October 1941, with Hitler's forces at the gates of Moscow, on the initiative of the famous woman navigator Marina Raskova, Stalin personally authorized the formation of the world's first women's air regiments. Women volunteers flocked to be admitted to the three regiments which were eventually formed: fighters, dive bombers and the famous all-female, night bomber regiment - despised as "night witches" by their Nazi enemies. This article uses the diary and letters of a young female navigator in the night bomber regiment, Evgenya Rudneva, to explore the factors which shaped and motivated a generation of young women to take up arms against fascism in defence of their "Motherland".
14th Biennial Conference of the Australasian Association for European History. Europe's Pasts and Presents: Proceedings of the Fourteenth Biennial Conference of the Australasian Association for European History (Brisbane, Queensland July, 2003) p. 339-353