Episode 2

Published on:

3rd Dec 2019

Maria Бочкарёва & the Battalion of Death

"Day and night my imagination carried me to the fields of battle, and my ears rang with the groans of my wounded brethren. The spirit of sacrifice took possession of me. My country called me. An irresistible force from within pulled me."

So said Maria Bochkareva in her 1917 memoirs, recounting the passionate impulse that compelled her to join the Russian Army at the outbreak of war in 1914. In just six short years she would become Commander of the inaugural Women's Battalion of Death, prove a short-lived democratic government's staunchest ally, and be the proud recipient of a rather garish golden pistol.

Maria Bochkareva propelled women onto the frontline of combat with a passionate ass-kicking bravado rarely seen before - or since.


Botchkareva, Mariya Leontievna, and Isac Don Levine. Yashka: My life as Peasant, Exile and Soldier (1919). Print.

Fell, Alison S., and Ingrid. Sharp. The Women's Movement in Wartime: International Perspectivess, 1914-1919 (2007). Print.

Stoff, Laurie. They Fought for the Motherland: Russia's Women Soldiers in World War I and the Revolution (2006). Print.

Stockdale, Melissa K. “‘My Death for the Motherland Is Happiness’: Women, Patriotism, and Soldiering in Russia's Great War, 1914-1917.” The American Historical Review, vol. 109, no. 1, 2004, pp. 78–116.

The Russian Film Battalion directed by Dmitriy Meshiev and released to cinemas in February 2015 

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About the Podcast

Demons and Dames
Demons & Dames is a tongue-in-cheek feminist history podcast. Ashley Mauritzen and Sarah Worley-Hill dive deep into the stories of notorious women who shaped history - by design or simply by being in the right (or wrong) time or place. We examine how they were viewed by their contemporaries, and how and why their stories have been interpreted, shaped and passed down. We also laugh. A lot.

About your hosts

Ashley Mauritzen

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Writer, thinker and former wild child, Ashley has a BA in English Literature from Oxford (apparently - she doesn't remember any of it) and an MA in Fashion Journalism. She does an uncanny Kate Bush impression, wears wigs on nights in, and asked for 10 metres of black velvet ribbon for Christmas when she was seven. By day, she's a commercial semiotician. It's a thing. Former alter egos include Oxford gossip column denizen 'Masher', queer comedy performance artist 'the Dreary Mademoiselle', cerebral burlesque star 'Curious Peach', and everyone's favourite Halloween mashup - 'Adam Antoinette.'

Sarah Worley-Hill

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Bibliophile, historian, and all round goof ball. Sarah has an MA Oxon from Oxford University in Ancient and Modern History, but has also taught maths at a boys' boarding school so considers herself an all-rounder. She would invite Alexander the Great, Queen Teuta of Illyria, and Wu Zetian to her ideal time-machine sponsored dinner party but would definitely need a translator. She loves her Shih Tzu, Calypso, very much and wants to get a French bulldog named Odysseus. She's terribly dyslexic and really really can't spell (or pronounce things). She has a mild tea obsession.