Novorossisk - The Malaya Zemlya is to the left on the coast of the Black Sea
"All of us were provided with one extra bullet and if I could see I was being
circled by the enemy of course I could take out my pistol and shoot myself – as
a last resort." *
Galina Beltsova - Navigator
January 4, 1943 - Maria Raskova is killed in a flying accident
February 8th,1943 - The 588th Night Bomber regiment is redesignated the 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Regiment.
Units in the Red Army were given the coveted Guards title only after continued high performance and achievement in action. There were ma missions flown over the Crimea against the Malaya Zemlya (Little Land ) near Novorossisk Harbor on the Black Sea where Soviet Naval Infantry held against fierce German attacks .. Any soldier who survived the battle was automatically admitted to the Party - the witches dropped bombs and supplies - the latter guided by soldier's flashlights.
February 4th, 1943 - The Malaya Zemlya (Little Land) is recaptured.
She (Nadezhda Popova) then flew a relief mission through enemy fire over Novorossiysk to drop food, water and medical supplies over the friendly forces trapped in Malaya Zemlya. After returning she found that her aircraft was covered with bullet holes, down to holes in her map and helmet." Malaya Zemlya lies southwest of the city of Novorossisk.
March 23,1943 - Raisa Aronova wounded in action over Temryuk - Novorossisk area
April 26th, 1943 - Ira Kasherina brings in her PO 2 with a dead pilot, Ducia Nosal. Nosal was hit, died and fell over the controls - Kasherina had to fight her pilots body to bring the biplane home. The plane has been hit by multiple rounds of cannon fire- it was a miracle it didn't burn. Ducia Nosal had completed 354 combat missions and was posthumously awarded Hero of the Soviet Union.
July 31 - August 1, 1943 Krymskaya- "The most frightening of our battlenights was the night of August 1, 1943.We flew on the Blue Line which the Germans considered impregnable. For the first run 15 planes flew out. The target was close, we could see the projectors waiting to catch our machines. Suddenly we see:a plane flares, and falls slowly in a ball of fire. We consult the flight journal: who's on fire above the target?The first team returns, they repot thst they saw a plane burn at 22:18; - another team saw a machine burn at 23:00 and no sound of AA guns. Why? And just like that four fires at different times. Out of 15 only 11 returned - those who, above the target, understood that the Germans had sent against us their night fighters that was why the AA guns were silent - afraid to hit one of their own... " * The Witches were grounded for the night - there were eight empty beds in the tents. The night fighter pilot was Oberfeldwebel (Staff Sergeant ) Josef Kociok 10/NJG 1.
I. Rabolskaya, N. Kravtsova
“the terrible night of 31 July 1943 stands out in my memory, like a nightmare.” Rozanova was thefourth to take off. Soon, she knew something was amiss when the searchlights were overthe target, but the anti-aircraft guns were silent. She saw the first Po-2 to take off thatnight catch fire and fall to the ground. Then a second Po-2 was caught in the searchlights.They heard gunfire and realized then that an enemy fighter was airborne. The second plane caught fire and slowly fell near the first. Then the third Po-2 appeared in thesearchlights and caught fire. Rozanova decided to approach the target from a very lowaltitude in a glide. They were told to never drop bombs from an altitude lower than 400 meters because the plane could not withstand the explosion. They continued to glide anddropped their bombs at an altitude of less than 300 meters. “When we dropped them ourplane was so shaken by the aerodynamic blow from the bombs exploding that I thought we would split into pieces.” She continued to glide until they reached an altitude of 100 meters and then started the engine once they cleared the target. Upon heading for home,she looked over her shoulder and was horrified to see a fourth plane burning and falling.This was the first time the Germans had used a combination of anti-aircraft guns,searchlights, and fighters. Four crews (eight women) were lost in a matter of ten minutes."*
This was the Witch's worst night. Fortunately, the night fighters were in demand elsewhere, and they transferred to another part of the front. The above is an indication of how low the witches flew. Rozanova talks of 100 meters (300 feet) and not much higher then 3000 meters. I bet they flew a lot lower than that when there were fighters in the area or to evade flak and searchlights.
September 17th,1943 - operations in the Dostogaevskaya (Crimea) area against motorised forces.
October 9th, 1943 - 46th Guards Night Bomber Regiment is given the title "Taman" for operations around that peninsula.
April 9th,1944 - Evgenia Rudneva is shot down and killed with her pilot Pana Prokofyeva over Kerch in the Crimea by flak. She was 23 and had flown 645 missions. She was posthumously made Hero of the Soviet Union. "she was the only daughter of her family and she had never been kissed."* ** - Nadezhda Popova
May 11th, 1944 - Airfield anti personnel operations near Sevastopol in the Crimea
May 12,1944 - Crimea cleared of Germans. 4th Air Army posted to 2nd Belorussain Front - participates in Operation Bagration - the Destruction of the German's Army Group Center - a catastrophe for Grmany.
August 25th 1944 - Vera Bjelik is shot down and killed near Ostrolenka, Poland with her pilot, Tatiana Makarova. Vera was 23 years old and had completed 313 missions.
October 16th - October 27th, 1944 - air support for the First East Prussian Offensive (Gumbinnen Operation). Suffering heavy losses, the Red Army stops to refit and wait for reserves.
January 13th,1945 - April 25th 1945 - Taman Guards fly in support of a number of East Pommeranian Offensives;
February 24th, 1945 - March 6th 1945 - Konitz-Koslin Offensive Operation -
March 7th - March 31st 1945 - Danzig Offensive Operation -
March 1 - March 18th 1945 - Arnswalde - Kolberg Offensive Operation -
March 18th - April 4th 1945 - Altdamm Offensive Operation -
Taking a break - L - R Sebrovna, Bjelik; Standing - Popova
***Noggle, Anne, A Dance With Death, P.84
***Noggle, Anne, A Dance With Death, P.84