How a Russian girl, pretending to be a guy, went to war

Volunteer Nikolay Popov

The beginning of the war, sixteen-year-old Kira Bashkirova met in Vilno (Vilnius), where she studied at the local women's higher school. Realizing that no one would let her go to war so easily, Kira decided to escape.

She cut off her braids, sold some of her personal belongings and with the proceeds bought a soldier's uniform. Taking the student card of her cousin Nikolai Popov, the girl reached Lodz, where the 88th Petrovsky Infantry Regiment was stationed. The camouflage worked, and Bashkirova, under the name of her relative, was enrolled in the unit as a volunteer.


At the front, "Nikolai" selflessly fought the enemy and often went on reconnaissance raids. During one of the night reconnaissance, the girl was even able to "take the tongue" and was awarded the St. George Cross of the 4th degree. At the same time, she managed to capture the enemy soldier alone, since her wounded comrade could do nothing to help her.


For a long time, Kira managed to hide her secret: she washed herself separately from the others, learned to speak in a man's voice and tried not to stand out among her colleagues. She told her family everything in a letter and her relatives had no choice but to come to terms with the girl's choice.


In the end, the truth came out when Kira had to go to the hospital due to illness. The shocked command ordered to immediately send Bashkirov to the rear. Nevertheless, the girl was left with the award and even wrote a letter of praise in addition.

It seemed that the military service for Kira was over. She, however, was not about to give up so easily. "The brave girl did not come home, but again, posing as a young man Nikolai Popov, volunteered for a new unit, where she was wounded in a battle with the enemy, after which she was sent to one of the hospitals," the magazine wrote about the young heroine in 1915 "Heartfelt Word".


After she was reopened and sent home, Bashkirova already openly wrote a request on her behalf for the service. To her great joy, it was approved, and until October 1917, she quite legally fought in the ranks of the 30th Siberian Rifle Regiment.

War Again

After the end of the First World War, Kira forgot about the armed forces for many years. She focused on working with orphans and organized an orphanage for them in Poltava.

With the attack of Nazi Germany on the USSR in the summer of 1941, Bashkirova (married - Lopatina) again went to war. As a mother of two children, forty-three-year-old Kira Aleksandrovna, of course, did not repeat the desperate feats of her youth, but she also contributed to the overall victory.

As the head nurse at a military hospital in Murmansk, she looked after the wounded soldiers, often with the heaviest of them assigned to her. More than once she assisted surgeons in performing operations right during the German air raids.

The selfless service of Kira Lopatina was appreciated. She was awarded medals "For Military Merit" and "For the Defense of the Soviet Arctic."


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