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WOMEN IN THE ARMY. The words have a sinister sound and ' one instinctively thinks of suicide clubs, and such grim evidence of neurotic minds, but a Battalion of Death really means that so many women have banded themselves together to light to the death in support of their country. The first mention of one of these Battalions of Death is in the history of Serbia's many heroic lights for an existence among her native mountains, when the Serbian women organised the Legia Smirti (Legion of Death). This was composed of women trained in the use of the rifle, and in the science of warfare, and drawn from all classes. In the early days cf the present'war this-Legion of Death did heroically under*the leadership of the widow of a Serbian general who was killed by the Turks during the lastBalkan war. Since then the Legion has been more or less merged in the general Serbian army, where women are welcomed as fighters in spite of ' their sex. In Russia, where the women of Moscow are banding themselves into Battalions of Death, and are already several thousand strong, women soldiers have not been encouraged. Indeed, according to the army regulations a Russian woman cannot become a fighter, but in this amazing country of contradictions, it is quite possible. for a woman with influence, or sufficient "cheek," to serve beside her husband, brother, or father without let or hindrance from the authorities, who close their eyes to the many women in the ranks of the army. Not only so, but Madame Colonel Alexandra Koudasheve is in command of the 6th Ural Cossack Regiment, and one half of the soldiers she commands are women. At the commencement of the war Madame Alexandra Koudasheve enlisted as a volunteer in her huband's old regiment, and showed such wonderful military dash and courage during some Uhlan raids that she was not only raised to the rank of lieutenant, but was decorr^ed by the Czar with the Cross of St". George. In a couple of portraits printed in an American paper -she is represented as wearing a bearskin coat, top boots and Cossack trousers, one hand being thrust deeply into a hip pocket, the other hand ciasping her riflle. The other portrait depicts her in the same uniform, but astride of a Cossack pony with her riflle slung at her back. The history of the war in Russia is full of stories of heroic women fighters who have faced death with their men folk, but the Battalions of Death, although recognised by the Government, do not receive any pay, and must find not only their equipment, but everything they require. In fact, the expenses of the Battalions are in a very great measure borne by the richer women who enlist, the poorer members being supplied with equipment and food by their comrades who" can afford it. No doubt tho part they will play in future fighting will be as great as that of their sisters who enlisted in the regular regiments, and perhaps before long the Battalions will be recognised by the Government, and regiments officered and manned by women will become a £patur e of the Russian army.

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Bibliographic details

BATTALIONS OF DEATH., Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume LXXIV, Issue LXXIV, 24 September 1917

Word Count

BATTALIONS OF DEATH. Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume LXXIV, Issue LXXIV, 24 September 1917