Mariya Semyonovna Polivanova
Мария Семёновна Поливанова
|Born||24 October 1922|
Naryshkino, Tula Governorate, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Died||14 August 1942 (aged 19)|
Sutoki, Parfinsky District, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Years of service||1941–1942|
|Unit||528th Rifle Regiment|
|Battles/wars||Eastern Front of World War II †|
|Awards||Hero of the Soviet Union|
Mariya Polivanova (Russian: Мария Поливанова; 24 October 1922 – 14 August 1942) was a private in the 528th Rifle Regiment of the 130th Infantry Division, 1st Shock Army on the Northwestern Front during World War II. On 14 August 1942, surrounded by German soldiers whilst she and her colleague Natalya Kovshova had only two grenades left, they set off the last two grenades, killing themselves and surrounding German soldiers. For their bravery she and Kovshova were posthumously awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on 14 February 1943.
Polivanova joined the Red Army in June 1941 after the start of the Second World War, training to become a sniper. In October 1941, she was put in the 3rd Moscow Communist Rifle Division, a Narodnoe Opolcheniye group to defend Moscow from German bombing attacks. In January 1942 she was transferred to the 528th Rifle Regiment on the Northwestern Front and received training at the Central Women's Sniper Training School. Both Polivanova and Kovshova established themselves as skilled snipers and respected instructors in the battalion.
In February 1942, Polivanova was sent to the front, fighting for control of Novaya Russa. In doing so the unit was able to disable enemy machine-gun setups and positions. In the battle of Rutchevo, under heavy enemy fire she managed to carry many wounded soldiers from her unit to safety. Some time between March and May 1942 she was wounded in battle and taken to a field hospital, where Kovshova was sent only two days later.
In August 1942, the unit was deployed on an to offensive Sutoki-Byakovo. Not long into the battle the commanding officer was killed, so Kovshova took command of the unit. Polivanova served as Kovshova's spotter. When the German troops began their counterattack, she gave the command to open fire on them. The Germans realized there were snipers in the area, so they launched a barrage of mortar fire. When the fire stopped one soldier asked to retreat, Kovshova replied with the famous phrase "Not one step back!" Casualties piled up on the Soviet side, leaving only three snipers alive, one of whom was too injured to continue fighting and the other two were Polivanova and Kovshova, who were injured but continued fighting. When they started to realize they were running low on ammunition while German forces were drawing closer and closer, Polivanova and Kovshova kissed before making their last stand, detonating the last of their grenades, killing themselves and surrounding German troops. They were both awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union posthumously on 14 February 1943 in recognition of their relentless efforts in combat.