Nina Pavlovna Petrova
Нина Павловна Петрова
|Born||27 July 1893|
Lomonosov, Russian Empire
|Died||1 May 1945 (aged 51)|
Gmina Gryfino, Nazi-occupied Poland
|Years of service||1939–1945|
|Unit||284th Infantry Regiment|
|Battles/wars||Eastern Front of World War II †|
|Awards||Order of Glory 1st Class|
Nina Petrova (Russian: Нина Петрова; 27 July 1893 – 1 May 1945) was a sniper during the Winter War and World War II credited with 122 kills, making her one of the most successful female snipers in history. She was posthumously awarded the Order of Glory 1st class on 29 June 1945, making her one of only four women to be awarded all three classes of the award.
Petrova was born in 1893 to a Russian family in Lomonsov within the Russian Empire. Her father was an officer in the Russian navy but died shortly after the family moved to St. Petersburg. Her mother was left to raise the five children by herself, so after completing secondary school Nina enrolled in trade school. Three years later the family moved to Vladivostok where Nina worked as an accountant during the day and went to school at night. Later she moved to Revel and found employment at a shipyard. During the 1917 revolution she was a resident of Lodeynoye Pole in the St. Petersburg Oblast but moved to the city of Leningrad with her daughter in 1927. There she worked as a gym teacher and was active in various sports including horseback riding, cycling, rowing, swimming, basketball, skiing, hockey, and skating. From 1934 to 1935 she was the team captain of the Leningrad Military District women's ice hockey team. After improving her sharpshooting skills she entered a sniper school and became a certified sniper instructor.
Petrova fought in the Soviet-Finnish War before volunteering for service in the German-Soviet War. Initially she served in the 4th Division of the Leningrad People's Militia before entering a medical battalion, even though she was too old to be drafted. In November 1941 she transferred to fight as a sniper in the 1st Infantry Battalion of the 284th Infantry Regiment of the 86th Tartu Rifle Division, where she rose through the ranks to sergeant-major (starshina). In the Battle of Leningrad she trained other soldiers of the Red Army as snipers in addition to participating in direct combat.
On 16 January 1944 in the village of Zarudiny in the Leningrad Oblast she took out an enemy communications officer and another soldier. Her position was discovered and she managed to retreat to a different position and take out three more before it was attacked. From January to March 1944 she took out 23 enemy soldiers and was awarded the Order of Glory 3rd class on 2 March 1944 for her actions in Leningrad. For her actions in Leningrad she was awarded the Medal For Battle Merit and the Medal For the Defence of Leningrad.
While fighting on the 2nd Belorussian Front in the battle for the control of Elbing in February 1945 she provided cover to her unit by attacking enemy positions with sniper fire, killing 32 enemy soldiers in that engagement and bringing her kill tally to 100 with her victories in Leningrad, Lepassaare, and other battles. For her actions in Elbing she was nominated to be awarded the Order of Glory 1st Class but did not live to receive it. She was killed in action on 1 May 1945, just days before the end of the war, when a mortar attack pushed her off a cliff. Throughout her career she trained 512 other snipers, killed 122 enemy soldiers, and took three enemy combatants hostage.