Battlefield 5: Why Featuring Women From the Frontline is Brilliant


I must admit that prior to the Battlefield V reveal I knew little about the role women had during World War II. I always knew about Rosie the Riveter and the millions of women she represented working in factories making bullets for soldiers during the war. What I didn’t realize is that there are a plethora of stories about badass women fighting on the battlefield that the team at DICE seems to be pulling from for inspiration. Wanting to know more about these stories, I fell down a rabbit hole of books, blogs, and Wikipedia pieces all about WWII heroines. I’m now more excited than ever to see this new perspective in Battlefield, and ready to hang on for the ride DICE is likely to be taking us on.

One of the reasons I’m so intrigued is because I was so misinformed to start. After doing a little digging, I was excited to see just how many stories they can pull from. Here are few of my favorites out of what I’ve found, starting with one DICE may have been referencing when discussing Norwegian Resistance Fighters:

Anne-Sofie Østvedt


Anne-Sofie landed herself on the Gestapo’s most wanted list by 1942. She was a 20-year-old student studying chemistry at the University of Oslo in Norway when German forces invaded, but that didn’t stop her from continuing her studies while fighting back. With a natural distaste for Nazis, she began her own resistance by publishing an underground newspaper and eventually joining the organization known as XU. XU stood for “Unknown Undercover Agent” and was the country’s largest illegal intelligence organization during WWII. She was able to continue her studies until 1942, and only stopped because the Gestapo began hunting her for the remainder of the war.

Quickly rising through the ranks, Anne-Sofie became second in command of XU. As part of the Norwegian resistance movement, XU was responsible for gathering intelligence that helped spotters destroy German warships like the Tirpitz, smuggle people out of the country via Sweden or fishing boats, helping saboteurs destroy ships, supplies, or the Norsk Hydro heavy water plant which crippled the German nuclear program.

In this position she would liaison with other underground organizations or even command the men of XU when necessary. While it’s no secret taking commands from a woman during this time period was uncommon, the orders were likely accepted because Anne actually changed her name to Aslak (the male equivalent of Anne in Oslo) to protect her family from the Gestapo. In 1942 the Gestapo sent 45 officers to her apartment blocking all entrances and took her sister as a hostage, forcing her to cut off all contact with them for their own protection. In addition to the name change, she altered her physical appearance, cut contact with all friends, and only spent time with other workers, eliminating any private life or friendships for nearly three years.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko aka “Lady Death”


But what about combat roles you might ask? Well let me introduce you to one of the top military snipers of all time: Lyudmila Pavlichenko, also known as “Lady Death.” With 309 credited kills, this Soviet Union sniper was originally offered a job as a nurse, which she refused. An audition to be a sniper was held by a Red Army unit who handed her a rifle and told her to kill two Romanians working with the Germans. “When I picked off the two, I was accepted,” she recounted in a statement to press.

In two and a half months, she defended the Odessa area and acquired her first 187 kills. She is cited as using a Mosin-Nagant with a PE 4X telescope, which is a five-round, internal magazine bolt-action rifle that saw widespread use during the war. On her first day wielding the weapon, a soldier setup beside her and was immediately shot. “He was such a nice, happy boy,” she recalled. “And he was killed just next to me. After that, nothing could stop me.”

She would tie cloth to trees and place mannequins on the battlefield to distract her enemies. Legends say that once she was fired at by a counter-sniper and fell 12 feet just so she could  pretend to be dead. There she laid for hours until night fell and she was able to crawl to safety. By the end of her career the Germans knew her by name. They would occasionally use loudspeakers and shout “Lyudmila Pavlichenko, come over to us. We will give you plenty of chocolate and make you a German officer.” Another story tells of the loss of her husband, a fellow sniper by the name of Leonid Kitsenko. After being shot on the battlefield, she attempted to save his life by dragging him to safety, but he would succumb to his wounds a few days later in the hospital. There are even more tales I didn’t have time to verify in this fan-made comic all about Ms. Pavlichenko.

She had suffered four wounds on the battlefield, but didn’t stop until she took mortar fire to the face and was forced to retire. It was at that point she began training new snipers, as well as touring the Allied countries to tell her stories. This eventually landed her in a meeting at the White House with Roosevelt. During the US press tour, she was constantly asked about her lack of nail polish and hair curls — so much so, that when a Chicago reporter posed what she considered a “silly question” about her style, she responded saying “I am 25 years old and I have killed 309 fascist occupants by now. Don’t you think, gentlemen, that you have been hiding behind my back for too long?” The crowd roared with support.

Virginia Hall aka “Artemis”


The prosthetic limb on the woman featured in Battlefield V’s announcement trailer may seem far fetched to some for World War II, but the war was responsible for major improvements in prosthetic innovation and this amputee helped with the war effort. Her name was Virginia Hall and she sported a wooden leg she affectionately named “Cuthbert” while also acting as an American spy with British Special Operations. She would help Prisoners of War and downed airmen escape battle, all while establishing resistance networks and locating drop zones of money and weapons. It was after a chance meeting with a Special Operations Executive on a train that she would join the war effort and become the first female operative to travel into France. When the Germans began flooding into France after 14 months on the job, she was forced to retreat through the Pyrenees mountains on her one good foot (alongside Cuthbert) before eventually making it to Spain.

After a “warm” welcome that saw her thrown into a Figueres Prison for six weeks, she was freed and eventually joined the Office of Strategic Services in London. You may know the OSS by the name it would eventually be changed to, the Central Intelligence Agency. They sent her back to France to operate a radio, which she did disguised as an elderly milkmaid so she would be able to coordinate the parachute drops containing arms and supplies. Her efforts resulted in the capture of 500 Germans and the deaths of 150. All through her career the Gestapo had one command concerning Hall. “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.”

A fellow OSS operative Paul Goillot met her in 1944 and the two married in 1950 before going on to work for the CIA. Hall was recognized by French President Jacques Chirac as “A true hero of the French Resistance” and she is honored to this day with the CIA naming “The Virginia Hall Expeditionary Center” after her.

Nancy Wake aka “The White Mouse”


A secret agent out of Marseilles and a leader of the French Resistance, Nancy not only ordered the assassinations of other female German spies, but also once had to kill a sentry soldier with her bare hands. She even had a shootout at a roadblock before narrowly escaping to Spain. Nancy liked a good drink and a handsome men, especially of the French variety.

One of those men was her husband who, in November 1942, she was forced to leave behind in France. He actually pressured her to leave. Her reply was to say she would go do some shopping and that she’d be back soon, but after she left she never saw Henri again. He was “captured, tortured and executed” by the Gestapo “because he refused to give them any information about the whereabouts of his wife.” Nicknamed The White Mouse because of her ability to escape danger, Nancy contributed to the war by couriering messages, smuggling food, and sneaking troops out of Southern France and into Spain. By 1943 she was number one on the Gestapo’s most wanted list with a price of five million francs on her head, but while the Germans were putting up wanted posters, she was getting trained by British Special Operations.

Parachuting, plastic explosives, weapons training, silent killing, coding and radio operation were just a few of the skills she picked up from her friends at the British Ministry of Defense. She parachuted into the Auvergne in 1944 and helped attack bridges, railway lines and German convoys. She was also involved in the raid of the Gestapo headquarters in Montlucon where 38 Germans were killed. This is also around the same time a German woman admitted to her that she was a spy. When the male officers didn’t want to execute the spy, Nancy said she’d handle it herself so they changed their tone and agreed to do it. On her way Nancy let the spy know she was going to be shot so she spat on Ms. Wake, stripped naked, and shouted ‘Zieg Heil’ all the way to the firing squad. Nancy is quoted as saying “I’d have shot her. God yes. With the greatest of pleasure.”

Wake passed at the age of 98, but was once asked why she sold her medals. She responded saying “There’s no point in keeping them. I’ll probably go to hell and they’ll melt anyways.” She’s also quoted as saying “Freedom is the only thing worth living for. While I was doing that work, I used to think it didn’t matter if I died, because without freedom there was no point in living.”

The Night Witches


The Night Witches were a group of female bomber fighters (late teens to early 20s) ordered by Joseph Stalin to fight in 1941. Their tactics involved bombing via biplanes made of plywood and canvas which were intended for training and crop dusting. To remain in stealth, the pilots would idle their engines when near a target and then glide in dropping their bomb with only a whoosh noise alarming anyone of their presence. That whoosh is also why they earned the nickname Nachthexen (Night Witches) as Germans equated the noise to a witch riding a broomstick.

They would fly eight missions a night and would eventually accrue 23,672 sorties during the war. “Almost every time, we had to sail through a wall of enemy fire.” In 1943, for example, two of the Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes ran into a squadron of 42 German bombers. Luckily, the biplanes were so light that they could outmaneuver the Nazi planes which would stall at the same speed. The Night Witches managed to take down two of the much more advanced aircrafts before having to bail out and parachute into a field for safety. The planes also had another benefit as they wouldn’t show on radar or on infrared, and because the pilots didn’t use radios they were “basically ghosts.”

On top of this, The Night Witches received only meager supplies from the Soviet military, including hand-me-downs from male soldiers. Items like boots would need to have bedding stuffed inside so they could fit but, like the planes, they made what was offered work. The real reason they flew at night was because the planes could only hold two bombs at once, requiring multiple flybys at the German front lines all at low altitudes. Easy targets, they were much harder to hit in the dark.

At the end of the war they were disbanded, but they did so as the most highly decorated unit in the Soviet Air Force. They weren’t included in the victory parade, but 24 of the pilots still received the Hero reward. The founder, Marina Raskova died in 1943 when she was sent to the front line. She received the first state funeral of World War II and her ashes were buried in the Kremlin. Posthumously she received the Order of the Patriotic War I Class.

What I learned through my research was that women played a huge role in the war, far beyond what I originally expected to find. Yes, women supported troops off the battlefield, but they were also on the frontlines next to their male comrades, ran intelligence from behind enemy lines and dropped a whole lot of bombs on unexpecting Germans. And those are only a few of the stories I discovered.

If Battlefield V gives us a glimpse into even one of the heroines listed here, or even just pulls from their stories for inspiration, we’re all in for a treat. I am more than willing to hear about any hero of World War II, regardless of gender. While #NotMyBattlefield may be a trend, this inclusive decision could continue to shake up the war genre and inspire more conversations about roles few have explored in a WWII game. Bravo, Battlefield.

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If you have any questions your can reach me via email at or on linkedin at

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About Destin

Destin Legarie is currently the Editor-in-Chief at where he produces their daily news show Hard News, creates content for, which is owned by MTV, and, which is owned by Fox Media. He also freelances at and