Mariya Vasilyevna Oktyabrskaya (Russian: Мария Васильевна Октябрьская; 16 August 1905 – 15 March 1944) was a Soviet tank driver during World War II.
While living in Tomsk, she learned that her husband was killed fighting the German forces around Kiev in August 1941. She sold all of her possessions to donate a tank for the Red Army. Her only requirement was that she would be allowed to drive it.
The State Defense Committee agreed to this, realizing the publicity opportunities they could gain. The tank Mariya donated was a T-34 medium tank.
After she completed her training, she was posted to the 26th Guards Tank Brigade in September 1943 as a driver and mechanic. She named her tank “fighting girlfriend” and emblazoned these words on the turret of the T-34.
She took part in the bitter fighting; destroying several machine-gun nests and artillery guns. She was the first of her brigade to breach the enemy positions.
[O]n 17 January 1944, Mariya fought in another night attack that was her last. She destroyed resistance in trenches and machine-gun nests. Her success didn’t last long however, her tank was hit by a German anti-tank shell, again in the tracks. Her tank was immobilized.
Mariya immediately got out of the tank and began to repair the track, amid fierce small arms and artillery fire. She ignored orders to remain in the tank. She managed to repair the track, but she was hit in the head by shell fragments.
Jason Porath previously worked at DreamWorks Animation as an effects animator; now he does the illustration series “Rejected Princesses” to bring to audiences some of the other “princesses” Disney and DreamWorks probably would never touch – there are lots more at his site linked below.