Milunka Savić was a Serbian soldier who fought in the Balkan Wars and in World War I. She was wounded no less than nine times during her service and is the most-decorated female combatant in the history of warfare.
In 1912, when she was aged 24, Savić’s brother was called up to serve in the Balkan Wars against Bulgaria. Accounts vary as to whether she impersonated her brother or simply accompanied him, but it is certain that she joined the Serbian army having disguised herself as a man. She saw combat within weeks and was awarded with a medal and a promotion for taking part in repeated assaults during the nine-day Battle of Bregalnica.
During the tenth assault she was wounded by a Bulgarian grenade and while being treated in hospital her gender was revealed. Unwilling to punish her given her valour on the battlefield, her commanding officer offered Savić a transfer to a nursing division. Standing at attention Savić insisted she would only fight for her country as a combatant. When the officer told her he would give her his answer the next day Savić simply responded “I will wait” and remained standing at attention in front of him. He relented after just an hour and allowed her to return to the infantry. 
Just a year after the end of the Balkan Wars Europe was torn apart by World War I and Savić continued to serve her country. Following the Battle of Kolubara in the early days of the war, she was awarded the Karađorđe Star with Swords medal, the highest award available. She received the medal a second time in 1916 after she single-handedly captured 23 Bulgarian soldiers at the Battle of Crna Bend. The war progressed poorly for Serbia, and Savić found herself fighting for the French as the retreating Serbian army was reformed under their control at Corfu. By the end of the war she had received medals from France, Russia and Britain for her bravery.
After the war Savić turned down a military pension in France to return to Serbia where she raised her daughter and a number of foster children on her own. Largely forgotten by the public, she made a living by working as a cleaning lady. During the German occupation of Serbia in World War II she was imprisoned in the Banjica concentration camp. Accounts vary as to whether this was because she refused to attend a banquet with German officers or because she was operating a hospital to treat wounded partisans. She was ultimately spared execution and released by a German officer who recognised her as a war hero.
Savić died of a stroke in 1973, aged 84. She was buried with full military honours and a street in Belgrade is named after her.

Milunka Savić was a Serbian soldier who fought in the Balkan Wars and in World War I. She was wounded no less than nine times during her service and is the most-decorated female combatant in the history of warfare.

In 1912, when she was aged 24, Savić’s brother was called up to serve in the Balkan Wars against Bulgaria. Accounts vary as to whether she impersonated her brother or simply accompanied him, but it is certain that she joined the Serbian army having disguised herself as a man. She saw combat within weeks and was awarded with a medal and a promotion for taking part in repeated assaults during the nine-day Battle of Bregalnica.

During the tenth assault she was wounded by a Bulgarian grenade and while being treated in hospital her gender was revealed. Unwilling to punish her given her valour on the battlefield, her commanding officer offered Savić a transfer to a nursing division. Standing at attention Savić insisted she would only fight for her country as a combatant. When the officer told her he would give her his answer the next day Savić simply responded “I will wait” and remained standing at attention in front of him. He relented after just an hour and allowed her to return to the infantry.

Just a year after the end of the Balkan Wars Europe was torn apart by World War I and Savić continued to serve her country. Following the Battle of Kolubara in the early days of the war, she was awarded the Karađorđe Star with Swords medal, the highest award available. She received the medal a second time in 1916 after she single-handedly captured 23 Bulgarian soldiers at the Battle of Crna Bend. The war progressed poorly for Serbia, and Savić found herself fighting for the French as the retreating Serbian army was reformed under their control at Corfu. By the end of the war she had received medals from France, Russia and Britain for her bravery.

After the war Savić turned down a military pension in France to return to Serbia where she raised her daughter and a number of foster children on her own. Largely forgotten by the public, she made a living by working as a cleaning lady. During the German occupation of Serbia in World War II she was imprisoned in the Banjica concentration camp. Accounts vary as to whether this was because she refused to attend a banquet with German officers or because she was operating a hospital to treat wounded partisans. She was ultimately spared execution and released by a German officer who recognised her as a war hero.

Savić died of a stroke in 1973, aged 84. She was buried with full military honours and a street in Belgrade is named after her.

Tamara Bunke, also commonly known as Tania the Guerrillera, was an Argentine-born German communist revolutionary who played a key role in the post-revolutionary Cuban government and in other Latin American revolutionary movements during the 1960s.
Raised in Buenos Aires by a family of expatriate German communists, Bunke grew up surrounded by the Argentine Communist Party as well as being a keen athlete and intelligent student. In 1952 the family returned to East Berlin where she studied political science and acted as a translator for the Socialist Unity Party of Germany. In this capacity she met the hero of the Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara, when she was assigned to be his interpreter.
Inspired by the revolution, Bunke moved to Cuba in 1961, quickly graduating from voluntary work to a range of high-profile tasks in the militia, the Cuban Literacy Campaign and a number of government departments. She was later selected to take part in “Operation Fantasma”, Guevara’s guerrilla expedition to Bolivia aimed at sparking revolutionary uprising across Latin America.
The only woman in the operation, Bunke was trained in the use of knives, pistols and submachine guns, as well as the transmission of coded radio messages. Styling herself as ‘Tania’, she quickly impressed her superiors with her intelligence, stamina and skill for espionage. In 1964 she served as secret agent, infiltrating Bolivian high society so successfully that she became a personal friend of the Bolivian President. In this role she became an invaluable source of information for Guevara for two years.
However late in 1966 Bunke’s cover was blown due to a failure of the spy network, forcing her to join Guevara’s armed guerrilla campaign in the mountains. It is rumoured but unconfirmed that during this time she and Guevara became lovers. She became responsible for monitoring radio communications but without access to her previous information sources the operation became increasingly isolated and desperate.
Injured in the leg and suffering a high fever, Bunke was included in a group of 17 ailing combatants that Guevara tried to send safely out of the mountains. The group was ambushed by the Bolivian army while crossing the Río Grande river and Bunke was shot while wading through high water with her rifle above her head. On hearing the news of her death Guevara initially refused to believe that such a thing was possible. She was later declared a hero of the Cuban Revolution.

Tamara Bunke, also commonly known as Tania the Guerrillera, was an Argentine-born German communist revolutionary who played a key role in the post-revolutionary Cuban government and in other Latin American revolutionary movements during the 1960s.

Raised in Buenos Aires by a family of expatriate German communists, Bunke grew up surrounded by the Argentine Communist Party as well as being a keen athlete and intelligent student. In 1952 the family returned to East Berlin where she studied political science and acted as a translator for the Socialist Unity Party of Germany. In this capacity she met the hero of the Cuban Revolution, Che Guevara, when she was assigned to be his interpreter.

Inspired by the revolution, Bunke moved to Cuba in 1961, quickly graduating from voluntary work to a range of high-profile tasks in the militia, the Cuban Literacy Campaign and a number of government departments. She was later selected to take part in “Operation Fantasma”, Guevara’s guerrilla expedition to Bolivia aimed at sparking revolutionary uprising across Latin America.

The only woman in the operation, Bunke was trained in the use of knives, pistols and submachine guns, as well as the transmission of coded radio messages. Styling herself as ‘Tania’, she quickly impressed her superiors with her intelligence, stamina and skill for espionage. In 1964 she served as secret agent, infiltrating Bolivian high society so successfully that she became a personal friend of the Bolivian President. In this role she became an invaluable source of information for Guevara for two years.

However late in 1966 Bunke’s cover was blown due to a failure of the spy network, forcing her to join Guevara’s armed guerrilla campaign in the mountains. It is rumoured but unconfirmed that during this time she and Guevara became lovers. She became responsible for monitoring radio communications but without access to her previous information sources the operation became increasingly isolated and desperate.

Injured in the leg and suffering a high fever, Bunke was included in a group of 17 ailing combatants that Guevara tried to send safely out of the mountains. The group was ambushed by the Bolivian army while crossing the Río Grande river and Bunke was shot while wading through high water with her rifle above her head. On hearing the news of her death Guevara initially refused to believe that such a thing was possible. She was later declared a hero of the Cuban Revolution.

Milka Kufrin was a Yugoslav partisan who fought against German occupation during the Second World War.
The daughter of Croatian peasants, Milka attended school as a child and as a young woman studied agriculture at the University of Zagreb. During her time as a student she also became a member of the Communist Youth Organisation.
In 1941 Yugoslavia was invaded simultaneously by the Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Hungary, and in response the Partisan Resistance was formed. Kufrin, then in her early 20s, immediately volunteered to join the resistance but was refused. After continuous persistence she was accepted in October 1941 and assigned to a unit stationed in Kordun.
In 1942 Kufrin was given the task of sabotaging the Zagreb-Rijeka railway line. Every night for a period of eight months she approached the railway to plant explosives, no simple feat due to how heavily guarded the rail-line was. For her efforts she was proclaimed a national hero by the Yugoslavian government.

Milka Kufrin was a Yugoslav partisan who fought against German occupation during the Second World War.

The daughter of Croatian peasants, Milka attended school as a child and as a young woman studied agriculture at the University of Zagreb. During her time as a student she also became a member of the Communist Youth Organisation.

In 1941 Yugoslavia was invaded simultaneously by the Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Hungary, and in response the Partisan Resistance was formed. Kufrin, then in her early 20s, immediately volunteered to join the resistance but was refused. After continuous persistence she was accepted in October 1941 and assigned to a unit stationed in Kordun.

In 1942 Kufrin was given the task of sabotaging the Zagreb-Rijeka railway line. Every night for a period of eight months she approached the railway to plant explosives, no simple feat due to how heavily guarded the rail-line was. For her efforts she was proclaimed a national hero by the Yugoslavian government.

Yamakawa Futaba (1844-1909) was an educator in the Japanese region of Aizu. While little is recorded of her life, it is known that she was trained as a fighter and took part in the defense of Tsuruga Castle when it was besieged during the Boshin War. While the castle’s defenses were eventually breached, Futaba survived the siege and following the war went on to lead the movement demanding improved education for women and girls in Japan.

Yamakawa Futaba (1844-1909) was an educator in the Japanese region of Aizu. While little is recorded of her life, it is known that she was trained as a fighter and took part in the defense of Tsuruga Castle when it was besieged during the Boshin War. While the castle’s defenses were eventually breached, Futaba survived the siege and following the war went on to lead the movement demanding improved education for women and girls in Japan.

Bà Triệu, or Triệu Thị Trinh, was a Vietnamese warrior and military commander in the 3rd century who fought against the occupying forces of the Chinese Wu Kingdom.
An orphan of noble birth, Triệu grew up among her brother’s family as a slave. At the age of 19 she declared her intention to become a warrior to fight against the Wu, who controlled Vietnam at that time and had purged more than 10,000 people. When her brother tried to prevent her leaving she is famously quoted as rebuking him with the words: "I want to ride the storm, tread the dangerous waves, win back the fatherland and destroy the yoke of slavery. I don’t want to bow down my head, working as a simple housewife."
Triệu was successful in raising an army of around 1000 men and women, which she led north from the Cu-phong District to engage the Chinese in open rebellion. Despite the relatively small size of her army she was successful in defeating the Wu in over 30 separate battles within a period of 2 years. 
While Triệu’s war effort allowed her to carve out her own portion of Vietnam for a time, her success was a humiliation for the Wu, especially as their Confucian beliefs emphasised the natural inferiority of women. In response the Taizu Emperor of Wu sent huge numbers of troops to the Vietnamese frontier. While Triệu’s army held out for several months in the face of this new onslaught, she was ultimately killed in battle in the year 248.
Following her death and the consolidation of Chinese rule, Triệu was immortalised in Vietnamese folklore as a supernatural hero, often depicted riding into battle astride an elephant wielding dual golden swords.

Bà Triệu, or Triệu Thị Trinh, was a Vietnamese warrior and military commander in the 3rd century who fought against the occupying forces of the Chinese Wu Kingdom.

An orphan of noble birth, Triệu grew up among her brother’s family as a slave. At the age of 19 she declared her intention to become a warrior to fight against the Wu, who controlled Vietnam at that time and had purged more than 10,000 people. When her brother tried to prevent her leaving she is famously quoted as rebuking him with the words: "I want to ride the storm, tread the dangerous waves, win back the fatherland and destroy the yoke of slavery. I don’t want to bow down my head, working as a simple housewife."

Triệu was successful in raising an army of around 1000 men and women, which she led north from the Cu-phong District to engage the Chinese in open rebellion. Despite the relatively small size of her army she was successful in defeating the Wu in over 30 separate battles within a period of 2 years. 

While Triệu’s war effort allowed her to carve out her own portion of Vietnam for a time, her success was a humiliation for the Wu, especially as their Confucian beliefs emphasised the natural inferiority of women. In response the Taizu Emperor of Wu sent huge numbers of troops to the Vietnamese frontier. While Triệu’s army held out for several months in the face of this new onslaught, she was ultimately killed in battle in the year 248.

Following her death and the consolidation of Chinese rule, Triệu was immortalised in Vietnamese folklore as a supernatural hero, often depicted riding into battle astride an elephant wielding dual golden swords.

Nancy Wake was a journalist turned resistance fighter during the Second World War.
Raised by a poor family in Sydney, Australia, Wake used a small inheritance from an aunt to travel to America and then Europe. By the mid-1930’s she had found work as a journalist and married Henri Fiocca, a wealthy industrialist.
When Germany invaded France in May 1940 she and Fiocca became heavily involved in the French Resistance. The pair were responsible for smuggling thousands of Jewish refugees and Allied servicemen into Spain. Wake often used her looks to get past Nazi checkpoints, later describing herself as “a flirtatious little bastard”.
Wake’s activities caused the Gestapo to declare her their most wanted person, dubbing her ‘the White Mouse’ for her ability to evade capture and placing a 5 million franc reward on her head. However by 1943 Nazi control over Vichy France made her work increasingly dangerous and with the collapse of her network she fled to Spain. Fiocca, who she left behind, was tortured to death for refusing to inform on her.
Wake convinced British special agents to train her as a guerilla operative. In April 1944, she parachuted in southern France to link up with Maquis resistance fighters in preparation for the D-Day invasions. She took command of a 7000-strong unit, winning the men’s respect by repeatedly beating them in drinking competitions. Over the next several months her unit fought 22,000 enemy soldiers, causing 1400 casualties in exchange for only 100 of their own. Wake herself was ruthless. She executed a girl who had been spying on the unit, killed an SS sentry with a karate chop to the neck, and on one occasion biked for 70 hours through enemy checkpoints to deliver radio codes to the Allies.
After the war Wake was heavily decorated by Britain, France and the US. During the 1950’s she worked for the British Air Ministry’s intelligence department, where she married again to a former pilot. She died in 2011, aged 98.

Nancy Wake was a journalist turned resistance fighter during the Second World War.

Raised by a poor family in Sydney, Australia, Wake used a small inheritance from an aunt to travel to America and then Europe. By the mid-1930’s she had found work as a journalist and married Henri Fiocca, a wealthy industrialist.

When Germany invaded France in May 1940 she and Fiocca became heavily involved in the French Resistance. The pair were responsible for smuggling thousands of Jewish refugees and Allied servicemen into Spain. Wake often used her looks to get past Nazi checkpoints, later describing herself as “a flirtatious little bastard”.

Wake’s activities caused the Gestapo to declare her their most wanted person, dubbing her ‘the White Mouse’ for her ability to evade capture and placing a 5 million franc reward on her head. However by 1943 Nazi control over Vichy France made her work increasingly dangerous and with the collapse of her network she fled to Spain. Fiocca, who she left behind, was tortured to death for refusing to inform on her.

Wake convinced British special agents to train her as a guerilla operative. In April 1944, she parachuted in southern France to link up with Maquis resistance fighters in preparation for the D-Day invasions. She took command of a 7000-strong unit, winning the men’s respect by repeatedly beating them in drinking competitions. Over the next several months her unit fought 22,000 enemy soldiers, causing 1400 casualties in exchange for only 100 of their own. Wake herself was ruthless. She executed a girl who had been spying on the unit, killed an SS sentry with a karate chop to the neck, and on one occasion biked for 70 hours through enemy checkpoints to deliver radio codes to the Allies.

After the war Wake was heavily decorated by Britain, France and the US. During the 1950’s she worked for the British Air Ministry’s intelligence department, where she married again to a former pilot. She died in 2011, aged 98.

Apranik was a Military Commander and Resistance Leader of the Persian Sasanian Empire in the 7th century.
The daughter of Piran, a renowned Persian general, Apranik was raised in a time when the Sasanian Empire was coming to the end of it’s 400-year existence, having been weakened by war with the Byzantine Empire. Motivated by national pride, Apranik followed in her father’s footsteps and joined the army after finishing her schooling. She rose through the ranks from a petty officer to becoming a fully-fledged Commander.
When the Sasanian Empire fell to a full-scale invasion by the Islamic Rashidun Caliphate, Apranik took command of major battalion of the surviving Persian Army and mounted an ongoing war of resistance against their conquerors. She found that conventional warfare did not work against the guerilla tactics employed by the Caliphate soldiers, who often melted away into the desert. In response she led the Persians in hit-and-run attacks designed to inflict maximum damage in a short time.
While the Empire was never restored, Apranik’s determination and refusal to surrender inspired a wider movement of resistance. She is said to have died fighting in combat as it was preferable to capture. The white horse she rode became a symbol of freedom still recognised today and she inspired a number of other Persian female resistance fighters who were nicknamed ‘Apraniks’.

Apranik was a Military Commander and Resistance Leader of the Persian Sasanian Empire in the 7th century.

The daughter of Piran, a renowned Persian general, Apranik was raised in a time when the Sasanian Empire was coming to the end of it’s 400-year existence, having been weakened by war with the Byzantine Empire. Motivated by national pride, Apranik followed in her father’s footsteps and joined the army after finishing her schooling. She rose through the ranks from a petty officer to becoming a fully-fledged Commander.

When the Sasanian Empire fell to a full-scale invasion by the Islamic Rashidun Caliphate, Apranik took command of major battalion of the surviving Persian Army and mounted an ongoing war of resistance against their conquerors. She found that conventional warfare did not work against the guerilla tactics employed by the Caliphate soldiers, who often melted away into the desert. In response she led the Persians in hit-and-run attacks designed to inflict maximum damage in a short time.

While the Empire was never restored, Apranik’s determination and refusal to surrender inspired a wider movement of resistance. She is said to have died fighting in combat as it was preferable to capture. The white horse she rode became a symbol of freedom still recognised today and she inspired a number of other Persian female resistance fighters who were nicknamed ‘Apraniks’.