Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Night Witches

The German troops heard a whistling sound that they liken to the wind through a witch’s broom. They had learned what that sound meant.
They’d been bombed by a night witch.
The Russians were the only country to use women in combat. When war broke out, many female pilots volunteered for service, but their applications were rejected. When Hitler’s army invaded the Soviet Union in 1942, however, and three million Russians became prisoners of war, the Soviet Air Force badly needed recruits.

Marina Raskova

Beginning in 1941, Marina Raskova, the Soviet Amelia Earhart, had petitioned Stalin to allow women to fly. Three squadrons were formed, whose pilots, mechanics, and commanders were all women. Only the 588th remained all-female.

Their planes were primitive, used mostly for training and crop-dusting. The Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes were built mainly of plywood and canvas. With open cockpits, the women’s faces to freeze in the cold air. In winter, when they looked out to see their target better, they got frostbite. Their uniforms were hand-me-downs from male pilots.
Because of the weight of the two bombs they carried and the low altitudes at which they flew, they carried no parachutes. They had no radar to navigate their paths through the night skies, only maps and compasses.
The women flew only in the dark. Every night, generally forty planes would fly eight or more missions, each crewed by two women, a pilot and a navigator. The multiple nightly sorties were necessary since they could carry only two bombs at a time. Eighteen missions a night was not unusual. 

The women flew their little planes low to the ground for cover and to be undetected by radar. Their flimsy planes were highly flammable, so night flying was preferable for protection. The planes were also noisy, so to retain an element of surprise, they would cut the engines, glide down to the German positions, drop their bombs and then re-start their engines and fly away.
This stealth mode resulted in little more than the soft whooshing sound that the Germans equated to the sound of a witch’s broomstick. They began calling the female fighter pilots Nachthexen: night witches (which the women took as a badge of honor). They loathed and feared them. Any German pilot who downed a witch was automatically awarded an Iron Cross.
The bi-planes’ maximum speed was lower than the stall speed of the German planes, so the women could maneuver their craft with much more agility than their attackers. They could turn away from a German fighter, and by the time the German pilot executed his turn, he would be a fair distance away, and the Russian pilot would be executing another turn. Hitting the Russians with cannon fire was difficult.

588 Night Bomber Regiment

From 1942 to 1945, eighty women flew with the Russian air force. The 588th Night Bomber Regiment was the most highly decorated female unit, flying 30,000 sorties over the course of four years, and dropping 23,000 tons of bombs on invading German armies.
Two of the women were fighter aces. Twenty-three were awarded the title “Hero of the Soviet Union.” By the end of the war, thirty women had died in battle, including Marina Raskova. She commanded the third unit, the 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment, until she crashed on landing and died in 1943 at the age of thirty. She received a state funeral and was laid to rest in Red Square.
The last of the Night Witches, Nadia Popova, died in 2013 at 91 years of age. In a 2010 interview, “I ask myself, ‘Nadia, how did you do it?’”

Monday, August 20, 2018

Weekly Windup: Birthday Bash Week 3

Welcome to Birthday Bash Week 3 edition of the Weekly Windup! We have a winner to announce.

Winner of A Groom for Mama ebook by Catherine Castle is...Marilyn R.!

Winner of the Captain's Challenge by Elaine Manders is...Perri Anne!

If you are a winner, please contact us to claim your prize!

August Birthday Prizes and Giveaways

The Grand Prize

Throughout the month of August, all comments will get your name in the drawing for the grand prize of 8 paperback books! Unfortunately, the paperbacks can only be mailed to US residents, but we have not forgotten our international readers. Keep reading. ;)

The 8 paperbacks included in the grand prize are:
Fabric of Hope by Susan Mathis
The Unexpected Redemption by Davalynn Spencer
Prudence Pursued by Shirley Raye Redmond
The Pony Express Romance Collection by Pegg Thomas and others
Under Fire by Linda Matchett
Ride to the Altar by Linda Yezak
Amanda's Beau by Shirley Raye Redmond
12 Sisters Who Changed History by Amber Schamel

In addition to the grand prize giveaway, we will have surprise giveaways throughout the month, so be sure to stop by every day. 

Here's what's coming up this week:

Monday, 8/20: A Guest post by Barbara Britton
Tuesday, 8/21: The Night Witches by Terri Wangard
Wednesday, 8/22: A STT Birthday post
Thursday, 8/23: The Lady's Maid, a book review by Linda Shenton Matchett
Friday, 8/24: TBA
Saturday, 8/25: An interview with Laura Franz

Calendars and Question Marks

By Barbara M. Britton

Happy birthday Stitches Thru Time! Thank you for encouraging readers and writers for five years, or 1,826 days.

Do you have your 2019 calendar yet? I haven’t purchased one, but a freebie came in the mail the other day. I was so excited. Now, I could clean out all the appointment cards and notes stuffed inside my current calendar. Even this morning, I was planning where I would be in the spring and checking where the dates fell in the week.

I guess it’s beneficial to be a planner, but as I scheduled my life nine months in advance, I realized only God truly knows my schedule.

Proverbs 27:1 reminds us:

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

Every day is a gift from God. I know this all too well as a breast cancer survivor. If you wake up in the morning and your feet hit the floor, say a prayer of thanks to God. When I speak about the chaos of my cancer, I speak to the blessing of a new day. Oncology wards bring you face to face with the reality that tomorrow is not a guarantee.

Okay, we’re celebrating here, so I don’t want to get too heavy. What can we do to celebrate life? Praise God and thank him for each new day.

Live on God’s schedule and take the detours He places in our lives. We can be a light to people God puts in our path. A smile. Kind words. Patience. All of these may seem small, but they can make a difference in someone’s life.

If you’re a Christian writer, stay in the game. Write out of a passion for your story and a passion to influence this world for Christ.

Make time for prayer, worship, Bible reading, Bible study, mentoring, and encouraging others. These can get left off a busy calendar and we need to fill our spiritual tanks, so we can zoom into the next week.

When your freebie calendar comes in the mail, remember God is the true organizer of our days. Don’t forget to pencil some time in for Him and leave time for some spiritual detours. You never know what activities God has planned for you in 2019.

How do you keep your focus on God when your calendar looks like doodle art?

Barbara M. Britton lives in Wisconsin and writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. She has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Barbara brings little-known Bible characters to light in her Tribes of Israel series. She is a member of RWA, WisRWA, SCBWI and ACFW. Find out more about Barb and her books at www.barbarambritton.com.

Leave a comment and you will be entered into a drawing for one of Barb’s books (reader’s choice).