How Much Do You Know About the Famous Women of WWII?

By: John Miller
Image: Wiki Commons by Collections of the Imperial War Museums

About This Quiz

As the atrocities of World War II consumed Earth in the 1940s, men armed themselves and died by the millions on battlefields all over the globe. Although most countries initially banned women from the fighting, as desperation took hold, more and more women grabbed machine guns and blasted their enemies to pieces. What do you really know about the famous women of the Second World War?

The United States never resorted to sending women to front-line combat. But in the Soviet Union, Stalin knew his country was in peril, so he allowed women to serve in various capacities. In some cases, Soviet women were right in the middle of combat, killing -- and being killed by — Nazi troops at every turn. What do you know about the famous women warriors who fought and died in the war?

Women served in many other capacities, too. They used their wits and courage as intelligence agents behind enemy lines. They coordinated French Resistance attacks, thwarted Third Reich missions, and gained infamy within the Gestapo, who hunted them down at all costs. What do you know about female spies of WWII?

If they weren’t killing and spying, other women toiled in factories to make the guns that made the war go “boom.” Others became indispensable politicians who forged alliances and worked to keep the home front operating smoothly. Pull up your hair so it doesn’t get bloody in this famous women of WWII quiz!

Which first lady made a name for herself during WWII?

As the wife of President Franklin Roosevelt, Eleanor wasn’t content to merely socialize. She became an active first lady during the war, dedicating her time to numerous causes.

What vehicle did Allied nurse Susan Travers drive through the German line to disrupt it when French troops were surrounded in Libya?

Travers was an ambulance driver, so when the French made a nighttime dash through German lines, she was driving the lead vehicle. Her truck was blasted with bullets but she still led thousands of French troops on a glorious escape.

The Germans called Virginia Hall "the most dangerous Allied ______."

The Germans considered Virginia Hall to be the most dangerous Allied spy of the war. She was an American who served with British special operations.

Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a Soviet soldier who killed 309 German military personnel. What was her specialty?

Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a deadly Soviet sniper, credited with an amazing 309 kills during WWII. She is called the deadliest female sniper ever.

Virginia Hall was an American spy. What incident when she was younger left her with only one leg?

In the years before the war, Hall accidentally shot herself on a hunting trip and doctors amputated her leg. During WWII, the Germans referred to her as "the limping lady" and they feared her intelligence-gathering skills.

Nancy Wake aided the French resistance as a ___.

Nancy Wake’s real-life exploits read like James Bond script. She became a secret agent who aided the French Resistance against the Nazi occupiers. And she was utterly and completely fearless.

Why was secret agent Nancy Wake forced to leave France in 1943?

Nancy Wake was so effective in the French Resistance that the German Gestapo put a price on her head. She was forced to leave the country ... but she would eventually return in full glory.

In 1942, Allied sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko became the first Soviet citizen to _____

In 1942, sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a Soviet celebrity and she was invited to visit the White House, where she met President Roosevelt and the first lady. She actually became friends with Eleanor Roosevelt.

Eileen Nearne was a British spy working as a radio operator in occupied France. What happened when the Germans captured her?

Nearne was caught as a spy and sent to a concentration camp. Later, she escaped and rejoined the Allies.

Why was Eleanor Roosevelt saddened when it became clear that the U.S. would join WWII?

Eleanor was an active proponent of human rights issues in America, and she knew a war would take momentum from her causes. She was, for a time, very distraught that her mission might be jeopardized.

Nurse Reba Whittle was the only American woman to become a ____ in the entire European Theater.

Whittle was the only female American POW of the entire European Theater. She was captured after her evacuation plane was blasted out of the sky in 1944. The Red Cross later negotiated her release.

In 1944, Nancy Wake chose to take part in a special Allied operation in occupied France. How did she get back into France?

In true secret agent style, Nancy Wake parachuted into occupied France. There she helped coordinate the actions of thousands of resistance soldiers against the Germans.

When famed sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko expressed first expressed interest in joining the Soviet army, how did leaders respond?

Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a better shot than most men, but army officials wanted her to be a nurse. She kept pressing for military action and eventually got her wish.

How did Eleanor Roosevelt approach Jewish immigration during WWII?

Roosevelt was horrified by the way Hitler treated groups like Jews. She pushed American leaders to relax immigration rules so that more people could flee the terrors of Europe.

Elsie Ott made a name for herself in what field?

Ott was a famous nurse in WWII. She was especially well-known for her innovations in flight nursing and was part of the first ever intercontinental air evacuation.

Mariana Drăgescu was a famous Romanian _____.

Mariana Drăgescu was a pilot in the famed Romanian White Squadron, which performed medical missions of all kinds during the war.

What did the Gestapo call secret agent Nancy Wake?

Gestapo officers called Nancy Wake "The White Mouse," because she was so good at evading Nazi police tactics. Wake lived until 2011.

In the fall of 1942, Eleanor Roosevelt toured England. How was she received there?

Roosevelt was greatly admired in Europe as a champion of the common people and of the war effort. She received a hero’s welcome throughout England.

Soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko killed hundreds of German troops. How many officers did she pick off?

Lyudmila Pavlichenko was incredibly accurate, even compared to other snipers. It’s how she was able to kill more than 100 Axis officers during her killing spree.

Nadezhda Popova was part of a famous Soviet all-female bombing task force that went by which nickname?

Nadezhda Popova flew hundreds of missions with a bombing regiment that became known as the "Night Witches." Their favorite tactic? They turned off their plane engines before bombing runs so the Germans didn’t know they were coming.

Spy Virginia Hall had to escape from the Nazis in Spain. She was worried that her ____ might slow her down.

Hall had just one leg, and she nicknamed her prosthetic leg "Cuthbert." She expressed worries that Cuthbert might slow her down as she fled the Nazis ... but she got away.

During the war, many mothers who worked at factories missed shifts due to child care issues. How did Eleanor Roosevelt respond?

Roosevelt understood that working mothers needed more help. So she began advocating for government-sponsored day care in hopes of helping the women who were driving the home front.

Veronica Foster became an icon for female factory workers in which country?

In America, Rosie the Riveter inspired women to work. In Canada, it was Veronica Foster, or Ronnie, the Bren Gun Girl, who made big, deadly guns for Allied troops. She was a plainspoken woman who encouraged Canadian women to work as part of the war effort.

True or false: Did Soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko survive the war?

Lyudmila Pavlichenko killed hundreds of Germans and survived to tell about it. She later became a historian, one who’d already made plenty of history of her own.

During the war, movie star Hedy Lamarr was busy doing what?

Lamarr was a major movie star in the war era ... and she hated the Nazis. She worked to develop radio technologies that prevented Germans from jamming American torpedo guidance. The system worked -- but was ignored until the ‘60s.

During the war, Nancy Wake did what?

Wake was no bystander special agent. She actually strangled a German guard with her bare hands. Later in lfe she said that during WWII, "I was not a very nice person."

What happened to college student Gertrude Boyarski during the war?

Boyarski was a Polish teenager whose entire family was killed in the war. She persuaded a resistance group to let her join — and she became a famous fighter hellbent on revenge.

Sophie Scholl was a college student and German dissident who loudly protested Nazi actions in Germany. What happened to her?

Scholl and her brother distributed anti-Nazi flyers at their university. They didn’t go unnoticed — the Nazis accused both of them of treason. She was executed by guillotine.

Sophie Scholl was executed for speaking out against the Nazis. She was part of which activist group?

Scholl was part of the White Rose, an activist group that opposed the Nazis. History has judged the White Rose as an example of bravery in the face of violent oppression. Just before the Nazis chopped off her head for treason, she shrugged and said it was best to die for a worthy cause.

Violette Szabo was a British woman who became a spy. How did the war go for her?

Szabo was captured on her second mission and send to a concentration camp. Then, she was unceremoniously executed, a testament to the fact that women paid the ultimate price while fighting Nazi oppression.

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