You would have thought there were age restrictions when it came to fighting in World War II, and there was, but some teenagers always managed to make it through the checks. One of those was a Soviet teenager by the name of Zinaida Martynovna Portnovna, who was a Belorussian partisan who fought the Nazis during WWII.
She went on to become the youngest female to ever receive the reward of Hero of the Soviet Union. This was USSR’s highest distinction for heroic service to the motherland. Unfortunately, it was awarded to her after her death, as she was executed by the Germans in 1944.
The war started as a shock for Zinaida, she was on holiday, hundreds of miles from her home city of Leningrad. Suddenly she woke up to German tanks rolling by and she was cut off from returning home. She quickly became a resistance fighter of radical measured after witnessing the brutal occupation by the Germans, notably when German soldiers struck her grandmother and stole their cattle.
Joining the underground youth party Komsomol, a communist resistance group, also known as the Young Avengers she started to fight back. First, with anti-German propaganda leaflets and then hiding weapons for partisan fighters. Sabotaging enemy vehicles and reporting movements of troops, all the time she was also learning how to use weapons and set off explosive devices. It is estimated her group of resistance fighters were responsible for killing around 100 German soldiers, at one point she even got a job in a kitchen at a German garrison and poisoned all the food.
Eventually, she was tracked down and caught by German soldiers, seemingly her interrogators did not take her very seriously and left a pistol out on the desk. She grabbed it and was able to kill the officer and two guards, making a daring escape. However, when she was captured again it seems the soldiers had learned their lesson and executed her.