The word ‘sniper’ has an interesting etymology. It was derived from ‘snipe,’ a wading bird characterized by its long bill and crypsis plumage. In ecology, ‘crypsis’ refers to the ability of one hiding itself from a living organism as an anti-predatory strategy which involves camouflage, nocturnality, transparency, and mimicry. Sniping was used in British India for the snipe shooters, and the word ‘sniper’ was first used in the current sense in 1824. Practically, the term ‘sniper’ is applied to a skilled, military shooter assigned to locate and kill the enemy. Snipers were also known as skirmishers. Snipers are trained for precise and accurate shooting. ‘Accuracy’ refers to the closeness of the target while ‘accuracy’ means ‘the repeatable accuracy.’ Snipers are highly trained and equipped with high-precision rifles with special mountings like telescopes and communication assets. They are also trained in infiltration, camouflage, and reconnaissance, which is exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces and falling into the enemy’s territory. Snipers played a very important and effective role in World War 2, also known as WWII, which started on September 1, 1939 and ended in 1945. The snipers were expected to hit a body from a distance of 400 meters and a head from 200 meters.
1. Lyudmila Mykhailivna Pavlichenko
Lyudmila Mykhailivna Pavlichenko was born in Bila Tserkva on July 12, 1916 and died on October, 10, 1974. She moved to Kiev at the age of 14 and, while working in the Kiev Arsenal Factory as a grinder, she joined a sharpshooters club as an amateur. She was a fourth-year student at the Kiev University when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. She volunteered as a sniper and was assigned to the Red Army’s 25th Rifle Division. According to her ‘I joined the army when women were not yet accepted.’ She was one of the first 2,000 Soviet snipers of which 500 survived to the end of World War II. The first rifle she used for the first two killings was a Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifle with a P.E. 4-power scope. In Odessa, she killed 187 soldiers, and in Sevastopol she recorded 257 kills earning her a citation by the Southern Army Council. Her confirmed killings in WW2 were 309 of which 36 were the enemy’s snipers.
2. Simo Hayha
Simo Hayha was born in the municipality of RautjÃ¤rvi in Finland on December 17, 1905 and died on April 1, 2002 at the age of 96 years. He started his military career at the age of 20 years. He was one of the most famous snipers of World War II. He used a modified Mosin’“Nagant in the Winter War and recorded a confirmed 505 killings, more than the killings by any other sniper in any major war. He was hit by an enemy’s bullet that disfigured his face. After the war, he became a successful hunter and dog breeder. In his last years, when asked what made him such a perfect sniper, his one-worded answer was ‘practice.’ Immediately after the war, he was promoted from corporal to Second Lieutenant.
3. Roza Georgiyevna Shanina
Roza Georgiyevna Shanina was born to Anna Alexeyevna Shanina and Georgiy Mikhailovich Shanin in the Russian village Yedma on April 3, 1924 and died on January 28, 1945. She was known for her accurate shooting particularly in reference to targeting a moving object. She could kill two moving objects with a successive, rapid fire. She was one of the most famous snipers of WWII and was known as the unseen terror of East Prussia. She is credited with 54 confirmed killings including 12 enemy snipers. She was awarded the Order of Glory. Shanina died while she was shot while protecting a severely wounded artillery commander.
4. MatthÃ¤us Hetzenauer
MatthÃ¤us Hetzenauer was born in Brixen im Thale, Tyrol, Austria on December 23, 1924 and died in Brixen im Thale, Tyrol, Austria on October 3, 2004 at the age of 79 years. As a sniper he served in the 3rd Mountain Division on the Eastern Front of World War II. He is credited with 345 confirmed kills, and his longest confirmed kill was recorded at 1,100 meters. Along with a fellow sniper, Jose Allerberger, he inflicted heavy casualties on the Russian infantry, and in its recognition was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on April 17, 1945. In addition to the first and second class Iron Cross, he was also the recipient of the Infantry Assault Badge, Wounded Badge Sniper’s badge.
5. Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev
Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev was born in Yeleninskoye on March 23, 1915 and died on December 15, 1991. He was raised in the Ural Mountains hunting deer and wolves with his grandfather. He was a clerk in the Soviet Navy in Vladivostok. He volunteered to be transferred to the front line when Germany invaded Russia. He killed 225 soldiers of the Axis armies, including 11 enemy snipers. He was awarded a Medal for Courage along with a rifle. He was also awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on February 22, 1943.
6. Kalugina, Klavdiia Efremovna
Kalugina, Klavdiia Efremovna, nicknamed Sepp, was born in Steiermark, Austria on December 24, 1924 and died in Wals-Siezenheim, Austria. He was an Austrian sniper serving in the 3rd Mountain Division on the Eastern Front. He was credited with 257 confirmed kills. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on April 20, 1945. Initially he was sent to the front as a machine gunner. After capturing a Soviet Mosin Nagant 91/30 with a telescopic sight, he trained himself and killed 27 soldiers before being sent for regular training at Seetaleralpe.
7. Friedrich Pein
Friedrich Pein was born in Spitz in Radkersburg District, Styria on October 20, 1915, and died in Mureck, Radkersburg District, Styria, Austria, on February 14, 1975 at the age of 59 years. He was a famous sniper in World War II. He was enlisted in the Wehrmacht in October, 1938 and was assigned the combat role in the Soviet Union. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross in recognition of his second hundred sniper kill. He was also awarded the Close Combat Clasp.
8. Timur Matveyevich Okhlopkov
Timur Matveyevich Okhlopkov was born in Krest-Khaldzhay, Tomponsky Ulus of the Sakha Republic, Russian Federation on March 2, 1908. He died on May 28, 1968 at the age of 60 years. He was one of the renowned snipers of the Second World War and was credited with 429 confirmed kills. He was considered one of the most effective snipers during WW2, and was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union and an Order of Lenin. A commercial cargo ship was named after him in 1974. He was also awarded the Order of the Red Banner, Order of the Patriotic War, and Order of the Red Star.
9. Joseph Mathew Gregory
Joseph Mathew Gregory was a Canadian sniper who served in both the first and second World Wars. Having served in France as a sniper in the First World War, he settled in Calgary, Alberta. In the beginning of the Second World War, he enlisted in September 7, 1939, in the South Saskatchewan Regiment in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. He lost an eye when hit by a bullet during the war. He earned a Military Medal ‘in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the combined attack on Dieppe.’.He was featured in Time magazine’s October 26, 1942 issue. He died in the late 1950s.
10. Marie LjalkovÃ¡-LastoveckÃ¡
Marie LjalkovÃ¡-LastoveckÃ¡ was born in Horodenka, Poland on December 3, 1920 and died in Brno, Czech Republic on November 7, 2011. After the Nazi Attack on the Soviet Union, she volunteered to join the First Czechoslovak Independent Field Battalion at the age of 21 years in March, 1942. She graduated from the Sniper School, Buzluk. In her very first combat in the Battle of Sokolovak, she killed seven Germans and earned ace status. She attained the rank of colonel and fought in three battles; the Battle of Sokolovak, Lower Dnieper Offensive, and the Battle of Dukla Pass. She was awarded the Order of the Red Star, Czechoslovak War Cross and Order of the White Lion.
The rifles used by the snipers in WWII included: the Soviet M1891/30 Mosin Nagant, the SVT-40, and Mauser Karabiner 98k, Gewehr 43, Lee-Enfield No. 4, Arisaka 97 and M1903A4 Springfield. All these weapons required a high degree of skill for effective usage. With the advent of automatic weaponry, skill is no more a requirement; it is just the ruthless and indiscriminate use of the weapons which can inflict an immense loss of human life. Counting the confirmed killings is no more something related to chivalry like archery or sniping. Man has become less dexterous but far more ruthless with highly effective weapons requiring less skill.