Maria Bochkareva in 1914

Maria Bochkareva, the third daughter of a peasant family, was born in Tomsk, Siberia in 1889. Badly beaten by her alcoholic father, she left home at fifteen to marry Afansi Bochkareva. The couple moved to Tomsk, Siberia where they worked as labourers on a construction site. A good organiser, Maria eventually became foreman of a team of 25 male workers.

Physically abused by her husband, Maria left him and found work on a steamship. Later she married a second man, Yakov Buk, but he was also violent towards her and and in 1914 she left him and joined the 25th Reserve Battalion of the Russian Army.

Maria Bochkareva

1. Was highly critical of Nicholas II and the autocracy.

2. Wanted Russia to have universal suffrage.

3. Wanted the Russian government to allow freedom of expression and an end to political censorship of newspapers and books.

4. Thought Russia should support Serbia against the Triple Alliance.

5. Thought Russia should honour its obligations and support the Triple Entente against the Triple Alliance.

6. As the Russian Army was the largest army in the world she was convinced that Russia would defeat Austria-Hungary and Germany in a war.