Milunka Savić Story

Milunka Savić was born in the late 19th century in the village of Koprivnica, near Raska. She grew up in the countryside and was extraordinarily hardworking and agile in rural affairs. Her brother got called to the army to serve in the First Balkan War in 1912, but Milunka took it upon herself to cut her hair short and take her sibling’s place under the name Milun Savić. She was extraordinarily successful, if such a thing is possible in war, picking up medals and taking part in nine missions before anyone discovered her gender. Milunka had avoided any wounds in sensitive areas, but during her 10th mission, Bulgarian shrapnel made its way into her chest and it was then learned that she was actually a woman.

Her unit was the Second Infantry Regiment “Prince Mihailo” in the Morava Division, based in Prokuplje. It was the most celebrated unit of the Serbian army ever and the only one to carry the title Iron Regiment. They were the ones who prevailed in many battles: the Bregalnica Battle of the Bulgarians in 1913, the Cerska and Kolubara Battle of the Austro-Hungarians in 1914, the retreat of retreating over Albania to the Bulgarians in 1915, etc. She was then also wounded in the head and recovered in Tunisia after the withdrawal of the Serbian army. After several months of treatment in Tunisia, she returned to the Salonika front where she participated in battles throughout the summer and fall of 1916.

Legend has it that Sergeant Milunka Savić captured as many as 23 Bulgarian soldiers on the breakthrough of the Macedonian Front, and in the Kolubara battle, she distinguished herself as a bomber of her company. She received many awards and the highest, including two French Order of the Legion of Honor, the Russian Order of St. George for heroism, the British Order of St. Michael, and the Medal for Bravery Milos Obilić. These honors are just a sampling of the awards that made her the most decorated female in the history of warfare. France went so far as to offer her a comfortable retirement, but Savić decided to stay in Serbia. She eventually moved to Voždovac, a suburb of Belgrade. Even though Milunka Savić was one of the highest decorated soldiers of the entire Great War, she was forgotten soon after it ended. Her great deeds for the Serbian Army and even the impossible fact that she was serving as a female soldier became lost and were only recently discovered.

In 1923 she married Veljko Gligorovic in Belgrade. Milunka was given a state pension, but that was as good as it got for the military hero. She continued to make a difference, adopting a number of children off the street, but she eventually suffered a stroke in 1972 and died penniless in Voždovac. Milunka Savić was a truly extraordinary woman whose life was defined by combat, but she was simply unable to fight forever in the face of neglect. As a human being, let alone the most distinguished woman in the history of warfare, Milunka Savić deserved more than she got.