Donka Ushlinova (Донка Ушлинова) - female soldier in the Ilinden Uprising, the Balkan Wars and World War I

Donka Bogdanova was born on December 1, 1885 in the village of Smilevo, Bitola region. At the age of 15, she was married to Stavre Hristov Ushlinov from the neighboring village of Lera, a village with a mixed Macedonian and Turkish population. 

Soon her husband left for work in Constantinople, leaving his young wife at home. Donka, as a young and beautiful girl, was soon disturbed by the notorious Turkish landlord Redzep-Aga.

Unable to endure his abusive behavior, she took justice into her own hands. In August 1902, with the help of her husband’s brother Apostol and his wife Srebra, they killed Redzep-Aga and buried him in a previously dug grave in the local cemetery. 

In order to avoid the retaliation of the Turks, Donka, Srebra and Apostol fled to the mountains where they joined the squad of Slavejko Arsov - “voivoda” (bandleader) form Resen region.

Donka Ushlinova (Донка Ушлинова) - female soldier in the Ilinden Uprising, the Balkan Wars and World War I
Donka Ushlinova (Донка Ушлинова)

Donka and Srebra probably are the first women to become members of the Inner Macedonian Revolutionary Organization against Ottoman rule in Macedonia. In 1903, they took part in the Ilinden Uprising, when Donka due to her courage, was nicknamed “Donka Voivoda”.

The uprising was soon suppressed, and Donka together with Srebra and Apostol retreated to Sofia, Bulgaria and later to Varna where her husband Stavre was located. Apostol and Srebra settled in Varna and later had 4 children.

During the Balkan Wars, Donka and Stavre became volunteers in the Eighth Kostur Company of the Macedonian-Odrin volunteer regiment. For the heroism shown during the battles, Donka was awarded medals for courage of III and IV orders.

Donka and Stavre Ushlinovi during WW1
Donka and Stavre Ushlinovi during WW1

With the beginning of World War I, Donka and Stavre again volunteered to join the Second Macedonian Infantry Regiment (later renamed to 60 пехотен полк) of the Eleventh Macedonian Infantry Division. They participated in the battles of Dojran, Krusha Mountain and many others.

For her bravery and heroism in combat, Donka was awarded the Order of Courage of the Second Degree, and during 1917 she received the rank of NCO and the Order of Courage of the First Degree. 
The order was personally awarded by General Nikola Zhekov.

Donka Ushlinova during WW1 - November 10th, 1915
Donka Ushlinova during WW1 - November 10th, 1915


Donka Ushlinova during WW1 - November 23, 1915
Donka Ushlinova during WW1 - November 23, 1915


Donka Ushlinova during the battle of September 18, 1918 at Nikolich village, north of Dojran Lake
Donka Ushlinova during the battle of September 18, 1918 at Nikolich village, north of Dojran Lake

After the war, Donka and Stavre received а help of 10,000 lev, which they used to build a small house in Varna, where in 1924 their son Alexander was born.

Donka Ushlinova died on June 27, 1937.

Sources:
1. Wikipedia.org...
2.  "Речи и подвизи на доброволката Донка Войвода", София, 1928 година

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