Marina Yurlova was born in 1901 in the small village of Raevskaya in the Caucasus region of what was then Imperial Russia. Marina grew up amongst the horse-loving and sword wielding people known as the Cossacks. By the age of fourteen, Marina knew how to yield a sword and ride holding onto the side of the horse should be attacked. This upbringing was unusual for most Cossack girls as normally she would have been expected to perform housewife like duties. However, her father, Colonel Yurlova, trained her in the way of the Cossack’s as if she was his son.
This training became useful for Marina, because at the outbreak of World War One Marina joined a “Kuban” Cossack regiment. Little is known about Marina’s wartime experience, however she was awarded the Russian St. George’s medal for bravery during combat. One can only imagine that Marina used her experience to good use to perform some heroic feat to earn such a prestigious medal as the St. George’s medal. Unfortunately, World War One was not all glorious for Marina, as she lost her father during the early stages of the war in 1914 to 1915.
However, undeterred by this horrific experience of losing her father, Colonel Yurlova, Marina fought on regardless. After the end of World War One, Marina sided with the White Army during the Russian Civil War of 1919 to 1920. During this war, Marina formed a Women’s Medical Battalion and fought on the Siberian front. Although, the White Army was to lose the Russian Civil War and Marina escaped to America via Japan. In America, Marina became a famous dancer in New York and published her tale in 1932 under the title of “Cossack Girl.”
Please see the video below for a dramatization (In Russian, with German subtitles; but easy to follow) of Marina Yurlova’s wartime experiences.