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  1. Käpt'n Korky

    Female sailors

    Hi there. I recently noticed that I know of no famous female sailor, let alone captain. So I surfed around the internet and to my disappointment I found no German female who ever took part in a military naval operation in or for Germany. Or Austria for that matter. I did find four Dutch females and one Swedish female in the respective navies. All the Dutch ladies had to pose as men. Also the Netherlands seem to have an interesting longstanding “tradition” of women taking up arms, posing as men, in the Navy or the Army. So I decided to start this thread anyways, because maybe some of you numerous anglo-american folks, active here in the forum or some other member from another cultural background can weigh in with an interesting story. I think about women as an active part of naval service aboard ships is very little written in general, but I’m curious. Since we have a resident Dutch forum member, and since I can’t find any good rich source about the Dutch sailorettes I will not comment on them. However, I will give you a brief summary of the story of Dorothea Maria Theslöff, née Lösch – Captain of the Swedish Navy? Honestly I was disappointed when I saw the name. The name could also be a perfectly German name. But the lady I’m talking about here was born in Stockholm, died in Stockholm and served the Swedish king. Dorothea Lösch was born somewhen in 1730 in Stockholm, Sweden, as the daughter of a goldsmith. She later married the Swedish captain Marten Johann Theslöff in 1756 and had 11 children with him. She also studied medicine and published a medical book about small pocks in 1765. So far, so provable. Now according to unproven story she took part on the Swedish ship Armida in the second battle of Svensksund on the 9-10 July 1790. The battle was a big success for the Swedes, but it was bitterly fought and is to this day the biggest naval battle fought in the Baltic sea. 275 Swedish ships fought against roughly the same number of Russian ships in the gulf of Finland. Her ship the Armida faced a problem mid-battle: All officers had been reassigned to other ships, killed or were severely wounded. Subsequently, Dorothea Theslöff took command of the ship and did apparently a fine job. I couldn’t find if she was assigned there as medical staff or accompanied her husband or both. After the battle the King Gustav III. of Sweden awarded her the privilege to hold the rank of Kapten (captain) of the Swedish fleet. She lived most of her life in Finland but died in Stockholm February 2nd 1799. The problem is, the written privilege which proved her to be kapten is lost today. The last report of it dates back to 1864. So it could only be scuttlebutt.