Boris Khaykin

Boris Khaykin

Born 1925 Novozybkov, Soviet Union

Interviewed In: Edmonton, Alberta

Medals Awarded: Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class),  Medal for Battle Merit and Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War

Infantry Ukrainian Front

“Catch a prisoner of war and you can go back to the home front with him” Boris was an apprentice barber in Novozybkov at the start of World War Two. He spent the first moments of the war shaving new recruits’ heads before they were sent to training programs.

“A commissariat officer came to close our barber’s shop. We were taken to the woods and ordered to serve new army recruits. We had a lot of work to do. The tools were not too 

good at the time. We had to use hand hair clippers to serve new recruits. The hairs were up to our knees but we were performing our service ”.

Boris and his family were evacuated to Voronezh, where Boris found work as a barber on a nearby collective farm. He was soon drafted and sent to a military academy in Ashkhabad before being stationed on the front lines in Ukraine. Boris was an infantry soldier in a “breakthrough unit” made up of shock troops that would typically attack an enemy’s rear position or communication infrastructure. He was primarily responsible for guarding the unit’s colours and command centre.

“Most of the time we were part of the second echelon, as ours was a break-through division. Once we had captured an area we were withdrawn to the second echelon. Afterwards fresh forces used to come to our positions. As I was with the regiment’s colours, it meant that most of the time I was guarding the HQ and the regiment’s colours. ”.

Later in the war, Boris was shot in the arm by a sniper.

“A sniper wounded me. I was put on a truck and taken to the home front. I was admitted to a hospital that was in a catholic church. After recuperation I arrived at Novozybkov. The medical commission found that I was a group 2 invalid. I was unable to perform my usual job due to the hand/arm injury”.

Boris spent the remainder of the war in an administrative role at his unit head quarters.