Iosif Kabanovski

Iosif Kabanovski

Born 1927 Soviet Union

Interviewed In: Vancouver, British Columbia

Medals Awarded: Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class),  Order of the Red Star,  Medal For Capture of Berlin,  Medal For Capture of Konigsberg and  Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War

Flight Navigator Battle Of Konigsberg, Battle Of Berlin


“Half of the planes were shot down and the crews were killed” Iosif enrolled in an aviation college when he was 17. He served as flight navigator.

“Our squadron flight navigator reported to our regiment commander “How was it possible to assign him as a flight navigator?” At that time I was ah 17. He replied “If he wants to live he’ll do the job and come back”. Our crew was 6 men. Our team was 6 men. I was not the only man on the plane. I was a flight navigator. There were 2 pilots, a flight mechanic, a flight radio operator and a gunner. When a plane took its course from its initial point of flight, it was the flight navigator who was in command of the course, not the pilot. There were no complaints against me. I wasn’t the one to shoot planes down. I was the one who directed the aircraft to hit the target”.

Iosif considers Konisgberg the most difficult battle of the war.

“It was very tough in the Baltic area. Also it was very tough at the Central Front, the Konigsberg area and the Berlin sector. I don’t remember the names of the cities. I only remember Konigsberg very well. It was a tough city. It’s dreadful telling about Konigsberg. Everything was on fire there.”

Iosif witnessed General Zhukov’s ingenuity shortly before The Battle of Berlin.

“Once, it was 11pm in mid April, our crew went on a mission. Each plane flew independently. We never flew as flight formations because it was at night. And when we were approaching Berlin we saw… what’s going on? Why are the lights so bright? Have we ended up somewhere in Africa? As it turned out, Zhukov had ordered for all the aviation flood lights giving light to the planes to start illuminating the German troops. And so all the German planes and barrage were illuminated. And so our bombers started hitting those spots”.

Despite the obvious hardships, the soldiers Iosif was stationed with found ways to relax between missions.

“You used to sit down. When you sat down… there was a 100 g vodka glass in front of everyone. If you drank those 100 g of vodka you weren’t able to stand up. Soldiers wound take us by the arms to carry to any available bed and to put us to sleep. We would wear our overalls. There was no way to take overalls off. So they would only take off high boots and the helmet, take the gun out of the pocket, that’s all they would do. That’s how it was”.

Iosif worked as a photographer in The Soviet Union before moving to Canada.