Born: 1919 In Bershad Ukraine. Passed Away: October 20, 2012 Toronto, Ontario.
Interviewed In: Toronto, Ontario
Medals Awarded: Order of the Red Star, Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class), Medal for Battle Merit, Medal for Courage and Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War
Master Sergeant Communications Platoon 5th Armoured Landing Division. Lieutenant Colonel By End Of The War: Leningrad, Konigsberg, Riga
“The River Breznia was full with blood and littered with dead bodies”
Leonid was drafted as soon as he was eligible, in 1937. He was initially stationed in Lithuania, near Kaunas. For over a year they fought in trenches against automatic weapons, without any of their own,. The unit was given machine guns for the first time in 1942. Leonid was relocated to the western front in 1944 to help break The Siege of Leningrad: “The fighting was so intense, that during some of the quiet moments neither we nor the Germans had any energy to go on fighting. That didn’t happen often”.
He explains how The Red Army had to climb mountains of ice, engineered by the Nazis to secure their position:
“Before the lifting of the siege of Leningrad took place, the Germans set up ice mountains in the places where the passage of the Soviet troops was expected. The mountains were impassable. Our rock climbers equipped with special calked boots worked their way through those mountains to throw down woven threads for our troops to get over the mountains. Next, the Germans realized that they went kaput and started surrendering”.
Leonid’s communications platoon was responsible for gathering and verifying intelligence, usually through prisoner capture missions:
“I was a group leader. The task was getting a prisoner who talks by all means sparing no effort. And we did it.”
“I can’t think of any battle harder than the one we stood near Tikhvin.
The town was in ruins with loads of dead bodies thrown around – both Soviet and German bodies. The Germans were taught a good lesson there. They were better prepared than we though. My most important medal is Medal for Combat Merits. That was the reason I survived. I received the medal after the Tikhvin battle when my comrade pushed me into a shell hole and covered me with his body”.
Throughout his service Leonid was awarded 5 different combat medals. He moved to Canada in 1993.