Born 1923 Daugavpils, Lithuania
Interviewed In: Vancouver, British Columbia
Medals Awarded: Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class) and Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War
Heavy Machine Gunner Latvian Unit Eastern Front
Like many others orphaned in during the war Sheil eventually found his way to a collective farm. He worked as a general labourer on a dairy farm near Novosibirsk before he was old enough to join the army. Sheil joined an all Latvian Red Army unit when he turned 18.
“Military specialists were there to recruit artillery men, mortar men, machine-gun men, etc. I didn’t ask to be sent to any particular arm like others did. I didn’t ask of anything. I was willing to join any unit. I was admitted as a heavy machine gunner”.
Sheil was wounded fighting near Simonovo.
“That was a mild wound. After a while my arm was hit, it was a severe wound. The bone, nerves and tendons were wounded through the trench coat, blouse, and jersey. Blood was spurting from the wound like a fountain, that high. There was no one around to give me first aid. Everyone around was dead, the commanders, everyone was dead. And then a soldier ran up to me, he asked me “Where is your first aid pack?” I said “I went into battle, I didn’t keep it on my back, I kept it down here”. He took off my cloths and dressed my wound. And I started… little by little…crawling back on my stomach. There was no way I could stand up. I would have been shot dead right away. I started crawling back, little by little, moving my legs and arms. I wanted to get to a medical unit. I didn’t take off my helmet until I reached the medical unit. I reached the medical unit”.
Sheil spent the rest of the war recovering in army hospitals. Afterwards he returned to Latvia and worked in construction before moving to Canada.