Born December 25th 1922 in Riga, Latvia.
Interviewed In: Toronto, Ontario
Medals Awarded: Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class), Medal for Defense of Leningrad and Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War
Altitude and range estimator in anti aircraft battalion, helped break Siege Of Leningrad.
“The very first day we lost all of our officers”
Valentin was drafted in 1940 at the age of 18 and sent to train at Leningrad anti-aircraft artillery corps. After a short training period he was sent with his division to the Leningrad front to break the Leningrad blockade. Valentin was stationed near a swamp during the Leningrad blockade:
“Those were heavy fighting: near Nevskaya Dubrovka where innumerable losses occurred, we lost all of our officers …the battery commander was killed, the platoon commander was killed, the one who managed artillery guns. Practically no one was left. I wasn’t supposed to leave the battery because I was the only one at the battery who was able to give altitude and range of the flight, otherwise there was no sense in being at the battery. Without
defining the altitude and range of the flight there was no way of setting up a fuse on the shell, it was about defining where and what time it was going to explode.That was the reason why I wasn’t supposed to leave the battery.”
As part of anti aircraft artillery, Valentin’s job was to provide accurate analysis of enemy airplane flight altitude and range for proper targeting to shoot down German planes:
“Gun layer sent the shell straight at the dive bomber with a 0.5 ton bomb sitting underneath. So they hit the bomb with direct laying. The plane fell into pieced right above the battery. The pilot’s arm fell down into his gun’s trench. We were surprised with the size of the arm, it was so big with a watch on, the watch was still ticking”.
Valentin was wounded before the attack on Leningrad and could not leave the battery so he fought with a bandage on his head. A photo of him manning a gun while bandaged was used in newspapers and various propaganda campaigns but his Jewish sounding name was never included:
“And so I stayed with my head bandaged. They stopped the bleeding quickly. They took out a piece of shrapnel. That’s why on all the photos… our regiment commander visited us soon after…and some other bosses visited us too to see how we were fighting…my photo with my head bandaged hit all the books… my name was never mentioned in any of the books though. That’s because antisemitism was always raging much more in Leningrad than in Moscow, especially during the war”.
He was demobilized after the war and later immigrated to Canada.