WW2 - Latvian Aviators in Soviet Service


LATVIAN AVIATORS IN SOVIET SERVICE



THE UNITS
- The first unit which conscripted Latvian aviators into Soviet service was the Gulbene Squadron, discussed in greater detail earlier. This unit existed until July 1941, when it was disbanded and the members scattered throughout the Soviet military.
- 1943 - Latvians residing in the Soviet Union donate a total of 4 million roubles for the purchase of ten Yak 7Bs for the war effort. These aircraft were marked with the words "Latvian Rifleman" (Latviesu Strelnieks), in both Russian and Latvian. The inscription refers to a famous guard unit of Latvian riflemen who served (with the bolsheviks, of course) during the Russian Revolution. In February, 1943 these ten aircraft were assigned to Squadron Commander Nikolaj G. Pinchuk's unit of the 18 Guards IAP. Note that, while these aircraft were paid for by Soviet Latvians, they were not actually flown by Latvian pilots.
- January 20, 1943 - The General Staff of the Red Army give their permission for the formation of a Latvian Aviation Squadron.
- Latvian aviation personnal from throughout the VVS are collected and, initially, assigned to 6.ZABr (Reserve Aviation Brigade), stationed in Tula. These included latvian-born aviators who had lived in the Soviet Union for many years, former members of the Gulbene Squadron, and also civilian aviators of Latvian nationality.
- March 15, 1943 - the Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment is formed. It consisted of three squadrons (with reserves), was primarily involved in night bombing/harrassment and was under the command of Major Karlis A. Kirss. It was initially equipped with Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes.
- September 28, 1943 - the Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment is attached to the Northwestern Front's 6th Air Army as part of the 242nd Night Bomber Aviation Division.
- January 1944 - The Regiment is assigned to the 15th Air Army, 313th Night Bomber Aviation Division. A number of other, brief, secondments followed, with all or part of the Regiment moving around the front as operations demanded. Most of their operations did, however, remain in the Baltic region.
- August 9, 1944 - After its role in the taking of Rezekne, the Regiment is renamed the 1st Rezeknes Latvian Night Bomber Aviation Regiment.
- April, 1945 - the Regiment is assigned to the 284th Night Bomber Aviation Division.
- October 1, 1945 - The Regiment is renamed the 322nd Rezeknes Latvian Night Bomber Aviation Regiment.



THE INDIVIDUALS
What follows is a listing of Latvian aviators known to have served in the Soviet Air Force. It is very far from complete, and certainly only represents a small percentage of those who could be listed.
  • Aboltins, Janis - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Aleksandrs, T. - Gulbene Squadron
  • Alksnis, Janis - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron. Defected to the Germans in June 1941.
  • Alksnis, Jekabs - served in the Russian military prior to the First World War. Continued his career in the Soviet military and is widely viewed as the architect of the Soviet Air Force.
  • Ansbergs, N. - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Ansons, Alberts - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, later the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Austrums, O. - Gulbene Squadron. In June, 1941 the Soviet authorities labelled him as "unreliable" and he was subsequently murdered.
  • Balodis, A. - Gulbene Squadron
  • Batkovskis, Alberts - member of Latvian Air Regiment, the Gulbene Squadron and other Soviet aviation service.
  • Beikmanis, Z. - Gulbene Squadron
  • Bergins, Janis - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then served as a transport/medical aircraft pilot after the Soviet occupation, finally serving with the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Biezins, E. - ground crew member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment
  • Birzulis, R. - ground crew member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment
  • Blumbergs, Voldemars - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Brakeris, Teodors - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron. In June, 1941 the Soviet authorities labelled him as "unreliable" and he was sent to a work camp in Siberia.
  • Briedis, Emils - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then served as a transport/medical aircraft pilot after the Soviet occupation, finally serving with the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Bungss, Karlis - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Dzervitis, Oskars - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Ellins, F. - Gulbene Squadron and member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment. Shot down and captured by the Germans.
  • Elvichs, Pauls - (latvian, born in the Soviet Union), served in the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Ercums, Karlis - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Galvins, Eduards - died while serving with the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Gramatnieks, B. - ground crew member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment
  • Grave, Ludvigs - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Irbe, Rotislavs - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron. Admittedly pro-Soviet, he was executed in mid-flight by his Latvian pilot when he refused to defect to the Germans rather than withdraw into Soviet Russia.
  • Jakobsons, Ernests - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, the Gulbene Squadron and the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment. Rose to the rank of Captain.
  • Jandavs, K. - Gulbene Squadron.
  • Jankevics, Mikelis - member of Gulbene Squadron and lost in action with the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Jere, Zanis - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron. In June, 1941 the Soviet authorities labelled him as "unreliable" and he was subsequently murdered.
  • Kadikis, Arnolds - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron. In June, 1941 the Soviet authorities labelled him as "unreliable" and he was sent to a work camp in Siberia, where he perished.
  • Kalnins, Evalds - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Kalnins, Karlis - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, Gulbene Squadron, and the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Kapeks, B. - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Karlsons, M. - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Kirss, Karlis A. - commander of the Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Kleins, Karlis - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Kopeks, B. - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment
  • Krastins, Karlis - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Krastins, Viktors - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, the Gulbene Squadron and the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment. After the war he was named to head the Civil Aviation / Sport Aviation Society in Riga.
  • Kronis, Eriks - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, the Gulbene Squadron, and died in action on Feb.27, 1945 while serving with the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Kuskis - ground crew specialist, (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment
  • Latisenko, V. - ground crew member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment
  • Leitans, A. - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Lejnieks - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Malins, Voldemars - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Mazlazdins, R. - Gulbene Squadron.
  • Milgravis, Sergejs - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron. In June, 1941 the Soviet authorities labelled him as "unreliable" and he was sent to a work camp in Siberia.
  • Munters, Vilis - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron. In June, 1941 the Soviet authorities labelled him as "unreliable" and he was sent to a work camp in Siberia, where he perished of starvation.
  • Nolbergs, Ernests - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Ozolins, Voldemars - died in action on Feb.27, 1945 while serving with the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Ozols - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Petersons, Vladislavs - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Priede, V. - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment
  • Pukse, Olgerts - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron. In June, 1941 the Soviet authorities labelled him as "unreliable" and he was sent to a work camp in Siberia.
  • Purzelis, L. - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Rainis, Alberts - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Raubens, K. - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment
  • Reizins, V. - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Rolleris, P. - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Ruks, A. - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Salmins, Alfreds - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Salna, Nikolajs - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron. In June, 1941 the Soviet authorities labelled him as "unreliable" and he was sent to a work camp in Siberia.
  • Sprogis, Fricis - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron. Continued on in Soviet aviation service, eventually being decorated, achieving the rank of Captain and commanding a Squadron.
  • Sprunks, O. - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.
  • Spunde - ground crew, (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment
  • Strukovs, Nikolajs - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron. In June, 1941 the Soviet authorities labelled him as "unreliable" and he was sent to a work camp in Siberia.
  • Tirulis, Alberts - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron. In June, 1941 the Soviet authorities labelled him as "unreliable" and he was sent to a work camp in Siberia.
  • Tomass, Aleksandrs - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron.
  • Viksne - Gulbene Squadron.
  • Vulfs, Nikolajs - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then served in the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment. Was repeatedly decorated for his service in Soviet aviation.
  • Zalitis, A. - Gulbene Squadron
  • Zalitis, Ernests - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron. In June, 1941 the Soviet authorities labelled him as "unreliable" and he was subsequently murdered.
  • Zarins, Janis - member of the Latvian Air Regiment, then the Gulbene Squadron. In June, 1941 the Soviet authorities labelled him as "unreliable" and his fate remains unknown.
  • Zviedris, Vsevolods - member of the (Soviet) Latvian Bomber Aviation Regiment.




Sources
  • Ansons, Gruzins & Justs Pec Naves Sprieduma... Debesis
  • Bruvels, Edvins Latvijas Aviacijas Vesture
  • Geust, Carl-Fredrik Under the Red Star
  • Krastins, K. Gulbenes Eskadrilas Liktenis in Daugavas Vanagu Menesraksts, 1982, No.5 to 1983, No. 6.
  • Vulfs, Nikolajs Dzimtenes Debesis
  • Web site: http://www.lacplesis.com




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