Narrated: Ruvim Katz, St-Petersburg, Russia
English Translation: Mark Klionsky, webmaster's father, St-Petersburg, Russia
Posted on: 25 Dec 2015
Last Updated on: 25 Dec 2015
Narrated by my grandfather Ruvim Katz as a Red Army Captain stationed near Leningrad (nowdays St-Petersburg) during 1941-1945 war

Рувим, 1955 г.
By Ruvim Katz (1918-2018), retired Red Army lieutenant-colonel, World War II veteran and our webmaster’s grandfather. After his discharge from the military service in early 1960s, Ruvim and his family lived in St-Petersburg, Russia

The series consist of several short stories that Ruvim narrated from his memory to Mark Klionsky, his son-in-law and our webmaster’s father.

The entire setup of 'RCB' Soviet WWII radiostation

(from the manual)
In 1942 at the age of 23 years, I was appointed to be in charge of the radio-telegraphists training program for the units of the 54th Army / Volkhov front (near Leningrad – now St. Petersburg).

My main duties were to teach and explain the basics of radio engineering to the conscripts.

A few months later, I was promoted to the rank of captain and appointed as a commander of the radio company (80 people) for the signal battalion (4 companies).

At that time, the main technical tool for communication between Red Army headquarters and its divisions continued to be the pre-war made radio station model called “RCB.”

These radio stations were powered by out-of-date, portable direct current generators.

During World War II, these awkward generators were known as “dynamo machines.”

They were bulky and heavy (up to 50 pounds).
Our RCB radio station was operating rather well, but it had one huge shortcoming: The engine, while operating, was creating deafening noise. That noise was noticeable from several miles away.

And here my story goes:
One evening in February1944, our chief of communications from Corps Headquarters suddenly called me on the direct telephone line and shouted that with all the terrible noise from my radio station generator I would give away the location of our Corps Headquarters to the enemy.

In fact, he was enraged: The Germans were smart, he kept telling me, and could send recognizant units and snipers on a “search and destroy” mission.

Even though, Corp Headquarters was about 10 miles from the front lines, I had to agree. It was necessary to consider the possibility of such events.

I replied that I had only regularly-issued military equipment, so I could do nothing.
click to enlarge
Soviet-made generator for a radio station, 1941-45 гг
He screamed back: "Dig a hole, hide your generator there, and cover it with a sound-proof lid."

Of course, I did not follow his instructions since the intended results were doubtful. Besides, the engine for the “dynamo machine” had a good chance to burn out.

This was winter, after all, and to dig a hole under the snow it was necessary to burn fires and then excavate the frozen earth overnight. I felt bitter about ordering my soldiers to embark on such a useless all-night job

The German trophy generator used with the radio stations in 1941-45 гг.
But I understood that the situation required an immediate solution.

I knew the Germans used low-noise portable engines for their radio stations, which were much lighter and much simpler in maintenance than our own radio station engines.

The next day, I instructed soldiers in my company to closely follow our front line troops, and then rush into captured enemy bunkers and look for German radio stations engines.

In 1944, the Germans already "learned" how to retreat, leaving behind their military and other equipment. After about two weeks my solders brought me a captured radio station engine.

It worked silently and weighed less than one-half of a Soviet-made generator. It was such pleasure to finally own it!

Of course, I immediately threw out our old equipment; that trophy engine did not leave my side until the end of the war.

However, the story with trophy generator does not end here.
After World War II ended, in the summer of 1945, our division was sent to one of the Central Asian Soviet Republics - Tajikistan.

My company was stationed in the capital of Tajikistan, the city of Stalinabad (nowadays - Dushanbe; the name means “Monday” in Tajik).

Within months of our arrival, a full inventory of our military equipment was ordered. It was suddenly discovered that the regularly-issued Soviet generator for the RCB radio station (the generator I had discarded, as useless, in 1944) was still on the balance sheet and therefore missing!

I tried to reason with the authorities that so much time passed, and that a world war had taken place, and after all, the lighter and more efficient trophy German engine was available as a replacement.

But, all my explanations were absolutely in vain.

My commander gave me an oral reprimand and I was compelled to pay for the lost equipment!

And the sum was significant – one- half of the average monthly factory worker wages.