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Author's Note: At this point there is a change of translator

Saturday, 10 February

As usual, changes on Saturday. I changed my living quarters from the 27th barrack to 28th. They divided us by regiments. Old, well-known comrades came together again. It would be better that way. The cooperation will perhaps be better, one will help another, probably people that know each other will quicker come to understanding.

The change of quarters brought great chaos. A normal thing. I was glad yesterday to see a group of my mates, in high spirits with wine, happily celebrating my birthday. How much easier it is to bear hard times when you have friends.

Almost everyone has by now shown his true face. The lack of initiative and courage to make an unfair move (?). They are afraid to be exposed by their ex-superiors, who now are togerher with them. Still hidden are shameless and unworthy persons who changed regiments to keep a false, higher rank. There are some such, especially among the young cadet-officers, who in the Rumanian camps promoted themselves to higher ranks and to this day did not admit their true rank. Kids! Without proper military training or experience they will have command in the critical decisive moments.

Identification - yesterday they photographed us for this purpose. The Commission takes great responsibility for the fate of our Homeland as a consequence of the wrong identification of some persons. Is there no means to prevent it?

Horrible season, there was no such yet. Wet and cold. Dampness penetrates all parts of the body. It was raining for over 24 hours, great thin mud gets through the shoes to our feet. The feet are wet and cold all the time. Strange how these people cope with it and do not get ill.

A man lives here as a penance for some great sins. Yes! Our lost Motherland, still in captivity, takes her revenge. Today everyone understands what it is the Motherland, everyone feels what it is to be without her. Our fathers, brought-up under the partitions, did not value enough the concept of the Motherland, so although they received her they could not guard her sovereignty. They did not instil in us, the young ones, the importance of her sovereignty. But our Motherland - it is our very existence, it is all that is beautiful, familiar, loved and dearest to our heart. Wherever one is, in whatever circumstances, without a Homeland one is not a man, nobody has any respect for him.

O God, return our Homeland to us. Give her back to us again as a test. We will return with a different understanding. When an enemy will want to take her from us again, we shall not try to deter him by slogans, by shouting "We will not give her up". We will fight with determination, because we will know that we are fighting for our own lives. So - life or death. We will instil this conviction in our descendants, so that they will guard her as their own lives. They will not rest in apathy, they will know that an illness just waits for weakness. Then Poland will never die.

The nightfall is coming. Someone is playing on the accordion some uncoordinated melodies. Sadness and boredom.

11 February

It is before dawn, in the kitchen there is movement since 4 o'clock. I am in a duty squad, we are drawing our provisions. It is nicer to work for your own regiment, nobody holds back from this work.

10th hour. I am making up for 3 hours of lost sleep. I am lying under the blanket. It is pleasant to lie like this, a kind Sunday. My neighbour from above puts all his soul into his play on the accordion. He plays beatifully, with virtuosity. What a delightul bath for the soul. O, how greatful we should be for those who create music and perform it. It talks of love, justice and peace. Wonderful tones of music speak to the conscience of the worst of men, move the dead world to a new life. Music is joy and elusive happiness. I am overcome by this feeling; I am not conscious of my hard mattress or the poor barrack. I would not dare say that any of the listeners is a bad man - they all look so humble. Music does that.

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Chaotic thoughts whirl in my head. Cassino, Ursula, Mary, my room, Ela. 0, what a pity. Involuntarily come sighs, deep sad sighs. All is grief, pity and loss. Will those times ever return? Shall I be ever conscious of happiness while listening to music? Violetta - I am listening, I want to understand all that "Violetta" is saying. Fox, Fox "Life" (foxtrott?). I would dance until I go mad - I would dance a dance of dispair.

Boys, listening, stand motionless, the clouds of smoke are coming from their mouths. They think a lot - or no, they feel. The musiciam plays even better, with more determination. Obviously he can see that the listeners understand him, he wants to convince them absolutely.

Louder and more drastic tones are coming from the accordion. They fall on people like hostile hailstones. Stop it! They are sorry for their sins, spare them their tears. Stop it, because the hands are tightening, the feeling of revenge overcomes them. Stand still do not corrupt them. Or rather - play! Play like that, it is the only way out of the situation. I have forgotten that those who hurt us are cruel monsters with whom we cannot deal in a humane way.

Dinner. For the first time since a very long time I had really enough to eat.. In the kitchen, naturally. But I must admit that the dinners are getting better. Today we had plenty of stew with pasta and a good soup. And the bread ration is bigger. We invite them (the soldiers?) to have more soup, but they do not want any more. At least once we could give them more. How good it is to be able to satisfy people's hunger! Ha! Even more than satisfy! What it means to make an effort, to take care. The new organisation has a lot of good points.

Two barrels of wine are still waiting for people, they were not given yesterday, because of the reorganisation. I feel that this Sunday I shall spend merrilly.

450 more of our boys came to this camp. We do not worry ane more whether enough will come, but only whether too many will not leave. So far not one has left.

The new-comers are coming to us for soup, hungry. What a welcoming Sunday. The most important thing - we have received our advanced pay today. We were waiting for this money, it will make our living so much better. N.C.O.s got 180 fr. each; privates 30 fr. There are some disgruntled voices, it is small injustice, but I do not want to speak on that subject any more. The rumours were going round that the corporals will be treated like privates, as in the French army, but no - why should they, it is Polish army. There was a time when I was ashamed to be a corporal, because an arrogant simple clerk thought herself to be something better than a corporal. Now? 0, now I am proud to be a corporal.

Corporal - means that an airoplane is attacking the enemy with bravery and skill or destroying it by bombs on land. Corporal means that a tank is fearlessly trampling the enemy, not afraid of the volleys of its bullets. Corporal in the end means a heroic battalion of infantry with fury walking against the enemy, its bayonetts sparkling. Corporal is the best son of the Motherland. He works for her with his hands, brain and energy, demanding very little in return. Respect and honour are due to him from everybody.

Evening. An exceptionally jolly evening. Vivacity, humour, singing, music. Excited by wine, people are having a good time. A kind Sunday gave to the unhappy ones a joyful moment.

12 February

All day rain beats on the tin roof of the barrack, the horrible weather does not want to improve. Capt. Waltera, present commendant of our regiment, gave us briefing. He mentioned the problem who is responsible for loosing the war. Finish for once this discussion - he said - it is difficult to judge who is guilty. If we consider conscientiously our actions, everyone has some responsibility. I am rebelling against such a result of the discussion. Yes, I will perhaps agree that all of us were not 100% loyal in our service, but was this the important factor? Is this the heart of the matter? If we want to judge, we must most of all put blame on those who had the fate of Poland in their hands, those who took all the responsibility on themselves. If they received the fame, the honours, they should

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have thought about the defence of the country. Anyway, what is the point of giving all those arguments to the people with open minds and open eyes. They should talk and will talk and will judge, because their hearts are acking. They should not lose the memory of that pain, which took away all their happiness, all that was dear to them, so that in future they wil not be deceived again. Lets be fair - it is difficult to judge ourselves and difficult to hear the condemning judgement which puts blame on the guilty ones for everything that happened. However, no less difficult will be to explain the guilt of the unwitting, the indifferent, the passive ones who had a voice but did not use it, because they were comfortable in any case. O guilty ones, big and small, you should now beat your breasts, the nation is good, it will give you the chance of rehabilitation. Come out for a test, but do not harm the poor people again. Let in yor mind grow the Great Poland which lives in dreams of us all. Let us remember: Great Poland means Poland fair and just. She must be just to those who love her and know how to defend her. Fair to all her good sons, equally grateful to all.

Yes, as a Pole I feel guilty and ashamed in front of the outsiders, but I make my self-examination. Did I not do what I was ordered? When I knew that the task was important, I performed it with absolute conscientiousness, when it was less serious, I adapted it to my own comfort. It was very human, because I knew that the fate of the country did not depend on it. But I did not think about the state of the country's defence. Unfortunately. The example came from the top, in any case we were not allowed to think. I was thinking about fun, I - a young Pole, full of energy and considered not stupid. That was fatal - I can say that about the majority of the soldirs here present. I am not speaking about all, because I am not sure about the harmlessness of some.

17.38 hour. I thought I will not write any think today, but I got excited. Must go and listen to the radio news in Polish from France and England.

13 February

A great surprise, a very unpleasant surprise. Frost. The mud has frozen, the freezing wind came through the barracks, made them into real freezers.

For two hours I am sitting by the stove, it was impossible to stay under the blankets. Everybody is getting up with teeth chattering, massaging frozen limbs.

17.55 hour. One is forced to stay near the stove. A sunny day but the cold is no less and the night looks like being even worse than the previous one. It will be hard to survive it.

Permanent Rallvinq Station for the Polish Airforce in Septfonds - 14th February

A light snow is covering the land, there is slightly less frost. It is hard to say what is better - the nagging cold or the equally unpleasant rain and mud.

I wonder why do I write these notes. If I would die, what good will they be - for anyone? But to be honest, relying on my own intuition, I think that I shall return to free Poland, and soon. I even believe that there will be no fighting. Strange, why I have this strange feeling which absolutely does not agree with the common sense.

The verification. One has to give all personal data, the details of military service and experience in Rumania until the present time.

15th hour. I have sent a postcard to Kostek in Lyon, perhaps he is there. I want to keep in touch with him for friendship's sake, also it would be good to know what has happened to him: He is ahead of me on the road which undoubtedly will be mine.

The fact has to be recorded, which perhaps is not very important, but has a deep meaning. I mean the postcard which I have sent to Kostek. On the address side it has a picture of the national flags of England, France and Poland. Ours is in the middle. It looks a miserable one, taken in care by the two great ones. But in spite of Poland's defeat it is a beatiful vision. These signs of 3 countries announce that soon I shall appear on the scene of life to triumph. These postcards are meant for the allied forces.

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Evening. The accordion again makes time more pleasant for the people. How nice it is to I listen to its accords.

Thursday. 15th February

We got up with great effort of will power and energy, overcoming fear. Frost so great has not been noted so far in our presence. I slept fully clothed, it was not possible in other way. In the barrack it is a few degrees below zero. I did not shave for a week. I wash myself like a cat, even this takes great effort and courage.

9th hour. Gen.Zajac has visited us - the commander of the Polish Air Force. He made a speech in which he did not really say anything, We are often visited by various generals, probably to test our endurance, it is difficult to see any other result of those visits.

The general allows the soldiers to come to him personally for any explanations. A nice gesture of the general.

Evening. On 17.15 the lights are on in the barracks. The radio, bought with the contributions of the NCOs and installed in our barrack, starts playing. Nice music from Touluse, and the news we have now here. Only the news are not what we want. We want determination, resolution, faster decisions about our fate. But the radio gives us comfort in our sad life here.

Septfonds-Judes 16th February

A sunny, frosty morning. The rays are coming through the chinks in the barrack's wall and disperse- the darkness. There is more joy on a sunny day, more light in the barrack. The people are shivering from cold - the stove is still very popular. A pity that the radio is not playing - there is no power during the day.

A great unpleasentness has happened to me today. My offended ambition cannot be appeased. Supposedly, in the Camp's Command there is a list of pilots distinguished in fighting. My name is not on the list. It can't be helped, obviously I did not merit it. But why are there the names of those who did not do anything more than I did. None of us, fighting together, merited anything special, a few combat flights we did were just the normal service duty. If we are to talk about dedication, it was probably shown in the flight on the machine with the shot propeller. The expected result: the failure of the motor caused by the shaking of the propeller in flight and the catastrophe. It is God's miracle that I am alive today. Nobody appreciates that I did not hesitate to continue the flight although I knew about the propeller. Moreover, the others knew as well and ordered me to fly.

20th hour. After the news. We all went away from the radio with our heads down, very unhappy - nobody expcted this. The most depressing are plans to be realised in the summer or autumn. How long will it take - comes the impatient question.

They are playing a melodious, intoxicating tango. 'Do you remember how you danced it? ' - somebody asks. Yes, I remember, perhaps the unkind future will obliterate even this sweet memory.

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Author's note: The following pages were translated onto audio tape by George Kuczuk, Dursley, Gloucestershire.

Septfonds 17th February

Will we ever get a ray of real sunshine? Frost has gone, it's warm now, but to make sure that we're not too well off, instead we've got cloud, rain and mud.

Everyone is irritated - it's impossible to be submitted to such inactivity. Everyone is keen to take his place and do something. Everyone understands how heavy is the hand of brutal fate that controls the lives of our nearest. Who can afford it in these days to be patient and inactive? There are many keen volunteers for Finland.

Saturday as usual is a day of basic changes. An English colonel arrived here and enlists airmen of the various specialisations for our air force which is being formed in England. Thank God something is happening! I was deeply upset with the news that the Swedes have officially refused direct help to the Fins. Apparently the Swedish populace was very much upset with this sort of action from the government. The people know what to expect in case of a Russian victory over the Fins. A common defence now would have the best chance and be most useful. And the government knows it - but are there many governments that think and care about people especially those elected personalities, dictators? So probably the apparently negative reply to the Fins will bring more advantages to the leaders. They are idiots! They are black spots on humanity! For those leaders the people do suffer and are submitted to suffering and sacrifices at the wish of these gentlemen. They even lose their lives. Those gentlemen, they need glory, honours, -omnipotent power. And they take action at the expense of poor humanity. They think that the people are for them and they are not for the people. They regard the people as equipment to be disposed of, especially those of the lower classes.

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Monday 19th February

The problem of departure for England - it's a choice, the conditions are not very attractive as far as we know, but what to do? - there's a complete lack of decision. Can one choose, can one know what is the best? A serious problem is before us. On the other hand what's the use sitting here, where would we arrive just by passive sitting here.

Evening - I'm listening to the music. With a very passive eye I look at two tables covered with papers. At the tables several clerks, they write, all the time they write. This cursed paper bureaucracy, it's our obsession - probably we will never get rid of it. They write and write and whenever there comes a moment that information is required to be submitted to senior authorities they ask the individuals. And they have been writing down several times putting it on paper. This is the result of this excessive scribbling. There are masses of paper, it's a job to find out anything in it. When they arrive at the end it looks more like chaos. Well, expertise went away.

20th February

It's a beautiful moonlit night - the stars in the beautiful clear sky. A longing for a carefree life comes over me.

Septfonds 21st February

It's a beautiful sunny day, it's warm. The whole space is basking in sunshine - space which attracts one's sight. We decided to go for a walk, after all how long can one sit in the barracks? It's a beautiful day, the first one since we landed on French soil.

We are resting. We've arrived at our journey's end. We wanted to get to the stronghold at the top of the hill. It's called Puylaroque. We admired the view over

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the countryside lying below us. All basking in the sun. It reminds me of the straffing flights, its the same impression.

It's an interesting town, probably it's the old stronghold. Very concentrated on the top of the hill. The old stone buildings among them, streets, rather lanes, extremely narrow, they are more like corridors and they criss-cross in all directions. The town is deserted by people. There is no life to be seen. Yes it must have been built for defensive purposes, it's surrounded by walls. Probably it goes back many, many years ago.

In the last few days the question of our departure for England seems to have died down. However, there was one good turn, there won't be any voluntary applications. The air force personnel will be evenly divided between England and France. It was officially stated by a captain sent from headquarters. It's really very good, and I will be quite willing to go wherever I am directed. Probably the others will agree with me. Certainly, with some exceptions - those whom would never go anywhere, they want to be paid and have a safe calm life up to the end of the war. I wonder, why should they be paid and who is going to fight for Poland which is so dear to everyone today? Those exceptions concerned mainly the senior ones upwards from sergeants. But they forget that the young people are as valid and valuable as the old ones, and will there be enough young people?..

Camp de Judes 23rd February

Early-morning. A lazy lot, who don't want to get out of bed. I am one of them. The duty man brings in tea and serves it to everyone like the good old days. You eat, have a good cigarette in your mouth and you wait until the sergeant major chases you off your bed.

We got paid, but apparently not the whole lot. The balance will be paid after final enlistment to the forces. As regards corporals, they get paid 312 francs

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including regular service corporals and the extended service ones. They are all treated on the same basis, corporals who have been called up from the reserves, and the active service ones feel very bitter because they have not been treated fairly. Those in the reserves say that they were paying money to the army in Poland so they will do nothing at all. Is it right?

Beautiful music brings back the good old days in Poland. Before my eyes I see beautiful fragments. I feel within myself longing and sorrow for what has already gone and will never come back. Oh! how wonderful it all was, what one has lost by now. It's strange how little space in these memoirs are given to my memories of the dear maybe now unhappy Urszulka and of sweet Mychnna or dear family. Probably I have thought very little of them. (Oh! My heart breaks - my beloved foxtrot being played - I see myself in a canoe in Port Germany with friends - we listen to a beautiful record from a nearby house) I thought so little about it. And why? - the answer is simple. All my thoughts were directed at Poland. Dreams of a great Poland. I am searching like a hungry animal that looks for a prey for news which will tell us of victories from Poland, about the whole nation. Oh Poland! Lost Poland! Mickiewicz once said You are like health. No, its not the same it's more than health. For Your greatness you can loose not only health but your life. You are like life.

Saturday 24 February

Warm sunny days have come, the sun is getting hot. Dreamy nature is waking up and seems to be smiling at life. It would be useful to find oneself on a lawn to stretch out and bask in the sun.

During the disinfection of personal equipment, somebody stole one of my blankets. My worry is not so much the loss of it, but discomfort, it'll be cold at night to sleep under two blankets. There are human beings in these circumstances, among

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those people you have to become just like them, otherwise you wiIl be beaten, you will not manage to survive in this life and you will never find justice.

25 February

Like grasshoppers we got air-raided, shaken up, so that we do not get set. We made a march for about four kilometres, now we are resting in woods. I don't know whether we'Il go any further or whether we'Il come back.

We're returning after an hour's rest.

How good it is that the light is being switched on an hour earlier, as you're all the time looking forward to the evening. The whole day passes by and you wait for the news on the radio and the music. Perhaps for that reason the days are passing so quickly. And worst of all, our young years are passing by. But what can one do in the circumstances?

As from today, we've got the summer time, exactly the same time that we have in Poland.

Camp de Judes, 26 February

We've returned from exercises, they start getting us moving. After all we are soldiers, with young energy, and not old grandfathers. We are a bit annoyed with the exercises which are basic drill for infantry. After all, we're soldiers with experience.

It's a lovely warm sunny day - you feel spring in the air and birds with a beautiful song announce its arrival. My thoughts took me back to my home part of the world, the 'Polesie'. I thought I could hear the birds singing there. There was a longing for those fields, sad woods, and thatched roofs of the small houses of Polesie. I long for my homeland, although I know it's very gloomy and sad. It's

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always in my thoughts. But I know it's a straight, open and sincere land, my homeland. I long for it, although I know that spring has not arrived yet.

Piotrus has written. All our friends remember that we are here, some of them are already in England, among them, Kostek. One item of news deserves a special mention. Apparently, kpt. Korodiecjck and a group of officers managed to get praise for achievement in the war in September. I don't know whether I should giggle or take it seriously. Praise for effective reconnaissance and bombing. How different could reconnaissance be? (As a matter of fact, what was the use of it?). For a useful bombardment kpt. Korodiecjck and second lieutenant Radvieski received praises - and about Kostek and me? - no mention. After all, we were there together, dropping bombs, one group. Probably we did not get the praise, as after dropping bombs, we continued to dive-bomb and fire at the enemy. Yes, we heard the voices of those people who were murdered and burned screaming "help me". They probably were flying in all this. From their side our initiative was how to bombard. I am too honest that this sort of praise would satisfy me. Who cares about the fate of Poland must not try to gain praise for such exploits which was a normal carrying out of duties. There was no mention of the killed, no mention of how many other people gave their lives for Poland. They are forgotten, they are no longer here. I do know now why you receive decorations and orders. I know why in Poland I saw senior officers with masses of orders on their chests. In this case one's conscience is the real judge how deserved it was. There are very few candidates for true decorations, I've lost respect for the orders. Whenever I see an order I always ask a question - who gave you this order, Poland or your friends? If I discover the truth the person loses all respect in my eyes. I was very upset when I read about it, but I do not feel badly treated. O Poland, why are you so silent, perhaps you could say something in this matter.

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At the request of Piotrus, about my flights, I sent a letter to him expressing my view on the case. I would be very pleased if these words reached those so-called 'heroes'.

We're taking lessons in French, I got some books from the Polish Library. We have lectures, one-hour daily. The trouble is that our teacher, instead of teaching us, teaches himself. Unfortunately our officers do not use foreign languages. It's very difficult to go back to learning. One has become lazy and the mind no longer accepts and adopts all the information that should be taken in.

27 February

In this sad life there is no shortage of humorous moments. In spite of the sad circumstances people do live and want to cheer themselves up. Stach did not come to supper. All his good friends decided to leave food for him. So we filled several plates with soup, got several loaves of bread, bottles of wine, all sorts of fruit including real ones and peelings such as oranges and bananas imitating fruit. Marmalade, whatever one could imagine was there. There was even meat, we brought from the kitchen an enormous bone. A whole bread was blocked full of various items. As a matter of fact, Stach cannot eat little. There is also a barrel, naturally empty. All gathered around, waiting for Stach to arrive, looking forward to fun. Everybody was interested in his reaction. When he arrived, they started applauding him. Stach appeared to be thrilled, was looking all round and was smiling. There was joy for all of them. Long live! They applauded him. Suddenly, silence. Stach wanted to say two words and express his gratitude. They brought a radio, waiting for him. First of all, he said, I must go and relieve myself - and then again - outburst of laughter. Again, Stach had to clear away all that lot. I was one of the losers in all this affair, as before Stach decided to have his supper my apple and bread with marmalade disappeared somewhere.

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