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I can not explain to myself that they do not (understand) - more, I can not perceive how can they not understand. They could, if only they would not begrudge money, if they had will and impose it on the undecided. The enemy's methods' are so straightforward that there are no complications and the reaction to them should be simple.
There is again a period of peace, "the quiet before the storm" - how strange is that war. In this phase one sometimes does not realise that there is war. If one was not in a foreign country, with limited freedom, if not for the repulsive noise of the German aeroplanes at night, one really would not know that there is war. The worst are those German aeroplanes. How irritating it is, how it plays on one's nerves to hear in the night such a wailing sound above oneself. No! no, it is not yet the whistling of a bomb - not yet ... Ah! when this son of a bitch will go away!!! But this son of a bitch is in no hurry.
18th hour (after a good supper, good enough for the best of homes).
The boys are rushing to town. They say they are meeting some girls. Girls, the comforters, how indispensable they are. Just now, when a man lives well, eats well and sleeps well, they are absolutely necessary, now - when the times goes so slowly and is so intolerable.
A year has passed already since the Polish times. All the good moments with the girls are only in the memory, some fragments become more and more strange in the imagination. One forgets. But one pines, yearns after those times. How much I would give for them to return, and what would life be worth if one was sure they would never return? Nothing, almost nothing. But will one ever stop believing - never, one would not lose hope in spite of factual impossibility even.
The night is falling - another day has passed. I have been to a football match, shouted like a madman - our boys have beaten the English. They made up a special team, but even so they could not have superiority over our (boys).
Gloucester, 3 August
I am at the hairdresser, waiting for my turn. Silence, everyone is lost in thoughts, I too am thinking. Behind the wall our artists have their practice - someone strums our melodies on the piano - sadness. There are some changes, but, traditionally for me, the changes are not good. All my mates, with whom I shared our miserable life, are leaving. They are leaving, I remain, alone. I have been already assigned among strangers. Why I have remained - it is evidently the decree of fate. Ha! there is no sense in opposing the fate, does one know what is better, do I have any choice. But
apparently they are leaving only to a new location, there are no proper assignments yet - all from here are to go to Blackpool.
11th Hour. They are leaving. Ah! those farewells, how bitter they are. Involuntarily the thought comes - will one take leave of everybody, until one remains really alone, one among complete strangers? No, that would be the peak of tragedy.
Sunday, 4 August
I have been insulted by an officer. Ha! the worst brought-up man would not used such an expression - but Polish officer - yes. I am speechless. I went to the quartermaster's office about the underclothes not returned from the laundry. "Serve this matador" - he told the sergeant. I thought I will go berserk, I complained, he did not say anything. Ah! such a boor, if I were an officer I would die of shame if a young non-commissioned officer admonished me or has a fair complaint. But this is the way the officers treat soldiers, the Polish soldiers, who represent their nation with dignity. I do not understand such people, are they controlled by the enemy, are they foolishly conceited to such an extent? How can we trust our leaders and work with them. I can understand the worst enemies, but such people, such Poles, I do not understand. They are the enemy of morale. It is not just mine opinion, but of all of us. Those people destroy our spirit, create divisions, soil all our ideals - but in the end they will go too far!
A heat wave came - it troubles us a lot. When in June there were cold days I thought there are no really hot, sunny days in England.
Apparently Hitler gave up an attack on the Island, he only plans to starve it by air attacks on the navy. It's difficult to imagine that when one sits at the table and eats a good and plentiful supper (bread, brown or white, whichever you prefer, sausage, butter, marmalade, cake, white coffee) eats to one's heart's content and still has to leave what is too much. Probably it's Hitler's trick, one of his many cunning tricks, I do not believe in it. In any case, even if true, it would take a long time, who in Germany would want to wait for it, and how to square it with the growing strength of the British air force, which makes increased raids over Germany, spreading awful destruction. Even more frightful, because it is at night.
... and so the times passes slowly. Lately, I had disturbed nights, strange dreams, I feel that "the hell on earth" is coming. Would to God, it was soon, let matters resolve themselves once for all - especially as I am
convinced that it will be to our advantage, if only it was soon - our hopes are high again. But still so many of us are sitting here and they do not give us any guns, what can we. do if anything happens. What we could not achieve if only they would arm us - Oh, people - mistakes like that revenge themselves pitilessly.
strange surprises can fall on one in this hard life. I had a premonition about it. It started like that - as if on purpose a stupid wasp, accelerating from about 100 metres, fell straight under my eye and naturally, before I could drive it away, it stung me. It had unexpected results. I became seriously ill. Not only my face was swollen, I had fever and rash all over my body - I felt ashamed that an adult man could have so much trouble from a wasp sting. Last night I had such a high fever that I imagined I was under a dangerous attack. My nerves are still not under control - they can give me a fright. I was drenched in sweat - it was quite bad, I even longed for my native cemetery. Today it is better, my face is not so swollen. But I am still very weak after the fever.
Monday, 12 August
Today I am resting since morning - on the grass, under a bush, I am bathing in the beautiful sunshine. I cannot say that I do not feel well, the atmosphere is somehow full of hope. Yesterday I experienced a really happy moments. Yesterday's evening news brought us real hope. The events of the last few days changed the situation to our advantage. Hitler managed to organised a few air-attacks on England and he met with a shameful dismissal. 20% of his machines were lost on the battlefield. Lovely. In England self-confidence is growing, the trust in their own strength increases.
Yesterday some English lord, a Polish sympathiser, made a speech to the Poles. He emphasised that our return to independent Poland is very near. Hitler has a choice of two risky endeavours, both leading to a defeat. If he will decide to attack, he will be beaten, if he does not attack, the situation inside Germany would be a threat of disaster. It's very probable that this would happen. Oh, how fortunate it is. And just yesterday I had this happy impression. To return home as a liberator of the martyrs, of your dearest ones, can there be greater happiness and satisfaction.
Another comforting news - there is an uprising in Albania. At last a flame is bursting out, which can spread to the whole world, it is a flame of courage, which can inflame all the enslaved nations.
15.00 Hour. Today many of our (boys) came from Glasgow. Some of my mates from the squadron or the regiment. They are telling us about their
impressions of the life in Scotland. The English, and especially the Scots are very well disposed towards us. Many of the boys got married, almost everyone fell in love, and when they were leaving a crowd of people came to bid farewell to them, among them a lot of lovesick girls. Truly it is very good that we have won the sympathy of the Englishmen and generally of the people. They all see what the Polish nation is worth and what it can do.
Apparently the Scots have made a collection to help our (men). I have myself noticed the attitude of the English people everywhere towards us.
And what success we have in love -
Gloucester, Dinctwoth Lane*, 15 August
I managed to wriggle myself out of work today, escaped onto the green grass. I know I did not behaved conscientiously, but is there any real purpose in our work, No - I did not commit a grave sin.
A few words about the weather. If only a few words - the best would be - a beautiful weather. 15 August is an important date, the whole world knows it and waited with impatience, because Hitler proclaimed a triumphal return home on that day, after defeating England. And nothing came of it. Hitler, is it the beginning of your defeat - it looks like it. Yes, glutton, you have taken too much, you can't swallow it, you will have to give it back.
There is news coming all the time of better and better English successes over the Germans in the air-combats. You can say that the air-attack has already started. The English, not only splendidly beat the enemy in their own country, but they do not remain on the defensive and take up air-raids on Germany on the big scale and not only by night. But almost unbelievable are the results of the air-combats - for example yesterday the ratio of losses was - the Germans lost 78 planes, the English 13 fighter-planes. It has to be remembered that the chances in the battle are equal, because the German raids are coming under the big cover of their fighter-planes. Here, so far is peaceful, yesterday there was a small alarm, one plane appeared, they shot at it, it turned back and that was all. It is surprising that Hitler attacks in instalments, at first just the air-force, and not all together - the air-force gets seriously weaker. Evidently the tales are true that the English are able to disorganise the concentrations of the armies on the coasts, preparing for the attack on England - apparently they sink so many ships and barques that the Hitlerites cannot amass enough of them. This perhaps is the most important reason. If not today, then tomorrow - the war can take a turn not expected by anyone, for example "Sylvester** at home". I cannot contain my joy at the thought of that.
* Dinctwoth Lane does not exist - so one can only suppose the real name is lost in translation.
Author's note: What I do know was that my father was stationed at what is now RAF Innsworth in Gloucestershire. I know it well as my father was also stationed there just before his retirement from the RAF. Therefore I like to think he is talking about somewhere on Innsworth Lane.
** Sylvester - New Year's Eve - the night of celebration.
Gloucester, 17 August
Not long ago I got news of my departure tomorrow. I cannot say that the news are indifferent to me. Where? What turn in life? Certainly it will be a new life.
I am satisfied with the work I performed. I have washed all my things, including the sleeping bag. Only a few of us are going, I feel certain uneasiness - how difficult it is to trust people.
In the train, 18 August
Unlucky 13. Why so few of us, and 13 into the bargain. I have an impression that we have been specially selected. Ha! For what important reason is my person needed somewhere? Well, we shall see. Already I am cheated, tomorrow we were supposed to be paid, the full pay, with all the arrears, I did not get anything and do not know how it will be settled.
I enjoy the beautiful scenery, a really "green island". Lots of greenery - trees, fields and gardens. And everything is in well-planned order, looks as if spread on a plastic table. The sun is shining - the world is beautiful. The sunshine - typical Hitler's weather, the friend of the German air-force. But time changes everything, now Hitler cannot use this beautiful weather and nobody knows which weather he should use. Good weather means punishing losses, bad weather of night - Hitler did not prepare his pilots for such eventuality, they cannot fly in it. It's Napoleon in miniature - the chances are changing.
17.00 Hour. Pleasant surprise. I have arrived. Not at a "place of temporary stay", as it is described in military jargon - no, this place has nothing to do with the military.
In a town, at a hotel by the sea - in a resort. It could not be any better. Here are all my friends - ha! is it not possible for war to have its better side? The local population is so polite, so affectionate that one feels one belongs here. We have an impression that the people are grateful to us for something.
Blackpool, 19 August
We cannot complain. We ate a good breakfast among our family of airmen, and now have to think about registering our illustrious presence to the authorities. Yesterday I did some sightseeing. Specially interesting is the Fair ground - "Luna Park". Plenty of funny and breakneck tricks, all very thrilling. Cable cars, ghost trains, big wheels etc. The English enjoy themselves here - from small children to old people - quite strange. However, the English have a slightly sadistic nature and iron nerves. They enjoy anything thrilling and shocking. I have to try this fun when I will have money.
I have a bit of a problem. Apparently I am leaving tomorrow, but I still did not get my equipment - and there is a lot of it - uniform and pilot's equipment. I do not know how I will manage or if at all. There is great confusion, I do not understand why. I know I am leaving, but only a few hours ago I was officially told about it - I went, found the magazines with some difficulty, but too late, they were closed, others have already taken their equipment. If the departure will be a day after tomorrow - all right, but if tomorrow, I will be in serious trouble and difficulty. I am glad that Pete is going with me, such a nice old mate.
I am completely confounded, I don't know what to do. Everyone's happy, they hurry to town with girls under arms - and I wonder why everything went so fast with me - why they have brought me here from Gloucester here is so many already trained pilots - somebody kindly gave me his protection. Ah! Why to worry, I try to accept everything. But I dislike sluggishness, hopeless mismanagement - it gets on my nerves. Today, for example, I did not get my pay, who knows how long I will wait for it, because they did not have time to put me on the pay list - awful management!
Things do not get on - vexation. Shall I go to town? I do not feel like it, when this serious matter hangs over my head. Peter was to come and clear the situation - he is not here.
Hectic preparations, hot times are beginning, although the winter is coming. Tomorrow we are leaving, I have already collected my gear, there is so much of it I cannot imagine how I will manage with all that baggage. I will need a trolley from the start. I have began to prepare myself for anything, to accept that life is very short. This is real life, here it is not possible to arrange it according to one's wishes. But also life is starting, which is different, full of emotions and risks, I cannot say that I do not like it.
One will play the role of a hero, will make great sacrifices for others. It is worthy to make those sacrifices, for others, perhaps even for those nearest to me. I will open the way to happiness, removing the thorns on the way. Oh God, bless our work for us.
18.00 hour. I got a shilling from Pete. I promised to come with him to the "Tower" for dancing. I must do it at least once since a long time, who knows when there will be such an occasion again. In any case, to be in the "town of fun" and not to see anything -
Blackpool, Wednesday, 21 August
We are leaving at 2 o'clock. I am not sure, but I have an impression
that our undertaking does not look too bad. But I am sorry to leave that town. Yesterday I have been at the dancing in the "Winter Garden", I have danced. There is a lot of women here, first class choice, many pretty women. All of them polite, homely, very sympathetic towards Poles. It would be good to spend winter here, and to be getting normal pay as well. But no point in being sorry - who knows for sure whether it will be worse there. In any case I am curious what the future will bring.
We did not leave yesterday. Probably today or... It does not matter really. Yesterday I have been again at the "Garden" with Peter and Waldy, in company of 2 girls. I am really sorry that I cannot manage to learn English, this difficulty spoils everything, otherwise I could get seriously engaged.
Ah, those girls, probably the cream of England comes here. I cannot take my eyes off them, and the desire...( well, that's nature) - figures, faces, dresses. Like a dream, if only I could speak. In time I will fill this gap, but it may be too late, there will not be such beauties as in Blackpool.
It is after breakfast. I am surprised that guests rise so early, I am usually the last one. I like that, here holidaymakers do not know the habit of breakfast in bed.
Blackpool, Coop street 12, 24 August
I am leaving today, hopefully this time for sure. I feel a kind of resignation - I do not know why. "Heavens will be done" - yes? I do not know whether to be sorry at leaving Blackpool, those stores of pretty girls. I lost my balance, well, I could not get to anything concrete with any English girl because of the language barrier. It is a pity, they are so polite, naive, they are so full of good will. I must set out to learn English, but probably there won't be time for it, there won't be time to live even. I feel some kind of distraction, a grief in my heart. There are farewell ceremonies on a big scale. All guests are leaving after the week-end. Oh God, why life is so arranged that people have to part all the time. Previous partings with the dearest ones come to my mind. Continually we have to say good-bye - how sad are those moments. I am so sad, I feel that today I will not recover my good humour. Our girl-friends of yesterday have just passed with their suitcases, they are also leaving. I waved to them, but could not force myself to approach them. I do not know why, I am sorry now. Leave taking is so painful - everything inside one is in turmoil, one loses self control. "Gut bay", dear ones - with a clean conscience, you are
all so dear, dear to an exile, who lost everything and wants your hearts so much - I feel like crying, I would cry like a child if I was not 25 years old. My soul is so heavy -
Bramcote, 26 August
I am here since yesterday - in this provincial airbase. After Blackpool it feels a bit strange - here we are more isolated, but in time one will adapt to the local conditions, which in fact are not too bad. The end of laziness, we are already occupied. Strictly speaking, it is just preparation, one has to learn a lot of things before one can start real work.
I am still in a somewhat passive state, under a question mark, how will I manage to fly in the machines so much more difficult than ours. Tadek is here, he feels good, plays the role of the English instructor. I hope that one day I will get to that standard. He is exactly the same as I remember him from Poland, perhaps he behaves more like a "lord" - it's his sensitive subject.
Tuesday, 21 August
I write this to complain a bit. Well, work takes a lot a time, we have very little of it for our own disposition.
In fact in such a situation one should not want a free time just for oneself, but what can I do - this is my nature. I do not like continual work, I like temporary work which gives instant results, that's why I felt well in the air force. It will inevitably change, when we will start flying and finish with those boring lectures.
Why this work, which in character does not differ from the one I used to like, does not satisfy me now? (it's a question of attitude). I know why - one has to have a clear aim in life, ways which are not cut with precipices, bright hopes. Someone reading this could say that I am weak - weak? that's not true, I believe, I strive, but I also want to be logical.
I realise that faith is a bit like naivety, coming from natural instincts. If (God forbid ) England should be beaten, should lose the war, and I, by some lucky chance, should get to America - it would be the end of the war, but not the end of my faith. I feel that if God will not allow me to return to Independent Poland, I will still believe in her and in the return to her, I will believe to the end, even if my faith would be quite without any base. Poland - it is my freedom, the substance of my life. No, I must stop writing, because, when one day we shall win, I would be ashamed of those words and would despise myself for such thoughts.
Author's Note: For more details see RAF_Bramcote
Friday, 30 August
A lunch-time break. As usual we are sitting in the "corporals' room", here is buffet, newspapers and radio.
Especially music - when one listens to it, one is happy. Nature and weather invites for a walk, but there is no time for it and even if there was - we are forbidden to leave. I do not know why, as far as I know it is our own leaders' wish, naturally, what else could we expect from "them".. nothing but repression. How little they think about soldiers and want to do something good for them. Their previous convictions do not bring much results, which is not good for the interests of New Poland. I get upset when thinking about it, sometimes I promise myself to stay passive and only perform my duty, otherwise one just becomes a nervous wreck. I hope that our national ideal will take its direction, that there will come occasions for it: - I believe in it, just as I believe that the end will come to this "Clique".
I am sorry, I can't go on - I am listening to music.
Bramcote, 31 August
All the anniversaries are beginning of the tragic events - yes, a year has already passed, our naive hope of a quick return to Poland is vanishing. I remember, a year ago to the day, I was saying good-bye to Urszulka. I kissed her, she went away... I did not realised it then, but I remember this strange feeling, which came over me as she went - "she disappeared like in a mist". Her intuition anticipated something - "I can see something awful in the future" - she said. I smiled - "Dear child, what can happen, you are making yourself believe in it." But it happened. God knows what the poor dear is doing. I am sure she did not forget me, as I often think about her. I was interested in her and she left the best impressions on me, still real today. Urszulka, little one, will we see each other some day? When the happy time shall come that I will return and find out that you loved me, stayed faithful and waited for me - I shall thing about it seriously.
Beautiful melodies, moving singing suggest some visions. I see the unhappy ones, see the misfortune like a deluge moving slowly and overwhelming more and more people. Today's world is terrifying. Oh God, I believe in your guidance, believe in your hand - I know that the world will come to its senses -
From today I shall write separate observations about life, perhaps one day they will have some importance and somebody will benefit' from them.
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