A KATRINA MOMENT

Survival in New Orleans

Books By Alexandra Everist

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A tale of survival during Hurricane Katrina. 

 

$19.95

  A story of a young Pole's survival in a Soviet concentration camp in Siberia and his military experiences during World War II.
The story is divided into two sections.  Part One (53,000 words) details his experiences leading to his capture and imprisonment in the Soviet Gulag.  The first part ends when he is released after Operation Barbarossa and travels to Persia where he joins the Polish forces.  The second section details the sinking of his ship and his rescue, through his time in England and Scotland, and his eventual fighting in Normandy, Belgium and Holland. It is his strong religious beliefs that allow him to survive that which would seem unsurviveable.
 
At age nineteen Stanley Kowalski was captured by the Soviets and after numerous incarcerations (including Starobielsk) he was sent to Kolyma in Siberia.  When Germany invaded Russia, he was released, made his way to Persia, and found himself on the Empress of Canada which was torpoedoed and sank.  After this rescue he travelled to Scotland where he joined the 1st Polish Armoured Division.  He fought in Normandy, Belgium and Holland, before being wounded just before the end of the war.
 
"No Place to Call Home"  is a theme throughout the tale.  Each of the prisons and camps he is sent to are no place that he wants to call home.  At the end of the story he finds he is a man without a country (since Poland was delivered to Russia) and he again has no place to call home.
 
I know there are many descendants of these Poles who are desperate to find the history of their parents and grandparents.  Many survivors never spoke of their experiences to their children and as they die much of this history will be lost forever. 
 $19.95
 

  

Table of Contents (for Part One)

Chapter 1 War Begins………………………………………………….3

Having finished high school, Stanley must serve his obligatory military service.  The Nazis and the Soviets sign a secret pact to partition the states created at the end of WWI. The Germans attack Poland from the west on September 1, 1939 and 17 days later the Soviets enter from the east. The Polish soldiers realize it is only a matter of time before their country will be overtaken once more.

Chapter 2 A Momentary Diversion……………………………….…..11

Stanley meets a young girl he knew from school as his unit marches through her town. The unit marches forward despondently realizing their battle was already lost. Stanley briefly entertains thoughts of escaping from the obvious upcoming encounter with the enemy forces.

Chapter 3 Encounter with the Enemy………………………….……..14

The Soviets quickly overpower the Polish soldiers.  Stanley removes his officer stripes and buries them before being captured by the Soviet forces. Years later Stanley would find that many of those other captured officers would be massacred in the woods of Katyn. Warsaw held out for another ten days before finally surrendering. For 35 days Poland would fight unaided with no assistance from her Allies.

Chapter 4 First Imprisonment………………………………….……..19

Communist sympathizers spit and hurl insults as the captured soldiers are led through the Polish town. A tobacco factory is made into a makeshift prison for the Polish soldiers. The officers a detained in a separate locked area while the enlisted men are allowed to roam the compound. Stanley surveys the factory and begins to devise a plan of escape. Unexpectedly, another female schoolmate is allowed into the compound to minister to the medical needs of the soldiers. She smuggles in sausage and chocolate to the appease Stanley’s hunger.

Chapter 5 Escape..................................................................................30

Stanley waits for an opportune moment. A local townsperson engages the attention of the guard while Stanley climbs the fence and escapes. He made his way to a nearby home and requested clothing to disguise his soldier status. He furtively walked back to his parents’ home, careful to conceal himself from those who now collaborated with the Soviets.

Chapter 6 Sanctuary in Jazlowiec…………………………..………..33

Stanley makes his way back to his hometown. The town has been transformed by the Soviets with pictures of Staling and Lenin. The Soviets used town informants to locate any members of the Polish intelligentsia and other dissidents to their cause. The town’s population was forced to become Soviet citizens. Anyone charged with the anti-Soviet crime of being a “speculant”, a merchant was subject to imprisonment. The subject of religion was replaced by Marxism in the schools. The families last Christmas together is spent quietly. The Polish language is eventually banned from schools. Many young Poles fled across the border.

Chapter 7 Deportations Begin………………………………………..46

On Feb 10, 1940 the first in a series of massive deportations begins. The Soviets deporting entire Polish families to Siberia. Many of the Polish Allies held a mentality of peace-making since the end of WWI. Only Churchill presses for aid. The Polish had hoped for a quick Allied victory but that did not occur. In April, 1940 Stanley’s family is taken captive and sent in boxcars to “colonize” Siberia. By mid-1940 1.5 million civilians would be sent to Siberia.

Chapter 8 On the Run………………………………………………..50

Stanley and his brother Frank must hide in the woods and barns in order to avoid being captured by the Soviets and to avoid involving any townspeople. His home and furnishings are re-distributed to collaborators. Stanley attempts to gain employment and once again is captured by the Soviets.

Chapter 9 Imprisonment in Ptok Zloty................................................54

Stanley’s personal belongings are seized and he is subjected to a body search. He is led into a dimly lit cell smelling of feces. Lice become a constant companion. His other cell mates members of an underground nationalistic organization. Stanley is beaten by Soviet guards attempting to force him to confess his anti-Soviet activities.  An unknown benefactor places money in an account in the jail for him. Stanley turns to God to help him out of the situation. Just after his 20th birthday, Stanley and three of his cell mates are sent to another prison in Buczach.

Chapter 10 Reminiscences of Buczach……………………………….63

Stanley is sent to a prison in a town where he once went to school. As he is transferred, he dreams of escape. As he is driven through the town of his second home, he reminisces over the happier times of his youth. His current situation contrasts sharply with the beauty of the town.

Chapter 11 Celebration of Mass………………………………..……..67

The town’s inhabitants fear looking at the new prisoners in case they might be sent away.

Stanley spends two days in a solitary cell where he becomes an unknown observer of a Mass taking place outside his window. The sermon offers Stanley a message of hope and inspiration. He knows he will need strength and determination to overcome this situation. On the third day, Stanley is transferred in the Black Maria to Czortkow.

Chapter 12 Czortkow Prison…………………………………………..70

Stanley was placed in a 6X6 cell housing eleven prisoners. Cell 23 reeked of the smell of the latrine. The prisoners, clad only in underwear, were fed a foul-smelling watered down soup and piece of bread each day.  Stanley once again is transferred and cell number 23 becomes his newest home. He is confronted by a steamy bath house atmosphere in a dimly lit room The prisoners housed within look like phantoms. With  many prisoners from many different walks of life and circumstances, the cell became Stanley’s school of life.

Chapter 13 Fellow Inmates in Cell 23…………………………...........78

Stanley’s prison family began to share their stories with him.  Some were students and teachers and merchants, and others were prior Soviet officers. Everyone had very different tales to tell. Included in the cell were Soviet informants. The cellmates became very resourceful in creating diversions.  They fashioned needles and created garments out of their threadbare clothing.  They created chess pieces out of bread and cards out of match boxes. Lice was abundant.

Chapter 14 A Singular Man……………………………………….…..86

One cell mate, Jaworski, emerged from under his blanket only three times a day, when the food was distributed. This man spoke to no one and ignored everyone.  He inhabited his own secluded illusionary world. Stanley wonders whether this wasn’t a better way to be.

Chapter 15 Gifts From Home……………………………………..…..89

Going from prison to prison, Stanley’s aunt eventually finds him and begins delivering packages to him on a regular basis. For eight months the 25+  inhabitants of the cell become family. The motley group celebrate Christmas in the confines of the cell. Stanley uses money given him by a Jewish friend on the outside to buy cigarettes as gifts for his friends in the cell.

Chapter 16 Departure from Czortkow………………………………..93

The prisoners are readied for deportation to Siberia. The prisoners are marched through the frigid air to a waiting boxcar. Each red boxcar swallows 40 prisoners apiece. The inhabitants attempted to get one last look at their homeland, for many perhaps forever. The train passes through Tarnopol, the home where Stanley had attended military school. The military school gave him the knowledge he would need to survive the gulag system.

Chapter 17 View From a Boxcar………………..…………………….99

The slave train passes the pre-war border of Poland. The Soviet landscape is desolate and dreary.  The inhabitants they see from the boxcar aperture dressed in rags look like ghosts. Misery followed the movement of the train. They crossed endless plains of snow before reaching the milder climate of the East. After 12 days the train reached its destination of Starobielsk. Stanley mistakenly thought he would be incarcerated there for the duration of the war.

Chapter 18 Starobielsk Internment…………………………………..103

Starobielsk was actually the assembly point for the gulag slave labourers. Just months prior to their arrival, the Soviets murdered 3900 officers held in Starobielsk and buried them in the Katyn Forest. The prisoners were unloaded from the boxcars and entered the Byzantine structure of the former monastery. The Czortkow prisoners are assigned to the upper level where the altar once stood. The prisoners were allowed to walk about in relative freedom and it felt like heaven. There are rumors of what had happened at Katy and the guards use this knowledge to frighten the prisoners. As more prisoners are brought in, Stanley meet others from his hometown. Knowledge of what is happening in the outside world is disseminated by these new inhabitants. Stanley hoarded his bread allotment, so that he could buy a postcard to send his family. Someone finds a scrap of newspaper announcing Molotov was in London.  The prisoners wonder if that might mean the Soviets might be joining the Allies, and that they might be set free. Mid-June, Stanley and two other Czortkow prisoners are once again sent to the boxcars.

Chapter 19 Trans-Siberian Railway……………………………….....115

The prisoners beg for water. The train crossed the Volga and entered the Urals travelling toward the destination of Buchta Nahodka. The people of the towns are desolate.  They had believed the Revolution would provide a better future, but that was not the case. The beautiful Baikal Lake contrasts sharply with the knowledge that Polish prisoners in the past had los thteir lives in digging the tunnels. During their travels, the prisoners hear of Operation Barbarossa and they begin to feel confident that they will be released.

Chapter 20 Buchta Nahodka………………………………………....120

Buchta Nahodka is a town of made up of barracks. The compound probably held several thousand prisoners. Stanley unexpectedly meets an old school friend, Ted. In fact, he runs across many school friends.  The Polish prisoners live in hope that they will be released, but it becomes more and more apparent that they will be send to the gulag in Kolyma. One day they are led towards a ghastly looking vessel, the Dzhurma.

Chapter 21 The Dhzurma…………………………………………….126

The Dhzurma held up to twelve thousand prisoners ready to be transported to the gold mines of Kolyma. Ted and Stanley find a tiny piece of space in the over-crowded hold.  Those that followed had to take their places by the overflowing latrines. The heat and stench of the hold are stifling.

Chapter 22 Typhoon………………………………………………….132

In the middle of the Japan Sea, the Dzhurma encountered a typhoon. Soon the sickly smell of vomit supplemented the smell of the latrine. Nausea grips Stanley as he lies upon the floor. All of a sudden the bunks begin to crack and fall around the prisoners. Stanley helps pull Ted from beneath the wood. A rush of streaming human bodies force Stanley towards the exit. On top, the wind and the waves toss the prisoners overboard. Stanley holds on tight to a hanging rope. During a short lull, Stanley races back into the hold and falls into the sludge of vomit and feces. He finds Ted still in the hold, re-erecting the bunks.  Ted has secured a space on a top bunk for the both of them. This was not the only death trip for the Dzhurma. The boat has a history of death. On the eighth day they reach the peaceful bay of Nagayevo.

Chapter 23 Magadan………………………………………………….139

They had reached the "promised" land of Kolyma where open space was limitless, air was as clean as the mountain streams, and precious gold was waiting to be unearthed. The beauty of the landscape contrasts with the grey barracks teetering on the slopes. Kolyma was Stalin’s burial ground for the opposition. The land had already claimed millions of lives and there were still more to be had. Ted and Stanley pass rows of cadavers as they are led towards the barracks. Stanley notices an absence of guards along the route they walk.  Obviously guards are not needed in a place where there is nowhere to run. The prisoners enter the bath house and are then issued grey prison garb. The next day the barracks became a slave market where requisitions for labour were filled. Trucks wait at the gates to deliver the cargo. Ted is chosen and the two friends are separated.

Chapter 24 Journey to Hell……………………………………………148

When Stanley’s name is called the next day, he rushes towards the truck as if he were going on a pleasure trip.  He hopes to be reunited with Ted. He is placed in a truck full of Russian convicts. The truck stops at a camp alongside the road for the night.  The Poles huddle together in fear of the Russian prisoners. The trek lasts three days, with only bread and soup provided the first day. The truck drops off the prisoners at a wooden bridge and they must complete the journey by foot.

Chapter 25 Pioneer…………………………………………………....152

Stanley had been charged with a political crime with a 5-year sentence. The labor camp is hidden in a valley separated from the world by two mountain ranges. The prisoners were allocated to a building with four walls and no roof. To keep warm the prisoners lie back to back covered by grey coats. Four watch towers surround the camp. Local legends tell the tale of the souls of the departed mine workers living on the mountains surrounding the camp. They would awake from their sleep when freedom returned to their country. The gold mined was valuable both inside and outside the country in direct contrast to the value of lives. Stanley is initially assigned to fight the fires in the taiga. The next day he is sent to the face of the mine. Stanley does not have the strength to haul the dirt. His Russian workgroup begged for a healthier slave who would not jeopardize their daily food allotment. He was then assigned to moving rocks but he barely completed enough work to get the smallest daily food allotment. A female doctor declared him unfit for hard labor.  So he was assigned to lumberjacking. Again he could not produce enough work to garner a full ration. The lumberjacks used subterfuge to falsify their workload. Two common illnesses were scurvy and “chicken sickness”, a disease causing blindness at night.

Chapter 26 The “Goners”……………………………………………..163

The final dehumanized status of prisoner was that of the “goner” a person who had finally reached the end of endurance. The “goners” fell victim to the guard’s clubs. They were assigned the job of moving rocks from one side of the yard to the other and then back again. The most prominent feature of the goner was the intensity of his eyes. Stanley averted his eyes from these people, concerned it might be a disease he might catch. A communal ditch at the gate waits for each of these “goners”.

Chapter 27 The Colonel……………………………………………….165

During this logging period, Stanley made the acquaintance of “The Colonel”. He had once been a member of the military and had served his sentence. Although he lived outside the barracks, he did not have the right to return home. As Stalin’s power grew, military purges increased in intensity. Government advisors began the systematic removal of enemies, either real or perceived.

Chapter 28 Surviving Through Subterfuge…………………………...168

One night the chief of the camp announced the treaty between the Soviet Union and the Polish government in London. This knowledge did nothing to change the situation of the Polish prisoners. Stanley began doing chores for the cook in exchange for an extra bowl of soup. After washing the herring, he would leave a few at the bottom when he went outside to dispose of the water.

Chapter 29 Arctic Seasons………………………………………..…..169

As summer ended, it began to rain continuously.  The building without a roof offered the prisoners no protection. Their clothing was drenched day and night. At the end of the rainy season, Stanley’s group was finally allowed to move into the overcrowded barracks. The stench of unwashed bodies was unbearable. After the rainy season ended, the smoke flies arrived. They entered the prisoners’ eyes, ears, and mouth causing swelling and irritation.  Although they were issued glasses, these were often stolen by others who had broken their own.  The end of August saw the first frost and the welcome disappearance of the flies. The use of the stove allowed Stanley finally to dry his clothes. They prayed for release before the winter came.

Chapter 30 Amnesty Announced………………………………….….171

The brigadier finally announces the Poles’ amnesty and tells them a tractor will be coming for them. The Russian cook creates a rich meal for Stanley and request that he send a message to his wife. No paper is allowed to leave the prison so Stanley memorizes the address and promises to give her the message when he gets out. It would be many months before Stanley would be in a position to complete the promise, and the request would go forever unfilled. The rich food wreaked havoc on Stanley’s malnourished system and he spent the rest of the night in the latrine. He feared he might be left behind with the sick when the morning’s truck arrived. Although he was better the next morning, he finds the release papers are for another “Stanley Kowalski”. Eventually the guard agrees to release him without the papers. The snow is falling fast and the winds are blowing as the men enter the truck.

Chapter 31 A Taste of Freedom………………………………………174

In Magadan, they meet about 500 other Polish prisoners from various gulags. The prospects of leaving before the on-coming winter appeared slim. Once the ice froze the bay, there no ship would be able to ferry the Poles from this hated land. In the transit camp, the Poles were still forced to do menial labor for city projects in Magadan under the watchful eye of the guards. While digging trenches, Stanley observes the freedom of the animals and dreams of liberation. He volunteers to work on a berry farm, hoping for food.  When he returns to the transit camp, he finds he had missed an opportunity to be released. 150 of the prisoners had been sent to Vladivostok. Each day that passed brought the cold weather closer and hope of release diminished.

Chapter 32 Revolt…………………………………………………….178

Impatience began to fester among the prisoners. One day an entire group of prisoners refused to go to work. The guards charge forward with bayonets attached to their rifles as the prisoners scattered. The guards realized they were outnumbered and were suddenly called off. This so-called victory left the prisoners euphoric. By noon, some NKVD officers appeared and agreed to assist the remaining Poles  in leaving this land. But the very next morning, security guards accompanied by attack dogs entered the camp. The prisoners wereformed into a long column and marched down the road.  Stanley fears execution. Instead they find themselves in yet another prison camp.

Chapter 33 10th OLP…………………………………………………182

The Poles are back in the gulag system. Their food rations are cut to 3000 grams per day. They prisoners are woken at 5 am and by 7 am they are marched to their job assignments. While gathering wood from under the snow, Stanley meets another schoolmate, Pawel. Since he had not been in the camp where the mutiny took place, Stanley was surprised to find him there. He had been in the hospital when the Poles had initially been released and afterwards had been sent to the 10th OLP. Starved for friendship, the two became inseparable. Every ten days the prisoners would be marched to the bathhouse where the horror of their starvation became apparent.  Stanley finally succumbs to scurvy. A small ray of hope appears when about 30 prisoners are allowed to leave, among them Pawel.

Chapter 34 Abraham’s Emancipation………………………………..188

The work brigades were moved around from place to place throughout the town.  During one of these assignments doing carpentry, Stanley meets Abraham, a Jewish merchant. Abraham had been charged by the Soviets of operating an illicit business after an officer had tried to buy his watch.  Since the carpentry work was inside, the two hoped to be protected from the harsh weather outside. The two observe Russian prisoners bringing wood to a nearby home. The Russians leave with their pockets bulging with bread. Stanley and Abraham attempt to do the same. They begin to exchange stolen wood for jars of porridge and any other available food with those who owned the homes. An increase in surveillance stops them from continuing these forays. Another time, the two see Russian prisoners steal potatoes from the basement. They decide to do the same, stockpiling the stolen potatoes in a heap of sand. The potato period ended when someone else stole their stolen potatoes. As hunger returns, Abraham slips into the state of a “goner”. Stanley’s next assignment was not with Abraham. He was sent to remove snow from the roads. The arctic chill infiltrated every area of the body. It penetrated the rags turning the blood in one’s veins to ice. When Stanley eventually tried to find Abraham, he was informed Abraham had become a “goner”.  One dayAbraham had lethargically walked towards the fence, ignoring the shouts of the guards. He was shot to death. Stanley’s road cleaning assignment, next to the cemetery, provided him a first- hand view of the disposition of the bodies. Sleighs piled high with naked bodies in various states of rigor mortis passed him each day. The emaciated arms seemed to be inviting him to join them.  But his Catholic upbringing would not let him give in. He was determined to leave Siberia alive.

Chapter 35 Craving Sustenance……………………………………...201

It was the middle of November and the winter storms had arrived. The prisoners trudged through the storms like ghosts, completed bathed in rags, barely recognizable to one another. The acquisition of food consumed all waking moments. Stanley’s mind became fixated on the acquisition of food.  Any chance he got, would find him scheming for food. When he was assigned to digging trenches by the food storage, he began to steal soybeans at every opportunity. Eventually he was caught and he knew he would be sent to the ice floor cell, a room few returned from. While in the detainment room, another prisoner was brought in, distracting the guard, Stanley slipped out to join another work brigade just leaving the barracks. Stanley continued to look for ways to obtain food. Richard, another prisoner,, and Stanley became co-conspirators in stealing flour.  They stole an entire sack, hiding it beneath the snow in the trenches.  Stanley was caught and sent once again to the office. While there, another prisoner was brought in, having stolen a small bag of soybeans.  The bag was left on the table, and when the guard was called outside, the two devoured everything. Unexpectedly, the officer found it comical and let them go. When Stanley attempted to steal yet another sack of flour he was once again caught, and again sent to the office.  Once more, Stanley found a means of escape. Stanley continued to steal at every opportunity and when caught, was beaten unconscious. The beating left him too weak to work. Two other prisoners hid him, thereby saving his life.

Chapter 36 Final Day of the Gulag Saga………………………….…..214

December 7, 1941, Stanley’s group is again sent out to shovel snow.  It was the coldest day,  that he could remember. In the open space, where the wind delivered its strongest force, where the frozen air choked their breath, where feet and hands turned instantly numb, the workers turned into a sluggish, stagnant, and congealed cluster of men as soon as they passed the outside gate. In this state of semi-frozen animation, minds also turned into a solid matter of nothingness. Eyes, unable to face the cold blast of air, kept watering; nostrils, covered by rags, restricted the intake of air; and numb hands and feet, stiffened to the point of deadened icicles, were barely capable of responding to commands. Stanley observed another prisoner walking towards the homes in the distance.  The guard was not around, so Stanley decided to follow suit. They were caught once more and taken to an office for interrogation. The officer blamed them for sabotaging the war effort and mentioned General Sikorski was in Moscow in talks with the Soviet leaders. The welcome news brought hopes of salvation. While being taken for punishment on the ice floor, another prisoner informs Stanley his name had been called for release the next day. Escaping once more, he hid in the outhouse throughout the night, frightened his disappearance might be noticed. “The Day of Infamy” had become a “Day of Salvation” for a forgotten group of Poles.

Chapter 37 Free in Magadan………………………………………….237

A group of 60 Poles walked back to the barracks in Magadan. Although now free to walk through the town, no ship appeared to deliver them home. No longer forced to labor on work brigades, Stanley offered his services to the town residents in order to barter for food. One day he returned to find the barracks empty. The prisoners had left for a waiting ship. Stanley grabbed his belongings and walked the 18 kilometers to a ship embedded in ice in the harbor. He found the Polish prisoners at the sides of the ship begging to board.  The answer was a definite “Niet.” Stanley returned to the port, while other Poles waited into the night hoping for assistance. Many would die in their attempt to board the ship which would not leave the harbor until spring.

Chapter 36 Silent Night……………………………………………….244

Christmas Eve, 1941, 3 Soviet officers entered the barracks. The Polish prisoners trembled in fear of what this might mean. The soldiers questioned why the Poles were not singing their Christmas carols. And one by one the Poles began to sing Silent Night. The walls began to reverberate with the passion of faith. After that night saw a change in the Soviet guards’ attitude towards the Poles. The Soviets became more tolerant, even providing clothing for the prisoners dressed in rags.

Chapter 39 Aboard the Dalstroy……………………………………....247

On New Year’s Day, tractors deliver the prisoners over the ice to the Dalstroy. Using dynamite, the ship slowly proceeded out of the bay. On January 12, 1942 the group reached Buchta Nakhodka. In July 1942 another group of prisoners would be released.  Only 583 Poles would leave Kolyma alive, out of approximately 10,000.

Chapter 40 Ghost Lager……………………………………………….250

Once again the former prisoners were placed in the barracks in Buchta Nakhodka. The Poles were required to surrender their release documents to the Soviets and were forbidden to roam outside the gates. The prisoners questioned whether they would ever be truly free. Finally, they were given railway tickets to Novosibirsk and two loaves of bread for the two week journey. The beauty of the land the train passed no longer held any charm. It would only serve to haunt Stanley’s memory.

Chapter 41 Returning Through Russia ………………………………..253

The journey led to the western part of Russia where General Anders was forming a unit of the Polish army. The journey would take one month to complete.  With diminishing food, travelers would get off when the train stopped and attempt to find something to eat.  Many times, the train would leave before the travelers had returned.  Stanley and Richard also found themselves lost from the train. Without a ticket, they had to contrive a way back on the train. Finally reaching Novosibirsk, they found enlistment in the Polish Army had been suspended. The Russians took advantage of the disorganization, to offer jobs constructing a canal in the Southern part of the territories. Lost and disheartened many took advantage of this ruse. Many would not be heard from again.Richard and Stanley made their way to Barnaul, where Richard decided to stay. Stanley, desperate to see his family, decided to travel to the labor camp where hw knew his family was being held. Stanley again had to find a way onto the train without a ticket. Stanley had a one-day walk in the snow from the train station.  Using the telephone poles as a guide, he trudged over the snow drifts towards the place his family now called home.

Chapter 42 Arriving in Wtoraja Piatyletka……………………………..267

Stanley finds his family vastly changed. Isolated and starving on the Soviet collective farm, the family barely survived the Siberian steppe. Other former citizens of Stanley’s hometown rush over to question him on the whereabouts of their family members.  He informs them of what little he knows. His mother ministers his legs plagued by scurvy.  A Volga German doctor assists. Slowly he is nursed back to a semblance of health.

Chapter 43 Tales from Wtoraja Piatyletka…………………….………..274

Stanley hears the details of his family’s arrest and their subsequent deportation in the boxcars. 40 persons were loaded into each boxcar. An opening in the floor was used as a latrine. As the weakened inhabitants died, their corpses were thrown upon the tracks. The prisoners travelled a month before reaching Szemanajcha. The bosses of the various state farms lined the families up to choose their workers much like the slave traders of old. The Kowalski family was sent to the “Devil’s Corner”. An earthen mound dug into the soil became their first home. Eventually, they were moved to a barrack. His brother Ted became a cowherd forced to sleep in the steppe at night. Starving, one young mother stole the pigs fodder and was sentenced to prison for 8 months. In winter the temperature would drop to 40 below zero with blinding snowstorms. Another uncle mysteriously disappears. Typhoid was rampant and many died..

Chapter 44 Enlistment…………………………………………….……290

The beginning of February, 1942, a notice is sent conscripting all young Poles into the army. A sleigh transports the young men to Borodulicha. The newly enlisted men were allowed to leave, but their families were still detained. Stanley prayed that he might stay alive long enough to see his family freed.

Chapter 45 Buran……………………………………………………....293

The young men found themselves stranded in a winter “buran” and if it were not for the innate  instincts of the animals, they might have been lost forever. They finally reach an overcrowded train which transported them to their destination of Lugowaya.

Chapter 46 Lugowaya………………………………………………….294

Like everything else in the Soviet Union organized according to a "plan", the ad hoc military camp and improvised conditions barely provided for a soldier's subsistence. After much searching, Stanley and his friend, Ted, found someone who issued them an attractive British uniform. Stanley was assigned to the 4th Company of the 28th infantry regiment and was allocated space in one of the 4X4 meter tents. His sleeping space was comprised of a hole dug in the ground. The rainy season kept them wet day and night. Stanley was assigned to the company office.  The soldiers at this camp were unfit for military service, all having experience the trials of Siberia. The cemetery was supplied with daily deposits. Lugowaya was also home to many women and children desperate to find their spouses or just trying to escape Siberia. Stanley receives no response from the letters he sends his family. March 1942, the Poles are scheduled for evacuation to the Middle East. As the Germans move closer to the oil-rich lands, the Allies need the Polish soldiers for protection. Once again, the Poles are transported in boxcars.

Chapter 47 Reaching Pahlevi…………………………………………..305

As the Poles reached Krasnovodsk, optimism grew. When the men reached the port, the Soviets confiscated all their documents and their money. An oil tanker transported the men on their next leg of the journey.  Other Poles on the Russian shore begged to be let aboard the overcrowded boat. Stanley slept upon a grimy deck and awoke to a magical place of freedom, Persia. As the Poles exited the tanker, they finally stepped upon free land. Stanley felt one step closer to home.

Chapter 48 Pahlevi’s Shores……………………………………….…..308

The English benefactors provided the troops with food and Persian money. Food was plentiful. The initial reaction of the malnourished former prisoners was to binge. Against the advice of the British, many Poles died as a result of excessive consumption. The British also purged the men of typhoid which was rampant.  The Poles were ordered to burn the clothes they has so recently been given.  For those who had experience massive deprivation, this seemed heretical. The beach in Pahlevi was transformed into a town of tent homes. This place of  freedom finally brought the Poles news of the outside world, free of Soviet propaganda. Stanley heard of the Polish forces in Norway and Tobruk and longed to join them. Persia, although independent, had been divided between the Soviets and British for the duration of the war. Pahlevi itself was in Stalin’s control. Stanley realizes God had helped him survive and God controlled whatever lay before him.

Chapter 49 Easter, 1942……………………………………………………...314

Altars were erected on the beach to celebrate Easter. The survivors thanked God for liberation and prayed for that of their families.  During that Easter service, Stanley found a substitute family. The warm sand and the soft breeze reminded him of his mother’s love.  He was surrounded by his brothers-in-arms, singing praise to their Heavenly Father.  The music of the waves increased the fervor of their hymns. Stanley was part of God’s family and no one could remove this home from him.  Salvation was his.

 

 

Table of Contents (for Part Two)

Chapter 50 Persia...........................................................316

Although now free, the ominous uniforms of the Soviet troops served as persistent reminders of the all too recent past. The huddled masses of refugee soldiers waited anxiously for the next trek of the journey, eventually freeing them of all traces of Soviet domination. On April 25, 1941 a long line of private cargo trucks appeared on the road by the camp.  At Kazwin, a rich Persian offered the soldiers sanctuary and nourishment.

Chapter 51 Iraqi Hospitality...........................................319

Stanley again wondered at the strange and wonderful relationship this people enjoyed with his British benefactors. Seemingly impervious to the Allied troops over-running their homeland, they continued to reach out in friendship. British altruism is in direct contrast to the Soviet attitude. One had replaced God and family with Stalin. The other relied upon the supremacy of God and family in all decisions affecting the governance of the populace. The former slaves slowly transform into the young men thay had once been before the Soviet treachery had destroyed them.

Chapter 52 Camp in Gedera...........................................323

Stanley revelled in his newly attained freedom, admiring the sand shining with the glint of gold. This was gold above the ground so different from the gold he had come to hate.  Stanley longed to join the ranks of the Polish fighting soldiers. Instead he is sent to a military hospital to recover from scurvy. At this point in time in Persia, Jews and Arabs seem to co-exist on a friendly basis. Stanley begins to study English from a Jewish teacher.

Chapter 53 “The Lords”.................................................327

Stanley follows his teacher’s advice and takes a bus journey to Tel Aviv.  He meets a group of Polish soldiers referred to by the appellation of “Lords”, a reference to the Poles who had fought the Germans and Italians on the Libyan front under the British command, and were thereby exposed to British culture).

They had escaped Poland in 1939 and were thus not subjected to Soviet persecution. He listened engrossed to their frontline stories. He accompanied them to a hotel in Tel Aviv. Clean bedding and sheets provided little remembered luxury. The group ends up at a Polish restaurant with menus printed in English. The “Lords” had no greater knowledge of the language than he.  When the group parts ways, Stanley has little expectation that they will meet again.

Chapter 54 Life in the Tent City....................................333

Gedera provided a cinema offering vicarious thrills to the former slaves. Stanley meets another friend who instills in him the dream of becoming a flyer.

Chapter 55 Return to Military Life................................335

When Stanley is finally deemed fit for combat, he returns to his unit to find it departed. Stanley was then assigned to the 4th Company in the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Carpathian Brigade. Here he meets many other survivors from his hometown.

Chapter 56 Exploring the Land of Jesus....................... 338

Stanley took advantage of his location to explore the area. The Moslems and the Jews seem to co-exist harmoniously. The soldiers purchase Jerusalem crosses believing in the power of their divine protection. Stanley begins his training on anti-tank guns.

Chapter 57 Tel Aviv.......................................................341

Stanley travels to the Red Cross in Tel Aviv in a fruitless hope of finding news of his family. The genocide of Katyn had just been discovered and Polish/Soviet relations were untenable. In September, the Jewish members of the Polish military were provided passes to celebrate their holidays with their families.  Many did not return to their units. Rumours of the Nazi death camps were beginning to surface.

 Chapter 58 Farewell to Palestine....................................344

Stanley’s unit is transported back to Persia by sea. Daily lectures detailed the sites they passed. Stanley relished any knowledge provided. The troops disembarked at the port of Basra.

Chapter 59 Protecting the Oil Fields..............................346

The British feared the Germans might try to enter the oil-rich territory.  Although this threat would not materialize for the Nazis were involved with Stalingrad at the time. Stanley was sent to an isolated place, far removed from cinemas as well as the war.  There was little to occupy the men’s time other than their own organized sporting events. Finding himself in the dunes of the desert, Stanley spent his time soul searching.  He decided that after miraculously surviving an arctic death, he ought to aspire to greater challenges than stagnantly waiting an elusive enemy in an arid desert.

Chapter 60 Joining the Polish Air Force.........................350

A request is sent asking for volunteers to join the Polish Air Force in England. Stanley jumps at the chance. Stanley began to envision his wild ambition within his grasp. At the camp for fliers, he once again runs into his friend from Kolyma, Richard.

Chapter 61 Baghdad........................................................352

On their way to the ship, Stanley observed the natives of Baghdad roam the streets, poor, emaciated, and shabbily attired. These people had once been slaves of the rich, but now liberated by the British, had nowhere to live and no way to feed themselves. In the name of humanity, the law bestowed upon them personal independence but failed to provide them with a life free of hunger, disease and poverty.

Chapter 62 The Devonshire.............................................354

November 26, 1942 Stanley was taken aback by the spectacular view of the Devonshire waiting at the dock for her passengers. This grandeur provided such a striking contrast to the soviet slave ship “Dzhurma”.  He reflected upon the beauty and lushness of his current surroundings and realized that his experiences had stimulated these parallels within his mind and thus allowed him to appreciate every minute detail. Five days later, the troops were deposited at an interim location in Karachi.

Chapter 63 India..............................................................357

Stanley found Karachi swarming with people. People of all races and nationalities had made this place their home. With no specific duties, the soldiers were free to roam the streets, except for the forbidden part of town.

Chapter 64 A Russian Without a Home......................... 360

Richard and Stanley meet an old Russian, a political exile, who invites them to his home.  The old man, surrounded by his Russian artifacts and memories of the Tsar, longed to be able to return. Stanley prays that this would not happen to him. He longs for home.

Chapter 65 Polish Refugees in Karachi...........................362

When a new group of refugees is brought to Karachi, the men rush to find family members and loved ones. Time and again, Richard and Stanley would journey to where the refugees were held and eventually their tenacity paid off.

Chapter 66 Rumors of Jewish Extermination..................364

Walking through the camp, Stanley runs across his Jewish friend, Amelia. Amelia has no knowledge of her family and fears that they are dead as she speaks of the death camps.  Stanley could not fathom such brutality for members of another race and seriously questioned her sources of information.  Stanley begins to fear for his family.  Would they be next? After 2 months, the soldiers are becoming inpatient to continue their journey. This time they are led to a shabby cargo ship which deposits them in Bombay..

Chapter 67 Bombay..........................................................368

The city of Bombay did not exactly welcome the arrivals with open arms.  Like unwanted guests, they were kept at the doorstep to be shoved away at the first opportune moment.  There was no ability to explore. Luckily a few days later, they were again on another ship.

Chapter 68 “City of Paris”...............................................55

This time the Poles boarded an elegant ship. Somewhere far away in other parts of the world, bombs were falling on cities full of people, ships were being torpedoed, tanks were razing the country, and people were dying from bullets and hunger.  In contrast, these troops enjoyed unbelievable comforts and extravagances.  On board, Stanley meets British soldiers who happily tutor him in English. Stanley learns of Conrad, while Richard learns algebra.

Chapter 69 Durban...........................................................374

This wartime “pleasure cruise” was once again interrupted when the troops reached the interim port of Durban in South Africa. At the very outset of this sightseeing tour, the Poles met with a rather unusual curiosity in a country now renowned for its apartheid policies.  They were surprised to see both white and black men working side by side in the port as common labourers.  This was distinctly in variance to conditions they had observed in any other cities along our way where only natives were used as the labouring force. The troops are lodged in the local race track and in its surrounding buildings and they take advantage all Durban has to offer.

Chapter 70 The Accidental Acquaintance.......................379

Living such a life of leisure while the rest of the world was embroiled in war should have been all one could ask for.  Unfortunately, a soldier with restricted financial resources was constrained in his expectations.  Money was a limited commodity. There were days when, depleted of money, one could not afford to venture into the city. On one of these occasions, Stanley comes across one of the “Lords”.  Marcus begins to speak of his love for a Jewish girl in Lwow. He had been in Rumania at the beginning of the war and was thwarted in any attempts to return home. Stanley mentions the rumours of extermination camps, which Marcus emphatically denies. The reality of such thoughts are too disturbing.

Chapter 71 “Empress of Canada”....................................387

On March 1, 1943, the Poles depart Durban on the Empress of Canada.  Stanley is allotted a place on the lower deck which had previously served as the crew’s dining room. The soldiers were richly compensated for the less than favourable conditions by the presence of female company on the upper deck.  The German U-boat captains commonly referred to the ship as “The Phantom” since she had escaped U-boat detection for three and a half years. Stanley again uses the time to learn the English language.

Chapter 72 Bitter Nights...................................................390

Each night crowds would form at the canteen to obtain a glass of the English “bitter”. The Poles who imbibed it to excess provided their sober colleagues with their own form of amusement. 

Chapter 73 Cruising the Atlantic......................................392

Once the ship passed the approaches to the Atlantic that they had expected to be infested with enemy U-boats, the atmosphere of the passengers became more relaxed.  The unruly waves became pacific; the sky shone clear and blue; and with each mile, the fear of the enemy diminished.  The girls walked back and forth across the deck teasing the poor male passengers to no end.  The scholastic group continued their education with the English teachers and the McCallum textbooks.

Chapter 74 Superstition.....................................................80

On the 13th day of the voyage, March 13, 1943, talk of superstition abounds. A rat is observed climbing the rope to the lifeboat. This instantly became a joke about rats being the first to leave a sinking ship. Laughter rang from everyone within hearing range and thus began a day-long conversation on rats, sailors and sea superstitions.

Chapter 75 Torpedoed.......................................................83

After the passengers retired for the night, an enormous explosion jolted the massive body of the ship, throwing the troops out of their hammocks. An Italian U-boat, the Leonardo da Vinci, attacked the vessel In spite of the obvious threat to human life, there was no panic, no screaming, no wild scenes on deck; just silence and disbelief.  With each beat of the alarm, the lights grew dimmer and dimmer.  Stanley follows a procession of ghostly shadows up the stairs. By the time Stanley reached the deck, he realized there were not enough lifeboats. The remaining passengers now became increasingly irritable. Having nowhere else to turn, Stanley slides down a rope into the sea.  Suddenly a motor boat appeared and hands reached out, pulling him inside and quickly departed the area. Suddenly a second explosion pierced the night sky.  For some unknown reason, a group of British soldiers began singing “Roll Out the Barrel.” The U-boat would not escape retribution. Two months later, she also would be sunk.

Chapter 76 Praying for Rescue..........................................404

The death of the Empress did not quench the screams.  Desperate voices lingered and then gradually died in the darkness.  At dawn, the rising sun revealed the magnitude of the night’s destruction.  Boats and rafts were strewn aimlessly across the water as far as the eye could see. It was the site of a battlefield although no corpses were to be seen.  When morning came, Stanley offered his seat on the boat to one of the Polish ladies, taking in exchange her place on a big square raft. The survivors kept their eyes focused on the horizon, hoping to catch sight of the coming rescue.

Chapter 77 Rescue at Sea...................................................406

It would be three days before the hungry dehydrated survivors saw the destroyers (The Boreas, the Petunia, and the Crocus) and one Ellerman line vessel (the Corinthian). Stanley transferred to a light cruiser named the “Karynthia” whose purpose was to ridthe sea of debris. Depth chargers were dropped into the water and cadavers surrealistically reappeared and floated above the waves.  The boat even found some lucky survivors.

Chapter 78 Freetown..........................................................409

On March 19, the boat dropped the survivors on the safe shores of the port of Freetown. After the last of the rescued groups arrived, losses were counted. Among the Poles, fifteen men and one woman were missing. Of the 1346 passengers, 392 would die, including 90 women and 44 crewmembers. Marcus was one of them.

Chapter 79 Travel on the Mauretania................................411

The survivors were transferred to the Mauritania. The atmosphere did not return to its former joviality. An all-encompassing solemnity was apparent.

Chapter 80 Reaching England’s Shores............................412

On the 8th day of April, about 4 p.m., the shores of England appeared in the distance.  The bright English greenery Stanley had heard so much about was not apparent as the ship docked at the gray, misty port of Liverpool.  A train waited to transport the Poles to a land conforming more to Stanley’s preconceptions.  His group found their way to a boarding house. Miss Feeney, the lady of the house, soon became known by the affectionate appellation, “Mam”.  The young Poles were all missing their families and “Mam” became their substitute.

Chapter 81 Holiday in Blackpool......................................414

The Poles certainly did not expect any compensatory treatment. However, the English authorities arranged for a stay in the holiday resort, such that they had almost two months of idle vacation.  The hospitality of the friendly English people and the attentions of the young ladies made the time a pleasurable experience. Within days, the young soldiers all found members of the gentler sex to guide them on their sightseeing adventures.  Due to Stanley’s comprehension of the English language, he became the chief letter writer for the group and consequently became the confidante of many of their love secrets.

Chapter 82 The Loss of Friends.......................................416

Stanley heard the Goodwood Hotel in the town center was the repository for all Air Force records.  This news was intriguing.  He was anxious to ascertain the whereabouts of friends from the past, specifically Stanley Zeromski and Stanley Schmidt.  He was dismayed to find the first Stanley had been making a raid over Germany when his plane was shot down.  The entire crew perished.  Stanley Schmidt had died during a training flight. Polish airmen were a crucial element in the Battle of Britain. At the peak of the fighting, approximately 12% of the pilots fighting over England were Poles. A Polish fighter squadron, No. 303, became the highest scoring fighter squadron in the Royal Air Force.  Stanley also learned the dismal fate of another high school friend, Zbyszek Warszylewicz.  He was a member of a parachute unit when he met with a training accident and was left an invalid. 

Chapter 83 Time Spent in the RAF..................................420

Stanley does not pass the medical exam and his dreams of becoming a pilot are finished. Instead he is assigned to the maintenance of the plane engines. Stanley felt futile while all his schoolmates were playing such a vital part in world affairs so he applied for a transfer to the ground forces.

Chapter 84 The Mystery Surrounding Sikorski’s Death  423

At the beginning of July, 1943, the Poles received the disturbing news of General Sikorski’s mysterious demise.  Rumors of assassination plots against Sikorski had been circulating for months.  It was not the first attempt made.  He had narrowly escaped a previous assassination attempt during a flight to Canada.  Poles questioned the authenticity of the accident report as all the crash reports remained classified. This was the catalyst that amplified Stanley’s desire to contribute to the war effort. His application to the ground forces was finally approved.

Chapter 85 Scotland Beckons...........................................425

In mid-September, Stanley journeyed by rail to Scotland. He walked through the streets of Edinburgh. He stepped gingerly inside the doors of the Cathedral, captivated by the solemnity and peace. This peaceful place of worship once more reminded him he had God to thank for his survival from the depths of hell. Little did he know at that time, that Scotland would be the home of his children’s ancestors.

 Chapter 86 The 10th Dragoon Battallion...........................428

Stanley joined up with the 10th Dragoon regiment under Maczek’s command. The original unit, the 10th Polish Cavalry Brigade, was designed to protect Poland’s eastern borders.   After heavy fighting on the northern side of the Carpathian range, the unit traversed the Hungarian border and was eventually reorganized in France.  Under the French command, the Division fought in Norway and in the Battle of France. After heavy fighting at Champaubert and Montbard, the 10th Mechanical Cavalry Brigade lost three quarters of its tanks. During the summer of 1942, the remnants of the original group re-formed in Lanarkshire.  The units remained severely under strength until Sikorski secured the release of Poles from the Soviet concentration camps. 

Chapter 87 With Time on His Hands............................... 431

Stanley tries to send a communication to his parents but receives no response. Stanley eventually realized the fulfilment of modern military training.  Having more military training than many others in the unit, Stanley was sent to Catterick to be  taught the anti-tank equipment.

Chapter 88 The Polish Situation........................................435

Stalin breaks diplomatic relations with the Polish government in exile and establishes his own government in Poland. Though difficult, the Polish troops tried not to allow this betrayal to affect their performance. The destruction of the Nazi forces took precedence.

Chapter 89 Rumors of Invasion..........................................436

The Allied troops hear rumours that an invasion of the European continent was imminent.  The Russians now held the upper hand on the Eastern front.  Italy was already invaded by the Allied troops from North Africa.  The Polish 2nd Corps had been involved in the fourth stage of the battle to capture Monte Cassino.  On May 17, 1944, General Anders had ordered his remaining reserves, made up of clerics, mechanics and drivers against the German-held fortress. They fought heroically and on the 18th captured the hill and the monastery.  Stanley became even more anxious to enter the conflagration. Life seemed to be passing him by.  He feared the  war might end before he got a chance to prove himself.

Chapter 90 Friendly Fire.....................................................438

Stanley is wounded while on the target range with another soldier. As the gunner discharged his weapon at the imitation tanks, the masking net flew over his face.  Stanley immediately reached to correct the situation. At that same instance, the gunner fired again.  Stanley was engulfed in the flames of the exploding shell. It was weeks before his skin returned to its natural hue.  His hearing loss would remain permanent.

Chapter 91 Preparing for Normandy..................................439

The invasion of Normandy began as the Polish soldiers await their orders. The evening before the troops were scheduled to leave for the continent, the unit received a delivery of brand new Canadian equipment, Lloyd carriers.  During their transfer, one of the drivers hit a house and his Lloyd was damaged.  The commander of the unit ordered Stanley and another soldier to transport the damaged vehicle overnight to an English warehouse.  It was imperative that he return before morning. He did not want to miss the opportunity he had been awaiting. The truck, obviously not designed to transport heavy equipment, soon overheated leaving the two men stranded at the side of the road.  Although they immediately called for assistance, none was forthcoming.  Stanley feared destiny was contriving to deprive him of a chance to serve.  Hour after hour, they sat anxiously upon the dark roadway. During the night an American jeep transporting drunken soldiers ploughed into the back of their conveyance.  Military police and an ambulance were called and arrived shortly thereafter.  With the Americans’ assistance they just barely made it back in time. An unlucky event provided their salvation.

Chapter 92 Landing on Arromanches.................................442

The Polish soldiers landed on Normandy and see the remains of the Battle. The Division reached Normandy with thirteen thousand men, three hundred and eighty-one tanks and 4,431 vehicles.  Evidence of the fierce fighting was still visible on the beach--- burned armour and equipment lay scattered like monuments memorializing the human sacrifice. On August 5, General Maczek paid a visit to the officers of the 1st Polish Armoured Division.  Here he announced they were to be attached to the II Canadian Corps under the command of CO Lt. General Simonds.  The Poles were assigned the liberation of Falaise. Stanley revelled in the knowledge. Finally, Stanley felt he would be given a chance to play a part in the adventure. Finally, he would be able to make a difference.

Chapter 93 Operation Totalize Aug 6, 1944.............................446

The Allies were having trouble supplying their troops so it became necessary to widen the Avranches corridor. The overall strategy of Operation Totalize was the capture of Falaise, encircling the German Seventh Army and the Fifth Panzer Army. This would deprive the German forces access for retreat. This maneuver required overtaking the enemy defenses south and east of Caen.  Rather than a full frontal assault along one straight frontline, this plan was compared to a door swinging closed.  With the Canadians and Poles in the North, the British to the West and the Americans to the South, each would advance, slowly closing the gap between them. Stanley’s unit was ordered to cross the River Dives and make a vigorous push southward in preparation for Phase Two. His unit was assigned the seizure of the area surrounding hills 170 and 159, immediately north of Falaise.  From there, they were expected to carry out a reconnaissance patrol in the arc made by the roads Falaise-Argentan, Mont-Boin, and Conde-Sur-Ifs. 

 Chapter 94 August 7, 1944........................................................448

The troops travelled through Normandy. A night assault was planned using heavy bombers followed  At 2300 on August 7, 1944 the bombers pass over the Polish positions to attack the Germans. Following this assault, the tanks began their advance.  The units followed, eight columns, four abreast, towards their respective targets. 

Chapter 95 The Polish Unit’s First Day of Battle, August 8, 1944...450

Stanley’s unit reached the ruins of Caen and crossed the Canadian held lines. Attached to a company of the 2nd Tank Regiment, Stanley’s unit pressed forward upon the bomb-damaged roads. Phase One of the attack had proven so successful that General Simonds had decided to combine Phase Two and Three. Both the Polish Armored Division and the 4th Canadian Armored Division were launched simultaneously to crush through the German second line. By noon on the first day of action, they had driven over two miles into enemy territory, as yet untouched by Allied visitors. With the Allies and Germans so enmeshed, it is difficult for fliers to determine where the enemy actually was. The Allied bombers dropped their load short upon their own troops. Exact casualties attributable to this attack would be difficult to determine. Reports stated 65 killed and 250 wounded.  Stanley slowly makes his way down into the valley of Cramesnil.  Suddenly the Polish tanks in in front of him are fired upon by hidden German soldiers. Eighteen Polish Shermans burst into flames. Captain Dudzinski and Cadet Officer Sawicki clamber out of their vehicle and are gunned down. Stanley watches helplessly as German tanks fire upon his fellow soldiers..

Chapter 96 Operation Totalize August 9................................ 460

During the night, Stanley’s unit advances with the aid of searchlights following the tanks of the 24th Lancers. As the afternoon sunlight dwindled into night, Stanley was ordered to remain at the perimeter of Estrees La Campagne until the Polish tanks returned. Abandoned damaged German tanks stood at the outskirts of the town, solemn reminders of war’s devastation. Stanley longed to forge forward, but the orders of his commanders took precedence. Stanley and his men set up camp for the night.

Chapter 97 Operation Totalize Aug 10....................................462

In the middle of the night, the unit is ordered to attack upon Estrees-la-Campagne. Military strategy was to liberate the small French villages, eventually merging with the British at Chambois.  By the morning of August 10, the Poles had liberated Estree-la-Campagne, but the forces had not achieved all the objectives. A Panzer division made of Hitler Youth still held control of the woods of Quesnay.

Chapter 98 Operation Totalize August 11...............................464

The Poles are ordered to clear the woods. .  But, these commands were soon altered. This continual change in orders concerned Stanley. The Corps Commander decided the area should be attacked by the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division instead. The Polish troops were ordered towards Mazieres.

Chapter 99 Jerusalem Crosses..............465

In the morning a truck arrives with fresh baked bread. Stanley rushes towards it to gather food for his men. He returns to find Cwil nusing an injury to his foot. An anti-tank projectile had bounced off its target and ricocheted off Cwil’s boot.  It had initially hit the exact spot where Stanley had previously been seated.  Divine intervention seemed determined to shield him. Stanley’s men felt certain they were guided by the hand of God.  The men gingerly fingered their Jerusalem crosses, assigning them talismanic power. They were one of the few units still intact, devoid of injuries or death. A Canadian unit is sent to relieve the Poles.  Their movement is observed by the enemy and a battle ensues between Stanley’s unit and the enemy. Enemy  fire impedes any chance of reaching the Laison River.

Chapter 100 Planning the Next Attack....................................467

Operation Tractable, a daytime attack is carried out, using artillery smoke to camouflage the action. Medium bombers were ordered to mortar enemy positions in the Laison Valley.  Two hours later heavy bombers would be used to attack the holdouts in the Quesnay Woods.  As the Polish troops proceeded through the Orne Valley the Germans began their counter-offensive. Opposition proved fierce. Determined to take the town, the troops tenaciously fought on and on.  At times the operation appeared fruitless.  But the men would not give up. By nightfall, the Allies had emerged victorious. 

Chapter 101Attackof Friendly Fire...........................................469

The 1st Polish Armoured Division along with the Canadian 4th Armoured Division was assigned the task of breaking through German lines in order to cut off the enemy supply lines and road junctions. Stanley’s unit took front line positions from the Canadians in the little village of La Croix. A Polish reconnaissance platoon was ordered into the woods to ascertain German control.  Immediately, two of the carriers were hit by an enemy attack.  About noon, Stanley learned the front line across the field was to be "softened" with aerial bombing by some 1000 Allied planes. The United States Eighth Air Force bombers began their barrage promptly at 1:30 p.m. in the area of Cauvicourt-St Sylvian close to Division Headquarters. Unexpectedly, one of the planes turned around and began dropping its load upon Stanley and his men. Stanley sought protection in a shallow trench and waited patiently for a bomb marked with his name.  Stanley and his men were the fortunate ones that day. First Canadian Army records showed 65 killed, 91 missing and 241 wounded. This resulted in 204 casualties to the Polish troops (1 officer, 47 OR’s killed; 103 OR’s wounded and 53 OR’s missing).

Chapter 102 Soldiers Day 1944................................................474

Stanley’s unit was again ordered to the front line. It was the Polish holiday, Soldiers Day. Stanley’s unit stood on the eastern flank of the II Canadian Corps.  This tactic would place them at the forefront of the corps’ advance that involved crossing formations on both the Laison and the Dives while engaged in battle.  The Canadian 4th was supposed to make a parallel advance through Trun but failed to meet its objective.  Therefore Stanley’s right flank was left exposed. The battle ensued throughout the day, particularly in the area of the railway station and the woods west of the station. By evening, this strategic target had succumbed.  The soldiers now had access to the roadway to their destination.

Chapter 103 Operation Tractable August 16, 1944..................478

The morning of August 16 General Maczek arrived to survey the Polish troops. He proudly observed Poles were now the sole large unit occupying the south bank of the river.  By rebuilding the bridgehead, they could now attack southward in direction of Lovagny. Concealed Germans attack them in Barou, but  Stanley’s unit continues forward, slowly penetrating the enemy position.

Chapter 104 Operation Tractable August 17, 1944.................480

Montgomery orders an advance on Falaise, only seven miles ahead. The offensive was designed to meet up with the American troops that had broken through at Cherbourg. The supply truck with the ammunition arrived late, so Stanley’s unit reached the battlefield just as hostilities are ending. Stanley and two of his men enter the battleground where tanks still smolder.  They come across a young wounded German soldier who begs Stanley to kill him. Once again, the Allies came under attack from the German rocket-throwers. And once again Stanley’s unit remained unscathed. A group from the French Underground meets the Poles and offers their services. Stanley’s unit continues through the enemy held territory. Random shots are fired towards them from the dark woods and they fire back just as randomly. BY evening, Stanley and his men reach a stone quarry. Throughout the night of the 17th the unit was attacked, but they are ordered not to return fire so that they would not expose their positions.

Chapter 105 Operation Tractable August 18, 1944................487

With very little sleep, the unit is ordered forward.  They encounter very little resistance. The weary soldiers camp for the night in an orchard. Stanley’s unit receives their last food for the next 3 days.

Chapter 106 Fighting for Chambois August 19, 1944............488

Stanley’s regiment along with the 10th motorized cavalry brigade was ordered to block the German retreat west, at a place close to Chambois.  Other Polish units move towards Mont Ormel. By the time Stanley reached the outskirts of Chambois (apprx 4:30 Aug 19), the units were all positioned for the momentous assault. Fighting for control of Chambois was fierce.  Every man was aware of how crucial this battle was.  Each fought with a vengeance. Stanley and his men were no exception. It wasn’t until 6 p.m. that other Polish troops finally met up with the Americans.  The Allied troops had split the German Division in two.

Chapter 107 Liberation of Chambois August 20, 1944...........491

The next morning, Stanley’s unit assumed positions in a hedgerow that ran parallel to the line of the town.  German troops still held positions behind the hedgerows in front, immediately northeast of Chambois. Stanley is ordered to center his fire upon the cemetery. Just then a group of Americans appears coming from the town. The town had already been liberated by the Americans.  Had the Poles followed orders immediately, they would have been firing upon their own allies. Stanley’s unit proceeds into town, but the bombed roadways prove problematic for the vehicles. The unit soon finds itself stranded in a pitch-black alleyway. They spend the cold night huddled together.

Chapter 108 Crossing the Orchard August 22, 1944..............494

At first light, the group works feverishly to repair the vehicle. As soon as they return to their unit, they are attacked. Stanley is ordered to the north side of the battlefield in order to protect a supply drop. Under fire, they make their way through the orchard. A pay book in one of Stanley’s men’s pockets protects the man from a deadly bullet. Another one of his men heroically storms a house and captures the German sniper. Without warning, Stanley and his unit suddenly become subjected to a barrage of friendly fire. The unit sought safety in the nearby trenches. The battle finally ends late in the afternoon. Allied troops enter the field and return with Germans with haggard faces waving white flags.

Chapter 109 Scavenging for Germans....................................498

Cwil and Lipa also decided to try their hand at scavenging for Germans. About an hour later, they were back. A company of Germans led by a man with a white flag appeared on the horizon.  Just behind them, rode Lipa and Cwil on a German vehicle, one as a driver, the other as guard. Other soldiers took their cue, entering the field, each group returning with their own prisoners. Many of the prisoners were Poles from the Wehrmacht region. With a critical need for reinforcements, some prisoners suddenly became Allies taking rifles and paybooks from the Allied dead.

Chapter 110 No Supplies........................................................500

The Allies are having difficulty supplying the troops at the front. Food, gasoline and ammunition were nearly depleted. Americans share their rations but cannot share ammunition which is of a different caliber. On the 23rd, a supply truck finally reaches the unit along with General Maczek who congratulates the troops.

Chapter 111 Victory at Mont Ormel………………………..502

Chambois had not been the only Polish victory. For seventy hours, the Poles held on to the hill as Germans attacked from all sides. Despite extreme losses, neither side was willing to admit defeat. Both wounded and corpses lay scattered over the battlefield and the hill. Supplies that are dropped land behind enemy lines. By the 21st, with the rumble of Shermans in the distance, the Poles engage in hand-to-hand combat with the Germans. TPoles emerged victorious and met the Canadians at the bottom of the hill. The Battle of Falaise was one of three decisive confrontations that determined the demise of Hitler’s once invincible army.  D Day on the beaches of Normandy was the beginning of the fight for the liberation of France, but Chambois, Mont Ormel and the other areas of the “Falaise Gap” were where Hitler’s occupation of France ended. 

Chapter 112 Warsaw Uprising...............................................509

While the Polish troops have been fighting in France, the Poles in Warsaw are being attacked by the Germans. The Polish only have enough provisions for seven days. Believing help was at hand, General Bor of the Home Army ordered the attack on August 1, 1944 at five in the afternoon. Three infantry divisions bolstered by thousands of civilian volunteers, rose up against their German oppressors. Within fifteen minutes, Warsaw’s million inhabitants were engulfed in the fight. Spurred on by promises of military assistance, the citizens of Warsaw believed they would only need to hold on for a few days.  The people fought the invaders with anything they could lay their hands on.  By the following morning the Polish flag could be seen waving from a number of buildings.  By the evening of August 3rd, some areas of the city had been completely liberated from German control.  And by August 4, Warsaw was once again under Polish rule.  Underground newspapers were sold openly on the street corners. Although the Polish Home Army continued their hold, the German resistance began to increase on August 5.  On August 6, the Luftwaffe began attacking Polish positions and the situation once again became tenuous. Polish citizens, women and children were summarily tortured and killed. Throughout the month of August the capital was besieged by tanks and aircraft, as the Poles desperately begged for help. The defenders of the city continued to fight valiantly in their isolated pockets, but no help appeared.  It was 1939 all over again. The Russian forces stood silent at the Vistula, eight kilometers away. As fuel and water and supplies were depleted, members of the Polish Air Force fighting elsewhere in Europe begged to transport the items needed.  Stalin refused to allow the Allied planes to use Russian landing strips after making the airdrops. It was not until September 18 that Stalin allowed American planes to drop some supplies.  It was too little, too late. Over 200,000 Poles were dead, 25% of the population. On October 2, with no water, supplies, or medical equipment, Warsaw surrendered.  12,000 survivors were sent to the gas chambers in Oswiecim. It would be the middle of January before the Red Army entered Warsaw.

Chapter 113 The Victory Procession......................................514

The Poles are heralded as heroes as they move through the liberated towns.  Continuing north, the soldiers felt like participants in an enormous parade of triumph.  Each village and town welcomed them with flowers and shouts of “Vive la Pologne!They soon realized if a town greeted the troops with a celebration, the Germans had fled.   It would be the only procession the Poles would be allowed to take part in.

Chapter 114 Abbeville..........................................................201

On September 1, the soldiers once again faced resistance.  The retreating Germans had organized their defense line in Northern France by the town of Abbeville. The soldiers fought with a vengeance. By evening, the infantry unit secured the bridgehead and the engineers built a pontoon bridge.

Chapter 115 The End of Serendipity.....................................203

On September 5, 1944 at the French-Belgian border town of St. Omer, Stanley’s men again encountered enemy opposition.  The battle for control of St Omer was important to the strategic Allied plan. Here the Germans produced the V2 bombs that had been launched against southeast England. After the attack on their previous production facility, this place was crucial to Nazi objectives.  Stanley was ordered to take a position on the raised ground facing a line of houses.  Along with Mitko and Marcus, he reached the arranged point with the anti-tank gun.  Cwil and Lipa drove the carrier into a ditch to unload the ammunition and are immediately hit.  The unit was dangerously aware it was forever altered.

Chapter 116 Crossing the Belgian Border............................522

European international borders had dissolved under the Nazi occupation. At the time Stanley Kowalski passed over the pre-war border of Belgium on September 6th, they were meaningless outposts.  With the crossing, the French campaign was over. The soldiers expected to meet resistance at Ypres, but none was discernible.  As they entered the town, they were ordered to take a position at the end of a side street. The street appeared empty.  Within moments, people began running in their direction.  An old man grabbed Stanley in his arms stating he had waited four years for that day. The next target was Dixmude in the region of Roulers that was reached on the 7th. The war-weary German troops surrendered without a fight.

Chapter 117 Bridgehead on the Ghent Canal………………524

The evening of September 9th, the unit again encountered Nazi resistance as they marched towards Aeltre to break through the heavy German defenses on the Ghent canal. The battle lasted through the night and into the next day. Each time the dragoons attempted to establish a bridgehead, they were thwarted by the enemy.  Opposition was formidable and the ground was not suitable for armed operations.  Roadways were built on narrow embankments, framed by trees making it especially difficult to maneuver the vehicles. By sundown of the second day the bridgehead was established and a bridge erected.  The troops resumed the journey into areas where the enemy still held territory. 

Chapter 118 Battle for the Canals...........................................527

As they traveled further from Normandy, the more important it became to establish closer supply lines.  It was imperative that control of the access routes to the port of Antwerp be secured. Allied troops had moved east so fast and far that adequate supplies could no longer reach them.  Port access was crucial. The Nazi defense line was beginning to consolidate. As the Allies approached the German border, Hitler reinforced his troops by imposing a universal draft.  Men previously exempt from service now found themselves conscripted into service.  Males from early teens to those in their 60’s were suddenly soldiers. Stanley was ordered to use his anti-tank gun to fire artillery shells to cover the movements of the 2nd Company of Lt. Bojanowski.  Throughout the day, he was in direct radio contact with the unit.  Stanley fired according to Bojanowski’s instructions, and the tactic appeared to be working well. At nightfall, he was ordered back to protect Regimental HQ. Stanley awoke to the sounds of a horrendous din.  Shellfire resonated from the area of the flooded ditch.  Everyone was ordered to move to the front line. About 0700 the Germans to the west attacked three isolated tank companies.  Stanley single-handedly attempts to fire upon a German tank. His efforts were in vain. When the battle finally ended, the fallen were buried in the local cemetery, the wounded were moved to military hospitals and the remainder continued the duty of liberation. Beginning on Sept 29 the entire Division began operations designed to clear the German troops from the area of Antwerp, fighting at Baarle Hertog, Ruyssede-Aelter canal and Terover. The final liberation of the Schilde Bay took place on November 3, 1944.  At that point, the mines had to be cleared and the port facilities repaired.  So, it was not until November 28 that the first Allied supply convoys reached Antwerp.

Chapter 119 Reaching Holland..............................................534

On October 6, Stanley crossed the Dutch border and was ordered to curtail the advance. Stanley was temporarily posted to the Training Company organized in Scheldt to assemble new recruits coming from France. He is housed with a family of missionaries and he savors the comforts of home.

Chapter 120 Assigned to Mortar Command.........................535

In October Stanley is offered the command of the 1st Mortar Platoon. Four mortar groups were placed under his command comprised of twenty men.  These would be his men when he entered the next stage of action.  They would still be strangers when they entered the fray the next day. Just before entering the village of Dorst, one of the carriers lost its tracks.  The same thing happened to one of the vehicles of the 2nd platoon.  Both were left with Ludyga, the dispatch rider, with orders to return after repairs had been completed

Chapter 121 Breda.................................................................538

It was late and extremely cold when the men finally reached the line of fighting on the south side of Breda. They barely had time to organize before the first salvo occurred.  The Germans had assumed a static position, ready to defend the town from any Allied infiltration.  Surprisingly, the Poles received orders not to respond to any German act of provocation unless directly attacked.  Emissaries from the town had been dispatched to General Maczek and had requested that he spare their ancient edifices.  When the Nazi “Infantrie-Geschitze” attacked, the Polish troops remained silent.  With each torrent of shrapnel, the soldiers fervently prayed the shells would not find a target. Breda was formally liberated on October 29 although the northeastern area was not totally cleared until the next day.  This was at a cost of 800 Polish men killed and wounded. News traveled slowly during the daily wartime drama. Months later Stanley would learn his dispatch rider, Ludyga, was attacked by German machine gun fire in the village of Dorst.  He was killed instantly and his entire crew disappeared.

Chapter 122 The Fosters.........................................................542

As November began, Stanley’s unit was pulled off the frontline and sent to Turnhout, in the vicinity of Breda for a much-needed break. Immediately upon entering the city, Stanley met a young girl. Her family welcomed the lonely soldier into their home.

Chapter 123 Protecting the River Maas..................................544

The men were re-fitted and assigned to protect a sector along the southern bank of the Mass River, a line of defense in a land criss-crossed by many natural and man-made waterways. They would remain in this area until the spring of 1945. The misery of war prompted soldiers to resort to a variety of frivolities, especially when there was not much else to occupy their time. Men barely out of their teens often respond by engaging in questionable behavior, possibly ending in death.

Chapter 124 Lena...................................................................545

For the winter the home of the unit was the village of Oosterhout, approximately ten miles from Breda. Stanley stays with an elderly Dutch man and soon makes friends with his granddaughter, Lena, a relationship which will last his entire life.

Chapter 125 Promotion..........................................................547

Stanley is promoted to an officer and awarded the Cross for Bravery.

Chapter 126 V2 in Antwerp..................................................548

After their turn at the outpost was over, Stanley and some of his soldiers took a weekend leave in Antwerp. Just after parting at the main railway station, he was greeted by the terrific blast of a V-2 rocket.  People sought shelter wherever they could. Stanley managed to take cover in the doorway of an old building as debris from the explosion rained down. . Stanley stopped for a cup of tea and cake at the NAAFI, a British military canteen, across the road.  Somehow, the thought of sustenance provided a semblance of familial normalcy to the frenetic afternoon.   A second explosion rocks the place. Bloodied, Stanley scrambled from the wreckage. After assisting the wounded outside in the streets, he makes his way to a pub. A Belgian woman invites him home to clean up. He returned to the station to find his soldiers waiting patiently.

Chapter 127 Christmas , 1944...............................................552

Just before Christmas, Stanley returned from the front to the 8th Battalion.  The Battle of the Bulge was creating a precarious situation forcing Captain Giera to relinquish his Christmas leave, and presented Stanley with a propitious opportunity to take advantage of an unanticipated Christmas holiday. Together with a few others, he made an overnight trip to Ghent.   Stanley joins a group of Canadians who celebrate Christmas Eve. While on a pub-crawl, Stanley discovered a Polish air squadron stationed nearby. Together, the Poles attempted to reconstruct a semblance of Christmas in the Polish tradition, singing carols and reminiscing of home, before returning to the unit the next day. New Year’s Eve 1944 was celebrated in the officers’ mess along with five other Poles.  They had every expectation that 1945 would bring about the end of the Nazi terror, and would return Poles to the land of their birth.

Chapter 128 Winter 1944......................................................556

With the escalation of military exercises, Stanley’s unit was ordered to return to action. They were assigned to the 8th Battalion in Walwijk with orders to protect the patrols crossing the River Mass.  It was not until January 5, 1944 that the weather improved enough to begin the operation.  Artillery began the offensive by shelling the opposite side.  Stanley provided the smoke screen for the platoon crossing the river.  The Germans reciprocated with their own mortar fire. Col. Zgorzelski arrived to speak to the troops. Front-line troops need ongoing reassurance that their commanding officers are aware of their situation. Morale was difficult to maintain particularly on the front lines.  Daily skirmishes in the harsh winter weather along with a continuing loss of friends fostered exhaustion. A command appearance did much to encourage the wet and war-weary troops.  Seemingly insignificant morale boosters provided a sense of confidence in the continued fight.

Chapter 129 Commanding the Outpost................................560

Stanley received orders to replace Sokolowski at the outpost.  The travel again took place after dark.  This time the enemy detected the movements.  The truck had barely reached the crossroads, when bombs began exploding.  Each discharge caused the earth to tremble and lit up the surroundings. There was no chance to fight back. Stanley fingered the Jerusalem cross as he vigilantly guided his men along the pathway and they eventually reached the outpost safely.   2nd Lt. Sokolowski’s front line duty had been quiet in comparison to the tumultuous welcome Stanley received. As Stanley sent a message to headquarters detailing the deteriorating situation, a loud blast emanated from the back window of one of the houses. Shrapnel had penetrated the wood barricade but was hindered in its objective by the steel cover of the telephone Stanley held.  This small piece of metal prevented the projectile from causing serious injury, just another gift from God.  As February came to a close, there was little exchange of fire from either side.

 Chapter 130 Mystery of the Lost Men................................565

Stanley finds out what had happened to one of his men who had disappeared in Dorst. In March, one of the four men lost at Dorst, returned from the hospital.   The injured driver had died in a hospital run by nuns. The remainder of the mystery surrounding the other three soldiers would not be uncovered for many years.  The dispatch rider, Ludyga, was killed by machinegun fire upon entering the village of Dorst.  (His name was mistakenly entered into the records as Galuba).  Cpl. Bochnik also died at the scene.  The third, Cpl. Galuszka was transported to a hospital in Nijmegen where he later died.

Chapter 131 Spring 1945.....................................................567

Stanley was assigned to the 3rd Company as commander of the 2nd platoon.  The unit travelled east, passing constant reminders of war’s destruction. In traveling along the boundary between Holland and Germany, it was often difficult to distinguish exact borders. Stanley enters a town bedecked with flags of surrender. The Germans had only recently fled and the Allies had not yet set foot in the place. He inadvertently became the first Allied soldier to enter.

Chapter 132 Oranie Canal....................................................571

On April, 7 1945 the regiment was ordered to the German border some 250 kilometers from Breda. They reached the Oranie Canal in the Dutch province of Drenthe on April 10. Orders were to cross the Oranie Canal, establish bridgeheads along its banks, and travel towards the town of Emmen situated between Holland and Germany.  Stanley’s men continued the advance through the woods, confronting a sand quarry with a row of houses across the canal.  Concealed German forces launched a machinegun attack. Three British Stuarts arrived to bombard the Germans on the reverse side of the canal.  Two homes burst into flames and the German machine guns faded into silence. Exhausted German troops spilled out of the wreckage, relinquished their weapons, and surrendered.  

Chapter 133 Emmen.............................................................575

The Polish soldiers enter Emmen and are offered rooms at a hotel recently vacated by the Germans. The next morning they are awoken by the sounds of cheering outside their windows. Many streets and monuments are named for the Poles who liberated Emmen. At the 50th anniversary of their liberation, Stanley would be honored.

Chapter 134 Marching Through Holland............................577

The Poles encounter opposition in Buinen. Stanley proceeds to a house where the fire had come from.  He opens the door and 2 Germans quickly surrender.

Chapter 135 Steinhager........................................................579

Civilian trucks appear. Stanley, exhausted from the previous night’s fighting, took a much needed nap. Sgt. Zienkiewicz woke Stanley from his slumber and requested Stanley accompany him outside. The mystery of the trucks became apparent. They had been filled with confiscated food and drink from the German troops.  The generous men inside the trucks had bestowed their contents liberally upon Stanley’s men. He attempted to find 4 moderately sober men to drive the half-trucks to Buinen.

Chapter 136 German Camps...............................................581

Stanley’s platoon stumbled upon a detention camp for German deserters.  Only one man remained, a middle-aged caretaker. The 2nd Tank Regiment had discovered a much more worthy place of detention.  They had located a camp of Polish female prisoners of war, taken during the Warsaw Uprising.  Soon, this site became a familiar hangout for men from every Polish unit.  Stanley received orders to inspect the woods in the  village of Borsum Intelligence had uncovered evidence of enemy concentration in the area.  

Chapter 137 Last Rites in Borsum......................................583

The reconnaissance platoon reported an encounter with the enemy in the forest.  The company commander prepared a unit to attack the woods. Stanley proceeds forward. As they approached the edge of the woods, the enemy fire fell silent. A strange quiet echoed. Stanley cautiously advanced upon the building and glanced behind for one last review of the men.  Just as he turned his head, he felt a blow upon his cheek.  The force threw him back.  At first, he thought a branch had grazed his face. As Stanley lifted his hand, a warm liquid flowed across his palm.  He tried to speak to Cpl. Grabowski but the words passing through his lips made no sense.  He realized his luck had just run out.  The chaplain performed his last rites, not realizing the bullet that had entered Stanley’s cheek had merely taken out his teeth.

Chapter 138 Hospitalized...................................................586

Stanley is sent to a hospital full of wounded soldiers. Wounded men lay in rows on the floor or on stretchers, all suffering and moaning. The clamor of wailing echoed throughout the expanse.  Bodies burned beyond human recognition cried for attention.  Blood bubbled through grey bandages, as doctors and nurses rushed from patient to patient attempting to suppress the flow.  Others, silent in their pain, quietly succumbed. 

Chapter 139 Yalta Agreement............................................589

A Polish flyer brings a radio into the hospital and for the first time Stanley hears that under the Yalta Agreement Poland will be given to the Soviets. Stanley hometown was offered up to the Russian gods.  The city of Lwow that, even in the partitions of Poland in the eighteenth century had remained Polish, was now incorporated into Russia.  At the beginning of May, Stanley is fitted with dentures and begs to return to his unit.

Chapter 140 Stanley’s Unit..................................................592

Stanley’s unit had continued fighting.   Along with the 2nd Tank Regiment, they had attacked the village of Borsum from the North, which was defended by a battalion of Hitlerjugend.  The youngsters, none older than eighteen, fought bravely with no respect for life. Throughout the month of April and the beginning of May the 10th Dragoons fought at Rhede-Hedersfeld, Rhede Borsum, Potshausen, Rhande, and Kleine Potshausen. The Germans were helpless to stop the massive invasion of the Allied forces.

Chapter 141 Allied/Soviet Victory......................................594

To most soldiers involved in the fighting, the victory promised the restoration of peace, and a return to their homeland, the home of their families and loved ones. The war is over, but Stanley’s family is still held prisoner by the Soviets.  It was a bittersweet victory for the Polish fighters.  They cannot go home. . The Poles, who had fought the Nazis from the very first day of the conflict, became victims of underhanded political manipulations and illegal treaties. Both Britain and the USA now recognized the Soviet government in Poland rather than the Polish government in exile. Over six million Poles had perished---for what? At this stage, the Polish Army was still fighting in Italy and Germany, fighting for what should have been the liberation of Poland. Although the war was officially over, Stanley’s unit also continued fighting. Although some Polish troops threatened to withdraw in protest of the agreements, still they honorably stayed to protect their comrades. The Polish soldiers remained loyal to their Allied counterparts who sold them out.

Chapter 142 The Crossroads...............................................597

Stanley would not be released from the hospital until the 27th of May.  With papers in pocket, he set off in the direction of Nijmegen expecting to find his unit.  The unit was now in Wilhelmshaven, close to the coast of the North Sea, one of the largest bases of the German Navy.  From this remote outpost, the Poles solemnly celebrated Armistice Day, a victory celebration for the Allied forces, but the death knell for Poland.  For an additional two years the unit remained as the occupation force in Germany.  At the end of which, Stanley was left alone and bitter at a crossroads in his life. Emptiness surrounded him.  He had to find a country that would offer him a home. The question was what country would it be and what job might he get. He opted for the hospitable realm of England. Stanley secured a scholarship to the School of Foreign Trade and Port Administration in London.  He packed his uniform away in mothballs, donned civilian attire, and prepared to follow a new route in a very disturbed life.

Chapter 143 The Victory Parade .......................................284

The ultimate humiliation came when the Poles were excluded from the Victory Parade in 1946.  In actuality, the Polish flyers were offered the right to march, but patriotically refused unless all Polish troops were allowed.  Roosevelt and Clement Attlee, the head of the Labor government, were concerned inclusion of the Polish servicemen would upset their Soviet Allies. 

Coming soon!