Thank you all for the replies ..
I think we all appreciate some human background stories, they tend to put some meaning behind events which we can never really fully comprehend.
Thank you all for the replies ..
I think we all appreciate some human background stories, they tend to put some meaning behind events which we can never really fully comprehend.
Thank you Gary!!!
and gives more life and meaning to the collecting!!!
This is a great memoir account from Cierniste drogi żołnierzy AK given to me by my good friend Mr. Zbigniew Zielinski former Secretary of State for veteran affairs in the Polish government and now an author:
Kazimierz Tkacz : A Polish resistance fighter who defends himself by shooting at the NKVD with a gun in each hand like a cowboy in a Western movie!
This is a real road of thorns story. Kazimierz Tkacz avoided capture at the hands of the Germans, the Soviets and the UB.
He was born in 1915 in Radomsko and came from a worker-peasant family with a tradition of freedom-fighters. His father served as a volunteer in 1920 during the war against the Bolsheviks. Brought up a patriot with a love for the army, the young Kazio joined the boy scouts, then the Rifleman organisation and the paramilitary Army Cadet Corps and PT Corps. He did his compulsory military service, completed NCO training school and, as a regular, was posted to the Frontier Defence Corps (KOP). He served on the southern Ukrainian sector of the frontier with the Soviet Union in Czortków, where initially the regimental commander was Lieutenant Colonel Stefan Rowecki psc.
When Sergeant Kazimierz Tkacz came home to his native Radomsko for a short leave in the second half of August 1939, his mother, who was concerned at the threat of war with Germany, gave him when he left a picture of Our Lady of Częstochowa saying: “Always keep this picture with you.” and she blessed him with a sign of the cross.
On his return to barracks in Czortków, Sergeant Tkacz learned that the KOP battalion in which he was serving was to be transferred from the eastern frontier to the frontier with Czechoslovakia in the area of Zwardoń and Istebna in order to reinforce the frontier guards there. This was a time of mobilisation and military preparation owing to continual German provocations.
The new area was somewhat similar to the eastern frontier, it was covered in spruce trees and was equally mountainous. The battalion was stationed somewhat behind the frontier which was guarded by the Border Patrol. The KOP was well equipped with automatic and armour-piercing weapons, additionally they had several all-terrain vehicles and horses for reconnaissance.
The night of the 31st of August/ 1st of September was peaceful and bright, with a full moon. There was complete silence, and only in the distance the sound of rutting deer and the occasional dog barking on the farms of the local highlanders could be heard. One could say that this was the proverbial calm before the storm.
So it was. At about 6.00 am it was announced on the radio that the little town of Wieluń between Częstochowa and Łódź had been bombed and that a German ship, the battleship Schleswig-Holstein, lying off the port of Gdańsk, had begun a furious bombardment of the Polish Hel peninsula. It was war. The KOP battalion was put on full alert.
The sound of aircraft engines could be heard coming from the west, but the aircraft themselves could not be seen in the blue sky. The platoon commanded by Sergeant Tkacz dug in on a hill overlooking the road from the frontier post at Zwardoń. At around 7.00 he gets a call from the Border Patrol that a column of armoured vehicles and a group of motorcyclists have crossed the national frontier and an exchange of single shots is about to take place. The KOP men can see the indicated column moving along the road. Sergeant Tkacz passes the order along the improvised line: “Look out, the enemy is in our sights.” When the column was about 150 metres away, the order “Fire” was given. The anti-tank gun fired and hit the leading armoured vehicle, blocking the road. Kazimierz Tkacz is next to a machine-gun. The battalion CO passes the order down the line: “Open machine-gun fire.” They have the motorcyclists following the armoured column in their sights. A quick squeeze on the trigger and a burst of rounds hits the motorcyclists. There is confusion in the German ranks and there are dead and wounded. Tkacz turns his weapon on the next group and the scene is repeated. But this did not last long. A German mortar battery opens up from over the hill and rounds hit the KOP positions. There are some initial dead and wounded, amongst whom is Sergeant Kazimierz Tkacz. A grenade splinter hits him in the leg. At first, the wounded man is unaware that he has been hit, but after a moment he notices a tear in his trousers with blood seeping through. A medic was close by and bandaged the wound. There was a splinter about 2 cms long stuck in the calf muscle and so the wound was several centimetres long. Tkacz hobbles up to the CO. He says: “I’ve been hit and it’s the first day of the war, but I want to go on.” The battalion commander receives an order from Cracow Army HQ to withdraw to the north and take up positions on the outskirts of Cracow.
The wounded Kazimierz Tkacz refused to be taken to the field hospital in Cracow. He rides on a supply wagon. The KOP battalion receives a further order to withdraw in the direction of Rzeszów and then to the area of Tomaszów Lubelski. It was already the 16th day of the war. Cracow Army was in a very bad strategic situation. On one side were the attacking German panzers, and on the other the threat from the east, the proverbial ‘knife in the back’, when Cracow Army and other units of the Polish Army were trying to regroup and launch a counter-attack before the Bug and the San as well as open up an evacuation route to Romania through Zaleszczyki.
Despite the critical situation, the men’s spirits were excellent. They counted on France and Great Britain eventually reacting and opening a front along the Maginot and Siegfried lines with the allied air forces bombing important German strategic points. Therefore, they had to stay at their posts. Kazimierz Tkacz jumps down from the wagon and runs over limping to a machine-gun post. The gunner is squeezing burst after burst into the advancing German infantry. Suddenly he is hit and falls over dead. Sergeant Tkacz pushes the dead man aside and himself pumps bullets in the direction of the enemy. He sees them fall convulsively one after another. Suddenly he is hit twice again. A round from a German field gun hits the machine gun and tears off three of the gunner’s fingers. A moment later a dive bomber drops a bomb and ‘Karol’, hit in the head by splinters, and losses consciousness.
This is how he recalls this incident:
All I can remember is that a medic ran over to me and grabbed me by my arm, which fell limp and that I could not say anything. He called out to the doctor: “He’s dead.” Then my screen went blank and I do not know what happened to me after that.
The next day, or the maybe it was the day after, I suddenly regained consciousness and saw a white canvas ceiling. I slowly look around me and see some figures in white gowns speaking German. A moment later I feel German doctors changing my dressings on several wounds, which they are sewing up. A nurse is putting a new dressing to my lips and I feel giddy. I do not know how many times I regained consciousness. When I came round a after a few days a German doctor said: “Die wunden werden heilen und Du wirst leben (The wounds will heal and you’ll live).” They brought a little bag and hung it next to the bed. These were the documents taken from my pocket. The picture of Our Lady of Częstochowa, which my mother had given me before the outbreak of war when I was saying goodbye in Radomsko, was also there. That’s a good sign, I thought. After a few days I could get up and move around on crutches. I had bandages on my leg, my head, my stomach and my arm. If I could have seen myself in a mirror, I would not have believed it was me. Fortunately, there was no mirror.
…One day an officer came to the field hospital and spoke in German, with an interpreter repeating in Polish: “Wounded German soldiers are being evacuated to a hospital in Cracow, but wounded Polish soldiers will come under the care of the Soviets who are occupying this area in accordance with border agreements. German forces are withdrawing to their zone.” A terrible fear gripped me - they did not know much medicine and even worse they might kill me, for rumours were flying that in Luftwaffeów they had murdered officers and innocent civilians who had not greeted them. There were several wounded Polish soldiers amongst the many Germans in the field hospital. As the Germans were packing their gear, we waited to see what would happen. Several Soviets arrived behaving boisterously. Some of them seemed to be tipsy. This was also the first time that we had seen the red star on caps. When the Germans were leaving the field hospital, one of them came back for something together with a nurse. I beckoned them over and got them to understand, using gestures and a few words of German, that I wanted to get away from the Soviets. The German said nothing and did not react. The German nurse, however, took me by the arm and led me out of the tent pushing aside the Soviet officers standing there. She said something to them in German. I am convinced that they did not understand, but at the time they had respect for their allies. When she put me into a vehicle with a red cross, she got me to understand that she too was a Catholic and that communists did not believe in God. Then I was put onto a train with wounded Germans. When the train started to move, I thought anything to bring me closer to my Radomsk
Kazimierz Tkacz found himself in a hospital in Cracow where the staff was Polish and German. He thought to himself that this was a good situation, although the hospital was guarded by German sentries and the wounded Polish soldiers were still treated as prisoners of war. However, he began to think that when he had improved a bit and could move around on his own, he might manage to escape. This is how he recalls it:
The doctors and nurses in the hospital were mixed – Germans and Poles. Amongst the Polish nurses were some nuns, I no longer remember from which order. It was then that I thought that only they could help me escape. One day a number of doctors arrived and examined me, then I was brought a form filled out in German. I still have it. It contained a description of my wounds and a statement by a board that I had lost 75% of my health, in other words I was a war invalid. On the one hand, I was glad, on the other I kept wondering how to get away. One day when I was alone for a moment with a nursing sister I told her that I wanted to escape from this hospital, and could she help me by bringing some civilian clothes. I would change and walk out lost in the crowd of civilian hospital employees. So it came to pass. This nun also put a little money in my pocket. I immediately went to the railway station and took a train to Kielce. There I changed for Częstochowa, from where it was but a short distance to my native Radomsko. When I got home, my family at first burst into tears at my dreadful appearance and then started hugging and kissing me. I told my mother: “Mummy, I’ve had that religious picture with me all the time and I’ve still got it.” I took it out of my pocket and showed it to her.
He stayed at home for a dozen or so days telling his family and friends about his path of thorns from the very first days of the war. One could certainly say that he had survived by a miracle. But what would have happened, had he remained in the Soviet zone of occupation? The local doctor in the county hospital looked at his fortunately healing scars. He prescribed some medicines, peace and good food. Many acquaintances visited Kazimierz at this time, including some of his school friends Stanisław Janiszewski and Witold Piwoński. It was they who told him that a secret armed organisation called the Union for Armed Struggle (ZWZ) had been formed in Radomsko. Tkacz was so interested in this that he decided to make immediate contact. This was not difficult, since the ZWZ organisers in the area were also friends of his: Marian Nitecki (a pre-war officer in the 1st Regiment of Light Horse), Stanisław Sojczyński (before the war a teacher in the village of Rzejowice and then just before the war a school head in Bór Zajaciński near Częstochowa and a reserve officer in the 27th Infantry Regiment in Częstochowa.
They had a meeting in mid-1940. He was sworn in by Lieutenant Marian Nitecki ‘Pikador’ ] and Lieutenant Stanisław Sojczyński ‘Zbigniew’ (later ‘Warszyc’). Kazimierz Tkacz took the nom de guerre ‘Hardy’ (later ‘Karol’). Although he wanted to be active, he was told to let his wounds from September 1940 heal. At the beginning of 1941, Kazimierz Tkacz started recruiting proven people to the organisation. Weapons were stored and secured, and young people who had not yet ‘smelled gunpowder’ were trained. A sector, the equivalent of a county, was formed in Radomsko, with sub-sectors the equivalents of local districts, and outposts in the largest villages or forester’s lodges. The first underground organisation was formed: radio monitoring.
Meanwhile Nazi terror was growing and there were numerous arrests and even public executions. ‘Hardy’s’ hands were itching to avenge this human and material damage with a pistol. In 1942 he uncovers some agents, in other words Gestapo and field police informers. There was not long to wait before the sentences on these traitors were carried out. Various acts of sabotage were also organised. In 1943, in revenge for arrests and executions, an ambush was set up for the head of the German field police in Pławno, the infamous persecutor of Poles Schwarzmajer. The sentence was carried out on the main road between Radomsko and Pławno. ‘Hardy’ and some of his friends took part in this operation. In the attack on the head of the Gestapo Willy Berger and his deputy Johan Wagner the sentence was carried out by Second Lieutenant ‘Robotnik’ (Bronisław Skoczyński) and Officer Cadet ‘Staw’ (Zygmunt Czerwiński). Kazimierz Tkacz, that is ‘Hardy’, covered the operation and organised the withdrawal after the sentence had been carried out.
When in August 1943, on the basis of a tip-off, the Germans carried out a round-up in the village of Rzejowice, called by them Banditendorff and burned some homesteads and arrested several dozen peasants and Home Army members, the Kedyw commander ‘Zbigniew’ (Stanisław Sojczyński) immediately decided to rescue the prisoners. Therefore, he rounded up 105 partisans and 50 wagons to carry the partisans and the rescued prisoners. He split the partisans into 5 groups, of which 4 were to cover the German barracks and posts, while one was to make the direct attack on the prison. Second Lieutenant ‘Robotnik’ (Bronisław Skoczyński) commanded the assault team, while his 2 i/c, Officer Cadet ‘Hardy’, was entrusted with leading the team through the streets of Radomsko and the actual assault on the prison. ‘Hardy’ daringly overcomes every obstacle and, after they have blown up the gates, the partisans are inside. They then overpower the prison guards, open specific cells and release the prisoners. The Germans raise the alarm, but the covering detachments pin them down with machine-gun bursts. The prisoners are loaded onto the wagons and there follows an evacuation which is covered by ‘Hardy’. Altogether 56 prisoners were freed, including 46 Home army men and 11 Jews. The partisans suffered no casualties. A few days later the BBC in London carried a report on this daring large-scale operation. For the operation the commander, Lieutenant ‘Zbigniew’ (Stanisław Sojczyński), received the Virtuti Militari, while Second Lieutenants ‘Robotnik’ and ‘Postrach’ and Office Cadet ‘Hardy’ received the Cross of Valour.
In mid-1944 a re-organisation of the Home Army structure takes place. Two Home Army regiments, the 27th and the 74th, are formed in the Radomsko, Częstochowa and Włoszczowa sectors. Each had two battalions and each battalion had between 2 and 4 companies and so on. Kazimierz Tkacz, after completing Home Army officer training school, is promoted Second Lieutenant and becomes a platoon 2 i/c in the 74th Regiment. He takes part in a great many operations in the above-mentioned sectors.
When the march to relieve fighting Warsaw was ordered, the doctors checked the soldiers’ physical endurance ahead of such a long march of over 200 kilometres. Kazimierz Tkacz failed because he was not fully fit from his 1939 wounds. Despair followed; he could not imagine this march taking place without him, particularly after he had heard on the radio that the Germans had been murdering not only insurgents, but the civilian population. Eventually, after an intervention by Second Lieutenant ‘Robotnik’, Kazimierz Tkacz is allowed to take part in this difficult and dangerous march. When they reached the Kielce ‘Jodła’ Corps’ assembly-point in the area of Przysucha on the 26th of August 1944, they learned that the relief march had been called off by district HQ, for the Rising was dying down. Kazimierz Tkacz ‘Karol’ took this badly. He decided to avenge the damage inflicted on the inhabitants of Warsaw and take an active part in so-called Operation ‘Tempest’ in his own area.
He took part in a number of operations, including blowing up German trains on the Warsaw-Częstochowa and Częstochowa-Kielce lines. The high point of his struggle with the Occupier was the five-day battle in the Włoszczowa forests between the 25th and the 30th of October 1944 where the ‘Las’ battalion, supported by ‘Wojna’ battalion, including a company from the Peasant Battalions, forming the 74th Home Army Regiment moved from the defence to counter-attack causing the Germans considerable losses of men and materiel. Amongst other things, they took 99 prisoners, three wagons of arms and ammunition and an 81 mm mortar. Second Lieutenant ‘Karol’ received a bar to his Cross of Valour for his conduct in this action.
The winter of 1944/45 was approaching and many of the detachments were stood down for the duration of it. There remained a so-called skeleton detachment, which in the spring was to reconstitute the previous armed underground formations. Second Lieutenant ‘Karol’ (Kazimierz Tkacz) continued to be active and on the 3rd of January was present at the meeting with General ‘Niedźwiadek’ (Leopold Okulicki) the Home Army Commander-in-Chief which took place in the Zacisze forester’s lodge near Radomsko. Then, on the recommendation of the CO of the ‘Jodła’ District, Colonel ‘Mieczysław’ (Jan Zientarski), the general gave him his commission. He also decorated Kazimierz Tkacz and several other officers with the Virtuti Militari.
When the Soviets arrived in the area and Lieutenant ‘Robotnik’ and his 2 i/c were unaware of the Home Army Commander-in-Chief’s order disbanding the Home Army, they came across a retreating German unit in the forest. A firefight began and Lieutenant ‘Robotnik’ came within an inch of being killed, but beside him he had his reliable friend and first-rate riflemen Second Lieutenant ‘Karol’, who decimated the Germans with his automatic pistol.
The time came to come out into the open, for there was a threat of arrest by the NKVD and the UB. Despite being urged by ‘Robotnik’ to come into the open, ‘Karol’ decided to fight on, making contact with Lieutenant ‘Warszyc’ (Stanisław Sojczyński) who was forming a new armed partisan organisation called the Underground Polish Army (KWP).
It was at this time that ‘Karol’ learned of his mother’s death. He decided that he had to bid her farewell. His friends warned him not to do so assuming that the NKVD and the UB would take this opportunity to ambush him. To this ‘Karol’ said: “I must see my dead mother, even if it means my death.”
He loaded two Colt 12 pistols and headed home. He went inside and knelt down by his deceased mother, said a prayer and placed the picture of Our Lady of Częstochowa in her hands, then he kissed her forehead and left the house. There he saw men from the NKVD and the UB standing with weapons pointed at him. At the shout of “Hands up” in Russian ‘Karol’ slowly began to raise his hands. Then they lowered their barrels, confident that that they had in their hands a ‘bandit – a dwarf of reactionary filth’. In a fraction of a second, ‘Karol’s’ hands are inching inside his jacket. He shoots at them a gun in each hand, like a cowboy. The surprised attackers raise their weapons, but ‘Karol’ makes a lightning dart to the side behind one fence, then another. They shoot at him, but miss.
Recalling this incident, Kazimierz Tkacz says: “This symbol of our faith, the picture of Our Lady of Częstochowa, must have saved my life again. I resolved to continue hiding in the forests, for there was nothing else I could do. Once with my boys from the forests I ambushed a train with Soviets who were transporting requisitioned cattle from Germany. We stopped the train with bursts of automatic weapons fire. The Soviet soldiers surrendered. We told them that ‘We are free Polish soldiers and that we will not shoot at men surrendering, but we shall hold you until all the cows have been unloaded.’ We immediately informed all the neighbouring villages so that the peasants could take the cows. Some of the cows were not claimed and for some time wandered around the forest like deer, but were later caught by the peasants.”
Kazimierz Tkacz continued to be active, taking part in actions against the NKVD and the UB. He even wanted to mount a raid by a larger KWP detachment to rescue from prison in Łódź Captain ‘Warszyc’, who had been treacherously arrested in Częstochowa, but his friends, especially Lieutenant ‘Robotnik’, restrained him, for there would have bloodshed and loss of life, and it was unclear whether they could rescue ‘Warszyc’.
‘Karol’ continued to stay in hiding. He did not respond to announced successive amnesties to give himself up. He survived until the so-called ‘thaw’ and then came into the open. A UB officer told him: “You were lucky, for we made sweeps for you several times, but you always managed to get away.”
When, many years later, Kazimierz Tkacz applied for a war disability pension, the board turned him down. At that time former Home Army men were not normally granted disability rights. Eventually after further attempts, a board as a favour recognised a 30% loss of health. At that Kazimierz Tkacz produced the document from the German Military Medical Board of 1939 declaring a 75% loss of health, thus shaming his ‘fellow countrymen’ on the biased board, which at that time was awarding disability pensions to others for no real reason.
Starting in 1990 Kazimierz Tkacz nearly always took part in veterans’ events commemorating the battles of Home Army soldiers. He usually served as an altar boy or read the lesson in army uniform. He has been depicted in many books on the history of Home Army operations in that area. After successive promotions, he reached the rank of colonel in the Polish Army. He was also president of the Radomsko branch of the World Association of Home Army Soldiers working actively to erect monuments and memorial plaques and providing assistance for the poorest and sick comrades. He was well liked and valued not only in his circle. His last public appearance was the presentation of the 27th Home Army Regiment’s colours to the Knights’ Hall at Jasna Góra. This is what he said just before his own ‘final parade: “I tried to be faithful to my God and Country. God now is summoning me and maybe he will forgive me for my mistakes.”
From an interview with General Marian Nitecki taken in 2004:
Colonel Marian Nitecki (1913-2008) pseudonym: 'Pikador' ('Picador')
I am the last living officer of permanent active duty of the 1st Regiment of Light Cavalry.
During the World War II, I was a commander of the 3rd platoon which was commanded by cavalry captain Orpiszewski. I went all the combat trail from Chorzele to Biłgoraj taking part in delaying fights against Germans. Finally, near Sucha Wola we were surrounded by Russian, Soviet and German armies. We were not able to force our way to Hungary any more. Each reconnaissance party sent in the direction of Hungary was shoot dead. Therefore we made a meeting in a presbytery in Józefów. There were quite a lot of us, old brigade officers. I remember general Filipowicz and general Piekarski. We were wondering which army we should surrender to... Who should we be taken prisoners by... Should we surrender to Russians or Germans. Some of my comrades surrendered to Russians. I decided to surrender to Germans. Because I was hoping that I would be able to escape during our transport. Especially that we had to be transported through Polish territories. And that's what happened.
We were loaded on trucks, altogether there were about 800 officers. Our transport into Germany started before the dusk. And I managed to escape. I was sitting in a trailer next to general Filipowicz, a commander of the Volhynian Cavalry Brigade. At some point the general told me 'Listen to me, lieutenant, there is a great chance to escape. Look backwards!' I looked back and saw that the car with three Germans who were supposed to watch us from behind lost contact with us. They could not see us as we were driving uphill. At that point I decided to jump out of the truck. We were in a village called Bogucice. My comrades helped me and threw me a bundle where I had my civil clothes. And I jumped out of the truck. I run to a farm nearby and saw a woman doing her laundry. I told her that I escaped from Germans. "Could you hide me somewhere?" She looked very worried and then came her husband. He took me behind their barn. I waited there until all the trucks passed the house. Then I changed my clothes, bought a bicycle, and I somehow I managed to get on this bicycle, in civil clothes to get home, to Radomsko. When I returned home I got spotted and I made a contact with right people. I was spotted by a town mayor who was a patriot and a legionary. I knew him since I was a child. His name was Kwaúniewski. When he found out that I returned home from the war he asked me for meeting with him. I was told that general Tokarzewski set up an organisation called Służba Zwycięstwu Polski (Service for Poland's Victory). I was asked if I wanted to become a commandant for Radomsko district. I agreed, chose a pseudonym "Pikador" and begun my work for independence. I was given a contact for a teacher in Dziejowice. I came into contact with him and I swore him into the organisation. He started to develop a local structure in Przedborze, Radomsko, Całkowo and Warszyce region, I took care of the area of the town.
However, after some time I was tracked down by some Germans with whom I had gone to the same school. At that territory there were some German colonists who sent their children to local schools. They spotted and warned me to be careful, that I am going to be arrested and that I should vanish. So, after very short period of time, after few months of my activity I had to leave Radomsko. I had a friend who was an owner's son of Słupia estate in Jędrzejowice district. I went and found there in hiding major Królikiewicz of the 1st Regiment of Light Cavalry. My friends and his parents gave ma a warm reception and after few days they accommodated me in a forester's lodge in Czarny Las.
Once I became a forester in Czarny Las I had great opportunities to organise cadet officers courses for members of Armia Krajowa who did not serve in the army. As well as several boys who I trained for several months. In my lodge were organised secret underground education, there were even exams of the Jagiellonian University.
At that time, when I was still a district commandant we performed several combat missions.
One of them was a distillery transport mission. There was a distillery in Słupia which transported several thousand litres of spirit to Charúnica. There was formed a column of wagons which was guarded by Germans. Each of the wagon was guarded by two German soldiers with machine guns.
The entire convoy was moving to Chraúnica. At that time I was not a partisan, I did not live in a forest,
I was only a commandant of the district with Słupia as an outpost, together with my boys we performed the mission. We disarmed the Germans. All barrels with spirit were hidden, buried in a ground, in a forest. We used the spirit not only for drinking, it was mainly used as a currency for which we could buy weapon and ammunition from Germans. Most of the spirit was used exactly to exchange it for weapon.
Later there was the Warsaw Uprising. I got an order from the district commander to organise a reconnaissance cavalry unit. I already had a few selected soldiers who could ride horses or had something to do with horses and in the beginning I first recruited 28 people. We secretly organised ourselves, each with his horse, we also had uniforms given to us by landed gentry, they saw us a very decent clothes and uniforms, we were also given horses, saddles and the rest of equipment.
Together with 28 people we started our partisan activities, and I become a commander of cavalry reconnaissance party. At the beginning there was no division yet, so our reconnaissance unit was not divisional but battalion.
The battalion which was commanded by Jur ĺwiderski, and Marcin as the second in command. I took part in all battles fought by this battalion. When there was formed a division I joined it as a protection unit of divisional headquarters and one of the battles in which I took part was the battle near Krzepin because we were moving to help Warszawa but later the order was withdrew and we came back on our former quarters and so we stationed in properties of count SiemiŇski... Where was it?... In Krzepin. We stayed there for a three days, I remember the weather was great. In the morning we were woken up by a howitzer shot and a burst of machine gun. It turned out that we were surrounded, that we were attacked by Germans. I went to the stable and ordered to saddle the horses and tighten the girths. I commanded the entire unit for infantry fighting. Only horsemen stayed with the horses. In a meantime I met Marcin who gave me an order to organise a defence of the manor house, and that I had at my disposal a radio guard platoon and my reconnaissance party which consisted of almost forty knights at that time... The entire park and estate was surrounded by a wall of about 130 cm high so we had a great protection and could hold our fire. I saw Germans at the edge of the forest shooting to us from their posts but the distance was too large and it was no use of shooting our ammunition. I told my people that we would open the fire in case of German storming and a short distance do them. That's what we were expecting but it all went slightly differently...
There were those two huge haystack and Germans started to get closer to them and hide behind them,from that position they kept shooting in the direction of the manor house. We did not shoot a single bullet. We were waiting for them to start attack and when they will be close enough to open the fire. And that's what happened. The fight finally started. We repelled German soldiers and made them to go back into the forest. They tried to attack the estate twice but from our side there were no further shooting. It seemed that we had left our positions and they started to move in a line formation again in our direction. Once they got in a shooting distance they were repelled again and forced to go back to the forest. We were fighting like that for several hours. Then the shots suddenly stopped. The Germans ceased shooting and I was wondering what could caused it. It turned out that Marcin and Andrzej company managed to get to the rear of attacking troops and took all German soldiers prisoners.
I got an order from Marcin who sent me a liaison officer that the headquarters of division, regiment and battalion had moved... had moved behind the ponds and further into the woods and that they were in a safe location.
After retreating from Krzepin we moved to Radków and further to... What was the name? Kossów. There was a five day long battle with Germans. The Germans even used planes for tracking each our moves. During this battle our companies took prisoners over ninety Germans. There was also a lot of weapons. I remember 12 light machine guns, 30 submachine guns, 30 carbines, 2 wagons of ammunition, and 16 horses with all equipment.
That was the greatest partisan battle fought in that period by partisan units, during which I was twice wounded and got help from 'Tulipan' ('Tulip'), I remember. When we were retreating through the ponds I got a machine gun burst, the horse I was riding was killed and there were two other injured with me. I was led to the division headquarters where 'Tulipan' was and he helped me. There was also a military chaplain...
'Burza', pseudonym 'Burza' ('Tempest'). I took part in many other battles for which I was distinguished and decorated by general Okulicki with the Virtuti Militari Order. After disbanding of my troop and returning home I went into hiding in Łagiewniki near Przyborze.
Once a week I used to visit my home where my wife stayed. For me that was a second occupation. I had to hide, change my name... I moved to the Masurian District and changed my name to Marian Baryła. I worked there for several years. And then I disclosed my true identity. After that I was constantly considered a bandit by the authorities and was arrested 13 times! I was arrested to check me up. Once, when a cashier woman was murdered and robbed I was arrested for three days and had to explain what I had been doing at that time etc. Then they let me free. When there was this 3xTAK (rzy razy tak)referendum I was distributing leaflets and I was also arrested for that. When 'Łupaszka' was travelling to the Western Pomerania he stayed at my home for three days. When he was leaving he ordered me to report this fact at the police station. When I did it they locked me up for four days. I always felt as if I was still under occupation. I was hoping that I will live in free Poland but I constantly had to hide and live with my 'odd past'.
Presently, I help to maintain the tradition of the Polish Cavalry by supporting the 1st Division of Light Cavalry of Józef Piłsudski , and they help me in return. From them I received this wonderful uniform which I am wearing at the moment. They take a great care for me, invite me for all ceremonies, especially that I am a chairman of the committee awarding regiment decorations to distinguished light cavalrymen and soldiers of this unit. When I recall all my old friends, comrades and light cavalrymen I hum some old Polish songs praising the 1st Regiment of Light Cavalry of which they were singing 'Cheer up young cavalryman, you have protection in the Belvedere... Lances for fighting, sabres in your hands, go for Bolsheviks, go, go, go'.
* * * *
Brigadier General Marian Nitecki was promoted to rank of Brigadier General on August 15 2007, the Day of the Polish Army, on the anniversary of the Miracle on the Vistula. He received the honorary position at the Presidential Palace from Polish President Lech Kaczynski. A year later President of Poland awarded him the Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of the Polish Renaissance. He died in 2008.
Thank you George for posting this.
All thoughts and opinions expressed are those of my own and should not be mistaken for medical and/or legal advice.
"Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday." - John Wayne
I was always told by Grandad (I would guess it was from the polish pilots he knew) stories of units of Polish Cavalry charging panzers on horseback with lances during the fall of poland. Is there any truth to this, as most of his accounts from WW2 are fairly lucid despite his faltering health. If it is, then I need to find a word stronger than heroic to describe them
The stories of the cavalry have been taken in two veins ..
1) The heroic idea of the total bravery of charging armour.
2) The total stupidity of charging armour.
Obviously there must be some truth in some manner as a basis for the stories, .. but in the last few years, it has erred towards the cavalry charges being more myth ..
Further Gary’s post, here’s a balanced entry from Wikipedia:
Polish cavalry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
All thoughts and opinions expressed are those of my own and should not be mistaken for medical and/or legal advice.
"Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday." - John Wayne
It's a myth and nazi propaganda Polish cavalry never charged tanks only Indiana Jones can do that
Charge at Krojanty - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bolesław Michal Gładych
Born May 17, 1918 (1918-05-17) (age 92!!!) Now US citizen
Nickname: "Mike Killer", "The Mad Pole".
http://www.elknet.pl/acestory/gladych/gladych.htmOriginally Posted by Wikipedia
After ending his second RAF tour in January 1944, Gladych, along with fellow Pole Flt Lt. Witold Lanowski, arranged a wholly unofficial secondment to the 56th Fighter Group of the U.S. Army Air Forces in early 1944. Recruited by Major Francis Gabreski of the 56th, who as a captain had previously been attached to the RAF Polish Fighter Wing in 1942, Gladych helped organized battle training for American replacement pilots, and was assigned to Gabreski's 61st Fighter Squadron. On 21 February 1944 Mike downed 2 Bf-109s in a single sortie.
When the Polish authorities became aware of the arrangement in June 1944 they attempted to discipline the pair with threats of expulsion from the Polish Air Force. Both continued to fly with the Americans, however, and were consequently expelled. Therefore Gladych's combat claims with the USAAF are not recognised by the Polish Air Force. Gladych was not formally accepted into the USAAF either (his kill credits were officially recognized, however), and continued to fly unofficially until October 1944, when the Polish Air Force finally relented and sanctioned his secondment. Gladych was carried in American records by his RAF rank of squadron leader but was known in the unit by his equivalent American rank of major. He became the leading figure among six Polish pilots flying with the 61st Fighter Squadron, all but one of whom survived the war.
Gladych had claimed a further 10 air kills and 5 ground kills by the end of September 1944. Gladych reported that on 8 March 1944 while escorting bombers to Berlin, he engaged three Fw 190s. Low on fuel, he attempted to disengage after shooting down one of the FW-190s, but the other two fighters boxed him in and tried to force him to land. As he approached a German airfield configured for landing, Gladych suddenly opened fire on the airfield with his remaining ammunition. German flak gunners responded, but missed Gladych and shot down the two following Fw 190s. When he crossed the English coast his P-47 ran out of fuel, forcing Gladych to bail out.
It was then claimed he flew further (unofficial?) operations with an un-named P-51 group, claiming a Me-262 jet downed, but this is not confirmed by USAAF records and his ten credited kills were all made with the 61st FS. It is also claimed he intentionally understated the total of his air victories lest he be promoted and transferred off combat duties.
He was awarded the Virtuti Militari, Cross of Valour with three bars by the Polish Air Force, the DFC by the RAF, and the Silver Star and two clusters, the Air Medal and three clusters by the USAAF. He also claimed to have been awarded the Croix de Guerre for the sortie on 8 March 1944 when he strafed an airfield after shooting down an FW-190.
He nicknamed the numerous P-47's assigned to him Pengie, after the nickname of his then girlfriend, a Canadian WAAF, continuing the series up to Pengie V as he received newer aircraft. The name included a cartoon image of a penguin on the left side of the engine cowling.
His wartime 'score' totals 17 claimed destroyed, 2 probables, 1 shared damaged, and 5 ground kills. His ten kills with the 56th FG are officially recognized by the U.S. Air Force, as are the 4 kills by Lanowski. (USAF Historical Study No. 85: USAF Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II, Air Force Historical Research Agency)
Last edited by Kanonier Tokarz; 07-18-2010 at 09:56 AM.