In the manuscript of the second volume of his
memoirs : "Without A Roof -- WAR : Adventures of a Polish soldier in the
Middle East and Italy during World War II" (not yet published), my husband,
Aleksander Topolski, tells of his brief encounter with one Prince Czartoryski.
Aleks was serving in Signals attached to Anders HQ in Italy as the Polish 2nd
Corps pushed the Germans ever northward after defeating them at Cassino in May
"And so it was back to the relentless grind of triaging the ever urgent HQ
traffic in the Corps Signals Office. We were now stationed inland in gently
rolling countryside near Picena . Our tents were set up on either side of a
small canal, probably used for irrigation, no more than six feet across. Several
nights we were bombed by the Germans. For those few days, our anti-aircraft
gunners had only limited ammunition. They usually exhausted their nightly quota
before midnight. For the rest of the night the enemy planes flew everywhere and
as low as they liked with impunity. The sky was clear and the moon was bright.
They could see us as well as we could see them.
"Because we were going forward so fast, our supply lines were strung out and
had trouble keeping up with our needs, including ack-ack shells. The only link
to our supply base was Highway #16 which runs along the Adriatic coast. We were
surging ahead because the Germans were retreating in a hurry. But they still
took the time to blow up all the bridges behind them as they went. That meant we
had to assemble steel-lattice Bailey bridges like pieces of a giant Meccano set.
These could only take one line of vehicles at a time. We didn't have enough of
those makeshift bridges to have two-way traffic at many crossings. This was
hardest on the armoured units. For long hauls their tanks were loaded onto
transporters, flat bed trucks that, despite their 32 wheels, carried only one
tank apiece. A standard Bailey bridge was strong enough to take a tank or its
transporter but not the weight of the two together. At each crossing the tank
had to roll off its transporter, creep across on its own and then remount on the
far side. A lengthy procedure.
"A young man with me near Picena, a member of Prince Czartoryski' s family,
had just come from the officer's training unit. There his instructors–- corporals
and officers alike---would address him with deference in the third person, even
for such comments as "Prince's boots are dirty again. It looks as if Prince has
been wading through shit and Prince still doesn't know how to polish his boots."
They acted as if it was an honour to have a real prince in their unit. I heard
about this from one of his instructors, the village Lothario, Raymund Kucharski.
Czartoryski himself never mentioned it. He was indeed a prince of a young man
who showed his breeding by not demanding privileges and by treating everyone
with a soupcon of deference.
"One night when the bombing started, Cadet Officer/Private/ Prince
Czartoryski, whose tent was near mine, decided to ignore the bombing and try to
get some sleep. But a short burst of machine gun fire from a German plane woke
him up with a start. He ran to a nearby tree with a huge trunk in order to get
something between him and the plane. Little did he know that I was already using
it as a shield myself and so he grabbed me in the darkness. Together in the
moonlight in our underwear, we danced around the big trunk in unison to stay on
the lee side of the diving and strafing planes. Despite all the bombing and
strafing there was only one casualty--a ten year old Arab boy. He was the
battalion's mascot, an orphan whom we had adopted in Iraq. Fortunately, it was
only a superficial wound. Before long, the Brits brought in some night fighters.
They made mincemeat of the German planes, ending their nightly harassment of
us--for the time being."
For nearly 50 years, Aleksander has lived in
Chelsea, Quebec, Canada within a few miles of Aylmer, Quebec, the address
for a member of the Czartoryski family given by Eduard Wojciulewicz <eduard@eswo. org>. Both Chelsea and Aylmer are dormer communities for Canada's
capital city, Ottawa.
FM: Marek Lewcun
October 22, 2009
Does anyone know this name from 1940-1945? My late father served
'Prince Czartoryski' , and in the 1950s/1960s overheard the name
Czartoryski on a bus in near, Bath, UK, and discovered that his son (name
unknown) was a fellow passenger. I see on the internet that the surname goes
some way back in the Polish royal family, but there is nothing about the later
family. Are they still
alive? All help would be