Below find memoirs of - Antoni Chroscielewski, of the Polish 10th Division formed in the USSR: March 1942: ... I got to a place called Lugowaja. ... There wasMessage 1 of 1 , Mar 18View Source
Below find memoirs of –
Antoni Chroscielewski, of the Polish 10th Division formed in the USSR:
... I got to a place called Lugowaja. ... There was a rallying point in Lugowaja, where the 10th Division had formed. I was 16 years old then. So I went to see the army commission and I was accepted into the Polish Army ... I was immediately accepted and received a British uniform. The tents here were also dug into the ground but the climate was better. The sun shone during the day, muddy, melted snow and slush, frost during the night. A lot of people died there. They got to Lugowaja, so exhausted, so maltreated, that every day and every night many bodies were carried out of the tents. They carried the dead people out. It was...
In the army, they taught us a little bit of drill and when I think about it today, it wasn't useful. Everyone was so exhausted. I was young and in better physical condition, so I coped better than those who had come from the concentration camps or from the jails. They were so weak. And this kind of army drill, in this kind of weather, marching in deep mud, the mud splashing around and the commands, Get down! Crawl in the mud! and in a moment, Get back to the tents! You had 10 minutes to get back into the line and in clean uniforms. It wasn't wise.
Luckily, it was only for a very short time. I was only in this southern Russian camp for four weeks. One thing that often happened there was that when the sun was high, they led us up a hill. Everybody had to take off his shirt, and we had to work on killing the lice. It was called "woszebojka". I even have a picture. It was a typical activity there. After four weeks, they evacuated us to Krasnowodsk and then further, to Iran.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87pl-O8Gm6A&feature=plcp&context=C292d7UDOEgsToPDskKWMIQIzs9FIOJrKfUA0B-d with spoken English translation over Polish testimony.
[continuing, with mostly my own translation:]
We came to Krasnowodsk [March 27, working backwards from Pahlevi arrival April 1?] by train, straight to the port. Before we were loaded on the ship we were given soup that was very salty because it was made from dried salt fish. But everyone was hungry and there was no selection, so everyone ate what he was given. Before boarding, everyone was also given a crust of black bread and two salt herrings from a barrel. The ship was some kind of tanker, not a passenger ship, where about 4,000 to 5,000 people were packed onto the top deck, one beside another.
It was a beautiful day, at the start, and everyone was ecstatic to at last be escaping that hell. The ship departed about 2 p.m. The sea was very calm, but after awhile there were gentle long waves that you couldn't see, but we could start to feel it. Then fog arrived, and a storm started. Many of the people started to get sick. It turned out that there was no drinking water on the ship. After that salty soup and salted fish, after those herrings, there was no water. It was a tragedy, truly.
Unfortunately, the ship was damaged during the night, during the storm. The rudder was ripped off or something like that. We drifted on the Caspian Sea for about three days, without water, without anything. I had to endure the sun because there was no kind of shade, so you had to stay out in the sun. By the third day you didn't care if the ship would sink or not, a person was so exhausted. We even tried to haul up some water, from the sea, but that made for an even worse effect. It was not until the fourth day that a different ship drew up and we transferred to it - on the sea, on the very sea.
We arrived at Pahlevi, Iran, on April 1, 1942. We disembarked at the port and had to go a few, I don't know, a few kilometres to get to the camp that the British had set up on the beach, on the Caspian Sea. But going through the town we saw those stores, full of fruit, full of ... our legs, our knees were virtually giving out, just seeing all that but at the same time being exhausted.
Well, we got to the camp, and in the camp we had to immediately remove all our clothing. That whole new uniform we had received in Lugowaja, in Russia, we had to discard because it was all burned right off the bat. Disinfection bathing. A new life began at that moment, a totally new life. We got a little money. It was even possible to buy, in that vicinity there were vendors selling eggs, fish, different things.
But a lot of individuals lost even their lives, because their system was not accustomed to such fat food, or to food so rich in proteins. Many people got ill.
I was on that beach, not to exaggerate, maybe a week, maybe 10 days...(Then, he describes meeting his sister, from whom he had been separated.)
From there, transports took us mainly - we were travelling though mountains, actually, incredibly beautiful, they were carrying us on heavy trucks driven by Iranians who drove like madmen on those mountain roads. Our hair was standing on end along those serpentine switchbacks, worried about going into the ditch. But there were incidents where some of the heavy trucks, loaded with people, drove off the road, shall we say, and usually everyone perished. There were accidents.
But we made it out. Actually, from there they took us to Iraq, to the west of Baghdad, some 30 (?) kilometres, in the desert there is a lake called Habbaniya, actually on one of the branches of the Euphrates River, the English built a dam, and literally in the desert where there was no blade of grass or shrub, in the desert a lake. On that lake a camp was built, and there we stayed perhaps three or four weeks, in that camp. Of course, it was sweltering because it was already April and very hot. The water in that lake was already not so cold - it was quite warm, and there each of us literally started to come back into our own because the food was already adequate, we had regular army days with drills, and there was a bit of a change in attitude of the professional cadre, the regular officers and non-commissioned officers, towards the recruits or soldiers. ... the British way of doing things had begun. It was no longer the army, shall I say, we had had on the Russian side (in Lugowaja), it was different.
And from there, this camp at Habbaniya, we again were taken by heavy transport seven days through the desert, through Iraq and Jordan to Palestine. I remember exactly it was May 1, 1942, when we crossed the border into Palestine riding in the convoy of heavy transports. In the desert, when we were still there, we had to bivouac - hard to say at camps, but literally the column would stop where there was water, some kind of cistern with water, a sort of kitchen was made, and we had to catch some sleep.
We usually slept on the sand, but there were lots of scorpions and different kinds of spiders - black widows, tarantulas. Truly, this was a nightmare for us. But from there we came to Palestine. I remember how we were greeted by Jewish women. Already by that time, there were Jewish kibbutzes, a kind of kolkhozes, and as our column drove down the road they stood on the side of the road and threw oranges to us. It was spring there, the season for oranges. The heavy trucks were going at 50 miles per hour, so the oranges that were thrown in the other direction were all smashed up, but it was something different, absolutely wonderful. The people were already dressed differently, looking good, you couldn't see any poverty.
Pan Chroscielewski goes on to describe how his regiment (of the 10th Division) was assigned to the anti-aircraft artillery, where they put all the young people they didn't know what to do with along with older men such as professors and teachers, making it an interesting group. They were stationed at a camp called "Bejdzirdzia" "Bejdzidzia" [? - at 9:10 of the posting] just to the north of Gaza, and around that time the Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade arrived from Libya, near Tobruk, and the 3rd Carpathian Division was officially formed on May 3, 1942.
- Ewakuacja Armii Polskiej z Rosji do Palestyny. Relacja p. A. Chroscielewskiego, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQUyIQjvyQE&feature=related
[Can't find a "Bejdzirdzia" or "Bejdzidzia" in Israel today, but Gedera is about 45 km north of Gaza.]