At this point in his diaries Józef returns to describing the preparations taking place in the final days before the outbreak of war:

I set up the sick quarters in a pre-school nursery building. There was a place to sleep next door with the non-commissioned officers, on the straw in some kind of emptied out skittle alley. But the only equipment for the sick quarters was a couple of stretchers.

I drew up an order for medical materials for war. Because I was entitled to a dressings kit, I ordered a medical bag, dressings (particularly type A and B), iodine and a couple of other things. Commanding Officer R. signed it for me and gave me a car; I went to Katowice where I obediently reported to Lieutenant Colonel Szebesta.

The Lieutenant Colonel asserted that there wasn’t “full time” work, striking out the order for war materials, leaving the iodine and not even agreeing to the issuing of a couple of injections. To my question, “what I am needed there for, if I won’t be able to fulfil my orders?” he replied that it was Major Rostowski who had given me the instructions.

In the garrison sick quarters, where the Lieutenant Colonel sent me, I picked up the materials for our unit. The quantity was a great deal less than the order, and even then only part of it – some resources were not there at all.

I went back to Giszowiec.  I reported the deficiencies in the war materials to the commander, which he promised to supply to the unit from the pharmacy.

So our sick quarters were up and running. I checked the stretcher-bearers and picked out a wagon – for now a light lorry with a determined driver. Good.


On the morning of the 31st August we were surprised to see a flyer being posted: ”Mobilisation”. Everyone capable of carrying weapons should report at such and such a place

Something here smells more and more distinctly of war.

There is hectic movement in our camp… “Everything has to be prepared for departure at any moment”. Senior officers fill the gaps; papers are packed in the office and sent to a depot somewhere. Stray lancers are still reporting for duty. The commander distributes maps etc.

Together with the clerk and some residents, the commander carries everything from the office to an emptied house, prepared by an elderly officer cadet. I take up residence there on the first floor. (There were some good pears here.)

I don’t know why the commander makes so many trips or what “headquarters” are saying amongst themselves. Anyway what business is it of mine?

Around 10 in the evening we lie down to sleep.

1/09/ 1939



This is Józef’s last entry in this section.

However many times I see these last words, they still send a chill down my spine as I think about what these young men were about to face.


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