Last week I shared some of Józef’s words from a different part of the diaries, to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the invasion of Poland. The extract below now returns to the chronology of the previous posts I’ve shared, the last of which can be found here: My Beloved Kraków.
I kept my eyes on the map constantly and turned onto a dirt track to Filopowice and afterwards to Rachwałowice. We went round and round in circles, drove up and down and asked about the manor house at Kijany but we couldn’t find it. We were tired, despairing and generally with little hope of reaching the squadron.
At 5.30am, just as we began to fear meeting the Germans rather than our squadron, we reached the manor house at Kijany where everyone was sound asleep. Once more the opportunity for a good sleep had passed us by and at 7 o’clock they woke us up again.
I drank some coffee, washed in the pond and hid in order to try and sleep for another hour. But just where I was resting, a lancer started feeling faint. I prepared some medication and gave my visitor an injection as I could barely feel his pulse. On the major’s orders I put this half dead man in the car. I wanted to take him to the divisional first aid station, but no-one knew where it was. The major ordered me to head back to the divisional headquarters which were in Przemyków.
It took about an hour to find the headquarters. No-one was concerned there. They were eating an excellent dinner served elegantly and in great style, which just made my mouth water. I was surprised to find so much tranquillity and such a complete lack of interest in what was going on.
From the headquarters I was sent to Major Różalski who, far away from those in command, was warming himself in the sun next to some cottages. He pointed out the divisional first aid station to me, which stood on the road nearby.
The surgeon was there (a young doctor from Siemianowice) and I took him to the car where the sick man was. I couldn’t believe my eyes however, when I saw my patient standing in full view and apparently completely healthy. I felt embarrassed in front of my old colleague and took the patient’s pulse to satisfy myself that everything was normal… some kind of gastric attack, nothing more. So I got back in the car and returned.
Close to the manor house I met Lieutenant Zieliński. He took my car, saying that he had to get away because the enemy was near and he had to avoid the better roads. I walked the remaining kilometre back to the manor house but the squadron had left. So I chased after them, caught up and sat down in my cart.
The major dispatched the patrols and soon after, as it seemed there was no threat, we went up the hill to Piotrowice. Here we learnt (though no-one knew where the news had come from – it wasn’t from us) that the Germans were close by, and that their armoured units were already visible from the nearby hills.
It is difficult to describe what happened next; here on a narrow pass, at a small bridge threatening to collapse into the river Nidzica. After a short stop on the road the squadron, seeing as usual that it was no use waiting, went round all the obstacles and roadside ditches. They waded quickly across the river and vanished into the horizon. At the last moment I caught hold of the commander of the final platoon in order to find out about the next destination – Nowy Korczyn and then Ucisków.
Once more I was fated to travel alone with the light supply column. The distance from Piotrowice to our destination was no more than 20km at the most but it took us from 11 o’clock on the 7th September until 10 o’clock the following day to reach it.
All the place names mentioned in this extract, through which the army is passing or heading towards, are on a route roughly north east out of Kraków. They are mostly very close to what is now the main road from Kraków to Sandomierz and lie along approximately the first 60 km of this road.