Two Glasses of Good Vodka and a Very Brief Respite

In this entry, the extent of the occupation (after just the first week of action) starts to become clear.
Dawn broke as we glimpsed the Nida River in the distance and beyond that Nowy Korczyn. With the Nida came the hope of creating an organised resistance against the pursuing enemy. But we were naïve and didn’t know that the area before the Nida, just as with the land beyond it, was already occupied.
Around 7 o’clock in the morning, we arrived at the square in Nowy Korczyn. I was surprise to find that out of the whole supply column I was there alone with the health cart. One and a half hours later I was joined by the rest and we made our way straight ahead to the north to Ucisków.
We found our squadron already resting peacefully and warmly greeting the oncoming column. Major Zakrawan, who had seen the crossing at the river Nidzica, as well as the sands and the trapped cars on the blocked road, greeted me with a glass of good cognac and shook my hand with the words, “You have done well. We thought we wouldn’t see any of you again and that you had already all fallen into the hands of the Germans.”
Two glasses of good vodka set me back on my feet and made me forget that it was already two days and nights since I had had a wink of sleep and eight days since I had had what could be called a place to sleep. Can you call it sleep if it’s a couple of hours snatched in a cart or on a chair, or on the doorstep of a locked house? I don’t know where this strength came from, but I was barely aware of the tiredness.
I was treated to some tasty scrambled eggs by 2nd Lieutenant W, which improved my frame of mind. I changed my cart for a lighter one, took a new driver – because the other clot was sleeping, trembling with fear and didn’t know how to drive horses – and I was ready for the long march.
…And sure enough after 2 or 3 hours’ rest, the squadron marched off on their assignment, with the health cart at the rear.
We went west along dirt tracks and farmland to the forest near Harmoniny where I settled myself at the edge of its northern border. Patrols were spotted towards the north – Busko Zdrój and in the north west. The squadron stayed here until the afternoon, waiting to no avail for the kitchen which had left Ucisków but still hadn’t reached us. I had a little to eat from the officers’ supplies.
In the afternoon the major gathered the whole company together and at around 4pm we set off on a cross country march protected by woods, farmland and dirt tracks. We headed north east close by Piotrówki, through Zagrózany to the forest ahead of Solec-Zdrój.
The squadron rushed ahead where only a horse with a rider could cross. My cart tried to keep up but couldn’t follow their path and was in danger of being left behind. So almost at a trot we tried desperately to keep up with the squadron. Our intestines were in knots from all the potholes, but since our guts weren’t full to the brim at any point during the campaign, it didn’t do us any great harm.
We reached the forest near Solec at dusk. The lancers hurried to conceal the horses in the forest and the battle line was set up in the direction of Solec, from where the enemy was expected to attack.
The look-outs sounded the alarm unnecessarily several times; hallucinations were becoming more and more frequent.
Once, at the sound of a loud rifle shot, the platoon commander from the communication squad claimed to have seen an enemy patrol riding on white horses. He ordered that the alarm be sounded and the unit stood at the ready, but nothing came. At last, somewhere on the forest moss, I fell asleep alongside a stout 2nd lieutenant and Major Zakrawan.
I woke up suddenly, grabbing a rifle because someone had grabbed me by the arm. It turned out that the major had woken us to march out.
The coast was clear and we set off towards Solec.

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