In Search of the Squadron

After emerging from the difficult, night time journey through the forest which made such a lasting impression on him, Józef’s journey towards Sandomierz continues.

11.09.1939

Approaching a village at a crossroads by a boggy pond, we had to stop once again as an endless number of supply column carts appeared as if out of nowhere.

Here, a lost cart caught up and half of the communications unit left us. Later, I realised that theirs was the unit which had escorted us through the dark, mysterious forest and which up to this point had been leading us one by one.

We would have remained here for a long time if I hadn’t grown weary of waiting. Seeing an open space ahead of us, I jumped down from the cart because I could now see for myself the reason for the hold-up: approximately the 20th cart in front of us stood in the road free to move, the driver was sleeping peacefully, neither he nor his horses caring that hundreds of carts were standing behind them. The waiting occupants of these carts were swearing and getting impatient. A sharp shout made him jump to his feet. I gave him a few more harsh words and he moved on from his position followed by all the other carts. I can’t say I was surprised at him though, because if I hadn’t been responsible for our whole supply column, I would have had some sleep too.

I had to make sure that we weren’t trying to pass other carts on the way, because any such attempt resulted in a dreadful outcry from all the drivers standing nearer to the front. They cursed and swore irrespective of the rank of those trying their skill at breaking through.

As if this wasn’t enough, at the same time some other carts pushed ahead from their position. Their horses barged into one another. The carts got tangled up, repeatedly smashing into each other, scattering into fragments and ending up as an obstruction for the entire road for an even longer period.

By this time, I had gained enough experience from the last couple of days and nights of the journey, to try another way. After the drivers had woken up and moved forward we were once again faced with the issue of where to go next at the crossroads. Instinct told us to keep the majority of the carts together. So, being unable to remove the blockage from the road to the right of the crossroads and feeling that that was the direction we needed, we drove around the pond, struggling through the ditch by the track. We went into the farmland and around obstructions, joining with the line of the supply column further along the road.

In this way we soon came, at a run, to the road along the top of the left dyke of the Vistula towards Sandomierz. We didn’t care that, thanks to the great surveillance position offered to the enemy, we made a great target for their artillery, aircraft and all other weapons. The long, 36 hour journey with the supply column, with no break or rest, without a place to sleep, without food, with obstacles and hindrances through the forest and with collapsed roads had made us indifferent to all possible attacks, air-raids and other objectionable horrors. One thought led us on: to get through to the squadron as soon as possible.

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