Another memorable date has come around reminding me it’s time to post an update on progress. Today is my father’s birthday – Józef was born 110 years ago today! Since my last post in June I have been continuing to work on the daily notes covering the period from Dec 1939 to Jan 1941 as … Continue reading Recent Progress and a Discovery
Tag: WW2 Diaries
Józef has been very much in my thoughts this week, as today – 3rd June – is the 70th anniversary of his death. So we have our own, but very different 70 year commemoration. Yesterday evening I was discussing some of the content of the first book with a Polish friend, who has very kindly … Continue reading An Anniversary
I was especially thinking about my father last Sunday as the 19th March is widely celebrated in the Christian Church as the feast day of St Joseph. It was therefore Józef’s name day (“imieniny” in Polish). Many Poles celebrate their name day rather than their birthday and every day on the calendar has names assigned … Continue reading History Repeated
Project Update July 2021
Today I translated the final page in the second of Józef's two exercise books. I feel elated to have finished and can't quite believe I've reached this point after such a long process! As I explained in my last post a few months ago, there are still some daily notes to translate which cover a … Continue reading Project Update July 2021
Delving into Book 2 of Józef’s Diaries
It’s been quite a few months since I posted anything and I hope I haven’t lost all my followers! I have been totally engrossed in translating this second of my father’s two exercise books (over 150 pages of handwriting) and I’m now very close to finishing it. After this I have a small number of … Continue reading Delving into Book 2 of Józef’s Diaries
I was so pleased to be asked to give a presentation about Józef's diary to the (virtual) Polish Language and Culture Meet Up yesterday. It was the first time I had formally presented any information about this project and it was really encouraging to receive such positive feedback from everyone - so thank you very … Continue reading Project Update
In the aftermath of the devastating attack on the procession of carts, work continues to provide a safe crossing over the Vistula. 11/09/1939 [cont.]A cart was passing by so I requisitioned it in order to transport the casualties.More and more aircraft were appearing over the crossing point to try to prevent us from using the … Continue reading About Turn…
The Call for a Doctor
After emerging from a difficult, night time journey through the forest, Józef’s journey towards Sandomierz with the supply column continues. They soon come to a halt however, due to yet another bottleneck of a huge number of other supply column carts. Eventually things start to move and they find a way through 11/09/1939 At last … Continue reading The Call for a Doctor
VE Day at Polish Army Camps in Scotland
Hearing all the reminiscences and recollections of VE Day 75 years ago today, made me think about what Józef might have been doing on that day. His diaries didn’t continue to that point, but looking at his military service records I can see that he was in Fordoun, Scotland where he was the doctor in … Continue reading VE Day at Polish Army Camps in Scotland
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. 8/09/1939 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 … Continue reading Two Glasses of Good Vodka and a Very Brief Respite
Pandemonium and Sandy Terrain
In the previous post 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 earlier posts I’ve shared, the last of which can be found here: My Beloved Kraków Just prior to the … Continue reading Pandemonium and Sandy Terrain
80 Years On
On 1st September 2019 people across Europe are remembering the events of 80 years ago today, when war broke out following the German invasion of Poland. Józef’s experience of that day is recorded in the entry he titled, “War… War… War” which can be found here: Waking up to War. In a subsequent entry covering … Continue reading 80 Years On
My Beloved Kraków
Just under a week after war was declared, Józef and his squadron arrive in Kraków. Having heard rumours about the city's fate and seen the devastation in towns and villages on the way they would now able to see for themselves what the situation was in Kraków. 6/09/1939 We arrived in Toń during the night. Every … Continue reading My Beloved Kraków
News of Kraków and Częstochowa
Over the next day or two, Józef goes into a lot of detail about the continuing journey towards Kraków. He describes the difficulties of potholes and of manoeuvring the carts across ditches, damaged bridges and past roadblocks of various kinds. Late in the evening he gives a lift to two soldiers who had become separated … Continue reading News of Kraków and Częstochowa
Here Józef gives a brief example of the plight of civilians as they try to escape the invasion and the dilemma he faces in obeying the rules or following his instincts. 4/09/1939 It was a beautiful day and the sun was scorching as on all those September days. We passed another manor house set up … Continue reading Fleeing Citizens
A Milestone Reached!
Well this week I am so pleased to have finally finished translating the 1st of my father’s 2 exercise books, in which he wrote his wartime diaries. I feel quite a sense of achievement having got this far and am trying not to think too much about the fact that I still have to … Continue reading A Milestone Reached!
As the unit continues its preparations on 1st September, Józef’s description of the rather ad hoc motorised squadron highlights some of the differences in provision between the German and Polish armies. The far wealthier German army was heavily motorised whereas this unit appears to be relying almost entirely on private vehicles. In this, the first … Continue reading Final Preparations
Waking up to War
Here, Józef writes about the events that unfolded in the camp on the day war was declared. 1/09/39 Whatever was that terrible explosion rocking the whole building? After it came another one – similar, albeit further away – and then a third and a fourth… Next some heavy gunfire. It was 5 o’clock in the … Continue reading Waking up to War
At this point in his diaries Józef returns to describing the preparations taking place in the final days before the outbreak of war: 31/08/1939 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 … Continue reading Wojna…Wojna…Wojna…
Character Studies at the Brink of War
When Józef writes (retrospectively) about the last tense days of August 1939 he covers just over 5 pages in his exercise book with descriptions of his squadron colleagues. A small selection of these follows. Sometimes he uses full names, sometimes just an initial in place of a surname and at other times he omits the … Continue reading Character Studies at the Brink of War
The Final Days of August 1939
It really wasn’t my intention to have such long gaps between posts, so I hope you haven’t given up on me! Although I have done a draft translation of a large part of my father’s first book, much of it still requires quite a bit of work to improve it enough for public consumption. So … Continue reading The Final Days of August 1939
Will There Be War?
From March to the end of July 1939 Józef was based at Wełnowiec near Katowice where, with the help of the battalion doctor and Lieut. Kwieciński, he set up the sick quarters and the out-patients’ surgery. Then from the beginning of August he had several moves before being transferred to the position of the doctor … Continue reading Will There Be War?
Training and Conflict
The first part of my father’s diaries contains some brief entries about his period of training in the army. I was struck by his evident pride in the Polish army which is reiterated in many further sections, but also by the hints of his disenchantment with the leadership. In early October 1938 he wrote the … Continue reading Training and Conflict
I’m still here!
I had hoped to post something more on the blog sooner than this, but I have been trying to improve some translating I did several years ago at the start of this project. I want to post a short extract about my father’s time at the army training school in 1938/1939. He describes a little … Continue reading I’m still here!
Some Sadly Prophetic Words
This section was one of the first parts that I translated and my father's poignant comment has stuck in my mind ever since. 22/08/1939 On the 22nd August I received an order by telephone from Lieutenant Colonel Szebesta, to go immediately to the Pszczyna area and take up the position of doctor for the … Continue reading Some Sadly Prophetic Words
Preparations for War
The first main section of my father’s diary is headed “Przygotowania wojenne” (Preparations for war). It covers a period from September 1938 to 31st August 1939. 24/09/1938 On that memorable September day in 1938 when the fate of Czechoslovakia hung in the balance, when diplomats’ planes repeatedly flew across the borders of other countries, … Continue reading Preparations for War
Over the coming months, I would like to share with you some extracts from my translation of Józef's diaries. During the first two weeks of August 1939 my father was based at Mikołów (near Katowice) as the doctor with his battalion, 23rd Infantry Division. He writes that there were clear signs of approaching war but … Continue reading August 1939
Many years ago my mother gave me my late father’s diaries, which he wrote during World War Two. They were written in Polish – which neither I nor my mother spoke. I always hoped that one day I might be able to read a little of what he had written. Although progress has been slow I'm … Continue reading Introducing…