Veteran Stories:
Tadeusz “Tad” Szablewski

Air Force

  • Photo of Tadeuz "Tad" Szablewski taken in Bydgoszcz, Poland, 1938 after graduating from the Polish Air Force Mechanic School.

    Tad Szablewski
  • Tad Szablewski (L) working on an Oxford in Belgium, 1950.

    Tad Szablewski
  • Tad Szablewski as an LAC in the Royal Air Force. Note the patch on his shoulder, "Poland," identifying which Allied country he is from.

    Tad Szablewski
  • Tad Szablewski with his wife Martha and daughter Suzanne in Quaregnon, Belgium, 1947.

    Tad Szablewski
  • Tad Szablewski, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2010.

    Tad Szablewski
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"The blood was boiling when I seen what they were doing to my country. That nobody will know because we won’t talk."

Transcript

[Please be advised that this veteran’s personal experience includes elements of a graphic nature and may not be suitable for a younger viewer] My name is Tad Szablewski. In Polish, it’s Szablewski, just in case. I was born 8 January, 1920 in Krakow, in Poland. As any country in Europe, we weren’t prepared for a war ̶ only Germany. There were six regiment of the air force in Poland before the war. Fifth of September, my buddies were there, 6:00 in the morning, they were there already. Us as a member of Polish air force in Warsaw, the 1st [Air] Regiment, we had to go, escape before they move in and we are ahead of them. We moved south, more or less, to countries like Czechoslovakia, like Hungary, Romania, those countries. But, anyway, so we were already in southern part of Poland, way down, when our officer said, gentlemen, I can hear it, some music. Music. Usually the Russians, when they are moving somewhere, they had the orchestra. They are playing music. After they’re closed up in the train cars, after they go to Moscow, to Russia. Orchestra, they had the orchestra coming in, welcome, welcome. They occupy us that way. They open up with open heart. They were beautiful shits. You love us. Oh, God. Yeah. So the officer said, gentlemen, we haven’t got that much time because Russians [are] out there and Germans out there. We are in between them. So we run to Hungary. We disbanded all the machine guns and that stuff. We couldn’t do nothing. So we entered Hungary. They were under orders to take all the Polish air force guys which are trained already, like myself, like already trained. To get them first priority to them. So then they put us on the train to just after the frontier of Yugoslavia. Then they have to go through Drava, a river. If only the river could talk, they will know how many of our boys are shot down because the Hungarians, they were shooting. They found somebody in the middle of the street… Le Bourget [an airport in France]. There [at] Le Bourget, the British came down, it was like on the meat market: what were you, a mechanic, get there; what are you? Driver, get there. They took us to England on a boat. The blood was boiling when I seen what they were doing to my country. That nobody will know because we won’t talk. The Germans, either there’s SS [Schutzstaffel: German paramilitary organization] or whatever, taked a little baby, beat the head against the wall. Killed him against the wall, little baby. We were there afterwards. I was on the occupation to Osnabrück, Arnbruck, Calais and Hamburg. I never be atrocious to them. A few years after the war, I went home. Warsaw, naturally, there was no Warsaw anymore, only from names of the streets. Some, oh yeah, that was my street was over there, they’re not there anymore. Oh God. I cry and all that stuff. I went to visit here, visit there and that was it. That was very sad. So that’s it.
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