Veteran Stories:
Andrzej Garlicki

Army

  • Zygmunt Wojtas (second row, second from left) standing with other soldiers he went to school with in Italy after the war, prior to immigrating to Canada, 1945-1946. Both Zygmunt Wojtas and Andrzej Garlicki served with II Polish Corps in Italy during the Second World War.

    Zygmunt Wojta
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"Well I’m very proud that I was a part of the famous British 8th Army. We were treated very, very well by the Brits there. And we were fighting with them, as we should. And, I think we did a very good job there, as a corps."

Transcript

Well I’m very proud that I was a part of the famous British 8th Army. We were treated very, very well by the Brits there. And we were fighting with them, as we should. And, I think we did a very good job there, as a corps.

Well, I was acting as an observation officer during the battle.* So, seeing some object in the field, I was issuing orders to the guns – positions. How they should adjust the guns, you know, to hit the right objects on the German side.

His name of the bear was Wojtek [Voytek]. Our boys from the transport commando [sic], they noticed this bear, they paid a fee for it, and they took the bear into their unit. Strangely enough, this bear learned to drink beer, to smoke cigarettes, and he was carrying for, he was serving, this bear was serving with the transport company, 22nd Transport Company, supplying the medium artillery, ammunition. And, if you know, the armour[ed shells] for medium [artillery guns], for the regiments there, were very, very heavy. At least a box weighed maybe 40 or 50 or 60 pounds. So this was a very, very heavy work. But, nothing for the bear. He was carrying those armour boxes from the trucks, and carrying to the guns.

I remember once, I was on a position, and I was under the fire of the German 88 guns.** They were very, very nasty guns. Have you heard about these guns? 88mm, right. I even had to jump from this third floor of the house, because the house was completely destroyed. But, I made it.

*Battle of Monte Cassino, Italy, 17 January – 18 May 1944

**88mm anti-aircraft, anti-tank, and artillery gun

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