A Polish Soldier pictured with an Italian Civilian circa 1944.Courtesy of Pawel Lojko
Photo of Pawel Lojko dressed in his Army Uniform.Courtesy of Pawel Lojko
Palestine, July 1940.Courtesy of Pawel Lojko
The 3rd Karpathian Rifle Division dead lying at the foot of Hill 593 (Monte Cassino, Italy).Courtesy of Pawel Lojko
Polish Civilians being rounded up by German soldiers in 1939.Courtesy of Pawel Lojko
"That’s all the excitement you get in a tank because in a tank, when they hit with a bullet and your own ammunition inside start exploding, so no chance to get out,"
I was in the wartime there two years in Russia, two years in the Palestine in the cadets school. So cadets school and have, like we missed school in Russia, so they have quite a few educator, like professors and everything going to Siberia too, so those come as a teacher or professors in all kinds of trades. And I take mechanical engineering, but when they ask to help in the air force, I signed in but fail and ended in a tank division. So in 1943, when I reached 17, close to 18, I was ended in a 2nd Corps, 2nd Division Tanks.
So when the Canadian and some Polish already get to Sicily and a little bit in Italy, then we come down to help like in the Italian front. So when they start preparing, open up a road to Rome, they call Monte Cassino, but so many nationalities use the land, the Canadian and the so and so, try to open up, but that mountain was kind of prepared so hard to, like with iron and concrete, so hard was to take over and to open up that road. So when they prepare for Polish, so we have to go and build the muscles and get the exercise to be tough, to climb like that mountain and special in the nighttime because in the daytime, that’s impossible. Plus in the nighttime, they put smoke bomb or shells so we can go with the smoke, move forward because the other case, you know, like they don’t see us, but they go with the Steyrs machine gun and they stop because each machine gun get overheated or run out of ammunition. So they just shoot the Steyrs.
But when they stop for a second, then you prepare to go forward, tried about two or three times to get that mountain, then finally Germans gave up and they back out. They know, we’re going to lose more and more and they’re going to lose more and more because majority people come with a grenade and throw in a bunker and they kill German too. So they’re losing and we’re losing, but they back out and open up new road to Rome. So they’d give us one week for clean-up tanks because we was not using tanks. Using one regiment are using the tanks, but it was impossible climb on the mountain with the tanks.
So we was put the net and up until we come back, it was under the net, so aero plane don’t notice the tanks. So tanks was covered up with the camouflage net. And when we come back, after prepare, clean up machinery, check the engines, then we go on Adriatic [Sea] because they want to again open up a port, so they could get closer to ammunition and food. So they called that Ancona [Italy], so our regiment go right through the centre of that city or the port, Ancona. But so many Canadian and majority Canadian started moving forward so they have to back out because the force was too strong for the German and they reach up to the fall when it was muddy, clay and the machinery couldn’t go, so it stopped for a wintertime. But they call, I forget the name that line, so was kind of resting and waiting for the springtime come. So we keep moving up to Bologna, up to where it ended. But there was question, what kind of excitement, it was either we get first German tank or when we see our planes come down and help us from air, destroy German tanks, so we was kind of excited, we was happy to see the help from air too.
So that’s all the excitement you get in a tank because in a tank, when they hit with a bullet and your own ammunition inside start exploding, so no chance to get out, maybe just the driver would because driver have kind of hatch to open up and drop. But when you have inside an explosion, sometimes hard to get out even that way. That’s like was ended in a Bologna and have a parade.