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Tadeusz WLIZLO

Translation of parts of an

interview by Prof. Patalas

I was born September 2, 1919, in Lwow. I signed up for Officer Cadet Artillery College in Wlodzimierz in 1938. I was then sent to the 5th Light Artillery Regiment in Lwow, and I was stationed there until the outbreak of the war. As we were preparing to defend the city against the arrival of the Germans, the Russians invaded and surrounded the city. Shortly afterwards, the regional commander issued a conscription decree stating that all young men born in 1919 were called up to serve in the Red Army.


I decided to evacuate to Hungary with a group of other conscripts, but we were caught by the Russians just as we reached the border. After two weeks, we were sent by rail via from Lwów to Krasnowodsk, and then further to Dnepropetrovsk. There I sat in the prison, without a trial or sentence, for eight months, awaiting the outcome of the “investigation.” That “investigation” consisted in trying to convince me to admit to the worst crimes and to sign my name to whatever they dreamt up. I kept telling them that I was going to Hungary to continue my education, since all the schools in eastern were closed.


Eventually, they ignored that story, and we were all charged with illegally crossing the border. I was sentenced to five years hard labour, while most of the others got ten years. Two weeks after the sentencing, we were sent up north, via Moscow, near the Peczora River, where we spent a year, until the fall of 1941, building a railway track to the White Sea. It was perhaps the hardest year in my life, and I still wonder how I managed to survive.


When the ‘amnesty’ was declared, we were allowed to leave. We boarded the train and headed for Kermine, where the Polish army was being formed, but when we got there, we were told that they had no room for more recruits. So, we were sent down the Amu Darya River to a collective farm to pick cotton. Sometime later, we returned to Kermine, were given uniforms, and we evacuated from Krasnowodsk to Pahlavi, Persia (Iran) on Easter weekend.


In Palestine, I was assigned to the 2nd Light Artillery Regiment of the Polish 2nd Corps and given the rank of corporal officer cadet because of my year in the officer cadet college. I spent most of my time moving between Palestine and Iraq, continuing my training. By the time we left for Italy I had reached the rank of Second Lieutenant.


We reached Taranto, Italy on December 24, 1943, but none of us noticed it was Christmas. We were keenly aware that we had a bloody job ahead of us. I fought in all the battles of the Italian Campaign, including Monte Cassino.


Although my two brothers, my sister, and my mother remained in Poland, I decided to stay in the West. I considered several choices, but in the end I volunteered for a two-year farm contract in Canada. When I look back on that decision today, I do not think it was such a wise choice. Many of my friends went to England, joined the Polish Resettlement Corps and spent some time preparing for civilian life. In the end, they fared far better than I did by doing this.


I sailed to Halifax on the Sea Robin, then took the train to Winnipeg, arriving in the fall of 1947. I went to a farm on Highway 9, just before Lockport. My farmer had about 300 head of cattle, so my job was bringing hay from the stacks in the fields to the barn. In a sleigh drawn by a pair of horses, I had to drive out into the thick of a snowstorm, load the sleigh, and drive back to the barn. That was my chore twice a day. It was hard physical labour, perhaps too hard for my rather weak physical frame. But the conditions on the farm were not bad, and the food we were fed was plentiful.


I worked for that farmer from November until spring. Then I moved to a farm in Springfield for another four or five months. Finally, a friend of mine gave me the name of a farmer who would sign my papers and not require that I actually work for him. I made the arrangements and moved to Winnipeg,


I was 33 years old when I met an attractive young woman, Stefania Rajfur, so after a few months of courtship we tied the knot. We began our life together happy but poor, raising two sons and a daughter. I worked at a series of jobs, until I was hired by the post office and that is where I remained until I retired. I was also very much involved in the Polish Combatants Association #13 in Winnipeg.


(Note: Tadeusz changed his name to Ted Wilton).


Tadeusz passed away in Winnipeg on October 15, 1994, at the age of 75 years.

Copyright: Wilton family

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