Polish Combatants’ Association, Branch 2
London, Ontario, Canada
A Talk by Mr. Wieczorek on the anniversary of the battle of Monte Cassino
presented on May 18, 1947 in the C.C.C. Hall in London
Three years have passed today since the victorious 8th Army troops crushed the German resistance around the unknown before the war little town of Cassino. In this battle fought also the 2nd Polish Corps which stormed successfully the hills around Cassino and the Abbey of Monte Cassino.
I still have fresh in my memory the joyous feeling we had, when we looked at the stream of new units which passed by us in pursuit after the withdrawing enemy.
One must be an infantryman to fully appreciate the joy of soldiers after a victorious battle.
Atop the ruins of the ancient abbey the Polish flag was flying, reminding the Germans that though Poland was occupied, the Polish Army is alive, fighting and victorious.
The battle of Monte Cassino has its historical meaning. This battle opened the fourth and the last chapter of World War II.
This victorious battle was a good prediction for the D-Day invasion from the British Isles. It was the beginning of the final crumbling of the Nazi military machine. The German Army, losing men and equipment, was unable to carry on operations on a big scale.
The Monte Cassino victory opened the road to Rome, the capital of a country which joined voluntarily the Germans and the capture of Rome was the end of fascist Italy.
For us Poles, the battle of Monte Cassino has a special significance, as it was our first major victory in Italy and we, who took part in it, proved that we did our duty and helped conquer the totalitarian forces.
Not in very many battles in the history of warfare did so many nations take part. British, American, French, Hindu and Polish troops fought to crush the key positions of the German resistance in the rocky mountains around Cassino.
On the slope of Monte Cassino is now a cemetery of those brave men who gave their lives for freedom, democracy and human rights. Their sacrifice will always remain in the memory of their fellows in the army.
But in spite of our victories and the final collapse of Germany, we Poles could not return to our country. We were fortunate however to come to Canada, whose gallant soldiers we met in Italy. We remember the battles we fought alongside the Canadians and especially the Battle of Ortona, Rimini and the Gothic Line. We developed a great admiration and friendship for the Canadian soldiers and their gallantry.
In the battle which aimed to crush the Gothic Line we have seen the Canadian armed troops which stormed and took the German lines. Their heroism enabled the Polish 2nd Rifle Battalion of the 1st Carpathian Brigade to take the hills dominating the German lines. This battle will always remain in our memory as an example of a common allied effort.
The battles with the fascists and Nazis at Monte Cassino, Ancona, Mondolfo, Santerno and Bologna proved that we are ardent enemies of any kind of totalitarianism. We are very glad that we are now in the freedom loving country of Canada. We are ready to make any effort in preserving that freedom.
In the Polish 2nd Corps, which fought in Italy, were veterans of the 1940 campaign in France, veterans of the battle for Narvik, veterans of the battles in the Libyan desert, but the majority were people who were taken by the Russians to Siberia after the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop partition of Poland. The majority of Polish veterans now in Canada are those who went through the Russian forced labour camps.
source: archives of Polish Combatants’ Association, Branch 2, London, Ontario, Canada