Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Ján Bačík

* 1917  †︎ 2016

  • "We celebrated Christmas Eve with a Christmas tree and everything that belongs to Christmas. Just imagine, on Christmas Eve, not a single shot was fired, there was absolute calm. The Germans were some 800 metres away. Then suddenly around midnight, a group of Germans came out, singing German carols. Our boys were ready for anything - they came out aswell, into the front lines, and sang Czech carols. I tell you, not one single shot was fired. Delightfully calm. It looked as if it wasn't a battlefront at all. And next day, the Germans were blasting away like crazy."

  • "The Germans had a pig holed up in the farm. That was where the officers' canteen was. And they fed the pig leftovers from the canteen. We did a reconnaissance of the farm and occupied it - there were German trenches sixty metres away. I was the machinegunner, I had two hundred rounds and I was watching the Germans. There were fifteen of us Czechoslovaks, but we made such a din, like there was a whole battalion of us there. So the Germans were petrified, they didn't know, what was going on. And just imagine, the boys found the pig in the barn, so they let it free. The pig was running around the courtyard, they were running after it... then someone shot it, stabbed it and we took it back to base. It weighed a hundred and fifty kilos. But the Germans didn't shoot a single rocket. I was sweating all over, I was expecting them to start blasting us. But nothing happened. If it had happened, then all those who were running around the courtyard would have gotten it proper. Our boys would've copped it. We took the pig back with us. Not that we didn't have anything to eat, but we were happy because we had stollen it from the Germans..."

  • "My boss was called Robert Petrla, he was from Vizovice. He was a devoted citizen of the Czechoslovak Republic. He had lots of friends who wanted to cross the border after the 15th of March. In those times, Hlinka's Guard had this tradition that they would fly their flag every Saturday. I let it loose to the wind a couple of times, and one time my boss caught me at it. That's how I gained his confidence - he trusted me completely. That's why he entrusted with various tasks. Like getting his people across the border into Poland. And because was a mountain rescue guide, I could take them all the way to Krakow without any problem. It was inconspicuous and almost legal."

  • "It was a splendid thing when the Germans surrendered. They threw all their gear on a heap on the 9th of May. Our platoon stayed, the rest had withdrawn to Belgium to celebrate, but five to nine, 8th of May, was the end of the war for us. The Germans were shooting like crazy, but we weren't firing back any more. On the 8th May, nine o'clock, it all went silent. But then the Germans made a Venetian Night out of it, fireworks. Right until morning the sky was white. I guess they wanted to use up everything they had. But we didn't fire any more, because the cease-fire had been already signed. For us, the war ended nine o'clock, 8th of May."

  • "We were cut off from the normal units, we had special training. Mostly explosives, marksmanship, radio training - basically everything we might need during our mission. Mainly we trained endurance. Even when we were in Scotland. They gave us special food, completely different from what the other soldiers got. For instance, every day we got a litre of full cream milk. On the other hand, it was perfectly normal to go on forty-eight hour marches. Or that we would go for a morning run of twenty kilometres. The aim was to get us into perfect physical condition. And I think I can thank the training for being physically fit even today, despite being quite old."

  • "Our greeting was 'Šťastné přistání' - 'Happy landing' in English. The success of the whole mission and the future of the unit all depended on getting a 'happy landing'. Because mostly it was the landing when things went wrong. The Wolfram unit had a failed landing in Beskydy, because they had to have a second go at the drop."

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    Třeboň, 24.05.2003

    (audio)
    duration: 01:48:01
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Our greeeting was: Šťastné přistání - ‘Happy landing. Because the success of the mission as a whole depended on the landing

Ján Bačík in 1945
Ján Bačík in 1945

Ján Bačík was born on the 25th of January 1917, in Slovakia. In 1939 he passed through Poland in to France, where he was accepted into the Foreign Legion. During 1940 he fought on the French front. After France’s defeat, he escaped via Gibraltar to Britain. He underwent paratrooper training, but never deployed, as the planned drop in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was canceled. He was transfered to a tank unit. Starting October 1944, he fought at the seige of Dunkirk as a platoon sergeant for the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade. He was released from service in October 1945. In 1946 he was accepted into the SNB (National Security Corps), in various capacities in the South Bohemia Region. He joined the Czech Communist Party in 1948. He lives in Třeboň, where he moved to in 1954. In 1998 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (ret.). He died 29th of April 2016.