“What was an every day life of an operator like? I cannot imagine today that something like that was possible. I had to have duties. When I was off duty in the barracks in a building, all of us who were from outside Buzuluk didn't live in barracks. There was for instance a village, we lived in different cottages. Well, it was nothing pleasant or exciting because if you don't have any base you always feel like kind of a homeless. I had that feeling all war through since I was on the move all the time, no matter whether on foot or by train. Kind of a homeless.”
“My ancestors came from the foothills of the Giant Mountains but they moved out to the former Poland. And I was born there. It was in 1923, in a big town Luck at that time. It was a regional town as Hradec. There I attended school and then Grammar School. The Russians came there in 1939 when the war broke out.”
“My husband and I used to go by jeep, there was no marching any more. But once we nearly came to the Germans at the town Martin. If we had not been stopped by the guard, we would have got as far as the German area. The driver made a mistake. He thought he was on his way only for a while and that he had to find the village somewhere where we were put up. We were stopped by the guards and they asked us where we were going. The village was behind us and the Germans were in front of us. Luckily, two officers came back and I was with them. Otherwise it would have been our end to get to the German captivity. The Germans didn't accept Czech captives, they murdered them on spot. They got some captives at Sokolov and they came to a very sticky end. We saw them later through the binoculars. They were hanged with their legs down the tower and their eyes were gouged out. Our captives were hanging there till they died. There was no way we could help them.”
“We traveled for a fortnight. And it was a long journey, far in the East. There were some stops on the way as we had to refill our water and coal supplies. In the meantime we got some food at night, but it was horrible. Some kind of cooked grayish pasta and that was it. All the people were affected in the same way. There were families of high Polish clerks, officers and the rich who owned a farm or a factory. They were all with us. We had no idea where we were going.”
“What were the hygienic conditions at the front like? Don't even ask. When we got off the train we had to walk those hundred kilometers to the front. So we didn't take our clothes nor shoes off at all. Those were horrible conditions. We came to school to Charkov where we slept and German fleas crawled over us. We were miserable, but we couldn't do anything to help our situation. We couldn't take our clothes nor shoes off at all. Well, I had to take my shoes off at one stage because my heels were scraped. I took my socks out bit by bit and threw them away. Because I had no extra pair of socks in my bother boots and we had wool masks. So I cut my mask, tied it around my feet and put my wet shoes on.”
What were the hygienic conditions at the front like? Don’t even ask
Lieutenant colonel in retirement, Janina Černá, was born in the town Luck in Volynia on December 9th, 1923. They spoke Czech at home. At the same time Janina attended a Polish Grammar School where she was taught by professors of high quality. Unfortunately, she didn’t complete her studies - the whole family was affected by exile to Siberia. Their Father was arrested because the family was ranked among the better-off class. Both Mrs Černá and her brothers were in Siberia. They were sentenced to forced labor for five years. However, the war in the USSR broke out two years later. All of them were happy as they knew it was their only chance to get away. Their exile lasted from April 13th, 1940 to August 1942. There was amnesty then. Different troops were being formed. Janina together with some other people joined the Czechoslovak Army in Buzuluk. She was placed in 3 Foot Troop. At the beginning she wasn’t used to the physical demands but she adapted soon. Eventually she remained in 3 Foot Troop where she served as a nurse. The training in Buzuluk ended in January 1943 and the troops started moving to the front. The 350-kilometer-long march was very strenuous. Janina Černá took part in the battle of Sokolov and then also in liberation of Czechoslovakia. She wanted to study after the war but a serious disease, for which she was treated for long three years in Military Hospital in Střešovice, made it impossible. Then her son and daughter were born. Her husband stayed in the Army.