“I got on a transport to the West. We were taken on board of a ship called ‘Chrobryj’ in the port of Gdynia, in Poland. From there, we sailed to France. When we landed in France, the French rejected us. They wouldn’t allow us to get on French territory. After a long and tedious series of discussions and consultations between the Czech Embassy and the French, they were able to reach an agreement. They would accept us under one condition and the condition was that we’d join the French Foreign Legion. We accepted it.”
Mr. Císař: “We would come to the rescue of military vehicles that got stuck in the water and mud that was all around Dunkirk. The whole surrounding area was flooded. We would come to the help of military vessels that got stranded numerous times. We came to their help and extricated them. It was a mess there in the coastal waters, in the mud.” Interviewer: “What was your job in the workshops? What were you supposed to do there?” Mr. Císař: “First and foremost to get the engines running again as soon as possible. That was the priority. To repair the motor vehicles and put them back into operation promptly. This we did day and night, with no pause. To get them going as quickly as possible.”
Interviewer: “What was the most powerful experience for you in England? What has stuck in your mind?” Mr. Císař: “Well, from what I’ve seen in England, I have to say that I was most impressed by the way the British were able to cope with the German onslaught. They know how to keep a cool head. You’d need to see the extent of the bombing of England by the Germans. In some cities, their attacks were utterly devastating. Birmingham, for example, was totally ruined. But the Germans weren’t able to break the British. They stayed calm and kept their nerve, handling all matters with utmost caution and attention. That’s where my admiration for them comes from.” Interviewer: “So that's why you were so amazed by the English?” Mr. Císař: “Yes, no nervousness, their peace of mind, that's for sure.”
I’d like to make an appeal to all the young people. Please keep your sanity and don’t ever unleash the horrors of the war again
Augustín Císař was born on 20 August, 1917, in Nové Sady nearby Dolany (in Olomouc) in a working-class family. He had three brothers and one sister. He was trained as a cabinetmaker and at the age of eighteen he enlisted in the army voluntarily. After the Nazi occupation and the dissolution of the Czechoslovak army, he crossed the border into neighboring Poland from where he traveled to France. He joined the French Foreign Legion and was sent to Africa to be trained as a member of the garrison of the fort of El Arish. After he had completed the intensive training, he was transferred back to France to a camp in Agde. His stay in France was followed by the transfer of the Czechoslovak soldiers to England, where he took part in further training as a member of an artillery regiment. In 1944, all the Czechoslovak units were merged into the Czechoslovak Independent Armored Brigade and they participated in the Normandy landing and in the Battle of Dunkirk. In France, Mr. Císař took care of the military vehicle fleet and of the heavy military equipment. He returned to Czechoslovakia in May 1945, when he reunited with his family. He remained in the army after the war and served as the commander of a Slovak unit charged with the repair and maintenance of military equipment. As a veteran of the western foreign armies, he was dismissed from military service in 1952 and until his retirement, he worked as a tractor driver at an STS station (Machines and Tractor Station) in Olomouc.