Lieutenant (ret.) Jan Jakubec

* 1915  †︎ 2008

  • “There were guards patrolling, one Slovak and one German. We lay down there, and we waited for them to pass, and when they passed and they were some hundred metres away from us, we jumped up and we ran over the river and crossed the railway tracks and got to the Polish territory. But it was actually the former territory of our country. The Poles had occupied it. There had been no Poles there, there had been our people. We went there and we saw a light coming from one of the houses behind the tracks. We thus went to the house and knocked on the door.”

  • “We besieged the Germans there. There were twelve thousand Germans and we had about three thousand men. But luckily for us, it turned out well. I will tell you something. What is important is the level of training that each person had received in the army. There were guys who were getting on your nerves. They were sloppy, they thought that the Germans were far away and not able to see us. They were up on a hill, while we were in a valley. Although there was water separating us, they had little boats and what not.”

  • “When I was in the company, the Czechoslovaks who lived in France joined this company, because there was the mobilization of Czechoslovaks in France. People who have never in their lives served in the army have joined. Perhaps a couple of them have. I was one of the few soldiers who have gone through the Czechoslovak training from the basics. I thus got a platoon of soldiers under my command, there were about forty of them, and I took them out to a soccer field which was there and I began to train them in the very basic positions. Right turn, left turn, turn around, and so on. Just bring some civilians in the army, and you will see what you can do with them.”

  • “Tensions ensued, because people were terribly complaining about the officers. The officers did not know how to treat people, and the people were not used to respecting officers, because they had never been soldiers before. It was announced that President Edvard Beneš was to arrive. Units were thus formed, they stood one next to each other, and all the people lined up in rows of three, all the different units, and meanwhile some guys created a letter to President Beneš, in which they complained about the disorder in the Czechoslovak army and blamed the officers that they did not know how to treat people, and so on.”

  • “I walked through the waiting area and I saw that the railway workers had some poster there. I picked it up and I handed it over to the gatekeeper. I said: ´Read this, it’s for the railway workers.´ He took the paper, went to the toilet and he began reading it in the toilet, but coincidentally, a policeman came there and he snatched the paper from him, because it was during the time before the election. It was a communist pamphlet. Policemen came to me: ´Where do you live? Show us your apartment.´ We were three boys who apprenticed together, and we shared a small room with bunk beds. The policemen obviously did not find anything in our room. Still, they filed a criminal complaint and I had to stand a court trial.”

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    Praha, 13.09.2006

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Rebel from Cholmondeley Park

Jan Jakubec
Jan Jakubec
photo: archiv dcery Elišky Václavíkové

  Jan Jakubec was born January 18, 1915 in the village Tvrdošín in northern Slovakia in a mixed Polish-Slovak family. After completing his school education he worked as waiter in Žilina. He was sentenced to 14 days of detention in the prison in Trenčín for unintended dissemination of a communist pamphlet. On October 1, 1937 he joined the Czechoslovak army. He was assigned to the 7th company of the 41st infantry regiment in Žilina and he served in the replacement battalion. On May 12, 1939 he decided to flee to Krakow in Poland. He joined the French Foreign Legion and from Gdynia he went to the French port Le Havre on the ship Bátory. He was to join the Foreign Legion there, but he had gone to see a dentist in Paris before that and after consultation with a friend in Paris he joined the Salvation Army instead. After a short stay with this charity organization he found a job as a waiter in the spa town Vittel. After the outbreak of the war he joined the newly formed 1st Czechoslovak division in Paris on September 18, 1939, the 9th company of the 1st infantry regiment. He led the training for new soldiers in Agde and then he transferred to a sapper company. After the outbreak of war between France and Germany his unit gathered to defend the village Brion-sur-Ource southeast of Paris. In the ensuing hopeless situation the soldiers retreated to the port in Bordeaux and they sailed to Liverpool in England, from which they were sent to Cholmondeley Park in western England. While there, Jan Jakubec joined the protest of the soldiers against the Czechoslovak officers, as a consequence of which he was expelled from the Czechoslovak units and interned in an Italian prisoner-of-war camp. While in internment, he was helping to build fortifications on the English coast and then he was transferred to the vicinity of Birmingham, where he joined the British army. From October 9, 1940 to March 1, 1942 he served in the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps. In this unit he was helping to build barracks and fortifications near the village Sandy near Bedford in eastern England. In spring 1944 he was drafted to the 1st Czechoslovak independent armored brigade and he was assigned to the motorized reconnaissance unit, with which he then took part in the siege of Dunkerque during the following months. After the capitulation of Germany he returned home with the Czechoslovak brigade and in October 1945 he became a civilian holding the rank of lance corporal. He moved to Liberec after the war, where he worked in in blue-collar jobs. He married in 1946 and started a family. The family later moved to Kladno where he was employed in the Kablo company as a worker until his retirement. Jan Jakubec was a member of the Association of Freedom Fighters and the Czechoslovak Association of Legionaries. He received several decorations, the last one being from the President of the Czech Republic in 2005. Jan Jakubec died on January 29, 2008 in Prague.