Luisa Matlová, roz. Štýrová

* 1916  

  • England is England. Really, how they treated us, how they welcomed us! Like if we belonged to them. Such confidence! They gave us whole house at our disposal. They were awesome, awesome. I can´t tell nothing bad about them. I didn´t meet anybody who wouldn´t oblige us. Each of them, even the nobility helped. All noblemen were employed. They could have thirteen servants at home but they even work for the army themselves. Or they gave their houses at our disposal. They had plenty of bedrooms or rooms, they emptied them and provided them to injured soldiers. They put the beds there and provided the rooms to our soldiers who were injured or needed some time to health completely so they didn´t occupy a room in hospital. Noblemen also rented nurses to treat our soldiers. They lied there two or three weeks, it depended. For example when a soldier broke his leg while jumping out of the tank he coudn´t serve for some time. He needed to be treated. So the noblemen provided the environment. Such was England. The Englishs gave us everything at disposal without knowing anything about us. They asked us where do we go to holiday when there´s no sea in Czechoslovakia. They knew nothing about us but they gave us everything, starting from the bathroom.

  • London was very huge and now it is even bigger because the outskirts were attached. It is big, very big. It´s difficult to be conversant with it. But everything was described there and the transport went well. We lived in a boarding house if there was enough place in there. All accommodation was private. The army lived at another place, so called Cholmondley park. This park belonged to a nobleman and he gave it at czechoslovakia army disposal. Can you imagine how large was the park? Huge tents were built there where ten even twelve people have slept. And I have a photography here how they had lunch and you can see a white tablecloth in that tent. It was huge, I can ´t even tell. And they got uniforms immediately - in France they had to buy their own. English equipment arrived immediately. When we´ve lived in London horrible bombardment started once. You´ve never seen something like that. I even had to go to a shelter. It started in the evening and in the morning it ended. It was still round´n´round just like that. German bombers were leaving this way and another were arriving that way. Round´n´round all the time. They came from one side and left to another. Horrible, horrible, horrible...

  • In Russia by Dukla there were awfully huge losses. They recruited young sixteen years old boys from Russia and Ukraine also. These boys had no training. So millions of people fell there. From England to Russia went the army managment, the czech officers trained in England. But when twenty trained officers were sent, the Germans already knew. And the officers went from ship to the train and to the ship again to go to Russia it took even three months. Because they coudln´t go directly. My husband spent almost four months to get to russian front. Because when a bigger group was sent then Germans found it out and attacked it. So all the officers died on the way. The Germans discovered that because they had spies in England. So they knew when are the officers going and how. So lately the officers were sent in groups of eight or ten. Because the managment was affraid to lose twenty trained people. It was difficult. Even my husband left before Christmas and arrived in March. They traveled difficultly ...I have letters here he sent me from Teheran for example. In Buzuluk there was the highest rank general Svoboda. When the officers arrived from England they went to introduce themselves. They stood in the line, my husband also. And when Svoboda came to him he said: ´Don´t tell, don´t tell.. Matl! Hranice.´ Svoboda was head of the military academy in Hranice when my husband was studying there.

  • I didn´t come into contact with Hana Benešová directly... Just distantly. We were saying hello, waving, when they were there... when she was somewhere officially with her husband. So we ´ve seen each other more often. There weren´t many women – three mabye four. She was really marvellous. Marvellous. When I was working in Brno I used to go with my workmates to villa where she have lived and where mr. President was burried. And when we cane to the grave we always sang czech anthem. And she always came out and waved to express her gratefulness. But then she lost her sight. So this is how it was, you know, I didn´t talk to her directly. Just in the canteen or so when they were sitting. But it wasn´t like I could talk to her. Because she was very withdrawn, and her husband also. They both were withdrawn.

  • Living in those days? It was beautiful. Peaceful. There was poverty but women didn´t have to go to work. They were at home with children. Men had that much higher salary. Employing of women was implemented by Communists. Really, the life was peaceful and nice. People weren´t such demanding. But everyone has nice clothing, has food to eat. It was calm and kind. People had their households. There were beggars before the church, for example with amputated leg. But the state supported them. People who had no job got a state support. They went to tidy up offices, for example. There were salons where many people were emploeyd. My godmother was dressmaker. There was a theater in Košice and she sew dresses for it. She employed seven girls. Now the actresses get their dresses but they had to have their own in that time. We wore hats and gloves. Now there are even no tobacco shops. Then there was everything but it´s no longer. It ended already. You know, you live absolutely different now. And it´s not as nice as we experienced it. I had to ba at home at 8 p.m. I went to promenade at six o´clock and there it was very good. The promenade was long, we went up there and down there and met new people.

  • We were celebrating New Year´s Eve. Little Jane was in the bed and my landlady looked after her. But Jane fell asleep easily but the landlady went to see her. And me and my husband could sit down there light-heartedly. So hi sat next to me. And Opálka had a relationship with youn Egnlish girl. I told you she had a necklace with watches. I had it here also, I also bought this necklace watches then. And Opálka was whooping awfully. He came from that shire where they used to whoop that way. And I wasn´t used to that. It annoyed me so much. And he was like if he fell it is for the last time so he whooped that much. And I wanted to go home at all costs. I saw him for the last time when he sat in a car heading to London. When they were removed from my husband they went to London to pass the course.

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    Brno, 23.10.2014

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The English people gave us everything although they didn´t know a thing about us

Luisa  Matlová (1946)
Luisa Matlová (1946)
photo: fotoalbum paní Matlové

Luisa Matlová was born on 9th April 1916 in Košice into well-situated family. She got married professional soldier, officer Matl, whom she followed in France after the beginning of Nazi occupation in 1939. Later they went in Great Britain where officer Matl took part in training Czechoslovakian military units. In 1944 contemporary´s husband moved to Russia to get involved into the fightings in local battle-front as a commanding officer. After the second world war the Matls lived in Prague and later in Brno, where Luisa Matlová lives since now.