Major (ret.) Václav Rachač

* 1921  †︎ 2015

  • “I don’t believe it too much, and I have never inquired about it. I was there once, too. There was a lighthouse a bit further away, and when we got a warning that Germans came, we would go on a raid. They would always gather people who were not having lunch at the moment and who had nothing else to do, and these people would go to do those raids. One day I went to see inside the lighthouse. They were setting up various explosives devices there, it was in little boxes. I was looking whether there was a wire jutting out from something, and I rather went away. I didn’t trust it. As for me, when the war was over, for instance, they were dismantling some wires and firing shots in celebration, and they shot down a man who was at the electric pole at the moment taking those wires down.”

  • “He had a machine gun and a driver. The tank driver has a large armoured window and a small peephole in it. He had it open, and by coincidence he got hit by shrapnel. He crashed straight into a house. He was all covered in blood and he was shaking. It was no fun.”

  • “We waited there for the convoy to assemble. Mostly the Canadians were returning. That was because the elder men went to the army for half a year, and they were now going back and taking the wounded with them. The voyage on the ship took a long time, three weeks, I think. We arrived to Glasgow.”

  • “When the army was disbanded, the longer-serving technical sergeants mostly went to the government army. There was nothing else to do. Those who wanted to survive and didn’t want to do manual work had to go somewhere like that. The men joined, but it was not easy for them. They disagreed with many things. Everyone can do what he wants. That’s the way life is.”

  • “When we were going out to that zone, we were accommodated a long way behind the frontline. That was because the tractors which were used for pulling the cannons – we called them cuckoos – were parked a long way back. The command staff was there as well, and the vehicles were parked in the town square and that was also where we slept.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Předměřice nad Labem, 17.05.2010

    duration: 01:27:03
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Předměřice nad Labem, 16.03.2014

    duration: 01:09:37
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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It is hard to live through it

Václav Rachač, May 17, 2010
Václav Rachač, May 17, 2010
photo: autor Luděk Jirka

  Major in retirement Václav Rachač was born May 20, 1921 in České Budějovice in the then Czechoslovakia. He studied elementary school and then he planned to emigrate to the United States of America, but eventually he learnt the barber’s trade. In 1941 he applied to join the government army and he was drafted in the 6th battalion in Hradec Králové. In May 1944 he and other members of the government army were deployed in Italy to do auxiliary work and sentry service. However, Václav and some of his fellow soldiers defected and they crossed over to the Italian partisans. Václav then went through Switzerland and Naples in Italy and he eventually reached Great Britain. On December 22, 1944 he was drafted in the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade and he went through radio communications training. Then he served as a radio operator at Dunkerque, where the armoured brigade besieged German soldiers. After the war he worked in the Czech-Bohemian Kolben-Daněk company in Hradec Králové and he lived in Předměřice nad Labem. Václav Rachač died on March, the 10th, 2015.