Our story from the 1951 edition of Amerikán Národní Kalendář continues!  We are following one Czech fighting in World War I and it continues today!  Not only do we learn more of the fighting of the Czech soldiers, but ‘our’ Czech gets captured by the Russians!

What will his future hold now?

Amerikán Národní Kalendář

Year: 1951, Volume: LXXIII, Pages: 117-144

“Old Settlers’ Memories”

Translated from the original Czech by Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce and Layne Pierce

©Onward To Our Past®

“Experiences from the War in 1914. – In Captivity. –The Happy Return.”

Reported by Jan Mach, founder of the firm Mach & Son, Importers

“The marching soldiers were collapsing with exhaustion.  Not far away from Nový Břesk they ordered rest.  Each person threw themselves onto the ground, hungry and thirsty.  And then they saw how Ira was enjoying a whole stick of bread. He was not paying attention to them.  They, however, came and nicely asked for a piece of dry bread.  Ira, however, rebuked them:  “Get away from me!  You were throwing it away there so you would not have to drag it with you, and now a piece of bread would be good, huh?”  However, others came and they were offering him several crowns.  Ira then relented, and as long as that which he reserved was enough for himself, he was selling a piece for several crowns.  He was selling also tobacco and everything that he had with him and Ira still had constantly enough money.  He was approached for being a tightwad, however, he did not care.  Also he would often do reconnaissance missions and it happened that he would be offered up to a hundred crowns to go to a dangerous place instead of a soldier who still had enough money.  It was for Ira nothing to go half a kilometer among a hail of bullets that were whistling along one’s head.  He was, however, lucky.  He returned without a scratch.  The main thing was that he received a hundred crowns.

On the seventh of January 1915, the battalion was called back and we went to Bukovina. [Austro-Hungarian Territory in northeastern Carpathian Mountains and the adjoining plain] The road was exhaustingly difficult.  The Army was falling with fatigue and hunger into the ditches.  Ira and I, however, we were lucky.  Not far away from the road we found a hut where older people were living who understood German after they made our acquaintance they happily fed us.  On the next day the Russians started an attack against us, and Ira was shooting at them like a madman and in the end the dear Russians retreated.

Austrian soldiers fighting the Russians in trench warfare.

Austrian soldiers fighting the Russians in trench warfare.

On our further road we saw Kimpolnunk, Starožinec, Černovice, Herodenk.   In this place the Russian Army broke through our front, since our officers courageously fled from us and they left us without any leaders.  Wherever you would look there were Russians everywhere.  Ira with a white kerchief tied to his bayonet was screaming at Russian soldiers: “Hello, Slavs, I am also a Slav.” And so we got into Russian captivity.  The Russian officer was asking who among the soldiers knows how to speak German, and he told us that they will treat us well in Russia.  Ira got some courage.  He gave everybody his hand he was glad that he could keep everything except for his arms.  However, as soon as we got onto the road to Russia the Austrian Army started a strong artillery barrage to such a degree that many soldiers received the consequences.  The Russians, however, in answer started such a barrage that when I looked behind I saw Herodenk in flames. –Five days and nights with small breaks we marched to the Russian borders, through Trembovna, Tarnopol into Podvolečisk, the first Russian station.”

Tomorrow we continue this amazingly detailed story of the experiences of Czechs fighting in World War I.  Don’t miss a thing and be sure to come back to Onward To Our Past® tomorrow as we continue this exclusive story — you won’t find it in English anywhere else!

Onward To Our Past®


A Genealogical Historian, who is focused on family history and genealogy of the highest quality, but with a dose of fun. Avid about documentation and evidence. Loves helping folks of all levels in their genealogy pursuits, especially in the areas of Bohemia, Czech Republic, Italy, Cornwall, Kent, United Kingdom, U.S. Immigration and Cleveland, Ohio.

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