War story alert!

Today we bring you a new exclusive translation from the pages of the priceless volumes of the Czech-American annual journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář and it is different.  Unlike our previous translations, this story focuses on the experiences of one of our Czech ancestral compatriots in the ‘war to end all wars’, World War I.

It is filled with details of life in the service and we are certain you will find it interesting and rewarding!

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”

1951 Mach image

“It was the year 1913.

My wife and I left for the old country to recharge and get back in touch with our old friends, and to go through the countryside which was our native home and where our memories were always drawing us.  There were many of those who were leaving with us.

We like it in the old country so much that we decided start some kind of store there.  With that aim we bought a  piece of land and we started to build a building on it, in the middle of the square in a nice village.

July of 1914 came.  We were slowly finishing the building when the World War ignited.  The Emperor František Josef declared that he had taken up the sword to punish those who dared to touch his children. – Many among those with whom we came were still eligible for the draft and so each one was quickly called up to his regiment.  I had to report to my regiment in České Budějovice.  In view of the fact that Austro-Hungary was not prepared for war, among us there were many who had to walk for several weeks in civilian clothes until we were issued our uniforms.

In the company to which I was assigned, I made the acquaintance of a soldier whose name was Ira.  The very first day during the mustering of the regiment, he surprised us when he came in wooden shoes and he was walking in them until the time that he received his uniform, boots and weapons.   He was marching nicely beside me in ranks of four and as we were marching along the drill field the bystanders were poking great fun at him.  I recognized in him a quick-learning person who learned fast about things about which I was telling him.  I was describing for him different regions which we traveled through on our way to and from America, about freedom, work and Ira was a good listener.  Often he would ask about this thing or another.   Everything was interesting to him and I was glad to answer his questions.  Nothing lasts forever and so even we said goodbye to Budějovice and after 4 weeks spent there, we departed for Krakow.  At that time it was still the stage of war when everybody had enough of everything.  The soldiers were throwing away bread and tobacco, because they still had some money from home and in place of those they bought cigarettes, and instead of bread, rolls.  Ira barely had time to fill up his backpack, his pockets and little bag with tobacco and bread; he even found some place for small bottles of hard liquor.  At that time Krakow was surrounded on all sides by the Russian Army.  The 17th March Battalion had to go and advance in the direction of Nový Břesk to help to defend places that were in danger.  The path was exhausting and destroyed by grenades.  We saw wounded soldiers limping along, leaving the front to go to the field infirmary or a hospital.”

Tomorrow we will bring you more of this fascinating war story.  It is unlike any of our previous translations and we know you will find it filled with more details and information!

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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