Colin's tweets

follow me
Colin Smith
About ColinContact ColinHome Books

Extracts of Warsaw Boy

(From Chapter 25. Joining the Elite Zoska Battalion)

I first laid eyes on Jerzy a few days after he got out of the Old Town. He had been badly hit in both legs during the siege of Warsaw, in 1939, and had been hospitalized for four months. Whenever he could, he liked to take the weight off his feet. He was lying on a couch, resting these old wounds, when I was paraded before him along with the nine other teenaged members of Acting Sergeant Mietek’s squad. The remnants of the Zośka Battalion, which by now was probably not much more than 100 strong, was about to be redeployed to the riverside suburb of Czerniaków and was looking to build up its strength with suitable replacements. Mietek thought he had the perfect answer, and we all agreed that joining the famous battalion was an excellent idea.
But would they have us?
Our sergeant made his pitch, explaining to his recumbent audience that, apart from our other duties, we had all seen a little fighting and were anxious to do a whole lot more. As he spoke, Jerzy - just turned thirty and every inch the soldier - lay there looking us up and down. Standing by the couch, a couple of his officers were doing the same. We were dismally aware that our appearance was not very martial. Only Mietek had a camouflage smock. Several of us, including myself, were by now wearing some of the grey-green Wehrmacht trousers the Home Army had acquired - though, as yet, I had been unable to get the boots to go with them so was still wearing civilian shoes. Romek wore his usual student cap. The rest of us were mostly without headgear.
‘Well, shall we take them?’ said Jerzy, turning to his officers. ‘What do you think? At least they’re used to gunfire.’
We stood there holding our breath.
‘They’ll do,’ said one of them.
‘I think so,’ said Jerzy. So we were in and on our way to Czerniaków.

Back to top Next Extract
site by pedalo limited