Sunday, May 18, 2014

Monte Cassino

Today is the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino. The Polish Forces under General Władysław  Anders finally succeeded in taking the mountain topped by a monastery. One thousand fifty two Polish soldiers died in the battle.

My mother's step brother fought in that battle. He was not yet 16. He had been taken from his home together with his family in 1940 by the Soviets. His grandparents were simply killed. They were dropped off in a frozen forest. They asked, "Where do we live?" only to be told, "There are trees, you can build houses." They had brought no tools to cut down the trees.

They asked, "What do we eat?" The answer was similar, "There are rabbits." Yet somehow a few survived. His brother, who was 3 when he was taken, was "too young to live." His father also died before making it to freedom.

Yet my uncle and his mother, who married my widowed grandfather, did. And my uncle then joined the General Anders army, even though he was under aged. He stayed in the British army after the war and was in one of the last units to leave Palestine before it became Israel. He later was sent to Korea. Meanwhile his mother came to the US via Mexico.  He then left the British army to join the American army, spending additional time in Korea, and then going on to teach at the Monterey language school.

Still a young man, he used his GI bill benefits to complete his education and became an electrical engineer.

He and my mother were close until her untimely death. She always loved poppies. We had hundreds in our yard.

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