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D13-th_Mytzu
Posted: December 21, 2005 10:42 am
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My name is Raymond Beaune. I was in the RCAF. I went overseas in 1943.

I was on 13 different bases in England. Eventually I was transferred to the RAF. My first operation was in a Wellington aircraft and I was on a bombing mission near Paris. It was a night mission. My next two missions were on Sterlings. After that I converted to Lancasters. I flew with 90 Squadron for 17 missions. When we had 12 missions in, I was the senior man on the squadron. I was referred to as the old man. Imagine a 21-year-old being referred to as the old man? Once we had our 17 missions in, I asked for a transfer to Pathfinder Force. Pathfinder Force was a little more dangerous than bomber command, in the fact that your average life span was 8 missions. I was shot down on my 8th mission on a mission to Slovan which is the Ruhr Valley. Well known for being very heavily defended with flak. And that's what shot us down. We were at 22,000 feet at the time that I shot. The left side of the plane, where the wireless operator was, there was a hole there that was about 8 feet diameter. We jettisoned our bombs and headed towards the allied front in France, hoping to be able to get far enough west that we could parachute behind our own lines. Our plane would not maintain altitude and we were descending slowly. Fire started and came up through the cockpit and was licking at my legs so I couldn't hold my feet on the rudder pedals anymore. I gave the order to bail out and the rear gunner bailed out from the back, mid-upper gunner and wireless operator were supposed to bail out through the centre section. My navigator, flight engineer, went out the front and when they went out the front, I tore the curtain down and looked back and I thought everybody was out, so I bailed out the front too. But, apparently, my mid-upper gunner had not gotten out and the plane blew up just as I was bailing out. And he was blown up through the canopy. And he survived. My parachute was damaged because of the explosion so I came down fairly hard when I hit the ground. The flak had split open my chin so that I had blood rushing down the front of my tunic and when I hit the ground there was a German officer and two soldiers there waiting for me, because they had seen me come down. The German officer took me to the field hospital and that was quite an experience. When an enemy, like myself, goes into their field hospital, I was not given a warm reception. We went to another hospital for a recuperation period of about a week, and finally I was sent to Stalag Luft 3. We were air crew with RAF, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Americans throughout the camp. We had our senior officer and his entourage who were there, who briefed us on how we were to behave and how we were not to escape unless they gave us the okay to escape and so on. We stayed at Stalag Luft 3 until January of '45. When the Russians advanced, we were told in the middle of the night, to pack up that we we're leaving first thing in the morning to be brought to another camp. We were on the march for about 5 days. We got to Stalag 3A, which is at Luckenwalde, Germany. About April 20th the Russians came into the camp. The Germans, of course, disappeared during the night. When we woke up in the morning, there wasn't a German around. And the first Russian soldiers we saw were all women on horseback. They had their guns slung across their body with the bandoliers of ammunition and so on. It didn't take us long to realize that the Russians were not about to send us back to the allied lines. Apparently, during the Potsdam Conference, there was a General Brown from US Forces that had signed an agreement with one of the Russian Generals that prisoners would be exchanged on a one-for-one basis. Of course, the Russian prisoners of war did not want to go back to Russia, so they went into hiding. The allies could not find enough Russian prisoners to exchange for us. We were left in the camp. And then we were forced to escape from the Russians.
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D13-th_Mytzu
Posted: December 21, 2005 10:43 am
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Hi folks,

this would be a little history lesson I learned in times which were not suited to praise our heroes.
When I was 8 (1987), I was keen to history of our family and my father told me about it, he said my grandfather was a legionaire in Russia and he showed me the pictures. When I asked what does it mean "legionaire in Russia", he told me my grandfather fought in WWI, at eastern front and become a POW there.

Only then I realised about important part of our history, not taught at school at these times. It was unfit to the official communist history of our country.

My father told me -

Before and during WWI, Bohemia (Czech Kingdome) was a part of Austrian-Hungarian Empire, being on the "wrong" side of the conflict. Czechs did not want to fight for the empire as it was neglecting rights of Czech people (especially in comparison with Hungars).
The Czech and Slovakian soldiers were defecting to the enemy on both fronts, and the deserters formed an indipendent units in Western armies fighting against Germans and Austria-Hungarians.

The goal was to establish a indpendent Czech state as the units were be on the (supposingly) winning side of the conflict.

However in the eastern front the situation was not that simple, deserters were put into POW camps and guarded. Due to unstable political situation both russian parties - white (conservative) and red (comunists) were hesitating to arm an uncontrollable army of desertist and POW's. As the world conflict on the east ended by cease-fire in 1917, and the political situation in Russia worsend, Czech desertists were moved to Siberia, in order to be out of the ongoing conflict, because both sides were not certain how to deal with the rather big numbers of Czech desertist and POW's. However these were not allowed to return home, but were kept sent further east to Siberia.
At those times (1918) as the white russian authorities were struggling to defeat communists, Czech desertist became threatened and directly attacked by communists units trying to seize the whole country. Later on, after the declaration of independence of Czechoslovakia the "legion" as the Czech and Slovakian desertists and POW's called themselves become a part of new-born Czechoslovakian Army (strangely enough, the 1919 Czechoslovakian Army had more soldiers abroad than at home). Legions in Russia took action to arm itself well and seized the only railorad connecting European and Asian parts of the country and begin to move west. As this force was a deadly threat to communists, who were winning the fight for power in Russia, they called the Czech legions its enemies and started to fight it. The only wish of Legion was to return home, as soon as possible. The political effort, lead by President Masaryk, led to opening a way through Japan and US to Europe. Legions were ordered to turn back and head east.At a moment, our legions were at control of whole Far East railroad, effectively one-third of whole Russia, just as they have been on their way home. Legions, lead by skilled Czech officers become a very effective force and were fighting communists while moving east, deep into Siberia and finally to the port of Vladivostok. There they embarked ships provided by US goverment and were sailed to San Francisco and then by the railroad to the East Coast. Again they were on the ships, this time steaming to Europe. Last Czech Legionaire arrived to Czechoslovakia in 1921, three years after the WWI ended. .

My grandfather took this epic journey home, over the whole world just to return where he belonged. Unfortunately, his health was affected by the bad conditions he was encountering in Russia and he died of pneumonia in 1945, being just 43 years old. I never seen him, as I was born in 1979, and my father only remembers him from his very youth (he was born in 1938). The only things we have in remeberance of my grandfather are few old pictures of him in uniform and the high military decoration he received back home as being a legionaire.

During communist era here (1948 - 1989) it was unheard of our Russian legionaries, they become a unfit part of history, just because they have been fighting evil on they journey home. I was told by my father not to tell at school what he told me as it could bring problems to us. I think at that time I realised the commies are wrong. But that is anther story.
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D13-th_Mytzu
Posted: December 21, 2005 10:43 am
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Houm...

This is a story of a relative of mine... don't know exactly how to call him; he was brother in law of my granma, but we all knew him as "uncle Pepe". This story is from the Spanish Civil War.

He was a ship mechanic before the war, and when it started he joined the Republican Navy at Cartagena. There he ended as 2nd mechanic or similar aboard a submarine. Well then, one day the submarine had to stop at Barcelona. It entered the harbor at dawn and the crew was given a pass until noon next day. Uncle Pepe had been to Barcelona and he found his way into the city's night, apart of his comrades. He went to a brothel so he could stay there until next morning. The next day, he went to the harbor at 11:30 AM, and, to his surprise, the submarine wasn't there. He went to the Navy HQ to report his case. There he was told that the submarine had received orders to leave port before 8 AM. Most sailors had come back to he submarine sooner than that; actually uncle Pepe was the only who, knowing the city, had exhausted his pass' allowance. So they left him behind. After spending the whole day at the HQ, he was ordered to go to Valencia and wait for further ordres. He thought that this was silly as the submarine wouldn't stop at Valencia, but he did so. As was expectable, once in Valencia he was ordered to go to Cartagena and wait for the submarine there. Once at Cartagena, several days after the stop at Barcelona, uncle Pepe still didn't knew anyhting about the submarine. He talked to a friend at the Navy HQ in Cartagena and he told him that the submarine was missing. It hadn't communciated in any way and was late in its schedule. Some days later, he was officially informed that the submarine had been declared lost at sea and all his comrades where MIA. Later he heard rumors that there had been a battle near to Barcelona between rebel ships and a republican submarine and the submarine had been claimed sunk by the rebels. The crew was declared KIA and uncle Pepe was the only survivor. Being friend to the whores in a brothel in Barcelona had saved his life. But his comrades where all dead. He felt very sorry as some of the guys where real young; he was 24 or 25, very old to what was usual.

Uncle Pepe lived other adventures after the war; he desserted, fle do the uk, then left it to the USA before WW2 and spent the War as engineer aboard a liner in the Caribbean. He earned a little fortune smuggling goods up and down the Caribbean, and in 1953 he came back to Spain with a heap of dollars and a Indian bike larger than him (he was 5'tall and the bike was like 7 feet long).
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D13-th_Mytzu
Posted: December 21, 2005 10:45 am
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I'm a bit after both, but my dad...

This is as much as I can remember of his stories, good and bad.

He joined a Polish Cavalry Regiment underage. Survived his unit being destroyed because he was a messenger. After Poland surrendered to Germany He went home to find the Russians had invaded that part of Poland, and joined the resistance. The raid he told me about involved a train and no guns; at this time, Russia was still supplying Germany with fuel. The solution was to board the train just after the engine, open the valves and work back to the wagon just before the guards van, where you got off. The train was considerably lighter when the Nazis received it.

The next incident chronologically, the Russians were hunting them. My father’s hideout was an alcove family crypt in the local graveyard. One night, he heard a noise in the crypt, and saw his stepfather come in drunk for a piss. The drunk lit up, and my dad popped his head out of the alcove and asked for a ciggy. He never got one. Stepdad exit stage left evacuating bowels.

He went to visit my grandmother and the Russians were waiting. He suspected that the stepfather informed; he was a good communist. Sent to Siberia, where he got extra rations to stay alive by selling "jewellery" made out of horse-hair to the guards, and volunteering for any works detail that came up. He was tortured at this time, something he never told me much about, and resigned to the fact that he was going to be shot. The date was set.

Germany invaded Russia. The Poles were given a stay of execution, and put to work in factories “Until a Polish Army could be reformed.” They were payed in matches; and the Russian people they dealt with had to honour that “currency.” One day, a Russian Lieutenant from the frontlines visited the town, and asked the Poles what they were still doing there, while their army was being reformed. The Poles waited 24 hours, using that time to turn matches into flour, bake bread, and stow aboard a train heading for Tashkent. When they didn’t ride goods trains, they walked. They got to Tashkent to find the army starving, and uncertain of Communist intentions. Sent out to forage, and they found nothing, until they came across a dog being kept by the company commander. They never told the man until they got to Italy, a couple of years later. Rumours began that the Commies were going to slaughter them, so plans were drawn out For a defensive action. The assets were Sticks, two rifles and ten rounds of ammunition. Fortunately, the plan was never put into effect.

When the Poles reached Iraq, They were in no better shape than any of the victims of the German concentration camps. It took months to get them back into shape, but my father’s regiment reformed , and switched to tanks, first training on captured Italian vehicles, then British Vickers Mk. 6 light tanks, and finally, Valentines. My father thought the Valentine was the finest piece of kit he ever used during the war.

The time came when the Valentines were to be handed to the Communists. The papers were signed by the NKVD late afternoon for a complete tank regiment. That night the Poles stripped the tanks of anything useable and flogged it. They were moved to Palestine the following day. Saw a girl with increadable long blond hair, who he followed for a long time, just to see her face; she turned out to be fantastically ugly.

Nice hair though.

Moving on to Egypt and Cairo, promoted to corporal went on a mission to get on of his people laid; The poor lad’s problem being one of extreme length, most of the whores wouldn’t touch him. One was found, and in fact the man later married her.

Back in the war, and the Poles were issued Shermans. This machine, my father never had a good word for. The tank took a hit, and the crew bailed out. Dad stayed long enough to grab a Thompson. By the time he’d got out of the tank (Radio Operator/Loader, and furthest away from the hatch) the rest of the crew disappeared. Rule of thumb; walk away from the direction the tank is pointing. Sometime later, and hopelessly lost, he comes across two Germans in a shell crater. By waving the SMG around, he gets them moving, and they take him home to the allied lines. Got a medal for getting lost.

The rest o the war was Italy. Monte Cassino. For the battle, each tank had extra boxes of shells on the floor. The Regiment was tasked to artillery support. The barriage began. 30 minutes later, all the shells were gone, my father couldn’t move his arms, and couldn’t taste the cigarette for the stench of cordite.

Later, he was badly wounded by German artillery. The hospital also looked after Yugoslavian Communists, and for reasons best known to themselves, the powers that be put my father in with them. All things considered, not a marriage made in heaven. He checked out early, technically desertion, and went to find his regiment. His tank saved the life of an Italian farmer. One thing led to another, and for a while there was a possibility that my mother would be Italian.

The war ended, and the Poles were brought to Britain. Britain had gone to war six years ago to honour a treaty with Poland, but now they wouldn’t go to war with the Russians occupying the country. Instead, Churchill offered The Poles Citizenship. Fearing what would happen if the Russians got hold of him again, My father stayed in England.

Wearing his uniform one day on a trip to York, he was slapped in the face by an old woman and told to F*ck off home, you Fascist”

He never called England home, though I’ve never known any other.
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