The story of Pawel Chlipalski
"At first I was excited when the soldiers came to our door that night. I was 7 and I had no way of knowing what it meant or that in minutes our lives would be changed forever. We lived in the beautiful city of Lwow, my Father Jan Chlipalski was a Public Prosecutor. When the Russian Soldiers knocked on the door it was only I, my brother Adam who was 11 and our Mother Stefania, who was 34 at home. But when they kicked our door open and ordered us to put our hands up and I saw their guns and bayonets, suddenly I thought they were going to shoot us. We were told we had half an hour to take what we needed. My Mother packed my Father's best suit and whatever she could find in that short, significant time, the last time we would ever see our home or Lwow. We later found out that our Father had been arrested along with many men who held positions of authority in the city and he had been taken to an officer's camp. The next morning at the train station, we were loaded into cattle trucks packed with people, with small windows which had bars on them so we couldn't escape. We travelled like that for 2 weeks, about 40 of us standing up together during the day, everyone lying on the floor to sleep at night one hole in the floor as a latrine. The train took us along the transiberian railway on the first part of our 8 year journey: being deported to Siberia. I remember the names of the places we went through from Lwow to Kubishev on to Sverdlovsk, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Semi Paletinsk. It was at Semi Paletinsk that we lived and were made to work in a Kolkhoz called Stansikroslodov Semipaletinsk Oblast. I remember hundreds of cows passing through the prairie.We lived in an earth clay hut. We all slept behind the fireplace where we had gathered hay and slept on top of it our Mother, my brother and I. We were starving throughout that time. The Russians did not give us food. In the village a worker at the cooperative took us on where they grew potatoes and maize. We were then given 2 grams of very heavy black bread each, that was everything we had. Our Father's suit that my Mother had saved, saved us. The Precedil in charge of the Kolkhoz gave us a suckling pig for the suit. My brother and I were put in charge of looking after the pigs. Once we were so tired, we fell asleep and the pigs escaped and dug out and ate all the potatoes. That night we had to run away, my Mother realised we would be terribly punished. She paid someone to take the 3 of us to the steppe. We survived there for 1 and 1/2 years in freezing temperatures near Semipaletinsk. The Wolves were a real danger, our Mother found a ruin of a house and built it up so we survived those 1 1/2 years. At night she would get a fire going to protect us and she would go in search of a village and come back with bread.One day a Russian Agranam plane came measuring the land with men working for the government. When they opened up their food supplies Adam and I were standing with our tongues hanging out. They took pity on us and gave us some food, Otherwise we ate wild onions dug out of the ground. 2 years after the war had started the Russians changed sides. We had no idea how the Russians found us again, 2 other people joined us then. It was then we heard rumours of what was happening in Germany. It was 1942 we also heard what was happening around the world and that the Anders' Army was being formed, evacuating the Soviet Union.Stalin had now agreed to release Polish Prisoners of War and recruitment was beginning to form a Polish Army on Soviet soil. We agreed we would join the Anders' Army Cadets and we really wanted to go. Our next train journey was from Kazakstan to Uzbekistan and Krasnovodsk. We needed water to drink and so Adam my brother who is 4 years older than me, would get off when the train stopped to get water. Sometimes the Russians would leave people behind before they could get back on with their families, I was always worried that Adam would be left but he would always run after the train and jump back on. We arrived in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. We were planning with our mother to escape to China/Mongolia. My brother Adam as he was older joined the Polish army in Narpay Uzbekistan and I was staying with my mother in Kermine. The terrible onslaught of contagious diseases killed many Polish soldiers. The Majority of us were deprived of clean water and ample nourishment because the Russians authorities could not provide sufficient rations for the growing Polish Army. This really affected our health. Adam and I soon contracted a number of these sicknesses of which typhus and dysentery were more prevalent and very destructive. I got very ill at that point with bloody Dysentry. I was on the toilet 80-100 times a day to the point I was not passing food, only blood. We met again as patients in the hospital that was preparing for evacuation to Iran. Finally arrangements were made for Anders Army to go to Iran. We were taken to Krasnovodsk, Turkmenistan on the Caspian Sea and were dumped on the sand dunes on the outskirts of town without water or food in the scorching heat of the sun. I found out later that at that point I started to show signs of total exhaustion and dehydration. I was emaciated and barely coherent. In the afternoon came the order to march to the port area several kilometers away from where we were but the people under hospital care had the train at their disposal. Unfortunately neither Adam or I had the strength to climb the wagon’s stairs. If it was not for some compassionate person carrying us inside the car we would never reach our destiny. The sight from train’s window which was considerably higher than the sea shore revealed the path of marching soldiers with many of them reclining either dead or exhausted. When finally we boarded the ship ( called Kaganovic) I had to be dragged along to the top deck and Adam laid me down under the ventilator, completely limp, apparently lifeless. In due course the sanitary commission came examined me and proclaimed that I was most probably dead and they demanded that I be carried to the ship’s mortuary. Adam protested and refused to allow them to take me, again my brother who was always so close to me, saved my life. The Kaganovic took us with the Anders Army to the port of Pahlavi, Iran then we journeyed on to the Capital Tehran. There we were offered the choice of a British Protectorate, India, Tanganika, or Palestine. My Mother was promised we could follow her to Jerusalem Camp Barbara if she went ahead as a nurse (for which she trained on the way) and Adam and I joined her arriving in 1942, the British paid for us to go to cadet School. We wore a military khaki uniform. We stayed in Camp Barbara until 1947. We then crossed over to Egypt El Kantara and on to Port Said where we boarded one of the British Army's biggest ships SS Chitral. Here is some of the passenger list showing our Mother Stefania arrived (we boys were with her) http://www.polishresettlementcampsintheuk.co.uk/passengerlist/chitral.htm on the SS Chitral in Southampton on 15 September 1947. My Mother was a heroine and we two growing boys like stallions at her side from Europe to the edge of Asia, to Africa and finally back to Europe. She was called 'little Napoleon' by everyone. She did everything she could to juggle and for us together to survive those years and she succeeded. I remember her as being a brave and brilliant lady. We found out our Father had been captured by the Germans and imprisoned in Oflag Officer Camp. He was released in 1947 and later won an Honorary Cross for his service, he was alive and had gone through Romania to join the Free Polish Army fighting in France. Correction: We arrived on 3 different busts in the UK. My father and my mother Stefania arrived at different times in Southampton and Adam was taken to Liverpool. Then we were all reunited.