Rifleman Władysław Gugała, 6th “Children of Lwów” Tank Battalion.

On 14 February 1940, Soviet militiamen arrived at my house and read out an instruction given by “our great friend and leader”, Joseph Stalin, forbidding us to live there any longer. We were deported to Russia, to the settlement of Cyncybil in the Arkhangelsk Oblast. They didn’t give us any food during the journey, while the railcars were terribly cold. Once we arrived at the settlement, we were placed in barracks that were colder than an ice-cellar. And there was no time to eat, because although we received some food, they marched us off to work immediately, for ten hours – barefooted, hungry and ragged, half dead from exhaustion. Those who were too weak to go to work were thrown into cellars, popularly known as “punishment cells”. The lives of many colleagues would end there, while if they returned, they would carry signs of beating and torture. I myself was taken to the jail, where I spent half a year in [illegible], living off 200 grams of bread and boiled water. I was savagely beaten and tortured, but I tried to make light of my ordeal. They later imprisoned me for a year, and sent me back to the forced labor camp, where I worked in the forests. I was only given salty fish to eat – with no water or bread. My soul suffered terribly. But I waited patiently for freedom.

And when this longed-for moment finally arrived, I immediately left for Shahrisabz – to enlist in the Polish Army – on 11 March 1942.