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Wojciech 'little Wojtek' Narebski

Professor Wojciech Narebski

3. Italy

Wojtek's positive influence on the spirit of the soldiers was also evident during the Italian campaign when very often it was necessary to drive day and night, our heavy lorries filled with munitions and other military materials, across mountainous roads, heavily damaged by the retreating enemy and easily observed from Monte Cairo. Acquafondata – was the point from where it got very dangerous - it was completely ruined - it was the point where after the battle that many of our soldiers were buried. Our duty was to bring munitions, food and petrol to two heavy artillery regiments - the 10th and 11th, which were staying about 4km in front of Monte Cassino. But Monte Cassino is 520 metres high - the highest point Monte Cairo is 1669 metres and the units of our Corps – two infantry divisions and one armoured regiment were fighting in between and simultaneously along the lily - so strictly speaking the monastery hill was not conquered but surrounded in the hills by Polish troops and in the Liri valley by the divisions of the 13thBritish and 1st Canadian Corps. During the Monte Cassino battle Wojtek remained in the parking place of our Company near Venafro, since taking him with supplies to the position of artillery regiments would be too dangerous not only for him but for soldiers and drivers. The greatest and autonomous success of the Polish Corps during the Italian campaign was the conquest of the Adriatic port Ancona, this was very important from logistical view point. Consequently, during the adriatic campaign, which resulted in the break of the Gothic line in the Adriatic sector by allied troops, the Polish-British and Polish-Italian brotherhood in arms was directly realized. The 7th Hussars and household cavalry regiment were subsequently awarded with the maid of Warsaw - the emblem of the 2nd Polish corps.

Because of the initially rapid retreat of German troops and increased demand of munitions by our artillery regiments, our Company had in this period very much to do, being often in motion several days without interval. Just in this period Wojtek helped us from time to time rising heavy boxes with munitions on to the truck. It is, however, obvious and comprehensible , that the famous emblem of our Company presents Wojtek holding not a box but an artillery shell. During the Adriatic campaign Wojtek was very happy because we were moving mostly along Via the Adriatic coast. Therefore, Wojtek could fairly often take refreshment baths, causing sometimes confusion on the beaches . Nevertheless he was always, as usual, very gentle and never created any troubles.

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