Soldier's Stories
A collection of stories and bits as related by relatives of the great men who served in this army.

We are looking for stories so if you have a story of your own you would like to add please contact me!

Charles Cwiakala
144th Marksman Regiment
18th Division

Eager to fight for his homeland, Charles Cwiakala lied about his age in order to join up and fight for the independence of Poland. He fought in France in WWI and in the Ukraine during the Polish Soviet War of 1919-1920. Among the decorations he received were the Cross of Valor, the Cross of Merit and the Volunteers War Cross. Fiercely proud of his service to Poland, he kept his uniform tailored to fit through his entire life and was regularly honored by the Polish Consulate in Chicago as one of the last surviving veterans of Haller’s Army. Charles passed away in the year 2000 at the age of 97, his final wish was to be buried in his Polish Army uniform… which he was.

Jan Sumara
1st Division
Polish Army in France

"The trip across Germany to Poland after the Germans were defeated was quite a feat... the Polish soldiers were called the Blue Devils by the German populace... "

"Pa did not talk too much about the war (Polish Soviet War), except how they ate horse meat when one of the horses was killed by the enemy other than that I can't recall anything but generalities on how bad they had it. "

Related by a family member of Jan Sumara
Telegraph Officer, 13th Company, 1st Division (?)
Fought in France and in the Ukraine during the Polish-Soviet War

...when they encountered some Russian troops in the winter, they were in pathetic shape. Most had raggedy clothing, shoes with holes and frostbitten toes - so bad that they would surrender without any fight. The Poles would just take them into “custody” and feed them until they were transported to the base. He also mentioned that he survived one particular fight only because he was thin enough to hide behind a small tree when they were being ambushed. His best friend was shot and killed that day.

Related by a family member of Charles Cwiakala
144th Marksman Regiment
18th Division
Fought in France and in the Ukraine during the Polish-Soviet War

"From captured German documents Gouraud and the 42nd knew that the number
and first-class quality of the divisions in the attack make it clear that
the enemy expected great results ....Chalons.... was expected to be taken at
4 A.M. on the morning of the 16th. However, the battle has so far resulted
in a complete check for the enemy at all points. The three divisions of the
XXI Corps aided by elements of the 42nd Division and a Polish regiment broke
the attack of seven divisions of the best German troops"

Excerpt from article entitled "The Rainbow Division in the Great War", 1917-1919, by James Cooke

This was part of the German assault called "Friedensturm" (assault for peace) which started on the 15th of July, 1918. The 15th is the French holiday, Bastille Day (independence day) and the Germans hoped to catch the French off guard. After a trench raid the French had a prisoner(s) tell them when the attack would start to which General Gouraud emptied the front lines, except for a few.
The American 42nd(Rainbows) fought alongside the French 170 DI of which the First Polish Regiment was assigned at this time. The XXI corps was french under General Naulin.
Source unknown possibly 42nd American (Rainbows) Division
Submitted by Terry Polewski and Andy Bender

Read more about this 2nd Battle of the Marne at
General Gourand's appeal to the troops before the battle

... he repeated time and time again, “by the grace of God I survived”, when many of his friends and fellow soldiers were killed... he would always mention the barbarism of hand-to-hand combat with would lie in fields for days, weeks, suffering, getting infections and bleeding to death before medics could get to them.

He also mentioned that he felt lucky to have been outfitted by the French, because they had a reputation of having the sharpest blades. .

Related by a family member of Charles Cwiakala
144th Marksman Regiment
18th Division
Fought in France and in the Ukraine during the Polish-Soviet War

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