As mentioned in the previous section, at the end of December 1943, "Wilk" split into three parts with John and I staying with
Lt. Krystyn Wieckowski "Zawisza" in the new reformulated "Wilk" with its new base camp at Luban over Kroscienko, later at Szczawa and Mogielnica.
After reformation the unit "Wilk" (or "Wilk 2" or "Wilk 1944" ) was about a third of its original size, initially consisting of 15 men. However the group would again grow in numbers with time.
Another disaster befell the "new" reformulated "Wilk" unit on 19th February 1944 after we (about 32 partisan fighters) had just raided the Polish-German
police station at Ochotnica Dolna.
(This was retribution to the police from this station who had participated in the devestating attack on the partisan Czerwony Groń hideout. )
We disarmed all 25 policemen.
As well, one German (the commander of the police station, the German military police Sergeant Hans Kuntz) and one Polish policeman were killed in the action with five being wounded.
Partisan casualties were one killed (Jan Kulig ps. "Maciek" of Zabrzeż).
However German troops quickly appeared on the scene pinning us down in the garrison. We finally broke out of the house we had been pinned in, but we returned to camp empty-handed and our numbers reduced to 14. We had also made off with a large cache of arms, food and clothing. Winter clothing was always at a premium and desperately needed and we took every opportunity to acquire it–even if it meant stealing from the German army.
Three days later, the Germans executed 40 hostages.
Our party of 14 then moved to the hills at Przysłup.
The enraged Germans followed us and we were attacked by a party of 60 German gendarmes in the early morning of 21st February 1944.
After 2 hours of fighting we broke through the encircling Germans, and went into hiding in a cave in the hills, having lost five of our A.K. boys:
pchor. Bolesław Durkalec ps "Sławek”
strz. Józef Rogal ps "Strzała”
strz. Jan Rogal ps "Żbik”
strz. Józef Cyrwus ps "Kruk”
strz. Franciszek Klimowski ps "Wicher”
German casualties were six killed and an unknown number wounded.
Since the losses on their side was also very severe, the Germans did not continue the pursuit.
But it was not the end of the tragedy. That day the Gestapo in Zakopane's infamous "Palace" prison exacted a bloody revenge on the captive Polish partisan prisoners.
The "Wilk" unit party of 9 remained in close concealment for a week while German search parties combed the area for us. After things had quieted down we moved to Słopnice via Stary Sącz, where we reformed operations during February and March 1944.
As the months passed, our detachment grew larger and larger.
By March 1944 the unit had been built up to strength of 110 men.
The principal task of unit was guarding the dropzones to receive supplies from Allied aircraft flying out of Italy. The Regiment obtained a number of its weapons as a result of raids on the the Slovakian border guard outposts.
I was promoted to 2nd lieutenant and put in command of a platoon group of 40 men, with John as my second–in–command.
Podpolesk or Podhale – Poland's most southern region, sometimes referred to as the "Polish highlands"- was our platoon's nominal assigned area of operation. Podhale is located in the foothills of the Tatra range of the Carpathian mountains. Nowy Targ is the capital of the region with the mountain resort of Zakopane being the region's most popular attraction.
During this time, my sphere of operation moved generally to the Limanowa district of Southwestern Poland. Here we worked closely with the unit of por. (Lieutenant) Aleksander Marczyński "Strzemię" who was in charge of the company unit Topór in the summer of 1944. (In September 1944 his company unit, along with Wilk and Wilk II would combine to build Battalion I "Nowy Sącz". Then in October 1944 Marczyński moved to Battalion IV "Nowy Targ" -- as seen from my own movements, there was a lot of moving around within the partisan ranks!)
Map Source: Wikepedia : Limanowa
Picture Source: Wikepedia : Limanowa
Postcard: Limanowa circa 1940s Momento saved by Hubert Brooks
I was to work quite closely with and become good friends with Capt. Julian Krzewicki ("Filip") the Commander of the 2nd Battalion 1 psp AK and Head of Limanowa Region (see for example Armament Drop Exercises Near Village of Kostrza in Section 3.6 as an example as to where we worked closely).
Julian had been appointed as the Komendant Obwodu of Limanowa (District Commander of Limanowa) on September 1, 1943 replacing Stanisław Leszko “Olcha”.
I also got to know Julian's wife Barbara who spent essentially the entire war at Julian's side, for the first part of the war primarily at her families house in Gorlice (which was also the local underground headquarters in the Limanowa region) and then for the later part of war in the Beskid Wyspowy mountains with the partisans.
At the house in Gorlice they prepared propaganda, written orders, and stored weapons.
Barbara had been sworn into the AK in Gorlice and took the pseudonym name "Wieslawa".
Barbara participated in the issue of the weekly underground magazine that was copied and sent out all over the country. The chief-editor was Alojzy Biernat "Ryszard”. The materials were derived from the radio (Barbara participated in this principally by hearing and writing down BBC news), also from a central partisan underground press, as well as the local press.
The wonderful thing was that Julian and Barabra were almost always together during the partisan time of the war.
I was also to be great friends with the 2nd Battalion's Chaplain Hubert Kostrzański "Mirt" and Intelligence Officer Jan Cieślak "Maciej".
It was early spring John and I were detailed to carry out our Platoon's first liquidation. There was a Gestapo
informer, a Pole named Sikora, the A.K. wanted to execute. Sikora had acquired considerable wealth in his dealings with the
Germans and was a constant source of danger to the A.K..
He ran the lumber mill in the village of Jazowsko (a small village in the administrative district of Gmina Łącko, within Nowy Sącz County, in southern Poland. Jazowsko lies approximately 8 kilometres (5 mi) south-east of Łącko).
We had orders to kill Sikora and confiscate the big belts from the mill, as we were short of leather for our boot soles.
Our information about Sikora was detailed and complete. He lived in a strongly–built house with a large German shepherd as a watchdog and had a Tommy gun, two rifles, a shotgun and several grenades in his bedroom. A frontal attack was out of the question.
I took John and two Poles with me and we proceeded down the mountains to the outskirts of the village before dawn. From 2 AM until 9AM we waited on the shores of the Dunajec River.
At 9:30AM, in broad daylight, I and one of the Poles ("Iglica") – whose Polish family name was later revealed to be Zygmunt Mańkowski – dressed in civvies waited on the main road of Nowesacz that led from the village to the mill.
As we heard Sikora approach we sauntered towards him, came face to face and passed him. Then we whirled round and shot him.
John and the other Pole were in the village knocking out phone communications. After disarming Sikora we
left him where he lay
and quickly headed for his house. I ran past his startled wife, let the police dog have a burst and headed straight for the bedroom.
I found and grabbed the French Tommy gun and excellent battery radio while my companion seized the other weapons. The rifles were all loaded
with "dum dum" bullets.
Suddenly a voice said:
"What's my husband going to say when he comes back and finds what you've done?" shrieked the woman.
"I'm sorry, Madam," I said,
"Your husband won't be coming back!"
Then we scrammed. As we joined up with the others in the village we noticed a post office truck parked in the street. The boys shot up its tires before we left. The Germans were hot on our trial 10 minutes later, but failed to catch us. The Germans wanted to kill a number of Poles in reprisal, but the wife of the informer pleaded for them not to, as she was afraid that we would return and kill both her and her child. That was the fear that the Polish partisans seeded in traitors.
20–Oct–1957 Letter Received by Weekend Magazine after Brooks' Article "Escape To Danger" Was Published:
With respect to the shooting of the Gestapo informer "a Pole named Sikora".
"I knew the man Sikora very well. He was a chief-forester in the estate of my friends, the landowners of the village of Jazowsko which was situated near the village of Łącko mentioned in the article.
Invited often by my friends, I spent many of my holidays in this charming region upon the Dunajec River on hunting and fishing trips. Sikora was always our guide in these woods. Both Sikora and his wife were not Poles, but German, descending from German colonist families. Sikora, like many German colonists in the region spoke fluent Polish. The landowners of Jazowsko were highly cultured people and were very good to Sikora – as they were to all of their employees (in Jazowsko there was a furniture factory, some lumber mills, etc). So Sikora had nothing to complain about.
Nevertheless, when the Germans occupied Poland, Sikora became a "VOLKSDEUTSCHE" and at the same time collaborator of the GESTAPO. Because of his denunciations almost whole families of my friends were killed or deported to Concentration Camps by the Nazis.
So Sikora deserved his fate and please express my thanks to Mr. Brooks for avenging my friends."
Dr Pierre Radwanski
Professor of Anthropology
Université de Montréal
In German-occupied Poland the population of Poland was divided into a social structure as follows;
We then returned to Przysłup where the company was now stationed. A week later we discovered to our chagrin that the postal truck was transferring a huge amount of government money. The driver had stolen it himself and blamed the theft on us!
PHOTO: Hubert Brooks Summer 1944 somewhere in Gorce or Beskidy Mountains.
PHOTO: Hubert Brooks at Polish Partisan Unit Wilk Exercise 1944.
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The Life and Times of Hubert Brooks M.C. C.D.