Saturday 17 August 2019

The Battle of the Falaise Pocket

The 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Falaise Pocket began earlier this week and continues into next. Benedict Ambrose and I took the bus to Penicuik Town Hall to see a small exhibit on the subject.

It is of local interest because Polish soldiers who had been stationed in Scotland were sent to Normandy with the Canadian Army, and they were led by General Maczek into Operation Totalize and the Battle of the Falaise Pocket. It is of interest to me because two of my Polish friends had fathers at that battle---and so did my mother. The Canadian Army was, after all, mostly made up of Canadians.

All three men were, therefore, accidentally bombed by the Americans around the 8th of August, 1944. R's dad and my grandpa were okay, but K's dad was very badly wounded (65 men were killed)   and spent ten years in British military hospitals afterwards.*

The exhibition is small, made up entirely of placards put up on the walls around a multi-purpose room currently serving as a tea shop, to raise funds for the Polish-made Map of Scotland down in the Borders. There has been a significant Polish community in Scotland since 1941, and don't you forget it. I can't forget it because I get Facebook messages from various Scottish-Polish friendship groups, which heavily emphasise the war generation, especially Wojtek the Bear.

Wojtek, incidentally, was not at the Battle of the Falaise Pocket. I believe he helped win the Battle of Montecassino with Polish Pretend Son's Great-Grandfather and the leatherworker on Lauriston Place.

That was the adventure of the day. Otherwise the day was spent in:

7:15 AM Accepting that I had slept in and making coffee.
8:15 AM Watching a TV interview with Jakub BaryƂa, whom I hope to interview. (Niech Pan pisze do mnie!)
9:15 AM Polish conversation tutorial with my tutor.
10:15 AM Studying Italian in my chair.
1:15  PM Eating brunch in old-fashioned caff (i.e. greasy spoon) in Penicuik.
2:15 PM Buying groceries in Penicuik Lidl.
3:15 PM Studying Italian on the bus.
4:15 PM Ordering a sofa bed from home.
5:15 PM Obeying orders in gym class.
6:15 PM Studying Italian on the bus again.
7:15 PM Taking B.A.'s photo for his new passport.
8:15 PM Contemplating Facebook.

Sinead asked the other day how I get all the reading in. I am not actually getting that much reading in this year because I have thrown myself into exercise instead. However, I do get a goodly amount of studying done because of all the bus trips.

*Apologies to American readers that this tragic friendly fire episode is what R, K, and I best remember about Operation Totalize. Naturally our ancestors were also endangered by the Germans.

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