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Waclaw Zagorski 'Lech'. Seventy Days. Frederick Muller Ltd., London 1957.
September 18, 1944
I'd just got back to my billet in Panska Street and was listening to Wislanski's report, when the sentry at the gateway gave warning of aircraft approaching.
I went out to look. There, straight ahead to the north and very high up, I saw aircraft coming over. They looked like silver birds in a blue sky lightly scattered with little clouds. I counted twelve of them, then more and more, until I lost count. The roar of their engines grew, for they were coming straight towards us. Someone was counting them aloud,
“ 102, 103, 104... ”
I looked through my binoculars. They weren't German or Soviet. Then someone shouted:
“They're Liberators! And they're ours!”
Everyone ran out into the street, and scrambled up on the rubble to try to get a better look. I didn't know where they'd all sprung from. It was as though the dead had arisen from their graves.
Then dozens of little clouds opened out round the aircraft as the German A.A. opened fire. But they were out of range, and the shells burst too low. Shrapnel began falling around us, and I shouted to everyone to take cover, but no one heeded. Then three black dots fell away from the leading planes, to be followed at once by more and more, while little coloured circles appeared over the dots-parachutes opening out.
Everyone went mad. They jumped up and down waving, hugging one another....
“No, not parachutists-it's arms! They're dropping arms.”
Now we could see the long metal containers more clearly, and the first fell directly into our sector. Then the wind carried the rest farther and farther away.
Suddenly, as the lads were hurrying to and fro and even before the first container had landed, there was a roar from the German positions – rifles, machine-guns, grenades, mortars, artillery – the lot. They were firing at us along the whole length of their line.
With Rys and Genek I ran out to the first container, which had fallen near Walicow Street in the ghetto ruins, fortunately in a deep hollow. The metal fasteners opened easily and inside we found boxes fitted with straps, ready to be slung over the shoulders. They contained British machine-guns with ammo, and a few minutes later the first were ready for firing.
I went back to our headquarters, where two still-unopened containers were lying in the gateway, brought in from farther away. The lads brought in more containers, and company commanders started to report to me by telephone how many they'd obtained. At the same time they all told me that they were going out in full force against fierce German attack. I asked if they needed any reinforcements, but no one did. Each officer said that today their lads would go out against the devil himself:
We then opened the other containers: the first held Sten guns and ammo; the next contained equipment for sappers-mines, percussion caps, revolvers; the third had anti-tank weapons; the fourth food, including corned beef from the Argentine, chocolate and biscuits; the fifth held medical supplies.
The hands of the ambulance girls trembled a little as we handed over phials of blood for transfusions. They bore labels in Polish, for the blood had been donated by Poles at the Polish hospital in Edinburgh.