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Page Last Updated, Febrary 4th, 2018

Jan Pirog, October 21, 1919 - August 30, 2009. R.I.P.

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Normandy, 1944

I was in Russia as a prisoner of war and was in the cavalry prior to that.

I tried to get to Hungary but wanted to visit my parents and was caught by Russian troops in Rohatyn and so was sentenced to 26 months in a Russian prison camp.

We were liberated after Hitler's attack on Russia. I served in ALL the 1st Armoured Division 2nd front campaigns and received the Krzysz Waleczny (with bar) and Virtuti Militari. I hope that in my 83rd year some of our efforts will be, at last, recognised and not remembered as Canadian efforts alone, without the Poles getting so much as a mention.

The Falaise battle was like being in hell!!

The Valour & the Horror in Desperate Battle: NORMANDY 1944

Falaise - Operation Tractable

St Lambert lay half-way between Chambois and Trun. The battle group assigned to capture it consisted of 175 men, 16 tanks and 4 MIOs from the 5th Anti-Tank Regiment - the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders with a squadron of South Alberta tanks from the 4th Armoured Division, They were commanded by Maj. David Currie, a veteran of 10 days of combat, and two years of training as an armoured corps officer.

David Currie

"The lead SAR troop entered the village moving slowly forward. Two sharp crack like sounds and two of its tanks were disabled. Despite mortar fire, Currie organised the rescue of the tank crews and then posted his men for all-around defence. It was evident that the village was full of German troops protecting the bridge and crossroads.

After six hours of fighting they were only half way through the town. Two half-companies, one from the Lincoln and Welland Regiment and another company from the Argylls, reinforced them that night, but still they could not get through.

The area around Mount Ormel also lay astride the main German escape route to the east. At noon, the Poles captured the north end and attacked the 1 SS Panzer Corps massed below. Their battle continued until August 21st when the Falaise Gap closed.

Canadian heavy infantry machine gunners attacking.

Meanwhile, the 10th Polish Mounted Rifle Regiment of the First Canadian Army, and the U.S. 90th Division linked up at Chambois in a loose encirclement that trapped the Germans at the Trun-Chambois Gap, rather than at Argentan-Falaise. Bradley admitted that he was at fault in stopping Patton's advance, but he blames Montgomery for failing to close the gap which was reinforced by the Germans while "Monty proceeded to squeeze the enemy out toward the Seine. If Monty's tactics mystified me, they dismayed Eisenhower even more. And at Lucky Forward, where a shocked Third Army looked on helplessly as its quarry fled, Patton raged at Montgomery's blunder."

We, as a division, are treated like Kings in Breda, Holland, where we have been back to visit by invitation many times, for gatherings and to visit old comrades who are laid to rest in the cemeteries of the region.

Jan Pirog (V.M.)

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