“We chased the Germans away by tanks. The Germans were running away from us and we were [shooting – ed.’s note] from a machine gun and advancing. We watched the Germans hurry away. We got hit into the track of our tank and it snapped. You know, it burst. We were not able to continue with the tank, but we continued nevertheless and we drove the Germans directly in [front of us – ed.’s note] toward those who had already retreated. Tanks followed us and there were anti-tank [mines – ed.’s note] exploding and shooting. When they saw that the infantry reached that place, they probably quickly retreated and they stopped shooting at us. But three heavy machine guns were firing at us.”
“They began dropping bombs. They were only dropping lighter bombs. I can tell you, the tree tops were chopped down and I [was – ed.’s note] in a water fountain covered with all those broken branches and all that. I can tell you what it was like when it was falling near me. Those mines, too. That was the first air raid. I can tell you, it is a horrible feeling.”
“The Poles did not make and problems to us, on the contrary. We farmed there and they were happy about it. We were enterprising people. The Volhynian Czechs there were very enterprising, in the economic sense, and all that, you know. They were sensible. People alomost did not even lock their doors. Nobody stole anything and everything was all right. It started only later. When the [Soviets – ed.’s note] arrived. Afterwards we could already see that there was no life for us anymore.”
You know what is it like, the whizzing sound of three machine guns firing at you? One could not even move there
Captain in retirement Josef Kulich was born April 17, 1924 in the village Stromovka in Volhynia in the then Poland. He passed seven grades of Polish elementary school and then he continued studying at a school in Lutsk which was established by the Czech language foundation. While living in Volhynia, he experienced the Soviet as well as the Nazi occupation and on March 23, 1944 he joined the recently formed 1st Czechoslovak army corps where he was assigned to serve in a tank unit. Josef went through a school for non-commissioned officers in Rusov and Bessarabia. With the 1st Czechoslovak army corps he participated in combat at Kiverce, Jaslo and Krosno, where he suffered a shrapnel injury and a penetrating gunshot wound in his leg. He also took part in the Carpathian-Dukla operation, the Ostrava-Opava operation and in other fights for liberation on the Czechoslovak territory. After the war he settled in Břvany near Louny and he worked as an independent farmer, but after the collectivization of farms he qualified as a train engine driver and for the following thirty years he then worked for the railways. Josef eventually settled in Louny, where he was living in 2015. His wife Marie Kulichová, née Linhartová, was also a Volhynian Czech from Mirohošť and she likewise took part in combat as a member of the 1st Czechoslovak army corps.