click to enlarge map

In January, I went on holiday for three weeks to Jerusalem, to visit my mother Helena and brother Tadzio, and this time on a luxury cruise ship.

 I was away on holiday, so another girl was photographed on my truck, nr C-31

We mostly drove along the Adriatic coast, with provisions, fuel, ammunition, equipment etc, which had been transported by sea to the base camp by the Allies. Usually, seven to eight trucks travelled together; on long trips, we were two drivers. We often had to survive on dry food for weeks on end.

We drove to the second  front line and, then, the men’s transport company took over the shipment and drove to the first front, which was considered too dangerous for the girls. It was often mountainous terrain, with winding roads with steep drops. We usually drove at night, without any lights, so  the German planes couldn’t see us. We just had to follow the truck in front of us. I realise  now that, at 18, I was too young to understand just how dangerous this was!

In May, we drove with supplies and ammunition to Monte Cassino. During the battle, we transported wounded soldiers to the Polish military hospital no. 3, and also took war prisoners back to the camps.

9.  The Italian Campaign

​by Danuta Mączka Gradosielska

The 316 Transport Company arrived in Taranto, Italy, on 4 May 1944

We received 143 brand new three-ton Dodge trucks and were armed with Thompson revolvers. We were 324 girls at the camp, living in tents – unfortunately, the Italian children stole everything they could: blankets, boots – so we had to hang cutlery on strings as an alarm system!

We were paid £1.50 for ten days' work: enough for a coffee and cake, to buy toothpaste, shoe polish and for the collection in church. And even for nylon stockings. We had very little free time but sometimes dances were arranged: we were 30 - 40 girls, and a whole bunch of troops so, as soon as one asked me to dance and spun me round a few times, the next one appeared.

One time, 8-10 of our trucks carrying ammunition ended up at the front line by mistake; an angry Colonel shouted at us, told us to turn around immediately. We drove off very quickly - just after that, a bomb fell on the exact spot we had been standing. The Germans had been watching us!

​In April, the company was transferred to Forli, from where we serviced our own Polish troops as well as British and Canadian. Here, I met a handsome officer called Jurek. Actually, I was quite rude to him as he had knocked on our door after 22.00 which was against the rules. He asked my name, I told him, Danusia – “Oh!” he said, “I dreamt that I would marry a girl called Danusia!”

Our operations ceased on 3 May and the end of the war was proclaimed on 8 May 1945. 

Danuta's Diary + route map
Life in Kresy
Deportation to Siberia
Life in Siberia
The "Amnesty" 
Joining the Army in southern Russia
Evacuation to Persia

10.  Post-war life