Hi, Thanks for this information about B/C Kopanczyk. Very interesting story. I would like to ask you if you agree if I can use some parts of your information and pictures for writing a short text for the Amicale Pologne web site, of course I will put your name as a source of information.? We do have in our Amicale veteran from Indochine war who served in 13 DBLE, he is now 91. Here is a link for the web site and summary of the book published December 2014 Zygmunt Jatczak can be easily called a living legend of both the Armia Krajowa (The Home Army) and the French Foreign Legion. He took part in the Warsaw Uprising as a member of the “Miotła” battalion and was a Legion soldier serving in Indochina with the 13 D.B.L.E. He was decorated several times, awarded among others, the Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valour) for the Warsaw Uprising and the Medaille Militaire for Indochina. He was born in 1924 in Warsaw, and there he began his education before it was interrupted by the outbreak of the World War II. He lived with his mother and sisters, his father had passed away before the war. He was to witness the drama of the September 1939 invasion. Existing in the besieged capital during the bombings and defeat. During the occupation he lived and worked in Warsaw and suffered life under the Nazi rule.
In January 1943 he was taken into captivity during a round-up on the Warsaw streets. He was sent to the concentration camp Majdanek, near Lublin. He spent a few weeks there, witnessing the extermination of Jews. Thanks to his mother’s efforts he was miraculously dismissed from the camp and returned to Warsaw. Shortly afterwards in 1943 he joined Armia Krajowa (The Home Army). He adopted the nickname “Ryszard” and become a member of a group led by Lieutenant Tadeusz Janicki nicknamed “Czarny” (“Black”). It was a diversion group of Kedyw Armia Krajowa’s headquarters, led by Lt “Czarny”. Zygmunt Jatczak served in this group until 1944 when it was transformed into the “Miotła” battalion. On the 1st of August 1944, with thousands of others in the underground army, these soldiers joined the Uprising. He was 20 years old. His memoirs and thoughts of those days are dramatic, some moments sublime, some heroic but also dark, sad and tragic. During the Warsaw Uprising he was a member of the battalion “Miotła” (“Broom”) after the battalion was defeated by the Germans he joined Battalion “Czata49”. He served in the platoon of Kazimierz Jackowski nicknamed “Torpeda”. He fought in Downtown, the Old Town and Czerniaków, he experienced the dramatic canal evacuation of the Old Town. He was wounded during the fighting for which he was awarded the Krzyż Walecznych. He took part in more dramatic battles, saw the death of his colleagues and also came within an inch of death himself. For some time he was one of the soldiers serving in a personal protection unit of Colonel Jan Mazurkiewicz “Radosław”, commander of the group. After the capitulation of the Uprising units, like many of his colleagues he was sent to a POW camp. He was in German captivity in camps in Sandbostel and Westertimke until the latter was liberated by the British army at the end of April 1945. He joined the Polish auxiliary units and was a member until 1947. It was during this time he made the decision to join the French Foreign Legion. He joined Legion on 17th of June 1947 in Strasbourg and was sent to Marseille to the Legion’s transit center at Fort St. Nicolas, from there he was sent to Algeria. Arriving on the North African land he was first sent to Sidi Bel Abbes – legion Headquarter, and then next onto the Sahara training center at Saida. Recruit training lasted for two months. The best description of it is given by the author himself: “That Sahara! Marches, marches and marches again! Legionnaires needs to be tough, it’s the old Legion saying – March or die!” His memories of five years service in the Legion are colourful and vibrant. Zygmunt Jatczak tells his story about the everyday Legionnaires life, military operations with many details referring to training, armament and the units organisation. After a short period of training at the Legion’s Algerian home, Legionnaire Jatczak was sent to Indochina where he spent the next three years of his service. He joined the 3rd Company of 1st Battalion commanded by Colonel Rossi which was part of 13 DBLE. The company was based at a place called Ca Mau in the Cochinchine region. A significant part in his memories are given to his companies commandants. First was Colonel Laffont a bit slow but a cool headed soldier, he was wounded in the An Non Thai sector and left paralyzed by his injuries. Next was lieutenant Rene Imbot, who had a brilliant career and became a general. Lieutenant Adam was another one. Captain Gilnaves, a great officer died at Hoa Binh. His next CO was captain Montuis and his last one, captain Capeyron. As emphasized by legionnaire Jatczak: each one of them was superb! His stories about operations against the Viet Minh, the battles and the prisoners are so vibrant that the reader can almost feel himself transferred to the rice fields of Indochina. Activity in the Ca Mau region and later on at Cu Chi, is a real story of the Indochina war. At the end of his service in Indochina Zygmunt Jatczak was badly wounded which required a few months convalescence. He finished his service in the Foreign Legion in mid-1952 after serving his 5 year contract. He returned to France where he lived and worked until mid 1960s.The best summary of his service in the French Foreign Legion is given by the author of his memories: “Remembering the time of war and my time in the Foreign Legion I can say only one thing, I had a lot of luck, I experienced a lot, I escape death a few times and as it’s said in the Legion I regret nothing. Really! I REGRET NOTHING! JE NE REGRETTE RIEN!” Zygmunt Jatczak came back to Poland, he now lives in its northern part. He is a honorary member of the Association of Former Soldiers and Friends of the French Foreign Legion in Poland .