Life's journey of an uninteresting man - By Milan Lorman

English version.    Slovak version.

Family background
Early Childhood
Boyhood in Lazy
Student years
Leaving the nest
Eastern front
Six Days Behind Enemy Lines
A Little Light Relief at the Front
A Close Brush With Disaster
The Story of the Lifesaving Grapes
Prisoner of War
My French and American experience / One year in Austria
Four years in England
To the end of the Earth

A Close Brush With Disaster

Life's journey of an uninteresting man
By Milan Lorman

In the mid-summer of 1944 I spent three weeks undergoing an intensive course of training as a sniper, or marksman. The course was held in a live-firing area some 30km south of Prague, at the time the capital of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. On qualifying, each of us, participants, was issued with a rifle carefully selected by the armourer, equipped with co-ordinated telescopic sights, personalised for exclusive use of its new owner.

I began my journey back to my unit in Greece at the railway station in Davle on the river Vltava (Moldau). The first train took me from there to one of the stations in Prague, where I had to catch an international express train going to Thessaloniki in Greece. I was carrying quite a lot of baggage and the waiting time was rather long, so I took it all off and stacked it all against the wall on the platform. Eventually our train rolled into the station and I hurriedly picked up my backpack and hand luggage and boarded the train, luckily, as it turned out, in one of the front carriages. Suddenly, I don't remember whether I realised by myself or someone pointed out to me, I didn't have my rifle! ! !

Panic struck me, I had left my "Best Friend" leaning against the wall on the platform. This wasn't a joke. I was in an occupied country and I had left my rifle unattended within reach of who-knows-how-many Czech civilians. Without even taking the time to visualise the firing squad, I jumped off the train and started running back to the place where I had hoped to find my rifle still waiting for me. And then, something quite unexpected happened: just as the train started moving I saw running towards me a middle-aged Czech gentleman in raincoat and hat carrying my precious rifle. A few very sincere words of thanks flowed from my lips in Czech very naturally and probably to his great surprise. There was no time for anymore than that, because by then I barely managed to clamber onto the back platform of the last wagon, where I stood for a while puffing, waving and thanking Good Lord for His kind intervention.

It seemed that in every carriage there were several people, mostly soldiers, leaning out of the carriage windows and following the unfolding drama, because as I was making my way down the length of the train to the front, to re-join the rest of my gear, at every step I was greeted by laughter and smart-aleck remarks. I don't remember another occasion during my whole long life, when I was as embarrassed as that day Thank God!

© 2006 Milan Lorman