14 to 15 October 2000
An unexpected turn of events. After witnessing the assassination of the Markiz Slaskie – and being the probable fall-guys for said deed – my brother had the party flee north. It hadn’t occurred to me they’d go this direction, which is part of the joy of a roleplaying game.
North. Back into the Kalisz region. Three months have passed since they escaped the destruction of the US 5th Division.
Remarkably, the “Old Woman’s Summer” as it is called in Poland, continues with warm days and clear, cool evenings.
Driving on the highway north to Praska and Wielun in their stolen Silesian Army UAZ, the group ran into a small band of Russian stragglers on foot. They exchanged fire and the party’s UAZ bulled its way through and beyond.
Maks had decided to head for Kamieńsk, which had been a temporary refuge last summer, as they were hiding from Warsaw Pact forces mopping up American stragglers.
Col. James Bowen – formerly the Markiz‘ intelligence officer and Maks’ detractor – was now an ally. His benefactor was dead, and whatever Silesian Baron seized power in the vacuum owed the American spook nothing. Maks trusted him not at all, but Bowen seemed a cooperative member of the group now.
Bowen carefully removed the Silesia patch from his sleeve, cutting the stitches with a knife. And Maks ordered mud smeared over the Silesian coat of arms painted on door of their UAZ.
At Praszka, they ran into a group of civilians struggling to drag a derelict UAZ out of a ditch with an ox team. The vehicle was shot up pretty badly.
The townsfolk were suspicious of the new arrivals. Two weeks ago, a group of Americans traveled through and smashed the marauders that had been holding Praszka captive. The soldiers kept on going, and the citizenry seized their town back, driving out the remaining marauders.
Maks reassured the villagers and helped extract their derelict UAZ… which had been discarded by the fleeing marauders.
The citizens of Praska were low on food, and rationing what little they had; it would be a tough winter. Maks’ crew had nothing to offer; there had been no food in the captured UAZ.
The folks of Praska warned them that the area east and north of the Warta River was infested with marauders… precisely where the party was headed.
Wielun was deserted. Grant Derek William was sent out ahead on foot, and spied a couple of Soviet stragglers at the bridge east of Wielun, filling up their canteens. They departed west on bicycles.
The party continued east cross-country after dark, toward Kamieńsk. A waning gibbous Moon lit up the dark landscape.
Maks remembered a hill just west of town, an odd sight in this flat countryside. He’d learned that Góra Kamieńsk was actually an old, massive tailing pile from the adjacent Bełchatów coal mine pit. Before the war, the hill had been used as a winter recreation park, complete with ski lift.
Maks had scouted the hill last summer, as it made an excellent radio comms platform. He decided that would be their destination tonight.
But somebody was there already. The group heard occasional mortar fire from top of the hill, lobbing shells into Kamieńsk. The party scaled the hill on foot, quietly making their way through the brush, scattered the marauders and seized the mortar, which had no shells left.
The next morning, the party descended the hill Góra Kamieńsk, and entered town. They were recognized, and warmly greeted. When Maks told mayor Grzesiek that they’d beaten the mortar crew, it only reinforced their hero’s welcome.
Maks was brought up-to-date with events after they left last July. The Kazakhs had abruptly left, deciding to risk the trek home across the devastated Soviet Union.
That left the town militia, along with a few Americans who’d stayed in Kamieńsk and bolstered the defenses.
Now they, too, were gone. The Kamieńsk milicya (120) stands alone, protecting the town.
Radomsko ”milicya” (100+70 marauders
plus BMP-C) has been demanding food from Kamieńsk (Refused). When the Americans were in Kamieńsk, they ambushed the BMP with the M1, and blew it to kingdom come. Shotkin (Radomsko leader) now holds bitterness toward Kamieńsk.
Twice in the last two weeks, the Radomsko milicya has put a mortar team on top of the hill and dropped a few shells on Kamieńsk in reprisal. This began right after an American colonel showed up in town. [Had to be Col. Sims of the defunct 256th Brigade. “He’s quite short, can’t be more than 5’5”. Balding, with a ring of stubble and a pencil mustache.”] Most Americans in Kamieńsk had left with his group, heading west for the evacuation at Bremerhaven.
Two Americans were married into the community, and are still present (Poles have taken to calling them “Smith and Vesson”). Both were tankers, part of the crew that had driven the M1 with the jammed turret all the way from Kalisz.
Knowing about food shortages, they tell Maks of all the food (& supplies) left behind in Kalisz when the 5th dumped its excess weight, in preparation for the breakout that never happened. They don’t know what happened to all those tray rations and MREs of course. Kalisz was over 100 klicks to the west, and all that food might as well be on the moon.
Smith and Vesson also spoke of a strange happening: Leszek, an idiot savant apparently… The pair of Americans called him “Rain Man”. He’d wandered into Kamieńsk, confused, unable to communicate clearly. Kept referring to “Marzanna”, townsfolk figured she had been a caretaker of his. No idea what happened to her; Leszek only repeated “She always makes my meals at 7, 13, and 19” and “Marzanna flew away”. The townsfolk cared for him, and were amazed at his mathematical ability. The tankers found Leszek could do artillery calculus in his head. Even more astounding, the man was able to decipher Soviet and loyalist Polish radio codes in real time.
However Rain Man was no longer in Kamieńsk.
The Soviets around here are the 800-pound gorilla.
All the fighting last summer, and subsequent shattered military units have spawned numerous marauder bands throughout. Harvests, unsurprisingly, have been poor to non-existent in the region. Hunger is on everybody’s minds.
At Kalisz, the Polish 10th TD & Soviet 21st MRD have recently been fighting over Kalisz “cantonments” and the US 5th division camp remnants W of city.
This part is actually canon. Going Home, page 17.
Bringing this region from Escape From Kalisz up to present game date, I’ve had to infer from scant game sources and internet homework.
Closer to Kamieńsk, and more troubling, were the Soviet-held cities of Łódź and Piotrków. The Russians have restored very limited rail freight service between those cities. And also to the newer western Bełchatów coal mine pit. There, wretched prisoners dig coal with shovels.
The American survivors of Łask and Kalisz – led by Col Sims – had been training Polish resistance against the Soviets, and harassing their supply lines these past months.
The Soviet 124th MRD (3,100 men, plus 6 AFVs), now reinforced with 12th GTD remnant (500 men), is wintering in nearby Piotrków. They’ve sent occasional patrols down to Kamieńsk all summer, politely trading with the town.
Now, a jeep and BTR had arrived a few days ago, demanding “taxes” of two tons of harvested food, or else. That would be most of the town’s supply through the winter.
The patrol had seemed to recognize the idiot savant Leszek, and seized him. Leszek was screaming mindlessly and flailing around as several Russians hauled him away. Townsfolk believe Leszek was originally in Łódź, based on him speaking of “pretty flower circles” and a “flower clock” – possibly a reference to the famous Botanical Garden in the city. Maybe he’d be returned there.
The officer, Lt. I.V. Semenov, seemed both pompous and apologetic. Perhaps there was some wiggle room in their demand of food. They’d be back in four days, with trucks and more soldiers.
This, more than anything else, was the most pressing matter, to Maks’ way of thinking. But only the first among many troubling developments in the region.
This whole area was very unstable.