Plaque on Podolský bridge

Plaque on Podolský bridge – We fulfilled the orders

Let’s go back to more than 60 years old historical records and recall the fact that the US Army soldiers of the 4th Armored Divison “Breakthrough” were the men who fulfilled orders in May 1945. In accordance with the orders of the Division Command Strakonice they changed their position through the quick reconnaissance to bridges on the left bank of the Vltava river and blocked them. The bridges extended over the Vltava near the village Temešvár. Theybuilt an Outpost line a few kilometres behind the settled demarcation line to secure it. The landscape around here looked a little bit different that time. There were two bridges here. One newly built in 1943 (called “Podolák” by the locals) and the older one, built in the Empire style, close to the river level on the right bank, called the “chain” bridge or, after it wasremoved, the “Stádlecký” bridge. It is a historie technicalsightfrom 1847-1848, the only well-preserved chain bridge in Central Europe, and after its renovation you can see it extending over the Lužnice river at Stádlec, a village to the northeast of Bechyně. Endless crowds of German Army soldiers, including refugees and convoys, as well as civilian cars and vehicles drawn by animals were crossing both bridges in the end of April and the first days of May 1945. The elite of Hitler’s Superior Nordic race was running away, trying to be taken prisoners by the US Army and not the Red Army. It was beyond the means of the US Army and revolutionary commitees to take such a big number of people prisoners and secure them. The main road Písek – Tábor was blocked.

The same situation was to the north of Písek, between Čimelice and Nová Hospoda. We should mention that in those days there was the possibility to cross the Vltava river only near Týn nad Vltavou and at Solenice. Therefore the US Command decided to stop the movemen of German refugees coming from the east banks of the Vltava river and wait for the arrival of the Red Army. And so they did on May 7th 1945. The entrance to the bridge on both sides in the east was closed by sappers entanglements and the west side was secured by guns and machine guns. German refugees were stopped in the area in front of the east bank of the river. Documentary photos and archival military reports make us being almost sure that they were members of the 35th Tank Battalion Company A, who were fulfllling the orders with their Shermans, Halftracks and Jeeps. Unfortunatelly we will never know their names. Most of them havepassed away. They were 20-25 years old boys that time. In order not toforget these historical moments the Military Car Club initiated unveiling acommemorative plaque on the bridge in the year 2000 The scriptwriter took the data from a book called “Legacy of the 4th Armored Division”, published in Kentucky, 1990. They were under a photo taken by the US Army photographer on the Podolský bridge in 1945.

Now we can rectife the data after the verification of the facts in a local chronicle and after action military reports. US Army soldiers were waiting here for the Red Army since May 7th to the afternoon hours of May 10th, 1945. But it does not alter the fact that they were the soldiers bearing sleeve insignia of the 4th Armored Division on their shoulders, who were the first soldiers on both sides of the bridge. The same 4th Armored Division which disembarked in Normandy on the 13th July 1944. After all the war trials and many fierce conflicts with enemy troops in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany they could enjoy the feeling of victory and the atmosphere of the first days of regained freedom of our country on the bank of the Czech river Vltava. Every year we visit this bridge as well as other memorial places to remind the history of these places. Today’s life in peace is very often taken for granted, especially by younger generations, who were not affected by the war. We should never forget that there were times when it was not always like that, and even nowadays the peace is still not a common thing in many places of our world.

Unveiling May 8th 2010
Scriptwriter: Richard Praus