Not All Of Us Were Brave

'Not All of Us Were Brave'' was written by Stanley Scislowski and published by Dundurn Press in October 1997.

Foreword by Gavin K. Watt
This is the story of a young man's journey through World War II. It covers a wide cross section of the strengths and weaknesses of young men not attuned to killing, and not mentally prepared to face the horror of seeing their close friends die violent deaths in battle. The story is about the hopes, the prayers, the fears, the daily miseries and even the lighter moments that the aspiring heroes of the Perth Regiment experienced on the Italian front as part of 11th Infantry Brigade, 5th Canadian Armoured Division.

As the title suggests, from his first battle inoculation Private Stan Scislowski realizes he is not destined for the heroic role to which he once aspired. His fears affect him deeply: his burning dream of returning home a national hero becomes more and more improbable, and his attempts to come to terms with his un-heroic nature make the war as much a mental battle as a physical one. His story is much like that of the overwhelming number of Canadians who found themselves in the cauldron of war, serving their country with all the strength they could find, even when that strength was fading fast.

''Not All of Us Were Brave'' focuses not on the heroes, but on the ordinary soldiers who endured the mud, the misery, the ever-present fear, the inspiration, and the degradation. The narrative holds nothing back: the dirty linen is aired along with the clean; the light is shown alongside the dark. It shows what war is all about.

Stanley Scislowski was born in Windsor, Ontario on September 13, 1923, and has lived in that city all his life. He is a veteran of the Perth Regiment, and fought on the Italian front until an injury put him out of action. After the war Stan was a partner in an electroplating business. He has six children and nine grandchildren, and maintains his interest in military history and writing. A member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 594, Scislowski has been editor of the Branch bulletin for 32 years.

Physical Description
400 pages, 20 illustrations, 150 x 230 mm
ISBN 1550022989

Webmaster's Comments
The name Gavin Watt may be well known to any Canadians interested in historical re-enactment; he was one of the founders of both the re-enacted Perth Regiment, but also the World War Two re-enactment movement as a whole in Canada. His foreword nicely illustrates why re-enactors do what they do.

The connection between re-enactors and the men who performed the deeds for real is important; it helps people understand that World War Two was not simply a grainy newsreel; it was flesh and blood men fighting for their lives. This book is magnificent evidence of that, and puts the most human of faces on the Canadian foot soldier of World War Two.

The book is a very well written account of Stan's experiences with the Perth Regiment in Italy. The author is exceedingly frank, with regards to all aspects of his Army life, from his own perceived failings, to the personalities of those around him. The use of plain language makes this volume accessible to a wide spectrum of people, and will be of interest not just to scholars of the Italian campaign, but to persons of all ages wanting a better perspective of what Canadian soldiers went through in the Second World War.

Where the action of Stan's platoon needs to be put into greater perspective, solid research has been done, and at all times the reader is aware of how the Perths fit into the campaign at large.

This book is highly recommended reading.

Author's Comments

The webmaster asked the author for a bit of background to his decision to write his memoirs, and he was kind enough to relay the following:

Re: the publishing of my book- Actually I had never considered the possibility of having my memoirs published. It came about this way: Over the many reunions since the war I had always written and printed up battle accounts, printed them at the Legion and took about 200 sets of the articles (anywhere from a 3-pager to a 12 page effort) to the reunion and put them on the registration table at the Armoury for the guys to pick up. Anyway, since we had guys in our outfit from all over Canada, the stories got around. And then five years ago several of the accounts ended up with an editor of Dundurn Press in Toronto, whereupon the editor got hold of me by letter and asked if I had more. He said he could see a book in what he already had. And I said,"Sure! These came out of my war memoirs and all I have to do is add a few more chapters."

Even though all I had to do is scan the pages and paste them in a document folder on my computer and do some editing. I thought it would be easy and quick but it took me almost a year before I was satisfied with the changes and additions.

The book itself is only a part of my complete memoirs, due to editorial limitations on the projected size of the book. I used only that part where I joined the Regiment (with a brief part describing how it was that I went to the Perths and not my hometown Essex Scottish) and it went up to that day when I departed Italy. The other part of my memoirs contain the period immediately prior to my joining up -my Basic Training-Advanced Infantry Training-Overseas Bound- More Training in Aldershot. After that part where my book story ended, there was quite a few pages on my 8-month stay in England after the war. 1999-present