Not All Of Us Were Brave
'Not All of Us Were Brave''
was written by Stanley Scislowski and published by Dundurn Press in
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
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
400 pages, 20 illustrations, 150 x 230 mm
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
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.
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
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.