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My late father-in-law's Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valour)

Article about: Hi. I will post pictures of my late father-in-law's medals, pay books, etc, but among his medals he was awarded the Krzyż Walecznych in late 44 (perhaps as late as December) for an acti

  1. #11

    Default Re: My late father-in-law's Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valour)

    Quote by A.J. Zawadzki View Post
    Any chance at some good close up pictures of this badge, front and back?
    Attached. Sorry about the last shot ... the camera focused on the top of the threaded rod, not the bade badge itself. Funny, the badge is quite light, the winder that holds it on is heavier.

    Quote by A.J. Zawadzki View Post
    The Silesian Uprising Cross. This is a Soviet occupation era decoration awarded to soldiers of any of the three Silesian uprisings against Germany (1919, 1920 and 1921) and also to members of the Polish Resistance in Silesia in the years 1939-1945.
    Ah. Tata's father was imprisioned for taking part in some sort of resistance actions, the story goes. That explains where that one came from. My wife's family (both sides) are from Katowice Region, west of Krakow in Silesia.

    Quote by A.J. Zawadzki View Post
    It is the issue date.
    Thanks, I suspected as much. But that makes me want to find out two more things:

    1. How long roughly after a soldier did something to merit the Cross did that works it's way up from company -> battalion -> regiment/brigade -> division -> corps and then back on down in dispatches until it was awarded?

    I'm still trying to figure out a rough date of actual action to figure out what his unit was up to on that day. I have a copy of the entire 13th Battalion unit history books (in Polish), from before Monte Cassino through the end of 1946 so if I can find a rough date, I can get my wife to read the right part.

    2. Why were soldiers awarded this? I know the official translated reason ... awarded to an individual who "has demonstrated deeds of valour and courage on the battlefield ..." but what sort of action might earn a person one of these? Any idea? Other examples of what lowly privates did to earn one?

    Thanks for your help and interest. It's a pleasure to share these items with others.
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  2. #12

    Default Re: My late father-in-law's Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valour)

    Hi Davey

    I love this group. So good to see everything together with all of the supporting paperwork.

    Now "Other examples of what lowly privates did to earn one?" Officers often get the glory but it is the Privates, Troopers etc who do the donkey work and a good officer would always recognise his soldiers for the daily deeds of valour they displayed. The most publicised act of heroism is rescuing a comrade under fire. But many many medals were awarded for such things as taking command of a platoon or section if the officer/senior ranks had been wounded/killed and continuing to take the objective, singlehandedly knocking out a machine gun nest or leading men to do it. In the fog of war there are many times when an individual standing up and taking decisive action wins the day. You may never find out exactly what your father in law actually did unless you can find an eye witness. This happened to me when I was on holiday in Australia some years ago. I bumped into someone who fought next to my father in New Guinea in WW2. He told me an amazing story. When I told my father he just shrugged and said "someone had to do it".

    I have spoken to many old and some highly decorated soldiers over the years and the sorts of phrases used included "it had to be done", "it was him or me and I made sure I got in first" and perhaps the most often used was along the lines of "what I did was no different to what a lot of my friends and comrades did".

    If you want to hear some tails that will make your hair stand on end try to find some German survivors of the Russian front.

    You have a great group there and it is very pleasing that you are trying to find out more. Best of luck

    James

  3. #13

    Default Re: My late father-in-law's Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valour)

    Hi again Davey,

    Quote by DaveyJJ View Post
    . . . the badge is quite light, the winder that holds it on is heavier. .
    Super. Thanks for the pictures. I was curious to see how this one looked as there’s no doubt it’s an original badge. As with most of the 2nd Corps uniform badges, they are widely faked. It’s interesting to see that it is die stamped “hollow backed” and confirms there were two versions produced, with the other presumably for the officer corps in .800 silver. Pictures posted below. You’ll note the same spinner is used.

    I’ll post a further reply to your other questions shortly.

    Regards,
    Tony
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    All thoughts and opinions expressed are those of my own and should not be mistaken for medical and/or legal advice.

    "Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday." - John Wayne

  4. #14

    Default Re: My late father-in-law's Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valour)

    Part 2

    Quote by DaveyJJ View Post
    1. How long roughly after a soldier did something to merit the Cross did that works it's way up from company -> battalion -> regiment/brigade -> division -> corps and then back on down in dispatches until it was awarded?
    There was no set time table that I’m aware of, and one should not read too much into the dates on the award document. See example below from my collection. Here are two award documents for the Cross of Valour issued posthumously to a sapper killed on May 12, 1944 during the battle for Monte Cassino. Note that the dates are better than two and a half years apart. I do not know why two documents for the same decoration were issued.

    Quote by DaveyJJ View Post
    2. Why were soldiers awarded this? I know the official translated reason ... awarded to an individual who "has demonstrated deeds of valour and courage on the battlefield ..." but what sort of action might earn a person one of these? Any idea? Other examples of what lowly privates did to earn one?
    As Jamest8 said in his good reply, it was exactly that: deeds of valour and courage on the battlefield. But it was also for cumulative efforts to gaining a victory in battle. Such is the case for a local veteran I know who was awarded Cross of Valour. He was a junior officer in the 2nd Corps and told me that there was no single act that resulted in his Cross of Valour, but for the effort in gaining a victory in a pivotal battle.

    Although it may seem that many of these crosses were awarded, the Poles awarded their decorations sparingly. Each one was definitely earned. The Poles, and in particular those soldiers of the 2nd Corps which was largely composed of former POW’s that survived the terrible labour camps in the USSR were very motivated soldiers (must read: “An Army in Exile” by General W. Anders). They had an axe to grind against those that partitioned their homeland in 1939 and subjected their nation and families to so much suffering and loss. When given the opportunity to fight the enemy they fought hard.

    In the words of General Sir Harold Alexander, Allied Commander-in-Chief in Italy in a message to Lt. General Sir Oliver Leese, General O.C.-in-C. Eighth Army following the victory at Monte Cassino:

    “It was here the Poles avenged the five years of German occupation of their country. The Poles flung themselves against positions that were considered impregnable – and took them. They had, it appears, the hardest task yet assigned to troops of the Eighth Army front . . .”
    Quote by DaveyJJ View Post
    Thanks for your help and interest. It's a pleasure to share these items with others.
    Again, thank you. Contributions such as yours are what makes this forum the place it is. You should consider having this grouping framed up as a tribute to your father-in-law and also an heirloom to pass down to future generations.

    Cheers,
    Tony
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    All thoughts and opinions expressed are those of my own and should not be mistaken for medical and/or legal advice.

    "Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday." - John Wayne

  5. #15

    Default Re: My late father-in-law's Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valour)

    Thank you for your continued help and interest. Glad the pictures of the beret badge were useful.

    I notice the date on the white Zaswiadczenie card you posted is also 18/II/45, the same date on my father-in-laws Legitymacja card, and also ordered by the same Pers. Nr. 115. Hmm, perhaps a day when Corps (or division or regiment) actually got around to issuing a bunch of these for actions from Monte Cassino onwards?

    I am considering getting the items we have displayed more prominently in our home. I will post pics when I can get this done.

  6. #16

    Default Re: My late father-in-law's Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valour)

    Quote by DaveyJJ View Post
    . . . I notice the date on the white Zaswiadczenie card you posted is also 18/II/45, the same date on my father-in-laws Legitymacja card, and also ordered by the same Pers. Nr. 115. Hmm, perhaps a day when Corps (or division or regiment) actually got around to issuing a bunch of these for actions from Monte Cassino onwards?
    Sharp eye there Davey. I hadn’t noticed these similarities. It raises a new question with my Plichta set as to why the 'pink' card was not issued that same day as the one your father-in-law Sylwester Janik’s was. Instead it was better than two year later. And the question remains why two award documents for the Cross of Valour were issued to Plichta. Questions for another thread, not yours!

    Quote by DaveyJJ View Post
    I am considering getting the items we have displayed more prominently in our home. I will post pics when I can get this done.
    I’ve seen professional framers do remarkable work in displaying decorations and documents, as well as very successful results by some of our members (see the ‘let’s see your display’ thread we have here ‘Lets see your Polish Militaria Display!). I’m sure that your wife would be very supportive of such a project honouring her father. Also, if you have or are planning on having kids it’s a great way of giving them a visual connection to their ancestry. And such a display would serve as a very interesting discussion piece for guests visiting your home. Please keep us posted.

    Cheers,
    Tony
    All thoughts and opinions expressed are those of my own and should not be mistaken for medical and/or legal advice.

    "Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday." - John Wayne

  7. #17
    Jim
    Jim is offline
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    Default Re: My late father-in-law's Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valour)

    Davey - apologies for arriving so late to this thread, I wonder why I didn't spot it before (although I am a very infrequent visitor).
    Thanks for posting a great collection!

    My grandfather was in 13 Batallion (Lynx) from late 1944. I do not know which company he was in, but your collection is interesting to me because he told me there was a badge missing from the set he gave me with an animal on. In fact I have neither a cloth Bison, nor the Lynx beret badge. I have seen the latter on berets in some photos, although it was too small to make out I was able to work it out a few months ago when someone posted some photos of the badge to the regimental badges thread (I think the same images Tony has posted above).

    I found the 13th Batallion diary on the Sikorski Institute website, I don't have any Polish so it was beyond me but is a beautiful document, the early script is very elegant (although it makes it even harder to read) and the illustrations throughout are amazing.

    I should be seeing him again in March so I will take a print of your badges photo to talk about.

    Jim

  8. #18

    Default Re: My late father-in-law's Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valour)

    Quote by Jim View Post
    Davey - apologies for arriving so late to this thread, I wonder why I didn't spot it before (although I am a very infrequent visitor).
    Thanks for posting a great collection!

    My grandfather was in 13 Batallion (Lynx) from late 1944. I do not know which company he was in, but your collection is interesting to me because he told me there was a badge missing from the set he gave me with an animal on. In fact I have neither a cloth Bison, nor the Lynx beret badge. I have seen the latter on berets in some photos, although it was too small to make out I was able to work it out a few months ago when someone posted some photos of the badge to the regimental badges thread (I think the same images Tony has posted above).

    I found the 13th Batallion diary on the Sikorski Institute website, I don't have any Polish so it was beyond me but is a beautiful document, the early script is very elegant (although it makes it even harder to read) and the illustrations throughout are amazing.

    I should be seeing him again in March so I will take a print of your badges photo to talk about.

    Jim
    Glad it can be of some use. I also have the PDFs that make up the diary and although my wife reads Polish well, the 1940s handwriting in some cases defeats her. I've made some notes regarding the dates around the time I think my father-in-law actually won his medal (late August of 1944 near Pesaro against the 278th) according to stuff I remember him talking about. Feel free to ask him if he knew a short, muscular, mischievous Pole named Sylwester Janik.

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