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Polish Military Mission in Canada during WW2

Article about: Posted below are photographs of a young recruit named Zdzisław Gajewski in battledress. The back of the photo is dated April 18, 1942 along with the note “youngest volunteer – 16 years

  1. #31

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    Hello,
    Nothing special to write on this topic...
    Just... Great post !
    Thank you.
    ZP

  2. #32

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    Lt. Witkowski’s Cross of Valour.

    Witkowski’s French language pocket calendar provides an interesting glimpse into his awarding of this gallantry decoration. He evidently obtained it at time of his service in France before the German invasion. It accompanied him during his time as a German POW and then his flight through Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and Africa before making it to the safety of the Liverpool shores.

    Here is a photo Witkowski taken following his escape on July 17, 1940 from the Germans. It's surprising that he had time for a photograph, so perhaps this was taken for identification purposes. The look on his face testifies to the harrowing events experienced over the previous months. The background artwork is by famed Polish architect / graphic artist Marian Walentynowicz whose skillful hand decorated the photo album contained in the grouping. (see post #16 for more details).

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    The 'kalendarzyk' entry of December 27/28, 1940:

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    The note below the small pencil sketch showing the reverse side of the Cross of Valour records the city where the event took place and the luminaries present:

    “ Perth
    Dekoracja. Naczelny Wódz,
    Prezydent, Duch, Bohusz,
    Kukiel, i inni ”


    Translated:

    “ Perth (Scotland)
    (The) Decoration (ceremony). Commander in Chief,
    President, Duch, Bohusz,
    Kukiel, and others ”


    In attendance this day were Commander in Chief General Władysław Sikorski, President Władysław Raczkiewicz, General Bronisław Duch, General Zygmunt Bohusz-Szyszko, General Marian Kukiel “and others”.

    If anyone has pictures taken here on this day in late 1940 please do post them. Unfortunately the photo album in the grouping does not contain any images from this ceremony.

    According to the bio contained in the Kmietowicz book, Witkowski was awarded the Krzyż Walecznych for combat during the September Campaign. This is the “temporary” award document, noteworthy also for its early wartime date:

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    The grouping contains three Crosses of Valour. Two of them are Spink & Son products (one sealed behind glass in a display frame with a ribbon bar denoting second award*) and the other being the “barrel suspension” type produced in the U.K. for veterans as a replacement cross.

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    We will focus on the Spink & Son made cross that is visible in the portrait photo:

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    A quick study of the ribbon reveals that this cross is unmistakably the same one pictured in the portrait. The ribbon has some soiling on the high points which helps accentuate two creases (which I would attribute to the ribbon having likely been wet at some point) that have rather amazingly remained intact over the decades. These creases are just visible in the period photo. Another bit of evidence is the distinctive folding in the ribbon as it passes through the suspension ring. Again, there’s little doubt that this is the cross in the portrait.

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    *further research required to confirm the second award, possibly for the French campaign where Witkowski served in the 1st Battalion of the 1st Warsaw Grenadiers Regiment.

    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

  3. #33
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    Tony!! Many many congratulations on this amazing grouping. As you know, the Polish Military Mission to Canada is of considerable interest to me, so its a real treat to see this. Thanks for sharing!

  4. #34

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    Patryk, you're most welcome. I think it's safe to say that we're not the only canucks with Polish blood in our veins that have a little extra interest in the Polish-Canadian contribution to the WW2 effort in Europe. I'll strive to post the next installment in this series soon. Please stay tuned . . .

    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

  5. #35

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    At long last here’s our next installment, this time focusing on Lt. Witkowski’s early WW2 travels and military service following the September Campaign and his escape from Poland. Fortunately the sequence of events are recorded for us in both the photo album and his pocket calendar.

    First a brief look at the photo album. The leather bound cover has been adorned with four uniform buttons and a Garratt made hat eagle, a Canadian made badge covered earlier in this thread. We’ll take a closer look at some of the other contents of the album later.

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    Opening up the cover reveals a skillfully rendered image painted by Marian Walentynowicz (see post #16 and #32) showing the silhouetted figure of a soldier in battledress gazing towards the sun low on the horizon.

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    Turning over the page finds the neatly printed record of Witkowski’s travels starting with his escape from Poland into Hungary, arrival and service in France, his regiment’s movements during the German invasion, then captivity and eventual escape through Europe to the U.K.

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    The following page has a photo of Witkowski (in the center) standing amidst his colleagues in Zagreb, presumably fellow Poles making their journey to fight again in France, three days before boarding a ship in the seaside town of Split en route Greece and eventually Italy.

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    As mentioned earlier, this custom monogrammed French language 1940 pocket calendar accompanied Witkowski during the formative months of his unit of exiled Polish soldiers, the German invasion, and his second flight from newly German occupied territory. The calendar measures a small 8 x 6 cm (3 1/8 x 2 3/8 inches) which restricted the amount of information that could be entered. Regardless, the pencil notes it contains still provide a fascinating glimpse into what was a turbulent year for this officer. The original pencil serving to keep the pocket calendar 'locked' still remains.

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    With many thanks to the efforts of his son Włodzimierz (Wally) here is a chronological translation of the contents:

    Notes section in the front: misc. addresses including the Polish Red Cross station in Lisbon, Portugal

    January
    1: in Split (Yugoslavia)
    2: leaving Split Dalmatia (address), Jugoslavia
    12: leaving Attika (Greece)
    11: tomorrow Wlodek's Name Day
    16: arrival in Marseilles
    17: Camp de Carpiani
    18: arrival in Marseilles
    20: Paris, Besiers Barracks
    29: Verification - Evidence book No. 45909, No. of verification list 1271
    31: Leaving for Niort (Deux Sevres)

    February: (no entries)

    March
    1: Niort (something crossed out - illegible)
    2: My dear Halusia's Holiday - and I so far away and without any news
    3: Niort
    8: go to confession in Niort
    9: receive Holy Communion and leave for Lourdes
    10: Holy Communion in Lourdes
    11: return to Niort through Daix, Bordeaux, Portier
    17: Niort
    18: Wiesiek Bystry, Jozek Blajda & Stan Luczynski bid me adieu (I am leaving)
    19: assigned to the 1st Infantry Regiment, leave for Camp Coetquidan - 2st Company 1st Infantry Regiment
    20: Bretognie Coetquidan Monteneuf
    21: Parcario guer.. (?) Captain Jan Paszynski, Lieutenant Juliusz Chrzastkowski
    22: 1st lieutenant Jan Kisiel, aspirant Tad Dietrich, Cadet Mieczyslaw Pacio, Chief of Cadets Szczepanski
    24: delegated to the Second Battalion, spend the day with Commander Jozek Peszczynski
    25: my thoughts are in Boryslaw
    26/27: First Regiment of the Warsaw Grenadiers Commander Col. Szymon Kocur, Major Hybos, Major Smatowski(?), II Reg. Major Szydlowski, III Reg. Major Guglewicz, Major Szczerbo, Rawicz I (?)

    April
    15: Leaving for the front from Monleyne, loaded in Quer
    17: Paris
    18: arrival through Paris at Creviele (Toul, Nancy)

    May
    3: address Barbara Gejsztor etc (crossed out)
    13: Leaving Creville (illegible) “to ???”
    14: night marches crossed entry)
    15: St. Nicolas (I meet Poles)
    16: Attienville
    18 & 19: (crossed out)

    June
    2: Night marches
    7: leaving Athienville through Arrancourt, Blander (?) Egliose (?) Dieuze, Ludrefous (?)
    8: Fortified Zone - Sarralbe
    9: Altviller (battalion)
    10: Bissert two companies
    12: (crossed out)
    13: Hirchkirchau 2nd Regiment
    14: one day of fighting at Witersbourg
    15: killed Captain Jan Tuszynski (and) Aspirant Antoni Mojrzesz, plus 12 infantrymen, about 20 wounded
    16: Ludrefong Rarbach, Second company defends the First Regiment, Musseg Canal
    17: big battles Avricourt - we defend the Canal (illegible) - Marne - Rhine
    18: Lentrey (entry crossed)
    19: Merviller - Grzes went to pick cherries near Baccarat
    (entry top of page) Division Order No. 99 (21 VI 1940) (General Duch)
    20: Baccarat Raou L'Etape defending the city
    21: (overnight reconnaissance) La Hollande (everywhere confusion) - at St. Dieu (something crossed)
    22: I and Lt. Juliusz Chrzastowski, First Lieut Adam Krejza, corporal Edmund Nawiecki, Lance Sargent Jan Jaluszelski, and rifleman Piecek, we, ten of us, enter the woods
    24: Krejza is a pig (coll. reprehensible, repulsive, untrustworthy person)
    25: Piecek and I depart on our own
    27: I run into Adam Krejza near Reopal
    28: at night Moselle (imply crossing it)
    29: these names imply that Father ran into them that day; 9 (entry unclear; may be designation of a regiment?)
    30: note crossed out

    July
    5: Port Saene - encounter a guard on the bridge
    6: captured at Saone
    7: now I remain only with platoon leader officer cadet Jan Burzynski,
    8: Lestic-Chevillet, Nevulette-les-la-Charite (Haute Saone)
    9: hot dinner, new map for 10 francs; we get the food for the journey J 13: crossing canal Abergement on two boards
    14: Mairie de'Abergement la Ronce Par St. Aubin (Jura)
    15: S/Le Doubs Varrens (S. et L.) Monsieu Guillou - crossing Doubs at...
    16: Free again! - Pierree S/D - St. Bonnete Church
    17: Bourge - Lyon
    18: Foir
    19: Foir
    20: I run into Julek Chrzastkowski (learn that Krejza deserted to the Germans)
    22: Croixe Russe 80 Eosle Primerie
    28: (writing crossed out)
    29: (writing crossed out)

    August
    1: My Malgosia's Holiday. I am with you in my thoughts, Beloved
    2: still in Croixe Russe
    4: for the night I stay at a hotel 145 Pierre Carouelle
    6: Captain Boleslaw Zarebski - Macon L'Hospital Macon Salle Miller.45
    8: Touluse - Col. Szymon Kocur 78 Boulevard de Strasbourg Croix Rouge Polonaise
    9: Partir Lyon au Marseilles Aug 10 0 Marseilles Hotel de la Poste Julek Kossakowski and I
    12: by bus to Camp de Carplagnie
    13: Cassis - (ocean, beaches)
    15: mountains, sun and the sea (Cassis)
    24: I learned that I was awarded Krzyz Walecznych and Croix de Querre, Camp de C., Order # 99 of Division general Duch dated 21 VI, 1940.
    25: My Name Day. What an irony! My thoughts run to my beloved ones.

    September
    8: Holy Mass for the fallen of the First Regiment of the Warsaw Grenadiers in the Benedictine Church in Marseilles. Kocur is leaving.
    27: I and 6 others leave the camp.
    28: Pyrenes d' or Banyuls (sur Mere)
    29: see Kozlowski and Bukowski

    October
    1: Cerbere(France) Memore(customs) Port Bou, (Pessetas)Spain via Pensin "Valencia" Barcelona
    3: Hotel Mora Madrid paid 20.40 via Badajos
    4: leave Badios at 1700 to Elvas, Portugal ("escudos - centavoos")
    5: Lisbon - los Torros
    6: leave Lisbon at 9 AM on a British ship "Nevralia" to Gibraltar
    7: Atlantic Ocean - arrive at 18 hours - night at Gibraltar
    8: at 12 leave for the Fortress - dinner of English and Spanish food
    9: English camp at Gibraltar - I work at the stone quarry
    10: work at the quarry continues
    11: marvelous fortress! Africa close by.
    12: at night artillery fire
    13: air raid by the Italian bombers
    17: again under air raid and bombing; they bomb hard
    18: embarking in Gibraltar on "Reina del Pacifico" (a British ship)
    19: departure - towards the evening - Holy Mass - Atlantic Ocean - our escort two destroyers
    22: storm since the sunrise - general barfing
    23: concert by Czeslaw Halski
    24: first seagulls - overhead planes patrolling
    25: at 1800 by the North Sea we reach Liverpool - Air raid.
    28: at 9 AM disembarking, unloading, formalities till 5 PM - supper at the Liverpool barracks - we leave at 2400
    27: at 9 AM arrive in Glasgow - mosquito's like in Poland - we are staying in a hotel, meet Dr. Kulikowski
    29: we are transferred to a boarding house
    30: Glasgow C.3 328 Renfrew Street - Jadwiga Walker "residence"
    31: we are leaving for a camp in Dumferline

    November
    1: I run into Jasio Lacki, Capt. Haring and Lieut. Trembecki
    2: First Battalion is outside the city
    3: I run into Zdzich Haczewski and Zdzisek Bystr. Dear fellows.
    4: Dumfermline
    5: Eisring
    6: they are putting us in uniforms
    8: inspection and a parade marching in front of Pres. Raczkiewicz and Gen Modelski (illegible)
    14: leave for Glasgow Nov 15 - get a pass
    16: I bought a uniform for 9 pounds 10 shillings
    20: met major Szczero-Kanwer he reach us luckily
    22: Walker-Aberdaner - - tomorrow Nov
    24: Bishop Gawlina, Gen. Kiukiel and others - inauguration of the 7th Brigade S.K. (?)
    26: delegation to Edinburgh - a party for us - bought a briefcase and a Parker

    December
    1: slip to Glasgow without a pass to see a Polish movie
    2: since last week I take 3 English lessons a week from a Miss Veitch
    6: Feast of St. Nicholas - will the Great St. Nicholas remember Hala and my children?
    9: Mama's Name Day - is the Dear Old Lady still alive?
    24: modest Vigil Supper at the Brigade - In my thought I am with my Loved Ones in Boryslaw
    25: with my comrades
    26: in my thoughts I'm constantly with Halusia and children
    27: sketch (reverse side of Cross of Valour)
    28: Perth (Scotland) Decoration (ceremony). Commander in Chief,
    President, Duch, Bohusz, Kukiel, and others
    29: we say goodbye to Wlodzimierz Zebrowski, Jozef Zelniker, going to the High War College in London.


    Regards,
    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

  6. #36

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    Congrats on your truly amazing research and display, Tony!

  7. #37

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    Great grouping!!! And a Croix de Guerre!!! He also seems to be wearing a Polish-Bolszevik War medal ribbon.

  8. #38

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    Mike and Nick, thank you.

    Sharp eye Nick, yes he was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and also the Commemorative Medal for the War of 1918-1921. He was 17 year old at the time of the Polish-Soviet war and as with countless other young and patriotic Polish teenagers they put their lives on the line to preserve the nation newly reborn after 123 years of partition.

    Witkowski was also given an honourary Miecze Hallerowskie (Haller Swords) for his military service in France in 1940. The award diploma is an early version as it does not yet include the dates 1939-1945 of the revised document.

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    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

  9. #39

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    To carry on with the grouping . . . my initial intention was on keeping things chronologically ordered. But in hindsight things haven’t quite worked out that way. As the last two posts did not have much ‘Canadian content’ let’s just carry on in our haphazard manner and jump ahead in time to Lt. Witkowski’s departure to Canada before we return to a closer look at his early days in the U.K.

    In post #28 we saw a letter dated April 30th 1941 that formally stated Lt. Witkowski’s assignment to the officer corps accompanying General Duch to Canada. Here is his passport:

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    . . . and the entry of May 6th 1941 from the Polish General Consulate in London stating Witkowski’s role of military attaché.

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    Here is his visa, effective for six months, along with an extension noted below:

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    And an entry confirming his visit to across the border to the recruiting station in Detroit, Michigan.

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    The passport records many visits to Detroit:

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    Next up is Witkowski’s “Książeczka Uposażenia Oficera” (Officer’s Salary Book) which has some interesting entries specifically relating to his service in Canada.

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    Details such as rank and serial number, arrival date in France, then Britain ten months later, marital status, children’s names, country where family resides, and the date this information was entered, February 27, 1941.

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    The top entry records rank promotion to lieutenant March 20, 1941. Middle entry dated July 22, 1941 notes his attachment to the officer corps of the Polish Military Mission in Canada. The bottom entry notes his unpaid furlough holiday break commencing January 1st 1943. At this point Witkowski left "for the purpose to work in War Industry". More on this later.

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    The ‘pay stub’ specifying a monthly “Canadian bonus” of $28, a lodging allowance and a maintenance allowance in addition to his base officer’s salary of $86.77. Note that the three supplemental stipends were increased in May.

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    The note at the top states: “After conversion to Canadian $ . . .”

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    And to end for now, here is Wikowski’s bilingual Legitymacja - Identification Card while serving in Canada, issued on January 12, 1942:

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    Regards,
    Tony
    Last edited by A.J. Zawadzki; 11-19-2013 at 07:43 AM.
    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

  10. #40

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    Excellent thread!

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    I especially appreciate the Marian Walentynowicz illustrations.

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    Walentynowicz (above) also designed the diving eagle (below) that was used for the Polish para wing badge.

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    In the 1930's Walentynowicz a prolific illustrator & graphic designer along with popular writer Makuszyński created four books about a goat: "120 przygód Koziołka Matołka" (120 adventures of Koziołek Matołek) which became huge successes in Poland.


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    Apologies for taking the thread on a slight detour
    Last edited by StefanM; 11-18-2013 at 10:46 AM.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

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