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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. #41

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    "Kozolek Matolek " : I still remember a verse : "W Pacanowie Kozy kuja.."

  2. #42

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    Quote by 4thskorpion View Post
    Apologies for taking the thread on a slight detour
    On the contrary, an excellent post and most worthwhile contribution! Many thanks

    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. #43

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    Great paperwork!!! The Polish Armed Forces in Canada ID is superb. Trully a great group and they don't come more complete then this, uniform, cap, medals, photos, diary and paperwork!

    Koziolek Matolek brings back a few memories :-)

  4. #44

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    Thanks again Nick. You're not the only person who's seen this grouping and has zeroed in on the Polish Armed Forces in Canada ID as an exceptional piece. It arrived with the second batch of items from the grouping two months after I’d received the first, and was a definite thrill to see in amongst the various other items. I’d never seen one of these ‘legitymacji’ before.

    Stay tuned, there’s more to come . . .

    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. #45

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    Just enough time on this Sunday evening to post the next brief installment from the grouping that consists of an interesting historical tidbit. Lt. Witkowski purchased a painting of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, a revered Polish icon, which he donated to the Polish Military Mission in Canada. Everyone of Polish ancestry and Roman Catholic persuasion knows of the religious significance of this icon located at the Jasna Góra Monastery in the Polish city of Częstochowa, and the Virgin Mary, considered the “Queen and Protector of Poland” since her 18th century ceremonial coronation.

    The work was painted by Jadwiga Walker, and the photo album contains this photograph of her in progress with the painting, dated February 1941:

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    The reverse has the painter's dedication:

    " To Lt. Ludwik Witkowski . . .(?). . . as a souvenir, the year 1941, Jadwiga Walker, Edinburgh 1941"

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    There is also another postcard format photo accompanied by this note which is difficult to decipher, including the name of the signatory. Here’s my best attempt at a translation. I welcome the corrections of anyone with a better ability of reading this script and also the one above from the painter:

    " Sir Lieutenant, I am attaching a photograph of the painting you have donated which has been sent to Captain Chudoba as per the instructions of General Duch. The photograph serves as confirmation . . .(?). . . , Edinburgh, March 23rd, 1941, Oskar Słaboszewicz "

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    The photograph is also printed onto a postcard backing, common practice at the time:

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    Translation of the notes on the reverse:

    " Painted by Polish painter Jadwiga Walker in February 1941. Purchased and donated by 2nd Lt. Ludwik Witkowski to the Polish Divisions in Canada.

    Oil.

    Broughty Ferry, March 19th, 1941, 19:30 hrs

    ...(?)... received (?)

    (signed by what appears to be the aforementioned Captain) Chudoba. "


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    Lastly, a letter of April 10, 1941 signed by the commanding officer of the Polish Military Mission in Canada, General Bronisław Duch.

    The photo album contains this previously unknown photo (at least to me) of the general:

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    The letter:

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    Translation:

    General of Brigade Duch

    To Lieutenant Ludwik Witkowski
    7th Cadre Rifles Brigade

    In my name and that of the soldiers of the 1st Grenadiers Division, our heartfelt gratitude to you Lieutenant for your donation of the painting of the Virgin Mary of Częstochowa which I have put into the care of the future Brigade Dean Dr. Ludwik Bombasow.

    Duch
    General of Brigade


    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. #46

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    Let’s step back to 1940 for our next installment. In post # 39 we took a look at Lt. Witkowski’s passport issued after arrival in the United Kingdom. Posted below is his earlier ‘on the run’ passport issued in the French port city of Marseille on August 28, 1940. This was roughly six weeks after his escape from German captivity. The Polish consulate located here in the “Zone Libre” of Vichy France apparently remained functioning at this time. The front page:

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    The reverse bears the stamps of the consulate of Spain, Portugal and interestingly also the Republic of China. The events of these days are noted in post #35 which contains the translation of the entries in Witkowski’s 1940 pocket calendar:

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    Railway tickets stubs dated Oct 4, 1940, en route to Portugal. Arrival in Lisbon the following day from where British ship “H.M.T. Neuralia" was boarded for the sailing to Gibraltar:

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    On November 4th Witkowski arrives in the town of Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, located northwest of Edinburgh across the Firth of Forth. The photo album contains a Walentynowicz sketch depicting a Scotsman. This is the page just ahead of the series of photographs from the first weeks in Scotland:

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    Witkowski’s pocket notebook records November 6th, two days after arrival, as the date their uniforms are issued. Here’s a photo shortly after this date showing the officer’s wearing British 1937 pattern battledress. Witkowski on the far right has what appears to be his FS cap tucked under his left arm. The officer second from the right has his FS cap tucked under his left shoulder strap:

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    Nov. 8th and the soldiers of the 7th Cadre Rifle are assembling for the “Wizyta Prezydenta” (The President’s Visit). Witkowski is in the center looking directly into the camera. Note that French M26 helmets with painted Polish eagles remain in use:

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    Another photo from this date:

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    On the parade route. Witkowski is closest to the camera:

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    President Władysław Raczkiewicz inspects the troops, Nov. 8, 1940:

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    Following the president is the C.O. of the 7th Cadre Rifle Brigade, Colonel Adam Bogoria-Zakrzewski:

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    Back in the new surroundings of their barracks, a game of chess:

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    Christmas 1940: an early Polish-Scottish Society card dated Dec.24, 1940 containing holiday greetings from the inhabitants of Fife and signatures of some Polish officers among others:

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    Christmas season. This photo has no caption, although from the expressions is appears that they may be joining in a song, perhaps one of the traditional Polish Christmas carols - ?:

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    1941 would see Witkowski selected to accompany General Duch to Canada on the recruitment mission in North America. The Germans were still at the zenith of their military might, despite having failed to crush the stubborn resistance of the British and their faithful Polish allies, whose skilled airmen played a vital role defending the homeland of their hosts. It was a victory against all odds in what has become known as the Battle of Britain.

    We’ll end this installment with one of Lt. Witkowski’s war souvenirs, a German War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords. His son could only offer that the cross had always been among his father’s items:

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    Regards,
    Tony
    Last edited by A.J. Zawadzki; 02-19-2014 at 02:15 AM. Reason: typo correction
    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. #47

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    Good Evening all, first time post, I'll try to provide as much info as possible upfront. Grandmother (Mary Sheyck) married my Grandfather, a soldier (Anthony Tarasek) from the Owen Sound Polish Base. Were using Ancestry.com, and tracked Anthony back to an address at 51 Military Rd Buffalo NY around 1943. There is some information regarding his death in the US due to a car accident. My hope is to determine if he was Polish, American, or Canadian. Would there be a source for military records that might give me some detail on his background to help with the family tree.

    Reading through the posts, I was excited to see the info on the base in Owen Sound, Ontario - my Grandmother and Mother lived there for many years.

    All the best to you all,
    Mike Banks

  8. #48

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    Hello Mike,

    First off, welcome to the forum, and secondly, sorry for the slow reply. I pored through the various snippets of information in my limited records containing volunteer lists but was unable to spot your grandfather’s name. The lists I have are likely Canadian volunteers only, although this is not apparent in all cases. You mentioned a US address for your grandfather which may partially account for his absence, although again my lists are by no means complete.

    As far as any other source for military records that might provide some details about his background, you may want to check to see what information exists with any Polish veteran’s organizations in Detriot. This is where the main US recruitment center was based, and the last stop for US volunteers before they crossed over into Windsor Ontario for training.

    On the Canadian end of things, the majority of the records from the recruitment mission were unfortunately destroyed shortly after the war. I will keep a note of your grandfather’s name and will contact you in the event that I stumble across something.

    Best wishes in your continued research,
    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. #49

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    Thanks Tony, I can appreciate the time you put into the posts - lots of detail - Thank you.

    Tony Tarasek had an address of 51 Military Road Buffalo NY. We located 2 border crossing documents (dated 1942 and 1943) for my Grandmother who traveled from Owen Sound to visit Tony. The Polish veterans organization in Michigan is interesting because my Great Aunt lived in Roseville just outside of Detroit, and my Grandmother visited her in Michigan in 1935. I will reach out to the veteran's organization - thank you.

    Thanks for the help Tony, I will keep in touch.

    Mike Banks

  10. #50

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    Thanks Mike. Please do keep us posted with the progress of your research.

    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

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