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Stories of Poles at war

Article about: The 8th of November. It was quite worm and foggy morning. We were just finishing our breakfast when the post was distributed. I was just about to open a letter from my girl when through mega

  1. #21

    Default Re: Stories of Poles at war ( Fl Lt Tarkowski PAF )

    The 8th of November. It was quite worm and foggy morning. We were just finishing our breakfast when the post was distributed. I was just about to open a letter from my girl when through megaphone someone shouted “Wing to be ready!”. I stuck a letter in my boots and ran through the garden to my Hurricane UPO. The mechanics were already there. When one was helping me with a parachute the second one was starting the engine. Few minutes later we were in the sky creating formation “three”. It was 9 o’clock in the morning and 10000feet above the ground the sky was beautiful and cloudless. My English wasn’t good enough to understand everything the pilots were saying so was trying to concentrate on regulations and rules. I was flying as the last one. My role was to inform about the enemy and of course to keep behind the leader. I wasn’t too happy about it. Pilot who looks after others is very often attacked by the enemy from behind. What’s more every 15 seconds I had to send a signal to those who were controlling our position from the ground. It means that every 15 seconds when I was sending signal I was also loosing connection with the others that were in the air. They said we have to go higher and higher. The Hurricane’s engine was working with all its power. The cockpit had no heating. With every meter it was cooler and cooler and despite of the warm clothes my legs were stiffed. We were more than 27000 feet above the ground when through the earphones I’ve heard “Bandits in front of you, you have to go higher!” I was at 29000 feet when I saw enemy’s aircrafts coming from East in doubles. They looked like silver shiny fishes in water. I shouted to the commander “Bandits below us and on our highness!”. I saw one very close to me. I pushed the button on cannon. There were shots, howling of engines which were pushed to the limits and then…Bang…and all front of my aircraft disappeared. The fire comes into my cockpit. In a second I’m doing a manoeuvre, of course according to regulations, and try to leave the aircraft. I’m blinded by suffocating smoke, am trying to open the cockpit but the fire is coming from the right side. I’m half twisted and panicked. I can’t jump out in this position. No, no! – I don’t want to die here! Blinded, scared. I must have kicked the bar – quick tear and nothingness.

    I awoke at 16000 or 18000 feet above ground. Probably thanks to the oxygen. I saw twisting clouds but I didn’t care. I was happy floating in the air, unconcerned. I don’t know how long it took me to understand what’s going on. Where am I? There is no aircraft, just dead silence, no parachute. Sometimes sky, sometimes ground... oh... I’ve realised I’ve jumped out. I need to open my parachute! I’ve reached the left side just like I was doing in Poland but there was nothing. I was scared again. “Stop panicking!” I said to myself. I remembered that in English parachutes the handle is a bit lower. I‘ve pulled it. The light dome opened above me and the Mother Earth was waiting for me friendly. “Thank you Deblin for a fantastic training!”

    While in the air I was looking around. Just fields, meadows and big old oaks. Was trying really hard but unfortunately hanged on one of them. People with pitchforks, sticks and one even with a double-barrelled gun gathered around me. I heard “Hande hoch!”. “F...” I said in English. Then I saw smiles on people’s faces. “He is one of us” they shouted. Then started to help me to get out of this uncomfortable position. Then we went to a big XIV century house. As it appeared it was Sissinghurst Court. His owner was a First World War pilot. He was trying to keep this house in a condition which was saying that the time is moving very, very slowly. Walls were adorned by oak wood. Dark portraits of ancestors were staring. Maid with a cap on her head led me to the big living room.

    My black jumper and of course my strange accent caused a bit of a consternation. They thought I’m German. After a while I explained everything and when they found out I’m Polish pilot they wanted to do everything they could to help me. I was really dirty so they cleaned my clothes and let me wash myself. Some young lady rubbed something in my burned and hurt face. The doctor that was already there checked my arms and legs as I was limping.

    That really well arranged house, the smell of flowers, comfortable couch I was sitting on made me feel nice and warm and far from the war.

    During the dinner the owner was looking after my glass so it was never empty. The 20-year-old served drink was warming me up, relaxing my muscles. I started to feel a bit dizzy. The conversation was still about war, flights and Poland. After dinner they sat me in a comfortable chair and asked to relax. I fell asleep very quickly and of course had dream about my burning aircraft. Fire, fire everywhere... and I can’t get out... I was very lucky that the voice of sergeant, who came to pick me up, woke me up from that nightmare. I said goodbye to everyone. They asked me to come again and visit, next time for longer, without the parachute and of course not falling down from the sky.

    The shock, alcohol and sunny afternoon were the reasons why during the ride I was much disoriented. Everything that we were passing by was a bit misty. When we stopped at the traffic lights I saw somebody waving the stick just in front of my face and shouting “Schweinerei! Werfluchter donnerwatter!”

    -“Madame he is one of us, he is Polish pilot” the driver explained.

    - “Oh!” the lady grabbed her purse and gave me quarter of pound.

    There was no time to argue with her so I went back to my place with a shiny coin.

    Fl Lt Tarkowski PAF
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  2. #22

    Default Re: Stories of Poles at war

    Nice one mate ! Great story !

    Originally Posted by Wikipedia ( W?adys?aw Raginis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

    Władysław Raginis (June 27, 1908 – September 10, 1939) was a Polish military commander during the Polish Defensive War of 1939. He commanded the defence of Polish fortified positions in the Battle of Wizna.

    Raginis was born in Dźwińsk, Russia, now Daugavpils in Latvia. Soon after graduating from a gymnasium he joined the Infantry NCO School and then Infantry Officers School. After graduating on July 15, 1930, he was assigned to the 76th Infantry Regiment stationed in Grodno, where he was a platoon commander. He was advanced to lieutenant and then to captain, and assigned to the elite Border Defence Corps (KOP) Regiment "Sarny", where he commanded a machine gun company.

    In anticipation of the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, his unit was moved to the Wizna Fortified Area where he took command over all Polish forces in the region as of September 2. On September 7 his forces (numbering 720 men) were attacked by more than 42,000 German soldiers. To keep the morale of his men high, Captain Raginis pledged that he would not leave his post alive.

    The defence of Wizna against overwhelming odds lasted for three days. On September 10, 1939, the bunker commanded by Raginis was the last remaining pocket of resistance. Although heavily wounded, Raginis was still commanding his troops. At noon, the German commander, Heinz Guderian, threatened that all Polish POWs would be shot if the defence of the bunker did not cease.[citation needed] Raginis decided to end the resistance and committed suicide by throwing himself on a grenade.

    His symbolic grave is located next to the ruins of the bunker he died in. The local primary school is named after him, as well as several streets in Poland. On May 13, 1970, Raginis was posthumously awarded with the Virtuti Militari medal.

    NAME Raginis, Władysław
    SHORT DESCRIPTION Polish military commander
    DATE OF BIRTH June 27, 1908
    PLACE OF BIRTH Dźwińsk
    DATE OF DEATH September 10, 1939
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Kanonier Tokarz; 07-28-2010 at 09:45 AM.

  3. #23

  4. #24

    Default Re: Stories of Poles at war - Fl Lt Tarkowski

    A Brief newspaper article ..

    A lifetime of wondering: How did I survive?

    Gary J.

  5. #25

    Default Re: Stories of Poles at war

    Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    Mieczysław Zygfryd Słowikowski (Jazgarzew, near Warsaw, 1896–1989, London), also known as "Rygor-Słowikowski," was a Polish Army officer whose intelligence work in North Africa facilitated Allied preparations for the 1942 Operation Torch landings.
    Słowikowski joined the Polish Army in 1918 and fought in the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1921.

    After completing advanced military studies in 1925, he worked at the Polish Ministry of Defense. For four years he served on Marshal Józef Piłsudski's staff. In 1937 he was transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and appointed secretary at the Polish Consulate in Kiev in Soviet Ukraine. His actual function, however, was collecting intelligence in southern Russia.

    Early in World War II, Słowikowski served in the Polish Army in France. When France capitulated to Adolf Hitler's Germany in June 1940, Słowikowski organized the clandestine evacuation of Polish military personnel, and later an intelligence service that reported to Polish military authorities in London.

    In July 1941 Słowikowski left for Algiers, where (using the codename "Rygor" — Polish for "Rigor") he set up "Agency Africa," one of World War II's most successful intelligence organizations. His Polish allies in these endeavors included Lt. Col. Gwido Langer and Major Maksymilian Ciężki. The information gathered by the Agency was used by the Americans and British in planning the amphibious November 1942 Operation Torch landings in North Africa. These were the first large-scale Allied landings of the war, and their success in turn paved the way for the Allies' Italian campaign.

    British historian M. R. D. Foot, in his foreword to Słowikowski's book In the Secret Service, writes:

    Rygor, as he called himself [...], knew all the rules; and knew when to break them. Never go near children; but his son was with him, then in his earliest teens, and was a useful watchman. Never employ women on technical military tasks; but his wife helped him with his ciphering. Never go near the hostile security services; but he made friends with a disaffected senior police officer, who kept him and his family supplied with all the false papers they needed. In the teeth of every sort of obstacle — both locally, and in the shape of impractical instructions from the Poles in exile in London — he and the sub-agents he organized provided masses of data, military, economic and political, which played a leading part in the planning of operation 'Torch', the Anglo-American invasion of Algeria and Morocco in November 1942.
    For his invaluable contributions to the Allied North African campaign, Słowikowski was on March 28, 1944, decorated with Britain's Order of the British Empire and received from General Jacob Devers, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces in North Africa, the American Legion of Merit. The ceremony was held on Algiers' Place du Gouvernement. Polish military authorities had already decorated Major Słowikowski in August 1943 with Poland's Gold Cross of Merit with Swords.

    In September 1944 Słowikowski transferred to Great Britain, where he was posted to Scotland as chief of staff of the Polish Infantry Training Centre at Crieff.

    Demobilized in 1947, he settled in London.
    He was the only member of the Polish Armed Forces awarded The Legion of Merit.

  6. #26

    Default Re: Stories of Poles at war

    Dear Kanonier Tokarz,

    Are you not forgetting General Bryg Dr. Roman Odzierzynski he was also awarded the USA Legion of Merit, this can be confirmed if you look at my photograph of the Generals Awards in the Sikorski Museum Forum.

  7. #27


    Hi Guys,
    I've just come across a very interesting website project called 'Separated by History' covering an important aspect of uncountable Polish wartime memoirs, namely the separation of families caused by German or Soviet deportations and resettlement. The page is multilingual so it may attract not only Polish or English-speaking forum members. Besides, there's a fine portrait of the 2nd Polish Corps MP wearing the MP service badge on his BD. Here's the link:

    Separated by History - Google Cultural Institute


  8. #28

  9. #29


    Dear Friends,
    I would like to share with you some stories of fallen and missing in Arnhem Polish soldiers from 1 SBS (1st Independent Parachute Brigade). Those stories are part of my 5 years of investigations through many archives, talks with people documenting war history etc. Maybe someone of you can help me with solving mysteries about their burials. The last places I didn't reach with my investigations are Polish Army in West archives - Maidenhead (they want 30 GBP for a soldiers file) and British Ministry of Defense (former War Department). From this first place I would like to check personal files of fallen ones, in MoD archives all documents from 1944-1946 regarding losses, field burials, exhumations and reinterments to Oosterbeek cemetery. Also private pictures, oral relations etc.
    Below is the first short story about Corporal Edward Trochim:

    "The history of death of Corporal Edward Trochim from the anti-tank artillery Command describes best under what circumstances paratroopers from the 1st Independent Parachute Brigade landed during the second glider operation on the 19th of September 1944. Corporal Trochim flew with Lance Corporal Aleksander Uzlowski in glider number 134 loaded with anti-tank gun and a jeep together with the two-person British crew of the glider. Uzlowski was the only survivor and wounded became a prisoner of war. From his narrative taken by lieutenant Zygmunt Sobieraj on the 22nd of November 1945 we know the details of the tragedy that unfolded:
    “On 19th of September 1944 [Uzlowski] landed in the glider together with Corporal Trochim Edward, who was in command of an anti-tank artillery gun crew in the area of operation of the 1st British Parachute Division /near Arnhem/. After landing and unloading equipment the glider crew was taken by surprise by 10-12 soldier strong enemy who then executed the two British pilots despite the fact they raised their hands and attempted to surrender. Corporal Trochim and bombardier Uzlowski took cover behind the glider wheel where they were slightly injured. Germans ordered them to get up and walked them away the glider. The first walked Corporal Trochim, behind him bombardier Uzlowski. After walking approximately ten steps away from the glider Lance Corporal Uzlowski noticed that Germans pointed machine guns toward the walking Corporal Trochim Edward and fired two rounds of three to five bullets. They then pointed weapons towards bombardier Uzlowski and fired three shots hitting him in the chest. Thanks to the protective bulletproof vest Lance Corporal Uzlowski was not injured and continued to stand still. Germans then fired yet another round shooting through his site and arm. Lance Corporal Uzlowski fell while German soldiers left thinking he was dead. Few hours later German medics took him to the hospital on the German-Ductch border. After being released from the hospital Lance Corporal Uzlowski remained in the POW camp.
    Did Corporal Trochim died of his injuries? [Uzlowski] cannot categorically confirm, however he saw Germans shooting from a short range and saw Corporal Trochim fell to the ground. When himself badly injured crawled away from the burning glider after three to four hours, he still saw Corporal Trochim in the same position after he fell shot by the Germans.
    After the war only two named graves of the glider pilots have been found. The graves were that of Benjamin Huxley and Peter Jones. Interestingly, they were located one kilometer apart. One located by the landing zone, the other in the proximity of the British troops positions. Probably the badly injured pilot was taken by them, died and was buried. Corporal Edward Trochim is the only one who does not have his named grave. There is a possibility that he was buried in one of the two graves marked as Unknown near sargeant Benjamin Huxley’s field grave. Currently these uknown soldiers are buried in the Oosterbeek cemetery graves 6.C.19 and 6.C.20."

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    Edward Trochim as a schoolboy emigrated from Poland to France with his father and younger brother at the age of around 10 y.o. , circa 1932. His mother never reached them and died in early eighties in Poland. He came to Brigade from Western Sahara, where he was in French Petain army. I looked for his family in Kamionka village in Poland, but now every members of them are out of Poland, probably in England and France. There is possibility that his brother still lives somewhere in France and can have documents issued just after the war to him about brother. Will appreciate any help.
    Do someone know where I can find documents from Komenda Uzupelnien nr 1 (Recruitment Center no 1) in London of Polish Army in the West? Sikorski Institute doesn't have those.
    Last edited by Mateusz Mroz; 06-12-2014 at 12:19 PM.

  10. #30

    Default Bombardier Kazimierz Chartonowicz

    Here's the story of bombardier Kazimierz Chartonowicz:

    Kazimierz Chartonowicz died on 25th of September 1944 (date from death certificate, from a statement taken from witnesses lance seargents Jozef Romaniszyn and Adam Tymoszuk - date uknown- this happend around 22nd of September, they don't remeber correctly), the last day of the battle. According to the picture he was buried beside his colleague from his artillery gun crew, lance corporal Jozef Skaczko. On the picture taken after the war we can see two graves of both soldiers in the house garden located at 119 Benedendorpsweg in Oosterbeek (description of this picture is from uknown source). The coordinates of the graves are 698 773. However the death certificate of Chartonowicz issued in Bersenbruck on 16th of October 1945 by the brigade chaplain, priest cpt. Franciszek Mientki as well as the War Office letter SSM/UP.96 dated 5th of September 1945, indicate a different burial site (695 773). The above coordinates locate such site somewhere between the streets of Benedendorpsweg and Kerkpad along the Bildersweg street. In support of such location we note, that this was indeed the location of the anti-tank gun both soldiers were servicing. Of course a human error could play a part when coordinates were taken if we replace number 8 with 5 in those coordinates. From the above mentioned War Office letter we learn, that the body of Kazimierz Chartonowicz was reburied in the military cemetery in Oosterbeek in the grave marked as A.86.A. The problem is that a grave with that number does not exist. In addition, we observe, that the grave identity A.86.A is different from those commonly used which are created using the pattern of number.letter.number, for example 23.B.19. Therefore, I cannot establish where the Kazimierz Chartonowicz had been burried and today, only Jozef Skaczko has the grave clearly marked with his name. But with great probability Kazimierz Chartonowicz is buried in uknown Polish grave (25.B.17) in Oosterbeek cemetary just next to Jozef Skaczko grave (25.B.18). The only doubt is, that in CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commision) documents states the body were taken from Stationsweg 8. The problem is that all other burials of soldiers who died on Stationsweg are located together and are separated from this one by the graves from other places. Because me and my Dutch friends found quite a lot of mistakes in Polish burials in British documents, we think that 25.B.17 is Kazimierz Chartonowicz grave.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I found his family close to Elk town in north-east part of Poland. His brother's son, born after the war, was named after him Kazimierz. Family doesn't have any documents or can't find. His mother died as very old lady in the eighties. What is interesting he is not mentioned in Lorys book :History of the Polish Parachute Badge". In documents I found in an archive in Warsaw (personal belongings of Chartonowicz) there is a list of all what he left in England before Market Garden. In this list position number five is .... Identity card for parachute badge and ... 2 pounds 10 shillings of parachute supplement, which were paid only to qualified paratroopers. Money and documents were sent to the family in Poland in the begining of fifties. So, this means that bombardier Kazimierz Chartonowicz qualified as a partrooper, but landed in a glider. He came to para brigade from Russia. His family was arested by NKVD and send to Gulag. He than after Sikorski-Mayski agreement left Russia with General Anders. His family returned after the war to Poland and settled in former East Prussia, instead of their homeplace which then became part of communist Russia.

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