Wednesday, 29 September 2010


He was a pilot, born in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1921 to a Polish family, His mother was a housemaid to a Russian general and his father was a member of the Czar's Palace Guard. In 1922 the family returned to Poland and settled in Vilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania).

On the day Russia invaded Poland he joined a small Polish unit as a volunteer and they set off to travel west but they were cut off by the advancing Russian army and so, on 20th September 1939 they entered Latvia where they were interned in a camp at Daugavpils, the second largest city in Latvia. When Russia occupied the Baltic States his status virtually changed to that of a Prisoner of War and he was moved to a camp at Liepaja on the Baltic coast, near a Russian naval base.

Out of boredom he volunteered to work on a farm near Riga but he caught influenza and was sent to a camp at nearby Ulbroka to recuperate. In summer 1940 he went to work on a farm near Krustpils in southern Latvia but on August 1940 he was returned to the camp but Russian troops soon took over and on 1st September 1940 the Poles were taken to the railway station and placed in goods wagons before being shipped to Babinowo in Russia. From there they were taken to a camp at Juchnowo.

On 1st May 1941 they were taken to the railway station and packed into goods wagons; they travelled via Moscow to Murmansk, on the Kola Bay near the Barents Sea, where they embarked on a vessel named Clara Cetkin. They were intercepted by a Finnish submarine and told that Germany had attacked Russia and that Finland and Russia were no longer at war. They disembarked on the Kola Peninsula into a tented camp and were immediately put to work on the construction of an airfield.

After a couple of weeks they were put on a ship named Aldan and taken to Archangelsk and put on a train and eventually arrived at Suzdal, north east of Moscow. The latter part of the journey was an enforced march under armed guard and with little or no food and water. They were housed in a former monastery which provided better conditions than their previous camps.

On 1st August 1941 they were allowed to join Anders’ Polish army which was being formed from Polish deportees to Russia. On 2nd September 1941 they were freed and marched for seven days to Saratow on the River Volga where they actually joined Anders.

The Polish Government in exile in London had asked for volunteers to join the newly forming Polish Air Force in England. He volunteered and on 25th November 1941 set off by rail to Koltubanka, north of the Caspian Sea. They waited there for transport to Kermine, Uzbekistan, leaving on 30th January 1942 and about three weeks later took ship on the Caspian Sea at Krasnowodsk.

They landed at Pahlevi in northern Persia (now Iran) and on 27th March 1942 arrived in Tehran where they stayed until 3rd April 1942. They finally reached Bandar-Shahpur (now Bandar-Khomeini) on the Persian Gulf where they boarded the City of Canterbury, a British troop ship, bound for Bombay (now Mumbai), India, arriving on 23rd April 1942. From there they continued on Avatea, a New Zealand troop ship, arriving in Cape Town, South Africa on 7th May 1942. Six days later they made the final leg of their journey on the Bergen Fjord, a Norwegian troop ship which arrived in Glasgow on7th June 1942.

He went on to train as a pilot and joined 304 Squadron. He survived the war and was last heard of in Norwich in 1998. There is a suggestion that he may have changed his name to Anders.

Thanks to Julian Hoseason for the photograph and information see his excellent website

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