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 A message from our President, General Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank

'I am delighted to be associated with the work of the Polish Heritage Society and very honoured to serve as its President. The Society's work highlights the enormous contribution which generations of Poles have made to their adopted country. Preserving and celebrating that heritage will only further strengthen the ties between Poland and the United Kingdom.

I worked closely with the Society on the project to build a memorial to the Polish Forces at the National Memorial Arboretum and saw at first hand the energy and dedication of those involved.

I encourage you to explore this website and learn about the many other projects the Society has sponsored. Do please contact us if you would like to be involved in any way'.

General The Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank GCB LVO OBE

A Debt of Dishonour is a unique documentary film dedicated Major General Sosabowski and all ranks who served in the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade Group and to their Comrades-in-Arms of the 1st British Airborne Division that fought in the ill-fated “Operation Market Garden” at Arnhem and Driel during September 1944.

Sto Lat-Albert Hall


The Polish Heritage Society

In Memorium (Mainly in The Times newspaper)


Marzenna Maria Schejbal (1924 - 24 December 2021) Aged 97
Krzysztof Penderecki (23 November 1933 – 29 March 2020) Aged 86

 Kazimierz Albin (30 August 1922 – 22 July 2019) Aged 96
 Prof. Martin Gore/Gorczynski (18 February 1951 – 09 January 2019) Aged 67
Konstanty Okolow-Zubkowski (30 September 1919 – 10 November 2018) Aged 99
 Irena Szewinska (24 May 1946 - 29 June 2018) Aged 72
Wanda Wiłkomirska (11 January 1929 – 1 May 2018) Aged 89

Violinist who specialised in the works of her Polish compatriots

The great Polish violinist Wanda Wiłkomirska, who has died aged 89, was especially associated with the repertoire of her compatriots Karol Szymanowski, Krzysztof Penderecki – who write his Capriccio for her in 1967 – and Grażyna Bacewicz. She was also an advocate of other 20th-century repertoire, notably of Béla Bartók and Paul Hindemith, and felt an affinity with the British composers Frederick Delius, whom she considered an English Szymanowski, recording his three violin sonatas, and Benjamin Britten.

A recording of a 1967 performance of Britten’s Violin Concerto at the Royal Festival Hall with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Witold Rowicki, won the German Critics’ award in 2012, as well as praise from Rob Cowan of Gramophone, who described Wiłkomirska as a distinguished exponent of the Britten: “She was clearly on top form … [and] movingly persuasive in the work’s many lyrical passages.”

A teacher, Irena Dubiska, once told her: “Wanda, if you cannot play well, play beautifully.” Wiłkomirska’s playing, on a violin made in 1734 by Pietro Guarneri of Venice, was intuitive, musical, silken-toned and conveyed musical structure – important in the playing of contemporary music.

Wiłkomirska was an international violinist of the highest level. In 1976 she played the Britten with the LSO at the Royal Festival Hall under Erich Leinsdorf, and later with the Royal Philharmonic and Hans Vonk (1981). She also performed at the Edinburgh festival under Kurt Masur. Her worldwide partnerships included performing with Leonard Bernstein, Otto Klemperer, Carlo Maria Giulini and Zubin Mehta, and with the Cleveland, Hallé, Royal Concertgebouw and New York Philharmonic orchestras.

© The Guardian

Read more: Wanda Wiłkomirska obituary: The Guardian

George Severyn Dobry CBE (01 November 1918-14 March 2018) Aged 99
 Michal Giedroyc (25 January 1929 - 29 December 2017) Aged 88
Kazimierz Piechowski (3 October 1919 – 15 December 2017) Aged 98
 Squadron Leader Franciszek Kornicki (18 December 1916—16 November 2017) Aged 100
Wanda Lesisz  (15 July 1926 – 16 July 2017) Aged 91

Wanda Lesisz: Polish resistance fighter honoured as Righteous Among the Nations for hiding Jews from the Nazis.

Wanda Lesisz joined the Polish Home Army at 15 and served as a nurse during the Warsaw Uprising

During the wartime occupation of Poland, Wanda Gutowska and her family risked their lives on a daily basis. In their large house in Warsaw, where they hid weapons for the resistance and held training sessions for young volunteers, they were also sheltering fugitives from the Nazis.

There was Irena, the fiancée of a Jewish army officer who was held in a concentration camp; Piotrus, a young Jewish boy who had lost his parents, and, for a while, an RAF pilot. There were also two other occupants for much of that time: a German officer and his orderly.

Wanda had joined the Home Army — the Armia Krajowa, or AK — in 1940, when she was 15, completing a course as a medical orderly and taking on courier duties. Her father, Mieczyslaw, an army officer, was captured by the Red Army after the fall of Poland in 1939 and murdered with 22,000 of his countrymen in the Katyn massacre.

As the war developed, and Russian forces began their advance from the east while the allies closed in from the west, Wanda — under her nom de guerre “Kitek” — moved weapons from her house to AK units across the city, as well as carrying messages. The Uprising began at 5pm on August 1, 1944 — “W-Hour” — when the AK attacked German positions. “I wasn’t afraid because, frankly, one had little to lose,” Wanda recalled. “The occupation was awful. Anyway, we expected the Bolsheviks to help and the British to drop supplies, and we thought the Rising would end quickly.”

Carrying out nursing duties, Wanda survived several confrontations with German troops. When the Russian advance stalled, the Germans attacked with renewed vigour, and as many as 50,000 Poles were slaughtered. “What went on was monstrous,” she said. When the Uprising was crushed after 63 days, Wanda was captured. Her mother, Leonie, and her sister, Janina, smuggled Piotr out of Warsaw. Wanda’s sweetheart, Andrzej, was killed.

The Allies had belatedly granted the AK combatant status, and so the Germans reluctantly treated them as prisoners of war. She was held at Stalag VI-C, in the marshlands outside Oberlangen, northwest Germany, and eventually liberated by Polish soldiers.

Wanda Lesisz, centre, with her daughter Barbara and her sister, Janina
In 1947 Wanda — who had been born in Pultusk, 43 miles north of Warsaw, in 1926 — was sent to England, where she found work as a secretarial assistant in a pharmacy and met an architect and former naval officer, Tadeusz Lesisz, who had served in the Battle of the Atlantic. He became a leader of Manchester’s Polish community. She became chairman of the Manchester branch of the Home Army Association.

After the war her mother tracked down Piotrus’s family. He had emigrated to Israel — as had Irena — and served in the army. In 1988 he was reunited with the family when Wanda, Leonia and Janina were honoured in Israel and awarded Righteous Among the Nations medals, which are given to Gentiles who risked their lives to protect Jews during the Holocaust.

Tadeusz died in 2009; Wanda is survived by their two daughters, Krystyna, who is a doctor in the US, and Barbara, who qualified as a solicitor and moved to Poland.

Wanda was always keen to learn of the extent to which the Polish people had contributed to the defeat of Nazi Germany. She often addressed meetings, recounting her story. “The things I saw and did astonish me now,” she said. “Was that really me? Youth and stupidity saved me from madness. Nowadays, I jump at the sound of a car alarm.”

Wanda Lesisz, veteran of the Warsaw Uprising, was born on July 15, 1926. She died on July 16, 2017, aged 91

 © The Times

Stanislaw Skrowaczewski (3 October 1923—21 February 2017) Aged 93

Famous Polish conductor Stanisław Skrowaczewski has died of a stroke in a hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was 93. He continued to be active until last year, performing in Poland and many other countries.
Skrowaczewski served as principal guest conductor of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice and of the Saarländischer Rundfunk Orchestra in Germany.

He was the honorary conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, with which he had been associated for five decades, including a 19-year stint as its artistic director (1960-1979).

He was also music director of the Halle Orchestra in Manchester and of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (Minnesota). As a guest conductor, he appeared with most of the world’s leading orchestras. He was particularly renowned for his interpretations of symphonies by Bruckner.

Skrowaczewski’s long list of distinctions includes the Grand Cross of the Order of Reborn Poland, six honorary doctorates from music academies and universities, and the Medal of Honor from the Bruckner Society in America. 

© Radio Poland 

Radio Poland: Polish conductor Skrowaczewski dies at 93

Dr Krystyna Lubomirska (11 June 1925—30 January 2017) Aged 91

Dr Krystyna  Lubomirska died after a short illness in hospital,  aged 91.  Mrs Murphie, a retired Consultant Anaesthetist,   is survived by her daughter, Helen,  and grandson, Charles.

Dr Lubomirska was born on 11 June 1925 in Warsaw, Poland.  She was the daughter of Prince Hieronim Eugeniusz Lubomirski - the eldest son of Stefan Lubomirski, proprietor of the Kruszyna estate - and Maria Konstancja Lubomirska (Dzierzanowska). They resided in  homes in Warsaw and at Kruszyna Palace.

Dr Lubomirska  led a relatively solitary early life. She was home schooled by a governess and read classic English novels to ignite her imagination. After the death of her father, she moved to an apartment in Warsaw with her mother and brother - Hieronim.   After the outbreak of the second world war,  she studied medicine and was admitted to Warsaw’s Poznia University.  The young student also undertook voluntary nursing at the Knights of Malta Hospital in Warsaw where she was expected to treat German soldiers injured in battle.  Because of her compassion and dedication to the principles of medicine she gave the best possible care and treatment to such soldiers.

Dr Lubomirska’s  mother Princess Lubomirska played an active role in the Polish underground army and risked death by keeping escaped prisoners of war in their family home.   The family also took part in the Warsaw Uprising during which Warsaw was destroyed.  On July 19th 1944  Hieronim Lubomirksi was killed shortly before his 17th birthday whilst trying to liberate prisoners of war with his fellow resistance fighters from Pawiak prison.   The raid went badly wrong and almost all of the young fighters were gunned down by the Nazis.   

Dr Lubomirska came close to death on a number of occasions during the war.  On one occasion, she and other civilians were frog-marched by the German army to a clearing and lined up against a wall. With her eyes closed and arms behind her back,  she expected to be shot.  The Polish underground army appeared at the last moment, and started firing at the Germans, and she and others managed to escape. Throughout this ordeal her faith did not waiver and she remained convinced if she had been killed, that she would be reunited with her brother,  Hieronim.  On another occasion when she remonstrated with a soldier who killed a crying child with a riffle butt in front of her , she was told that if she did not shut up he would kill her too. The German soldier  killed the child’s mother a few minutes later.

She also escaped death when she was stopped by a German soldier whilst she was secretly transporting weapons at the bottom of a wooden vegetable cart to the Polish underground army.   She later said that because she spoke perfect German and was blond, that she managed to pass through the check quickly before the soldier gathered his wits.

The Lubomirska home in Warsaw was bombed and destroyed in August 1944 and the family lost all their  possessions. They  were sent to a German concentration camp.  They were given some gold and US dollars by a family member to bribe German soldiers and they managed to escape and settle in Cracow where the young doctor continued with her pre clinical studies. 

In 1946, the family were tipped off by Polish underground army that the new communist regime intended to deport them to Siberia as western spies.   Dr Lubomirksa,  her mother, and step father, Zdzislaw,  travelled first to Germany and then on to Italy where the young student worked  as a welfare officer with the Polish Red Cross. This work led her to settle in Britain in October 1946.  Dr Lubomirska continued her studies at Paderewski Hospital in Edinburgh which was a Polish medical school before being admitted to the Welsh National School of Medicine.  In 1951 she graduated with MRCS and LRCP diplomas. Dr Lubomirska held various posts at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, the German Hospital in East London and St Leonard’s Hospital in East London.

Dr Lubomirska passed her fellowship at the faculty of Anaesthetists. . She worked as an anaesthetist at Wanstead Hospital and various other hospitals, including East Ham Memorial and St Clements Hospital,  part of the City and East London Hospital Authority  before she retired in 1982.  Dedicated to her patients, she was renowned for the excellent care she provided,  and she campaigned for many years to improve treatment and care standards in NHS hospitals. 

She married her husband Charles Ian Murphie, a Consultant Surgeon, on 5th August 1966 and gave birth to their daughter, Helen,  in 1968.  Mr Murphie died in 1971 aged 59.

Despite all her academic and professional achievements Dr Lubomirska  expressed that the two things she was most proud of, and brought her the greatest happiness in life, were her daughter and grandson. A devout catholic who never lost her faith, Dr Lubomirska will be deeply missed by those who had the honour of knowing her. She will be remembered as a courageous,  wise,  devoted mother and grandmother.

© The Royal College of Anaesthetists:  Dr Krystyna  Lubomirska

Peter Janson-Smith (5 September 1922—15 April 2016) Aged 93
Zbigniew (Zbyszek) Gutowski (3 December 1916—31 March 2016) Aged 99

Born December 3, 1916 in Warsaw, Poland, as a smaller twin and not expected to survive the night, died peacefully, after a lengthy illness, on March 31, 2016 in Montreal in his 99th year. Predeceased by 3 brothers, twin sister and wife Mariola. Survived by his family in Canada, niece Tanya (Asia) Gutowska-Norman and son Alexander, nephew Jan Gutowski (Maria) and cherished friend Danuta Michaliszyn (Ryszard); in Poland, cousins Wojtek Jazdrzewski (Krysia), Zygmunt Zakrzewski (Wanda); in the UK, cousin Jan Zakrzewski (Betty); and the many friends in Poland, Germany, France, the UK and Canada who cared so deeply for him.

Shot down in 1941 over Europe, he was captured and interned at Stalag Luft III, where he joined the group digging the tunnels Tom, Dick, Harry and George. He did not escape but the events at this camp were made into a movie, The Great Escape. He was probably one of the last "diggers". He was a gentleman with high standards. He was humble, kind and caring, asking for nothing but giving so much to others.

Grateful thanks to the personnel at the Institut Canadien- Polonais du Bien-Etre, in Montreal, who cared for him with such love and dedication. Funeral Mass on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Czestochowa, 2550 Ave. Gascon, Montreal. Interment in Poland at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations, if desired, to the Institut Canadien-Polonais or a charity of choice would be appreciated. "It is with great sadness that we say goodbye."

 © Toronto Star

Stephanie Rader (16 May 1915 – 21 January 2016) Aged 100
Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak (19 October 1925 - 5 November 2015) Aged 90
Grzegorz Roginski/European Pressphoto Agency

Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak, who helped crush the Solidarity movement in Poland in 1981 and eight years later presided briefly over the country’s transition to democracy as its last Communist prime minister, died on Thursday in Warsaw. He was 90.

His family confirmed his death, according to The Associated Press.

General Kiszczak and Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland’s prime minister at the time, insisted that they were imposing martial law to stave off a Soviet invasion in response to the pro-democracy uprising by Solidarity, the Eastern bloc’s first non-communist labor union.

But critics said they were doing Moscow’s bidding in a brutal crackdown that included the shooting deaths by the police of nine dissident miners. General Kiszczak was subsequently tried for the killings, but avoided prison. (As recently as this year, a court meted out a two-year suspended sentence for his role in imposing martial law.)

“I saved the country from terrible troubles,” General Kiszczak said years later.

Czeslaw Kiszczak (pronounced CHESS-wahff KEESH-chahk) was born on Oct. 19, 1925, in the Silesian coal country town of Roczyny, the son of a struggling farmer who was fired as a steelworker apparently because of his Communist affiliation.

As a teenager during World War II, Czeslaw was recruited to mine coal for the occupying Germans, then arrested and forced to work in Vienna, where he joined a Communist militia.

After the war he entered the Polish Army, where he fought guerrilla groups that were resisting the Communist takeover. Guerrillas beat his father and spared his life only after his mother intervened.

He later explained that those struggles had shaped his response to the pro-democracy upheaval decades later.

“Experiences linked with that drama, that fratricidal struggle, are among the major reasons that shaped my role in the complicated years of 1980-82,” General Kiszczak said. “I did not want that tragic history to repeat itself.”

He later attended the state military academy. He married and had two children. Information on survivors was not immediately available.

To some critics, General Kiszczak redeemed himself in 1984 when, as minister of internal affairs, he oversaw the prosecution of the state security officers who had abducted and murdered a pro-Solidarity priest, the Rev. Jerzy Popieluszko. They were convicted.

He also weeded out secret police cadres that had remained loyal to a hard-line party faction, which had enjoyed the patronage of the Soviet K.G.B. before Mikhail S. Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union.

With the economy deteriorating, General Kiszczak negotiated the agreement with the opposition that led to the renewed recognition of Solidarity and the terms for the 1989 elections. Solidarity candidates went on to win all the seats in the Assembly that they were permitted to contest.

General Kiszczak was appointed prime minister in 1989, but Solidarity refused to enter a Communist-led government.

Within a few weeks, to avert further labor unrest ignited by soaring food prices, he resigned and joined a Solidarity-dominated coalition as deputy prime minister and interior minister. He served until mid-1990, when he retired from political life.

© New York Times

Source: New York Times

Szymon Zaremba (19 February 1920 – 22 August 2015) Aged 95
Daniel Topolski (04 June1945 – 21 February 2015) Aged 69

Rowing world mourns the death of Topolski
Oxford coaching great Dan Topolski will be remembered for his will to win and the Boat Race will not be the same without him

NO ONE would be more annoyed than Dan Topolski himself that he did not quite live long enough to watch the 2015 Boat Race and, of course, to witness the inevitable triumph of another Oxford crew. The Boat Race will not be the same without the man who set the standard for coaching and organisation as the finishing coach of Oxford through an unprecedented era of dark blue domination between 1973 and 1987 and who later became the voice of calm analysis for the BBC at one of the great sporting occasions of the year. But, with Dan Topolski’s death last night at the age of 69 after a long illness, it is not just the Boat Race which will be bereft of one of its stars more.

© Times Newspapers Ltd.  Andrew Longmore Published: 22 February 2015

Sad news of the death of Daniel Topolski

A legendary Oxford coach and rower, author, commentator and journalist, Dan Topolski died on Saturday at the age of 69 following a period of ill health.

Tributes have been paid from across the world of rowing, for a man who led Oxford to 10 straight wins in the Boat Race between 1976 and 1985.

In all, Topolski coached Oxford for 15 editions of the Boat Race, winning 12, and coached GB crews at two Olympic Games. He rowed in two Boat Races for Oxford - winning in 1967 and losing in 1968 – and represented GB five times between 1969 and 1978.

Topolski’s award-winning account of the infamous 1987 race, True Blue, would later be made into a classic rowing film starring Dominic West and Bill more.

© British Rowing

Former Oxford rowing coach, author and BBC Sport rowing commentator Daniel Topolski has died aged 69.

A former Oxford blue himself, he established his reputation as Oxford's finishing coach for the Boat Race between 1973 and 1987, before joining the BBC.

He died on Saturday following a lengthy period of ill health.

Five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave said: "Rowing will miss him dearly and so will I."

Topolski guided Oxford through 15 races as coach, winning 12 including 10 in a row between 1976 and 1985.

His leadership lay the foundations for a staggering run of success which continued after his departure and, by 1992, had enabled Oxford to triumph in 16 out of the previous 17 races.

His most famous victory was in 1987 when Oxford overcame the walk out of five American internationals just six weeks before the event to beat Cambridge by four lengths.

He later wrote a book about that incredible triumph, called 'True Blue, The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny,' which won the 1990 William Hill Sports book of the year award.

A film was later made of the book - True Blue - and shown at the 1996 Royal Command more.


Daniel Topolski, rowing coach - obituary - Telegraph

Daniel Topolski, former Oxford coach and Observer writer, dies aged 69 - The Guardian‎

Jadwiga Piłsudska-Jaraczewska (28 February 1920 – 16 November 2014) Aged 94

Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska was a daughter of Poland’s national hero Marshal Jozef Pilsudsk and flew Spitfires for the Allied cause

Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska, who has died aged 94, was the younger daughter of the pre-war Polish leader and military hero Marshal Jozef Pilsudski; after the German invasion of her country, she fled to Britain, where she served during the war as a pilot in the Air Transport Auxiliary.

Major Tony Hibbert MBE MC (6 December 1917 - 12 October 2014) Aged 96

Smutna wiadomosc - Major Tony Hibbert wielki przyjaciel naszej 1wszej Polskiej Niezaleznej Brygady Spadochronowej z bitwy pod  Arnhem i Driel oraz publiczny obronca honoru Generala Sosabowskiego  odszedl na wieczna warte.

Major Tony Hibbert  razem z grupa kilkunastu Brytyjskich weteranow bitwy pod Arnhem razem z Sir Brian Urquhart (szef wywiadu Operacji Market Garden) oraz z bohaterska holenderka Corą Balthussen, doprowadzili do powstania w 2006r pomnika Generala Stanislawa Sosabowskiego w Driel.

16th Wrzesnia  2006 w Driel, ten pomnik z nastepujacym napisem zostal odsloniety przez prawnuka Generala, Prof Hal Sosabowskiego.









W swych wlasnych slowach w Driel w 2006 roku, Major Tony Hibbert powiedzial:

"Moj text ktory zostal napisany na tablicach tego pomnika, zawiera wyrazne stwierdzenie, ze dymisja Generala (Sosabowskiego) byla faktem nie sprawiedliwym i to spowodowalo mi ze strony tzw establishment  troche powaznych klopotow.  Jednak ja chcialem im wyraznie pokazac, ze Polacy mieli kogos po swojej stronie ...."

Major Hibbert zmarl w wieku 96 lat w okolicy Truro w Kornwalii.  Memorial Mass jest planowana w Londynie, oczywiscie zawiadomimy czytelnikow jak tylko rodzina podejmie ta decyzje.

Pelny wywiad z Majorem Tony Hibbert na powyzszy temat jest dostepny na YouTube w jezyku polskim:


Dr Mark Stella-Sawicki MBE KM
13th October, 2014

Full interview with Major Tony Hibbert and Sir Brian Urquhart (English Version) is documented in the DVD film "A Debt of Dishonour" - ISBN-12 978-0-9544675-4-0, dedicated to all ranks who served in the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade Group and their Commander General Sosabowski and their Comrades-in-Arms of the 1st British Airborne Division who served during September 1944 in "Operation Market Garden" at Arnhem and Driel.

New York Times
Dziennik Polski

Stephanie Kwolek (July 31, 1923 – June 18, 2014) Aged 90

Stephanie Louise Kwolek (July 31, 1923 – June 18, 2014) was an American chemist, whose career at the DuPont company covered over forty years. She is best known for inventing the first of a family of synthetic fibers of exceptional strength and stiffness: poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide—better known as Kevlar. For her discovery, Kwolek was awarded the DuPont company's Lavoisier Medal for outstanding technical achievement. As of June 2014, she was the only female employee to have received that honour. In 1995 she became the fourth woman to be added to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Kwolek won numerous awards for her work in polymer chemistry, including the National Medal of Technology and the Perkin Medal.

General Wojciech Jaruzelski  (6 July 1923 – 25 May 2014) Aged 90

Former Polish Communist party prime minister who imposed martial law to crush the Solidarity democracy movement in 1981

Patriot, puppet or pragmatist? Reformer or orthodox communist? The jury remains out on the record of General Wojciech Jaruzelski, who has died aged 90. Living quietly in retirement from the end of 1990, Jaruzelski tried hard for the rest of his life to convince the world he had never been less than a Polish patriot, and that from 1989 he dismantled the apparatus of communist rule setting Poland firmly on the path to democracy and the free market. Opinion has swayed somewhat in his favour. But Jaruzelski remains an enigma and the debate over his actions is certain to continue.

The accusations against Jaruzelski remain that he betrayed Poland and was acting at Moscow's bidding when he declared martial law to crush the Solidarity movement, and that he turned to reform only because circumstances in the communist camp forced him to change course. Jaruzelski always insisted that he ordered Polish tanks on to the streets of Warsaw on 13 December 1981 because he believed it was the only way to prevent a Soviet invasion to put an end to the Solidarity-led strikes and demands for democratic reforms.

© The Guardian

Read full obituary: The Guardian - General Wojciech Jaruzelski

Brig. Gen. Stefan Klemens Bałuk (15 Jan. 1914 - 30 Jan. 2014 ) Aged 100

Stefan Klemens Bałuk (15 January 1914 in Warsaw - 30 January 2014 in Warsaw) a Polish General, who was best known as one of the last surviving members of the Cichociemni (the Unseen and Silent) special forces paratroops of the Armia Krajowa (AK or Home Army). Stefan Bałuk attended the Warsaw University during the mid 1930s where he studied law,  but as WWII broke out in September 1939, Stefan enlisted in the Polish Army and served in the 10 Brygada Kawalerii (10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade) under the command of Col. Stanisław Maczek. The Germans nick-named the 10th Cavalry Brigade "Die Schwarze Brigade" – "The Black Brigade", because of the black jackets worn by Polish mechanised troops.

After escaping the Nazis, Stefan Bałuk made his way to England and underwent intensive training with the the Special Operations Executive’s (SOE) in the United Kingdom for several years, alongside other Poles who volunteered to be parachuted back into their homeland as one of the Cichociemni special forces paratroops of the Armia Krajowa. Having been parachuted back into occupied Poland on 9 April 1944, Stefan "Straba" Bałuk fought during the Warsaw Rising of 1944 in the "Agaton" battlegroup. After the end of WWII Bałuk was arrested by the Polish communist regime in 1945 and was imprisoned for approximately two years until he was set free in March 1947. Like many former AK soldiers Stefan Blauk suffered discrimination by the communist regime and at first was only able to get a job as a taxi driver although he was a skilled photographer. Many years later, and after the collapse of the communist regime the Polish President, Bronisław Komorowski, awarded Gen. Baluk with the Order of Polonia Restituta. Eventually Stefan Baluk was able to take up professional photography as his career. He died in his beloved Warsaw at the age of 100.


Obituary in The Times

Letter in The Times - 27 February 2014

Stanislaw Sosabowski III  (14 August, 2013)

After very long illness, the grandson of General Stanislaw Sosabowski, Stanislaw Sosabowski III, who lived in Algarve, died on 14t August, 2013.

Stanislaw Sosabowski III (seated in the wheelchair) with his twin brother Michael (Maciej) in Holland in 2006 during the decoration ceremony, where HRH the Queen Beatrix awarded General Sosabowski with the Bronze Lion Cross for bravery during Operation Market Garden in 1944.

 Jerzy Kulczycki  (12 October 1931 – 18 July 2013) Aged 81

Jerzy Kulczycki was born in Lwów on the 12th of October 1931.  His father Zdzisław, a judge, was arrested by the NKVD in March 1940 and was shot in Ukraine in still-unexplained circumstances and at an undisclosed location.  Together with his mother Maria née Baternay, Kulczycki was deported on the 13th of April 1940 to Kazakhstan. In August 1942, along with General Anders’s army, he left for Persia where he went to school.  On the 1st of January 1944,  he was accepted into the Young Leaders’ School and a month later he was transferred to the Cadet School in Barbara Palestine, where he received military training.  In August 1947, together with the whole school, he arrived in Great Britain.

He finished his secondary schooling at the Young Leaders’ Cadet School in Bodney, and was accepted into the English-language Joseph Conrad School at Haydon Park, which had been set up specifically for Polish soldiers. He took his school-leaving certificate there, and was accepted into the University of London to read engineering. He graduated in 1954, and in 1958 he qualified as a civil engineer.  While a student, he had played an active part in the Union of Polish Students Abroad, holding a number of positions on the world-wide board, and serving two terms as president.  He earned a master’s in civil engineering. He joined the Polish Labour Party and remained a member of its top leadership until the founding of the Third Polish Republic.

In August 1958, in Nottingham Cathedral he married Aleksandra Lichtarowicz, who henceforth would be a faithful helpmate in his professional and community activities.

In 1964, he founded the Odnowa publishing house on behalf of the Labour Party, running it until its closure in 1990.  Odnowa produced around 100 books, including works by Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, Józef Garliński, Zbigniew Siemaszko, and one of the most famous émigré books published – Jan Ciechanowki’s The Warsaw Uprising.

In 1972, he and his wife bought the oldest Polish bookseller in England, Orbis, which they ran under the new name of Orbis Books until 2008. In the mid-eighties, Orbis’s turnover was fifteen times greater than it had been before, and the bookshop employed ten people.  The bookshop ran stalls in the Polish Hearth and in St. Andrew Bobola Church.  During the time of the Communist People’s Republic in Poland, Kulczycki attached the greatest importance to the legal and illegal shipment of émigré and Western publications to libraries and to private individuals in Poland and throughout the Soviet bloc.

In the seventies and eighties, he devoted a great deal of time to reviving the activities of the Association of Friends of the Catholic University of Lublin and to helping the University. He played an active part in the founding of the Institute of Polish-Jewish Studies, in the activities of the Polish Hearth and in raising bursaries for Polish refugees.

He was decorated with the Knight’s Cross, the Officer’s Cross and the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.

In Memoriam by Jarek Garliński

"I’m not too old to have silly ideas.

A few Christmases ago I was doing some research at the National Archives at Kew and the Kulczyckis, who live about three miles away, offered me a room for a fortnight.  I then thought that it would be a really neat idea to go to the Archives by bicycle.  In winter, mind you, along Chiswick High Road.  Those of you who know the area are already looking at me as if I must be some kind of lunatic.

In any event a dear friend of mine duly procured a bicycle, security chain, clips, bone dome and all the impedimenta of the modern urban two-wheeled warrior.  I had earlier e-mailed Jerzy Kulczycki to ask if it would be alright to keep the bike at their house.  “Of course,” he replied.  I inquired no further; I assumed that it would simply go in the shed in the back garden.

 Well it didn’t.  In fact the Kulczyckis told me to leave it in the hall.  In the hall?  Those of you who know the Kulczyckis’ hall are aware that it is a typical narrow hall for a London house of that period.  For two whole weeks my hosts uncomplainingly squeezed past my bike carrying their shopping and going about their daily business.  Not a word of complaint; not a reproach.  Just a smile and an assurance that this muddy monster standing there like a bad piece of modern art was perfectly welcome in their home.

Now, in the big scheme of things this is hardly an issue of major importance and yet it so wonderfully illustrates the Kulczyckis: kind, thoughtful and always putting the interests of others before their own.

There are those who are more qualified than I am to speak of Jerzy Kulczycki’s work as a publisher and a bookseller, his day-time job as a civil engineer, his involvement in Polish community affairs and his work for the Catholic Church.  Indeed, a simple enumeration of these various facets of his life shows just how versatile a man he was.  He once confided to me that he would have been unable to do all of these things, had he needed more than the four hours of sleep a night that he could squeeze in.

But, my friends, I want to focus today on Jerzy Kulczycki the man.  

I only came to know Jerzy Kulczycki over the last 10 years or so.  Our paths had not crossed much before, but in the last two years of my late father’s life Jerzy Kulczycki and his dear wife became absolutely indispensable friends of my family and a wonderful support to my father in his declining years.   

Casa Kulczycki is about ¾ of a mile from where my parents’ home used to be, whereas I live most of the year in the United States.  With the best will in the world I could not be in England all the time.  Yet, in those final years of my father’s life (my mother having died some years earlier) nothing was ever too much trouble for Jerzy and Alexandra.  This involved dealing with doctors and the NHS, it meant helping with many of those logistical and bureaucratic matters with which my father’s housekeeper, who spoke no English and did not drive, needed assistance.  It involved responding to calls from my father, including one (a false alarm as it happened) in the wee hours of the morning.  

It was then that I came to appreciate Jerzy Kulczycki’s indefatigable goodness and generosity.  I came to appreciate his kindness, his thoughtfulness and his immense fund of practical, good old-fashioned common sense.  I saw him deal with difficult people with a deft touch.  There was strength and determination behind those twinkling eyes.

In those years, when I came over from the States I would usually stay at the Kulczyckis’ and entering their house I felt that I was coming home, even though I was not a member of the family.  I was immediately made to feel welcome, cups of tea, and at times something stronger, were immediately placed before me.  Indeed the cups of tea kept coming and coming.  No complaints from me there!

Yet my father and I were not alone in benefitting from the Kulczyckis’ hospitality and generosity.  Many times during the evening the phone would ring at Casa Kulczycki and it would invariably be ‘sprawy społeczne’, community issues, with which both the Kulczyckis were deeply involved.  There would as often as not be at least one other person staying in the house, sometimes more than one.  We all shared the same bathroom, which the Kulczyckis were again only too willing to relinquish.

Only a few months ago when I went over to see them, Jerzy apologized for no longer being able to offer me accommodation for the simple reason that a team of carers had moved into the house.  His first reaction was still to think of others.

 I recall too his enormous bravery during his final illness.  After I had been round to their house one afternoon about a year or so ago, Jerzy’s son Andrzej, who lives in the States, e-mailed to ask whether his father had mentioned his teeth.  I replied that he had not.  It transpired that the previous day the hospital had had to extract six or seven teeth, I believe it was, for medical reasons which I don’t really understand.  Yet Jerzy had uttered not a word of complaint, even though he must have been in considerable pain.  There was not an ounce of self pity in the man.

 He also had something which is perhaps rarer among Poles of his generation, who saw too much of life’s harsher side far too young: a puckish sense of humour.  I will always remember that little grin of his and that smile…that smile.  

 That impish sense of humour even extended to those harrowing times when he and his family were deported by the Soviets in 1940.  Jan Gross in his book on the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland Revolution from Abroad, quotes Jerzy as saying that, as a small boy of nine, he had actually found the whole experience rather exciting.  When I asked him about this a few years back he concurred with his original view saying that it had indeed been exciting initially and that the children had had all sorts of freedom.  After all, how many nine-year-olds dream of not having to go to school, and for months on end as well?

Jerzy had a way too with words.  Some years ago we were having dinner in Warsaw and the conversation turned to my late father whose final publisher Jerzy had been.  I remarked that my father always quarrelled with all his publishers, but that, from what I could tell, he and Jerzy had never quarrelled.  Jerzy turned to me and grinned: “Of course we quarrelled,” he chuckled, “but your late father was a marvellous man to quarrel with.”

Jerzy was a man of many parts.  Living in the US I have been able to witness a side of him of which perhaps people here in the UK know less.  For upwards of thirty years or so he and Alexandra would travel each year to the States to attend the annual conference of what has now become ASEEES: an unwieldy acronymic mouthful concealing the umbrella organization in the United States for all things Slavonic or, as Americans would have it, Slavic.

Two years ago the two of them travelled for the last time to such a conference in Washington DC; she with one artificial knee and the other one giving out; he after by-pass surgery and already in the first stages of his final bout with cancer.  They had been going each year to sell books, but also now to witness the awarding of the prize which they had funded.  Its full name is the ASEEES Kulczycki Book Prize in Polish Studies (formerly the Orbis Prize) and it has been awarded annually since 1996 for the best book in any discipline, on any aspect of Polish affairs.  The recipient of the prize that night in DC, Professor Antony Polonsky of Brandeis University in Boston, is here this morning in the church, having come up from Tuscany to be with us.

It was then that I saw firsthand the respect with which Jerzy Kulczycki is held in the Polish academic community in the United States.  Since the news of his death was announced, a number of members of this community have been in touch expressing their sadness at being unable to attend today.  

In his quiet, unassuming way Jerzy Kulczycki, with Alexandra by his side, has done the Polish cause an immense amount of good.  Misinformation and bigotry are, in times of peace, combatted not with shouting and grand gestures, but by determined educational efforts and quiet persuasion.  Thus I stand in total awe of someone who could publish upwards of 90 books in what, in essence, was his spare time.

On this day, then, my deepest condolences go out to Alexandra, Pani Ola, who has been a splendid partner (and I mean that in the very fullest sense of the word) to Jerzy for all these many years.  My condolences to his children, Andrzej, Martha and Ryszard, who are all here, two of them having travelled from other continents, and to his grandchildren, who have understandably been unable to make the long trip from Australia and the USA.

I should like too to thank all those good people, most of whom are here today, who helped and looked after Jerzy Kulczycki these past few years: his indefatigable carers.  Thank you.  Dziękuję Wam bardzo.

My friends, we have lost a very, very decent man, ‘rzeczywiście porządny człowiek’, as we would say in Polish.  All of us here today will of course remember him in our own way.  Yet I for one will miss his warmth and his excellent judgement, both on matters Polish, and on people in general.  

Jerzy Kulczycki’s contribution has been immense and his loss will be keenly felt by many.  He has touched many lives and has enriched all of us by his kind and modest demeanour.  He was, in every sense of the word, a real gentleman."

30 July 2013

© Jarek Garliński



Wisława Szymborska (2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012) Aged 88
Stefan Teodor Roman Andersz  (16 March 1918 – 16 June 2013) Aged 95

Stefan Andersz joined the Polish Army Cadet Corps in 1932 and in 1938 moved to Warsaw to become a student at the Aviation Cadet School. He joined the Polish Air Force and came to England in June 1940. In December 1942 he was assigned to 302 ‘Poznan’ Fighter Squadron based at RAF Northholt.

Flight Lieutenant Stefan Andersz flew 94 combat sorties and 22 operational flights and was twice awarded the Cross of Valour.

In September 1948, he joined the Royal Air Force and there followed a career in different parts of the world including the Isle of Islay (off the west coast of Scotland), Gan (in the Indian Ocean) and Singapore. His last posting was to RAF Strike Command near High Wycombe.

Before his retirement Stefan Andersz learnt the art of restoring old books and of book-binding. He was honoured when one of the books he restored became part of the collection of Pope John Paul II.

Stefan Andersz is survived by his wife Danuta, daughter Kristine, step-son Andrzej, five grand- children and three great grand-children.

Henry Strzelecki MBE (04 October 1925—26 December 2012) Aged 87

Pioneer in the outdoor clothing business whose Henri-Lloyd label developed the first truly waterproof and durable apparel for sailors

Henry Strzelecki was the co-founder of the Henri-Lloyd outdoor clothing manufacturer and the “father” of ther modern waterproofs worn by sailors and extreme outdoor sports enthusiasts and explorers.

Born in Brodnica, midway between Warsaw and Gdansk, he fled occupied Poland, the scene of much human suffering, after making himself a nuisance to the Nazis, to join the Polish 2nd Corps in Italy; it became part of the British Eighth Army. He fought with Corps in many campaigns, notably in the liberation of Bologna, earning recognition in the form of medals from both the Polish and the British authorities. He was demobilised in Britain and opted to stay here as, by then, his native Poland was in the hands of the Communists.

 © The Times

The Times obituaries: Henry Strzelecki MBE

Boating Business Obituary - Henry Strzelecki MBE

David Salik  (1914—2012) Aged 98

Polish paratrooper who was decorated for his initiative during the disastrous Allied attack on the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Wolfheze, Driel and the surrounding countryside from 17–26 September 1944.

David Salik was one of the last surviving veterans of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade which was dropped at Arnhem in September 1944. A sergant in 3rd Parachute Batalion, David Salik had survived imprisonment in a Soviet labour camp , in 1942 he served with Polish forces in Iran, Iraq and Palestine and was later awarded the Polish Field Para badge, the Medal Wojska Polskiego—Military Medal  and Bronze  Krzyż Zasługi—Cross of Merit with Swords and 4 British campaign medals. At the war’s end David Salik was to be one of a small number of Jews from his home town of Sanok, Poland to have survived the Holocaust.

 © The Times

The Times obituaries: David Salik

At least twenty eight Polish Jewish soldiers served and fought with the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade at Arnhem, of whom ten were officers. Jewish servicemen in the Polish Parachute Brigade were awarded the Order Virtuti Militari—Poland's highest award for valour (2),  the Medal Wojska Polskiego—Military Medal (5) Bronze Krzyż Zasługi—Cross of Merit (1) and the Krzyż Walecznych—Cross of Valour (1) for their part in the Battle of Arnhem.

Dr Andrew Meeson Kielanowski  (21 January 1935—07 January 2012) Aged 76

Dr Andrew Meeson Kielanowski MA, MB, BCh, BAO, KM, co-founder and Vice Chairman of the Polish Heritage Society (UK). A much-loved and widely-respected doctor in Hampstead, he was also a great philanthropist active in numerous charities. As Chairman of the Polish Knights of Malta (UK), he was a tireless fund-raiser for oncology clinics in Poland. He also played a leading role in the successful campaign for a Polish Armed Forces memorial to be erected at the National Arboretum.

© The Telegraph

The Telegraph obituaries: Dr-Andrew-Meeson

Jan Walentowicz (20 August 1920 - 27 October 2011) Aged 91

Jan Walentowicz, who has died aged 90, flew Wellington bombers during the second world war and later became an RAF helicopter pilot. Born in Lida, then part of Poland (and now in Belarus), he was educated there and in Białystok. He joined the Polish air force for his national service. In September 1939 Germany invaded Poland.

Following his escape from Poland Jan eventually arrived in Great Britain from France. In 1942 he undertook pilot training and was posted to 304 Polish Reconnaissance Squadron, based at Benbecula, Outer Hebrides, flying anti-U-boat patrols.

Poland ended the war under Soviet occupation and Jan refused to return, remaining instead in the RAF. In 1950 he married Winifred, whom he had first met at a dance in Nottingham. In 1954 he qualified to fly helicopters, was promoted to flight lieutenant and was posted to 155 Squadron at Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, during the anti-insurgent campaign. On returning to Britain, Jan joined 22 Squadron, this time in a search and rescue role. In 1960 he completed an air traffic controller course, serving in Yorkshire and Aden. However, a shortage of experienced helicopter pilots led to his return to flying, as flight commander with 202 Squadron at Leuchars, Scotland. Jan was then – aged 47 – the oldest pilot in the RAF.

Upon leaving the RAF, Jan and Winifred moved to Essex, where they ran the Billericay Bookshop until 1989. Then followed 20 years of retirement in East Hanningfield and in Dunedin, Florida. Jan remained an active supporter of the Royal Air Forces Association until his death.

© The Guardian

The Guardian obituaries: Jan Walentowicz

Tadeusz W. Sawicz  (13 February 1914—19 October 2011) Aged 97

TADEUSZ W. SAWICZ Gen. Brg. Pilot Passed away on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 in Toronto at the age of 97.

Tadeusz started his military career in Poland in 1934 and took part in the Allied war effort during the Second World War in Poland, France and Britain, including the Battle of Britain whilst serving with No. 303 ("Kościuszko") Polish Fighter Squadron (303 Dywizjon Myśliwski "Warszawski im. Tadeusza Kościuszki) which was the highest scoring RAF squadron of the Battle of Britain. He was the last surviving Polish pilot who fought in the Battle of Britain.

Tadeusz Sawicz concluded his military career as a Wing Commander in the RAF and was highly decorated with a Virtuti Militari Silver Cross, four times Polish DFC, British DFC, American DFC and Dutch DFC. Tadeusz worked in Montreal at Wheeler and Nordair Airlines.

© The Telegraph

The Telegraph obituaries: Wing-Commander-Tadeusz-Sawicz

The Guardian obituaries: Last surviving Polish Battle of Britain pilot dies

In Memorium - Polish Friends of Marek Rencki
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