View Full Version : POLAND

12-15-2005, 07:41 PM
As no doubt you are all aware the UK went to war in 1939 as a direct result of Germany invading Poland. Many Poles were grateful to the UK for this support but many felt that Churchill let Poland down as after the war they were occupied by the USSR and therefore possibly worse off than when under the Germans.

The poor Poles certainly had it rough as the Germans and Russians jointly plotted to carve the country up and when the Germasn launched Barbarossa Poland was in the middle of much of the conflict as well as being occupied by both sides.

Below is the obituary of one Officer caught up in the expansionist politics of the early 20th Century.....

The Times December 15, 2005

Colonel Jerzy Pajaczkowski-Dydynski
July 19, 1894 - December 6. 2005
Veteran of two world wars, who saw Poland subjugated after the second and restored to independence in 1989

COLONEL Jerzy Pajaczkowski-Dydynski was the oldest known survivor of the First World War living in this country, albeit one who originally fought on the side of the Central Powers, Austria-Hungary and Germany.
He was born in 1894 in what was then known as Lemberg, the capital of what became the Austrian province of Galicia following the third and final partition of Poland in 1795 — the other provinces having been divided between Prussia and Tsarist Russia. (The city was after the First World War to become Lwow in an independent Poland; to pass to the Soviet Union after 1945 as Lvov; and is now Lviv in Ukraine.)

Rule from Vienna was relatively benign, and the Galician Poles enjoyed a degree of autonomy in local government. Pajaczkowski was destined for a legal career and began his studies at Lemberg University in 1912, transferring to the University of Vienna two years later.

On the outbreak of war in 1914, between the Central Powers and Britain, France and Russia, Poles found themselves conscripted into the armies of both alliances. Pajaczkowski was called up into that of Austria-Hungary, but was sent as an infantry officer to the Italian front and so spared having to fight against his fellow countryman serving under the Tsar.

Italy had entered the war on the side of Britain, France and Russia in May 1915. Her aim was to gain a slice of Austrian territory. The intended advance through the mountains proved difficult going and defeat was avoided only by the hasty switch of some British and French divisions from the Western Front in France.

Pajaczkowski was taken prisoner during this campaign and, in common with many Poles taken prisoner in France following conscription into the German Army from Prussian controlled Polish provinces, volunteered to join the Polish Army Corps in France. This formation, which also contained Polish-American volunteers, had seen saw action in 1918 in the Allied campaign in Alsace-Lorraine, fostering an acute sense of Polish identity among the troops.

When peace came, Pajaczkowski elected to serve in the army of the newly proclaimed Republic of Poland guaranteed by the signatories to the Treaty of Versailles. On the initiative of the Head of State, Marshal Joseph Pilsudski, in 1920 the Polish Army invaded Ukraine, with the aim of regaining further lost lands.

After it had captured Kiev the Polish Army was rolled back by the Red Army almost to Warsaw before the “Miracle of the Vistula” halted further Soviet advances and stabilised the front. The Russo-Polish War persuaded Lenin to accept Poland’s Versailles frontiers by signing the Treaty of Riga in March 1921. Pajaczkowski took part in the campaign as an infantry captain and was decorated with the Polish Cross of Valour.

He attended the Polish Army staff college and had risen to the rank of lieutenant-colonel by the time of the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. Such was the force and speed of this first example of blitzkrieg that he was fortunate to avoid the closing pincers of the Wehrmacht and the Red Army to escape across the frontier into Romania.

From there, in company with about 30,000 of his Polish comrades, he was able to make his way to France through stillneutral Italy. When France fell in June 1940, he was among many thousands of Polish servicemen who reached Britain from France.

At 46, Pajaczkowski was considered too old for combat duties. He served for a period as the Polish garrison commander in Perth and then in staff appointments until the end of the war, which brought a return of misfortune to his country. Together with many of the 200,000-strong Polish forces in the West, he chose not to return to a country placed under Soviet domination. Like so many of his compatriots in exile who took menial jobs, he sustained himself by working as a gardener.

Restoration of true independence to Poland under the Government of Lech Walesa in 1989 gave him great joy. But at the age of 95 he decided against return to a homeland where he had lost touch with many of his relatives and friends who may have survived.

He spent most of his final years living with his daughter in Cumbria. In 2001, on the occasion of his 107th birthday, the Polish Government invested him with the Order of Polonia Restituta in recognition of his services to his country.

He married, in 1924, Maria Lewandowska, and they had one son. She died in 1945, and he married in 1946, Dorothy Catterrall, with whom he had a daughter. His second wife died in 1994. He is survived by the son of his first marriage and by the daughter of his second.

Colonel Jerzy Pajaczkowski-Dydynski, Polish veteran of the First and Second World Wars, was born on July 19, 1894. He died on December 6. 2005, aged 111.

12-19-2005, 02:05 PM
Good read that. If I get to half that age I'll be happy, then again maybe not! Must have had an Iron heart and lungs of a constitution to get through all that.

SS Tiger
12-19-2005, 02:30 PM
Woah! Thats quite a life he's had!