Monte Cassino is connected to my family, one uncle fought in Monte Casino and the other uncle fought in Arnhem. They were brothers. First they were sent to Russia, suffered hardship in Siberia, one nearly died in a NKVD (=KGB) prison (cold cell).
Both were able to joyn the Anders army and traveled via Russia and the Caucacus to Tehran and Palestine, after which they moved to Nortern Africa (Alexandra, Egypt) and Tunesia, to joyn the British forces there.
One moved to Italy from there and the other moved to England to joyn the forces of Generał Stanisław Sosabowski in Operation Market Garden near Arnhem (Driel/Oosterbeek).
Both survived the war, met eachother in London, contacted their mother in Poland who thought they died in Russia, and later both brothers moved together to America and became US citizens. They lived and worked in Chicago.
One of them is the father of my cousins Eva and Mary.
Thanks for sharing pieter. I'm quite familiar with the WWII Polish Veterans clubs in Chicago, as my own father belonged to one of them. They all marched in the city's annual Polish Constitution Day Parade there.
"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face-forever." – George Orwell, 1984
Polish forces were the first amongst the Allied nations to bear the brunt of aggression during the bitterly fought campaign of September 1939. The Western Powers went to war, ostensibly, in defence of the invaded Poland. However, the final outcome of their intervention went tragically wrong.
The motto of the Polish soldier in the West was: For your Freedom and ours (Za Waszą i Naszą Wolność). From september the first 1939 until May 9 1945 about 200.000 Polish soldiers fought on the side of the Western allies against Nazi-Germany, on land, in the sea's and in the air, on nearly every Europees front. The British militairy and Civilian authorities downplayed this important role and participation of the Poles on a very low manner. They tried and managed to gain the award and recognition for the Western war effort for the British and American forces only. The Dutch followed this British policy, but recognised their historical mistake and recognised the Polish participation for "the liberation of the European continent of the Nazi-occupation" a few years ago.
This is very bad indeed, because many Europeans and Americans don't know about the Polish contribution to the allied effort and stuggle for the liberation of Europe and therefor the Freedom and Democracy of the European continent today. Only we Poles, half-Poles and people interested or connected to Poland or Poles know this. In Holland civilians who were liberated by the Poles honoured their Poles, not the Dutch government. And that is an eternal shame, because the recognition of Sosabowski's men came to late for them, after their death!
The Poles fought with their underground resistance army at home throughout the War. Polish forces reconstructed abroad participated with distinction in the French campaign, the Battle of Britain and the bombing offensive over Germany, in the Norwegian, African and Italian campaigns, in the liberation of France, Belgium and Holland (Arnhem: Market Garden and the liberation of the South of the Netherlands,for instance the city of Breda) and in battles of the Atlantic and the North Sea. When WWII came to an end, Poland found herself in ruins, with some six million of her citizens dead and, with apparent acquiescence of her Western Allies, in the grip of the Soviet imposed communist government. Unlike most Allied veterans, who returned to their home countries to a glorious welcome, a few hundred thousand strong Polish contingent, drawn from all three services, found itself stranded outside the Polish borders.
The return to their native Poland, during the immediate post-war period, when the Stalinist terror was at its peak, carried with it the risk of repression, imprisonment or deportation to the USSR. The pain of rejection, upon their return, is well known to the Vietnam and Iraq veterans of several nations. It is known, above all others and in full measure, to the Polish veterans. The need in the immediate post-war period, for an association with world-wide coverage, for Polish veterans remaining abroad, was realised by its founders, the late generals W. Anders and S. Kopanski. The early goals of the Association, which became known by the acronym 'SPK' were mutual assistance, bearing witness to the plight of Poland and striving for the restoration of her independence.
During the World War II the city was under German occupation. It was liberated following a successful outflanking manoeuvre planned and performed by forces of 1st Polish Armoured Division of Gen. Maczek on October 29, 1944. Each year during Liberation Day festivities, Breda is visited by a large Polish contingent and the city of Breda reserves a special portion of the festivities for the fallen Polish soldiers. A museum and a monument honoring General Stanisław Maczek and the Polish 1st Armoured Division stands at the city center. General Maczek and soldiers of his division are buried in a nearby Polish military cemetery.
Breda was the site of one of the first panopticon prison establishments. This prison housed the only German war criminals ever to be imprisoned in the Netherlands for their war crimes during the Second World War. They were known as the 'Breda Four (and later three)'. They were Willy Paul Franz Lages who was released in 1966 due to serious illness, Joseph Johann Kotälla who died in prison in 1979, Ferdinand Hugo aus der Fünten and Franz Fischer who both were released in 1989...
Van Slobbe, the Mayor of Breda, giving a welcome speech to the Polish 1st Armoured Division
'Freed by the Poles', poster printed after liberation of Breda.
I am always interested in matters concerning the Second World War, Poland, the roles of Poles in all parts of Europe, the Middle east and Northern Africa, the involvement of the US Army (yes, with the Poles, the Yankees and the Canadians were our liberators) in Europe and Asia.