Missing info on Polish soldier 1941-1945

Discussion in 'Poland' started by yvette43, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. yvette43

    yvette43 Junior Member

    I've hit a brick wall locating info on my grandfather during 1941-1945. I'm hoping that if I post here, someone will magically say "ah, yes you need to go.... ". My grandfather, Jan, was born in 1911 in Poland.

    According to the Ministry of Defence report on Jan, prior to 1939 he was living in France.
    According to my grandmother, she and Jan were refugees in France. She was working on a farm near Paris. However, she also said she would go fashion shopping in Paris and buy Dior. To me, these two things seem contradictory. Regardless, Jan was in the military and he would visit her at the farm where she worked.
    According to the Swiss internment card, this was in Les Loges, France. Google says this isn't close to Paris, but anyway, this isn't the real problem (still if someone knows what this means - please, help).

    The report I have from the Ministry of Defence said Jan took part in the French campaign 15.05.1940 - 20.06.1940. To me, the dates seemed to indicate Jan was part of the Polish 2nd Fusilier Division. According to info I got from the Biblioteka Muzeum Polskiego, they have a book called the Polacy internowani w Szwajcarii (1940-1945), which contains a list of names, dates of birth, joining the army, military degree, unit, and internment camps in Switzerland. From this book, I have a record that he was a shooter/rifleman, and served in the 6th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Fusilier Division. It does not have the date of joining the Polish army, or which internment camp he was at. However, he did escape on the 27.07.1941. This is also backed up with a copy of a card from Eidgenössisches Kommissariat für Internierung und Hospitalisierung: Zentrale Ablage. That says he was interned in Meiheick (this may be spelt wrong, the handwriting is bad), and then in Buren a.A.

    I have no information on Jan from 27.07.1941 until the MOD document in 1945. All I know is that he was part of the 65 Pomorski Infantry Battalion, 2 Warszawska Armored Division, 2nd Polish Corps, 8 British Army in 1945. He joined in Lille, France. However, that means there is about 4 years where he is unaccounted.
    According to a cousin, Jan took part in the Battle of Monte Cassino.

    Thus, my problem.

    From what I understood of the 2nd Polish Corps is that in 1941, the Polish government in exile had an agreement with Stalin. Russia would release their Polish POWs in order to start a force to fight the Germans, and these fighting Poles would eventually be absorbed into the Red Army. General Anders was given control, and the army became fully under the command of the Polish government. Through political meddling, the Polish force in Russia was split into 2 - some evacuated to Iran where they joined the British military, and the others were left behind in Russia with the Red Army. In 1942 the group that went to Iran joined the Carpathian Brigade and became the 2nd Polish Corps.
    The Carpathian Brigade contained a lot of Poles exiled in France.
    The Battle of Monte Cassino, where the 2nd Polish Corps fought in the 4th battle, happened in 1944.

    I could imagine that after Jan escaped, he returned into France and had joined the Carpathian Brigade, where he could have been transferred to other divisions. However, I don’t think the dates match, and military archives have not provided any information.
    But then, where else could he have gone? The most probable thing is he did what other escaped internees did, and that was to rejoin the Polish army in England. I have not found any records of that happening.

    It could also be possible that he joined the Carpathian Brigade. The dates would indicate that he might have been available when the Carpathian Brigade was at the El Amiriya camp near Alexandria, and then was at Tobruk in 1941. It wasn’t until 1942 that they joined the forces with General Anders. If Jan had been part of this brigade, shouldn’t it have been mentioned on the MOD document? Or the Battle of Monte Cassino, wouldn’t that have been mentioned as well? And wouldn’t it have said he joined the 2nd Corps in 1942(43, 44, etc), instead of 1945?

    Alternatively, he may have joined an underground movement. But that seems to play on my Hollywood version of the war, rather than something more “reality based”.

    From what I understood, in 1945 there were a lot of new Polish recruits added to the 2nd Corps from freed POW camps. If Jan was one of the POWs in Russia that was freed in 1945, it might explain why I have found no record of him during 1941-1945. But, I looked at the database of Poles in Soviet POW camps (Karta), and it came up with nothing. Also, I have not heard of someone who escaped from a Swiss internment camp only to be subsequently captured by Russians. That would be terrible bad luck.

    I don’t know how to explain the gap in 1941-1945. Every situation I can come up with seems full of holes.
    Can anyone suggest what may have happened?

  2. LADC

    LADC Member

    Hello yvette43 and welcome to the forum.

    You did not mention your grandfather's last name. Check this online list of soldiers in the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division Janusz Stankiewicz. Genealogia, przodkowie, badania genealogiczne, forum dyskusyjne.

    Here are some other contacts to try, hope they are of help.
    Merry Christmas

    The Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum http://www.pism.co.uk/index.html has information on Polish military from all services serving with British forces in Europe. They have no email so you must write to them. Include as much personal info on your relative as possible for a search IE: first, middle and last name, year of birth, fathers name, town, region, Military unit etc. Include a small donation of 20 or 30 Pounds as they rely on donations to maintain their collection. (no proof of kinship required)

    The Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum
    20 Princes Gate
    SW7 1PT

    Attention Dr. Andrzej Suchcitz
    Contact Irena Czernichowska at the Hoover Institute as they sometimes have information and written dispositions by Polish soldiers and civilians who arrived in Iran from Russian labor camps.They require as much personal info on your relative as possible for a search IE: first, middle and last name, year of birth, fathers name, town, region, etc. You can email the request and she will mail any information she finds. (no proof of kinship required)

    Register of the Wladyslaw Anders Papers, 1939-1946.

    Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University
    Stanford, California 94305-6010
    Phone: (650) 723-3563
    Fax: (650) 725-3445
    Irena Czernichowska <czernichowska(at)stanford.edu> just replace (at) with @
    SPK. Polish Ex-Combatants Association
    238-246 King Street

    Federation of Polish Armed Forces Association
    240 King Street

    Zwiazek Karpatczykow
    3 Dywizji Strzelcow Karpackich
    51 Cucoo Dene,

    Torbrukczycy- Zwiazek.b. Zolnierzy Samodzielnej Brygady Strzelcow Karpackich
    Former Soldiers of the Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade Association
    40 Colebrook Avenue
  3. yvette43

    yvette43 Junior Member


    Thank you for the links! I haven't tried 4 of those.

    His last name was Pałeczka. He joined with his brother Joseph.

    I wrote to the Sikorski museum last year. They said they had no record of him, and they suggested writing to the Archives in France. I wrote to those Archives, and they too had no record of him (which I was told was strange). I've rewritten to them, just incase he was missed.

    I have not found him on any online list - which is frustrating.

    I hadn't really given much thought about the Russian POW camp side of things until recently. I had previously thought that he was interned in Switzerland until 1945, and after being liberated he joined up. No, he had to go and escape and ruin my neat little package of information :P.

    Thank you so much for replying!!

  4. LADC

    LADC Member

    Your most welcome and best of luck in your search. Please let us know of your progress.

  5. Stephen

    Stephen Member

    If your grandfather was in northern Franc prior to September 39 he was possibly an economic migrant working maybe in the coal mines. About 50,000 of these Poles volunteered for the Polish army in France formed after the fall of Poland. This army eventually numbered about 80,000 and about half escaped to internment in Switzerland in 1940. If your grandfather later escaped to England by whatever means it sounds as if he joined the Polish army mainly based in Scotland I believe. This was made up of the 1st Armoured Division, 4th Infantry Division, 16th armoured brigade, 1st airborne brigade plus the usual support units.

    If you think he served in the Carpathian Brigade that took part in the Tobruk siege it is hard to see how he could have done it. The Brigade was recruited mainly from Poles who had made their way to the Middle East from Poland via Rumania and formed in Syria. Also if he was in France and interned in Switzerland or escaped from France to the UK it is difficult to reconcile this with being in the 2nd Corps prior to them arriving in Italy. The Corps was apart from the Carpathian Brigade recruited from men who had been imprisoned in the USSR before June 1941. The only source of new recruits for the 2nd Corps was Poles who had served in the German army or were forced labourers and had fallen into allied hands in the west. After June 44 they recruited large numbers of these but it took some time to train new recruits or to familiarise them with a different way of doing things. The Corps came under the British 8th Army.

    If your grandfather joined the 2nd Corps in Lille it sounds unlikely he was a member of the Polish forces formed in the UK. It sounds as if he was either in allied custody or heard of a recruiting office and made his way there. Your grandfather could have been a forced labourer in France or on the run in France. This would be backed up if he was in the Polish 2nd Armoured Division in Italy. Planning to expand the 2nd Armoured Brigade into the 2nd Armoured Division started in September 1944 by which time Monte Casino had been fought. If he was at Monte Casino there should be a cross of Monte Casino medal somewhere. Lille was liberated in September 44 and the 2nd was still a twinkle in the planner’s eyes it was fully formed shortly after the end of the war.

    Years ago you could have gotten hold of your grandfather’s records if you had his army number. Ministry of Defence, Bourne Avenue, Middlesex, UB3 1RF. I do not know if this is still the address
  6. yvette43

    yvette43 Junior Member


    Thanks! That makes a lot of sense.
    He was with the 2 Warszawska Armored Division in Italy (from 25 March till 26 August). The only medal he was awarded by the Brits was the War Medal (1939-45).

    The record I have from the MOD (same address) is only 2 pages.

    How can I find out if he was in a forced labour camp?

    Thanks... and merry Chistmas!

  7. Stephen

    Stephen Member

    Your grandfather was in northern France when war broke out and was also there after September 44 when Lille was liberated. It must be a reasonable assumption that he spent the years between July 41 and 45 in the area possibly because his wife was there. There were Polish resistance groups operating in France and they were probably more active in areas such Lille which had a large Polish population. Maybe he could obtain false papers from them and for example work in a factory. Perhaps he was able to resume his pre 1940 life as I have never heard of Polish deportations from France. If he was a French citizen then he would have found it easier but I am no expert on life in occupied France.

    There is also the possibility he was taken prisoner in 41 when he returned to France and put into a prisoner of war camp or forced labour unit. Large numbers of French pow worked in Germany and he could have been liberated in early 45. Did he somehow make his way back to Lille in 45 or was he always in the area?

    I would guess that after four years of maybe living in occupied France he patriotically volunteered again when the area was liberated.
  8. yvette43

    yvette43 Junior Member


    Actually, his wife wasn't there. She ran off with another man back to Germany in 1942. I've tracked her - she was crazy. She had been involved in black market ammunitions, smugling, forged documents, and she got in a lot of trouble for child abuse (she beat her daughter so bad that the neighbours complained to the police. My mother was taken away by police to an orphanage and put up for adoption. My mother was returned to her, at night, in a mercedies benz via 2 cities and with a diplomatic escort). I thought finding info on her was difficult (name changes, DOB changes, etc In one document where she was immigrating to Australia, she listed my mother's name differently 3 times, with 2 different DOB, and 2 different nationalities), but at least she left a trail. She's a different kettle of fish.

    Apparantly Jan and his brother were really close. They joined up together, and after the war they lived together until the mid 1960s. They lived in the Loire Valley, but then Jan had a fight with his sister-in-law and he moved out. He moved to Compiegne, where he had no friends or family. Compiegne had a labour and transit camp between 1941-44. Perhaps he moved back there. I've been contacting the archivers today to see if maybe they have a record of him being at the camp, or in the area, during those years.

    He wasn't a french citizen. The Polish resistance is a big possibility. Work did continue as normal for a lot of people. I just need to find out where he worked in 1939 (I've contacted the archives in Les Loges. I think he might have worked on a farm) perhaps he returned there. It's worth a go.

    I have no idea where he was in 45. He could have been anywhere. Maybe he was trying to track his wife in Germany. If he was, the poor guy, he had no idea what he got himself involved with. There was a french guy (this is all second hand info from my mum) that worked in the government and he was interviewing my grandmother about her "previous life". She was afraid of him because "he knew too much". I don't know any more about who or what that was about. Could be linked to Jan, or it's my grandmothers craziness (I'd say craziness).

    The moment I know something more, I'll post it.
    Stephen, you're brilliant!
  9. LADC

    LADC Member

    Hello Yvette

    Had a college at the war relics forum check the recipients list for the Monte Cassino Cross, here is his reply 'With regards to Jan PALECZKA, Born in 1911, I have looked through the list of Monte Cassino Cross Recipients with no luck, I have also checked the following Internet Sites: Victims of Soviet Repression, London Gazette, Ancestry.co.uk, Find my Past, Polish Soldiers Killed in WW2 all with no luck.'

    Hope this helps narrow your search.
  10. kovalski

    kovalski Junior Member

    Polish 2nd Armoured Div. has been officially formed on 7th of June 1945. It consisted of some units of 2nd Polish Corp in Italy (2nd Armoured Brigade, 7th Horse Artillery Regiment, Carpathian Ulans Regiment) and units formed in so-called Base of 2nd Corp.

    Two facts you mentioned got my attention:
    - "He was with the 2 Warszawska Armored Division in Italy (from 25 March till 26 August)",
    - "According to a cousin, Jan took part in the Battle of Monte Cassino".

    What if your cousin was mistaken, and mentioned the battle of Monte Cassino as it is the most famous battle the Poles fought in Italy?
    After Semptember 1944, when Lille was liberated, Poles fought two more campaigns: fighting at Emilian Appenines (from October 1944) and battle of Bologna (April 1945).

    The fighting at Emilian Appenines was led by 5th Kresowa Infantry Division.
    But in battle of Bologna 2nd Armoured Brigade was involved.
    I would assume that your grandfather took part in that battle while serving in 2nd Arm. Brig., and then finished his service as a soldier of 65th Pomorski Infantry Battalion, 2nd Armoured Div.

    Do you have any documents belonging to your grandfather? Anything with dates, places related to Polish Army, etc.?
  11. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member


    Google Kresy-Siberia (don't be put off by the name) they have vast amounts of information on Polish people who were involved in the war as civilians and all the armed forces. After General Anders organised the release of Polish people who were captured by the Russians and deported to the Gulags, Stalin did release them but gave them very little help to go anywhere. Many of them had to make their own way to join up with Anders in Iran by crossing the Caspian sea and disembarking at Pahlevi, Iran. Many more made their way, by the craziest routes to North Africa, France and Britain. Sorry, but my speciality is the Polish Air Force in exile so I can't tell you much about the soldiers. But if you join Kresy-Siberia (free) there is much available in English and there is a very good English Language forum with a lot of very knowledgeable people. Most of them have similar experiences to you and understand your plight - maybe that is why they are so helpful.

    I wish you luck.

  12. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member


    Just an after thought. Are you sure he served under his real name? Many Poles served under false names to protect family in occupied Poland if they were taken prisoner.
  13. ravenscarlett

    ravenscarlett Junior Member

    hi im looking for any info on my grandfather.he was born in poland in 1922.i dont know where in poland though.i dont know if he was in the army but my great grandfather was an officer in the polish army so im assuming he was.i dont know when he came to scotland either.all i know is he changed his name when he got here.his name was bolelaw josef luczka.he changed it to robert archer and married my grandmother here.he died in 1981 and id love to know more about him as i was only 12 when he died and i still miss him.does anyone have any info on him.id be most grateful.thank you
  14. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Could he be LUKSZA Ac1 Jozef P-708826?

    Do you know anything at all about him?

    Please let me know whatever you can and I MIGHT be able to help you

  15. ktmcguire

    ktmcguire Junior Member

    I am researching a Jakob Zemlik born Sucha, Poland 14/July/1918, He fought with the Krakow Army in 1939 when Germany Invaded Poland, He then fought with the French not only in Europe but in Africa also, He then served with the Polish 1st Armoured 2nd Armored Regiment, Landing in Normandy with the regiment in 1944, I have two medals I cannot identify and would appreciate any information or places of contact. I believe the 2nd Armored Regimentt because he was one of 25 soldiers who liberated the all female concentration camp at Oberlangen.
  16. Maddie Stone

    Maddie Stone New Member

    Hello, I was just wondering if anyone may be able to help. I noticed on this thread that someone believes their grandfather may have served in the 65th Pomeranian Infantry Battalion.

    My partner and I have been trying to trace some information about his Grandfather who was born in Poland and came over to the UK where he married and settled until his death. His Grandfather gave very little information about his life in Poland to his children and grandchildren, and the only pieces of information which were left to his son was a naturalisation certificate (for when he became a UK National) and an ID card we have just had translated which said he was a shooter in the 65th Pomeranian Infantry Battalion.

    His name was Wladyslaw Jakubik and we believe his birth date was 25/08/1927 (the DOB on his naturalisation certificate) and we think he was born in a village called Ruchna, Poland. His parents were named Pawel and Anna Jakubik. We know he had a brother living in Poland as they used to write to each other early on, but lost contact when Wladyslaw could no longer speak or write Polish.

    We would really like to try and find out if there may be any other family in Poland still. I know it's a long shot but if anyone may be able to point me in the right direction of how we may find some information, we would be so grateful.

    Many thanks


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