A partial memoir covering the years 1925 - 1953
I was born on January 29th 1925 in a village called Swidry, postal area Szczuczyn, in Bialystok County, Poland. My father, Franciszek Bogdan, and my mother, Franciszka (nee Drobinska) Bogdan, were both Polish and Roman Catholic.
From the age of 7 years, I attended a primary school in Szczuczyn, about a mile from my village. At age 13, I attended a secondary school in Grajowo, where I studied until the outbreak of war in 1939. After the invasion of Poland by both the Germans and the Russians, my home was under Russian occupation.
When the Russians reopened the schools, I went back to Grajowo, but not for very long. In February 1940, along with my family, I was forcibly deported by the Russians, and taken to a place called Hantemansijsk in the Omsk region. Living through the harsh conditions of the transport and the conditions of life in Siberia were my parents and three siblings: my older sister, my younger sister, and my baby brother.
When ‘amnesty’ was declared for Polish prisoners in 1941, we were released and sent to Tumen near Swirdlowsk. Sadly, my one-year old sister died during this journey. In early 1942, my older sister and I left Tumen and traveled to Lugavoj near Tashkent, where the Polish Army was being formed. I enlisted in the Polish Signals Regiment, while my sister entered the Women’s Auxiliary. My parents and baby brother remained at the Tumen work camp.
In late summer of 1942, the army evacuated from Russia and made its way to Iraq, where we were issued proper clothing and equipment, and received military training. We arrived in Palestine in 1943, and during that year, the Polish authorities organized a secondary school at a place called Barbara, near Rehovoth. I attended this school until March 1944, when I successfully passed the Lower Matriculation Examination. I rejoined my regiment, which was in Italy, making its way towards Monte Cassino. My specialization as a radio telegraphist with the HQ of the Polish 2nd Corps, was used at Monte Cassino, as well as in the Adriatic Campaign.
After these battles, I successfully passed the Signals Military College, and was promoted to the rank of Captain Officer Cadet. I was then sent back to the regiment as an instructor. At the end of the war, the Polish 2nd Corps again organized schools for the soldiers, and I was accepted at the one at Matino-Lecce, where I studied for the Higher Matriculation.
In August 1946, I left Italy for England, where the school was reorganized at a place called Cannon Hall Camp, Cawthorne, near Barnsley in Yorkshire. I completed the course and successfully passed the Higher Matriculation.
On demobilization, I enlisted in the Polish Resettlement Corps in December 1946, and was discharged in September 1947, when I began my civilian employment with Messrs. Blamires Ltd., a textile mill in Huddersfield.
In March 1948, I was awarded a scholarship for the School of Foreign Trade and Port Administration, and I left Huddersfield for London. In March 1949, I completed one year’s course and obtained a position as clerk/bookkeeper with the London Coathanger Co. Ltd. In 1950, I obtained a better position with Pier Buseti Anglo-Italian Travel Office Ltd.
On 31st March 1951, I married Joan Elizabeth Bailey, of London. In January 1952, I obtained a position with Eastman and Textiles Co. Ltd., and in October 1953, I obtained an even better position with Ormos Shipping Co. Ltd., while studying for the examination of the Certified and Corporate Accountants.
Aleksander’s recounting of his military career, his studies, and his ever-improving employment stops in the year 1953. We know that he later emigrated to Toronto, Canada, where he and Joan raised their family, and where Aleksander had an impressive work career. He was also deeply involved in the SPK (Polish Veterans Association) in Toronto.