Andrzej and Zosia MADERA
A member of the Polish 2nd Corps, and a member of the Polish Air Force in the UK
Andrzej (Andrew) Madera
I was born in Poland on 31 August 1917, the son of Florian and Bronislawa Madera. After graduating from high school, my father passed away, so it wasn't possible to go for further studies because there was a shortage of money in the family, and no father to support five children. School in Poland cost a lot of money.
In 1937, I joined the Academic Course School, in preparation for the army, as a volunteer. The same year, on December 14th, I joined the Army and served on the Polish-Russian border right to the year 1939, when Germany and Russia attacked Poland. In this country's tragedy, I fought on the front lines as target coordinator. Captured by the Russians, I spent 2 years in Siberia. In 1941 there was 'amnesty' for us all, and I rejoined the Polish Army. I served with the Polish 2nd Corps in the Middle East (Persia), and then, allied with the British Eight Army in Iraq, Palestine and Egypt.
From the port in Alexandria, I was relocated to the Italian Front. I fought in all the battles, beginning from Napoli Port in the south of Italy, to Monte Casino, and to the north of Bologna, where the war ended in May 1945.
During my 10 years in the Army, I graduated and was promoted four times, and was Staff Sergeant of the Heavy Artillery Corps. I was awarded 2 medals for bravery: the first was awarded by Poland for serving on the front line in 1939, and the second for serving on the front line in Italy. I also received the "Cross" which is a very valuable one, the Monte Casino medal, the Italy Star, and the British Defence Medal from the British Eight Army under which I served for 5 years.
During my life away from my country in wartime, the five languages that I knew helped me a lot: Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, English, and my native Polish. Right after the war I was selected from our Corps, as Chief to the Officers' School. In Materna, in the south of Italy, I taught young men target practice, preparing them to become officers.
School ended in February 1946, I decided to go to England, since Poland was now governed by the Communists. For this reason I did not go back to my beloved country, I was very sorry that after I left my country and family, I was no longer able to see the town where I was born and the place where I grew up. My dear city of Lwow, from the year 1939, was taken over by the Russians and remains so to this day.
On June 12th 1947, I emigrated to Canada. I worked in the gold mine in East Sullivan, close to Val Dor, Quebec. From there I came to Toronto and on September 29th 1948, I joined Graham Nail on Fraser, then Dosco where I still work today.
At Dosco, I tried my best to be a good productive worker, because I understand that the company business was my business also. Having my duty as Group Leader, I did my best teaching young men to be machine operators. (...) I am quite sure that my foremen too, the past ones and the present, are happy with my work and quality production, seeing me help a lot of young men with their machine troubles.
During my long time in this company, I have never been laid off. As Group Leader, I have always been at work at least 40 minutes earlier, checking operators' nails, reporting standing machines for repqir, some of which I reset myself before I start my own set. I thank God that during my 34 years with the company, I have not had any serious accident, and am quite healthy for my retirement. Happy too that all the young men I taught, like and respect me.
I have a wonderful wife I married in 1949, and from our marriage we have two lovely daughters. The older one is a Registered Nurse, married and resides in the USA. The younger one finished Fine Arts this year, is single, and making a living in art.
My plan for retirement, if there is enough money, is to go to Italy to see the places where I fought, From Napoli Port in south Italy, to Monte Casino, Loretto, Port S. Elpision, Faenza, Ancona, Bologna, and our soldiers' cemeteries where thousands rest forever. Seeing the world countries today, I am glad that I chose Canada in 1947, where I have a nice family, peace and daily bread. (...)
Note: The above information was taken from Andrzej's retirement letter.
Zosia (Sophia) Gryziak-Madera
Zosia was born on March 9th 1920 in Skawa Dolna in Poland. She was the youngest daughter of Anna and Stanislaw Gryziak. Her parents moved to Podole in 1922, and in 1925, when she was only five, her mother died. Her siblings were: Franek, Jozef, Wojciech, Aniela, Stefania, Marysia, and Zosia was the youngest. Their father remarried. As the years went by, Zosia grew into a beautiful young woman.
When the war started, Zosia, her father, and her brother Wojciech were forcibly taken to Siberia by the Russians. Her sister Stefania with her husband Jan and their daughter Wladyslawa (Wladzia) were also taken to Siberia, where they all were forced to work.
Zosia worked as a cook at the settlement in Siberia, taking food to those who were cutting trees in the forest. Tragedy struck, when her father died there. Thanks to the agreement between Stalin and Sikorski, Zosia and Wojciech and other Poles were able to leave Russia. Wojciech joined the Polish 2nd Corps in the Middle East, and Zosia was sent to a Polish settlement in East Africa. She later joined the Women's Auxiliary of the Polish Air Force in the UK and was sent to England.
After the war, her brother Jozek sponsored her to come to Canada. She lived and worked in Toronto, and soon met Andrzej Madera. They were married on February 12th 1949, living happily together and even celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. They were very proud of their two daughters, Bronia and Dania.
Zosia and her husband were very passionate about their volunteer work in various Polish organizations and, despite their busy lives, they always found time to help their family and friends.
Zosia was a thoughtful, loving woman who always presented herself in an elegant and very genuine way, She cared deeply for her family and friends, and opened her home to many animals.
Note: This information was gleaned from a eulogy by her niece, at Zosia's funeral in 2006.