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Polish 2nd Corps

Antoni was born on 29 October 1918 in the village of Malmygi, parish of Kurzeniec, District of Wilejka, and County of Wilno to parents Feliks and Weronika (nee Buter). As a young man he worked on his father's farm while apprenticing as a fitter. He lived through World War Two and settled in England.  Antoni managed to save a large number of documents and memorabilia from that era.


On 13 April 1940, at 3:00 am in the morning, he was one of eleven family members, parents included, who were forced at gunpoint by the Russian NKVD to abandon the family farm. They were all transported by sleigh to the local railway station where they were loaded into cattle wagons, with up to 40 persons crowded into each wagon. The doors were then shut and they were locked in.


This trainload of Poles was deported to Pawlodar in Kazakhstan. The journey took 18 days and many seniors died along the way.


Antoni, his brother, his brother's wife and his sister were then forced to work in the gold mine at Magkain. If you did not work or did not meet your assigned quota, you did not get bread. Many starved to death.

Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, Polish prisoners in the prisons and gulags of the Soviet Empire were officially released on 30 July 1941.  Antoni and his brother were among those released and they intended to join the Polish Army being formed on Soviet soil in Buzuluk.

Eventually Antoni was able to get away, leaving the rest of his family behind, marching across Russia for three weeks until he arrived at Panikienda-Ugawoj on 22 March 1942.

He was initially posted to the 1st Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment, 10th Infantry Division. The evacuation of Polish units from the Soviet Union had already begun. Antoni's unit crossed into Iran and thereby came under British Command, in Antoni's case, as of 1 April 1942. The unit was then transferred to Palestine, by way of Iraq, arriving there on 29 April 1941. Antoni was posted to the Reserve of the Commander-in-Chief, Polish Army in the Middle East.

With the reorganization of the Polish army, Antoni was transferred to the Workshop Company, 3rd Carpathian Infantry Division effective 18 August 1942. He trained with this unit in Iraq, Palestine and Egypt, before being shipped off to Italy, serving in it until 20 June 1944 when he was reassigned to the Light Aid Detachment (Type A), 6th Lwowska Infantry Brigade, 5th Kresowa Infantry Division.

On 11 December 1944 he was reassigned once more to the 10th Wolynska Rifle Battalion, finishing his war service at the headquarters of the 4th Wolynska Infantry Brigade, 5th Kresowa Infantry Division, with the rank of lance corporal.

He had participated in the entire Italian Campaign and was awarded the Polish Commemorative Monte Cassino Cross and the Bronze Cross of Merit with Swords as well as the British medals, 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal and the 1939-45 War Medal.

Antoni was transferred to England with the Polish 2nd Corps, joining the Polish Resettlement Corps. While resident at the Whitley Camp, Sheffield, was honourably discharged on 4 December 1948.

After going on a training course for the National Coal Board, he worked at the coal face down the Thorseby Colliery at Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire, until his early death on 23 February 1968 at the age of 49.

Antoni met Myra Jephson, one of 10 children in a coal mining family, at the Forest Town Miners' Hostel. They married and started a family. Their son Stefan was born in Clipstone Village and went to work down the Clipstone Colliery straight out of secondary school. 

One uncle, Edward Matulewicz, married Myra's sister. He had been a sergeant in the Polish 1st Armoured Division.  Antoni's brothers, who were also in the Polish 2nd Corps, did not stay in England. Piotr went back to Poland while Kazimierz emigrated to Argentina.

Copyright: Stefan Lubniewski

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