1st Polish Armoured Division
Bernard Jurczyk was born on 23 August 1922 in Stary Grabów in Kashuby Pomeranian voivodeship. The inhabitants were treated like citizens of the 3rd Reich. They couldn't use a language other than German on the street. The entire administration was composed of Germans. And of course, the inhabitants of the Kashubians at the time had to fight in the German army.
The German occupation of Pomerania was very brutal because the Germans considered this area their own. Poles living here were seen as usurpers and a threat.
Bernard was born as the second child of Franciszek and Marta (nee Dryw). And the family has always felt Polish. He was brought up in a patriotic atmosphere and could not have imagined that he would live under German terror.
He attended a public school in Grabów Kościerski, which he graduated in 1937. At the age of 15, he took up work on the property of a local landowner, Jan Lipschiński, as an agricultural worker.
But even though he was and felt Polish, like all of these areas, he was forcibly conscripted into the ranks of the German army.
He was forced to fight in the ranks of the German army and marched with it through the Western European countries.
In 1943, he was in France from where he visited his family's home for vacation and did not want to go back to fight in the ranks of the enemy. He wanted to fight for his homeland, for Poland.
Unfortunately, he had no choice and was forced to go back to his unit. So, he left the house out of necessity and at the urging of his parents. Had he remained there, the Germans would have threatened taken the whole family to a concentration camp in Stutthof.
The Stutthof Concentration camp was one of the main places for mass extermination of the population around the Gdańsk district of West Prussia.
Bernard boarded the train, ending his vacation. However, he did not reach the unit and his parents received a letter saying he was missing. He had deserted the German army.
He was most likely caught by the English. After an interrogation, they were convinced that he was forcibly conscripted into the German Army and that he was Polish.
He was then transported to the Polish Armed Forces in the West and sworn into the 1st Polish Armored Division General Maczek. He was given the pseudonym "Grabowski" in order to conceal his real identity and protect his family.
He took part in the invasion of Normandy in August 1944. With his colleagues and General Maczek, he went through, the next stages of the 1st Polish Armored Division battle trail, until the liberation of Breda.
AND THEN THERE WAS KAPELSCHE VEER....
The battle at Kapelsche Veer lasted for more than a month, consuming about 1,200 victims on both sides of the conflict. Including the soldiers of the 1st Polish Armored Division.
On 7 January 1945, at the battle at Kapelsche Veer, Bernard Jurczyk, at the age of 22, gave his young life for freedom and for his homeland.
His dedication, struggle and death is commemorated by a weeping willow, which as a silent witness mourns the death of Polish soldiers who died in the intense fighting at the Kapelsche Veer outpost.
The inscription reads: Fate wanted this willow crying as a silent witness to mourn the death of Polish soldiers who died in intense fighting at the Kapelsche Veer headquarters. It is one of the plaques placed on a modest monument to those who died on the bloody Mozie River.
This is this place where Bernard Jurczyk, with the 1st Polish Armored Division and with his beloved commander General Maczek, was going to a certain death, and where the fight turned into a living hell. It was the bloodiest battle of the 1st Polish Armored Division. Gen Maczek talked about "Our little Monte Cassino".
The remains of Bernard and 4 other heroes from the 1st Polish Armored Division to this day rest somewhere in the area where they fought and the bloody battle took place.
Their final resting place is still waiting at the Polish Honorary War Cemetery in Breda. Comrades in arms are waiting for them there.
Bernard Jurczyk's family still hopes that we will finally find the remains of their son, brother and uncle who, in 1943, boarded the train ending his holidays and never returned to his homeland and beloved Kashubians.
On 7 April 2011, the consul Magdalena Pramfeld and representatives from the Total Netherlands Army arrived in Stary Grabów in Kashuby Pomeranian voivodeship from the Netherlands. They brought the death certificate and photos Bernard had there on foreign soil.
They took DNA from his closest relatives: his father Franciszek and two brothers, because when they find Bernard Jurczyk's remains, they will already have his genetic material in order to confirm his identity.
The above is based on information from Alicja Jurczyk, who lives in Poland in Bernard's hometown. The information was posted on FB.