Nov 27, 2017

Siomkajlo Family Odyssey


Julia (Siomkajlo) Szypowska, her parents and siblings were forcibly taken from their home in Sielec, in the province of Stanislawow, Poland, during the wee hours of the 10th of February, 1940 and loaded into cattle cars at the railway station in Jezupol. It was one of the coldest winters in that part of Poland, and the temperature dipped to minus 40 degrees Celsius. The cattle car had an iron stove in the center, but they frequently ran out of fuel during the 3 week trek across the frozen wastelands of the Soviet Union. The family ended up in the far northernmost reaches of Kazakhstan, a place called Dzetygara, where they were forced to work in a gold mine using the most primitive tools. Julia's parents, Jan and Michalina (nee Karas) were too old and frail to work, and her youngest sister Stanislawa was too young, so she was placed with a local family to look after their children, and she frequently stood in the long lines to obtain bread for the family.


Michalina (Karas) Siomkajlo died in Kazakhstan on 26 March 1941, aged 60 years.

Jan Siomkajlo died in Uzbekistan on 13 January 1942, aged 66 years.

Amalia Siomkajlo died in Uzbekistan on 15 February 1942, aged 33 years.

Jozef Siomkajlo died in Persia on 20 April 1942, aged 39 years.


4 sisters (Aniela, Joanna, Julia, Stanislawa) and a sister-in-law (Michalina nee Kudlowska) survived and were sent to a Polish settlement in Kidugala, Africa. Joanna and Julia later joined the Polish Air Force in the UK. Aniela and Stanislawa entered the convent in Kenya. Sister-in-law Michalina ended her days in a mental hospital in Africa.

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  • Henry Sokolowski
    Nov 30, 2017

    1910-1978 Heavy artillery platoon leader as 2nd lieutenant during the September Campaign (9/39). Temporary prisoner of the German Army (22/9/39). Deported to Siberian slave labour camp by the NKWD (10/2/40). Imprisoned in NKWD prison at Tyumen (7/41 - 12/41). Joined the Polish 2nd Corps at Guzar, Uzbekistan (4/42). Italian Campaign (Monte Cassino to Bologna, 1944-45), as lieutenant, firing officer with the 9th PAL/PAC, finishing the war as geography teacher to young Polish soldiers. In England, Vice Headmaster, Polish School in Britain (1947). In Canada, Skarb Narodowy, Zwiazek Ziem Wschodnich. Polonia Restituta, Krzyz Walencznych, Srebny Krzyz Zaslugi z Mieczami, Zloty Krzyz Zaslugi, Medal Wojska, etc. Anna Usowicz 1927 - 1974 Farm girl survived both Soviet and German invasions and occupations. Taken to Chemnitz, Germany, to perform slave labour in an aircraft parts factory (mid-1944). Escaped during Allied bombing of Dresden/Chemnitz (2/3, 1945). Met up with Polish 2nd Corps in Italy. In England, studied towards and received nursing certificate. In Wales, operating theatre nurse at Penley Polish Army Hospital, Wrexham. In Canada, registered nurse at Toronto General Hospital, raised family. No medals.