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Translation of parts of an interview by Prof. Patalas

I was born to Narcyz and Helena in Bialozorka, pow. Krzemieniec, Wołyn, Poland on February 17, 1922.

I belonged to the local chapter of Riflemen, a youth paramilitary organization. In August 1939, we worked hand in hand with the so-called Citizens’ Guard. Our collaboration involved going on patrols together with the uniformed police and the military settlers.

In September 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland and I was taken prisoner by the Russian Army and taken east to a work camp called Shepetowka. At the end of October 1939, I escaped and came back home. I worked my way south, through the woods, to Bialozórka. The roads and woods crawled with gangs of armed Ukrainians, hunting down Polish policemen and soldiers of the Border Guards. I returned home on the 29th of October. I remember the date so well because it was my father’s birthday. There was much joy, especially since it was rumoured that I had been killed.

In April 1940, I was arrested by the NKWD Russian police and sent to a Russian prison. After three days in Lanowiec prison, I was transferred by train to Tarnopol. They took me to the railway station on foot, guarded by the NKVD and several vicious dogs. Along the way I saw my parents and my siblings for the last time. They waved to me; their faces streaked with tears. On August 5, 1943, just before dawn, my parents and my sister were murdered by the Ukrainians. My fourteen-year-old brother managed to wrench himself out of their hands and ran away. He hid himself in the nearby bushes and survived.

I was kept in the Tarnopol jail until the end of June 1941, when I was sent to a work camp in Siberia. I was released in the winter of 1941 so that I could join the Polish forces that were forming in the USSR. I traveled from Siberia to Lugovoy, close to the Russian and Chinese border, where the Polish army was being organized. I joined the 10th Infantry Unit.

On March 26, 1942, our regiment was loaded into freight cars, and soon we were moving in the direction of Krasnowodsk, a harbour on the southeastern coast of the Caspian Sea. We stopped briefly in Toshkent, where we visited the baths, my first true ablutions since November 11, 1941.

A few days later, we arrived in Krasnowodsk. Before we boarded an empty tanker, bound for Pahlavi in Persia (now Iran), we had to unload a car packed with unused foodstuffs. For a good while we were furious: we had gone half-hungry for weeks, and now this food was going to waste because we could not take it with us. At that point, I had been a soldier for about two months. It took me much longer to get used to the paradoxes and absurdities of life in the military.

In the Middle East the Polish 2nd Corps came under British command. In the second half of April, we were uprooted again. Loaded onto trucks, we left Pahlavi and travelled towards Iraq, then through Jordan to Palestine. That was the end of April. On May 2, we were organized into the 3rd Carpathian Riflemen Division, with General Stanisław Kopański as commander. The Division included the 3rd Brigade of Carpathian Riflemen and the 10th Artillery Division from Lugovoye. I was assigned to the 1st Light Artillery Regiment, commanded by Colonel Domiczek, and, more specifically, to the 1st Battery, under First Lieutenant Jakub Lubowiecki. From that one unit, fifteen of us eventually came to Winnipeg, although only two made their permanent home here.

In Palestine, we went through an intensive recruit and field training. It was hot and tedious but necessary. interest. In September, we were on the road again. The 3rd Carpathian Division was being moved to Iraq to be merged with the 2nd Polish Corps under Władysław Anders. First we drove to Egypt, then by boat from Suez through the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Persian Bay to Basra [AI Ba§rah]. From there, we reached Qizil Ribat [As Sa’dīyah] by trucks. It was already December when the 1st Light Artillery Regiment was quartered in Quajara, fifty kilometres from Mosul and close to the Turkish border.

I served in Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, and Italy. I took part in the Italian Campaign, including the famous Battle of Monte Casino, which opened the road to Rome. I was awarded many Polish and Allied decorations.

We stayed in Italy for another year. In 1946 it was announced that Canada was accepting applications for farm labourers. They were looking for healthy bachelors, no dependents and no attachments, except for two strong arms and a sturdy back. I was healthy and a bachelor, and I knew enough about farming to tell wheat from barley grain. After all, I used to help my father on the farm and often worked with basic farming equipment. So, I applied and thereby sealed my fate.

In November 1946. I went to a farm in Petersfield, about ninety kilometres north of Winnipeg. The farmer, an Italian, had had six German prisoners of war working for him, whom we replaced. My Italian was far from perfect, but it was enough to communicate about farming matters. What bothered me was that spending my days in the fields or in the barn offered little opportunity for learning English. Besides, the pay was a measly $45 a month, and the living and working conditions on the farm were wretched. I was so frustrated that I wrote a complaint to the deputy minister of agriculture. The ministry sent out a special inspector, who confirmed the substandard conditions. He also promised that we would be transferred to another farm. Needless to say, the Italian farmer was not pleased with the outcome of the inspection. For several days, he hovered over us like a hail cloud, until, finally, lightning struck, and I was fired.

It was a cold February day in 1947.1 took a bus to Winnipeg to the Ministry of Agriculture. I could not yet argue my case in English, so I was assigned an interpreter, a young, attractive woman who was very concerned about my plight. Eventually, we found a common, even intimate, language as several months later she became my wife. But in the meantime, I was sent to a milk farm, in the same region as before. There I was making $60 a month plus room and board. I stayed on that farm for ten months, saving as much as I could.

Both my heart and my temperament drew me to Winnipeg, where I returned in December 1947, making it my permanent home. I was a long-time employee of Vulcan Iron and Engineering, retiring in 1987.  I married Helena Kozubska (nee Polanska), and then I married Else Kozubski (nee Frost) and I have six children, who are my pride and joy.

I was a member of the Holy Ghost Church, and of several organizations and held key roles, which include: the Iron Workers Union Local 728, Past President of the Polish Combatants Association, Branch 13, Past President of the Polish Combatant's Credit Union, Past President of the Royal Canadian Legion, Andrew Mynarski VC, Branch 34 and served on the Board of Directors of the Holy Spirit Credit Union Ltd.

Henryk Kozubski passed away in Winnipeg on May 28, 2014, at the age of 92.

Copyright: Kozubski family

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