A medic with the 16th Field Ambulance Unit at the battle of Monte Cassino
The artifacts, archival photographs, and documents belonged to Jan Miciak (1910-2003) of Morden, Manitoba.
Jan Miciak was born in Trzcieniec, Poland in 1910. He joined the Polish Army in the early 1930s, and was taken prisoner by the Russians soon after World War II broke out. Jan, like many other exiles, was forced to labour underground in a Russian mine until his release two years later.
Jan, along with others in his unit, travelled throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Northern Africa, and re-grouped under British Command. He fought in the Italian Campaign under General Wladyslaw Anders. By now a corporal, Jan served proudly as a medic with the 16th Field Ambulance Unit at the battle of Monte Cassino, for which he was awarded the Cross of Monte Cassino.
When the war ended, his village of Trzcieniec was now under Russian communist rule and he did not want to return. Since he had served under British Command, he was able to choose any country of the Commonwealth in which to resettle.
Jan chose Canada, and on May 25th, 1947, arrived at Halifax harbour on board the Acquitania. Not knowing any English, and with even less knowledge of Canadian geography, he was asked where in Canada he would like to go. Jan responded: "Somewhere in the middle". A few days later, he arrived by train in Winnipeg.
Jan was hired as a farm labourer by a very caring and supportive family, the Dugans, and for the next two years worked hard to fulfill his obligation to the Canadian Department of Labour. Working and learning English in the Roblin and Shellmouth area of northwestern Manitoba, he met and married Wilma Wishart and they had one son, Michael.
In about 1956, the young family moved to Morden, Manitoba where Jan took employment with the Dominion Agricultural Research Station until his retirement in 1976. Jan Miciak died peacefully on May 1st, 2003 at Boundary Trails Health Centre in Morden at 92 years of age.
Even after surviving the hardships of WWII, and despite being imprisoned by the Russian Army, and the loss of his beloved homeland, Jan remained positive, kind, and generous. He was a loving and caring husband and father, and a good friend to all.
"I have seen the lands I have only dreamed of..."
-from Jan's short autobiography, source unknown
TARNOPOL, POLAND 1932-33 54th REGIMENT INFANTRY - JAN ON LEFT
POLAND 1938, JAN SEATED ON THE RIGHT
JAN'S DOG TAGS
MACERATA, ITALY, 1946
JAN MICIAK PAY BOOK
2ND CORP PATCH
MONTE CASSINO CROSS
MONTE CASSINO CROSS
BRITISH UNIT ID
JAN'S ARRIVAL IN CANADA IN 1947 IN EMERSON MANITOBA
JAN'S JACKET AND BERET
CITIZENSHIP PHOTO IN THE MORDEN MANITOBA NEWSPAPER
JAN MICIAK 90th BIRTHDAY, 2000