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Polish 2nd Corps


Kazimierz was fortunate to be born in 1915 to Wladyslaw and Maria (nee Ancuta), a wealthy land baron family. He was raised in the Chorosowszczyzna, District of Nowogrodek, in eastern Poland. He enjoyed a wonderful childhood growing up on the large family farm.

With the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939, the situation changed drastically for the Poles. The Germans took over the western half of Poland, and the Russians took over the eastern half where Kazimierz lived.

The Russian plan was to ethnically cleanse the eastern provinces of Poland, and especially to get rid of any land and property owners, as well as armed forces personnel and intelligentsia.  

Being 25 years of age when the war broke out, Kazimierz was mobilized and fought in the September Campaign.  He was subsequently arrested by the Russians and was deported to Siberia to work in a slave labor camp. When Germany attacked Russia on 1941, the Russians changed sides and joined the western allies.  An agreement was reached with Stalin to release the Poles held in labour camps and POW camps and have them form a Polish army on Russian soil.  Stalin issued an ‘amnesty’ for the Poles held in the USSR, so Kazimierz was released in the fall of 1941.

Then followed a long and arduous journey to reach the Polish army base in the southern USSR.  He eventually reached the army and enlisted.  The Russians had promised to equip this army with uniforms and weapons, as well as proper food rations, but these never materialized in sufficient numbers.  Consequently, it was decided to move the army to Persia, where they would come uder British command.

In 1942, the Polish 2nd Corps crossed the Caspian Sea to the port of Pahlevi in Persia (Iran).  The army trained in Iran, Palestine, Iraq, and Egypt, before being sent to Italy. Kazimierz sailed with them and fought in the Italian Campaign. He often spoke of their win at one of the most difficult battles of WW2 at Monte Casino, Italy.

The Yalta Conference between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt ended with Poland being sacrificed, and left under Russian control.  The soldiers who had fought so valiantly “for your freedom and ours” no longer had a home to return to.

At the end of the war, Kazimierz was sent to Great Britain, along with the rest of the Polish 2nd Corps soldiers who did not return to Poland.  There, he served with the Polish Resettlement Corps until honourably discharged. At this point, he decided to emigrate to Canada. At the time, Canada was accepting Polish service members who would agree to working on farms and in mines for 2 years, in order to repay the cost of their transportation to Canada.

Kazimierz arrived in Halifax on May 25, 1947. It was there decided that he should make Montreal his home as he spoke some French, having learned it from one of his nannies. However, once on the train, an infamous game of “bridge” was started, and Kazimierz missed the stop in Montreal. Instead, he ended up in Lethbridge Alberta.

He worked on a sugar beet farm in the Lethbridge area, then worked for the Lethbridge Experimental (Research) Station for approximately 2 years.  Following that, Kazimierz obtained a position with the P.F.R.A., working on various irrigation construction projects, including the St. Mary’s Dam, Waterton Dam, Brooks Aqueduct, as well as numerous other smaller projects. He worked for the P.F.R.A for 32 years and retired in 1980.

Kazimierz was very proud of his Polish heritage, but he also loved his newly adopted country, Canada. He and his wife Barbara enjoyed travelling and some of their destinations included Italy, Poland, and parts of the U.S. Mostly, he enjoyed spending time in Canada’s beautiful Rocky Mountains. His hobbies included walking, hiking, fishing, bird hunting, skiing, and curling, but his favourite hobby was playing bridge.

He was a devoted father and grandfather and was very proud of his daughter and grandchildren, Kazimierz passed away on Sunday, March 20, 2016, at the age of 100 years.

Copyright: Terajewicz family

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