by his daughter Danuta Lawson
Polish 2nd Corps & Independent Parachute Brigade
Michael Krupa died 6th Oct 2013, here is his send off:
Michael Krupa was born 98 years ago to a Polish father and an Austrian mother, in a small Polish village called Rudnick, near to Krakow, Zackopane and the Tatra Mountains. Michael was a bit of a rebel in his school days, but he loved natural history and his favourite sport was skiing and in his high school days he became high school champion at skiing, jumping 40 metres in the ski jump event.
It was a great honour to have a priest in the family in Poland, particularly when the family was large, and Michael had six brothers and two sisters. During his final years at high school, his parents were mapping his adult life. And on a promise of further education, skiing in winter and tennis in summer and living in the idyllic Nowy Sacz on the banks of the Dunajec River, his future looked sealed to become a Jesuit priest.
Michael studied at the seminary for 4 years but he did not have any calling to go to live in the monastery, but he was pressurised by his parents to go. To please them he went to the Stara Wies monastery to live out his life there.
Michael was not happy living in the monastery, and he absconded and made his way to an uncle, who had him write to both his parents and to the Jesuits to beg forgiveness. The Jesuits released him of his vows and Michael eventually returned to his family.
Michael's next event was his two years compulsory military service, and he was to report for duty with the 13th Cavalry Regiment in Nowa Wilejka in the North of Poland. He had learned to play chess during his time at the monastery and this helped him during his time in the cavalry and he was often invited to play against the captain. He was invited to apply for several signal courses which he passed with flying colours. On returning to his unit he was promoted to corporal. He applied to serve for five years in the Air Force Meteorological service and at the beginning of 1939 he was accepted, but international events at this time pushed him in a different direction.
His cavalry regiment was sent to the frontline, accompanied by anti-tank guns. Michael survived but then his search for his parents began.
He was arrested in Soviet-occupied Poland, accused of spying, interrogated, and tortured in Moscow's notorious Lubianka prison. He was given ten years hard labour in Pechora Lager in Siberia. He survived the journey in cattle trucks and then by foot. Unbelievably he eventually escaped, his horse was eaten by wolves, survived execution when shot through the neck, and was saved, hidden in a hay store, and nursed back to health by a Russian peasant couple who risked their lives to help him. They helped him on his journey, and he eventually made it to Afghanistan.
From there Michael rejoined the Polish Army that was being formed in the southern USSR, was taken to Pahlevi on the Caspian Sea in Persia, and then to Palestine. He trained in the Middle East and then sailed to Italy where he fought in the famous Battle for Monte Cassino. He was awarded the British War Medal, Defence Medal, and the Italy Star.
He eventually ended up on British soil and volunteered to train as a paratrooper, with the task of keeping in contact with the Polish Underground Army, known as Armia Krajowa.
Michael's father eventually returned to Poland but his mother died in a Russian labour camp and was buried in a shallow grave.
Michael settled in the UK, met and married Kathrene James and they had three children: Julia, Michael and Danuta. They opened a shop in Buttershaw called Michael and Kaths.
Michael was encouraged by his family to write his autobiography (title: Shallow Graves in Siberia) as he wanted his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to know his past life.
Michael has four grandchildren:
Michael has seven great grandchildren:
Michael Krupa's poem:
Freedom, wonderful freedom,
How precious you are,
Only those will know who have lost you,
Millions are dying for you all over the world,
Only the lucky ones have you and hold you,
Life without you is empty as a shell,
and is no better than enduring in hell.
Copyright: Krupa family