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Stanislaw SMOLENSKI Sr.

Translation of parts of an

interview by Prof. Patalas

My memories reach back to the time before the October Revolution of 1917. I was conscripted for military service in the Russian army in 1915, but I did not appear.  Instead, I signed up for the Imperial Air Force – 1st Auxiliary Battalion and trained near St. Petersburg. I was given the rank of corporal and sent to the classroom to teach engines to potential mechanics.  At the same time, I took flying lessons.


By 1918 the unrest and confusion of the October Revolution was reaching its crescendo. So I decided to leave and join my parents in Moscow. There I joined the Polish Muscovite Revolutionary Regiment – a form of self-defence against the revolutionary chaos all around us. Soon my cousin and I decided to return to Poland. Being sons of railway workers, we used our railroad IDs to cross the Russian-German border.  In Warsaw, we joined the 36th Infantry Regiment of the Academic Legion of the Polish army. I then transferred to the 1st Air Force Regiment as a senior mechanic.


I began my post-secondary education at the Warsaw Polytechnic, in the department of Mechanical Engineering. I eventually transferred to the Central School for Agriculture, department of Wood Technology, and wrote my thesis on the methods of extracting resin from pine trees. I graduated with a Master of Science and Engineering. I started a consulting business, preparing forest management plans. Three years later I accepted a job at a sawmill near Bialystock. Ten years later, I transferred to a sawmill near Stanislawow, where I worked until the 1939 mobilization.


On August 31st, I reported to Grodno.  I fought in the September Campaign but when the Russians invaded, I received orders to cross into Lithuania, where we were immediately interned. We stayed at this camp for an entire year, before being transferred to Kozielsk by the Russians. I was later sent to Gryazovets in Arkhangelsk, where I stayed for a few months until the ‘amnesty’ was declared.


They put us on a train to Tatichevo, one of the rallying points of the Polish army. I was assigned to the 5th Motorized Regiment. We were in Tatichevo for almost a year before being moved to Baku. During this time, I located my wife and children at a state farm and arranged for them to join me. I sent my wife and two younger sons to Persia. My older son and I followed three months later.


While in Tehran, toll. I fell ill with tropical fever and pellagra. After a lengthy hospital stay, I was assigned to lighter duties in the 2nd Armoured Brigade in Qizil Ribat. When we were sent to the Italian front, I was assigned to the maintenance company of the 2nd Tank Brigade, which serviced three regiments, the 1st, 4th, and 6th.


After the war, we were shipped to England, and I joined the Polish Resettlement Corps.  When the Corps dissolved, my sons and I went to work in factories. After a few years, we decided to emigrate to Canada. My sons left for Winnipeg and had already established themselves when my wife and I joined them a year later. I was already 60 years old when we arrived in Winnipeg.

Copyright: Smolenski family

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