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Tadeusz Chichlowski was born on 25 December 1920 in Kolomyja, Poland. The Germans invaded Poland from the west on 1 September 1939, and the Russians invaded from the east on 17 September 1939. They divided Poland between them.

Tadeusz fought in the September Campaign against the Germans in Poland. When Poland capitulated, he was captured by the Russians and sent to a POW camp in Siberia where he laboured for nearly two years.

In June 1941, Germany turned on its ally, Russia. Stalin then quickly changed tactics and allied himself with the west so that the allies could help him defeat the Germans. This led to the signing of the Sikorski-Majewski agreement that called for the freeing of Poles imprisoned in POW camps and labour camps in the USSR, and the formation of a Polish Army in the southern USSR.

The news of this ‘amnesty’ did not reach every camp, but where it did become known, the men and boys soon made plans to make their way south to join the army. For most, this meant walking thousands of kilometres and only occasionally getting on a train for part of the journey.  Many did not make it, and those who did were emaciated skeletons by the time they got there. Tadeusz made this difficult journey south to join the Polish army that was being formed in the USSR.

General Anders was in charge of the army, and he tried hard to get the Russians to provide the food and equipment they had promised. When this became more and more impossible, he negotiated the right to evacuate the army to Persia, where the British would provide what was needed.

There were 2 mass evacuations: in March/April 1942, and in September 1942. Then Stalin changed his mind and closed the borders. Those who had not been evacuated were now stuck in the USSR.

The evacuation took place by ship over the Caspian Sea to Pahlavi in Persia (now Iran). The ships that were used were oil tankers and coal ships, and other ships that were not equipped to handle passengers. They were filthy and lacked even the basic necessities, like water and latrines. The soldiers and civilians filled these ships to capacity for the 1-2 day trip. When there were storms, the situation got even worse – with most of the passengers suffering sea sickness.

Tadeusz trained with the Polish 2nd Corps in Iran, Iraq, Palestine, and Egypt, before sailing to Italy with the Corps. He fought in the Italian Campaign, including the battle of Monte Cassino. He was awarded medals and awards from the Polish and British governments, including the Cross of Valour and the Cross of Monte Casino.

He emigrated to Canada in 1948 on a two-year work contract and worked various farming jobs throughout Manitoba.  In 1958, he travelled to Poland to meet and marry his wife, Marysia, and they raised three sons and a daughter in Winnipeg. Tadeusz pursued his career as a chef and worked at the Winnipeg General Hospital, the Royal Alexander Hotel, and at Via Rail. The highlight of his career at Via Rail was cooking for her Majesty Queen Elizabeth during the Royal Visit in 1970. Tadeusz retired in 1984 but continued his love of cooking by catering at various events including Folklorama.

He remained active in the community and was a member of the Polish Combatants Association Club 13, the Royal Canadian Legion, and the Holy Ghost Senior's Group.

Tadeusz passed away in Winnipeg on 6 June 2011, at the age of 90 years.  He is buried at Holy Ghost Cemetery.

Copyright: Chichlowski family

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