Polish 2nd Corps
Walter was born in 19244 in Dobrowlania in northeast Poland, near Minsk. He was one of four children, living on a farm and attending school. Then the Germans invaded Polanmd and World War 2 started. Two weeks later, the Russians invaded Poland from the east, and life for Walter and his family changed completely.
On February 10, 1940, the family were awakened in the middle of the night and given a half hour to pack what they could before being forcibly removed from their home by the Russian secret police. They were packed into a goods wagon along with many other families from the area. The train journey to Siberia lasted over 3 weeks, in temperatures reaching minus 40 Celsius. They had little food and wood for the single stove in the wagon soon ran out. It is a miracle that anyone survived such conditions.
In Siberia, anyone over the age of 15 was sent to work in the gold mine. Walter came down with typhoid in the camp and was only given an aspirin. He remembers chewing wood in order to fill his stomach – that’s how hungry he was.
When Germany attacked her former ally, Russia, an ‘amnesty’ was declared for Polish deportees in the USSR and the family were able to leave Siberia and journey south to find the Polish Army that was being formed in the USSR.
Walter joined the Polish 2nd Corps at age 16 (he was tall and lied about his age) so that he could get some bread. He evacuated to Persia (Iran) with the army. Sadly, his parents died before they could reach freedom.
Walter served in lran, Iraq, North Africa, Egypt, and Palestine, before sailing to Italy and participating in the Italian Campaign, including Monte Cassino. He became and engineer and helped repair bridges in Italy.
After the war, Walter spent some time in England, as part of the Polish Resettlement Corps. He then emigrated to Canada and lived in Montreal before moving to Winnipeg. Walter’s wife died when his 4 children were still very young, and Walter raised them on his own.
Walter died in Winnipeg on February 20, 2019, at age 95.