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Wladyslaw was born on to Jan and Anna Czezowski on 17 August 1919 in Kozowa, Brzezany district, Tarnopol province, 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. In the Russian-controlled area, the plan to ethnically-cleanse the area soon took effect with the first of four mass deportations to Siberia that were carried out in 1940 and 1941.

He was forcibly conscripted into the Russian Army and served there 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 conscripted into the Russian army, imprisoned in POW camp,s and/or 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.  Wladyslaw undertook this perilous journey south in order to reach the Polish army.

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.

Anders insisted on taking as many of the civilians that had reached the army as possible. 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.

Wladyslaw joined the Polish 2nd Corps and evacuated to Persia with the army. He then trained in Iraq, Palestine, and Egypt, before sailing to Italy where he fought in the Italian Campaign, including thew battles of Monte Cassino, Bologna, and Ancona.

After the war he went to England with the 2nd Corps and in 1947, he came to Canada on a two-year contract to work on a farm. He met and married Jadwiga in 1949, and they raised two daughters and a son: Irena, Krystyna, and Edward. In 1950, he began working at the Bank of Montreal, retiring in 1983.

Wladyslaw was a longtime member of St. John Cantius Church and served as secretary to the St. John Cantius Fraternal Aid Society. He was also a member of Royal Canadian Legion (A. Mynarski Polish Branch No. 34) and the Polish Combatants Association, Branch No. 13.

Wladyslaw passed away in Winnipeg on 18 June 2001, at the age of 81 years. He was buried at the Holy Ghost Cemetery in Winnipeg.


Copyright: Czezowski family

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