Deported to Siberi + 1st Polish Armoured Division
Wladyslaw was born on 13 August 1923 in Perebrody, near Stolin, in Polesie province, to Mieczyslaw and Waclawa (nee Krzewińska). His parents were descendents of the Polish insurgents who took part in the 1863 Uprising against the Russian Empire, and were deported to Siberia. He had two older brothers, Czesław and Edmund, who were non-identical twins born in 1919 in Zwinogródka, near Kiev. After Kiev was captured by the Red Army, the family escaped to Poland and lived in Marcinkance near Grodno, where his father became a Forest Ranger.
According to Władysław, Marcinkance was an idyllic place to live, full of natural beauty with vast lakes and pine forests. The family loved animals and had three dogs and two cats, as well as a pet hedgehog, young deer and a stork which Władysław's mother had treated for injuries. Although he was an artistic child, Władysław’s greatest talent was in writing exemplary essays and articles for the school paper. He was also very fond of music and made himself a small violin on which he played simple tunes. Everyone thought that he might pursue this talent later in life.
Like his older brothers, Władysław enjoyed being in the scouts and was a member of various youth organizations. His ambition was to be a civil engineer, and he passed an entrance exam with distinction to the best Lycée in Grodno, which specialized in mechanical and electrical engineering. One of his essays was of such high standard that it was put on the Lycée’s main notice board as an example to other students. Everything was going well and he had a bright future ahead of him. But things came to an abrupt end when Germany invaded Poland on 1st September 1939 and Russia on 17 September 1939.
Władysław and his family were among the first Poles to be deported to Siberia. On 10 February 1940 they were arrested by the NKVD and taken to Białystok, where they were crammed into a dirty cattle train with thousands of other Poles. After a long torturous journey they reached their destination in the Urals, a place called Stiepanówka in the Perm oblast, where they became slave labourers having to chop down trees and shift heavy logs in sub-zero temperature. They suffered from cold, hunger and abuse from the NKVD for almost two years.
When Germany invaded Soviet Union in June 1941, the family journeyed south to Uzbekistan to join Anders’ Army, but Władysław’s father Mieczysław died from typhoid on 19 March 1942 and was buried in Czerakczi. The family was then evacuated with the Army across the Caspian Sea to Pahlevi in Persia, then taken to Teheran and finally transferred to Palestine. Having enlisted in the Polish Army,
Władysław was sent to Scotland to join General Maczek’s 1st Armoured Division and was posted to the 1st Motorized Artillery Regiment, 1st Battery, which was also known as the “Battery of Death”, continuing the tradition of the 1st Mountain Artillery Regiment formed in 1918 and the bravery of its 4th Battery in the Battle of Dytiatyn on 16 September 1920 during the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1921. The soldiers of this Battery were distinguished by the commemorative badge of a skull and crossed bones on a black triangle worn on their right sleeve.
Władysław was transferred with the 1st Armoured Division to the Continent where he took part in the Normandy Campaign from 29 July 1944 to 8 May 1945. During the Campaign his tank was hit twice by German mortar and caught fire. Being the chief gunner, he continued firing to cover his crew while they escaped. He was the last one out of the now fiercely burning tank under heavy German gunfire. By some miracle, nobody lost their life during this incident. From 9 May 1945,
Władysław served with the Occupation Forces of Germany and was evacuated by ship to the United Kingdom in April 1947, where he joined the Polish Resettlement Corps, He met Walentyna Misiewicz in 1947 at Iscoyd Park No.4 Polish Hospital in Shropshire, where they were both working. They married on 10 August 1948 in St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Wrexham, North Wales, and their daughter Barbara was later born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Wladyslaw died on 19 February 2006.
Polish: Bronze Cross of Merit, with swords