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Wladyslawa   MAJEWSKA



Władysława Majewska was born on 19 March 1911, in Lwow. She graduated from the Faculty of Law at the Jan Kazimierz University in Lviv and the Faculty of Administrative Law at the University of Edinburgh. However, music was her great passion, and from 1930 she worked for the Lwow wing of Polish Radio. She was a long-standing collaborator with Szczepcio and Tonko - a sort of Polish Laurel and Hardy - on the fabled “Wesola Lwowska Fala”.

After the war broke out, she evacuated to Romania together with the team. They performed in Romania from 14 November 1939 to 13 February 1940, giving 56 performances. On 8 March 1940, the "Lwowska Fala" ensemble left Romania and traveled through Yugoslavia and Italy to the Polish army in France, giving 30 performances there.

In late June 1940 some 20,000 Polish soldiers arrived in Scotland. These were the remnants of a Polish army formed in France, under General Sikorski, after Poland fell to the combined might of Germany and the Soviet Union in September 1939.

When France capitulated on 22 June 1940, General Sikorski, having realised that Britain would fight on, ordered those who were able to head for the Atlantic coasts of southern France. From there British and Polish merchant ships, defended by the Royal Navy, ferried Poles, mainly to Plymouth, from where they were entrained for Scotland. At first they were encamped near Biggar and Crawford.

The Polish soldiers were then moved, mainly to Fife, where they constructed and manned defences against any diversionary German invasion of the Scottish mainland. They also manned armoured trains patrolling low-lying areas of Scotland's eastern seaboard. Later these men would form the nucleus of the Polish 1st Armoured Division which took part in the liberation of north-west Europe in 1944 and 1945 and of the Polish Parachute Brigade which fought at Arnhem in September 1944. Both these units trained in Scotland.

The “Lwowska Fala” team had evacuated to Scotland on a small English freighter. On 24 June 1940, their first performance took place there.

Together with "Lwowska Fala", Second Lieutenant Władysława Majewska walked the combat trail of the 1st Polish Armoured Division. The theater troupe of soldiers was part of General Maczek's 10th Armored Cavalry Brigade.

They performed across the length and breadth of Scotland and south of the Border. They appeared at camps, on airfields where Polish squadrons were based and on-board ships of the Polish Navy (three destroyers and two submarines, having escaped the Baltic, had arrived in Scottish waters in 1939). Majewska's acting and singing talents made her a star of the shows, which were also presented before British audiences.

Majewska and her theatrical group would be with the Polish 1st Armoured Division, often just behind the front line, once it landed in Normandy in July 1944 and right up to its capture of the German Naval base of Wilhelmshaven in May 1945. The singer helped buoy the troops as they advanced across Europe. She gave over 800 performances during the campaign, on truck platforms, in soldiers' barracks, sometimes even in bunkers - entertaining and boosting the moral of Polish servicemen wherever they were found. The last performance took place on 17 November 1946 at the military hospital in Whitechurch.

At the end of the war Poland, because of treaties made between the great powers at Teheran and Yalta, fell under Soviet domination. Its eastern territories were absorbed into the Soviet Union. The Polish Forces under British command, now numbering nearly 200,000, including a small Navy and 14 Air Force squadrons, were disbanded. Most of them chose to remain in the UK.

Majewska returned to Scotland and initially made a living tailoring in Edinburgh. In 1946, she married Wiktor Budzyński, but the marriage did not last long.  After divorcing Wiktor Budzyński, she became a producer of Marian Hemar's literary cabarets and an actress in his theater in London. Together with Leopold Kielanowski and then Tadeusz Kryska-Karski, starting from the early 1950s, she ran the London office of the Polish Radio Free Europe RWE for over 30 years, recording artistic programs, interviews, and daily correspondence for it. In 1994, she handed over to Polish Radio the London archives of RWE with a sound record of Marian Hemar's work, preserved thanks to her efforts. She authored a memoir published in 2006 entitled From Lwowska Fala to Free Europe

Majewska did not lose contact with Scotland. During the war she had become a close friend of General Stanislaw Maczek, who commanded the Polish 1st Armoured Division, and his family. Majewska would visit him in his Edinburgh home, where he died in 1994 aged 102.

She herself spent the last years of her life cared for in a home run by Polish nuns in Chislehurst, Kent. She died 18 May 2011 in the London suburb of Chislehurst in England.  She was 100 years old.

She received high honours from the London-based government-in-exile and from the post-communist government:

  • Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (1980),

  • Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (1994)

  • Diploma-Badge of the 307th Night Fighter Squadron in Lwow ("in recognition of the work and merits for the squadron"; August 18, 1944),

  • Gold Cross of Merit (given by the Executive of the National Union; November 11, 1966)

  • The Theater Award of "Dziennik Polski" for 1967 (as the best actress)

  • Honorary Gold Badge of the Polish Combatants Association (1972)

  • Honorary Gold Badge of the Polish Airmen Association (April 1975)

  • Cross of the 1st Polish Armoured Division

  • Golden Badge of the 50th Anniversary of Polish Scouting ("for merits for the development of scouting")

  • Golden Badge of Honor of the Lwow Circle

  • Gold Medal of the Congress of Culture (January 1988)

  • Gold Cross of Polish Air Squadrons

  • Badge of honor "Meritorious for Polish Culture"

  • Medal for Contribution to Culture Gloria Artis

  • In September 2005, on the 80th anniversary of Polish Radio, Polish Radio awarded Włada Majewska with the “Diamond Microphone” for her contribution to the development of Polish radio.



Source:  Her memoir and the Polish Radio obituary.


Wladyslawa Majewska.jpg

Copyright: Władysława Majewska's family

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