Józef Wojdyła was born on 19 April 1924 to Michał and Anna (nee Tańczyn). in Biłka Szlachecka near Lwow. In Biłka, he graduated from 5 classes of general school, after which he and his family moved to Hrusiatycz, where his father bought land. In Hrusiatycza, in addition to Wojdyłów, there were 24 other settler families.
Five months after the invasion of the Soviet Union, on 10 February 1940, all the settlers of Hrusiatycza were forcibly removed from their homes and deported to Siberi by the Russians.
Jozef Wojdyła, who was 15 at the time, recalls these events as follows: With rifles they came, the NKVD.They took us to Chodorowa on sleighs.They drove us to the cattle wagons, where there were two bunks on one side of the wagon and two more on the other side. No one knew where we were going, and only when we passed the Urals, we knew we were going to Siberia.
Sometimes the train would stop, it would stand a few days in the extreme cold. There was a stove in the car but we soon ran out of wood to burn in it. They sometimes brought us soup in a bucket and some bread. We travelled like this for almost two months. There were five children in our family, the youngest was the infant Frania, who died on the way, and two sisters died in Sibria, Zosia and Józia, as well as my grandfather. Only my father Michal and brother Wojciech survived. They both joined the Polish 2nd Corps and served in the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Brigade in Italy.
The Wojdyła family ended up the area of Nowosybirsk. There, for nearly two years, in inhuman conditions, they were forced to work hard to survive. After the signing of the Sikorski-Majski Agreement (30 July 1941), Polish exiles could apply to leave the camp and join the Polish army. After almost three months of travel, Józef Wojdyła, his brother, and his father arrived in the Kyrgyz People’s Republic.
Here Jozef appeared before the military recruitment committe and because he was a minor he added years to his age, and thanks to that he got into the army. From 5 March 1942, he was a soldier in the machine gun battalion of the 28th Division, which was stationed in Luskovy, the People's Republic of Kazakhstan.
Anders's army was sent to central-east Asia, where the 10th Division was renamed the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Brigade, and Jozef and his father and brother were sent to the Independent Battalion of Heavy Machine Guns on the Sinai peninsula. By Easter 1942 they were in Palestine, where he was directed to train in the airborne troop in Scotland, where the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade was created.
He went to Scotland through Jordan, Baghdad, the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, Mumbai, where he was embarked on a passenger ship named Queen Elizabeth, which, through Durban in South Africa, reached Florida in the United States. He finally arrived in Liverpool in the British Isles. In early 1943, he was sent to the Leven military camp in Scotland, where he attended the Training Centre for the Independent Parachute Brigade. On May 19, 1943, after extensive training, he became a full-fledged commando.
"Józef Wojdyła - a soldier who, during the war, walked, drove over, swam, and flew over almost half the world, with a deep belief that he would return to Poland... ”
.After basic parachute training, 19 May 1943, Gen. Sosabowski presented him with a parachute badge, on the back of which is the inscription "For you, Poland" was engraved.
In mid-September 1944, the Allies decided to direct all their forces to fight as part of the “Market-Garden” airborne operation at Arnhem. Józef Wojdyła was dropped in the Driel area on 21 September 1944, as a member of the second battalion, and took part in the nine-day battle in the Netherlands.
He recalled the battle in this way: Arnhem was hell. The Germans surrounded us so that it was impossible. There was artillery, mortars, and sniper upon sniper. As soon as man leaned out, he would be hit. The Allied troops were decimated and retreated from the front line.
After the battle, Jozef Wojdyła returned to Leven in Scotland. He received a parachute eagle with a golden laurel wreath (with # 970 engraved on the wreath) directly from Gen. Sosabowski. The usual parachute badge became his combat parachute badge.
He died on 24 February 2017, at the age of 93. He was one of the last soldiers of Gen. Sosabowski's Parachute Brigade living in Poland. He is buried in the town of Grodziec (woj. Opole) at the parish cemetery, next to his father Michal.
For his service on the battlefield, as well as for his professional and social activities Jozef Wojdyła was awarded, among others:
French and Germany Star
English "Defence Medal" and "The War Medal"
Medal “Medal of the Army”
Patent of the Veteran Fight for Freedom and Independence of the Fatherland in 2001.
Promotion to the rank of captain given by the Minister of National Defence in 2011.
“Silver Cross of Merit” from the State Council of the Republic of Poland in 1955.
“The Badge of the Outgoing Worker” Huta “Małapanew” in Ozimek and the “Meritorious Work Lead” in Huta in 1964
“Golden Cross of Merit” from the State Council of the Republic of Poland in 1966.
“The Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta” from the State Council of the Republic of Poland in 1976.
Badge of “Meritorious Opole Region” from the Provincial National Council in Opole in 1987.
“The Cross of the Battle of the Polish Armed Forces in the West” from the President of the Republic of Poland in 1992.
Badge of the “Production Redaser in Huta “Małapanew”
Silver and Gold Badge of the Quality of Work
“Distinguished Badge of the Polish Civil Code Association”
SOURCE: This article appears in the original Polish version at: https://www.grodziec.eu/
Copyright: Wojdyla family