Deceased Polish soldiers - happy story
Thank you for this lead, which shows how the Polish government helped track down relatives of a WW2 soldier who never got his medals. This is encouraging for the recent story of the 1600 soldier's possessions.
I have reproduced the story below (visit the website for photos).
Here is a story just posted on Polonia Today:
Click here: Soldier's Grave <http://www.poloniatoday.com/soldier-grave0603.htm>
worth mentioning on the K-S site........
A SOLDIERS GRAVE,
TWO SONS AND FOUR MEDALS
A Report from the Polish Consulate in Sheffield, England
In 2001 the consul came across a Military cemetery on Cannock Chase in the West Midlands of Great Britain. Buried there are soldiers mainly from the Great War. About to leave, he noticed a single grave, apart from the others.
The headstone showed he was a Polish soldier named Wiktorowski; that he died in 1948 after the end of World War II added to the mystery of it.
The British Ministry of Defense keeps records of all Polish servicemen who fought under British Command in World War II. They said that this man was a Staff Sergeant and had fought in several theaters of war, specially in Italy. Surviving hostilities, he died of a heart attack while awaiting demobilization. A cruel irony.
The Ministry also gave the names of his wife and two sons and a terrible thing. This brave Pole who had fought to save Great Britain and democracy after his own country was lost, never received the four British war medals owing to him. Better, they said that, if his family could be found, they would be entitled to get his waiting medals.
This consulate resolved to find the Wiktorowski sons wherever they were, no matter how long it took. If they had emigrated we would still find them. If they were dead, then we would find their next of kin.
The Polish media were contacted, but without success. A letter to Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski asking for help changed everything. The consul was immediately invited to present all documents to the Foreign Office in Warsaw for them to try to find the brothers.
On a visit to Warsaw a few weeks later the consul was given the addresses of the two Wiktorowski brothers who were still in Poland. Success!
Three days later the consul met Jozef and Miroslaw. They said that they and their families were amazed that after all these years we had found them. There were memories, old photographs and tears.
Because of imposed post-war communism in Poland, they knew little about British medals and no member of the Wiktorowski family had ever visited the grave. All they have is a single photograph of a hearse carrying their father's coffin to the cemetery.
Both brothers were invited to visit Great Britain in May, 2003, to get their fathers medals and visit his grave. They accepted and will have receptions at the Town Hall, Polish Consulate, Polish Ex-combatants Club and be guests at a symphony concert, all in Sheffield.
Then a really amazing thing happened. Hearing about this visit, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales generously invited Jozef and Miroslaw to a Royal Reception in their honor on the 19th May at St. James's Palace, London. More even than this, the Prince invited the Sheffield Consulate and as many Polish ex-servicemen as we could find, banners and all.
The Prince presented the medals to Jozef and Miroslaw himself together with his heart-felt thanks for what their father and all other Polish servicemen under British Command so bravely did.
The British World War II medals owing to Staff Sergeant Marion Wiktorowski, (l. to r.) War Medal, Italy Star, 39-45 Star and Defense Medal.
On the wishes of Stalin, Polish soldiers were excluded from the 1945 Victory parades in London, a great hurt felt to this day. Knowing this, and on behalf of Great Britain the Prince apologized to hushed ex-combatants for what happened.
A wonderful thing to say to his still brave, but now tearfully grateful, ex-combatant audience.