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Re: [Kresy-Siberia] Polish Hero's War

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  • Marek K
    Nice of you to post the story & link. My dad and Zygmunt Piatkiewicz were in the same company in Italy. ... From: Lucyna Artymiuk
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 3, 2008
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      Nice of you to post the story & link.

      My dad and
      Zygmunt Piatkiewicz were in the same company in Italy.

      ----- Original Message ----
      From: Lucyna Artymiuk <lucyna.artymiuk@...>
      To: Kresy-Siberia@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Sunday, 3 February, 2008 6:55:00 AM
      Subject: [Kresy-Siberia] Polish Hero's War

      http://www.bbc co.uk/ww2peoples war/stories/ 90/a3981990. shtml

      Contributed by

      <http://www.bbc co.uk/ww2peoples war/user/ 10/u1529910. shtml> mainemanc

      People in story:

      Zygmunt Piatkiewicz

      Location of story:

      Poland & Italy

      Background to story:


      Article ID:


      Contributed on:

      01 May 2005

      My Grandad, Zygmunt Piatkiewicz, was born in Novogrodek in 1917, a time when

      Poland did not exist. His father was a General in the Russian Army and was

      caught and executed in 1919 by the Bolsheviks. My Greatgrandmother had to

      see Lenin himself to plea for the family to be allowed to return to a newly

      formed Poland. He agreed, but made her leave her 2 eldest sons in Russia.

      Thus my Grandad settled in Poland with his mother and sister. He was lucky

      enough to be accepted into the Korpus Kadetow officer school in Rawicz. Here

      he learnt how to be a soldier. He also learnt how to run, becoming a

      cross-country star at the age of 17. By 19 he was representing Poland at the

      1936 Berlin Olympics. He finished 4th in the 3000m steeplechase and was

      predicted a gold in 1940. He would sadly never realise this dream though. He

      also excelled in tennis and football, playing against Chelsea and Arsenal

      who were touring Poland.

      He Graduated from KK2 Rawicz in 1939. War Broke out in September 1939,

      threatening Poland's very existance. My Grandad was sent to fight the

      Russians who had invaded from the east. He fought in the battle of Grodno as

      a Leiutenant and survived bayonet charges as they fought off the Russians.

      Poland would not win the day however, and my Grandad and his men escaped to

      Lithuania to be interned. However, he escaped and was caught in Warsaw some

      weeks later in Poland by the NKVD and was shipped out to a Gulag. He was

      lucky not to be shot.

      When the Germans invaded the USSR, the Poles formed an uneasy alliance with

      their new allies and the troops were released. Half stayed in Russia, the

      others, including my Grandad followed General Anders to join the British in


      After training and re-equipment my Grandad took part in the invasion of


      Wounded in the fighting, he recovered and trained with the Polish Commandos.

      He joined them in 1944, having taken part in the bloody battle for Monte

      Cassino in May 1944. It was here that the Poles took the town after months

      of fighting, when the Germans repulsed British, American, and New Zealand

      forces before the Poles won the day.

      It was soon after this, in August 1944 that my Grandad won Poland's highest

      military honour, the Virtuti Militari, (equivalent of VC).

      After leading his men through a series of hills outside Andrea Di Suassa on

      the Gothic Line. The platoon of my Grandad came under intense German

      artillery fire and many were wounded including my Grandad. Back at the aid

      station, the platoon were decemated with morphene in short supply. My

      Grandad insisted on having the shrapnel removed without any morphene, and

      insisted on going back up the hill, alone, with a machine gun. It is alleged

      he saw the red mist. He charged up the hills firing from the hip. The

      Germans thought they were facing a full platoon and ran away, leaving my

      Grandad to take the town single handed.

      He was awarded the Silver VM number 10715 in the December.

      The citation read:

      "whilst himself wounded, without any regard for his own life, he rescued and

      carried out wounded from under heavy enemy artillery fire, then without

      regard for his own wounds he ran back into action with a light machine gun

      to single handedly repel the enemy attack."

      After this he would take part in the battle for Bologna and Ancona.

      After the war he was unable to return to a communist run Poland and settled

      with his wife (who had faught in the Warsaw Uprising in 1944) in England.

      Othe military decorations include the Polish Military Cross, Kryz Waleczny

      (x2)Italian Military Cross, Al Merito Militari, Monte Cassino Cross, Polish

      September 1939 Cross, Italy Star and other British Campaign medals.

      He worked in industry until 1982, raising a big happy family. My Grandad

      died in 2003, he never talked much or blew his own trumpet, its a shame so

      many heros never share their story, and I hope this short story pays enough

      homage to a fine man.



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