My Parents during the 2nd World War
> by Marek
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People in story:
Krystyna Parys, Feliks Kepa
Location of story:
Poland, Soviet Union, Italy, Africa
Background to story:
08 November 2005
Written by a son.
My mother (Krystyna Kepa, Nee Parys)
When the Soviets invaded Poland on 17th September 1939 she was only 18 years
of age. They took her from her home town of Lwów (Lwow), which was in the
east part of Poland before the 2nd World War. On 13th April 1940 along with
her parents and two brothers were transported to various parts of the Soviet
Union. My mother and parents were taken to Kazakhstan. One of her brothers
was incarcerated for opposing the Soviet invasion. I don't know were her
other brother ended up but he was very thin in some of the photos that were
taken after his release. Approximately 1.7 million Poles were taken from
pre-war Poland, dispersed to various parts of the Soviet Union and put in
labour camps or made to work the land. Many tens of thousands, if not
hundreds of thousands, did not survive the freezing cold weather, harsh
work, and poor nourishment. Many even died on the trains they were being
transported in. This seems to be a forgotten episode of the 2nd World War.
When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 the Soviets and the Poles
came to an agreement to release the Poles so that they could help to fight.
She then left Kazakhstan and went to Tehran and eventually got to the Polish
camp in Tengeru, East Africa, with her mother and father. Her mother died in
1948 and was buried in Tengeru.
Her brothers joined General Anders army. One fought in tanks and the other
the artillery. She then came to England with her father and she worked as a
nurse in the No. 3 Polish Hospital in Penley, Wrexham. Her father died in
1952 and was buried in the St Mary Magdelene Church Yard, Penley, North
She later moved to London where she met and married my Father.
As you will see I know much more about my father's experiences than my
mother's. Neither liked to talk about their time during the war but there is
at least published information about my father. Also some people who new him
have mentioned him in there own writings.
My Father (Feliks Kepa)
He was a professional in the Polish Army and took part in the Polish
Campaign of September 1939. He fought in the 42nd Infantry regiment (42 pulk
piechoty) in the Bialystok region of Poland (North East). He was given
command of the "1st Reconnaissance Company" (Pierwsza Kompania Zwiadu).
He had graduated from the Infantry Cadet School in Komorów, Poland in 1936
(Szkola Podchorazy Piechoty)
After fighting the Germans as part of the regular army and following the
Soviets attack on Poland he joined the underground. He was eventually
arrested in 1940 by the NKVD (a forerunner of the KGB) and taken to Russia
and placed in a work camp.
After being released he joined up with the Polish army being formed by
General Anders. (I still have the document, in Russian, that allowed him to
travel across the Soviet Union) After recuperating from his ordeals he
He fought with the Allies as part of the "2nd Polish Corps" (2 Korpus
Polski) in the Italian Campaign 1944-45. He was given command of a mixed
company of Poles, Italians (who by then had joined the Allies) and
Yugoslavians. The company was given sabotage and diversionary tactics
training. The company's name, roughly translated, was the "111th Bridge
Protection Company" (111 Kompania Ochrony Mostów). This is a stange title as
they were never intended to protect bridges and with their training they
were more likely to blow up bridges then protect them. They were also
unofficially known as the "2nd Commando Company" (2nd to the "1st
Independent Polish Commando Company").
At least on one occasion the two Companies fought together.
One battle in which he and his company fought was the "Battle for Monte
Freddo", which took place about the 9th July 1944. They fought alongside the
"1st Independent Polish Commando Company". For his actions in this battle he
received the "Virtuti Militari" which is the Polish equivalent of the
British "Victoria Cross".
As well as not wanting or not feeling able to talk about his worst
experiences my father was very modest about what he did.
These are some of the things that others said about him.
In 2005 through the Internet I came across someone who had met two of the
Italians who had fought in the 111th with my father. He said that they held
my Father in very high regard.
After the war my father came to England where he was de-mobbed from the
Polish Army in 1949. Like many Poles he remained in England because he felt
that he could not return to a communist Poland for fear of being shot or
sent to a work camp again, as happened to many of the Poles who did decide
The first time he felt he could go back to Poland to visit his family was in
1976, a gap of 36 years.
Unfortunately he never lived to see a Poland free from Communist rule.
My mother also could never go back to her home town as it was never returned
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