Polish Comrades in Arms
Polish ll Corps
finally honours Polish war effort with the first national memorial
a memorial and book commemorate
Captured by the Russians after the partition of Poland in 1939,Anders was released from the Lubianka prison, Moscow, in 1941 to lead the Polish POWs from Russia into Persia, where the British had offered to arm and equip them to fight against the Germans in the Western Desert where they acquitted themselves with great distinction. The resulting corps, Polish II Corps, became one of the most redoubtable military formations of the war. Its principal, and unforgettable, achievement was to capture Monte Cassino, 17-18 May 1944, after three costly previous attempts had failed. Anders subsequently led it in the battles up the Adriatic Coast and in the clearance of the Po Valley.
Most of II Corps chose exile at the end of the war, and Anders remained leader of their community in England
until his death when he was reunited with his fallen comrades in the Polish cemetery at Monte Cassino.
The Polish l Corps was again formed from POWs captured by the Soviets and fought as part of the Red Army under Soviet officers. They were part of the assaulting force at the battle for Berlin. After the war, they formed the nucleus of the army of the puppet communist state of Poland.
Red Poppies on Monte Cassino
Czerwone Maki na Monte Cassino
Czy widzisz te gruzy na szczycie?
Tam wróg twój sie kryje jak szczur!
Musicie, musicie, musicie!
Za kark wziac i stracic go z chmur!
I poszli szaleni, zazarci,
I poszli zabijac i mscic,
I poszli jak zawsze uparci,
Jak zawsze za honor sie bic.
The Battle of Monte Cassino
King George Vl talking to pilots of
No 303 Polish Squadron clocked up the highest allied
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Honour sought for 'Soldier Bear'
A campaign has been launched to build a permanent memorial to a bear which spent much of its life in Scotland - after fighting in World War II.
The bear - named Voytek - was adopted in the Middle
East by Polish troops in 1943, becoming much more than a mascot. The
large animal even helped their armed forces to carry ammunition at the
Battle of Monte Cassino. Voytek - known as the Soldier Bear - later
lived near Hutton in the Borders and ended his days at Edinburgh Zoo.
He was found wandering in the hills of Iran by Polish soldiers in 1943.
When Polish forces were deployed to Europe the only way to take the bear with them was to "enlist" him. So he was given a name, rank and number and took part in the Italian campaign.
He saw action at Monte Cassino before being billeted - along with about 3,000 other Polish troops - at the army camp in the Scottish Borders.
The soldiers who were stationed with him say that he was easy to get along with. "He was just like a dog - nobody was scared of him," said Polish veteran Augustyn Karolewski, who still lives near the site of the camp. "He liked a cigarette, he liked a bottle of beer - he drank a bottle of beer like any man."
When the troops were demobilised, Voytek spent his last days at Edinburgh Zoo.
Mr Karolewski went back to see him on a couple of occasions and found he still responded to the Polish language. "I went to Edinburgh Zoo once or twice when Voytek was there," he said. "And as soon as I mentioned his name he would sit on his backside and shake his head wanting a cigarette. It wasn't easy to throw a cigarette to him - all the attempts I made until he eventually got one."
Voytek was a major attraction at the zoo until his death in 1963.
Eyemouth High School teacher Garry Paulin is now writing a new book, telling the bear's remarkable story.
Local campaigner Aileen Orr would like to see a memorial created at Holyrood to the bear she says was part of both the community and the area's history. She first heard about Voytek as a child from her grandfather, who served with the King's Own Scottish Borderers. "I thought he had made it up to be quite honest but it was only when I got married and came here that I knew in fact he was here, Voytek was here," she said. "When I heard from the community that so few people knew about him I began to actually research the facts. It is just amazing, the story is totally amazing."
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This was sent in by Maurice Taylor 23/11/06