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Memories of the War - Jan Niechwiadowicz

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posted on 2024-06-05, 19:30 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Born 1933, living in what is now Belarus, in Lebedevo, was at the start of the war. His father was arrested by the Soviets (June 1940). His father (Jakob) was held in Molodechno because he was a landowner, worked for the government, and fought for Polish independence. His daughter Anna (aged 14) went to visit him and his guards told her (in confidence) that the whole family would be deported the next day.

They were sent in cattle trucks on a long journey: Minsk, Oriel, Smolensk, Ladoga, Tula, Orenburg, Ufa, Tomsk, and Parlodar. It took a month. On the train were Jan, Anna, Michal (his brother), and Jadiniga (his mother). They arrived in Parlodar, but there was nothing there. They remained there from 8 August 1940 until 5 May 1941.

Due to the German invasion, all Poles were given amnesty by the USSR, including Jakob. Assumed that Jakob would join "Ander's Army" forming in the South. Unfortunately, Jakob had already died - either killed by the camp system or by the Germans.

British agreed to take on Polish soldiers to form regiments outside of the USSR. Jan and his family were moved to Iran with 90,000 other Poles, and then to India. They arrived just as the Japanese invaded Burma, so then the Poles were moved to Africa, mainly to Kenya.

Michal was old enough to fight and stayed with Ander's Army in the Polish Second Corps. He fought at Monte Cassino.

Jan remained in Kenya with his mother and sister until the end of the war. After the war, they were given the option to go to the UK or return to Poland (property in what was once Germany). They decided to move to the UK.

They took a boat to Southampton and were put into a temporary camp. Michal went to university in London. Jan got an opportunity at Rolls Royce Central Works. Michal went to the U.S. and Anna traveled the world with her husband.

History

Item list and details

1. Photo of ship, "Batory" - a Polish cruise-liner which assisted with the pre-war evacuation. 2. Staffordshire memorial to grandfather - Polish veteran. 3. Birth certificate. 4. 3 photocopies of East African Refugee Administration of grandmother, father and aunt. 5. Identity card in England to report to police (1x father, 1x mother). 6. Father and mother with medal (Siberian Cross) photo. 7. Lot of Polish names from Iran - India journey and details of families. 8. Summary of dates and spelling. 9. Map of journey across Soviet Union with marked points.

Person the story/items relate to

Jan Niechwiadowicz

Person who shared the story/items

Jan Niechwiadowicz

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Father

Type of submission

Shared at the Polish Social and Cultural Association, London on 1-2 November 2023.

Record ID

106239 | POL001