Upon returning to Scotland, my good friend John Duncan was married and found happiness. I was able to visit him in Scotland when I was again in Europe with the MRES. Thereafter I stayed in contact with him with yearly Xmas cards and notes.
I was never able to return to the scenes of my partisan day in southern Poland but I was able to help some of my A.K. comrades–in–arms find a safe home in Canada.
I was always careful not to reveal the location of my partisan friends in Canada as the Polish communist government and their agents were constantly looking for leverage with relatives back home. Later, with time, various Polish publications celebrating the exploits of these heroes published the general locations as to where these partsians lived.
Major Borowy and his three brothers, who were among the original 40 partisans at the time I joined the A.K., immigrated to Canada.
Lt. Col. Adam Stabrawa aka "Borowy" or "Boric" – Knight Virtuti Military Cross – died on 22 April 1991 in Vancouver, Canada. Most of his time in Canada was spent in central British Columbia running a mink farm. His ashes were buried in his native Polish soil, in the family tomb – in the local cemetery in Myślenice. I was proud to call him my friend and cherished the visits to his farm.
Two brothers who operated in my platoon were among the original 40 partisans at the time I joined the AK moved to Alberta. They were "Iglica" and "Trezebina". Yet another of the Podpolesk partisans went to Hamilton but I lost contact with him over time. There are others in the United Kingdom and in the US.
Here are the names of the partisans who fought in the Podhale Region of the Carpathian Mountains and who resided in Canada just after the war: (as originally published in the "Polish Bulletin" Calgary and re–printed in the Polonia Voice article "CANADIAN HERO IN POLAND : STORY OF HUBERT BROOKS, Wing Commander".)
My friend Abbot Hubert Franciszek Kostrzański "Mirt" died in Chicago on January 5th 2002
at the age of 83.
The Biography of Julian Krzewicki as released by his son Dr. Jerzy Krzewicki in 1996 details the troubling times that this Polish Hero who decided to remain behind in his beloved country
had under Soviet backed rule.
Unfortunately this sort of treatment was the norm for a great number of the members of the war time AK. This included a number of my close friends such as Julian.
From the Biography:
Julian Krzewicki maintained his command of 2nd Battalion 1 psp AK and Head of Limanowa Region until January 16, 1945, then hid until October 1, 1945 before coming out into the open.
In early January 1948, he was arrested by the secret police in Gorlice. Reason for the arrest was allegedly distribution of an anti-communist leaflet.
Julian Krzewicki was released after a few weeks in mid February 1948.
Feb 7, 1950 Julian Krzewicki was arrested again and sent to Gorlice PUBP prison – leaving behind a wife and 2 young children without means of support.
For 14 days and nights he was constantly tortured. The interrogators wanted him to admit to the allegations: belonging to WiN, cooperation with Germany, the killing of Jews and Soviet prisoners and hiding weapons and ammunition from three air drops.
A steady rotating round of interviewers aka torturers ensured that Julian was without sleep and almost entirely without food. Often times several torturers beat him at the same time. They beat him in the face, kicked him in the kidneys and so forth. Despite having swollen legs, feet covered with blisters, difficulty breathing because of chest pain, they continued interrogating him for several days and nights without allowing him any sleep.
Those responsible for the torture included: Head PUBP Bronisław Kruczek, investigator Edward Zygler, Bronisław Jagiełło and many others.
After 14 days of such torture Julian had hallucinations and impaired consciousness. Some 3 days later, the prison doctor, Dr. Zdzislaw Pyszyński took him in, cut the blisters from his feet, made dressings for his wounds and ordered medications.
After three months of detention in Gorlice May 18, 1950 he was transported by rail to WUBP in Krakow – where the same allegations were made as in Gorlice.
The investigation started from the beginning with the same methods, sometimes adding pulling out of handfuls of hair, spitting in the face, and knocking out teeth.
Julian Krzewicki was released from detention due to lack of guilt on April 29, 1951. He and his family continued to be harassed by police – losing jobs as well as his family apartment.
By 1956 the harassment stopped and he found a job at the Gorlice Food Wholesale Market – retiring as head of sales.
Julian Krzewicki (“Filip”), commander of 2nd Battalion 1 psp AK and Head of Limanowa Region, Polish Hero, died on 11th August 1987 in Gorlice. In 1988 Gorlice was to honor its home town hero by naming a street after him.
Julian's wonderful wife Barabra (Stormke) Krzewicki (“Wieslawa”) passed away in 2003.
On a negative note, subsequent to the war “Ogień” Józef Kuraś remained a very controversial figure. Immediately after the war Kuraś was an officer of the secret communist police (PUBP) in Nowy Targ. However Kuraś quickly fell out of favor with the communists and once again went into the mountains to hide and fight - this time against the communists. In the fall of 1946 the communist authorities began a major offensive against Kuraś' partisans. On January 21, 1947, finding himseld surrounded Kuraś gave his second wife Hanka an order to surrender herself and after she did so, shot himself in the head. He did not die immediately and as a result was taken, unconscious to the hospital in Nowy Targ where he died the following day.
Since his death, some of the people associated with him during the war have tried to now portray him as a "hero". Perhaps remarkedly, perhaps under the thought process of the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" school of logic, Kuraś was officially rehabilitated in 2006 (after the fall of communism in Europe) when the Polish President Kaczynski opened an official memorial in Zakopane, "in recognition of his resistance efforts".
In my opinion and that of most AK officers, and a number of historians and witnesses - he was just a thug.
In particular, the Slovaks and the inhabitants of the Podhale region have protested against this "hero" categorization because many people from these regions were murdered by him for no reason both during the war and immediately after when Kuraś co-operated with the communists. The Slovaks living on both sides of the border were incensed and could not understand why a man (Kuraś) who;
was somehow now suggested to be a national hero -- not only grossly falsifying history but adding insult to injury proposing that both a statue be erected and that a street be named after Kuraś.
Finally Private Frederick Selwyn Cole, the Kiwi who had exchanged identies with me back at Stalag VIII B (E478) in the May 1942 timeframe, stayed a P.O.W. for the duration of the war at STALAG VIII B -later named Stalag 344. Unfortunately while a P.O.W., Fred contracted a severe case of pulmonary tuburculosis. This was so severe that when he eventually got back to New Zealand he was judged to be 100% disabled. Cole arrived back in the U.K. on April 24, 1945 and arrived home in New Zealand on the hospital ship ORANJE August 10, 1945. Private Frederick Cole was awarded the 1939-45 Star, the Africa Star, the War Medal 1939-45, and the New Zealand War Services Medal. Cole who had enlisted on October 3, 1939 was released from the military on November 14, 1946. He married Meg Florence Cole and the couple lived and retired in Whangarei, NZ (just north west of Aukland on the north island).
Some PHOTOS of the B17 American eveaders back at their home base in Italy right after the war.
Late 1945 the Soviet's kept their oppression ever present even after the end of war hostilities. To the profound annoyance of the British government, the Soviet friendly Polish Government refused to allow British Military search teams to enter Poland to round up remaining British missing airmen and former prisoners of war. This refusal was widely thought to be dicatated by the Soviet authorities desire that the British not have the on-site means of determining information regarding dispersal of their forces in Poland. This was in contrast to the full co-operation of other former enemy-oocupied Allied countries e.g. Czechoslovakia, Holland, Belgiun and France.
Sadly, those that got out were the fortunate ones. Many others remained behind in Poland. They were accustomed all of them by history to the invaders heel. I’m glad that for a while I fought beside them, and was able to help them in their cause.
But our victories in the Polish A.K. were costly at times. Invariably, German sadism and vengeance
were wreaked upon the local civilian population.
There was not merely one Polish Lidice. The towns of Wiśniowa and Lipnik, for example, were burned to the ground, and many peasants were burned alive.
The entire village of Porąbka was wiped from the face of the earth, twenty–five of the villagers being locked in a barn and cremated alive; several children, two or three years old, were bayoneted and tossed into the flames.
But why do I single out these instances? They are merely typical of what happened all over Poland.
Of all the countries involved in the war, Poland lost the highest percentage of its citizens: over six million perished,
half of them Polish Jews.
(Editor's Note: See for example web account The Devil's Playground: Poland in World War II by Piotr Wrobel.)
Yet in spite of such terrorism, we still received every assistance and cooperation; precise information regarding the Germans' movements was cheerfully supplied.
Finally, the Huns became so apprehensive that they did not dare to appear on the streets at night.
After 10PM, the night belonged to us.
It is my firm belief that the A. K. was the strongest and most efficient organization of its kind in the whole of Europe. The A.K. Home Army had an estimated 350,000 soldiers under oath during World War II. As a member of the A. K., I received a cordial welcome from all of the Polish people, regardless of class; the same friendliness from peasants as from members of the intelligentsia. Polish hospitality was unbounded. Let a Pole learn that you were American, Canadian or British, and he would give you the very shirt from his back.
Several years later I was asked to write a brief one page summary of the operation of the Polish Underground Organization
during World War II.
The following AIDE MEMOIRE dated 23–Oct–70 on the POLISH UNDERGROUND ORGANIZATION is reproduced here.
POLISH UNDERGROUND ORGANIZATION
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The Life and Times of Hubert Brooks M.C. C.D.