Wojciech was born on Labour Day in the Old Town, the “Stare Miasto” in Warsaw and was the second of Marjan and Paulina’s three children, a young brother for Slavek and an older brother for Hanka. He was a husband to Sheila, a father to Stefan, Corinne, Nina and Mark, also a grandfather and great grandfather.
When the Russians invaded Eastern Poland in 1940, the family was sent to a collective farm in Kazakhstan. Their home with all their belongings was taken from them, and they were given just one hour to pack. They were then put onto cattle trucks and sent to Kazakhstan. The three thousand mile journey took thirteen days.
Wojciech said; “It was the 13th April 1940 “We went to bed about 10.00 pm. Shortly after 12.00 there was a loud knock on the door. We knew right away what it would be at this time of night. In a way we expected that knock, but all the same, when it came it gave us some shock. NKVD always knocks at the door at midnight; so, it was our time. Three agents entered the room, told us to dress and pack.
As we had already lost our home and belongings, there was not that much left to pack. When our mother Paulina started to cry the NKVD man told her not to worry. We should be happy as we were going to the glorious Soviet Union, where our father Marjan was waiting for us. In our naivety, or perhaps hope that it might be true – we believed it, as our father was in the Russian camp at Kozielsk by that time. Outside, there were some soldiers with rifles waiting by a lorry. We got on, and were taken to the Railway Station. Of course we were not the only ones being deported to the Soviet Union.
There were many lorries with other families at the station. They put us on the train in a cattle wagon with one small barred window, there were no toilet facilities, just a bucket; the doors were padlocked.”
In fact his father Marjan was already dead by that time – he was one of the first Polish officers to be murdered by the Russians in the Katyn Forrest Massacre in the Spring of 1940 but the family did not know that until much later.
The last letter that the family received from their father in the Kozielsk camp shows that he was kind and full of concern for his family, and was especially worried about young Wojciech’s education. In fact, Wojciech never did get to complete his education.
Wojciech never expressed bitterness about what had happened to his family during the war and like his brother Swavek he received a letter from his mother all those years ago, advising him it was too dangerous for him to return to Poland he never did. The only subsequent physical contact he had with her was when she visited the UK.