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Waldemar Czyz 1944

 

St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Buffalo NY

 

S. Biernacik, D. Czyz & W. Czyz

History
Veterans -
1st Polish Armoured Division

Lance Corporal Waldemar Czyz


The outbreak of war in 1939 found sixteen year old Waldemar Czyz, a first year university student and member of the Strzelec, (a para-military organization for teenagers) in his hometown of Wilno. (which at the time was part of Poland, not Lithuania as it is now) Within weeks, organized Polish resistance began to crumble as the Soviet Union invaded from the east and Czyz's organization was broken up and it's members sent home. Czyz immediately joined an underground resistance movement and participated in minor acts of sabotage against the Russians until his arrest and deportation by Russian authorities in April of 1940.

After a thirteen day railroad journey in a cattle car, Czyz found himself in Kazakhstan, where he was used as forced labor building additional railway lines from the coal mines there. The hard labor in unbearable heat continued for what seemed an eternity, until one day the Polish workers saw a uniformed Polish NCO (Non-commissioned officer) standing by a train which was stopped.   Disregarding the shouts of their guards, they all ran over to talk to the soldier and were informed of the 1941 prisoner exchange agreement with the Soviet government. Threatening to strike if not allowed freedom to proceed to the Polish gathering points, the Polish workers were released in groups of ten as the Russian authorities found other laborers to replace them.

Armor

Historic account written by Waldemar Czyz and published in this popular magazine.

Father of Polish Armor

Armor magazine article from 1984.

World War II

Historic account written by Waldemar Czyz and published in this popular magazine.

General Stanislaw Maczek

Article in World War II magazine.

Polish Cavalry

Article in World War II magazine.

Polish Army

Vickers light tanks.

After exiting the Soviet Union by sailing the Caspian Sea and receiving some basic military training in Polish Camps in Iran and Palestine, Czyz found himself as a guard on a troopship of German prisoners bound for North America in 1942. After supply stops in Durban, South Africa, and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, the ship (laden with veterans of Irwin Rommel's Africa Corps) finally reached it's destination of New York City only to be informed that the POW camps being prepared in Watertown, NY (Camp Drum) had not been completed as of yet. The POW's were then delivered to Canadian authorities in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

With the task completed, Czyz's main intent now was to get back to Europe and the fighting that was to come. This he did by securing passage for himself in a one hundred ship convoy bound for Glasgow, Scotland. Upon arrival, Czyz volunteered for service in the 1st Polish Armored Division. After being trained, he saw combat action in all of its major campaigns and engagements. From the Normandy landings, through the Battle of the Falaise Gap, to the capture of the German Port of Wilhelmshaven, Czyz experience all as a radio operator in the division's independent machine gun squadron.

1st Polish Armored Division

Insignia.

1st Polish Armored Division

Soldiers during World War II.

Holland 1944

Polish General Stanislaw Maczek with General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Lance Corporal Waldemar Czyz

First Armor Division soldier in uniform during World War II.

First Polish Armored Division

Article written by Waldemar Czyz.

Liberation

Battles map from D-Day on Normandy beach to the end of WWII.

After the war in 1945, Czyz continued his military training, raising his final rank to that of Cadet Officer. He also served as an interpreter for three years (1946-1949) for the British Army, who at the time was receiving large numbers of Polish Veterans and civilians from Italy and Africa. This is how Czyz came to see his father for the first time since 1939.  His father had been fighting with the Polish II Corps in Italy since his release from Russian captivity.

Leaving his father in England, Czyz immigrated to the United States in 1951. He met and married his wife Diane in Utica, New York in 1953. Diane's travel to the United States from her native Poland had been via Russian labor camps and Polish civilian shelters in East Africa. In 1952 they settle in Buffalo, New York and raise three sons, Bohdan, Witold and Robert.

In 1984, Czyz opened the Polish Armed Forces Exhibit on the decommissioned light cruiser, USS Little Rock, in the Buffalo Naval and Serviceman's Park in Buffalo, New York. The exhibit was developed to honor the part played by Polish soldiers, sailors, and aviators in World War II. Czyz had been it's main curator since its inception in 1984 until his death in April of 2000.    In addition to working for the Ford Motor Company for 34 years, Czyz also attained the rank of Colonel in the New York State Guard before retiring in 1991.

Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park

Visit the Polish Armed Forces Exhibit aboard the USS Little Rock.

Polish Mini-Museum

Honoring the Polish people who lost their lives in WWII.

Polish Armed Forces Museum

Article from the Hamburg Sun.

Polish Army Veterans

Article in the Buffalo News at the Naval Park.

Ribbon Ceremony

Vito Czyz, family, friends and veterans cutting the ribbon to allow visitors on the USS Little Rock in 1984.

Polish Veterans

Opening ceremonies in 1984 of the Polish exhibit on the USS Little Rock.

Orders, Decorations and Medals from the Republic of Poland, UK and USA:
Received by Waldemar Czyz as a soldier of the First Polish Armor Division.

Order of the Polonia Restituta (for bravery)
Cross of Valor (on battlefield)
Cross of Merit Gold (for equal rights)
Cross of Merit Silver
Cross of Merit Bronze
Polish Army Active Service Medal (+2 oak leafs)
Cross of September Campaign 1939
Polish Armed Forces in the West Military Action Cross (Falaise Chambois campaign)
Medal for Participation in the War of Defence (of fatherland)
1Dyn Panc (First Armoured Division)
KDP
SWAP
Medal Komisj Edukacji Narodowej
The 1939-1945 Star
The Africa Star
The France and Germany Star
Defence Medal (UK)
War Medal (UK)
Normandy Campaign Medal

Cross of the Order of Merit

One of the highest awards of the Polish government.

Organizations

Waldemar Czyz article in the Am-Pol Eagle.

Friends

Waldemar Czyz is recipient of citizen of the year award in Organizations. Am-Pol Eagle.

Ampol Eagle

Citizens of the Year 1984, Organizations, Waldemar Czyz.

Polish Soldiers Week

August 19th-25th has been proclaimed "Polish Soldiers Week" in Buffalo, New York.

Proclamation

From the Mayor and County Executive during Polish Soldiers Week.

Click on a thumbnail pic to enlarge the image.

Col. Czyz

New York Guard.

SPK Post No. 33

Polish Vets honored in Am-Pol Eagle article.

Shield

Polish-Americans.

Polish Flag

Country of Poland.

USA Flag

United States of America.

George Bush

Letter from the former president.

Ronald Reagan

Letter from the former president.

Jack Kemp

Letter from prominent American and former Congressman.

Ed Rutkowski

Letter from prominent American and former Erie County Executive.

Related Pages:
Veterans - WNY Polonia.
Czyz Family Genealogy - A military history and ancestry.
Image Gallery - Click here to view pictures from local veterans in the Czyz family.
Polands Contribution in WWII - Monument at the Naval Park in honor of Polish Veterans.
SPK Post No. 33 - Monument dedicated to the Polish Armed Forces in the Second World War.
Polish-Americans in WNY - People, heritage and traditions from the country of Poland.