Click > to hear recording of Wanda Leahy's story about her parents,

Franciszek and Leokadia Rozalewicz

Summary of Wanda Leahy's story

about her parents

Franciszek and Leokadia Rozalewicz

Wanda Leahy (née Rozalewicz) has lived in Norfolk for about 50 years but she was born on a Polish Resettlement Camp in Brandon (Suffolk) in 1949. Her father was Franciszek Rozalewicz (born 1919 in Wołkowyje, Dubno, Wołyń, Poland, now in the Ukraine) who lived on a farm with his parents and three brothers. Her grandparents, Jan and Bronisława née Soczyńska, had been asked to move from their land which was close to the Ukrainian border for safety reasons but when they refused, there was rape, torture and murder and their was house burned down by the Ukrainian Liberation Army which had carried out widespread genocide in Poland at the time.

At the start of World War II in 1939 Franciszek was still living with his parents but in 1941 he was forcibly conscripted into the Russian Army. Pursuant to an agreement between the Polish government-in-exile and Stalin, the Soviets granted "amnesty" to many Polish citizens, and Franciszek travelled south to Iran falling ill en route but survived with help from a friend. In 1943 he joined General Anders’ Army (the Polish Armed Forces) and he spent time in Italy between 1943 and 1946 winning a medal at the Battle of Monte Cassino. At the end of the war he passed through France and onwards to England while still in the Polish Army but he was discharged in 1948.

He had met his wife to be in 1947 in England. She was a displaced person but she too had been in Italy. Wanda’s mother was called Leokadia Głab, born in the small village of Trok, near Kraków. When she was 14 years old in 1943, German Army personnel arrived in the village to say that children of working age (10 years and upwards) were to be picked up that evening. Leokadia was told to pretend she had a limp so that the Germans would see she was incapacitated. However, that ploy did not work and she and others were taken away from their families and dispatched to Austria. She spent all of the War working on an Austrian farm.

Franciszek and Leokadia moved from Gloucestershire to Brandon in search of employment and improved housing. He found work on Lakenheath airbase as a kitchen porter and cycled to work from Brandon on a daily basis. At the age of 36 years old on, an evening in March 1956, he was struck by a car driven by a US serviceman and was killed instantly. It was a very hard blow for Leokadia who by now had four children to support. She was eventually re-housed from the family’s Nissen hut home situated on the Brandon Resettlement Camp.

The family survived the earlier difficulties and Wanda decided to research her father’s life. She visited an exhibition in Brandon which had a display of Polish memorabilia. One of the organisers suggested that she should provide him with her father’s details, following which she was able to get more information from the Polish Air Force Association Charitable Trust in Ruislip (and a very helpful lady named Margaret Goddard). As a result she was able to obtain her father’s unclaimed war medals. They are now her prized possessions.

Following a chance meeting with Tessa Black of the Norfolk Polish Heritage Group, Wanda Leahy decided to pass on her father’s and mother’s stories to be recorded and saved for posterity as part of the NPHG Archive Project. 

   

November 2019

Click icon to read PDF  summary of  Wanda Leahy's audio recording

L-R Wanda Leahy's Great Grandmother, her Grandfather, Jan, his second wife and baby Rozia (daughter of Jan's first wife,  Bronisława

(date unknown)

Wanda's mother Leokadia in centre

with Głab cousins on either side and other Głab relatives in front

1938

Franciszek  Rozalewicz

in army uniform - Italy 1943

Leokadia Rozalewicz

England 1947

Leokadia Rozalewicz (R) with friend

Austria 1945

Franciszek Rozalewicz

Identity Card 1946

(Click image to open pdf)

Franciszek Rozalewicz

Application for Discharge 1948

(Click image to open pdf)

Dates of service1948.jpg

Franciszek Rozalewicz

Service Record 1946

(Click image to open pdf)

Discharge certificate 1948.jpg

Franciszek Rozalewicz

Discharge certificate 1948

(Click image to open pdf)

11 Questionnaire for soldiers who dido n

Questionnaire for soldiers who did not wish to return to Poland

(Click image to open pdf)

Franciszek and Leokadia Rozalewicz 1947

07 Franciszek and Leokadia Rozalewicz ma

Franciszek and Leokadia Rozalewicz

Marriage certificate 1948

(Click image to open pdf)

12 Franciszek Rozalewicz Medals certific

Franciszek Rozalewicz Medals certificate Polish-English 1946

(Click image to open pdf)

Franciszek Rozalewicz Identity disc and Monte Cassino  medal and certificate 1944

Franciszek Rozalewicz's father Jan's Polska Swemu Obrońcy (Poland to His Defender) post Russian War medal 1918-1921 

(Front)

Franciszek Rozalewicz medals 1939-1945

L-R Defence Medal; 1939-1945 Star:

Italy Star; War Medal 1939-1945

Franciszek Rozalewicz's father Jan's Polska Swemu Obrońcy (Poland to His Defender) post Russian War medal 1918-1921

(Rear) 

Wanda Leahy

November 2019

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