Gondek, Zbigniew

Zbigniew Gondek served in the Polish Army during World War Two.  Born in Szemysyl in 1923, he and his family found themselves in the Soviet Zone of occupation after the 1939 Nazi Soviet Pact.  Zbigniew’s father, a police officer, was murdered, and Zbigniew and his mother were transported to Siberia, where they ended up in a work camp/village.  When Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, many of the Poles were released, with Zbigniew and many young men taking advantage of the opportunity to join “Anders’ Army”, organized by the Polish General Anders.  With that his odyssey began, and Zbigniew moved through a succession of countries in the Middle East, including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Palestine.  After a year of training and transportation, Zbigniew and his fellow soldiers landed in Italy, bound for the battlefield.  Quickly they found themselves at Montecassino, where the battle was raging between the Germans and the Allied forces.  The Poles played a major role in that battle, earning great distinction for themselves.  Following Montecassino, Zbigniew and his platoon came under machine gun fire at Loretto, where Zbigniew bravely threw several grenades, so the column could move forward.  He was gravely wounded at that time, losing his left hand and sustaining serious wounds to his leg.  He was shipped back to Scotland, where he spent a year in hospital recovering and learning to walk again.  After marrying he and his wife made their way to Canada.
We met Zbigniew through the efforts of the Royal Canadian Legion, and Scott Masters visited and interviewed Zbigniew in July 2016.