Veteran Stories:
Pawel “Paul” Koczula

Army

  • Newly-commissioned Polish Army officer Pawel Koczula in England, 1941.

    Pawel Koczula
  • Three officers of the 1st Polish Armoured Division in Breda, The Netherlands, 1944, from left to right: Kapitan Lawicki, Porucznik Majewski, Porucznik Koczula.

    Pawel Koczula
  • Pawel Koczula's son, Paul, en route to Canada from The Netherlands, 1948 (Mr. Koczula's wife was a Dutch war bride).

    Pawel Koczula
  • Pawel Koczula's Polish Identification Card, 1939.

    Pawel Koczula
  • Szeregowy Pawel Koczula (second from right, without helmet) and comrades after being decorated with the Polish Cross of Valour (one of two such decorations that Mr. Koczula would earn during the Second World War) by Brigadier-General Stanisław Maczek in France, 1940.

    Pawel Koczula
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"And he look at me, I look at him, and that was my teacher from the public school, Captain Kroupa. At that time, he said, Pawel what the heck you doing here?"

Transcript

In 1939, when the war broke out, I was a civilian, just 20 years old, and we were evacuated from my place, Nadwiślańska [Poland], because the Germans are coming in, so evacuation started. In [Camp de] Coëtquidan [a military educational facility in France], when I reported, after registration and doctor’s checkups, they gave me work at the reporting office. After a few days, in the morning, there was an officer coming in; and he look at me, I look at him, and that was my teacher from the public school, Captain Kroupa. At that time, he said, Pawel, what the heck you doing here? You are not going to stay in the office, you belong to the officer school; and that’s why I was transferred to officer school, because I didn’t have any proof that I finish high school to go to the officers’ school. And he could certify that. So I went to Guer officers’ school, finish it, and after finishing and exams, I was transferred to the Polish [Independent] Highland Brigade, which was preparing for journey to Norway, or took part in the fighting in Norway; Narvik. After finishing and bring freedoms for the Norwegians in Narvik, we see the port of Narvik with 27 masts above the water. Among them was a Polish boat [ORP] Blyskawica [Polish destroyer]. But the Germans were progressing in France because that was the time of invasion of France. So we had to finish Norwegian campaign, close it and fast going to France, otherwise we would lose out supply. The French, they were already going home and shouting to us: fini la guerre, fini la guerre [the war is over]. But a group of us, we decided that we are going back to Brest and try to catch a boat to Great Britain, to England. We succeeded and we landed in Portsmouth in England on the 26 June, 1944. In 1942, I got my promotion to second lieutenant and I was transferred to the 1st Polish Armoured Division and I took part with the division through all the action in Europe from 1944 on. And I was with the division until 1947. In 1946, I married a Dutch girl and in 1947, 1948, we immigrate to Canada.
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