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11/09/2012

Remembrance Day - November 11, 2012 : Remembering Dad

Follow photo editor Wanda Goodwin @wgpix

Every year as Remembrance Day approaches, I think of my father who served with the Polish Forces under British Command during WWII. 

My father passed away when I was 21 yrs old.  I often wish that I had listened more closely to the stories he had to tell, and had asked him more questions rather than wave him off like the disinterested teenager that I was. 

A cherished handful of faded black and white images remain - taken somewhere, sometime during his WWII service in Russia, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, and Italy, where he was wounded during the infamous Battle of Monte Cassino.   He received the Army Medal, Cross of Monte Cassino.

Sadly, information is lacking about when and where most of the photos were taken.  I am curious about the shot of him wearing a kaffiyeh and the young boys giggling in the background, or him posing with his buddies under what appears to be a citrus tree.  Who are the many other handsome young soldiers with him?  Did any of them immigrate to Canada after the war too?  Who took the photos?  So many questions that will never be answered.

As years passed, I wanted to learn more about my father's service during the war.  I wanted to see where the Battle of Monte Cassino took place - I needed to know where dad was wounded. I wanted his military records.   I contacted the Ministry of Defence in the UK to request his military records, which they provided.   And with a big surprise - they also informed me that my father was entitled to four military awards, that were never issued to him.  Bittersweet.

 

Photo3WANDA GOODWIN/TORONTO STAR

A Hipstamatic photo of the four medals that my father never received.

 British:  Italy Star, the War Medal 1939-1945, 1939-1945 Star, and the Defence Medal.

 


So, on this Rememberance Day, here are a few of my favourite images of my dad.   Perhaps this may encourage you to listen your loved ones stories so that you may preserve your family's history for future generations. 

Do you have a favourite family war time photo you would like to share? 

Email us at thestarsubmissions@gmail.com and we will include it in our Remembrance Day online photo gallery.

Tell us what makes it special for you.

 

Rock

 My father on far left.

Standing2

 Dad, on left wearing a kaffiyeh.

 

Group

Dad, back row, third in from right.

  Sitchair

Dad, far left, 1942, Mosul.

Group2

Dad, back row standing, fourth in from left.

Picking

Dad, third in from left, posing with a citrus tree.

Pond

 Dad, front row standing, far left.

 

Dadpose

Standing proud.

 

Sitting2

 Dad, seated, back row far right.

Sitting

 Dad, second from left.

 

Longcoats
Dad, far left, in Syria.

 3standing

 

Dad, far left, 1946 - photo was likely taken sometime around his demobilization on October 15, 1946.

 

Standing

 Dad, far right.

PortraitFormal portrait of my father, Jan Fracz in his military uniform.

Comments

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Thank you.

A lot of veterans never picked up their metals. If your dad was like mine, he seldom talked about the war except with other veterans and died too young to get to that point where he was at peace with himself and able to have enough distance in years between what happened to him as a young man to reminisce.

In the late 1970's early 1980's there was a notice in the Canadian Legion magazine for Canadian veterans of WWII to send away for metals they were entitled to but hadn't picked up. My younger sister made my father apply for his and they came in the mail. I have them still, now framed with a photo of my dad in his uniform.

Every story like this brings me to tears and makes me remember the sacrifices of young men (and women) so many years ago. Lest we Forget...

Lovely story ..... you must be so proud of your dad:)

Suzi

The eighth picture, showing your father standing on steps above a pool of water, looks like it was taken at "Solomon's Pools" near Bethlehem. If your father served in Palestine, then this makes sense. I live about three kilometers from Solomon's Pools.

The seventh picture which shows the citrus tree appears that it was taken in the same area. I say this based on the uniforms being worn by two of the other soldiers in the picture. They are wearing a dark shirt and tan pants, as are two of the soldiers in the eighth picture. I am somewhat familiar with WWII uniforms, and this is an unusual combination, so perhaps this uniform was only worn around the time this picture was taken. It also looks as though the soldier standing above your father in the eighth picture is on the far left of the seventh picture. Finally, citrus trees are grown in the Solomon's Pools area, so again, it makes sense (but might be a bit of a stretch).

Thank you very much for sharing these photos. It's a pity his stories, like many others, didn't make it to future generations.

I was in the Royal Canadian Navy, o the H.M.C.S. Iroquois, on October 02 1952 we lost 4 Brave Souls to enemy fire. Three from Ontario, Burden, Baike and Quinn, and one from Newfoundland. I was fortunate to revisit Korea in 2010, for the 60th anniversary, and visited the United Nations Graveyard in Busan, and saw my shipmates names on the Canadian Monument for those who paid the ultimate sacrafice. I am truly grateful to all who have served, and are still serving today.Garry E. Johnson

Hello -
According to teh badge and collar insignia, your father served in teh 6th "Lwow" Brigade, 5th Kreseowa Infantry Division.
The award document for the Monte Cassino Cross would narrow this down.
Cheers from New Orleans,
George F Cholewczynski

I lost my father when I was 13 months old. He was with the Dufferin Haldimand Rifles and was stationed along where Chippewa Creek meets the hydro canal in Niagara Falls. He enlisted but because he was a little older (28) and because his mother was a widow and his other brothers were stationed overseas, he was not sent overseas. Ironically, his brothers who were sent to war zones survived but he did not. He went down to the canal one morning in February to draw water for tea, slipped on an icy rock and fell into the canal. His great coat weighed him down and so sadly, so regretfully he drowned. He was a famous runner.

some of the photos looks to me were taken in Palestine land thats clear from olive tree behind and the rocky type of mounatins
and the culture head dress ESPACIALLY THE FIRST THREE from up

I did some research and I found a book that tells the whole story of what I believe was your father's army corps. I sent an e-mail with a pdf file of the book to the address in the article. It is in Italian.

Many of the Polish soldiers did not claim their British medals in protest. They were excellent soldiers that did so much in all fronts of the war and yet they were not invited to the Victory parade in London. Besides that, they lost their country to Russia.

Many of us, sons and daughters and grandchildren are now interested in our Polish parents/grandparents history in the Second World War but most of them are gone. We have a wonderful Virtual Museum where we have gathered thousands of photos, documents, testimonies etc I invite you to take a look at http://www.kresy-siberia.org/

Our discussion group (over 1500 members worldwide) http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Kresy-Siberia/ has many knowledgeable members who have helped to identify photos and have helped in finding lots of information. Sometimes other family members and friends are found. Like so many of us I'm sure you will learn so much about your Dad's story.


my name is Krystyna Freiburger and i am the one that posted the last comment not Claudio.

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