As a new war looms over Europe, the heroes who fought in World War II are slowly leaving.
This Friday Aleksander Tarnawski "Upłaz" passed away. He was the last of the 316 members of the elite force of the Armia Krajowa (AK), the main organization of the Polish resistance in World War II, the famous "Cichociemni" (silent and dark). He was 101 years old. As you will remember, last year I dedicated an post to him on the occasion of his centenary.
From Poland to Hungary, France and England
Aleksander was 18 years old when the Germans, Soviets and Slovaks invaded Poland. He was a student at the Faculty of Chemistry at the University of Lwów, so in 1939 he was not mobilized. The Soviets arrested him in Drohobych, but released him shortly after. He fled to Hungary on October 26, 1939 and from there reached France, where he joined the Polish Army that had been formed in the country, being assigned to the 1st Infantry Regiment of the 1st Grenadier Division. After the fall of France he was evacuated to England, being assigned to the 16th Armored Brigade and later to the 1st Armored Division of the Polish Army.
His enlistment in the 'Cichociemni'
In the summer of 1943 he volunteered to join the Armia Krajowa (AK, Home Army). He was trained as a commando in order to be parachuted into Poland to assist the AK in sabotage actions. The commando unit consisted of 316 operators. Together with them he was sent to Brindisi (Italy). From there he flew to Poland. He was dropped over his native country on the night of April 16-17, 1944, near Baniocha (24 kilometers south of Warsaw), as part of Operation Weller 12.
In May 1944 he was assigned to the Nowogródek District of the AK, which he infiltrated into the Todt Organization, an entity of the German armed forces that brought together foreigners employed in forced labor to build all kinds of infrastructure. In Nowogródek he was in charge of sabotage and explosives production, and was later assigned to the 77th AK Infantry Regiment, a unit in which he did not fight in the taking of Vilnius during Operation "Ostra Brama", for which he managed to avoid his capture in the treacherous raid organized by the Soviets against Polish resistance fighters.
He was the last survivor of the 316 'Cichociemni'
After the war, Aleksander worked at Polish Radio in Warsaw and eventually graduated from the Faculty of Chemistry at the Silesian University of Technology. On September 7, 2014, at the age of 93, he made his last parachute jump with the operators of the GROM, the most famous of the Polish special forces, which has inherited the nickname of those "Cichociemni" of World War II. Aleksander was the last survivor of that elite AK group. He has passed away today in Słocinie. His death closes one of the most heroic chapters in Poland's struggle for its Freedom during World War II. Rest in peace.
Cześć jego pamięci!
Honor to his memory!
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