Category Archives: Antoni Paszkiewicz Project

Photo Gallery: Iraq – Historical & Religious Sites

This is part of the the Antoni Paszkiewicz project.

The Lion of Babylon in the ancient city of Babylon, November 1942

The Lion of Babylon in the ancient city of Babylon, November 1942

Notwithstanding the looting that took place following the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the recent destruction of ancient artifacts and religious sites by the grotesque extremists of the so-called Islamic State, Iraq has always been rich in historical antiquities.

Toni collected postcards and took photographs of a number of sites that he visited in November and December 1942. This gallery shows his photographs and more modern images, which show the sites as they are today and provide a short description of them. Continue reading

Photo Gallery: Iraq – Date Palms

This is part of the the Antoni Paszkiewicz project.

'Irak, daktyle, 1942r' - Iraq, dates, 1942

‘Irak, daktyle, 1942r’ – Iraq, dates, 1942

The date palm has always been an important part of the agricultural bedrock of Iraq and the precursor nations and empires in this region. Cultivated for over 5,000 years, the date palm has been used for food, medicine and building materials from the time of the Sumerians. The trees were grown in huge numbers along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates and in the south around Basra. Iraq became the largest producer of dates in the world and had the largest date forest in the world. Sadly, this important staple crop was largely destroyed in the south of the country during the Iraq-Iran war and subsequent conflicts have prevented its resurgence.

Toni grew up in eastern Poland, was imprisoned in Soviet Russia and was now in the ‘Garden of Eden’. Travelling in Iraq must have been an extraordinary experience. Not surprisingly, he took a number of photos of date palms, which characterise this exotic land. Continue reading

Photo Gallery: Iraq – Baghdad

This is part of the the Antoni Paszkiewicz project.

'Bagdad, XI 1942r' - Baghdad, November 1942

‘Bagdad, XI 1942r’ – Baghdad, November 1942. The Zawraa cinema; the film being shown is ‘Rendezvous’, a 1935 film starring William Powell and Rosalind Russell.

The majority of Polish forces were concentrated at Khanaqin, a little over 250 miles north-east of Baghdad. From the captions on the back of his photographs, it appears that Toni visited Baghdad in November 1942 and February 1943. Continue reading

Photo Gallery: Iraq – The Land of the Two Rivers

This is part of the the Antoni Paszkiewicz project.

Iraq, December 1942

Iraq, December 1942

Through Iraq flow the two great rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris. They rise in the mountains of eastern Anatolia and course south-east through the gorges of modern Syria and northern Iraq, across the alluvial plain of central Iraq to Al-Qurnah in the south, where they join to form the Shatt al-Arab, the ‘Stream of the Arabs’ (in Persian, the Arvand Rud, the ‘Swift River’). The Shatt al-Arab then flows past Basra and into the Persian Gulf at Al Faw.

Many of Toni’s photographs are of the rivers or the people that worked on them. The Polish captions are Toni’s, written on the back of the photographs; English translations and English captions are mine. Continue reading

Parachute Training 1943

This essay is part of the the Antoni Paszkiewicz project.

Since writing this in March 2015, I have obtained a copy of the History of the Polish Parachute Badge by Jan Lorys. As a result, some minor amendments have been made.

'Mass Dropping' at Tatton Park

‘Mass Dropping’ at Tatton Park

Toni Paszkiewicz arrived at RAF Ringway near Manchester in the late summer of 1943 for parachute training.

This was not the first training for his new role that he had undertaken. The Poles had a rigorous pre-parachute training regime at Largo House in Fife. From his conception of the idea of a Polish Parachute Brigade in early 1941, Colonel Stanislaw Sosabowski had placed great emphasis on fitness and preparing his men for the jumps course at Ringway and the rigours of war in the liberation of Poland. Continue reading

Journey to Britain

This essay is part of the the Antoni Paszkiewicz project.

Troopships RMS Aquitania and SS Ile de France

Troopships RMS Aquitania and SS Ile de France

In the spring of 1943, Toni Paszkiewicz volunteered for service with the 1st (Polish) Independent Parachute Brigade—another essay will cover the formation of this fine brigade and Toni’s service with it.

His journey from the Middle-East to the United Kingdom was to be aboard the French liner SS Ile de France. This was a majestic ship—she was reputed to have had the most beautiful interiors of any of the ocean liners built for the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, the ‘French Line’. Continue reading

Commemoration

This essay is part of the the Antoni Paszkiewicz project.

Szeregowiec (Private) Toni Paszkiewicz (right) with an unknown Polish starszy szeregowiec (Lance Corporal).

Szeregowiec (Private) Toni Paszkiewicz (right) with an unknown Polish starszy szeregowiec (Lance Corporal).

2014 saw the 70th anniversary of the attack at Monte Cassino and the airborne attack at Arnhem, in both of which Polish troops played an important and memorable role.

Less well known, the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade Group had suffered a number of deaths and injuries prior to the attack at Arnhem in September 1944. Among Toni’s papers is a newspaper cutting that commemorates four of his fellow soldiers who died preparing for an—then unknown—airborne attack in occupied Europe. 2014 is also the 70th anniversary of their death.[1]

Continue reading

The Antoni Paszkiewicz Project

Antoni Paszkiewicz

Antoni Paszkiewicz

The Antoni Paszkiewicz project will examine the life and, in particular, the Second World War history of a young Polish man who was born in Vilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania) in 1921. During the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, he was arrested and imprisoned. Having been released to join ‘Ander’s Army’—the Polish Armed Forces in the East loyal to the Polish government-in-exile—he left Russia via Iran and Iraq in 1942. This army of Poles formed the basis of Polish II Corps, which fought in North Africa and Italy. Antoni Paszkiewicz subsequently joined the 1st (Polish) Independent Parachute Brigade. Following the war he settled in the United Kingdom. Continue reading