Sosabowski     Virtuti  Orzel
commemorating the history of the family
General Stanisław Sosabowski

Captain Ludwik Stanisław Sosabowski

A Letter from Captain Ludwik Stanisław Sosabowski Concerning the Search for Details on the Sosabowski Family

Dear Sir

As you suggested to me, I am leaving at your disposal, a second batch of documents which I have received from the Kriegsarchiv in Vienna. They are mainly concerned with the Wills of Mr. & Mrs. Adlesguber von Heldenmuth, and contain some interesting information about their family as well. I very much admire your patience and determination in trying to decipher the documents that were written over 200 years ago, in a not very legible handwritten gothic script. I am very grateful to you for this.

The story of Major Johann Wilhelm Adlesgruber von Heldenmuth (1723 - 1804), who was elevated to the Nobility by the Francis I, Emperor of Austria, on 26th. August 1795, could bear the title From village Baker's shop to Nobility. That’s democracy for you!

And - at the beginning, I only knew my fathers mothers Christian name and surname. Now, the earliest (oldest) known Adlesgruber, or Adelsgruber, known to me, was born about 1600. In the Sosabowski family, the military tradition was reborn during both World Wars this century.

The families of Sosabowski and Heldenmuth von Adlesgruber were joined together by the marriage between Eugenia Adlesgruber von Heldenmuth and Karol Sosabowski. Her sister married Wincenty Ojak, Karol?s friend. The sisters were half-Polish - their mother's maiden name was Barszczy?ska.

My father, Eugeniusz Walerian Sosabowski (1894 - 1935), was the District Judge in the small town of Delatyn, and was thus exempt from Military Service during the First World War. My two uncles were called up to serve with the 58th Infantry Regiment in Stanislawów in August 1914.

My uncle, Stanisław F. Sosabowski (1892 - 1967), before he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, was decorated with all medals available to NCOs. During the 1939 Polish Campaign for his actions as Regimental Commander during the Siege of Warsaw, he was awarded the highest Polish decoration for bravery, the Virtuti Militari Cross. Later, when serving with the Polish Forces under British Command, as General, he was in command of the Polish Parachute Regiment, which took part in the airborne landings at Driel, near Arnhem, Holland, in 1944. The film directed by Sir Richard Attenborough, A Bridge Too Far pays tribute to him.

His brother Julian (1897 - 1959), took active part in the 1920 Polish Campaign against the invasion by the Bolsheviks. He was mentioned in despatches three times, awarded the Cross for Valour four times, and the Virtuti Militari Cross. In 1939, as Lieutenant Colonel, he took part in the defence of the fortress in Brie on the River Bug.

General Sosabowski’s son, Stanisław J. (born in 1915) took part in the underground movement in Warsaw and was seriously wounded during the Warsaw Uprising, and as a result of it, he lost his sight. For his actions during the Warsaw Uprising, he was awarded the ‘Virtuti Militari’ Cross, and the Cross for Valour, twice. He was declared by the Israeli authorities as one of the ‘Just Men’ and received Honorary Citizenship of the State of Israel.

Stanislaw J. was married twice. His first wife, Krystyna Felicja, nee Debska (1922 - 1986), joined the Polish Underground Movement Armia Krajowa in 1941 at the age of 19, as a courier transferring weapons, documents and military orders and as a qualified nurse for one of the best trained, organised and effective sabotage units of the Armia Krajowa in Warsaw, Oddzia KEDYW Kolegium, commanded by her husband. During the Warsaw Uprising, she was a nurse in the military hospital of St. Lazarus in the centre of the City. When, during the fighting, German soldiers were executing the wounded soldiers, insurgents and civilian personnel, Krystyna, without taking into consideration her own safety, twice saved her wounded husband’s life. She was awarded the Cross of Valour twice, the Polish military Medal three times, and the Cross of Merit. With Stanisław J., she had twin sons in 1945, and later that year joined her husband in the UK.

Stanislaw’s second wife, Helena Maria, nee Mieszkowska (1918 - 1996), joined the Polish Underground Movement in Warsaw immediately after the end of the September Campaign of 1939. In the winter of that year, she was asked to deliver documents concerning the production of the German armaments factory in Radom, Poland, to the polish Underground in Budapest, Hungary. In the depths of winter, she crossed the Tatra mountains on skis and accomplished her task. Eventually she managed to reach Palestine and Egypt, where she joined the Military Hospital of the Independent Polish Carpathian Brigade. She served there as a Senior Sister until the end of the War. She was promoted to the rank of 2nd. Lieutenant, and was awarded the Cross of Merit and the Army Medal with two bars.

My brother Eugeniusz (1920 - 1975) served in that inhuman Polish Army under the Soviet Command. He was awarded the Cross of Valour. His social background did not allow for any other decorations.

My sister Janina Sosabowska (born 1925) was an active member of the Polish Underground movement - Armia Krajowa, for which she was awarded a special Armia Krajowa medal in 1997. After the War, when she was living in Lwów, now in the Ukraine SSR., in 1947 she was arrested by the NKWD (later renamed KGB) and spent some considerable time in the Soviet prison in Lwów, as a political prisoner.

My father-in-law, Józef Sluka (1880 - 1942), was arrested in 1940 by the NKWD, for being an enemy of the State, as a bourgeois, because he owned a small company. He perished after being released from prison on the way to join the Polish Army in the ZSSR (Soviet Union), and probably drowned in the Amour-Daria River in southern Asia, where barges carrying Polish soldiers sunk when crossing the river.

I cannot omit the brother of my step-mother, Major Adam Jankowski (1897 - 1940), who served during the First World War with the Polish Legion, and then took part in the war against the invading Soviet Red Army in 1920. He was awarded the Cross for Valour three times. During the Second World War, he fought the Germans first, then the Red Army when they invaded Poland on the 17th. September 1939, as Deputy Commander of the Heavy Artillery Regiment. He was captured and executed along with thousands of Polish Officers in Ostashkow (USSR).

His son-in-law, Pawel Kosk (1925 - 1994), took an active part in the Underground Movement of the Home Army as a member of the crack assault unit during the German Occupation. He was arrested in 1946 by the Polish Communist Security Services Biespieka, and kept imprisoned as a Political Prisoner until 1955. He was awarded the Cross of Valour and the Order Polonia Restituta, the second highest Polish civilian decoration.

The last of the family, myself, Ludwik Stanisław (born 1916). I took part in the September 1939 Campaign in Poland, and then in 1943 - 1945 in the Italian Campaign (including action at Monte Cassino) with the Polish Forces under the command of General Anders. I was awarded the Cross of Valour and the Virtuti Militari Cross, as well as the military Medal three times.

My uncle, Edward Ojak (1878 - 1943), the son of my sister of my father's mother - nee Adlesgruber, did not take part in military activities as didn't my father, as they were exempted from military service. My father was a District Judge and uncle Ojak was, in 1939, deputy president of the Court of Appeal in Lwów.

We now have new blood in the corridors of power. My mother's brother's son, Boguslaw Smólski (born 1947), a professor in the Military Academy of Science & Technology in Warsaw, was promoted to the rank of Major-General on the 3rd. May 1997. At present, he serves as the Director of the Department of Research and Development at the Ministry of National Defence in Poland.

One might say that the family served their country well!

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Authors: Hal Sosabowski & Stan Sosabowski
Pictures of the Virtuti Militari and Orzel by kind permission of Prof. Z. Wesolowski. All other content copyright, all rights reserved.