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

Dr Major Stanisław Janusz Sosabowski

A Personalised CV Of My Father Dr. Major Stanisław Janusz Sosabowski (Stan)
by Stan Sosabowski

6th January 1917
Born in Brno in the Czechoslovak Republic. Father - Stanisław Franciszek an officer in the Imperial Austrian Army was convalescing from his war wounds. At that time Austria was one of the 4 Central Powers in World War I together with Prussia 'Turkey' and Bulgaria. Mother - Maria nee Tokarska.

Following the treaty of Versailles Poland becomes a nation state once more and its name reappears on all European maps. The family returns as Polish Citizens and settle in the Warsaw suburb of Zoliborz

Your younger brother Jacek is born

Attend the Adam Mickiewicz High School in Warsaw one of the best known in the capital.
Your Report for the Academic Year 1929-1930 reads “excelled in Religion and Classroom Behaviour, good in History Geography and Physical Education and satisfactory in the remaining 6 subjects”
You leave with a Baccalaureate in Humanities.

You successfully pass the stiff entrance exam to the Military Medical Academy [SPS - Szkola Podchorazy Sanitarna] and become a Cadet Officer.You enroll as a student at the Faculty of Medicine, Josef Pilsudski University, Warsaw. From nine to five you are a studious carefree undergraduate albeit in uniform. Come evening it is back to barracks for drill discipline and reveille. Ouch!

8th November 1938
Your brother dies tragically. He was barely 16

1st September.1939
The start of World War II. As Senior Cadet Sergeant you are assigned to the staff of the 1st Regional Hospital Powaski in charge of Hospital Evacuation Train No.2 transporting wounded to the East.The Luftwaffe blows up the train and everyone escapes as best they can. Reassigned to the 2nd Company Railway Engineers as Medical Officer. Promoted to 2nd Lieutenant Regular Army Medical Corps. In October, Warsaw capitulates.After 2 days you escape from the German Prisoner of War Camp at Zyrardow together with your father.Try on 2 occasions to flee Poland unsuccessfully.

You find work as an assistant at the Surgical Isolation Ward Ujazdowski Hospital Warsaw. The ideal cover. Continue your medical studies.Join the Underground Army - the ZWZ (The Armed Resistance Movement). Platoon member " Workshop" then "Factory" finally platoon leader "Tower". You have part exchanged your scalpel and stethoscope for a Sten gun and a Thompson submachine gun. This is your patriotic duty your destiny. But passive small arms training is not for you, you seek action and risk. So you transfer to TOW/ Kedyw (Kierownitstwa Dywersji)

End 1942
Section Commander - Special Operations Executive - known also as Andrew's Group or Kolegium A.You lead your band of 30 freedom fighters in a number of acts of sabotage diversion and execution.Your First Steps - Gdansk Railway Station, where goods trains on their way to the Russian front were routinely disabled. Sand with carborundum went into their lubrication box. When laden with trucks a Thermite bomb under the bonnet or a floating detonator in the petrol tank assured a great blaze somewhere down the line.

21st January 1943
The Gniewkowska Street Operation.You and 2 other group members just walked into this industrial fuel storage depot in the Wola district.With only a single guard to take care of [!] two explosive devices placed on the giant cisterns. The patrol left expecting a magnificent firework display. They got nothing. The devices had not worked. One open valve one match, that's all! What a shame! - a valuable lesson for the future.

31st July 1943
A Second Chance! An 8 strong motorized patrol forced their way into the now well guarded fuel storage depot. Neutralizing the 7 guards, 2 reservoirs were mined and all the outlet valves opened. The petroleum lake was set alight just before exiting. This time 1.4 million liters fuel and 20 tons of lubricating oil went up. The inferno could be seen for miles around.

20th August 1943
The Palmiry Attack. The plan - to eliminate The German Military Police Guardhouse in the village just North of Warsaw. The 30 strong team had a 7km march along rough forest paths to their objective. After about one hour 2 bursts of Thompson machine gun fire heard. An fatal misunderstanding between groups cost 2 people their lives. Attack cancelled.

26th August 1943
The Czacki Street Operation. A further attempt to destroy the duplicate Identity Cards held at the Labour Office at this address. Andrew's group was to secure escape routes. Strangely, just before the start, the fire alarm raised and the building evacuated ! Also a 5 strong German foot patrol suddenly came up the street and a
shoot out began. Commander "Onufry" killed. Operation abandoned. In retrospect the Germans must have known. But how? There was but one explanation - betrayal!

27th September 1943
The Zalesie Derailment. Midnight. An army goods train on the Warsaw - Radom line derailed using 1kg plastic explosive and detonator. The train machine gunned, vehicles and wagons set on fire with petrol bombs while the rails mined - a surprise for the locomotive in the subsequent salvage operation. 27 people took part.

24th October 1943
The Plochocina Derailment. The nightly Wolkowysk - Warsaw - Berlin Express taking Wehrmacht soldiers back home on leave from the Russian front was derailed. The train strafed with machine guns and grenades and heavy fire returned.After 8 minutes everyone withdrew. No casualties.30 people took part.

4th December 1943
The Skruda Derailment. The night express troop train on the Warsaw - Siedlice line transporting Wehrmacht soldiers to the Eastern front derailed but remained standing. The wagons machine gunned and grenaded. When the Germans woke up and began returning fire it was time to blow the whistle and pull out. 25 people took part. 1 fatality.

Late December 1943
Szomanski's Propeller Factory Bonfire. A one-man risk free sortie so you take along a liaison lady with you. You crawl under the fence into the factory. Raw wood everywhere you leave 2 Thermite bombs and a grenade and scare off the guard dog with kerosene. A quarter of the stock goes up in smoke.

Early January 1944
The Execution of "The Young Lady". The nickname of the hansom NCO Schultz of the German Railway Police renowned for his cruelty to civilians.A "Wehrmacht" soldier [Kolumb] caught a "thief " [Antek] and brought him to the Guardhouse. Reaching for his ID the thief shot Schultz while the soldier dealt with the other occupants of the room with his machine gun. You arrived via the rear entrance with backup. Left with loads of loot guns ammunition and grenades but the building itself remained intact!

19th January 1944
The Attempted Execution of Herr E. Durfeld.Director of the Warsaw Tramway Service Party Member and responsible for many arrests. Surprisingly he always took the same route to work and always at the same time. At 8.50 a 4- man team ambush his car with grenade and machine guns but only his driver
hurt. Soon afterwards transferred back home.

Spring 1944
The Ultra Secret Transport of Home Army Funds Your 3 man patrol was to drive to a Warsaw square. After an excruciating 2 hour wait the Home Army treasurer Leszcz got into your Opel. He drove. Further on two more people got in with enormous sacks. Still further on all the passengers got out with their baggage. The new hideaway at last.

Spring 1944
The Speissa Pharmaceutical Firm Requisition. Everyone assembled as usual just before dusk and curfew. The front men in SS uniform. Then into the truck and off for action to Bielany across the Vistula. At the main gate a "Quick Open" in German was enough to gain entry. Then the telephones the siren locking up personnel and owners and posting guards. Now the real work loading the truck and a confiscated lorry with products. At 3 O'clock tea break!. At 600 hours end of curfew the motorcade could begin its careful ride back to be discharged.

15th May 1944
The Execution of Lasso and 3 Associates. The suspicion was that Andrew's group had a traitor, and the evidence pointed to Lasso. A Special Civilian Court passed death sentence on 2 associates.The sentences were carried out whilst all were out walking discussing "tactics" with Andrew.The men were Lasso from Kedyw, Marian Szwed from the Criminal Police, Leon Miller his close colleague and Ryzy a former SOE commander turned bank robber.A two man hit team [you and Kolumb] eliminated 3 men immediately. But Szwed escaped down the road firing both his pistols only to stopped dead by a backup with 30 rounds from a Sten.

1st August 1944
Operation TEMPEST - the Warsaw Uprising. The unbelievably brave attempt by the Home Army to wrest and keep control of Warsaw from the retreating German Army. It was a forlorn effort. It was doomed from the start. An ill equipped and unprepared gung ho band of zealous patriots fighting alone and unaided against 8 German divisions 4 panzer. The post war map of Poland had long since been drawn up. After liberation by Soviet forces Poland was once more to become a nation state with new frontiers. And free elections had been promised. But this was doublespeak. The Iron Curtain was coming down. Stalin's terror and purges would ensure Soviet Communist domination for the next 45 years. Poland is again duped by false promises. 1700 Hrs: First objective - The Customs Building- Stawki StreetIt was to be a combined assault of over 200 soldiers but the cavalry arrived much too late to be of help. Your platoon of 68 storm and take possession of the Building and the Waffen SS storage depot - 6 halls crammed full of food clothing and other wondrous treasures. Continue with an assault on the school next door liberating 50 Jewish prisoners held there. Only one serious casualty - a marvel. 1 week later many of the same group would die trying to retake this very same objective.? What folly!

2nd August 1944
Change of venue. Ordered to join forces with colonel" Radoslaw " you march to the Wola district. 2 Tiger tanks one in tow crash into the street barricade. When the tow breaks both crews surrender! 2 nurses join your group. One of them is Krystyna Debska Sosabowska your wife! Lucky you!

4th August 1944
Battalion "Umbrella" attacks a well defended school. You are badly wounded in the face.Your fighting days are over. After surgery you find yourself in the St.Lazarus Hospital Wola with Krystyna at your side. Alerted she drags you out and bundles you into the road as an SS execution squad combs the building killing everyone in sight.
Your second close shave with death. You still have unfinished business on this earth.

January 1945
Flown to Scotland through the intervention of your father the then Maj. General Stanisław Sosabowski CBE at the War Office. Despite strenuous efforts it was too late to save your sight.

September 1945
Your non identical twin sons Maciej and Stanisław are born in Tarnow, Poland. (In England they became known as Michael and Stanley)

Demobilized - you join St.Dunstan's the organization for blinded ex-servicemen.

June 1948
Your sons arrive on English soil. They had somehow managed to get on a passenger boat " The Stephan Batory " and sail to Southampton together with nanny! ! Family life begins at 68 Bellevue Road Ealing, London.

Now a war refugee you have to restart your life. Physiotherapist then Assistant Superintendent Physiotherapy, Hillingdon Hospital, Hillingdon In those days the Physiotherapy Dept was a long wooden Nissan hut with rows of curtained cubicles running alongside the walls. The hard realities of life mean getting up very early and journeying 1.5 hours by bus and trolley bus to your place of work. You also run a private practice from home.

You remarry Helena Anna Bastgen [Hania] and move to a beautiful listed mansion in Woodstock Road, Bedford Park an exclusive London residential area. Hania gives you your freedom your security, a new lease of life, in short everything! What a marvelous woman!

Six months' internship at Hillingdon Hospital lead to the recognition of your Polish Medical Diploma by the British Medical Council. A very rare event indeed in the annals of British Medical history. You may at last practice medicine if you so wish.Your father " the general" dies of heart problems and is buried with military honours in the family grave in the Warsaw Military Cemetery Powaski.

Stop full-time work because of failing health. A heart attack is a warning signal that you have to take life a little easier.

1973- 95
You retire to a small country cottage near Bournmouth in Dorset next to the New Forest. You take up archery and become an accomplished bowman As member of the St. Dunstan's team you are invited to compete in the ground's of Buckingham palace. You take part in Remembrance ceremonies in Holland Poland and Scotland commemorating your father founder and Commanding Officer the First Polish Independent Paratroop Brigade during World War II.When your beloved cuddly cat Kajtus dies the regal Siamese Leila takes center stage.

20th December 1996
Hania dies in Pool hospital. She had fought a long loosing battle with the consequences of 60 years of heavy smoking. A great loss to you and to everyone in the family.

At 83 you saw the Millenium in. Now just keep going.

You are a

  • member of your local Home Army Association;
  • member of the St Dunstan's Association and Archery Team;
  • honorary member of the Parachute Regiment Association;
  • member of the British Medical Association;
  • member of the Charted Society of Physiotherapists;
  • member of the Graduates' Association of the Warsaw Military Medical Academy.

You have been decorated with the following Polish Army medals;

  • The Virtuti Militari Cross Class V; The Home Army Cross;
  • The Cross of Valour [twice]; The Defense of Warsaw Cross;
  • The 1939 September Campaign Cross; The Polish Army Medal
  • And you have been awarded the Golden Badge of Merit of the First Independent Polish Parachute Brigade and the title of " Righteous " by the Israeli Authorities.

Pictures of Dr Major Stanisław Janusz Sosabowski

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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.