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Marian Bronisław Tomaszewski, born on 13 August 1922 in Przemyśl, Poland, was a scout leader, an officer of the 2nd Polish Corps and a tank commander in the 6th Armoured Regiment "Children of Lwów". After the Second World War he spent nearly 45 years in exile in Italy and Great Britain where he still lives. In Great Britain, he is one of the leaders of the Polish Community in Manchester and has dedicated most of his life to the Polonia community. Marian Bronislaw is head of the Tomaszewski family which acquired the Palace of Pławowice at the turn of the millennium.

Second World War[edit | edit source]

Tomaszewski lived in the Winna Góra "villa district" of Przemyśl. At high school he had risen to leader or Drużynowy of the Scouting Movement in the area. At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, Tomaszewski was only 17 years old and ineligible for active military duty. However, he persuaded the recruiting officer to accept his enlistment and he served in an artillery battery until the end of fighting on 6 October. Due to his leadership role in Scouting, the Gestapo issued a warrant for Tomaszewski's immediate arrest, obliging him to escape into Soviet controlled Przemyśl by crossing the river San under cover of darkness.

Unknown to him, a similar warrant had been issued by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, and he was captured and sentenced to 15 years hard labour in Siberia for "counter-revolutionary activity". Within the first two years of imprisonment, Tomaszewski (and his known aliases) are recorded to have escaped seven times from the Soviet authorities. He was, during his seventh attempt, preparing to cross Afghanistan into British controlled India when the Polish-Soviet Armistice was signed. After enlisting in the newly established "Anders Army", he underwent military training in Persia, Iraq, Palestine and Egypt. Later, in an ad-hoc multinational regiment, he participated in the disarming of Vichy troops stationed in Syrian forts as his first assignment.

In 1941 Tomaszewski was assigned to the 6th Armoured Regiment "Children of Lwów"[1] and took part in the Siege of Tobruk. In 1944 he was engaged in the bloody Battle of Monte Cassino.[2] Following the fall of the monastery on 18 May, Polish forces faced the Hitler Line which blocked the road to Rome. Tomaszewski, posted to the regimental command HQ, directed an armoured assault by Sherman tanks on the strongpoint of Piedimonte San Germano, then held by detachments of crack German paratroopers equipped with anti-tank emplacements. Although faced with difficult terrain, the lack of expected Indian infantry support and dogged German resistance they succeeded in taking the town. The anniversary of the town's liberation is still celebrated by its inhabitants. Tomaszewski continued to serve in the 2nd Polish Corps until the end of the Italian Campaign in 1945.

Post-war[edit | edit source]

After the end of the Second World War, Poland fell behind the Soviet Iron Curtain, with a puppet Communist government. Tomaszewski was warned by Polish sources that the Polish Secret Service (UB) had marked him for arrest as an "enemy of the proletariat" should he ever return to his homeland. After some years in Italy, Tomaszewski moved to Great Britain where he continued his studies at Trinity College, Dublin, Glasgow and Edinburgh University. He founded the Bury Polish Circle and remains an active member of the Polonia community.

Palace of Pławowice[edit | edit source]

Captain Marian Bronisław Tomaszewski is the current owner of the Palace of Pławowice. In 2004 he and his daughter Maria organised and funded the Third Reunion of Poets [1] in order to revive the literary and scholarly traditions dating back to the Morstin era. Despite the desperate state of the palace and the heinous damage caused to the building by years of communist era neglect, the Tomaszewski family have undertaken costly steps to secure fragile sections of the building and they plan to renovate the whole palace. Tomaszewski was quoted in the Dziennik Polski (a Polish language newspaper published in Britain) of 9 June 2007 as describing the palace's role not only as the family seat but also as an important place of Polish cultural heritage for the general public.[2]

Honours and awards[edit | edit source]

During the Second World War, Tomaszewski was awarded the Polish distinctions of the Cross of Valour, Gold Cross of Merit, Silver Cross of Merit and the Monte Cassino Cross as well as the British campaign medals of the Africa Star, Italy Star and the 1939-1945 Star.[3] Other distinctions include a Papal decoration[which?].

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Waldemar Handke, Semper Fidelis. Dzieje Pułku 6 Pancernego "Dzieci Lwowskich", Leszno 2006
  2. Melchior Wańkowicz (1989). Bitwa o Monte Cassino. Warsaw: Wydawnictwa MON. ISBN 83-11-07651-0.
  3. Sikorski Institute Archives (London)

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