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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 December 2005, 14:00 GMT
Veteran's life in his own words
Polish war veteran Jerzy Pajaczkowski-Dydynski - thought to have been Britain's oldest man - has died aged 111.

Jerzy Pajaczkowski-Dydynski
Jerzy Pajaczkowski-Dydynski in 1914

Here is an extract from a self-penned history of his own life, written in July 1984 for his granddaughter Tabitha.

I was born on 19 July 1894 in Lwów, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

When I was eight-years-old my father became head of the general Hospital in the town of Sanok, and I left Lwów. I studied German, Latin and Greek and in 1912 I started reading law at the University of Lwów.

I went to Vienna in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I and expected to be called up at any time. I was called up in 1915 to the Austrian infantry.

My training took place chiefly in Hungary and Bosnia. In 1916 as a sergeant I went to Montenegro and Albania, against the Italians. My unit was transferred in 1918 to northern Italy, where in the last hours of the war, I was captured by Italian cavalry and became a prisoner of war.

As a Pole I was able to get in touch with a Polish-French military mission in Italy and eventually became free at Christmas 1918 and was sent to France.

Jerzy Pajaczkowski-Dydynski
Colonel Pajaczkowski-Dydynski died on 6 December

Back in Poland I soon became a full lieutenant and staff officer in an infantry division. I took part in the 1920-21 Polish War against Soviet Russia. At the end of it I was moved to the Polish 2nd Army. After two years of intense work I became a captain.

I married in 1924 and was stationed in Przemysl. I became a major in 1925 and was sent to the front line as commander of an infantry battalion. In 1928 I was promoted, but there was no time for hobbies and very little time for my own family.

In 1930 I was moved to Warsaw and in 1935 I became a lieutenant-colonel and second in command of an infantry regiment in a small town east of Warsaw called Biala Podlaska.

At the outbreak of war in 1939 I was at the general headquarters of the Polish Army in Warsaw. After the defeat of Poland and the Soviet invasion the whole Polish GHQ crossed the Romanian frontier and was interned.

My family had left Warsaw by means of an evacuation train. I was able to trick the Romanian military police and reach Bucharest to collect my family. We managed to reach Paris, where I continued my army work.

Jerzy Pajaczkowski-Dydynski
Jerzy Pajaczkowski-Dydynski in 1933

After the collapse of France in 1940 I tried to reach different French harbours in order to escape to England. We landed in Plymouth on 28 June 1940. After staying at various military camps in Lanarkshire and Peebles I was sent to Perth as commander of the Polish Garrison.

My last job in Edinburgh in 1943 was as a member of a committee translating and adapting British military regulations and manuals for the use of Polish Units.

In 1964 I was promoted to full colonel.

I received a number of Polish decorations - the Cross of Polonia Restituta; Cross of Valour (1920); Silver Cross of Merit (1925). A Romanian decoration of distinction (1931). I also received three Austrian decorations in WWI for active service.

In 1946 I had married again, and in 1993 we moved from Edinburgh to Sedbergh to be near my daughter Dorcas and her husband Richard.

I was able to visit Poland in 1996 for the first time after the war. My 100th birthday in 1997 was celebrated with a telegram from the Queen.

On my 107th birthday on 19 July 2001, I was honoured that the President of Poland bestowed on me the Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.


SEE ALSO
UK's 'oldest' man dies, aged 111
10 Dec 05 |  Cumbria

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