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Poland’s war-time hero laid to rest

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 05.02.2014 10:22
General Stefan Bałuk, one of the last living members of the elite special-operations paratroops of the Home Army known as ‘Cichociemni’ (Silent and Unseen), has been buried at Warsaw’s Powazki Military Cemetery.

photo - PAP/Tomasz Gzell

He died two weeks after celebrating his 100th birthday.

He was posthumously awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Reborn Poland by President Komorowski. In a letter read out during the ceremony, the President praised General Bałuk as a paragon of the courageous soldier and righteous citizen. US Ambassador to Poland, Stephen Mull, who attended the funeral, described General Bałuk as a great hero, a never-failing man of courage.

Stefan Bałuk was a law student at Warsaw University when World War Two broke out. Having fought in the September 1939 Campaign, he then joined the Polish armed forces in the West, serving with the 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade.

Having undergone training in Glasgow by the SOE to be a parachute commando, he was dropped to Poland in April 1944 where the general worked for the Home Army’s department engaged in the production of false documents for Polish intelligence officers, made photo documentation of German military installations in Warsaw and took part in the Warsaw Uprising.

After the war he was imprisoned by the communists from November 1945 to March 1947, and subsequently worked as a taxi driver for several years, before focusing on photography.

He had several photo albums to his name. a book of his memoirs entitled ‘Byłem Cichociemnym’ (it is also available in an English translation under the title ‘Silent and Unseen: I was a WWII special ops commando’ was published in 2008. General Bałuk’s honours include the Virtuti Military, the Cross of Valour and the Home Army Cross. (mk/pg)

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