Mystery behind unmarked grave of forgotten Polish general

The unmarked grave of Polish General Mikolaj Osikowski at Hayfield Cemetery in Kirkcaldy. Michal Dwojewski next to the grave
The unmarked grave of Polish General Mikolaj Osikowski at Hayfield Cemetery in Kirkcaldy. Michal Dwojewski next to the grave

A bid to remember a decorated war hero who was buried in an unmarked Kirkcaldy grave has been launched.

Polish General Mikolaj Osikowski died on June 5, 1950, in Kirkcaldy, after an outstanding military career in service of his country between the World Wars.

His served as an officer in the White Army and later in the Polish army created by General Jozef Haller as well as playing a part in the ‘Battle of Warsaw’ in 1920 where the Polish army, under General Wladyslaw Sikorski, successfully defended the city against the Bolshevik Army.

He retired from military service in 1923 and lived in Lithuania with his family until he was forced to leave them behind and flee in 1939 when Soviet and German troops began their invasion on two fronts and his life was put in danger because of his allegiances. Eventually, he ended up in living in a house in Cook Street, Dysart, until he passed away, unable to return to his homeland.

Now, almost 70 years later, mystery still surrounds the reason that a high-ranking officer was buried in an unmarked grave, just a few yards from the headstone of a fellow Polish soldier.

General Osikowski was evacuated to the UK with many other Polish soldiers during the Second World War but, having worked for the Polish Prime Minister in exile’s predecessor, he fell out of favour.

He was taken to one of Scotland’s Polish penal camps, which was based on the isle of Bute and run by the Polish government in exile.

The camps were treated as sovereign Polish territory and Scottish police did not have authority over them.

The Polish leadership branded those in the camps as “disloyal”, however it has long been claimed that some of those held were detained because they were Jewish, Communist, gay, or were seen as a potential political rival to the leadership.

General Osikowski was later released after the war and went on to live in Dysart, but passed away a few years later.

His last wish was to rest in a free Poland, however his final resting place at Hayfield Cemetery is unmarked, and his grave space is shared with several others, making it difficult to exhume.

Kirkcaldy-based film maker Michal Dwojewski says it is time to give the general his due respect by marking his resting place.

He said: “I can’t imagine that the general doesn’t have a grave. It’s unbelievable.

“It’s almost like Orwell. It’s not acceptable for anyone, especially not a general who was a very highly-ranked officer in the war with the Soviets. He was very close to Jozef Pilsudski, who was the marshal of Poland.

“It’s almost as if Churchill didn’t have a grave.”

Fife Council confirmed that Hayfield Cemetery does hold the general’s remains, and that the resting place is unmarked.

The Polish Consulate in Edinburgh is also aware of the issue, and is now looking to mark the general’s grave.

A spokesperson for the consulate said: “We been in discussions with local authorities and with the family of General Osikowski to see how they would like him to be comemorated.

“We have been working over many years and trying to bring some sort of recognition to old Polish soldiers that were stationed in Scotland as they fought for our freedom and there were times where they were forgotten so we are organising different comemorative events.”

It is hoped that once the family decide how to remember General Osikowski, work can begin on a gravestone or marker.