Sad final resting place for Polish war hero

THE FAMILY of a decorated Polish army general buried in a pauper's grave in Kirkcaldy have called for a fitting memorial to their relative.

This week the family of General Mikolaj Osikowski paid a visit to the town to see his final resting place, but were surprised and saddened to find he lies in an unmarked grave in Hayfield Cemetery.

And as well as hoping for an appropriate memorial, his grandson Jerzy Bakowski and great-granddaughter Anna Pawliszewska also hope locals will be able to help them with information about the life he led in Fife in the years up to his death.

The touching story of Mikolaj Osikowski is one steeped in history and patriotism but latterly, isolation from the country he fought for and the family he loved.

He will hopefully be well-known to Fife's Polish community as he had a long and celebrated military career, and was awarded the highest military honours for his service.

His many career highlights include serving 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 Soviet Red Army.

He retired from military service in 1923 and lived in Lithuania with his family until he was tragically 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.

And now, sadly, his last resting place is in a grave with no recognition to the part he played in his country's history.

Mrs Pawliszewska explained: "He fled to Romania, France and then the UK and from August 1940 to January 1942 he stayed in an officer's camp on the Isle of Bute but we don't know what brought him here.

"Over the years he sent letters home but they were censored and we probably only got some of the correspondance he wrote.

"My father was born after his granddad had to flee and unfortunately he was never able to come back to Poland to see his only grandson."

Mr Bakowski added: "We have never had the chance to come over here until now and we decided to come and find his grave as a sort of remembrance visit for the whole family.

"But his grave here doesn't even have a name on it and he is buried with three others he's not related to. He deserves to be in some way commemorated."

As well as visiting Mr Osikowski's grave, the family also went to Cook Street to the house he lived in, Kirkcaldy's Polish Club as well as paying a visit to Falkland Palace this week and hope Fifers who know anything about his life will get in touch.

Anyone with information can contact FRAE Fife on (01592) 204005.