Following graduation as Lieutenant in the Polish Army, dad and a few others stopped in Rome before reporting to duty back near Ancona. They were fortunate to stay in a hotel next to a group of Polish students, and joined them in daily tours of Rome. It was an opportunity to learn more of an historical city that still showed remnants of civilization centuries before the birth of Christ.
From the inside of St. Peter's, dad and the students took a staircase to reach the dome, and from there climbed ladders to reach an observation point above the dome. Today spiral stairwells climb 360 steps from the domes base to its top, where spectacular views of Rome and the Vatican greet the climbers.
Often after visiting a venue, dad returned in the evening. A common visit was to the Colisium, where he visualized spectacles in front of roaring crowds below him. 'panem et circenses' the promise of bread and entertainment kept the crowds in line. Such promises would not subdue the people under Russian occupation. However Stalin now held company with victorious Allied leaders. Surely, they would see through his ruse.
Every victorious general was marched through Rome with his throng of warriors, captors, and exotic spoils. The long march wound through arches along the old streets and ended atop Palatine Hill. It was the only time in Rome that any mortal was considered a god, until the general stood face to face with their true god Jupiter atop the hill. The Polish soldiers returning to their bases looked forward to marching along the liberated streets of Poland.
8/1/2015 10:09:55 pm
Martin and I have been looking at your blog. All the family is interested and looking forward to seeing you, Brittany and Lauren. Your photographs of Rome are very beautiful. We will see you soon!
Szymon from Bochnia
8/2/2015 03:53:27 pm
Nice blog and fantastic photographs!
8/2/2015 09:11:13 pm
Finally have had time to read your entite blog.
8/3/2015 09:05:00 am
Szymon from Bochnia ?
8/7/2015 07:47:11 am
Wow, Drew...the places you've been and the things you've seen! I admire the work (labor of love) you're doing to tell the story of your parents' journey.
8/30/2015 02:42:08 am
Fantastic blog. My father was at the same training school in Matera at same time as your father. Alojzy Gdaniec. He is now 92. We too have retraced his steps although not as well documented as yours. He has recently surprised us with amendments he has never previously admitted. He was born in Getomie Poland. His father was a teacher and was shot early in the war. at age 18 in 1941 he was forcibly conscripted to the German army ( this is the part he never admitted). He had basic training for less than a month and was sent to The front at Stalingrad. Within days he witnessed his comrades dying around him. He was shot and the bullet grazed his lung and he crawled back to an army hospital. He was nursed for some months before being taken to work on the german supply trains near Austrian border. One night he jumped from the train into a forest and headed south in an attempt to join the Polish army. He found a convent where the nuns harboured him and put him in touch with the Italian resistance who helped him. He was sent out again at night to join then Polish army and came face to face in the dark with a uniformed officer. It was dark he was frightened he could not make out the uniform. It turned out to be a french soldier and in his schoolboy french he said Je Suis Polonais and was helped join the Polish 2nd corps under the british 8th army. He had basic surveying training and worked on the topographic maps for the ongoing campaigns. At the end of the war he was sent to finish his schooling and training in Matera. He was there from nov 45 to July 46. He then sent to England via Naples and Liverpool. The passenger shipping lists are very useful by the way. He was sent to Millom airfield military camp where he served in the british army for two years and trained as a civil engineer. He was then posted to Chester for his first job which he held till his retirement. He met and married my mother in Chester and the company he worked for moved him to London where I was born. He now lives in Cambridge. We have had many happy trips to Poland visiting relatives and building our family tree. Your blog is wonderful. It's so important to hold onto our roots.
8/30/2015 10:34:31 am
Hello Krysia, What a wonderful surprise to read your comment (which I shared with my father), and read about your own family story. We have more in common than you realize, my mother was raised in Millom, that's where she met my father, at one of the Polish soldier's weekend dances. I would love to continue dialogue, and perhaps have our fathers speak to one another via skype of phone. If you can, please feel free to email me at Bajda dot sbcglobal dot com.
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Author - Andrew Bajda
Since publication of my book in December of 2016, so many amazing things have happened on both a personal and professional level. As the journey continues to evolve, I'll update my travel adventures on this blog, and invite you to join me along the way.