An Electrician in the Anders’ Army

In 1938, at the age of twenty, Stanisław Tocholski started a job in a Warsaw electro-technical plant. A year later he was forced to leave it and emigrate. Abroad, he worked in a kolkhoz in Kazakhstan, passed his matriculation exams (mała matura) in Tel Aviv, and fought in the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Stanisław Tocholski at work in the Borkowski Brothers Electro-technical Works in Warsaw, August 19, 1939

The Trail of Hope –Stanisław Tocholski’s Archive

Stanisław Tocholski was born on November 2, 1918 in Nowosielica (now in Ukraine), the son of Jan and Helena, neé Zakrzewska. In 1920, his parents decided to move to Warsaw, however three years later they returned to the Kresy [the eastern borderlands of Poland] and settled in Mizoch. There, in 1933, Stanisław finished his primary school. From 1935–1938, he attended the State Electrical High School in Vilnius. His parents again decided to move to Warsaw and he started work at the Borkowski Brothers Electro-technical Works (Bracia Borkowscy Zakłady Elektrotechniczne) in the electro-medical unit, as a technician responsible for the installation of x-ray equipment.

On September 9, 1939 he and his family left Warsaw and returned to Mizoch, where Stanisław worked as an electrician in a sugar refinery there. On April 13, 1940, Stanisław, together with his mother Helena and brother Wincenty, were deported by the Soviets to the small village of Ternovka (Tarnówka) in Kazakhstan. His mother became active in the Union of Polish Patriots (Związek Patriotów Polskich, ZPP). His brother (b. 1926 – d. 1989) was a sapper in the Polish 1st Army of Gen. Berling. Stanisław himself worked on a kolkhoz [a Soviet collective farm] for a year and a half during his exile.

Wedding photo of Jadwiga Raczyńska, neé Tochalska: first on the right – Jan Tocholski (Stanisław’s father), third on the right – Stanisław Tocholski; seated, second on the right – Helena Tocholska, neé Zakrzewska (Stanisław’s mother), Mizoch, September 1, 1935
Stanisław Tocholski’s ID card, issued in 1938.
Stanisław Tocholski’s military service record book

On February 6, 1942, Stanisław enlisted in the Polish army. In April, as a soldier in Gen. Anders’ Army, he embarked on a combat trail via Iran, Iraq, Palestine, and Egypt to Italy. In 1943 in Tel Aviv he passed his matriculation exams, however in May of that year he was allocated to the 1st Sappers Corps of the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division. From August of that year he served as a frontline sapper. During the Italian campaign he fought in many of its battles – on the river Sangro, at Monte Cassino, on the Adriatic coast, and in Bologna – up until the capitulation of Germany.

In June 1945, he was sent to the NCO Medics School, graduated in August and completed an internship in the 3rd Field Hospital. In October he was assigned to the Military Medical Unit of the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division [DSK] as a senior paramedic in the rank of senior sapper. On November 5, 1946 he became head of the main medical station of the 1st Sappers Corps of the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division. In September 1947, the 3rd DSK was transported from Italy to Great Britain. On December 25, 1947 Tocholski was discharged from the army and six months later returned to Poland. On March 20, 1949, he married Stanisława Szczepaniak.

In recognition of his military service, Stanisław Tocholski was awarded the Cross of Valour, the 1939–1945 Star, the War Medal 1939–1945, the Monte Cassino Memorial Cross, and the Italy Star.

Stanisław Tocholski’s certificate of graduation from the NCO Medic School, August 28, 1945
Stanisława Tocholska, neé Szczepaniak and Stanisław Tocholski, 1949
Stanisław Tocholski’s certificate from the Monte Cassino Memorial Cross, 1945

The Family Chronicle

In October 2019, Jolanta Tochalska (Stanisław’s daughter) donated her father’s archive to IPN. The archival materials consist mainly of Stanisław’s memorabilia, and to a lesser degree, that of his mother, Stanisława, and his grandmother, Janina Szczepaniak.

Stanisław’s collection includes, among others, photographs from his school years (1930s), professional life, and service in Anders’ Army. Also preserved were documents: his handwritten curriculum vitae (most likely an attachment to a job application), documents from his military service, certificates, and testimonies from medals awarded, and military items: his dog tag and an eagle emblem from his Polish Armed Forces service, a badge with the pin of the 3rd Carpathian Sappers’ Battalion, a miniature identification badge of the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division, the Cross of Valour (1920 design), and medal ribbons and commemorative badges of the Polish 2nd Corps.

The archival materials of Stanisława Tocholska [his mother] include a credential issued in 1940 (in both the German and Polish languages, stating that she was employed in the Borkowski Brothers Electro-technical Works), kenkarte [ID card] and a photo album of the volunteer fire brigade at the Borkowski Brothers factory.

Janina Szczepaniak’s memorabilia include personal documents issued in 1915 in the Russian language and her ID card from the 1920s, as well as her photographs.

Stanisław Tocholski, ca. 1947

Okruchy historii – czytaj i słuchaj