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No longer forgotten

POLISH war hero Marian Wojcicki's grave lay unmarked in Leeds for a quarter of a century – a stark symbol of a life of great promise that ended in poverty-stricken despair.

Now, though, he has a last resting place worthy of a man who won medals for fighting Nazi tyranny in the Second World War.

Moved by a Yorkshire Evening Post story charting Mr Wojcicki's troubled final years in Leeds, his fellow countryman Czeslaw Jeziorek has crafted a hand-made mahogany cross.

It bears a metal plaque which reads simply: "He has been let down by society" – a reference to how Mr Wojcicki ended his life living in homeless hostels.

Mr Jeziorek, 86, from Bramley, said: "I did not know him but I was very moved by the story. I came to look at his grave but there was nothing there. It did not seem right."

Yesterday, at Mr Wojcicki's grave at Lawnswood Cemetery a service of remembrance was held, also attended by Marian's long-lost great-nephew Maciej Wojcicki.

History detectives tracked Marian's family back to Poland and then got in touch with Maciej, who is now working in London.

He said: "It was a shock for my family to find out what had happened to him. My grandfather – his brother – tried to find him through the Red Cross after the war but there seemed to be no trace of him.

"I am very glad that today we have been able to properly lay him to rest."

Maciej, 33, was also reunited with Marian's worldly possessions – found in a box at the St George's Crypt homeless shelter in October last year.

It was the discovery of his records by crypt fundraising manager Martin Patterson which sparked the investigation into his life.

Though Mr Wojcicki had fallen on hard times during later life, his records revealed he had fought the Nazis in his homeland and went on to serve in Africa and Italy where he was decorated for his bravery.

Demobbed to Yorkshire in 1949, though, his fortunes took a turn for the worse and he died in April 1984.

Mr Patterson, who led the search along with local Polish history buff Ken Fedzin, said: "I am glad that we have been able to say thank you for the life of Marian, for what he did for this country and the fight to resist tyranny. He played an important part in that which was not always recognised during his life."

 
 
 

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