March 7, 2013 - Polish Veterans' Hall, 206 Beverley Street, Toronto

MILCZYNSKI smYour Grandpa's War was attended by close to 100 persons representing various organizations as well as by the general public (largely Polish-Canadian) who saw our advertising or learned of the event by word-of-mouth. We had specifically invited the officers, soldiers and staff of 32 Brigade Group in order to lend a more military atmosphere to the evening as well as to introduce them to our organization and history. A number of their regiments, as well as their headquarters, are located in the Toronto area. Among the attendees was Lt. Col. Paul Szabunio, CO of 7 Toronto Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, a veteran of Bosnia and Afghanistan, who was accompanied by his spouse, Anna, a Poli-Sci PhD candidate at UofT. A few soldiers attended, many of them English speakers. They included Lt. Col. Michael Clarry, CO of the 32 Combat Engineer Regiment and Royal Canadian Navy veteran Gordon Casey.

The younger Polish-Canadians in the crowd were very interested in the material presented and the non-Poles were overwhelmed. They had no idea that Poland had a history much less an interesting one. Host Henry Sokolowski, VP of Branch 20 and Treasurer of the National Board, welcomed the attendees, thanked the volunteers and sponsors, and then introduced the special guests. Sponsors of the event were: Polish Combatants' Association in Canada-National Board, PCA Toronto Branch 20, Kresy-Siberia Foundation (Canada), Peter Mielzynski Agencies and Luksusowa Vodka. A number of WW2 veterans attended representing the Home Army,  2nd Corps, PAF, and Royal Canadian Navy, but the special guests were our Virtuti Militari recipients, who were here to act as living exhibits for Tom Bakalarz's lecture on the Virtuti Militari:                                                                                                                             

Zbigniew Gondek VM, Polish 2nd Corps          

Stanisław Milczyński VM, Home Army

Marceli Ostrowski VM, Polish Air Force

Mr. Sokolowski then provided short overviews on the topics of the first recorded Polish King, Mieszko I, Hussars and the Mongol, Tatar and Ottoman Turk invasions. Tom Bakalarz then gave a lecture on the history of the Virtuti Militari to the Polish speakers while Mr. Sokolowski took the English speakers on a tour of the Branch 20 museum and the Eugene Chruscicki tapestries hanging in the restaurant. Mr. Sokolowski then finished off his portion of the lecture with an overview of the Swedish invasion of Poland and a summary of the Battle of Vienna, 1863. Mr. Sokolowski then introduced the 2002 BBC Documentary "Gladiators of War: The Polish Free Forces" by pointing out its deficiencies: understatement of the atrocities committed by both the Germans and Soviets, writing off the efforts of the PAF in 1939, perpetuating the myth of the Polish cavalry charging German armour. Following the screening, all of the sandwiches were eaten.

Henry Sokołowski

Gondek Milczyn Ostrow sm 



Top: Stanisław Milczynski is autographing his book for a young admirer.

Bottom 1: Virtuti Militari cavaliers - Zbigniew Gondek, Stanisław Milczyński and Marceli Ostrowski.

Bottom 2: Branch 20 Museum. Fragment of the exposition.