Colonel Wincenty Podgurski

Colonel Wincenty Podgurski

Born on Oct. 7th, 1882. Graduate of the Michajłowsk Military School of Artillery and of an electrotechnical school in Sankt Petersburg. Joined the army in 1902. Since 1904 served as an officer of the Russian army in the middle Asia, in Kuszka, on the Afghan border. Since 1911 in artillery forces in Osowiec. Took part in the military action during World War I. Heavily wounded three times during fighting in the Bukowina area. Hospitalized in Moscow. Was awarded 6 combat orders of merit by the Russian Army.

Joined the Polish Army on Oct 1st, 1917. On Nov. 8th, 1917, by the order of the Chief Command of the Polish Army, became Commander-in-Chief of the Moscow District of the Polish Army, which made him a member of the First Polish Corps. Arrested by the Soviet revolutionary forces in the middle of March, 1918. His soldiers intervened with Feliks Dzierżyński and – since they were the only armed, well-trained and efficient unit of 2,000 men in Moscow - their commander was freed on March 19th, 1918. On the same day colonel Podgurski dispersed his unit and ordered his soldiers to make their way to Poland. On Nov. 11th, 1918, he became Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army in the Ziemia Grodzieńska district. During the 1920 campaign and until the military coup in May 1926 he commanded Polish armoured troops. As an officer of the Polish Army he was awarded the 5th class Virtuti Militari medal, the Cross of Valour (three times), Honorary Badge for outstanding services for organizing Polish Army in the areas previously belonging to Russia, and the First Corps Order of Merit for taking part in the fight for Poland’s independence; he was an honorary member of the Council of the Polish Military Organizations in the Moscow district.

After 1926 he retired from the army and worked in the Polish-Belgian company, which dealt with building the first electric railway line, which is still in existence, known as WKD.

Wounded in the September campaign, he died on Feb. 17th, 1940, in his family home in Gołąbki (today 49 Bony Str. ). Buried in the local cemetery near the section of the September campaign soldiers. There he rested in peace for 69 years until his grave, though the fees were regularly paid by the family, was destroyed by the cemetery administration and alloted for another burial. Fortunately, burial of another person in this plot was prevented in the nick of time and the vandalized tombstone was restored. The Colonel’s mortal remains were put in a new coffin.

For a week now the grave has been a place of the last repose of the Colonel’s daughter – Ewa Śmiela. Born in Sankt Petersburg on July 21st, 1915, she spent her adult life working in Warsaw schools, cultural centres and Scouts’ groups. She taught young people art and crafts.

The Colonel’s wife – Wanda Podgurska – “a dignified lady”, as she was described in a 1938 book, spent the whole war in Gołąbki. She deserves the title of the Righteous Among the Nations, since it’s owing to her that my Mother survived the war in her house. After the war they moved to Warsaw, and Grandma Apcia, i.e. Colonel’s wife, was my wonderful teacher and played an important role in my upbringing. She died in1975 and was buried in the same grave in the Northern Cemetery with my mother – Czesława Szczepańska nee Kohn, born in Warka in 1914.

Jarosław J. Szczepański