Wacław Przeździecki

Wacław Przeździecki

Wacław Przeździecki (1883-1964) was a Polish military commander and Brigadier General of the Polish Army. During the Invasion of Poland in 1939, he was the commanding officer of the reserve Wołkowysk Cavalry Brigade that fought in the battle of Grodno.

Wacław Jan Przeździecki was born July 15, 1883 in Leśmierz near Łęczyca, to a family of old Polish gentry of Pierzchała Coat of Arms, deprived of all their property by the Russian authorities after the January Uprising. In 1903 he graduated from the Higher Trade School in Łódź, after which he joined the Technological Institute in Kharkov (modern Kharkiv, Ukraine). In 1904 he was relegated from the institute for being a member of a secret Polish resistance organisation. The only school to accept him was a military college in Kazan, from which he graduated in 1906. Przeździecki then joined the Imperial Russian Army and served as an adjutant in the officers school and the 260th Infantry Regiment stationed in Batum.

In 1913 he was promoted to the rank of Captain. During the Great War he served with distinction in the first line as the company and then battalion commander. After receiving a heavy wound in Prussia, he was declared ineligible for service and dismissed. After the February Revolution he joined various Polish organisations in Russia, including the Central Polish Military Committee (NPKW), and fought in the ranks of the 1st Polish Corps during the Russian Civil War. In 1918 he returned to Poland and joined the renascent Polish Army. As the commanding officer of the Polish 12th Infantry Division he fought in the Polish-Bolshevik War. After the Peace of Riga he remained in service at various staff posts. In 1926 he became the commanding officer of the Polish 21st Mountain Infantry Division and the following year he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. Retired in 1936, he settled in a small villa in Natolin, several kilometres to the south of Warsaw.

During the Invasion of Poland in 1939, he returned to active service and took part in formation of various reserve and improvised units for the German and then Soviet fronts. As the commanding officer of the Wołkowysk Cavalry Brigade he took part in the battle of Grodno, one of the most important Polish-Soviet battles of the war. After the battle he crossed the border with Lithuania, where he was interned with his soldiers. In 1940 however, after the Baltic States were annexed by the Soviet Union he was arrested by the NKVD and sent to the Kozielsk camp. Soon afterwards he was transferred to Lubyanka prison, where he was offered to lead a Polish army created as an ally of the Soviet Union. When he refused and relied his reaction on the decision of the Polish Government in Exile, he was transferred to a special NKVD detention centre in Gryazovets.

After the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement he was released from the prison and allowed to join the Polish II Corps, with which he moved to Persia, Iraq and finally to the Palestine. There he was found too closely related to the pre-war Sanacja regime to be eligible for further service in the army and dismissed from active service. After the war he remained in exile and in 1947 moved to Great Britain, where he settled in Penley. Wacław Przeździecki died there June 29, 1964.

Among the most notable of his military decorations were Virtuti Militari 5th class, Polonia Restituta 3rd class, Krzyż Niepodległości, and three times the Krzyż Walecznych.


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