Veteran Interviews – Stanley Z Biernacik

Stanley Z Biernacik was born in Lwow, Poland in 1920. Stanley was training to be an officer in his city’s local infantry regiment when war broke out on September 1st 1939. He reported immediately for duty, however communication lines were knocked out by the Luftwaffe throughout the country which hampered quick mobilization. After the treacherous invasion of Poland by the Soviets on September 17th, Polish leaders called upon Air Force and Army units to make every attempt to escape to Hungary and Romania. The concept was for the men to be rearmed by England and France for a subsequent return to fight in Poland. Stanley obeyed orders and crossed into Romania on September 21st and ended up in an internment camp near the city of Pitesti. After a few days at the camp, Stan managed to escape and reached Bucharest where he contacted the Polish Embassy. At that point the French Embassy was informed that some members of the Polish Air Force were also being held in the camp that Stan had escaped from. Upon confirming that information, the French then made strong efforts to get those valuable pilots to France. Stanley was then made a courier to secretly deliver French visa documents to the interned Polish airmen. For the next two months be made numerous trips between Bucharest and Pitesti until ordered to report to the Polish officer’s training school at Coetquidan, France.

Late in November of 1939, Stanley had arrived in Coetquidan and began training in the field artillery. Here thousands of other Poles who had escaped German captivity, as well as those who lived in other parts of the world, heeded the call, to report for training so they may help in the eventual liberation of their country. Following graduation on June 14, 1940 he was ordered to join the Polish forces near the Maginot line. France quickly capitulated however and established the Vichy government. Stan again escaped and arrived in the UK on July 9th where once again the Polish army was being reformed. At this point, England, her dominions and Poland stood virtually alone against the Nazi onslaught.

In the footstep of his previous military training, Biernacik was assigned to the Polish artillery being formed in Scotland. In 1942, the 1st Polish Armoured Division was born and placed under the experienced and able General Maczek. Stanley became the reconnaissance officer for the 2nd Motorized Artillery Regiment. The regiment’s 25 pounder guns were towed by Morris ANT trucks. During the 1944 Normandy invasion, his job was to help navigate a way for the equipment to get where it was needed in a combat environment. As often happens in combat, maps are incorrect and roads that should be there are suddenly impassable due to bombardment. Lt. Biernacik often found himself in hostile territory in merely a jeep or even on a motorcycle while scouting roads for the artillery to pass.

At the end of 1944 Stanley was ordered to return to Scotland and assigned as an artillery training instructor for the newly formed 15th Field Artillery Regiment. The Polish 1st Corps in Scotland was continuing to grow from the influx of more Polish volunteers and they needed his combat experience in training them.

At wars end, the British government offered educational opportunities to their Polish allies. Stan first attended the School of Economics in London and later at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Upon earning his M.A. degree there he was accepted as a history teacher at St. Patrick’s High School in Carlisle, England. Following four years of teaching there, he emigrated to the United States where he was first employed as a school teacher and later at commercial managerial positions in the Buffalo, NY area. After his retirement Stanley has stayed very active in various Polonia, veteran and civic institutions around Buffalo.

Stan received numerous Polish, British and French decorations and citations for his war service such as “The Cross of the order of Merit”, “Cross of Valor”, “Service Cross First Arm”, “1939 War Cross”, “1944 Normandy, Belgium and Holland Cross”, “Crois Des Combattants”, “The Defense Medal”, “1939-45 War Medal”, “1939-45 War Star” and the “France and Germany Star.”

Stanley in Uniform