(Krzyz Walecznych the Polish Military Cross)
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Stanislaw ZURAKOWSKI KW (Krzyz Walecznych the Polish Military Cross) signs not only for the POLISH ARMY’S fighting prowess at the Battle of CASSINO and in so many other theatres of war but for his father, Stanislaw Ludwik ZURAKOWSKI, Mayor of OSTROG in 1938, and all those 4,000 POLISH military officers and leaders executed in the KATYN MASSACRE (identified and revealed only on13Apr43 by German forces) near Smolensk by Stalin’s Soviet forces in the Spring of 1940, after 15,000 were taken prisoner or deported.
The compounded and literal dismemberment which befell POLAND during and after WW2 must be one of its abiding tragedies, exacerbated by the efforts of Poland’s Allies to preserve their relationship with the Soviet Union. One of 9 children, Stanislaw, with two sisters serving in the ATS and losing two brothers killed in ITALY (one Youssef also at CASSINO and Andek in the 2nd POLISH CORPS), was fortunate to be one of the only two surviving key message-carrying runners of six, when the Poles finally outflanked German positions after so many months of savage fighting on 17th May 1944, at the 1,693 feet Benedictine Monastery Hill strongpoint.
Cassino was the western hinge-point of the defensive GUSTAV LINE. The Anzio landings in January were not relieved from the south because three separate major assaults on Cassino were necessary, the first by 2nd NZ Corps in February and the second by the 2nd NEW ZEALAND and 4th INDIAN DIVISION in March, followed by the flanking FRENCH CORPS before the final sustained POLISH 2nd CORPS attack began on 11th May after a devastating Allied air bombardment. The bloody success at CASSINO allowed the ANZIO breakout and Kesselring’s abandonment of ROME.