Polish sergeant to lay wreath at Grimsby Cenotaph
A POLISH sergeant will be laying the wreath at Grimsby Cenotaph on Sunday.
For the first time ever, a member of the Carpathian Lancers regiment, which holds a special place in the hearts of many people in the region, will be taking part in the town's Remembrance Sunday service.
Carpathian Lancer Sgt Thomas Kopij was presented with a Great Grimsby plaque to mark his visit to the town by the Mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Coun Colin Eastwell.
Sgt Thomas Kopij (35) will be laying the wreath in memory of past comrades and all those who have given their lives for their countries.
He will attend the service at St James' Church before moving on to the cenotaph, alongside Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell and other dignitaries including the Deputy Mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Coun John Colebrook, and the Deputy Mayoress, Coun Pat Colebrook.
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Sgt Kopij said: "It is a great honour to come to Grimsby where so many of my comrades settled after the Second World War.
"This is the first time a Polish soldier has ever come to Grimsby for such an historic event. I am very proud and honoured."
This particular event is special as the Carpathian Lancers have roots in Grimsby, and even camped in Weelsby Woods at the end of the Second World War.
In 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, a number of soldiers escaped their stricken country, and – via the Carpathian mountains – gathered in the middle east.
The Polish Army had 33 horse cavalry regiments, which called themselves the Carpathian Lancers.
After service under Allied command in North Africa and enhancing their immense reputation through their part in the Italian campaign at Monte Cassino, the Lancers' returned to Britain.
At the end of the Second World War, the regiments were brought to Grimsby for demobilisation, but as their nation was now occupied by communist Russia, nearly 1,000 men stayed and settled in Grimsby.
Sgt Kopij has been released for seven days to attend the service on behalf of the current Carpathian Lancers from his base in the Polish city of Poznan.
He is staying with one of the last remaining original lancers, former architect George Palejowsji at his home in New Waltham.
On Sunday, the church service begins at 9.30am. This will be followed by a march along Brighowgate and Bargate to the cenotaph, where Sgt Kopij will lay the wreath after the two minutes silence at 11am.
There will also be a short service by Canon Michael Hunter.
Check your Grimsby Telegraph next week for coverage of Remembrance Sunday events.
Lest We Forget, a special war Bygones publication, is on sale now. It costs £1, with 25p of each sale going to the British Legion.
Visit www.lastingtribute.co.uk/poppyfield to dedicate a virtual poppy to fallen war heroes.