23 Days

Antoni 'Joe' Podolski
1923 - 1999

23 days is the true and epic account of three and a half years during World War 2.

Antoni Jozef (Joe) Podolski was born on January 17th 1923 in Baranowicze, in eastern Poland. He grew up as an only child on an estate of some 1000 hectares (about 2500 acres) surrounded by animals and nature. His hobbies included riding, skiing and hunting, becoming very familiar with many types of gun, and used them to stalk wild boar from a very early age. He became an expert shot with a rifle.

He developed a passion for flying, learning to glide as a young teenager.

On September 1st 1939 Germany invaded Poland. Being in the east of the country Joe was little affected by the Blitzkrieg although he records a deadly encounter with German spies and infiltrators. On September 17th 1939, Russia invaded Poland citing their mutual co-operation pact with the Nazis. Stating their aim “to protect Russian citizens residing in Poland” they attacked with force and cruelty.

Joe’s war became a fight against the Red hordes from the East. He witnessed their brutal justice first-hand and, as part of an ad-hoc force of young partisans, did his best to resist the invaders. After a number of bloody encounters there followed a final shoot-out in a potato field following which he was captured and imprisoned. On being transferred to another interrogation centre he briefly escaped from a moving train avoiding death before being recaptured. Further imprisonment, involving interrogation and torture, resulted in being sentenced to death.

23 days in a condemned cell watching his fellow inmates being executed one by one was followed by an unexpected reprieve and sentence to 25 years in an Arctic Gulag.

A long and unpleasant journey to the Arctic was briefly interrupted by 9 days interrogation in Moscow’s notorious Lubyanka prison.

Escape from the Gulag, then journey to freedom via a frozen lake bordering Finland is detailed together with the tragic deaths of his co-escapees.
A fortunate encounter with Finnish soldiers meant that he was rescued by Polish Authorities from neutral Sweden and smuggled to England arriving in May 1940.

His experiences with the British and Polish Intelligence services is documented leading to an unbelievable “invitation” to travel back, by submarine, to Russia to witness the expected invasion of Russia by Germany in May 1941. His experiences there in a refugee camp and his good fortune to meet a protector and companion in the shape of a young Russian girl, the daughter of a high-ranking NKVD (KGB) officer are recalled. Their subsequent efforts to join up with the Polish Forces then gathering in the Middle East following their release by their new allies, the Russians, is documented.

Following this, a mission organised by Polish Military Intelligence involving the assassination, by Joe, of two German agents is described as a mixture of courage, daring and farce.

A final journey back to Britain in February 1943 by way of a torpedoed ship completes this first part of Joe’s war with arrival in Liverpool.
Reference is made to his later career as a P-51 Mustang fighter pilot in England before the end of his war two and a half years later.
At this time he was just 22 years of age.

Read this remarkable true story told in his own words.

ISBN: 9780992933104 - 23 days

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