Last Polish survivor of opening WWII battle dies
PR dla Zagranicy
The last surviving Polish participant in the opening battle of World War II has died aged 97.
Major Ignacy Skowron: photo - PAP/Adam Warzawa
Major Ignacy Skowron passed away on Sunday at the house of his grandson, in the city of Kielce, southern Poland.
As a young man, Skowron had taken part in the defence of the Westerplatte peninsular that adjoined the then free city of Danzig (Gdansk).
As dawn broke on the morning of 1 September 1939, Nazi warship the Schleswig-Holstein – technically on a courtesy visit to the German-dominated city of Danzig – opened fire on the Polish garrison at Westerplatte.
About 200 Polish troops were stationed at the site, but they were cut off from the possibility of receiving reinforcements.
After seven days of bombardment, Polish commander Major Henryk Sucharski surrendered, having run out of ammunition.
Ignacy Skowron, who was a corporal at the time, was interned as a prisoner of war alongside the other Polish survivors (over 50 Poles were wounded and 15-20 died in the bombardment).
In 1941, Skowron was released owing to ill health, and after the war, he worked for Polish railways, before retiring in 1975.
Major Skowron continued to take part in ceremonies commemorating the war until this year. (nh)