|Author Seeking Stories of Polish-Americans Who Fought in First World War |
2/20/2007 - Among the soldiers who fought bravely with the American Expeditionary Force in France during the First World War, there were tens of thousands of young men of Polish descent. One of these was Private Michael Kempinski, who fought in Company G of the 128th Infantry and won a Silver Star for capturing a German machine gun nest. Private Chester Lasky, from Hamtramck, Michigan, was with the 4th Machine Gun battalion and won a bronze star for “coolness under violent enemy artillery fire.”
Thousands of other Polish-Americans fought with the Polish Army in France, also known as Haller’s Army – an all-Polish army made up primarily of recruits from overseas. Mary Bartus-Sidlick, of Canton, Michigan, says that her father Lawrence Bartus was wounded and gassed in France while fighting with Haller’s Army. “He had to give up his job as a baker because of lung problems due to being gassed,” recalls Ms. Bartus-Sidlick. “Every Memorial Day my dad flew both the American and Polish flags on our front porch.”
These Polish-American heroes were among the hundreds of thousands of immigrant soldiers who put their lives on the line for the United States after their adopted country joined the Allies in 1917.
I am writing a book about these immigrant soldiers and their experiences, and I’m trying to get in contact with their descendants. I’ve already talked to families from all over the country, and I have interviewed two foreign-born men who fought in the war – an Italian-American who died last week at the age of 110 and a Russian Jewish-American who died late last year at the age of 106.
If you have a Polish-born ancestor who fought in the First World War, either with the US Armed forces or with the Polish Army in France, I would love to include his story in the book.
Please contact: David Laskin, 18757 Ridgefield Rd. NW, Seattle, WA 98177, 206-546-8856.