New life begins for Polish
With this New Year there opens up a new life for a Polish woman, Miss Halina Kozubowska.
As the direct result of the help she gave a young Australian air- man, she is now in Australia in his mother's home, with the prospect of a happier future than her native land could offer after the tragic years of war.
PATRIOT daughter of a
patriotic Polish family; she has recently been an honored guest in the Sydney home of the young R.A.A.F pilot who lived for 18 months with her family in Warsaw during the German occupation
Early in the Battle for Britain a young Australian Spitfire pilot, Keith Chisholm, was shot down over the English Channel and sent to Germany as a prisoner of war.
He escaped, entered Poland, and contacted members of the Under- ground movement, who sent him on
One of the earliest members of the Polish Underground movement was a Warsaw woman lawyer, Halina Kozubowska, and she per- suaded her family to take the young Spitfire pilot into their home.
The Gestapo did not deal lightly with Poles found to be assisting escapee enemy prisoners. The penalty was death.
"We had become used to danger," Halina Kozubowska said over morn- ing tea at the Chisholms' home "The only member of the household who was at first afraid of this new danger was Miss Victoria, our old
"She made my mother a little afraid. But I said, 'Your own son is hiding somewhere in this country He can speak the language. This Australian pilot cannot even do that. As a mother, don't you think we
should do this for him?"
Keith took his parents down to the wharf to greet his protegee on her recent arrival in Australia.
"We waited and waited," Mrs Chisholm said. "And then at last there was Halina. Keith had told us so much about her. We knew just how she would look."
The mother of the Spitfire pilot and the Polish woman who had for 18 months risked the lives of herself and family in taking him into her home exchanged a wordless glance across the teacups.
The former Warsaw lawyer said, "Do not think that I did not know how you would look, too. For
lt would be hard to imagine a happier woman than the vital, prematurely white-haired mother of Keith Chisholm, now that she has her son's benefactress under her own roof.
"Halina is everything that Keith said," she explains.
"Shortly after Keith came to us," Miss Kozubowska said, "our lines of escape were sabotaged.
There were wholesale arrests.
"Instead of passing him along the lines through France and into Spain from where he could escape to Eng- land, we could see that Keith would have to stay much longer than was customary-until new lines had been established and their safety proved.
"It was decided that it wouldn't be possible to hide him all that time. He would have to learn Polish, be given false papers, and pass himself off as a member of our house
"And he had to have new clothes. "At first he wore the clothes of my brother, who was away from home as chief of counter-espionage for Poland. But we knew that sooner or later he would have to go about on his own.
"At the beginning I or someone who could be trusted went every- where with him-out into the street, to the doctor, to the tailor. Gradu- ally his Polish improved, and he was able to go out by himself.
"He learned to speak very good Polish, with a very good accent. Twice when he was out he was stopped by the Gestapo and his papers examined.
"These showed him as a clerk, but didn't give any place of work. This omission on one occasion caught the German official's eye, and would certainly have led to arrest had Keith not been quick-witted enough to say that he was walking in the
POLISH Halina Kozubowska (right) with her hostess, Mrs Chisholm, whose son she be- friended, on the verandah of the Chisholms' home at Balgowlah,
street at that time of day because he was on holidays.
"Soon Keith became restless and wanted to help. He came with us in the Underground, and, would you believe it," Miss Kozubowska said proudly, "he rose to be chief of the department for foreign prisoners of
war in Warsaw."
After the Warsaw rising of 1944, Halina Kozubowska, who had been an active member of the Polish Un-
derground since 1939, was deported to Germany with nearly 50 others and set to heavy work in a foundry.
When the U.S. 1st Army liberated that area, she worked at first in organising something approaching a normal life for the other Polish slave laborers.
"When freedom comes so sud- denly," she says, "many people are unprepared. The instinct is to loot, to run wild. I could not let my countrymen do that.
"I contacted the Army - they no
doubt wondered who on earth I was -and they gave me the job I wanted and the title of Special Section In- vestigation Officer."
Later Miss Kozubowska's legal training and ability to speak Rus- sian, French, Polish, and German, as well as English, was too valuable not to be made use of, and she was transferred to Brunswick, where she did legal work in an English mili-
In the china cabinet of Mrs. Chis- holm's beautiful Balgowlah flat is a magnificent rose-decorated Sevres plate and a set of Swedish crystal glasses.
They once graced the quarters of a German colonel, and were brought to her as a gift by her guest.
Keith Chisholm was not the only flier the Kozubowskas took in and sheltered. There was Char- ley, the American sergeant, now safely back in his home State; and Geoffrey, the English sergeant, about whose fate Miss Kozubowska is not
"We started him on his way," she says. "Then we did not hear. Everything was organised and seemed safe. We feel though that we would surely have heard if he had got through."
There was a Dutch naval officer, too. "He and Keith and Charley wanted to stage a three-nation in- vasion after VE-Day and look for Spitfire, Brush, and her pups." Miss Kozubowska went on.
"Brush is the English translation of the name of the little Scottish terrier we had at home. All the boys loved her, and when she had her first puppies Keith insisted being of Scottish descent himself on giving them all Scottish names.
'It was very strange to hear these little Polish-Scottish terrier puppies being called Mary of Argyle, Sandy, Jock, and Annie Laurie. Keith was the only one of the household who could say their names properly.
"Keith's own little wire-haired
terrier Spitfire, or 'Spitty' for short, stayed with me until the very minute I left for Germany. I tried hard to take her with me, but the Ger- mans found out, and one of their officers took her. 'No dogs allowed,' they told me coldly. 'Only workers.'
"It was sad when we kept her alive all during the rising, when we had to live in cellars, and even the Germans had only soup to eat. "
Miss Kozubowska must earn ner own living and make a new life in Australia. Already she is having English lessons. "First thing I must do is perfect my English," she says.
Actually it is extremely good, flex- ible, and expressive. She learnt it as a small girl from the governess who, after 30 years' service, is still with her family. And then again after many years she spoke it to Keith Chisholm.
"I do not know what I shall be able to do," this Polish Under- ground heroine explains. "I can- not ever go back to law in a new country. I would have to go to the University again. I am too tired, it is too expensive.
"If I can become established," Miss Kozubowska said, "I hope to bring out my brother and his family. He is in England now, in the settle- ment corps for Polish soldiers.
"We grew up away from our country in China, where my father was a surgeon. But he was a patriot, and when the time came for us to finish our education he took us all back to Poland.
"Now," Miss Kozubowska finished, "it is a new life in Australia. And I know that I am very lucky."