Polish Soldiers Burial Plot *** Polski Cmentarz Wojskowy
1917 - 1919
A burial plot located in Niagra-on-the-Lake, Ontario is the final resting place for Polish soldiers who trained for World War l from 1917 to 1919 and subsequently made the supreme sacrifice -- they personified the Polish soldiers' motto:
"For our freedom and yours!"
"Za naszą i waszą wolność!"
Haller's Blue Army
As a result of the movement to regain the independence of Poland and policy differences with the United States, 22, 174 volunteers of Polish descent crossed the Niagara River from Youngstown, NY to Niagara-on-the-Lake and joined 221 Polish Canadians for military training from 1917 to 1919. The Polish Falcons of America, Polish patriot and pianist Ignacy Paderewski and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson all figured prominently during these events. The Polish volunteers were trained by Canadian officers under the command of Lt. Col. A. D. Lepan and outfitted and financed by France. As a result, they wore French uniforms and were called the "Blue Army".
In Europe, the volunteers were assigned to the Fourth French Army in battalion and regimental groups and participated on the Western Front in the Champagne sector of France in 1918. In October 1918, the battalion and regimental groups were united to form a separate Polish army, which with additional Polish volunteers from around the world numbered 80,000 under the Polish commander General Joseph Haller.
At the end of World War I, the soldiers were transported across Germany to Join the greater Polish forces to ensure the new-found independence of Poland and also to repel the Bolshevik invasion of the land. They engaged in military actions in Lwów, Wolyn and Pomorze.
At the Niagara-on-the Lake burial plot rest 25 soldiers of 41 who were
stricken with and died of influenza while in training. Also honored is Elizabeth Asher, a non-Pole and resident of Niagara-on-the Lake, who risked her own safety in caring for many of the sick soldiers. The burial site was restored in 2000 by Polish American and Canadian veterans associations, the Niagara Region Polish American Congress, Western Division.
THIS BURIAL PLOT COMMEMORATES THE POLISH SOLDIERS WHO TRAINED IN THIS COMMUNITY FROM 1917-1919 AT CAMP KOSCIUSZKO AND SUBSEQUENTLY MADE THE SUPREM SACRIFICE - THEY PERSONIFIED THE POLISH SOLDIERS' MOTTO: 'FOR YOUR FREEDOM AND OURS!"
HISTORY: AS A RESULT OF THE MOVEMENT TO REGAIN THE INDEPENDENCE OF POLAND AND POLICY DIFFERENCES WITH THE UNITED STATES, 22,174 VOLUNTEERS OF POLISH DESCENT CROSSED THE NIAGARA RIVER FROM YOUNGSTOWN, NY TO THIS COMMUNITY AND JOINED 221 POLISH CANADIANS FOR MILITARY TRAINING FROM 1917 TO 1919. THE POLISH FALCONS OF AMERICA, POLISH PATRIOT AND PIANIST IGNACY PADEREWSKI AND U.S. PRESIDENT WOODROW WILSON ALL FIGURED PROMINENTLY DURING THESE EVENTS. THE POLISH VOLUNTEERS WERE TRAINED BY CANADIAN OFFICERS UNDER THE COMMAND OF LT. COL. A.D. LEPAN AND OUTFITTED & FINANCED BY FRANCE. AS A RESULT, THEY WORE FRENCE UNIFORMS AND HENCE WERE CALLED "THE BLUE ARMY".
English Language Inscription on Cemetery Plaque:
POLISH SOLDIERS' BURIAL PLOT
1917 - 1919
IN EUROPE, THE VOLUNTEERS WERE ASSIGNED TO THE FOURTH FRENCH ARMY IN BATTALION & REGIMENTAL GROUPS AND PARTICIPATED ON THE WESTERN FRONT IN THE CHAMPAGNE SECTOR OF FRANCE IN 1918. THE BATTALION AND REGIMENTAL GROUPS WERE UNITED TO FORM A SEPARATE ARMY, WHICH WITH ADDITIONAL POLISH VOLUNTEERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD NUMBERED 80,000 UNDER THE POLISH COMMANDER GENERAL JOSEPH HALLER.
AT THE END OF WORLD WAR I, THE SOLDIERS WERE TRANSPORTED ACROSS GERMANY TO JOIN THE GREATER POLISH FORCES TO ENSURE THE NEW-FOUND INDEPENDENCE OF POLAND AND ALSO TO REPEL THE BOLSHEVIK INVASION OF THE LAND. THEY ENGAGED IN MILITARY ACTIONS AT LWOW, WOLYN AND POMORZE.
AT THIS BURIAL PLOT REST 25 SOLDIERS OF 41 WHO WERE STRICKEN WITH AND DIED OF INFLUENZA WHILE IN TRAINING. WE ALSO HONOUR THE MEMORY OF ELIZABETH ASHER, A NON-POLE AND RESIDENT OF THIS COMMUNITY WHO RISKED HER OWN SAFETY IN CARING FOR MANY OF THE SICK SOLDIERS.
DEDICATION OF THIS PLAQUE AND RESTORATION OF BURIAL SITE FOR THE YEAR 2000 NY POLISH AMERICAN AND POLISH CANADIAN VETERANS ASSOCIATIONS CANADIAN POLISH CONGRESS, NIAGARA REGION POLISH AMERICAN CONGRESS, WESTER NEW YORK DIVISION
The Annual Pilgrimage to the Grave Site of General Haller's Recruits in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario is set for June 10, 2018. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the cemetery which was created in 1918 as a result of the Spanish Flue Epidemic. The epidemic ravaged the training camp of 22,000 volunteers to General Haller's Army, claiming the lives of 43 recruits. The epidemic claimed the lives of 1 percent of the world's population in 1918, more lives than World War I itself. General Haller's recruits went on to fight along side of US forces in the battlefields of France ultimately procuring the independence of Poland by War's end 100 years ago!