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
POLISH AMERICAN CONGRESS WORLD WAR ONE CENTENNIAL COMMITTEE
PRESS RELEASE: 100TH ANNUAL PILGRIMAGE TO THE GRAVESITE OF GENERAL HALLER’S RECRUITS, NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, CANADA, HELD ON SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2019
March 9, 2019: Saint Catherine’s, Ontario, Canada
Pictured above, is the International Steering Committee of the Polish American Congress and the Canadian Polish Congress that oversees the Cemetery of General Haller’s Recruits. The committee established the second Sunday of June, Sunday, June 9, 2019 for commemoration of the 100th Pilgrimage.
During WWI, over 300,000 Polish Americans served in the Armed Forces of the United States, and over 22,000 volunteers from America trained at Camp Kosciuszko – Fort George, Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, for service in General Haller’s “Blue” Polish Army in France. During boot camp in Niagara, 43 recruits died from the Spanish Flue epidemic, of which 26 are buried in the local parish cemetery in what has become known as a military cemetery of the Republic of Poland.
Interred with the remains of active duty servicemen who gave up their lives for the freedom of Poland, the burial plot is revered to be part of, and made up of, the soil of Free Poland. As such, the site became the object of an annual pilgrimage and reunion of Haller’s veterans, remaining a symbol of Free Poland for 100 years, through-out Poland’s darkest hours of World War II and the Cold War. Please join us at this year’s 100th Anniversary Pilgrimage.
The committee extends a special invitation to all veteran posts to participate in this year’s parade and ceremonies. The Parade Marshal leading this year’s ceremonies will be Krzystof Tomczak, the National Vice Commander of the Polish Army Veterans Association of America.
In a special way, the committee actively seeks and invites all descendants of General Haller’s Army to attend. If you are aware, or may believe, that one of your ancestors was in the Polish Army in France during WWI, please contact us and plan to attend this gathering, and meet with fellow descendants.
The United States was represented by Stephen Flor, National Director of the Polish American Congress representing the national organization of the Polish Falcons of America / Chairman of the Polish American Congress National WWI Centennial Committee in partnership with the United States World War One Centennial Commission. For more information, and to become involved, visit the Polish American Congress’s federal website at https://www.worldwar1centennial.org/polish-american-congress-home.html, or http://www.ww1cc.org/polish