Don't miss a story sign up to Sidmouth Herald's FREE daily newsletter CLICK HERE

WW2 veteran who fought on both sides remembered

12:30 13 April 2014

Alan Galinski in his German uniform

Alan Galinski in his German uniform

Archant

Alan Galinski, a veteran who fought in both armies on opposing sides, though not from choice, died on Wednesday, April 2, following an accident. He was 87 years old.

Alan (middle) with two colleagues in British uniformAlan (middle) with two colleagues in British uniform

At the age of 13 he was taken with other young men from his village in Poland, to work in labour camps in Germany at the start of World War Two.

He could relate times of great suffering, cruelty and hunger yet was strong enough to be transferred to the German army at the age of 15 – a move he hated but which probably saved his life.

He had memories of many battles, the famous battle of Monte Casino in Italy being the most memorable. He was never allowed to be armed and worked with donkeys carrying water and supplies up the mountain roads, always under fire from allied forces. He planned and successfully executed his escape whilst the German army were retreating. Shot at by the Americans whilst he was running towards them, along with dozens of other Polish men attempting to escape, he sustained only flesh wounds. He spent three weeks in a field hospital being interrogated before being transferred to the Polish division of the English Eighth Army. He was taught to drive in one day’s intensive course, such was the urgency of the situation, and he drove trucks carrying broken down tanks with a trailer behind similarly loaded and always under constant fire.

He told the story that once he took a corner on a steep bend of the Italian dusty road too quickly, careering right through a cottage, leaving not a stone standing. Luckily it had been vacated and he and his two tanks arrived at the repair depot unscathed.

Alan on a family trip to Poland in 2012Alan on a family trip to Poland in 2012

After the war he was brought to England and whilst still in the army spent 18 months locating, unearthing and defusing live ammunition previously used for live ammunition training around England. Many of the Polish forces were put to this work and he witnessed many fatal casualties.

He was demobbed in 1947 and through the Red Cross traced his family in Poland and learned that his brother, who had a similar escape route, was living and working in Bradford, Yorkshire. Alan joined him and later met his wife Corinne. They were celebrating their 62nd wedding anniversary on the day he died.

His two daughters, Helena and Ella, recall that their father witnessed and experienced many horrors and cruelty of war, yet he held no hatred or bitterness for anyone or any nation. He always said that wherever he went, in any country, there were more good people than bad and those were the ones he remembered.

Having learned the languages fluently in the different war zones, he put that knowledge to good use, being an interpreter for the police and courts.

The family moved to Devon in 1971 when Corinne became headteacher of the new Littleltown Primary School in Honiton. They had recently moved to live in Sidmouth.

His funeral is to be at East Devon Crematorium on April 17, 2.30pm.

As he had witnessed first hand the unstinting work of the Red Cross in all the different countries, his family request any donations to go to the Red Cross.

0 comments

Other News Stories

46 minutes ago
Bradley Wiggins leads the field away at the start of last year's Devon stage of the Tour of Britain in Sidmouth.. Picture by Alex Walton.

WorldTour teams will be racing through as town plays host to world famous race for first time

Read more
Yesterday, 19:30
Sidmouth Regatta raft race on Saturday evening. The team from All Saints church catch a wave and surf into the beach.

The organisers of Sidmouth Regatta’s raft race are calling on families and community groups to make some memories on the water this summer.

Read more
Yesterday, 06:30
Local school children were presented with their prizes and awards by Lady Cave this week in the school's garden competition organised by Sidmouth Rotary. Ref shs 28-16SH 2084. Picture: Simon Horn.

Young gardeners from across East Devon have been praised for their green fingers as part of a competition organised by the Rotary Club of Sidmouth.

Read more
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Sidmouth slimmer Glenn Channing was nominated by his local Slimming World group to be crowned on its men of the year list.

A pair of Sidmouth men are recognised by their Slimming World group in its men of the year list.

Read more
Saturday, July 23, 2016
a flashback to FolkWeek in 1972. Ref shs Folk week 1972-23. Picture: Archant archives

A lookback at FolkWeek from early ‘70s

Read more
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Dads on Wheels cyclists Andrew Judge, Mike Harms, Brian Taylor and Matthew Meek with their children and Hays Travel staff

Four dads trying to get fit are taking to the saddle in Sidmouth to boost a pair of good causes with an all-day bike ride.

Read more
Friday, July 22, 2016
Proposed new West Hill parish council boundary

Campaigners welcome split but express disappointment over boundary

Read more
Friday, July 22, 2016
Ian Rangeley, chairman of Seaton and Beer RNLI, with volunteers at the Beer lifeboat week. Ref shb 27-16TI 3453. Picture: Terry Ife

Crowds flocked to Beer’s annual Lifeboat Week to raise £1,270 for the RNLI.

Read more
Friday, July 22, 2016
Sidmouth Lifeboat crew warn people of the dangers of climbing on the rock breakwaters this week. Ref shs 29-16SH 7567. Picture: Simon Horn.

Swimmers are being urged to check conditions before they enter the water after a number of people were rescued from Sidmouth’s breakwaters this week.

Read more
Friday, July 22, 2016
Option Four

The public has spoken and more breakwaters are the preferred choice to shore up Sidmouth seafront – but less than one per cent of the town’s population turned out to vote.

Read more

Local Weather

Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 19°C

min temp: 15°C

Most Read News

Great British Life

Great British Life

Useful Links

Family notices
Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Submit a Story
Buy Photos
Competitions
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Image
Read the Sidmouth Herald e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Local business directory

Devon's trusted business finder

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists


Find planning applications