Polish World War II battle hero Kowalik dies at 96

AP News
Posted: Jul 11, 2011 12:52 PM
Polish World War II battle hero Kowalik dies at 96

Aleksy Kowalik, one of the three surviving heroes of Poland's first World War II battle has died. He was 96.

Kowalik's daughter Jadwiga Bucz told Polish news agency PAP that her father died on Sunday in the southern city of Blachownia, where the family has lived for over 60 years.

Kowalik was among the 205 Polish troops guarding the navy's arsenal on Westerplatte peninsula, on the Baltic coast, who on Sept. 1, 1939 put up an uneven fight against German warship Schleswig-Holstein. Kowalik operated an anti-tank gun and was wounded.

Cut away from munitions and food supplies, they resisted for seven days in what was Poland's first battle of the five-year war. When they eventually surrendered, their clout prompted the German troops to salute them, when taking them prisoner.

As a POW, Kowalik worked on German farms.

He returned to Poland in 1947, got married and settled in Blachownia. He had four daughters.

Bucz said Monday that Kowalik will be buried in Blachownia on Tuesday.