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The Polish Airman

In the summer of 1940, my grandfather, a Presbyterian minister, was sent to to the seaside to recuperate after an illness.

As many hotels were reserved as billets for members of the military and or had rooms held aside for people with jobs deemed "necessary to the war effort" (which icluded the clergy), my father was permitted to stay at a hotel which would normally house military personnel.

During his stay at the hotel, he met a young Polish airman named Alojzy B. Dreja and they struck up a friendship. Mom tells me that, because of the obvious language barrier they had difficulty conversing until they discovered that, because European schools taught one language which enabled them all to converse quite happily... As a result, evenings were spent conversing, for the most part, in Latin!

The cards and letter are dated December 27, 1940. The Christmas wafer mentioned in the letter is still in the folded paper he enclosed it in in the envelope. It is now crumbled with age but I can remember being shown it as a small child.

We don't know what happened to him, but I have started looking for information.

I do know that he was awarded the Virtuti Militari, one of Poland's highest military honours.

It appears that, in all probability, Alojzy died in 1984. I believe that this is him, from information I found on an ancestry website:

Name: Alojzy Baltazar Dreja
Birth: 1 Jan 1918
Death: Dec 1985 - Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey

HOWEVER, from what I have been able to piece together, Alojzy may well be the father of Chris Dreja of the Yardbirds. I haven't yet been able to confirm this but I have sent a query to Chris' manager and hope that someone will answer my question.

UPDATE! I just received an email from Chris Dreja who tells me that Alojzy was, indeed, his father. I am over the moon to have received this news as well as a photo of Alojzy and his wife on their wedding day in 1943! OVER THE MOON!!!!!

Alojzy left the Polish Air Royal Force ( as a Major) at the end of the war and had a successful career in aviation. He was well liked and very much loved by his 3 sons. As I mentioned, he died in 1985.

I still intend to locate more information about his Air Force career and will post it on my blog.


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