Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
At the outbreak of World War I Walerian Czuma joined the Piłsudski's Polish Legions. He was taken POW by the Russian Army and imprisoned in the infamous Butyrka prison. Later he was sentenced to forced resettlement in Siberia. After the Russian Revolution of 1917 he started to organise Polish military units in Siberia, which eventually became known as the Polish 5th Rifle Division.
After his unit was destroyed by the Red Army he was captured by the Red Army and again imprisoned in Moscow. After the Riga Peace Treaty he was allowed to return to Poland, where he rejoined the Polish Army.
From 1922 he served as the commanding officer of the 19th Infantry Division . Between 1927 and 1928 he was the commander of the Wilno Fortified Area. Later he was the commanding officer of the 5th Division . In March 1938 he was assigned to the Ministry of Internal Affairs as the commanding officer of the Border Guards (Polish Straż Graniczna). Between the wars Czuma was also active member of several social organisations, among them the Guards of the Graves of Polish Heroes society which initiated the construction of Lwów Eagles mausoleum in Łyczaków Cemetery in Lwów.
After the outbreak of the Polish Defence War of 1939 he declined to leave Warsaw together with the government and the civilian authorities. On September 3 Marshal of Poland Edward Śmigły-Rydz ordered the creation of an improvised Command of the Defence of Warsaw (Dowództwo Obrony Warszawy) and Czuma became its commander. He commanded all the units fighting in the Siege of Warsaw, for which he was awarded the Virtuti Militari medal.
On September 28, 1939, Czuma was taken POW by the Germans and remained in various POW camps for the rest of the World War II. After he was liberated from the Oflag VII-A Murnau POW camp in Murnau am Staffelsee, Germany, he joined the Polish Army in the West. The new communist authorities deprived him of Polish citizenship and Czuma chose to remain on emigration in the United Kingdom, where he died in 1962.
He received several of the highest military awards of the Allied countries, including:
- Polish Virtuti Militari (3rd, 4th and 5th class)
- Polish Cross of Independence with Swords
- Krzyż Walecznych (four times)
- Polonia Resituta (4th class)
- Polish Order of Merit (Golden)
- French Légion d'honneur
- Belgian Grand Cross of Leopold
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