Proud Gants Hill son to wear dad’s posthumous medal
A PROUD son will march in London tomorrow wearing a rare medal posthumously awarded to his father for surviving 18 months imprisoned in Siberia.
Harry Grynberg was the only member of his immediate family to survive the Holocaust after he fled his home town of Losice, Poland, in 1939 as Germany invaded.
Aged 24, he travelled west for the Russian border but was arrested months later by the Russian Secret Police who imprisoned him as an “enemy of the state”.
It was not until the summer of 1941, having survived harsh conditions, that he was released from the labour camp after Hitler invaded Russia.
Fast forward 69 years and Harry’s son Warren, 62, of Gants Hill, received a letter from the Polish embassy in London that the Siberian Cross – awarded to only 40 people in the UK – was to be presented to the Holocaust survivor.
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Harry died last year at the age of 94 and having collected the rare honour in September, Warren will march with it pinned to his lapel on Sunday as he joins the Ilford branch of the Association of Jewish Ex-servicemen and Women at the Jewish remembrance parade at The Cenotaph, Whitehall.
Father-of-two Warren said his father became a member of the Polish army, known as the Anders’ Army, after being freed.
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He and his peers trekked through Afghanistan, Iran and Palestine until reaching South Africa, where they guarded Italian prisoners and brought them to prisoner of war camps in England and Scotland.
Warren said: “He was transferred to the British Army after a case of anti-Semitism among the Polish armed forces in Scotland.”
Several weeks later during D-Day in 1944, he was fighting on the Normandy beaches.
He was demobbed in 1947 and built a new life in England.
Warren said: “He told no one anything about it until about 10 years ago. It was a time of his life he didn’t want to remember.
“After he told me I went to Poland to visit where he was born.”
He added: “He probably would have been ecstatic to receive the medal.”