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Middle East and Italy

Polish boys in Pahlavi, about the same age as Frank and his brother.   Source: F. KustraWe embarked for Iran from Krasnovodsk. My brother was suffering from typhoid and the Polish Doctor told him that the crossing would be very rough and that he would not make it. My brother replied “ I know I might die, but at least I will die in a free country, not this land here”. He was permitted to leave, but he didn’t survive. When we arrived in Pahlavi, I couldn’t find my brother and I was suffering from bad malaria. I was transported to hospital in Tehran, but by that time I was unconscious.


When I woke up in the hospital, with white walls, music playing and wearing pajamas, I said to myself “I am dead, this is heaven, I must have died”.
I saw two Iranian sisters and I watched them to see whether they had any wings!

Frank Kustra in the Royal Corps of Signals School, Egypt 1943.  Source: F. Kustra I called them over but I couldn’t understand them, and I said to myself “I wonder what language they speak in heaven”. They brought a Polish sister and she said “this is not heaven, you are not dead, but you have been very sick”.

From here I was sent to the Polish Army in Iraq, and then on to Palestine with all the young soldiers. I was very happy in Palestine – we marched, did drills and sang Polish songs. The priests came to the camp and gave us prayer books, and the Jewish committees came in and brought oranges and fruit for us.Grave of Frank’s brother, Tadeusz, in Iran. He died on arrival at Pahlavi, 26th April 1942.  Source: F. Kustra

Three British schools were created in Egypt because the Polish Army needed trained personnel. One was for young Polish airmen, another for mechanics, and one for the Royal Corps of Signals School. Here we slept in tents and also had lessons. A Polish teacher taught us the 7th grade that we had missed in Lwow because of the war. British instructors taught us the procedures for radio work, and driving trucks/motorbikes. We also had to learn English.