Tributes to Michael Krupa, heroic survivor

the late Michael Krupa pictured in1995
the late Michael Krupa pictured in1995

Tributes have been paid to author Michael Krupa who has died at the age of 98.

Mr Krupa, who lived in Coley and wrote ‘Shallow Graves in Siberia’, was born in the Polish village of Rudnick, near to Krakow, Zackopane, and the Tatra Mountains.

Pressurised by his parents to enter the monastic life, he spent four years training at a seminary in Poland before joining the Stara Wies monastery. But he found he did not have a calling and absconded to seek shelter with an uncle.

His uncle persuaded him to write to his parents and the Jesuits to ask for forgiveness and he was eventually reunited with his family.

Mr Krupa then started his two years compulsory service and reported for duty with the 13th Regiment of Cavalry in Nowa Vilejka in the north of Poland.

He was invited to apply for several signal courses which he passed with flying colours and on returning to his unit he was promoted to corporal.

He applied to serve for five years in the Air Force Meteorlogical Service and at the beginning of 1939 he was accepted but international events at this time pushed him in a different direction.

His cavalry regiment was sent to the frontline, accompanied by anti-tank guns, horse and men against German tanks and the Luftwaffe. Mr Krupa survived but then his search for his parents began.

He was arrested in Soviet-occupied Poland and accused of spying, interrogated and tortured in Moscow’s notorious Lubianka prison and given ten years hard labour in Pechora Lager.

He survived the journey in cattle trucks and then by foot.

Unbelievably he eventually escaped, had his horse eaten by wolves, survived execution when shot through the neck, was saved and hidden in a hay store and nursed back to health by a Russian peasant couple who risked their lives to help him.

Mr Krupa eventually made it to Afghanistan.

From there he rejoined the Polish Army, taken to Pahlevi, on the Caspian Sea, and from there to Palestine where he came under the protection of the British.

He ended up on British soil and trained as a paratrooper to keep contact with the Polish Underground Army, known as Armia Krajowa.

His father returned to Poland but his mother died in a labour camp and was buried in a shallow grave.

He married Kathrene James and the couple had three children, Julia, Michael and Danuta.

He had four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. His funeral was held at Coley Church on Wednesday.