Soldier Spotlight: Michael Bzowy

Image: Clipping from an October 12, 1944 Grande Prairie newspaper.

Rank: Warrant Officer 2nd (WO2)

On June 13, 1944 during a raid on Cambrai, France, Michael Bzowy’s aircraft (The Thunderbirds) was attacked by a Ju 88 (German combat aircraft) night fighter and went down in flames. Friends thought he was killed, but a week later was found alive.

Michael’s mother in Rycroft received a letter from the mother of one his fallen comrades, Thomas F. How, who mentioned Michael in his diary and had a photo of him. A week later, Mrs. Bzowy received confirmation that Michael was a Prisoner of War.

An article in the December 2016 issue of Telling Our Stories caught the attention of researchers Jean Claude Charlebois and Lloyd Truscott, who shared with us a link to the diary of David Scott, a World War II soldier who served with Mike.  Below is an excerpt from David’s diary, as he describes his journey to a POW camp near the Polish border:

Bankau, August 1944: As soon as I got on board I recognised Mike Bzowy, who was at Linton with me and had been shot down a few weeks previously. The trip was scheduled to take three days to Bankau. The worst was the crowded compartments with hard wooden seats. It was definitely not the ideal form of transportation and at night it was torture trying to sleep. The general feeling of the men was good; all were a little excited, for who isn’t excited on a train journey through a strange country, even if the circumstances are not the best? The guards were not too bad; they got us hot water and gave us plenty of bread so we were well fed…

…At last we arrived at the tiny Bankau Station on Saturday 5th August, 7pm. We walked up the long road from the station preceded by wounded in a farm cart and were amazed to see our new camp. It was in the process of being built; the accommodation was in sheds. There was a goodly crowd watching us entering the camp, for there were quite a lot of us and we formed an entire new section. Mike was put in charge…

…Note. Mike Bzowy was a very interesting character. He was a Canadian of the first generation and his parents were Russian. His particular talent was in languages and he could make himself understood in the majority of European and Slavic tongues. He was also a natural leader and was good friends with everyone; when you talked with him he was always interested in you and what you wanted to say.

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

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