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Tracing my Polish Grandparents ( Lis family )

23 Mar 2014 #1
Hi, I am trying to trace my Polish Grandparents, and have some success with my Grandfather Stanislaw Lis. He was the secretary of the Polish Ex Combatants society , and they put me in touch with the MOD. I found he was an Officer in the Polish army, and am waiting on his records. My mother was left by her mother (his wife) in a babies home in Devon until the end of the war, but her mother never returned, and she was unable to trace them until she was 21. She did find them in London, they were both now divorced and remarried. Her mother told her she was in Special Ops, and she also put a false maiden name on my mothers birth cert. Apparently my grandmother was from Lodz , and from a jewish family. My mother also found out much later that her parents had been in a Siberian camp, where they lost their two small sons. I dont have any idea how to find out more, as I dont have my grandmothers maiden name, and any records of her seem impossible to find. My mother lost contact with her parents soon after she found them again, and she also has just died.. My grandfather had two degrees, one in law and the other in agriculture from Warsaw University. I dont know how to go about discovering if this is true, and also uncovering my grandparents birth cert etc, as the sites are all in Polish. I want to trace living family in Poland eventually if possible. My grandfather was also apparently the Polish President in exiles personal representative during and after the war. I am very proud of my grandparents and heartbroken at all they went through. Can anyone help in anyway? Many thanks


Merged: Searching for Helena Lis, wife of Gen Anders bodyguard and my maternal grandmother.

My Polish grandmother is listed on my mothers birth certificate as Ellen Lis ( formally Colomerecki. I now know that is a false name. )My mother was born in Hammersmith in 1943 and taken by her mother when she was about 10 days old to a home for Officers children at Hope cove in Devon. Her mother told the nurse in charge that she would send support and pick her up after the war. No one ever came back for her and she was brought up by the nurses, who changed her surname to Lister to make her less conspicuous . When she was 21 her Godmother traced both her parents somehow and she met them in London. By now they were both divorced and remarried. Her mother had never told her father, Stanislaw Lis that he had a daughter. Her father told her he was an officer in the Polish army, the secretary of the Polish Ex Combatants association, and had been the Polish President in exiles personal rep during or after the war. He had degrees from Warsaw University in both Agriculture and Law. He said he was a marked man and couldn't return to his beloved Poland. I believe I have just traced him through the MOD and SPK and am waiting on his records.

I don't know how to trace my Grandmother, Helena . Apparently she married Gen Anders personal body guard. Does anyone know his name ? She also told my mother she had been involved in Special Ops and didn't want to leave the Polish Army when my mother was born. Would it be likely a woman served in this way ? She never gave a correct address and had physical evidence of the deprivation she suffered during the war. My mother lost touch with her parents about 18 months after she met them, but later contacted the BBC after they aired a programme about Polish communities who were finding it hard to integrate after the war. A little old Polish lady came to the door and said she was interred with her parents in Siberia, and my mother had two brothers who died there.

My grandmother apparently came from a fairly well to do Jewish family in Lodz ( my mothers step mother told her this)
It was a sadness to my mother all her life that she never really knew her parents and she struggled with being displaced and never feeling she fit in. It affected her deeply.

She only died in January and I have been trying to trace her family since. I feel deeply moved by their love for their country and the suffering they endured.

Of anyone can help in anyway with suggestions or information I would be indebted.
BarbaraD - | 7
23 Mar 2014 #2
Jenny, are you able to provide more detailed information on your grandparents? Their dates of birth, maybe marriage, where did they marry? Where and when was your mother born?

OP Jennykmilne
24 Mar 2014 #3
Hi Barbara,
Thanks for your reply . I have my mothers birth certificate . She was born in Queen Charlottes Hospital Hammersmith , and named Elizabeth Mary Lis. Her mother is listed as Ellen Colomercki, and her father , Stanley Lis, occupation , Pte in Polish Army. Their address was 11 Kelso Place. London.

My mother was brought up by the nurse who first took her in when her mother took her to the babies home in Hope Cove, Devon. Her name was Rose Toms, and her assistant was Dorothy Clarke. At some point her name was changed by common usage to Elizabeth Lister, and she spent the majority of her childhood in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

I think my mother struggled a great deal with her identity , and against Rose Toms wishes, her godmother traced her parents in 1964. They were living separately in London, with their new spouses, her father was in Barnes and her mother in Ealing.

She first made contact in November 1964 with her step mother, also named Helena. I'm not sure when her mother was first contacted, but her step mother had known her in Poland, and told my mother she came from a well to do Jewish family in Lodz. Mum felt there was some jealousy on her step mothers part, as she had been a student at the age of 13 in my grandfathers class, whilst my grandmother was engaged to him. She was 18 and had already been married and divorced.

When my mother first met her mother, they met in a coffee shop. Her mother told her she had never stopped looking for her. She had been conceived whilst Stanislaw was on a weekend leave from training troops in Scotland in Feb 1943. Her mother never told her father of the pregnancy..I don't know why. In Nov 43 she told my mother she was desperate. Mums birth was imminent and she didn't want to leave the Polish Army, mum thinks it was her mother who told her she was in Special Ops. A friend told her of the babies home, and Rose Toms told me she remembered Helena telling her she would return for mum after the war, and she would send monthly support. She sent about 2 payments and then no more. Rose felt there was something strange about her.

Helena had a colostomy and mum said she was very lined and physically affected by the war. She never gave a correct address , and when mum arranged to meet her again, she got the wrong day. She never found her again. I'm not sure if it was her mother or step mother who told her she had married Gen Anders personal bodyguard. It was her mother who told her the name she gave on mums birth cert , Colomercki , was false, and also the exact date of birth may have been also.

Her father only spoke broken English and he and mum conversed mainly in French and German. He was very happy to have a daughter and they met a number of times. She discovered he was the international secretary of the Polish Ex Combatants association, he travelled up and down the country visiting Polish communities and handing out medals. Mum wrote in her notes at the time 'general big nob really !' . He reportedly had been the polish president in exiles representative. He told mum he was a major in the Polish Army.

Her step mother had been interred in Siberia and on release had made her way across Europe with her 5 year old son, Georg . She was fiercely patriotic, and mum felt pressured to become Polish. She was taken to Polish clubs etc, and having had a middle class English upbringing, including boarding school it was too much for her.

Her father had two degrees from Warsaw university, one in agriculture and the other in law. He taught at both Warsaw and krakow universities.
She wrote at the time..still a legal eagle I think.
Mum lost contact in 1966 when she moved from London to Buckinghamshire.
When I started searching recently I found the marriage between Stanislaw and Helena Narzymska in 1957 . They were living in Fulham , both listed as previous marriages dissolved and Stanislavsky occupation listed as consultant in Polish and international law. I feel certain it was him. Last week I called the SPK , and the lady who spoke to me knew who Stanislaw Lis was. She said he was very important. She was going to look for information on him and get back to me, but she told me to call the MOD. I did so and the lady there said there were 13 Stanislaw Lis , but only one officer ( she thought that was him because of his degree in law. ) she told me he graduated from Lwow, and died in 1967. She also told me he was buried in Gunnersbury cemetary. My sister looked for him and found his grave on Saturday. Very moving. His birthplace is give days Lwow .

I've looked and looked and can find no other records for his marriages , birth, etc. I have no idea how to trace my grandmother. I'm hoping his military records will give me more clues. I hope this triggers someone's memory or someone can help. My heart goes out to Helena. Apparently she and Stanislaw lost their two sons in Siberia and then she lost her only daughter too. She also lost her family. I think she was trying to protect my mother by placing her in the home, and couldn't rest but had to continue to fight for polands freedom. What a courageous lady. Thanks Barbara for your interest. It is much appreciated !


Please excuse my typos..spell check !!!
OP Jennykmilne
24 Mar 2014 #4
Meant to add, My grandfather was born in 1903, according to the MOD records, in Lwow. My grandmother would have been approx 5 years younger, born in Lodz. My mother was born in Hammersmith on 4th Nov 1943. My grandfather remarried on 22 March 1957 in Fulham London. He died in Hammersmith in 1967. Not sure of exact date.

Those are all the confirmed dates I have.
BarbaraD - | 7
27 Mar 2014 #5
Jenny, please write to me at barbara (at) genealogiapolonica . com
The documents exist and I can help you get the copies, but I don't have time to visit this forum often...


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