'Inspirational' Second World War veteran celebrates 100th birthday with surprise party
PUBLISHED: 09:25 21 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:06 24 July 2018
Family and friends gathered to celebrate the 100th birthday of an "inspirational" Second World War veteran.
Jan Zawadzki, of Bungay, turned 100 on Tuesday, July 17.
Originally from a small rural village 15-miles south of Dubno, now part of Ukraine, Mr Zawadzki spent the last two years of the war serving in the Polish division of the British Eighth Army.
After being stationed at Seething camp near Bungay he decided to stay in the town rather than returning to what had become communist USSR.
To celebrate his 100th year his son Paul organised a surprise get together of family and friends.
Paul said: “It was perfect; he was blown away by it. There were a few people he hadn’t seen in years.”
During the party Mr Zawadzki was presented with a specially made birthday cake - a model of the tank he drove during the war decorated in the red and white of the Polish flag.
His son added: “Dad loved his surprise party and had a great time chatting to people he hadn’t seen for while.
“He is a very genuine, gentle man; a true gentleman, who lives his life by a good set of morals.
“He is an inspiration to everyone who has ever met him and I wanted to give him a thank you for the way he has raised me.”
However the party was just one of the surprises in store for the veteran.
On Tuesday, having received the traditional message from the Queen, he was taken to visit the Muckleburgh Tank collection in Weybourne.
Paul said: “He was treated to a one-to-one experience with a Bren Carrier – an armoured vehicle dear to his heart from his training in the deserts of the Middle East and combat experience in the battle in Monte Cassino of Italy.
“It was fantastic; the staff at the museum treated dad like a celebrity and he was overjoyed at being able to be so close with the Bren Carrier – especially when they got the engine started.”
Paul added: “In the years after the war he led a pleasant, peaceful existence and loved being in this country.
“He has always been a very inspirational person with a zest for life and hopes to celebrate many more years.”