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US radio host Rita Cosby: Scotland gave my father fresh hope after Nazi horrors

HE was a 6ft tall Polish resistance fighter who weighed the same as a 12-year-old when he escaped from a prisoner of war camp and started a journey half way round the world to build a new life.

FAMILY TIES: Rita with her father Ryszard.
FAMILY TIES: Rita with her father Ryszard.

Now the shocking plight of Warsaw Uprising hero Ryszard Kossobudzki - or Richard Cosby as he became - has helped reveal the little-known story of how Scots helped PoWs flee Hitler's war machine.

Rita Cosby, who is said to be the most listened to radio host in the US, has highlighted her father's story in a best-selling book and told how Scotland "gave him the promise of a new beginning".

The veteran correspondent, who anchored shows on Fox News Channel, is in Edinburgh this week to recount the linked histories as guest of honour at the first Outstanding Pole in Scotland Awards set up to celebrate the long-standing relationship between the two countries.

Ms Cosby, who will meet First Minister Alex Salmond during her visit, said she wanted the world to know her "quiet, unassuming father, an unsung hero".

She only found out about his astonishing past after the death of her mother in 2002 as she looked through a suitcase packed with memorabilia from her father's early life.

Her father, who died in 2012, had never spoken of his ordeal.

At the age of 13, Mr Kossobudzki saw his home town decimated by bombs and by 15, he was covertly distributing anti-Nazi propaganda in the shadow of the Warsaw Ghetto.

He lied about his age to join the Resistance and vowed to fight the enemy to the last bullet during the Warsaw Uprising.

The book Quiet Hero describes how he arrived in Glasgow via Italy towards the close of the Second World War.

Ms Cosby said in an interview with Pangea Magazine: "When my father finally told me his story, I was overwhelmed, profoundly affected, and knew immediately that it was my duty to make sure that Americans and others around the globe were aware of the incredible sacrifice and unwavering dedication of the Uprisers and understood what the Polish people endured.

"It is a story of selfless actions, a strong sense of moral purpose and one that Poles can be proud of and others around the world can learn from.

"I am so thrilled to be visiting Scotland, as it meant so much to my father and his comrades.

"When they were in the famous Polish 2nd Corps, they left Italy and came to Glasgow.

"So for them, Scotland meant the end of the war and freedom.

"He could not go back to Poland as it was taken over by Communists, so Scotland became the promise of a new beginning, and one of the happiest times of his life.

"After so many years of capitulation and darkness, Scotland was alive, full of sunshine and hope.

"It will be moving for me to be in beautiful Scotland to retrace my father's steps and see other heroic Poles who also made this incredible journey."

Thousands of Polish resistance fighters and army PoWs followed the same route through Scotland and many made their home here.

A large proportion of the 20,000 members of the Polish armed forces stationed in Scotland also settled in Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Borders.

Renfrewshire-based historian Robert Ostrycharz said the role that Poles played during the war and the strong bond they had with Scots is often overlooked.

Mr Ostrycharz said the PoWs received hospitality from families: "Great friendships were built between the Scottish families and the Polish soldiers."

The Outstanding Pole Awards are being held on Sunday and come alongside the Polish Scottish Heritage Festival in Edinburgh.

Ms Cosby added: "My father proudly joined the Home Army in the Gozdawa Battalion and crawled in darkness through the sewers.

"After being seriously injured by a mortar shell, he was thrown into Stalag 4b in Muhlberg, Germany. At 90 pounds and 6ft tall, he escaped from that Nazi PoW camp, and was saved by young American soldiers who told him his nightmare was over."

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