He was one of Poland’s most revered tank commanders during the Second World War, a formidable leader who defended Scotland’s east coast and played a decisive role in driving the Nazis from Europe.

Known as “Baca”, or the good shepherd, General Stanislaw Maczek prevented the retreat of thousands of German troops during the Battle of Normandy before he and his men liberated parts of France, Belgium and Holland.

When the war ended he was unable to return to Poland and later moved to Edinburgh with his wife and family.

Now the late commander of the Polish 1st Armoured Division is set to be honoured with a statue in Scotland’s capital – and one of his last surviving officers has stepped in to ensure the necessary funds are in place.

READ MORE: Poland boosts tribute fund for war hero Maczek

Captain Jacek Zagorski, 94, who made his home in Australia following the war, has moved to pay tribute to General Maczek from the other side of the world, offering a £5,000 donation towards the cost of the memorial.

The money will be a boost to plans by the General Stanislaw Maczek Trust for a life-size bronze cast of the commander.

It is hoped the statue will be set in the courtyard of Edinburgh Council Chambers.

Captain Zagorski, who escaped to Scotland to rejoin the exiled Polish Army after the fall of France in 1940, said he felt compelled to honour the general.


Above: Dunalastair House, Perthshire

He said: “In Scotland, none of us, Polish exiled soldiers, had any relatives. We became great mutual friends and substitute families.

“General Maczek, firm and very fair, became our surrogate father, known as ‘Baca’. He was a great example, inspiration, leader and guide to us.”

Captain Zagorski’s own acts of heroism during the war earned him several Polish, British and French military medals.

During training in Scotland, he helped adapt the pre-war traditions of the horse-riding Jazlowiec Uhlans regiment to the demands of tank warfare. The skills were then used to devastating effect in the fight against the Nazis.

READ MORE: To me he was just 'Tata' - son of Polish war hero General Maczek on father's new honour

The captain was also said to have become the best tank driver in his squadron and would shoot Scottish grouse for suppers at the officers’ mess.

Captain Zagorski’s son, Jack, recounted how on September 6, 1944, his father led a reconnaissance patrol near Ypres, Belgium.

“Surprising the Germans, the patrol captured the bridge on the main road,” said Mr Zagorski. “Having received a face wound, he remained in command of his light tanks and maintained fire while awaiting arrival of the advance guard in their heavy tanks.


Above: Sandhurst

“While almost fainting from the loss of blood, he did not seek medical help until having completed a detailed report on the field situation.

“This was not the first time that superiors praised his daring determination and courage.

“In August 1944, as commander of another reconnaissance patrol near Falaise in France, he succeeded in the task to establish contact with Canadian forces, infiltrating the way through the German positions. He was soon promoted to lieutenant.”

A year later, the regiment liberated the Stalag VI-C Oberlangen prisoner of war camp in Germany with 1750 Polish women.

Among them was Captain Zagorski’s future wife, Aniela Sulistrowska, and the couple, who had four sons and five grandchildren, were together until she died this year on New Year’s Day.


Above: Captain Zagorski, his son Jack, and the late Mrs Zagorski

On the last day of the Second World War in May 1945, his unit helped deliver the surrender of the German naval station of Wilhelmshaven.

He later made his home in Australia and worked as a designer for firms including Massey-Ferguson in Melbourne, where he developed harvesters which have been used all over the world.

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Captain Zagorski also provided images of his time in Scotland, including at Dunalastair House, the now derelict Perthshire mansion requisitioned during the war and later used as a Polish school for refugees.

He said it was extremely important to celebrate the bravery and commitment of his former commander.

“With my donation I respectfully wish to honour his memory and that of the soldiers of his division,” he added.

HeraldScotland: Polish artist Bronislaw Krysztof with a mini-version of the life-size memorial to second World War hero General Stanislaw Maczek seated on a bench at the Edinburgh City Chambers, where the finished version will be unveiled later this year. Picture by Gord

Above: Polish artist Bronislaw Krzysztof is creating the statue that will sit just off the Royal Mile. Picture by Gordon Terris

The general and his troops were unable to return to communist Poland in peace time and worked and lived in his adopted city of Edinburgh most of the rest of his life.

READ MORE: Polish general takes his seat in history outside City Chambers

Known simply as Stan in the hotel where he later worked, the general’s former soldiers would click their heels in salute as they ordered a drink.

When the general died in 1994, aged 102, the late Lord Fraser of Carmyllie represented the UK Government at his funeral and learned of his achievements before launching the campaign for a permanent memorial to the general and his men.

The memorial fund is due to close at the end of this month with a last push for the remaining £9,000 of the £85,000 target.