Marian Opolczynski was born on September 5, 1921, in Poland.
He was in France when the Second World War broke out. Seeing the invasion of the national territory, he immediately joined the Resistance, within which he fought under the assumed name “Berger” for fear of reprisals on his family by the occupying forces.
He subsequently joined the French army to serve in North Africa. He was sent to Morocco, as a volunteer serviceman in the RACM (Moroccan Colonial Artillery Regiment), and later on in the RACL (Levant Colonial Artillery Regiment).
Responding to General de Gaulle’s call, Marian Opolczynski reintegrated the SAS within the 6th Polish Parachute Brigade which was placed under British command from June 8, 1943 to May 31, 1946. He became a certified parachutist at Ringway with 3729 as his certification number. His serviceman number was 82.
He took part in Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands. Master Corporal Opolczynski was dropped at Harnem Driel, in the “Cauldron” known to have been the bloodiest massacre in the history of parachutists. But he survived. These events constitute the storyline of the film “A Bridge too far”.
Departure for ARNHEM, 2nd from the right
When the war ended, he retired to Midi de la France, his adopted homeland, where he became a member of Union Nationale des Parachutistes section 131, based in Aix en Provence. He also joined the London-based SAS ex-servicemen association.
Marian Opolczynski died on January 1, 2007, a few months to his 86th birthday. His funeral took place on January 4, 2007 and he was laid to rest at the N°9 cemetery, Corneilhan road.
This great volunteer serviceman had the following decorations:
French decorations :
World War II National Recognition Award with a bar
World War II Commemorative Medal
Foreign decorations :
Polish Army Medal
Polish Serviceman Medal
French/German War Cross, with silver star (England)
Defence Medal, with silver star (England)