Two Polish war veterans who fought side-by-side in World War Two have been reunited by chance 70 years on – after moving into the SAME British retirement complex.
Andrew Borowiec, 87, and Ted Stopczynski, 89, first served together as part of the Warsaw Resistance in 1944 but went their separate ways after the war.
Unbeknown to each other, they both recently moved into adjacent bungalows at Ilford Park Polish Home in Newton Abbot, Devon.
They were only reunited when a member of staff thought there might be a connection and introduced them.
Andrew’s wife Juliet witnessed the reunion and was “astonished” that they had ended up in the same place after 70 years.
She said: “They were as excited as two men in their 80s can be. It is an enchanting story.
“It is such a coincidence that they are opposite each other in the bungalows. Ted’s window looks onto our garden.”
“They talk at a mile-a-minute whenever they see each other, especially Ted, as he has the better memory and he is very loquacious.
“Even though he is two years older and was in charge of Andrew during the war, he says ‘I am not a hero, Andrew is a hero’.”
Ted – or “Nietek” as he was known in the war – first recruited Andrew, then 15, for the Warsaw Resistance in 1944, when they tried to liberate Warsaw from the Nazis.
Then 17, Ted was in command of the unit and Andrew later ended up in a prisoner of war camp.
Andrew went on to become a writer and award-winning foreign correspondent covering conflicts across the world.
He married Juliet 42 years ago, and the couple were based in Cyprus until June this year when they transferred Ilford Park, a residential and nursing care home for former members of the Polish Forces.
Andrew said he did not recognise his neighbour at first.
“Someone had to tell me who he was, but once I realised who he was I remembered him,” he said.
“It is an enormous coincidence – mind you, it’s not so impossible for Poles to meet in England because this was our rescue place.”
Care home manager Clare Thomas said: “It was an amazing day when Mr Borowiec and Mr Stopcynski made a connection that they had served together more than 70 years ago, and it was great to see that spark of recognition.”
Andrew has recently written a book titled ‘Warsaw Boy: A Memoir of a Wartime Childhood’ which was published by Penguin.