Ukrainian Canadian Battle of Monte Cassino Hero Passes Away

WWII Ukrainian Canadian and Polish Army veteran Mike Nazarewicz with family members at his side at the April 2016 UWVA Canadian Forces Appreciation Evening. Photo courtesy of Stephen Parry.

Canada has lost yet another highly-decorated military hero. Mike Dmytro Nazarewicz passed away on 12 November 2017, just 1 month shy of his 100th birthday and 1 day after Remembrance Day. Mike was born on 12 December 1917 in the town of Peremysl, today situated in Poland close to the western border of Ukraine. In 1939, Mike was a member of the Polish Cavalry. In September of 1939, Nazi Germany invaded western Poland and triggered the start of World War II. As part of the Nazi–Soviet Pact, the Soviets then occupied eastern Poland which included parts of western Ukraine. The border between the two invaders ran through the middle of the city of Peremysl, along the San river until June 1941, when the Germans launched Operation Barbarossa and invaded Ukraine and the rest of the Soviet Union. During the Soviet occupation, Peremysl was incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR under NKVD terror. All remnants of the Polish military that found themselves in Soviet-occupied territory were killed or sent to the GULAG. Mike was initially sent to a GULAG Camp in eastern Ukraine. He escaped, was apprehended again in Lviv and then sent to a Siberian GULAG camp.

Following the granting of Soviet “amnesty” to the Poles, Mike joined the army of Polish General Sikorski. Mike fought in Persia, Palestine and then in Italy where he took part in the infamous battle of Monte Cassino in 1944. There, after two platoon commanders were killed in battle, he found himself leading 85 troops into combat. The Allies ultimately defeated the German Army in the battle. Mike himself was wounded twice in battle from gun shots and shrapnel. He was awarded the Polish Cross for Valour and Cross of Monte Cassino in addition to several other medals for service in World War II.

After the war, Mike immigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion and until recently, always attended the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Remembrance Ceremony in Toronto, ON. His son, Roman Nazarewicz, served as an escort during the wreath laying ceremony. In April 2016, the Ukrainian War Veterans Association of Canada held a Canadian Forces Appreciation Evening, where Mike Nazarewicz was recognized for his bravery in combat to a standing ovation.

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.”

Вічная пам’ять.

Andre Sochaniwsky CD
Ukrainian War Veterans Association of Canada