Tyczkowski, Rev. Franciszek
Priest of the Vilnius archdiocese, Lt. Colonel Chaplain of the First Infantry Regiment in the Legions, pastor of the 1st Division of Legion Infantry
Born on October 10, 1891 in Meriden, Connecticut. Son of Jozef and Kazimiera.
In 1905 his parents sent him to Suwalki where he stayed with relatives and attended the local high-school. In 1911 he received his diploma and entered the seminary in Sejny. The outbreak of war interrupted further studies. He went to Vilnius where he finished his seminary studies. On February 25, 1917 was ordained by Zmodz bishop Franciszek Karewicz. After ordination became the assistant pastor at the parish the Holy Ghost in Vilnius, three months later at St. Rafal. In 1918 the Vilnius bishop Jerzy Matulewicz sent him to study in the Theological Department of the University of Warsaw. After few months studies he requested the Field Bishop of the Polish Army Stanislaw Gall to accept him for military service. In the spring of 1919 he was sent to the Kowno Infantry Regiment, stationed near Slonim. After a week he became the chaplain of the First Infantry Regiment of the Legions. He took part in all the fighting against the Bolsheviks in 1919 and 1929, in the taking of Vilnius, fighting near Dyneburg, Zytomierz, Berdyczow, Biala Cerkwia and Kiev.
After the war he was confirmed as chaplain (with seniority from June 1, 1919). In January 1921 he was demobilized and returned to study at the University of Warsaw. In 1924 he studied the Bible and Assyriology at the Bible Institute in Rome. In 1925 he returned to the Vilnius diocese and worked as assistant pastor in Wasiliszki Stare. In 1926 became an assistant in the Theological Department at Stefan Batory University in Vilnius and rector of St. Michael's Church in Vilnius. He was also the prefect at the high school the Industrial-Trade School. He was the head chaplain for Polish Boy Scouts in Vilnius.
In 1939 he was called to active service. On April 28,1939 was made chaplain (with seniority from August 1, 1935). He was chaplain at the Vilnius garrison. On August 24, 1939 of the 1st Division of Legion Infantry, which fought as part of Operational Group "Wyszkow", then as part of Army "Modlin." During fighting he was also a communications officer. On September 14 he lost contact with his division and moved east. He took part in the concealment of banner from he 18th and 41st Regiments of Polish Infantry.
For his heroism in the fighting during the 1939 campaign he received the Virtuti Militari Order V class, number 12316, given by the Virtuti Military Order Commission in London.
On September 17, with a group of 90 officers, he was taken into captivity near Busko. First he was held at the castle in Zloczow, then in Podwloszczyska and Szpietow. Then he was placed into camp at Starobielsk. On Christmas Day 1939 he and other chaplains were taken to the Lubianka [NKVD prison] in Moscow. Unlike other chaplains he was not murdered, most likely because he was an American citizen. From June 1940 he was kept at the prison in Butyrki; On August 5, 1940 he was transferred to a camp in Griazow. He taught in a secret university, giving lessons in the English language.
In September 1941 he was released. On September 3 he joined the Polish Army in Tockoje and became pastor for the 6th Division of Infantry in the Polish Amy in the Soviet Union. He followed the track of this army, later the II Polish Corps, through Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine. He participated in the Italian Campaign, including the Battle for Monte Cassino. In 1946 he became chaplain of the repatriation camp at Cervinara, Italy.
In July 1946 he left for the United states and became the assistant pastor for St. Lucia's parish in New York, then pastor for St. Hedwig's in Manhattan. During the years 1952-1962 he was chaplain to the Sisters of St. Francis. On August 8, 1962 he took over as pastor in at St. Valentine's parish in the Bronx.
He died on January 25, 1982 in New York. He is buried in the family grave at St. Stanislaw Cemetery in Meriden, Connecticut.
He was a recognized world authority in Assyriology and Sumerology.
He was twice decorated with the Cross for Valor, the Cavalier's Cross of the Order of Rebirth of Poland, the Gold Cross of Merit and British and Latvian decorations.
Sources: CAW,KW 127/T-1105, Collection of Russian Files. Name lists from a set of personnel records, registration book for prisoners at the Griazow garrison, sygn. VII.800.20, file folder 69, p. 55, position 395; Name lists from personnel lists - Griazow camp documents - list of prisoners held in the camp according to documents 3.041941, sygn. VIII.800.20, file folder 77a, p. 57. Position 19;IJP I/4/C; IPiMS, Report by Fr. F. Tyczkowski for the period Sept. 12,1941 to December 1, 1941, A.VI.1.28; Biegum Arcypasterz, p.71; Cienski, Z dziejow duszpasterstwa [From the annals of pastoral service] 1985: p. 515, 727, 1986 p. 379; Czerniecki Schematyzm Kosciola Rzymsko Katolickiego, per index; Dzwonkowski, Duchowienstwo katolickie represjonowane w ZSSR [Repression against Catholic Clergy in the USSR] p. 616; Fr. Tadeusz Federowicz, Drogi Opatrznosci [Ways of Providence] Lublin, 1990, p. 50; Gallus, Mikolajczak Ojciec Marcin Chrostowski, p. 136. Humenski, Duszpasterstwo wojskowe Armii Polskiej w ZSSR [Military clergy of the Polish Army in the USSR] p. 82; Informator Kosciola Katolickiego [Guide to the Catholic Church] p. 176; Janocha, Pod opieka Matki Bozej [Under the care of the Mother of God], p. 239; Jency w Garizowcu i Suzdalu [Prisoners in Gariozow and Sudal] p. 108; Kapelani wrzesniowi [Priests of September] per index; KARTA; Krahel, Archidecezja wilenska pod okupacja sowiecka [The Vilnius archdiocese under Soviet occupation], per index; Fr. Tadeus Krahel, Unikal katynskiego losu - Fr. Franciszek Tyczkowski, [Avoided fate at Katyn - Fr. Tyczkowski]. "Czas Milosierdzia" [Time of Mercy] Bialystok, no. 2, 2001, p. 14; Lukomski, Polak,Suchcitz, Kawalerowie Virtuti Militari [Cavaliers of the Virtuti Militari]] p. 523; Madala, Polscy ksieza katolicy [Polish Catholic priests], p. 161; Odziemkowski, Sluzba duszpasterska [Pastoral service], per index; Fr. Zdzislaw Peszkowski, Wspomnienia jenca z Kozielska [Memoirs of a Kozielsk prisoner], Hector, Warsaw 1989, p. 59; Piatkowska, Polskie koscioly w Nowym Jorku [Polish churches in New York] per index; Rocznik Oficerski [Officers' Annual] 1923 per index; Rozstrzelani w Charkowie [Shot in Charkow] Karta, Warsaw 1996, p. 244; Rocznik Oficerski Rezerw [Reserve Officers' Annual] 1924 per index; Kazimierz Satora, Opowiesci wrzesniowych sztandarow [Stories of September banners] PAX, Warsaw, 1990, p. 91; Schematyzm wilenski, 1929, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1939 per index; Wspomnienia [Recollections] per index; Jedzrzej Tucholski, Mord w Katyniu, Kozielsk-Ostaszkow-Starobielsk [Murder in Katyn Kozielsk Ostaszkow-Starobielsk]. Lista ofiar [List of victims], Warsaw, 1991, p. 527; Jedzrej Tucholski, Duchowni w sowieckich obozach jenieckich w Kozielsku, Starobielsku i Ostaszkowie [Clergy in Soviet prisoner camps in Kozielsk, Starobielsk i Ostaszkow] (in:) Martyrologia duchowienstwa [Martyrology of the clergy], p. 193-4; Franciszek Tyczkowski, Wspomnienia z pierwszej i drugiej wojny swiatowej w Polsce [Reminiscences from WWI and WWII in Poland], New York, 1972; Waszkiewicz, Duszpasterstwo [Pastoral service], per index; Wawer, Znow w Polskim mundurze [Again in a Polish uniform], per index; Wesolowski, Order Virtuti Militari, p. 626, 714; Wilanowski, Konspiracyjna dzialalnosc duchowienstwa katolickiego na Wilenszczyznie [Conspiratorial activities of the clergy in Vilnius], per index; Wspomnienia wojenne kapelanow wojskowych [Reminiscences of military chaplains], p. 554; Wykaz duchowienstwa wojskowego [Listing of military clergy], 1926, p. 13; Wykaz osob odznaczonych [Listing of medal recipients], p. 631; information given by Fr. Adam Studzinski of Krakow.
From: Boguslaw Szwedo, Zawsze w Pierwszej Lini. Kaplani Odznaczeni Orderem Virtuti Militari 1914-1921,1939-1945 [Always in the Front Rank. Priests decorated with the Virtuti Militari Order 1914-1921,1939-1945] RYTM, Warsaw, 2004
Translation by: Peter Obst (2009) for Poles in America Foundation Inc.