Wanda Leokadia Tarnawska 1899-1981

Born on December 5th, 1899 in Warsaw. She graduated a junior high school in Odessa on May 18th, 1918. In October 1918 she returned to Poland and started work in the Polish Railways Management in Warsaw, attending simultaneously 3 week courses of the Polish Red Cross for students and graduates. She finished them on August 15th, 1920. Continuing work, she in October she started studies at the Free Polish University, Faculty of Humanities. Because of material obstacles, she interrupted studies and entered the Warsaw Nursing School directed by Miss Helen Bridge. After 2 years of studies (1925-1927), passing final exams of theory and practice (hospital and community nursing), she was awarded a registered nurse title (diploma no 76).

She started her first work in the Ujazdów Hospital, as an operating room nurse and instructor for WNS students. Wanda Leokadia Tarnawska was seen as a nurse of serious, honest attitude towards her duties, very sensitive for human suffering, modest, cheerful, and pretty. She married a military doctor on December 15th, 1928 and accompanied her husband in his professional journeys.She did not work, but still she was active, serving with her competencies as a volunteer in the White Cross and health care units for the soldiers.

She was in Warsaw when the WW broke out. Regardless health problems, she engaged in conspiratorial activity of the Secret Military Organisation, alias „Maja”. She transported post and weapons (often hidden in her daughter’s carriage), kept explosive and incendiary materials. IN 1942 the Tarnawskis moved to Cracow region, because they were wanted by the Gestapo. Dr Tarnawski became a chief of Kedyw (Directoriate for Diversion) Cracow Branch of the Home Army. He managed all actions in this area. Wanda Leokadia participated in destruction of transport (mainly railways), and of lists of people to be sent to the Third Reich. Among the most successful actions there are: rescue of transported prisoners and rescue of 88 HA soldiers and Soviet prisoners from the prison in Jasło. In June 1944 they returned to Warsaw (according to an order received), because the Gestapo was again in search of legendary “Jarema” and his wife “Maja”. She was in Praga district when the Warsaw Rising broke out. Regardless time or rest, risking her life, she helped the injured and sick insurgents and civilians.

She was awarded the Cross of Valor and the Grunwald Distinction.

Elaborated basin on biography by Hanna Kamińska, CAPN