Sgt Sladek (known in the Regiment as Steve) was born in Silesia (Poland) in 1923.

Sgt JM Sladek
Sgt JM Sladek

He served with the 1st Polish Armoured Division and took part in the Normandy Landings in 1944. Along with many other Polish ex-servicemen, Steve joined the British Army (RAC) in November 1947.

He was posted to the D and M Wing at Bovington and classified as a Dvr/Mech.

He joined the 4th Hussars in February 1948.

At this time the Regiment was down to cadre strength and stationed at Colchester.

By July 1948 the Regiment was made up to strength by a welcome draft of 400 or so regular soldiers from regiments within the RAC and sailed for Malaya on board HMT Dilwara as a regular regiment to combat the Communist insurgency.

It is not known which squadron Steve served with but during his time in Malaya, he was awarded a Mention in Despatches in 1949.

Steve was admitted to the Military Hospital in Singapore and consequently, Casevac’d to the UK in July 1949. On discharge from the hospital, he was attached to the 14/20 Hussars and consequently to the 65 Training Regiment at Catterick where he met Elizabeth Murphy (Betty) and they were married in September 1950.

He stayed with the 65 Training Regiment until rejoining the 4th Hussars in February 1953 at Tidworth and was promoted to lance corporal in November 1952 and then a corporal in January 1953.

The Regiment moved to Hohne in September 1953 and Steve was promoted to sergeant in August 1955.

Steve was granted British nationality on 19 June 1957 having served almost ten years in the British Army.

One wonders why it took so long.

Steve’s next move was a posting to the D and M School, Bovington in February 1958 which lasted until January 1960 when he returned to the QRIH in Hohne but not for long.

In May 1961 he was posted ERE yet again to the D and M School Bovington until March 1963. During this posting, he qualified as a Dvr/Sig B1 and attended a light rescue course.

He rejoined the Regiment (which had by this time returned to its old stamping ground in Ipoh, Malaya) in March 1963 and was detached to HQ Force Borneo Labuan in August 1963. During this period he attended an air portability course.

In February 1964 he was back with the Regiment and service in Kuching, etc. until the Regiment went to Wolfenbuttel in West Germany in September 1964. Steve’s stay with the Regiment was brief as in December 1964 he was taken on strength of 2 Armoured Delivery Squadron until March 1968 when he returned to the Regiment (which at this time was RAC Centre Regiment at Bovington) until his discharge on 26 October 1969.

During his service, Steve was awarded the France and Germany Star and the War Medal for his service with the Polish Forces. The GSM with Clasp Malaya and the GSM Malay Peninsular and Borneo. He received the LS and GC Medal in 1965.

On leaving the Army Steve was employed as a security officer by ICI until his retirement.

He was admitted to the hospital as a result of a fall at home. He had broken several bones including ribs, shoulder and elbow.

He survived MRSA and died of a heart attack on 8 December 2006 aged 83.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 4th Hussars
  2. A short history of The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars
  3. Malaya 1948-51
  4. Malaya and Borneo 1962-64