Information for Veterans and their families

Kazimierz Zakrzewski-Rucinski

Kaziks Journey

Kazimierz Zakrzewski-Rucinski
Born Radom, Poland 1909
Died London 1982
Education: Warsaw University, pre-war ;
Architectural School, Liverpool, post-war.
Affiliations: Polish Air Force ; Royal Air Force

From an observation balloon above Poland to a Wellington bomber over the Netherlands, Kazik navigated - and documented the world with his expertise gained working as a professional illustrator before World War Two. An odyssey from his occupied homeland began in 1940, when he travelled south through Eastern Europe and into Syria via Greece and Turkey, across North Africa and then caught a boat from Gibraltar to join with a Royal Air Force crew in the UK. He was harboured by a Dutch family after being shot down over Holland, until being discovered and sent to the infamous Stalag Luft III in Upper Silesia. He produced portraits of his fellow POWs, hauling these drawings in a trolley during a long forced march across Occupied Europe in 1945.

The album traces his journeys using drawings, maps, photographs and identity cards, captioned with a white Chinagraph pencil, that marks track lines on laminated charts and pilots boards.The drawing pad records portraits of and by his contemporaries, one page covered in dedications from them, upon liberation.

After the war, Kazik worked as an architect producing a modernist proposal for a RAF Memorial Chapel at Biggin Hill when he worked for Wylton Todd who Kazik had met in prison camp (the memories on the record/disc). From the fifties until his death, Kazik drew perspectives, which is very specialised, so didn't design any more. He worked for TP Bennett and Son in Holborn for many years and continued to live in England, until he passed away in 1982.

Until now, this work has never been shown in a gallery.

(Click the images to enlarge)

Memories of Stalag Luft III record
Credited to Wylton Todd
Left: F/LT Bob McBride, Canadian
Right: F/LT Peter Gardner, RAF
Left: F/O James Inglis
Right: F/LT Timothy Fenn
George Buchanan (4th August 1944)
Dedications to Kazik
Do you recognise any of the names here?
Kazik as a character in wartime
A spread from a book that was produced after the war, which mentions that Peter Butterworth (later of Carry On film fame) was a leading member of the camp theatre group.

Kazik had post-war letters from a Canadian PoW called Bob McBride who appears in one of the paintings and was an accomplished illustrator himself.

Barb emailed in January 2010 to say:
Your site comment "Dedications to Kazik
Do you recognise any of the names here?

Yes, I recognize several names, my father knew the men at Stalag Luft III. In fact the play "Messalina" is mentioned in one note, and my father is pictured in the book Wirebound World, when he played one of the characters in that play.
Also, a good friend of Dad's, the Canadian artist Bob Buckham wrote his name and address on that note. As an artist, Bob Buckham did a sketch of my father at the camp which Dad has. So if you look in the low centre you'll see Bob Buckham's name. I can send you a link to Bob's art now on display in the Canadian War Archives Ottawa as well as some of his collection online. I also recognize (I think) it might be John Dowler's name who as far as I know went on to be an actor in England?
Another signee mentions the play "Messalina" which was a musical written at the camp by David Porter and Wylton Todd (I can look it up, I think Todd did the music) if you need that confirmed. In those plays the "women" were played by men like John Dowler who did a great job and they all had great fun doing those plays and it was great entertainment for the boys.
For now that will send you in the right direction as far as some of those names from Stalag Luft III. I can ask my Dad if he recognizes any of the other names.

But I also noticed a water colour portrait of Bob McBride who my father knew. Those water colour portraits and the rest of the artwork are wonderful.

Was Kazik at Stalag Luft III as well?

I enjoyed the portraits, amazing, what talent. I especially liked 'the journey' the large travel 'map' of one of their lives in that war.

All best,

Jessica emailed on 1st July 2013 to say her grandfather, William Beckingham, was also in Stalag Luft III and had his portrait painted by Kazik. See the Help B page for the images.