Tributes paid to Polish war veteran and former Royal British Legion East Harling branch president Alfred Zelke

Alfred Zelke at the Polish Memorial in Riddlesworth. The photograph was taken at the memorial ceremo

Alfred Zelke at the Polish Memorial in Riddlesworth. The photograph was taken at the memorial ceremony in April 2016. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A Polish Army veteran and long-time member of the Royal British Legion (RBL), who has been described as '100pc a gentleman', has died at the age of 91.

Alfred Zelke (left) served with the Polish Army Tank Regiment during the Second World War. he is pic

Alfred Zelke (left) served with the Polish Army Tank Regiment during the Second World War. he is pictured with his colleagues. Picture Zelke family - Credit: Archant

Alfred Zelke, who lived in East Harling, served with the Polish Army Tank Regiment during the Second World War, where he was a path finder working with the French resistance.

Mr Zelke was 14 when Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and he was sent to live with relatives in Germany.

He was sent back to Poland by the Germans to help look after two horses which belonged to a German Army unit.

As a captive worker under the Germans, he helped to move ammunition through France before he escaped across the Channel to join the free Polish Army between 1942 and 1943.

Alfred Zelke (left) served with the Polish Army Tank Regiment during the Second World War. he is pic

Alfred Zelke (left) served with the Polish Army Tank Regiment during the Second World War. he is pictured with his colleagues. Picture Zelke family - Credit: Archant


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It was when he was stationed at Bologna, Italy, in 1946 that he met his Wife Paulina who was from Ribnica in Slovenia.

He was discharged from the army in 1947 and he and his wife moved to the UK - settling at the Polish resettlement camp at Bodney, near Thetford, before moving to Brandon.

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They had three daughters, Alfreda Perry, Kristina Castro Pinto and Anna McInnes.

On her father, Mrs Castro Pinto said: 'He was a bit cheeky and he would help anybody. He was a proud man. He was a good cook and his burgers were legendary. He was just dad.'

Alfred Zelke (left) served with the Polish Army Tank Regiment during the Second World War. he is pic

Alfred Zelke (left) served with the Polish Army Tank Regiment during the Second World War. he is pictured with his colleagues. Picture Zelke family - Credit: Archant

Mrs McInnes added: 'He never gave up and he had that spirit. He was an amazing man. I am proud to be his daughter.'

And Mrs Perry said: 'He was an amazing father. Good humoured, generous and very supportive all my life.'

Mr Zelke was born in Wilkow, Poland, on September 30 1925.

After the war, the grandfather of four and great-grandfather of three worked as a fencing contractor and for the Forestry Commission at Santon Downham.

Alfred Zelke (left) served with the Polish Army Tank Regiment during the Second World War. he is pic

Alfred Zelke (left) served with the Polish Army Tank Regiment during the Second World War. he is pictured with his colleagues. Picture Zelke family - Credit: Archant

He is fondly remembered by the RBL East Harling branch of which he was a former president and organised the Poppy Appeal.

Robin Knowles, branch chairman, said: 'Alfred was 100pc a gentleman. He was a gentle man and such a gentleman. The effort he put into the RBL all his life goes unequalled.

'He was just a terrific man who was loved by every one. He was quite a comedian at times. He was a lovely man and a true friend.

'Alfred was the RBL and the RBL was Alfred.'

Mr Zelke, who was widowed in 2003, died at his home on March 14.

A funeral service will be held at the West Suffolk Crematorium, near Bury St Edmunds, on Monday, April 3 at 10.30am.

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