Tributes paid to Royal British Legion stalwart and Polish Army veteran Alfred Zelke at his funeral

Alfred Zelke, veteran of the Polish 2nd Army tank regiment, recites the Ode of Remembrance at the un

Alfred Zelke, veteran of the Polish 2nd Army tank regiment, recites the Ode of Remembrance at the unveiling of the Polish Memorial in Riddlesworth - Credit: Archant

Heartfelt tributes were paid at the funeral of a Polish Army veteran who went on to become a Royal British Legion stalwart.

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

Alfred Zelke (right) 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 pathfinder working with the French resistance.

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.

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

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


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A funeral service was held at Risby Crematorium, in Bury St Edmunds, on Monday, April 3.

In his eulogy, the Reverend Derrick Sheppard said: 'The world will now be a poorer place after you have gone, Alfred Zelke.'

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And Robin Knowles, chairman of the RBL East Harling branch, said: 'Alfred was a very modest man. He was not a man to talk of his own achievements, history and personal experiences.

'As a long-time member of the East Harling Branch of the RBL, Alfred held many of the official posts.

'A stickler for the rules and regulations, he had very high standards and was always immaculately turned out.

'Alfred worked tirelessly for the Legion and was a fountain of knowledge and inspiration to others. He provided help, support, encouragement and advice to all the other branch officers and members.

'Alfred embodied all that was good in the legion. He was both a gentleman and a gentle man.

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

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.

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

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