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Rare flag stolen from former spy

PUBLISHED: 16:40 10 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:04 03 March 2010

POLISH World War Two veteran Jan Czogala had his rare national flag stolen after he hung it along side the Union Jack as a symbol of pride.

While former spy Mr Czogala is now a British citizen, the old Polish flag was extremely important to him - a symbol of the unbreakable ties he feels with the country of his birth.

POLISH World War Two veteran Jan Czogala had his rare national flag stolen after he hung it along side the Union Jack as a symbol of pride.

While former spy Mr Czogala is now a British citizen, the old Polish flag was extremely important to him - a symbol of the unbreakable ties he feels with the country of his birth.

And it had been adorned with the old Polish eagle – a design now dropped from the flag, rendering his keepsake irreplaceable.

The flag was stolen from outside Jan's Newsagents in Nacton Road during Jubilee weekend, the shop he owns with his wife Ena.

It hung out of a second storey window, so thieves must have climbed up to take the flag.

"We hung it out along with the Union Jack to celebrate the jubilee. On Saturday the flag was decorated and by Sunday morning it had been stolen," said Mrs Czogala in disbelief.

Her husband said: "I've had that flag a long time. It was given to me by a Polish ship docked at Ipswich, but now they've pinched the blasted thing.

"It's a real shame because I remember how much the children loved it when it was out for the Silver Jubilee.

"They used to think the eagle was a chicken and it made them laugh. I'm very upset it's gone."

The flag is not just a decorative display of patriotism but also plays an important role in the funerals of the Polish community.

"It is used to drape over the coffin at funerals and there are not many of them about. We have been asked by people before if they can use it and it means a lot to people to have it there. It is actually the old communist flag and while it is only a flag it means a lot to my husband," she added.

The 78-year-old has been in England since 1943 and regards this as his home but the history and the memories of his childhood that the flag harbours are irreplaceable.

During his youth Mr Czogala was taken into forced labour by the Germans and then put in to their army. He escaped and came to England where he trained as a spy and worked for the American army.

Cathy Claydon, who manages the newsagents and lives in a flat above the shop didn't hear thieves in action, but got up to find the Polish flag and its Union Jack counterpart missing.

She said: "It's such a shame that it distracts from the whole Jubilee celebration.

"Someone must have gone to a lot of trouble to steal the flags. They were 25ft above the ground and they had to cart big wheelie bins from the butchers to climb on.

"We've never had any real trouble here before. I just don't know why people have to be so nasty about these things.

"Even the police were shocked it had been done."

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