Irena Anders

Irena Anders, World War II Poland's Bob Hope, has passed away in Britain at 90. She actually marched alongside Polish soldiers on their way to Monte Cassino.

Following the Russian-Polish military agreement in 1941, General [Wladyslaw] Anders was released from the Lubianka prison and asked to form an army from the Polish soldiers being similarly released from gulags in Siberia. Irena, (using her stage name of Renata Bogdanska) was there as part of the "Polish Parade", a theatrical company keeping spirits high among the new army as it marched through Russia to the the shelter of the Middle East, all the way to the decisive victory for the Allies at Monte Cassino in 1944.
Under the leadership of General Anders the Poles, secured a hard-won victory on the Italian mountain. And it was Irena Anders who is said to have first sung "Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino" ("Red Poppies on Monte Cassino"), written in the midst of the fighting in honour of those who lost their lives. Her beauty was famed and her talent was well remembered by those who were there: Polish veterans recal her singing to them on the back of trucks as they moved across war-torn Europe. 
After the war she married General Anders and they settled in the UK rather than see their beloved Poland under communism. She continued as sort of an ex officio first lady of Poland, always defending Polish culture and freedom.

She passed away November 29. The funeral mass was last Wednesday.