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Issue 8 - Josef Tarnowski's Fife

Scotland Magazine Issue 8
May 2003


This article is 15 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Josef Tarnowski's Fife


Q: Tell us a little about your life history, and how you came to settle in Fife.

A: I was born in Poland. I joined the underground resistance after the country’s invasion by the Soviet Union in 1939, was arrested and sentenced to 10 years hard labour in a Siberian camp. The average survival period was one year. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Stalin released the prisoners to fight. We took a four-week journey in cattle trucks, then went on to Iraq to guard the oil refineries. I then joined volunteers to form a Polish Parachute Brigade in Scotland, taking a six week journey by lorry and boat to Scotland, which felt to me like the ‘Promised Land’. After the war, return to Soviet-occupied Poland was not possible, and I got a grant to study electronic engineering in England. In 1947, I married a Scottish lassie who I had met during the war, and gained British nationality in 1948. In 1985, my wife and I returned to her birthplace near St Andrews. I now work for a charity, spending time in Poland aiding the transition to a free market economy, and lecture at universities and polytechnics on business. In 2000, I was awarded an MBE by HM The Queen for promoting Scottish-Polish co-operation in industry and education.

Q: What are the area’s main attractions?

A: Fife is very rich in history: in the west lies the ancient capital of Dunfermline, whose abbey contains the heart of Robert the Bruce. In the north-east lies St Andrews, with the oldest university in Scotland, and the ruins of the 13th Century cathedral. John Knox, the religious reformer, preached there. St Andrews is the golf capital! There are nine courses, with another 20 in a 10km radius. Fife also has many very attractive sandy beaches and conservation areas.

Q: Describe an ideal day out spent in Fife.

A: Around of golf followed by a tour of chosen places of interest, ending with a delicious meal in one of the many excellent restaurants.

Q: Where are your favourite places to eat out and to drink in Fife?

A: The Vine Leaf restaurant and Scores Hotel Restaurant in St Andrews, the Covenanters' Inn in Falkland, the Fish Restaurant in Anstruther, Ostlers Close Restaurant in Cupar and Peat Inn Restaurant, Peat Inn.

Q: What is your favourite local dish?

A: Fish and chips from the award-winning fish and chip shop in Anstruther. Are there any visitor attractions or activities that really stand out in Fife? Apart from golf in St Andrews, there are Highland Games in most towns, with unique competitions of Highland dancing, bagpipe playing and sporting events.

Q: What is your fondest memory of Fife?

A: There are many, but the wonderful reception by the Scottish people on my arrival during the war and the friendship of Scottish people shown towards me both stand out.

Q: How do you feel about devolution?

A: The Scottish people deserve to be responsible for their own affairs. They have shown in the past that they are very capable of governing
themselves effectively. Local issues should be resolved locally and not remotely.