Date: 13 Jul 1953
Henryk Borynski vanished in Bradford on the evening of Monday 13 July 1953.
It was thought that he had been killed by Communists. It was also suggested that he might have been taken out of the country against his will by communist agents.
He was a Roman Catholic chaplain and worked within the Polish community in Bradford and had done so since October 1952. He had spent 18 months in a Soviet concentration camp in Siberia at the start of the Second World War and had come to England from Cracow in 1945. Before moving to Bradford, he had been a Chaplain at a Polish School in Kent.
It was noted that at the time there were over 6,000 refugees in Bradford from Europe that had fled communism and that 1,500 of them were Polish.
He was a priest and it was said that before he vanished, he had received a telephone call that he had taken discretely in a low voice and with his hand cupped around the mouthpiece. After receiving the call, he was heard to say in Polish, 'Now this has come, I go' and then, 'I'm going to play detective'. It was said that he then went out wearing an overcoat and hat which was said was unusual as it was summer and was never seen again.
When he went out he left his wallet and personal papers in his lodgings and took only 2s 6d with him and said nothing to his landlady. It was also found that he had left behind his bank books which showed a credit balance of £300 upon which no demands were ever made again. His ration book was also found amongst his private papers.
He was last seen outside the main entrance of St Luke's Hospital which was less than 100 yards from his lodgings and within half a mile of the Lithuanian priest's home.
The police said that they knew of no reason why he might have wanted to leave the country. They noted that if he had already gone back to his home country, Poland, that he had not got in touch with his mother who lived in a village near Cracow. It was further noted that officials of the Polish Roman Catholic Church in London had already, by 14 August 1953, received a letter from Henryk Borynski's mother asking them why Henryk Borynski had stopped writing to her.
A man that was in close touch with the aliens in Yorkshire said that there were undoubtedly ways and means of getting a person out of Britain without the knowledge of the authorities, but said that how it was done was a mystery, as was Henryk Borynski's disappearance. However, he noted that there were Polish vessels regularly sailing to and from England.
It was noted that if Henryk Borynski had not left the country, then where was he and pointed out that none of his friends knew of any reason why he would want to change his identity, it being noted that he was a man of great integrity and was extremely popular in the Polish community within which he was looked upon as a hard worker with many friends and no enemies.
It was also noted that he had received another call earlier in the day from his predecessor, a Lithuanian priest, asking him to visit him. However, it was heard that after Henryk Borynski went to see the other priest that the other priest denied having called Henryk Borynski or asking him to visit him, saying that someone else must have made the call pretending to be him.
It was noted that the Lithuanian priest became a suspect in Henryk Borynski's disappearance and his home was searched by the police three times. The Lithuanian priest had previously been acting as the priest for the Bradford Polish community, but it was said that there was some resentment towards him because he was Lithuanian, and Henryk Borynski replaced him. However, the other priest refused to leave the area and continued to perform Mass for the small Lithuanian community there and it was said that he and Henryk Borynski had been at 'loggerheads' over the issue. It was later claimed that the Lithuanian priest had been sacked, but the Lithuanian priest denied that and said that he had resigned due to ill health.
It was noted that in October 1952 that Henryk Borynski had led protests in the Bradford area against the activities of Soviet agents in Yorkshire. It was said that there had also been rumours that officials from the Soviet Embassy in London had visited the homes of refugees in the Bradford area and pressured them to return to Eastern Europe. It was also noted that some of them had received letters pressuring them to return to their own countries.
The Lithuanian priest said that Henryk Borynski 'made no secret of his dislike of communism'. The Lithuanian priest later described Henryk Borynski's disappearance as 'a mystery to us all'.
On 7 August 1953 the Lithuanian priest was admitted to the Royal Bradford Infirmary in a collapsed state but was released a few days later. He was found lying on the floor of his home by his niece. Neighbours said that they saw the Lithuanian priest walking towards his home at about 2pm and that he was later visited by two men before being found by his niece.
When he was released on 10 August 1953, he refused to make a statement to reporters about his illness, saying, 'I have no comments to make. The police have told me to say nothing'. He later said that he might have suffered from a hallucination but that he believed that he had been attacked. However, his niece said, 'I still believe my uncle was attacked. If the police wish to deny this, then it is entirely up to them'. It was later suggested that his collapse might have been brought on by anxiety caused by Henryk Borynski's disappearance.
Following the Lithuanian priests release from hospital a police guard was maintained on his home in Greaves Street, Bradford.
It was said that shortly after the Lithuanian priest was admitted to hospital that 32 unused matches were found on a bureau in his study which were neatly arranged to spell out the words, 'Milcz Klecho', which meant 'Be silent, priest', but it was not known how they had got there.
It was said that many Polish people in Bradford thought that the Lithuanian priest had been attacked by the author of the message, but at a tea-time press conference the police said that they were not looking for an attacker. However, the police agreed that the incidents must be coupled with the disappearance of Henryk Borynski some thirty days earlier.
When the police commented on Henryk Borynski's disappearance following the Lithuanian priests release from hospital, they said, 'I have not sufficient facts to say whether Father Borynski is alive or dead. If there is a religious aspect about his disappearance, then we shall never be told'.
On 14 August 1953 it was reported that a special watch was being kept on ships leaving British ports for Iron Curtain countries in part of the search for him. It was later reported in 1962 that enquiries showed that a ship, which had carried a junior Russian diplomat, had sailed from London around the time Henryk Borynski disappeared with two more passengers than had originally been listed.
The only reported sighting of Henryk Borynski was that of a Polish grocer that had lived in Thornton Road who said that he was certain that he had seen Henryk Borynski whilst on a business visit to London, but said that at the time he did not know that Henryk Borynski was missing. It was said that the grocer had been sitting in a cafe near Victoria Station in London when he had seen Henryk Borynski pass by and then saw him go into the white painted door of a nearby house. The grocer said that after he heard that Henryk Borynski was missing, he made a special journey to London in an attempt to find the house that he had seen Henryk Borynski enter, but said that he could not find it.
It was also reported that a woman in Cardiff had reported seeing Henryk Borynski there, but the police said that after interviewing her that they found that there was no substance to her claims.
It was noted that a friend of Henryk Borynski, Edward Jenkins, also vanished on 1 July 1953 and it was thought that their disappearances might have been connected. Edward Jenkins had been the warden of Doddington Park Polish Hostel in Nantwich, Cheshire. Edward Jenkins's disappearance is also still unsolved.
Henryk Borynski was due to report to the Bradford police in the second week of September to have his residence permit renewed, which he had to do every two months, but that he had failed to do so. He had last made his usual call at the Aliens Department at Bradford City Police offices a few days before he was reported missing in July 1953.
It was noted that following his disappearance, the police told reporters that the reason for their extensive inquiry into his disappearance was that there was the possibility that Henryk Borynski was not a free agent. They said, 'If he is a free agent, his whereabouts are not of particular interest to the police until a period of two months has elapsed. If he is not, it is obvious he is being held against his will'. The police noted that Henryk Borynski was an alien and that he would become liable for prosecution if he did not report a change of address at the end of two months.
It was reported on 10 September 1953 that a body had been found on Dartmoor near Bridestone that resembled that of Henryk Borynski, but it was determined that it was not him.
Henryk Borynski was described as:
It was noted that he had previously had holidays in France, Spain and Italy.
It was said that some of the Polish people in Bradford had not spoken to the police about what they knew as they feared that they operated in the same way as Polish and Russian secret police. A Polish man told a reporter from The Yorkshire Post, 'My countrymen do not all look upon your police as friends who wish to help them. That is why many of them are afraid to speak'.
The Lithuanian priest later died from a heart attack on Saturday 1 October 1955 at 9.30am in St Luke's Hospital, Bradford. It was later claimed that the Lithuanian priest was the one man that could have thrown light on Henryk Borynski's disappearance.
It was later claimed in 1962 that Henryk Borynski had been assassinated with cyanide spray and that his body was buried on Ilkley Moor near Bradford. It was claimed that the assassin was a professional killer that was convicted in Bonn, Germany and sentenced to eight years' hard labour for a political murder there. The assassin was convicted for killing two Ukrainian exile leaders with a cyanide gun and that that after his trial that he had admitted to killing Henryk Borynski.
It was also reported in 1962 that a group of Ukrainian refugees reported that they had seen a priest resembling Henryk Borynski getting into a big black car near his lodgings at the time he vanished and that twelve days later police with Special Branch had said that they thought that he had been lured by a communist agent.
It was suggested in 2003 on the television program Inside Out on the BBC that Henryk Borynski might have been murdered by the Polish Secret Police with the help of the Lithuanian priest.
It was also suggested that Henryk Borynski might have been murdered by an overzealous member of the Lithuanian priest’s congregation who had wanted the Lithuanian priest reinstated in Bradford.
see Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Saturday 18 July 1953
see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 11 August 1953
see Birmingham Daily Gazette - Tuesday 21 July 1953
see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Thursday 13 August 1953
see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 01 October 1955
see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Thursday 10 September 1953
see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 18 August 1953
see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 05 August 1953
see Yorkshire Evening Post - Saturday 08 August 1953
see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Friday 14 August 1953
see Nottingham Journal - Saturday 18 July 1953
see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Friday 14 August 1953
see Birmingham Daily Post - Tuesday 30 October 1962