THE case of Father Henry Borynski, who vanished without trace one sunny evening, is one of Bradford’s biggest mysteries - and remains unsolved nearly 70 years on.

Fr Borynski, priest to Bradford’s Polish community, left his Little Horton Lane lodgings on July 13, 1953, and never returned. Did he fall into the hands of Soviet agents who were in Bradford at the time? And, as some believe, was his body buried on Ilkley Moor..?

On July 20, 1953, a week after the disappearance, the T&A reported: “There is considerable support for a theory that 42-year-old Father Henry Borynski, the Polish priest missing from Bradford, has gone back to Poland - and not by compulsion. Several facts...have done nothing to contradict such a view. It was learned that Fr Borynski had recently enquired of a Bradford textile firm for some heavy overcoat material.

“When the telephone rang at his lodgings about 7pm last Monday the landlady as usual went to answer it. But Fr Borynski was already there when she got to the hall. When he saw her he cupped his hand over the mouthpiece. A few seconds later, the door banged. She saw the priest walking up the road. It seems Fr Borynski was waiting for some kind of summons.”

The police searched for Borynski but thought it unlikely that he’d been kidnapped. In November the Home Secretary said nothing suggested he was the victim of foul play.

A decade later, in 1962, the T&A reported that Bradford police had contacted Interpol in Bonn, the then capital of West Germany, “for confirmation of a report that Fr Borynski was murdered by a professional killer who buried his body on Ilkley Moor”.

The report continued: “The confession was made by Bogdan Stashynski who fled from behind the Iron Curtain to West Berlin and was sentenced to eight years hard labour for the political murder of two Ukrainian exile leaders. Stashynski said he had killed Father Henry Borynski with a cyanide injection and buried his body on Ilkley Moor.”

Scotland Yard told the T&A it knew about the confession but was “not directly concerned”.

It was later dismissed as mistaken identity, but Soviet forces may well have been involved in Fr Borynski’s disappearance. When he became chaplain to Bradford’s Polish community in 1952, there were over 6,000 European refugees in the city. In October 1952 he joined several Yorkshire-based Polish chaplains in protests against activities of Soviet agents in Bradford. It was said Soviets had visited refugees’ homes in the city, pressuring them to return to Eastern Europe.

And what of Canon Boleslaw Martynellis, a Lithuanian, who refused to leave Bradford when Fr Boynski was brought in to replace him? In 2003 a retired police officer told the BBC’s Inside Out that Fr Borynski was murdered by the Polish Secret Police, and Martynellis was involved in his abduction. Martynellis later claimed he’d been visited by two men ordering him to “keep quiet priest”. He was never charged and two years later he died of a heart attack.