Polish Army During WW2

Copied from a plaque at the Polish Garden of Remembrance, Northolt London.

(source unknown)

“Poland fell after being invaded on 11 September 1939 by Germany and by Soviet Russia on 17 September, despite this the Polish Government and Army were re-established in France and later Britain.

The Polish Army fought on in the Norwegian campaigned, the Battle of France, North Africa (Tobruk), Italy, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.

The Soviets deported approximately 1,500,000 Polish civilians and military personnel to various parts of the Soviet empire. Thousands perished including approximately 22,000 prisoners of war who were murdered on Stalin’s orders at Katyn and elsewhere.

Some of the Polish soldiers murdered in Katyn Forrest

The Polish 2nd Corps, led by General Anders, created mainly from Polish citizens released by Soviet Russia in 1942, took part in the Italian campaign. Monte Cassino blocked the road to Rome; three allied assaults had failed to capture it. In May 1944 the Polish 2nd Corps succeeded but the cost was high 1,000 killed and nearly 3,000 wounded or missing.

The First Armoured Division under General Maczek took part in the Normandy campaign of 1944. Captured Hill 262 Mont Ormel, ‘the Mace’, it closed the Falaise Pocket, holding the hill for three days, suffering almost 30 percent casualties and 325 dead, it helped block the withdrawal of 100,000 German troops.

1st Independent Parachute Brigade

The 1st Independent Parachute Brigade was formed to support an uprising against Germany in Poland but were sent into operation at Arnhem as part of Operation Market Garden where during gallant fighting they suffered heavy losses.

Members of AK

The Home Army or Armia Krajowa (AK) was the largest resistance movement in occupied Europe. The AK with its strength of around 400,000 soldiers played a vital role in sabotage and intelligence-gathering, even smuggling parts of a V2 rocket from Poland to Britain.

The Warsaw uprising in 1944 was intended to last a short time but with the Red Army, on Stalin’s orders, halted its advance on the of the Vistula, it lasted 63 days. During this time the Germans massacred civilians and systematically destroyed Warsaw. Some 200,000 civilians and 25,000 AK soldiers were killed.

The Polish Armed Force as a whole are considered to have been the fourth largest allied army in Europe after the Soviet Union, United States and United Kingdom.

(From the Polish Memorial Garden)  

Author: Alan Malcher

Military historian and defence commentator

One thought on “Polish Army During WW2”

  1. The wonderfully brave Poles. Quite possibly we would not have got through the Battle of Britain without the Polish contribution. ‘For your freedom and ours’ Such digraceful treatment at the end of the war, due to being complacement towards Stalin by the Allies.

    Liked by 1 person

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