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Army Data: Poland

Following disintegration of the Polish Army under the twin shocks of the German blitzkrieg and Soviet intervention in 1939, a few small Polish units and a number of individual officers and men managed to escape to fight again. Mostly through Rumania and Hungary they made their way to France or the French Levant and began to organize an army in exile under the auspices of the Allies. These new formations, bolstered by recruits from the community of Polish expatriates in the French mining regions and elsewhere, included the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Infantry Divisions, the Podhale Rifle Brigade, 10th Mechanized Brigade, and Carpathian Rifle Brigade.

With the collapse of France, most of the exile army marched into German POW camps or Swiss internment. A few survivors sailed to the United Kingdom and began to reorganize into a variety of short-lived, under-equipped, battalion-strength rifle brigades (most of which are not tracked in this OB), while the Carpathian brigade slipped across the border from Syria into Palestine to continue the struggle.

Those Polish troops who had been POWs in the USSR were released upon the German invasion in 1941. Some former POWs served in Polish formations within the Red Army; others were evacuated to Persia and Iraq under command of General Anders in 1942. These latter troops were organized and equipped by the British, consolidated with the veteran Carpathian Brigade, and shipped as the Polish 2nd Corps in 1943-1944 to Italy where they fought with distinction from Monte Cassino to the Po River; included were 3rd Infantry Division, 5th Infantry Division, and 2nd Armored Brigade. (Also included in 2nd Corps was 7th Reserve Division, a training and replacement organization not tracked in this OB.)

Meanwhile, elements in the UK had been reorganized into 1st Parachute Brigade which jumped at Arnhem during Operation Market-Garden and 1st Armored Division which fought from Normandy to Wilhelmshaven. Other formations in the UK never saw action, including 4th Infantry Division and 16th Armored Brigade. Two additional weak infantry groups (19th and 29th, not tracked here) were organized under French command from former Polish soldiers who had served in the French Resistance.

In both the ETO and the Med, the Poles overcame the difficulty of finding replacements by recruiting from Wehrmacht prisoners of Polish origin. In this manner Polish 2nd Corps finally created a third brigade for each of its two-brigade divisions. This source of troops also generated much reorganization in the MTO as the war ended: 2nd Armored Brigade, the Polish commandos, and the newly created 16th Motorized Brigade formed the 2nd Warsaw Armored Division (not included in this OB) while the independent 14th Armored Brigade underwent a lengthy process of formation.

More resources

Books about Polish armies and and ground forces

Polish units on file

1st Armored XX
2nd Armored Gren XX
1st Grenadr Infantry XX
2nd Fusilier Infantry XX
3rd Infantry XX
3rd Carpath Infantry XX
4th Infantry XX
5th Kresowa Infantry XX
6th Infantry XX
2nd Armored X
14th Wielko Armored X
16th Armored X
10th Mechanized X
16th Pomorze Mot Infantry X
Carpathian Infantry X
Podhale Rifle X
1st Rifle X
2nd Rifle X
1st Parachute X




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Copyright © 1995-2017 Bill Stone 
21:51 on 19 January 2017