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Stories of Poles at war

Article about: The 8th of November. It was quite worm and foggy morning. We were just finishing our breakfast when the post was distributed. I was just about to open a letter from my girl when through mega

  1. #1

    Exclamation Stories of Poles at war

    The BBC has archived together many personal stories from WW2.
    Amongst these can be found quite a few Polish related threads.

    The list is worth looking through, as many of the stories are directly from the participants.

    BBC - WW2 People's War - Search Results

    Gary J.
    (I will leave this thread unlocked, so please if you know of any web links to Personal testimonies, please add them to the list).

    Last edited by Gary J; 12-02-2010 at 05:43 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Stories of Poles at war

    I'm looking to do a book on my best friend's father using the old man's personal photos from the war '43-45. He was in the 24 Lancers(Polish) Canadian Army.
    I need more detailed info on this unit....Can anyone out there direct me ? The book itself is more an homage to the man (as he was an important mentor to me as a teen) and not a unit history per se.
    Still , the photos are fantastic and say a thousand words!!

    any help appreciated !!


  3. #3

    Default Re: Stories of Poles at war

    Hello J.
    Welcome aboard !

    Without doubt, the major resource for the 24th Lancers would be within the archive of the Sikorski Institute in London.
    There will be a mass of information there, so really you would have to define exactly what the requirements would be for your book.

    Here is a link to the Sikorski Institute .... a fantastic museum, well worth a visit if in London !

    The Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum, 20 Princes Gate, London SW7 1PT


    Gary J.

  4. #4
    3mk is offline

    Default Re: Stories of Poles at war

    Maybe people can posts stories of relatives or friends that fought?Ill post some stories later since im kinda busy right now.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Stories of Poles at war

    Yes that would be fine ! ....
    Any personal stories would be most welcome here.

    Gary J.

  6. #6

    Default Polish Signals officer at Arnhem.

    The following is a translation taken from the Polish Airborne Forces Veterans magazine "Spadochron".


    Adam Niebieszczanski – Signals Crosses the Rhine

    The night was so dark that people had to hold each other by their belts. We were divided up to embark. Because the information about the size of the rafts and other amphibious vehicles was constantly changing, the division had to be carried out several times.
    The nearer we got to the river, the lighter it became. It wasn’t yet dawn, just past midnight. The light was coming from a burning factory on the other side of the river and the German "Watch the Rhine, was firing rockets which lit up the whole area brightly.
    We saw the outlines of the boats the moment when it really would have been better to have been hidden. Bullets from machine guns whistled uncomfortably close and mortar bombs began to tear the earth all around.
    The crossing of the river was under the command of the second Lieut. G. He didn’t give people time to reflect – we had to just grab the boat and to meet the bullets. The distance from us to the Rhine was about a kilometer or less of open meadows. We went in leaps and bounds when there were no explosions, carrying the boats on our shoulders and throwing them down to the ground as we bit the dust. There no was no cover in the meadow like we had on maneuvers. Just at the edge of the river, there was a raised dyke, however in order to reach this it was necessary to cross a few hundred meter’s under the observations of the Niebelungen Knights who unfortunately for us had spread themselves out in the wooded hills on the other side of the river.
    It so happened that the crew of the boat was composes of the signals brigade – 2nd Lieut. R, a sergeant who was the chief of platoon, radio personnel and in addition a rifleman who was in a state of mental shock. We also had sappers, 4 Englishmen, 2nd Lieut. G and Sapper B. These solders were really not trained to smell gunpowder and should not have been front-line troops, but they went towards the firing bravely and straight as a die. The moment arrived when we had to climb over the dyke, two of the Englishmen chorusing that this was a suicide mission. It was really a rather romantic scene – a director of war films would have been proud of the image. The outline against the fire, the fairytale colours of the exploding shelled the dark silhouette of the crew.
    Above us hung a flare; we had to get off the dyke. Behind the dyke we had a pow-wow. We heard a rumour that there was an order to retreat, but 2nd Lieut G confirmed that the order was in fact to cross. There was no two ways about it; we jumped back out of the dyke. A short sprint of a few steps beyond the dyke and, there was the river. There was no room for the telegraphist, who had his equipment on his shoulders, in the boat. He was told to go back. The stubborn boy shouted that he would not go without the person in charge of the transmitter. They pulled him into the boat by his head. As he sank to his knees a bullet hit the aerial and cut it off, and a second bullet hit the receiver.
    We set off with difficulty. The poor sappers were in the water for a long time. There were only four oars but everybody rowed in one or another, some with their hands, some with their rifle butts. We had awful luck in the middle of the river; the boat ran aground on a sandbank. By some miracle, the "Guards on the Rhine" miss-aimed the rockets, which flew over us. Bullets began to whiz past and amongst us, hitting the surface of the water. We had to jump into the water and push the unfortunate boat. After a few long moments we set off again. Soon the dyke made of stones on the other side gave us shelter. We jumped out of the boat like madmen, leaving in the bottom someone who was not moving and the brave Sapper B. Who was seriously wounded.
    We were a few hundred meters of No-man’s land away from the English position. The positions of the 1st division pointed towards the river like the apex of a triangle. Not everybody reached these positions, some got lost amongst the German positions, others were destined to die on the banks of the river. A group of solders belonging to Signals, under the leadership of Captain K, regrouped itself within the boundary of Arnhem by the side of the forward position of the British division. Captain K somehow got hold of a second-hand Bren Gun in good condition and a full box of ammunition. This was a good substitute for our broken transmitter. The lines dug themselves in professionally and deeply, which later proved a good thing.
    On the hillock the Germans occupied, there were three heavy-duty rocket launchers. We called them familiarly, the "Three Little Sisters". The Three Sisters’ bombs exploded in the high treetops with which our hillock was covered, and caused a lot of damage around us. Right from the first we had to organize a first-aid post ourselves. Officer-Cadet B who had once had something to do with medicine became the doctor. In the afternoon, when the sun got hotter we had to appoint a gravediggers for reasons of hygiene.
    Lieut. R said the prayers over the graves and the Signals Brigade took off their helmets, and whispered the Requiem. In the fever of digging the graves we almost buried a British Major, but at the critical moment, the dead man came to life again and even laughed about it. Instead of going into his grave, he went to hospital in a jeep, which we fortunately flagged down as it went past.
    There wasn’t much food around. The British kindly passed on to us the puddings from their camp rations which they didn’t want to eat cold (there was no chance to make up a fire and heat the puddings up) with these puddings we filled out rumbling stomachs.
    The Germans did not show much enthusiasm for fighting. When, after a heavy bombardment from the air with mortars, they sent out patrols to see how we had been affected all it needed was a few rounds from the Ben Gun and they fled.
    A British officer who knew the terrain well patrolled the local area looking for snipers. Those sitting in nearby trees were generally speaking poor shots, but after a time, the snipers began finding their range and then this British Officer acquired an officer expert in Indian warfare.
    This officer, resplendent in a red beret, went at the head of the patrol into the little wood, and truly, after a short while, he pulled a cunning German down from one of the trees by his ear.
    Time passed pleasantly and quickly with such diversions, until on the memorable Monday a British Sergeant arrived amongst our foxholes to give us the details of the evacuation. We had thought at the beginning that other units were going to replace us, that mythical relief column which we had been waiting for with such longing, but it was only evacuation. We hadn’t imaged the end of this episode in such a was. We called it the "Tragedy of the First Division". It was a real letdown. When at about midnight we left our positions, over which branches had already grown into large pyramids, we were leaving behind us not many good and brave friends but also the memory of an action started with such great enthusiasm, re-inforced with blood, covering with glory, but an unfinished act.

    __________________________________________________ ____________________________________

    Side notes :
    The above article was translated from a piece submitted in the Polish Airborne Association magazine “Spadochron”.

    2nd Lieutenant “G” is Grunbaum

    Sapper “B” is Mieczyslaw Blazejewicz
    The following is the entry in the “Role of Honour” for Arnhem concerning Blazejewicz :

    Age 23
    Body recovered from the Rhine on 9th October 1944 and buried in the general Cemetery at Rhenen.
    Reburied at Oosterbeek Airborne Cemetery grave plot 33.A.4
    (Note : in the role of Honour, it lists Blazejewicz as being part of the 3rd Battalion).
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  7. #7

    Default The 1st Arnhem casualties ?

    Tragedy at Tinwell - Rutland - England

    As with all military conflicts tragedies occur. The requirement for service personnel to be trained and ready for operational duty can lead to human error with horrific consequences.
    There were many minor accidents that accompanied the intense training associated with becoming a paratrooper, but the one incident for the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade which remained a terrible memory was the training accident which occurred close to the town of Stamford at a small village called Tinwell.

    Nearly three years had passed since the formation of the Brigade in September 1941. Now in the mid summer of 1944, the Brigade had been moved from its original base at Largo House in Fife, Scotland, to new quarters in the East Midlands of England approximately seventy five miles north of London.

    The Accident.

    As part of the training schedule, operation “Burden” was planned for the evening of the 8th July 1944. As part of this operation, 369 paratroopers from the brigade were planned to be parachuted from 33 C-47 Skytrains of the 309th Squadron – 315th Transport Carrier Group.

    The following account is reproduced with kind permission of John Rennison from his book “Wings over Rutland”.

    “The traumatic events that occurred in the sky over the little village of Tinwell on the evening of the 8th July 1944 will never be forgotten by those that were involved in them.

    The story began at the airfield of Spanhoe, sometimes known as Harringworth, just south of the Rutland border. Thirty-three olive green C-47 Skytrains of the 309th Squadron, 315th Troop Carrier Group of the U.S. 9th Air Force, began to get airborne shortly after 21:30 hours. Their cargo was 369 paratroopers of the Polish First Independent Airborne Brigade, their destination a drop zone at R.A.F. Wittering.
    Once settled in formation at 1300 feet, the thirty three aircraft made an impressive sight against the backdrop of the last rays of the summer sun. Suddenly the illusion was shattered; two of the aircraft touched wings and became locked together. Like autumn leaves, strangely out of place on a summer’s eve, they tumbled to the ground. Corporal Thomas Chambers of the U.S. 9th Air Force saw his chance as he stood in the doorway of one of the stricken aircraft and he jumped. He was to be the only survivor. The aircraft crashed down in the meadows on the Ketton side of Tinwell by the river Welland.
    A few miles away in Stamford, the crews of two St. Johns Ambulance Brigade vehicles were quickly gathered and dispatched to the scene of the tragedy. Not knowing the exact site of the crash the two ambulances approached Tinwell from different directions, one via Easton on the Hill and the other down the main road from Stamford. Peter Middleton was a member of the first crew to arrive and found an R.A.F. ambulance already there. One aircraft was smashed to pieces, while the fuselage of the other was still intact. Peter recalled that the ground was soaked with aviation fuel and only after a short time his shoes and trousers were saturated with it. There were bodies everywhere, some of the paratroops had tried to jump when it was far too late and their parachutes had failed to open. Doctor Hawes, the Medical Officer of Health for the district, was also at the scene as they began to clear the casualties. Sometime later an American ambulance arrived and the crew began to search for their personnel. Corporal Chambers was found impacted in the mud by the river bank, a very lucky man indeed.
    It was found to be impossible to enter the fuselage of the intact aircraft and cutting gear had to be sent for. The job would not be completed until the early hours of Sunday morning.
    The Polish casualties were taken back to the mortuary in Stamford’s North Street and the grisly business of sorting them out began. At one point this was interrupted by the arrival of the American ambulance crew, they were as they put it “A leg missing”. It was eventually found by dint of fact that the American airmen wore brown boots opposed to the black ones of the paratroops.
    The Americans took their casualties to Cambridge for burial. The Poles were picked up on Monday morning by Polish Army personnel and taken to the Polish cemetery at Newark. The wreckage of the two aircraft, serial numbers 42-108873 and 43-15341, was later removed by one of the American mobile salvage units.”

    Eye Witnesses.

    During the last eight years, the location of my job meant that I had to spend most of my time based in the town of Stamford. During this time I managed to track down two eye witnesses to the events surrounding the Tinwell accident.

    Keith Cardell.
    Keith was a schoolboy who lived in Ketton, the next village along from Tinwell, and on the evening of the accident, he was upstairs in his house preparing for bed, when he heard an almighty noise. His bedroom faced out towards the village of Tinwell, and he rushed to the window to see what was happening. As he looked, he caught sight of two aircraft coming out of the sky in the distance.
    Everybody in the village within a couple of minutes had rushed onto the main road, and some had started to venture in the direction of Tinwell. By the time that they reached the village, the crash site was already being cordoned off, and it was impossible for anybody to approach the crash area.

    John Glitheroe
    John lived in Stamford, and word of the crash at Tinwell was soon around the town. As a schoolboy, like many youngsters, he would ride out on his bicycle to the scene of air crashes in the locality.
    John rode out to the Tinwell crash the morning after, and managed to walk around the perimeter of the accident.
    One thing that shocked him was the sight of an impact impression of a paratrooper. He said that you could easily recognize the full shape of a human being impressed into the earth. John had heard that a couple of the Polish Paratroops had thrown themselves out of the stricken aircraft attempting to land in the river Welland thus trying to break their fall.

    The “Cost” to the Brigade.

    As a result of the Tinwell accident there are two effects to be considered

    1) The morale of the men.
    The shock of the crash reverberated around the whole of the Brigade. It was a terrible blow to morale, because as of yet the Brigade had yet to be proven in action.
    The loss of twenty six members from the 3rd Battalion 8th Company left many of their friends numb.

    2) Re-organization
    With the loss of these men, there was a logistical problem with replacements. Baring in mind the amount of time required to fully train a paratrooper, and the lack of manpower to pick replacements from, meant that some decisions had to be taken to bring the 8th Company back up to strength.
    Talking to Piotr Sulima (A veteran of the 8th Company, who knew many of those killed personally,) for him it meant an abrupt halt to his pathfinder training, and subsequent “re-absorption” back into the 3rd Battalion.
    By a twist of fate, if Piotr had not been on the pathfinder training course, it was quite possible that he would have been amongst the casualties at Tinwell, as he was with the sections that included those killed.
    (Piotr can be seen in the remembrance photo. He is the first person on the left.)

    The Polish Casualties.

    The following is a list of the Polish casualties of the Tinwell accident.
    The list is in two groups of thirteen. Thirteen is the number equal to a “Stick” of paratroopers loaded aboard a single Dakota transport aircraft.

    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________

    Por. Rudolf Bugielski
    Sierz.pchor. Bronislaw Szymonski
    Plut.pchor.Mgr Eryk Zielinski
    Plut. Mieczyslaw Gorczynski
    Kpr. Bronislaw Machon
    Strz. Jozef Podolski
    St.Strz. Kazimierz Kania
    Kpr. Jan Piwowarczyk
    St.strz. Eugeniusz Sokolski
    Kpr. Jozef Plizga
    Strz. Michal Bojakowski
    St.strz. Leonard Harasimowicz
    Strz. Bronislaw Siekierko


    Ppor. Stanislaw Trybus
    Plut. Stanislaw Jaworski
    St.strz. Marian Kadej
    Strz. Jan Wierzbicki
    Strz. Franciszek Gorski
    Strz. Stanislaw Dobrowolski
    Strz. Tadeusz Bialoskorski
    Strz. Jakub Jaremczuk
    St.strz. Teofil Korzonkiewicz
    Strz. Stanislaw Birylo
    Strz. Jan Sikora
    Strz. Michal Mazur
    Strz. Antoni Adynkiewicz
    __________________________________________________ ____________

    The Americans.

    The following is a list of the American casualties of the Tinwell accident.
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________

    Leo L. Byrne
    J.G. Lenard
    Paris D. Bray
    R.N. Vendella
    C.S. Johnson
    Richard G. Hoyt
    Bert A. Saling
    Jack Dozler

    Gary Jucha January 2001 (Amended August 2003)


    And some pictures to accompany the story.

    American crash site recovery photo's.

    The sole survivor.

    Rememberance service 2001.

    Recovered wreckage.
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    Last edited by Gary J; 10-28-2009 at 03:36 PM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Stories of Poles at war

    gary cheers for those two story that was good reading!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Stories of Poles at war


    Thank you for these two interesting accounts. Riveting reading over my morning coffee. Contributions such as these are what will make this forum extra special. Much more than just a discussion of ‘war relics’, but the history behind the items we collect.


  10. #10

    Default Re: Stories of Poles at war

    Nothing but respect for the Polish veterans and their fallen , if you visit Normandy you have to go to Mont Ormel and see what the Polish Armoured Division endured and achieved !!
    The gates of hell were opened and we accepted the invitation to enter" 26/880 Lance Sgt, Edward Dyke. 26th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers , ( 3rd Tyneside Irish )

    1st July 1916

    Thought shall be the harder , heart the keener,
    Courage the greater as our strength faileth.
    Here lies our leader ,in the dust of his greatness.
    Who leaves him now , be damned forever.
    We who are old now shall not leave this Battle,
    But lie at his feet , in the dust with our leader

    House Carles at the Battle of Hastings

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