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What sidearms used officially and unofficially by the Polish 1st Armoured Division?

Article about: by A.J. Zawadzki Tom - here's the picture you linked to - captioned "1st Armoured Division in combat - Belgium". I enourage all members to post the image (in addition to posting th

  1. #1

    Default What sidearms used officially and unofficially by the Polish 1st Armoured Division?

    Information please - What sidearms were used officially and unofficially by the Polish 1st Armoured Division both during training in the United Kingdom and during its advance in Western Europe, 1944-45?

    I'm trying to find out not only what sidearm but also specifically type of holster/belt arrangement and the country of manufacture. (examples: did the Poles officially or unofficially use any Canadian made copies of British sidearms/holsters; did the Poles officially or unofficially use any other countries sidearms such as U.S. Government contract M1911 or M1911A1, Lend Lease Smith and Wesson or Colt .38 handguns, Argentinian Ballester-Molina .45 caliber pistols, Browning or Inglis Hi Power 9mm pistols, etc?)

    Or did they just use British manufactured sidearms/webbing? Would they have a mixture of British, Canadian or other countries webbing?

    Thank you.

  2. #2

    Default Re: What sidearms used officially and unofficially by the Polish 1st Armoured Division?

    Hi dastier,
    At least a pair of captured P.38s has been used. I also know about a Model 1935 HP Browning pistol in Polish hands, but I don't know if it was a captured FN-made pistol or an official issue Inglis-made one. Unfortunately, I can't provide you with specific information on the time of capture and the possible utilisation of the guns.

    Regards,
    Tom

  3. #3

    Default Re: What sidearms used officially and unofficially by the Polish 1st Armoured Division?

    I have absolutely no idea about what was officially used by the Polish 1st Armoured but if they were anything like the Brits then all sorts of weapons would have been scavenged or captured. My uncle was a squadron commander of an Armoured Squadron (8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars) and I remember him telling me that the issue Webley revolver was quickly "lost" in North Africa and replaced by a captured Luger. My elder brother still has it. It still lives in a green canvas issue holster. Not sure if it is 38 pattern or the later 44 pattern but because he carried it in Korea I suspect the latter. I would guess that the pistols varied quite a lot unofficially but that the webbing remained standard as part of the standard uniform for the particular unit. My thoughts for what they are worth.

  4. #4

    Default Re: What sidearms used officially and unofficially by the Polish 1st Armoured Division?

    I have read that the Poles used both the Webley in .455 and the Enfield Mk 2 in .38/200. I also read that the Poles trained with the .45 caliber Thompson SMG but were supposed to exchange them for Stens to use in Europe. Rather the Poles, being fond of their Thompsons, devised ways to hold onto them.

    My own father said he used a Tommy gun in the 10th Dragoons. So I'm trying to ascertain what kinds of firearms were in use. Seems to me you would want to keep one caliber of ammunition if possible. So I'm curious if enterprising Polish soldiers acquired USGI M1911s or 1911A1s either in the U.K. or upon meeting American soldiers in France.

    I don't doubt there would be a lot of battlefield captures or pick ups by Polish soldiers when opportunity arose. But I'm more interested in what was purposely acquired prior to battle in anticipation of battle. Whether this was officially on establishment for the Polish units or obtained thru backroom dealings with tacit approval by the commanding officers. Plus any unofficial private purchases ( I learned that officers in the 2nd Republic were allowed private purchase sidearms).

    I'm also wondering if any shortages of British sidearms forced the use of Canadian or American sidearms as replacements.

  5. #5

    Default Re: What sidearms used officially and unofficially by the Polish 1st Armoured Division?

    And thank you Thomas and James for your replies. Hopefully there will be more.

    Makes sense about the webbing. Would it be British, Canadian or a mixture of both? No known date or location for when that Hi Power was in use?

  6. #6

    Default Re: What sidearms used officially and unofficially by the Polish 1st Armoured Division?

    Surprisingly (or maybe not), Vis pistols were supposedly a favoured sidearm of the exile Poles. One could imagine that they would be sought after by the Poles for obvious reasons.

    Here is a photo of a group of officer's of the 1st Polish Armoured Division in newly liberated Holland. Visible in the photograph is a Vis pistol in a custom modified holster with magazine pockets added. What's unknown is if this is a captured Vis, pre-war or occupation production.

    (Photo from "Strzal" magazine Nr 8 Aug 2004)

    Regards,
    Tony
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    All thoughts and opinions expressed are those of my own and should not be mistaken for medical and/or legal advice.

    "Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday." - John Wayne

  7. #7

    Default Re: What sidearms used officially and unofficially by the Polish 1st Armoured Division?

    Hi,
    Here you may find a few pics of Polish tankmen in Belgium armed with various sidearms. Notice various webbing holsters: Zbiory NAC on-line - prototyp

    Regards,
    Tom

  8. #8

    Default Re: What sidearms used officially and unofficially by the Polish 1st Armoured Division?

    Tom - here's the picture you linked to - captioned "1st Armoured Division in combat - Belgium".

    I enourage all members to post the image (in addition to posting the link) to create a permanent record here. Links typically do not remain active indefinitely.

    Thanks for your post - great pic!

    Regards,
    Tony
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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    All thoughts and opinions expressed are those of my own and should not be mistaken for medical and/or legal advice.

    "Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday." - John Wayne

  9. #9

    Default Re: What sidearms used officially and unofficially by the Polish 1st Armoured Division?

    Mike - excerpts from "Wojsko Polskie 1939-45 - Barwa i Bron" (ISBN 83-223-2550-9)

    - French campaign pistols
    - 1st Corps pistols - officer issue
    - 1st Arm. Div. 2nd Arm. Reg't officer
    - 1st Arm. Div. 8th Rifles Bat.
    - holster / ammo pouch - officer

    Regards,
    Tony
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    All thoughts and opinions expressed are those of my own and should not be mistaken for medical and/or legal advice.

    "Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday." - John Wayne

  10. #10

    Default Re: What sidearms used officially and unofficially by the Polish 1st Armoured Division?

    Interesting topic this. I don't think there's any easy answer to the question, and the only way to find any kind of answer is by photographic research. I found a few pictures, this one being the best so far:

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    It's an Enfield No 2 I think

    The webbing question is almost impossible to answer. Even the Canadian Army used a mix of Canadian and British made webbing in Europe, so who can really say?

    Rob

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