View Full Version : Poor polish soldiers

12-27-2004, 03:55 AM
In 1939 the Soviet army occupied the eastern parts of Poland. I have thought about why France and Britain didnt declare war against Soviet Union, they should do that according to the treaty.

Anyhow many Polish soldiers and citizens where deported to Gulag (Soviet concentration camps).
When Hitler attacked Soviet Union the former Gulag inmates and their guards became brother in arms. That must have been hard, from one day beeing abused by a guard, living on starvation rations to another day beeing released and join the same army that guarde you. Perhaps the only way to get out was to join the red army. Not to wonder about that so many polish ex.soldiers was transfered to the British army.
Does anybody know how it was with the airmen? Did many ex-prisoners join the RAF?

12-27-2004, 10:01 AM
I doubt many prisoners (of the Russians) made it to the Brits.
But many Poles went to Britain and fought in the Battle of Britain.
A Polish unit fought at Arnhem.
The Soviets weren't happy whe they returned to Poland after the war.

12-27-2004, 10:09 AM
I dont know about ex-prisoners, those who did go to the UK and fought, were persecuted by their home countries for Conspiracy.

12-27-2004, 10:25 AM
You should read up about General Anders and the Polish II Corps. It's a good, and sad story.


Long story short, Polish servicemen were imprisoned in Russian camps since the Russian invasion of Poland in September of 1939. They lived in horrible conditions, many of these soldiers resembled the people you would see in German death camps. Because of the German invasion of Russia, the Sikorski-Mayski agreement was signed that would allow a Polish army to be formed in the East to help fight Germany. However, after diplomatic relations were cut between the USSR and Poland, the Russians cut their supplies to the Army which forced its commander, Gen. Wladyslaw Anders to move his army to British held Iraq and Persia. They were then moved to Palestine where they linked up with other Polish Army units to form the Polish II Corps.

The II Corps was then sent into Italy with the British 8th Army. The II Corps engaged in heavy fighting in many battles, one of which was Monte Cassino. Anders faced a problem. He was taking many casualties, and since diplomatic relations were cut with the USSR, he could not count on any Polish reinforcements from the USSR. The only way to keep his Corps was to move inland into Europe and recruit Poles from German concentration camps and Poles forced to serve in the Wehrmacht. To do this, he needed to clear a road to Rome, which led to the rest of Europe. Even though he was advised against it, he set forth for Monte Cassino which at this time was tightly held in German hands. On the first try the II Corps fought viciously, many times hand to hand, with the Germans and were ultimately repelled. Anders tried again and this time he was successful. The Polish flag on top of Monte Cassino meant the road to Rome and the rest of Europe was open.


In 1944 the II Corps was about 50,000 men strong. In 1945 that grew to about 75,000 men or so.

The II Corps served in Italy until 1946 when it was moved to Great Britain and demobilized. Since Poland was taken over by a Kremlin backed Communist government at the end of the war, many soldiers of the II Corps and of the Polish Armed Forces in the West in general feared returning to their homeland for fear of persecution. Stanislaw Skalski, the highest scoring Polish ace, who just recently passed away in November, returned to his country where he was arrested and held with a death sentence for 8 years on the charge that he was spying for the West. During those 8 years he was brutally tortured and beaten. Many other Polish servicemen remained in exile for that reason, and either stayed in Britain, or moved to Canada, and the U.S. among other places.

As for the airmen, many joined the LLWP, Ludowe Lotnictwo Wojska Polskiego, (Polish People's Army Air Force), and fought alongside Soviet units. Polish pilots flew both Yak fighters as well as IL2 Sturmoviks. After the war, even up until the 70's and 80's the Polish pilots in the East were regarded as the ultimate heroes while the ones who fought in the West, including in the Battle of Britain, were regarded as less-thans. My father told me how when he was in the Polish Air Force, they'd occasionally have Polish airmen from WWII come in for a lecture or a discussion. At that one time he met Waclaw Krol, a Polish ace who fought in the West in WWII, along with several pilots who fought on the Eastern front. While these veterans had no animosity towards each other, you could clearly see the difference between Krol and the others. Krol looked haggard, worn out, sad, and drifting. When the brass presented these men they gave the Eastern front flyers a fanfare while Krol was just barely mentioned. Pretty sad, if you ask me. All these men fought bravely for their countries. They were a part of the allies, and they fought the good fight. Even though the allies won, they had lost their war.

12-27-2004, 01:12 PM
Thanks for the interesting reading.
Ive read that the polish servicemen brought a bearcub with them, called Woytek. He became very big and their mascot. They created the division mark as a bear after him. After the war only a few polish soldiers return to their homeland before 1994.
Woytek was transfeared to Birmingham? Zoo and died at age of 21. He was burried under military honours close to the memorial of his polish division.
Have anyone anything to add to this I will be most greatful.
How was spirit between "the comerade in arms" in the former Warsau Pact?
It is good to have a "less divided" Europe today.
Lets take a lession from Lenin/Stalin and Hitler never make the same misstake again.

12-27-2004, 01:22 PM
Any Pole who fought on the western front and returned to Poland before 1970 was arrested for treason by communists.

My father knew a guy who flew 24 combat sorties on B17 but he didn`t know what exactly to do after so he took another 24.
He returrned to PL after `89,still noone wanted to gave him a job in our country`s structures.

He even wanted to give my father his foto album from those years but contact with him was cutoff becuz me father didn`t care.PFFFFT!

12-27-2004, 01:38 PM
ya it is very sad http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif
specialy as they faught so well.

btw i remmber seeing the bear carrying supplies up rocky hills and stuff http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

12-27-2004, 02:35 PM
I really recommend new best-seller book:

"A question of honor" by Lynne Olson, Stanley Cloud

I got this book from my father for my birthday, as he knows I love airmen war stories. (I also serve in Polish Air Force, but that is other story :P)

The book is truly fantastic. I'm very honoured and I really appreciate the thing that Americans wrote a book about Polish airmen.

Official webpage: http://www.questionofhonor.com
worth seeing, nicely designed

Amazon bookstore: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0375411976/102-3907745-8726540?v=glance


12-27-2004, 02:53 PM
I have some books on Polish aviators on the British soil, but they were all printed in People's Republic of Poland, thus I do not think they would mention any Soviet-held prisoners... In fact I do not think there were any pilots imprisoned by Soviets who would later join Polish Air forces in the West.

1. In 1939, when the collaps of the Polish defence was obvious, the whole Polish aviation got strict orders to evacuate to Romania. Many of these people (and also soldiers of other formations) made it to the West and fought in France and in the UK. Thus I would not expect many Polish aviators to fall into the Soviets' hands - they were intelligent people (the aviators I mean).

2. After Sept. 17th, 1939, many Polish soldiers fell prisoner to the Soviets. These men were sorted out and most of the officers were shot in 1940 IIRC. Remember Katyn. This is why the Army of Gen. Anders, mentioned in a post before, had problems to create a command structure. Thus I would not expect any pilots (who had officers ranks) to survive untill June 22nd, 1941, when the Soviets realised they actually needed more soldiers than they had.

3. After the Soviets created Polish units, they also created the aviation for them. But AFAIK they were training the pilots from the beginning (this would indicate they didn't have any trained Polish guys) and of course they provided the command staff.

12-27-2004, 04:25 PM
IIRC, there were some Polish airmen who tried to escape through the Baltic sea via some of the Baltic states. Unfortunately they were captured by the Russians. I have read of one such pilot who was captured in 1939/1940 and then flew in the LLWP. I'm not sure if this is the norm or the exception in this case. I would tend to agree that most of the Polish officers, 15,000 or so, were slaughtered by the Russians at Katyn forest.