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Dated:  Dec 23, 2006

Origins & Organization of
Polish Troops
In Italian Campaign
This page provides general details of the organization of the Polish units that served with the British in Italy.  The intent of my website limits a full review of all the units and organization during the entire period.  Hopefully, this will explain their organization.  An interesting aspect of the Polish units is that they were allowed to recruit replacement troops from Poles who had served in the German Army.
The patch shown above was worn by Polish troops on their British uniforms.

British 8th Army Commanding Generals:

      Gen Bernard "Monty" Montgomery commanded during Sicily and landings in Italy.
      Lt.-Gen Sir Oliver Leese-   31 Dec 1943 -  1 Oct 1944.
      Gen Sir Richard L. McCreery-  from 1 Oct 1944 - end of war.
Polish Commanders:  Lt..-General Wladyslaw Anders.  He was also from the Russian PW camp.

     Other commanders included:
              Corps Deputy Commander – Lt. Gen Zygmunt Bohusz-Szyszko
               Chief of Staff   –   Col. Kazimerz Wisniowski
                    3rd Division Commander – Maj-General Bronislaw Duch
                      1st Brigade Commander – Col. Walenty Peszek
                      2nd Brigade Commander – Col Roman Szymanski
                  5th Division Commander –   Maj-General Nikodem Sulik
                      5th Brigade Commander  – Col. Wincenty Kurek
                      6th Brigade Commander – Col. Witold Nowina-Sawicki
                  2nd Armoured Brigade Commander  – Maj-General Bronislaw Rakowski
                  2nd Artillery Group Commander – Col. Ludwik Zabkowski
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Polish Corps

   The Polish soliders traveled a long, hard road to get to the Italian Campaign.  They demonstrated they were willing to fight the Germans in any location to get their country back.   Poland was the first country attacked by Germany and their dubious ally, Russia.  The Polish prisoners were placed in Russian camps.  When the Germans turned against the Russians, the British convinced the Russians to release the Poles so they could help fight their common enemy.  The Polish troops were outfitted by the British and sent to the 8th Army.
    The first year of the war, the British were desperate for manpower as the US had not joined the Allies.  There was concern was for the security of the oil fields in Iran and Iraq.   On July 30, 1941, the leader of the Polish Government in exile, General Wladyslaw Sikorski reached an agreement with the Russian government.  Paragraph 3 stated that the Poles residing on Russian soil after September 1939 were allowed to join the Polish Armed Forces. 
   In April 1942, Russia released 26,000 Polish veterans that organized the first two Polish divisions in Uzbekistan.  The Poles were moved to Iraq for further training and equipping.  By August 1942, an additional 44,000 soldiers and 26,000 civilians joined them.  The training ended in June 1943.  At the Quebec conference in August, Rooservelt & Churchill decided to send the Polish Corps to Italy.   After reviewing his troops, General Sikorski was returning to England when his plane crashed on take-off from Gibraltar.  
   Prior to arriving in Italy, the Corps totaled 45,000 men.  The 3rd Division had 13,200; the 5th Division 12,900; and the 2nd Armoured Brigade 3,400.  There was concern as to how they would recieve replacement troops.  The British High Command wanted to use the Polish Corps as a replacment pool.  This would deplete their organization and they would loose their identity.   The Polish command was able to convince the Allies to recruit from soldiers who had been forced to serve in the German Army.  They were allowed to fight as a unit.   After arriving in Italy, the Polish Corps swelled to a force of 110,000.   The Poles were to prove their bravery in the Battle of Monte Cassino.

Strength of Polish Corps       (Upon arrival in Italy in July 1943)
Heavy Equipment Light Arms
  660 cannons
  170 tanks
  180 armoured cars
  400 carriers
  5,300 trucks
  2,000 special cars
  1,300 light cars
  600 tractors
  80 armoured transporters
  2,500 motor cycles
  12,500 vehicles
(excluding arms for tanks &
   armoured cars)
500 infantry mortars
950 anti-tank rifles
100 heavy MG
1,650 light MG (Bren type)
400 coupled Brens
22,000 rifles
17,000 automatic pistols
4,000 revolvers

Task Force Rud or Rudforce was named after General Klemens Rudnicki, who commanded it.  It was formed in the Spring of 1945 and consisted
primarily of the 3rd Carpthian Rifle Brigade of the 3rd Carpthian Division and the 4th Wolyn Infantry Brigade of the 5th Frontier Infantry Division.   Task Force Rud drove up Highway 9 and entered Bologna on 21 April, 1945.
          Reference:  "Poles in the Italian Campaign" by Olgierd Terlecki, Printed in Warsaw in 1972.

Polish Badge  Badge for one of the Polish units;
the 3rd Division's assault group. 

  Some sources say this is an unofficial badge for service at Cassino.

Polish II Corps

Spring Offensive, April 1945
Organization of the Polish Corps in early 1945.

II Polish Corps   - Lt.-Gen. W. Anders
5th Kresowa Infantry Division  - Maj.-Gen Sulik
    Artillery - Col. J. Orski
         5 Wilenska Field Regiment
         5 Kresowa Anti-Tank Regiment
         5 Kresowa Light Anti-Tank Regiment
         7 Polish Horse Artillery Regiment
        23 Field Regiment
    Engineers -
           4 Kresowa Field Company
           5 Kresowa Field Company
           6 Kresowa Field Company
           5 Kresowa Field Park Company
      5 Kresowa Machine Gun Battalion
     25 Wielkopolski Recon Regiment
  2nd Polish Armored Brigade  - Maj-Gen D. Rakowski
        1 Polish Armored Cavalry Regiment
        4 Polish Armored Regiment
        6 Lwowski Armored Regiment
        9 Polish Field Troop (Engineers)
   4th Wolynska Infantry Brigade - Lt. Col W. Stoczkowski
         10 Wolynska Rifle Battalion
         11 Wolynska Rifle Battalion
         12 Wolynska Rifle Battalion
   5th Wilenska Infantry Brigade  - Col. Kurek
          13 Wilenska Rifle Battalion
          14 Wilenska Rifle Battalion
          15 Wilenska Rifle Battalion
   6th Lwowski Infantry Brigade  - Col. Sawicki
          16 Lwowski Rifle Battalion
          17 Lwowski Rifle Battalion
          18 Lwowski Rifle Battalion

II Polish Corps Support
      Artillery - Maj. Gen R. Odierzynski
           1 Polish Survey Regiment
           7 Polish Anti-Tank Regiment
        663 Polish Air OP Squadron  *
        567 Searchlight Battery
           8 Polish Heavy Anti-Aircraft Artillery
     Army Group Polish Artillery - Col. K. Zabkowski
        10 Polish Medium Regiment (5.5 inch)
        11 Polish Medium Regiment (4.5 inch)
        12 Polish Medium Regiment (4.5 inch)
        13 Polish Medium Regiment (5.5 inch)
        78 Medium Regiment (5.5 inch)
         9 Polish Heavy Regiment (Mixed)
   II Polish Corps Engineers  - Col. J. Sochocki
        4 Carpathian Rifle Battalion
        5 Carpathian Rifle Battalion
        6 Carpathian Rifle Battalion
    3rd Carpathian Rifle Brigade - Lt.-Col G. Lowezowski
        7 Carpathian Rifle Battalion
        8 Carpathian Rifle Battalion
        9 Carpathian Rifle Battalion
No. 663 Artillery Observation Squadron flew as artillery observers over German positions after January 1945.  They operated slow observation aircraft and lead bombers to their targets on 258 bombing missions.

Reference:  "15th Army Group History; 16 December 1944- 2 May 1945" by Battery Press.

Organization of the Polish Corps in earl

Monte Cassino -  24th April - 31st May, 1944 
  --  Total = 3,948
       KIA      923
       WIA  2,931
       MIA       94
Anacona on Adriatic Coast -  15 June - 25th July, 1944    --  Total =  2,434
       KIA      496
       WIA  1,789
       MIA     139

Spring Offensive 1945  -  April 1945                -- Total =  1,480
       KIA       249
       WIA   1,219
       MIA        12

Reference:  "Poles in the Italian Campaign" by Olgierd Terlecki, Printed in Warsaw in 1972.


Polish Uniforms & Insignia
After release from Russian PW camps, the Polish soldiers were equipped by the British using British uniforms, weapons and equipment.  However for the most part, the Poles retained their rank and insignias.  The various infantry units were designated by either a patch or a badge or both.  In addition, many wore special collar devices to designate units, which were commonly called "swallow tails"  as they were shaped like pointed triangles or double triangles similar to guidons.

The Polish badges are very ornate and many were quite colorful.  Below are some examples of Polish badges that were worn on the front breast pocket.  Note that many depict the shield and cross of the British 8th Army.  The British authorized the Polish 2nd Corps to wear the 8th Army patch after their outstanding performance at the Battle of Cassino.  The mermaid with a sword & shield was the symbol of the 2nd Corps.

2nd Corps Badge
2nd Army Corps

2nd Artillery Group
2nd Artillery Group
of 2nd Corps
3rd Carparthian Infantry Division
3rd Carparthian Infantry Division
attached to breast pocket

3rd Sileisan Lancer Regt
3rd Sileisan Lancer Regiment


      Lexicon of Polish Military Terms
This is included just case you find a few Polish words in your research.  Some of the unit badges are identified with
these words or their abbreviation.
  Dywizji = Division
  Korpus = Corps
  Putk = Regiment
  Brygudy =  Brigade
  Grupa = Group
  Batilion = Battalion
  Szwadron = Squadron
  Kompania = Company
  Strzelcow = Rifle
  Piechoty  = Infantry
  Pancerna = Armor
  Ulanow = Lancers
  Saperow = Engineers
  Zandarmeria = Military Police
  Laczwosci = Signals
  Komej = Horse
  Artylerii = Artillery
  Zdrowia = Medical
  Materialowa = Ordnance (material)
  Georgraficzna = Geographic
  Sprawiedliwosci = Legal

Examples of Compound Terms

   Dywizji Strzelcow == Rifle Division
   Sayerow Kolejowych  ==  Railway Engineer
   Warsztatowo-Naprawcza == Electrical/Mechanical
   Komandosow Zmotoryzowanpch == Motorized Commando
   Artylerii Przeciwpnancerej   ==   Anti-Tank Artillery
   Artylerii Przeciwlotniczej Lekkiej == Light Anti-Aircraft Artillery
   Artylerii Przeciwlotniczej Ciezkiej == Mediuim Anti-Aircraft Artillery

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MENU SELECTION:  The Italian Campaign At The Front Books Armies Maps 85th Division Websites