General Sosabowski

General Sosabowski was an experienced soldier before the outbreak of WW2. After fighting in Poland, escaping a German POW, reaching France, he eventually came to England and was put in charge of the 4th Rifle Brigade which later became the 1st Independent Parachute Brigade based at Largo House, Fife. He was a hard leader but by all accounts respected and loved by the men in his command. The Poles trained hard and they fought hard. Sosabowski established the parachute brigade with the aim of being the first into Poland;  the unofficial motto of the Brigade being “Najkrótszą drogą” (“by the shortest route“). When the Warsaw Uprising started the brigade were sure this would be their opportunity to fight on their home soil but they were not allowed and had to stand by, frustrated, as Warsaw fell. Instead they were assigned to take part in Operation Market Garden. Afterwards Montgomery wrote to Sosabowski applauding the bravery of him and his men, ten of whom he wished to honour with medals. A few days later he wrote another letter criticising Sosabowski to the British military command and blaming the failure of Operation Market Garden on Sosabowski. He was demoted.

After the war, Sosabowski had various jobs ending up in an electronics plant in west London where it is reported men who knew his past would still salute him. He wrote books about his life but died without the acknowledgment he deserved.

The General’s Honour is a fascinating documentary looking at the fight to have General Sosabowski’s WW2 contribution recognised and honoured. Finally he and the brigade were honoured in Holland in 2006 thanks to the efforts of the grateful Dutch people. Shame the British have never seen fit to do the same but the documentary goes a long way to explain why my father never liked Montgomery or Churchill. It is another reason why the Poles felt betrayed after the war.

Watch it on here:

‘The scapegoating of Sosabowski and his men was a spiteful, unwarranted
and unforgivable slur on a competent and conscientious commander
whose only crime war to 
refuse to play the Whitehall game to Browning’s satisfaction,
and upon a courageous body of men whose only failing was an inability to walk on water’

Buckingham, 2004:230 quoted on

There’s a lot more detailed information about General Sosabowski on the web, for eg:

~ by marysia on 2 May 2011.

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