1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade

The First Polish Independent Parachute Brigade was formed
in Fife on the 23rd September 1941.
Happy 70th Anniversary!

It sort of existed before this. It started life as the Fourth Cadre Rifle Brigade and was made up of volunteers who had escaped Nazi-controlled Poland through France or Rumania and later by those deported by the Russians to Siberia and then freed when Germany attacked Russia.

After an astonishing display of expertise and skill at Kincraig in front of  General Sikorski, Commander in Chief of the Free Polish Forces, and members of the British government, it was decided that the brigade should be independent. Its Commanding Officer was General Stanisław Sosabowski (see previous blog post). Their express aim was to achieve freedom for Poland and their aim was to be the first to fight on their home land. Hence their motto was Najkrótszą drogą (“By the shortest way”).

The brigade’s headquarters were at Largo House and the soldiers were billeted in the area around Leven, Largo and the East Neuk villages. Largo House was known locally as “Małpy Gaj” or “Monkey Grove” because of the strange training jumps that were erected amongst the trees. Soldiers could be seen swinging and jumping from the trees in practice sessions before heading off to Ringway Aerodrome (now Manchester Airport). There they had to complete a four week training course including actual jumps from planes. On completion they received their wings – a silver diving eagle badge with an individual number and the words “Tobie Ojczyzno” (“For you My country”) on the back.

By 1944, the brigade had over 3,000 trained men. They had anticipated being dropped into Warsaw at the right moment to support the Home Army (“Armia Krajowa”) and defeat the Germans but Churchill, Roosevelt and more importantly Stalin blocked this. As a result it was clear to the Poles (and perhaps others) what Stalin’s real intentions for Poland were. History shows us they were right to be wary. The brigade did see action as part of  Operation Market Garden. Those that jumped and survived the drop into Arnhem have a wreath in the clutches of their swooping eagle badge. My dad injured his foot in training and was unable to join the campaign. There are lots of websites giving details of this campaign, eg, Poland in Exile.

After the victory over Germany in 1945, the brigade undertook duties in northern Germany until 1947 when it was disbanded. As they suspected, Stalin now took control of Poland and most of these men felt unable to return to their home land. Many stayed in the UK and made new lives for themselves. Many did not live long enough to see a free Poland.

Above photos from my own and Krysia Campbell’s family albums
and the Sikorski Museum 

 

 

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~ by marysia on 23 September 2011.

17 Responses to “1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade”

  1. […] Article source: https://marysiaphotos.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/1st-polish-independent-parachute-brigade/ […]

  2. […] Marysia Lachowicz has published some photos on the Polish Army’s time in Fife, Scotland and produced a nice blog entry on the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade. […]

  3. Hi, want to see more about the Polish in 1944 Arnhem (Driel?) Check: http://www.jansenklust.nl/airborne/information/monuments/driel/polish-monument-driel

  4. Keeping the Brigade’s memory alive ! Thank you. (A son of one of the original Polish Para’s – Arnhem Veteran)

    • my father michael kochalski served under general sosabowski in 1st polish indipendant parachute brigade and was dropped over arnhem during operation market garden sadly my father died october 2011 aged 92. my father attended all the reunions but would never really talk about the war it is only now that I am finding out so much what he did during the war. I have found a photo on the website of polish paratroopers and I am possitive the photo of the men waiting to jump one of them is my father . is there any way that I would be able to find out any of the mens names

    • My Father Bronislaw Lichtanski was part of the First Polish Ind. parachute brigade and fought at the battle of Arnhem and survived eventually moved to the U.S WE have some of the paper medals that were issued one from Holland is the Campaign star service in 1944 have the Metal pin on Wings also. He would never talk about the war much at all we have researched some this since his Death in 2010 he was 92.

  5. Do you mean on my website or somewhere else? Unfortunately I’m in the same position as you in that my father never spoke about his experiences and I have no names on photos. Are any of your father’s friends or old army comrades still alive? Perhaps they could help.
    I love old photos but so many have no dates and no names of people or places. Such a shame.

    • http://www.89fss.com/polish.htm
      hi marysia this is the website that I found the picture on I believe that the 7th paratrooper from the front leaning foward is my dad. as far as I am aware my father outlived all of his comarads that were dropped during operation market garden . like yourself my father rarley spoke of what happened during the war . while I was clearing out the loft at my parents home I found so many photos that my father had taken during the war with dates and in some photos names and places, if anyone out there had a father or grandfather serving with 1st polish independant parachute brigade under general sosabowski they might have served with my father he would have been known as CPL Aleksander Kochalski.

      • I believe my grandfather is sitting 6th from the front next to your father his name was rudolph kryszczuk.Again I cannot confirm as.no names provided but all my family believe it is him.

    • We have some old photos several of troops on motorcycles,tanks etc, moving through a small village, others of his comrades sitting on a jeep smoking cigs some of them playing soccer on a nicely groomed field.some of comrades with no names or dates.. might be able to scan them in and post possibly?

  6. I asked a friend of mine who knew a lot of the Poles as he’s lived in Upper Largo all his life. Sorry but he doesn’t recognise your father’s name –
    of course he couldn’t know all of them. I’ve seen that site you mention and it’s really useful. Good luck with your researching.

  7. Hi Marysia,
    Im trying to track down my fathers war history. He was a paratrooper stationed at Inverness Scotland I think. Said he fought in Arnhem land, was wounded and returned to Scotland. His name was Roman Karl Strzelecki born 1913.
    I have so little of his past I hope you could tell me how I can trace his time before he met and married my mother (91 now) in 1947.

    • Hello. Best place to start are his military records. Try to get hold of his Zeszyt Ewidencyjny which will give you all his records and rank.
      Contact the Ministry of Defence:

      APC MS Support – Disclosures 5
      Building 59
      RAF Northolt
      West End Road
      RUISLIP
      HA4 6NG
      Tel: 0208 8338603
      Fax: 0208 8338866
      Email: NOR-PolishDiscOffice@mod.uk

      The next of kin needs to request the documents.
      If he was a paratrooper he may have trained at Largo House in Fife and if he jumped at Arnhem it will be recorded.

      Good luck.

  8. This is a bit of Polish wartime history that I know little about, so very interesting. And an attractive blog. Great!

  9. My mother told me that my dads polish paratroopers badge was somebody else’s because of the Tobie Ojczyzno” on the back, thanks to your post I now know that to be “For you my Country”, thank you very much for a fine post.
    Noel Bogdan.

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