Poles passage to Britain

The Allies 1939-1945, and those fighting against Germany.

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Rolf Steiner
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Poles passage to Britain

Post by Rolf Steiner » Mon Jul 23, 2007 10:13 am

something I've never quite been clear on - the number of poles who escaped to join brit forces after the invasion - how did they get there? Can't envisage any easy route after sept 39!
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Post by John Kilmartin » Mon Jul 23, 2007 1:20 pm

Hi Rolf,
Some of them came via the Soviet Union after Barbarosa. I saw a documentary in the theatre of my local library a number of years ago that chronicles this remarkable journey and the obstacles placed in their paths. I'll see if I still have the brochure given out at the showing. I know it was originally prepared for broadcast in Britain.
There was a heated discussion during the questions and answers session after the screening about what was left out. It is my understanding from that discussion that besides those that left via Iran as portrayed in the documentary others left via Vladivostok.
Cheers,
John K
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Post by Njorl » Tue Jul 24, 2007 1:00 am

In 1939 the possible routes were:
- from Romania via Black and Mediterranean Sea to France,
- from Romania through Yugoslavia, Italy and Switzerland to France
- from Hungary via Romania and further same as above.

I read not long ago how Col. Sosabowski travelled to France in fall 1939 from IIRC Lwow/Lviv. I'll check it as I come back from work.

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MJU
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Post by Njorl » Wed Jul 25, 2007 12:21 am

The route Colonel Sosabowski took was:
from Warsaw to Soviet Union -> Lwow/Lviv -> Drochobycz -> Boryslaw -> across former Polish-Czechoslovakian border to Hungary -> Munkacs -> Ungwar/Uzhorod -> Csap -> Budapest -> via plane to Italy -> Venice -> Milan -> boarding on "Simplon Express" train travelling through Switzerland to France -> Paris.

How he get to Britain after fall of France is another story (IIRC he managed to board a ship to Britain at some port in Bretagne).

Regards,

MJU
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Post by raj-rif » Wed Jan 30, 2008 3:41 pm

the men who made up the carpathian division came through russia and down into the middle east where they then fought through north africa with the british and commonwealth forces
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Post by phylo_roadking » Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:04 pm

IIRC Johann Waage's "The Narvik Campaign" (!!!) had about a page and a half on this, the southern route via Hungary was by far the most widely used.
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Post by Hans » Wed Jan 30, 2008 8:38 pm

One of my Polish/Australian friends was born in Tanzania after his parents made their way south from Poland. He has no idea how/why etc. His parents never spoke about anything relevant. Any clues anyone, of how a Pole could find himself in Tanzania in 1940?

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Post by Glyndower » Fri Feb 01, 2008 10:48 am

After the defeat of 1939 many Poles made their way through Rumania and other routes to France where together with foreign born Poles who volunteered they were formed into military units. The numbers I have forgotten but it should not prove to difficult to find out. After the defeat of 1940 many entered Switzerland but a sizeable number escaped to Britain where they made up an armoured division, a parachute brigade and a very important part of the Royal Air Force.

Some in 1939 escaped to Syria where the French formed them into a brigade but after the defeat of France they together with other Poles in the French Foreign Legion left Syria for Palestine. They fought at Tobruk then joined the Poles who left the USSR.

The Poles who left the USSR numbered aproximatly 115,000 men women and children. The men who were fit enough made up the Polish 2nd Corps and 3,500 came to Britain to reinforce the Polish airforce. The others went to camps in the British Empire mainly or maybe all to Africa which explains Poles in Africa.

I once met a Pole many years ago who had been in a camp near Lake Victoria and remember him telling me the best thing to do if grabbed by a crocodile.

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Poles escaping France?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:18 am

A considerablenumber of Poles had collected in France by June 1940. Were many able to escape to Britian or eslewhere. There was susposedly a group that retreated into Switzerlan in June 1940. If that correct, and what was their fate?

Are there any reliable number for Poles distributed through Africa and the Middle East or elsewhere in June 1940?

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Post by Njorl » Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:55 am

Yes Carl Schwarmberger, whole Polish 2. Foot Rifle Division under command of Col. Prugar-Ketling withdrew to Switzerland (alongside with some French troops, IIRC) and was interned there for the rest of WW2.

Regards,
Michal Jungiewicz
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Arek
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Re: Poles passage to Britain

Post by Arek » Sun May 03, 2009 3:17 am

France 06.1940

85.000 soldiers in France(most of them interned in Romania and hungary ecaped to France,
part of them from France and USA from polish diaspora)
Main units:
Independent Podhalańska Mountain Brigade (Strzelcow Podhalanskich - Invasion on Narvik)
1st Infantry Div(Grenadierow) - 16000 men
2nd Infantry Div(Strzelcow Pieszych) - 16000 men
3rd Infantry Div(partialy mob.)
4th Infantry Div(partialy mob.)
10th Armoured Cav Brigade(most of soldiers of polish 10th Armoured Cav Brigade from Polish campaign 1939 interned in ROmania/Hungary)
(late in war reformed to famous gem Maczek's 1st Armoured Division landed in Normandy -> Falaise -> Holland ->Wilhelmshaven)
Independent Karparian Brigade(Palestine)

130 fighter pilots take part in airfightings and shotdown 60 german palnes

3 modern destroyers in England (Blyskawica,Grom,Burza)
6 large troop transports

losses: 6000 killed and heavy wounded
whole 2nd Infantry Div interned in Switzerland


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Great Britain 1940

27.614 men evacuated from France to England(6429 air forces, 1505 seamen)

Ist Polish Corps created(defence of 200km ofshore of Scotland(Firth of Forth to Arbroath)

4 fighter squadrons created(1941 - 8, to the end of war - 15)
polish figher pilots shotdown 203 german planes(+36 dam) during Battle of England(1940)
what was 11,7% of all shotdowns...

2 bomber squadrons created (1941 - 4)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

First Polish Army in USSR(08.1941 - 08.1942) at the end of this pieriod ecvacuated to
Iran/Irak)

78.000 soldiers + 38.000 civilaians (most of them prisoners of 1939 war repatriated from eastern Poland to Siberia
next released to serv in polish Army)

From above forces and Independent Karparian Brigade(which fought in Tobruk) created 2nd Polish COrps(1943)
1944-1945 above Corps fought in Italy(Monte Cassino etc)

At the end of WWII whole polish army on the West had 219.330 soldiers.

http://wapedia.mobi/pl/Polskie_Si%C5%82 ... achodzie#1.

P.S.
Sorry for poor English...;)

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Re: Poles passage to Britain

Post by Schultz » Wed May 06, 2009 2:42 am

M y father had a friend he met in England in '61-'62 who was a Polish fighter pilot (gave my dad some flying lessons, pics are funny airplane in the back of a truck) he got to England after escaping from a Russian train, made it to a port north Lithuania or Estonian i would imagine. Then went on a Norwegian or Swedish ship to long trip to England.
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Re: Poles passage to Britain

Post by Cott Tiger » Wed May 06, 2009 4:55 am

The Polish fighter pilot, Wladek Gyns, was first ordered to Romania and then took a ship, via Malta, to Marseilles (a main gathering for Poles in France).

Gyns and a Polish squadron then fought, rather desperately, together with the French air force for a short time.

After parting with the doomed French, Gyns made his way to England via Algiers and Casablanca. where he flew combat operations for the rest of the war.

Note: Wladek Gyns has claim to have to shot down the first German aircraft of WWII.

Source: First Kill: A Fighter Pilot’s Autobiography – Wladek Gyns
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Re: Poles passage to Britain

Post by Njorl » Wed May 06, 2009 8:30 am

Of course we're talking about (eventually Squadron Leader) Wladyslaw Gnys :wink:

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Michal Jungiewicz
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Re: Poles passage to Britain

Post by Cott Tiger » Wed May 06, 2009 9:12 am

Njorl wrote:Of course we're talking about (eventually Squadron Leader) Wladyslaw Gnys :wink:

Regards,
Michal Jungiewicz
Hi Michal,

Had to double check, but yes, they are one and the same.

Do you have any idea why he published his book using the spelling Wladek rather than Wladyslaw?

A very interesting and a very brave fellow, I might add.

Regards,

André
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