This Day in History July 4, 1943

I checked my reference book for more info on General Sikorski to see if it mentioned anything about his sudden disappearance. Nothing new. Here is some info to go along with the history of the free Polish Army.


On 30 July 1941, an agreement was reached in London between the Polish Gov't in exile lead by General Wladyslaw Sikorski and the Soviet Gov't allowed the Poles staying on Soviet soil after Sept 1939 to join the Polish Armed Forces. On 14 August, two Polish divisions were organized near Orenburg. Later, Sikorski visited Moscow and convinced them to move his troops further south to warmer climate. Sikorski intended to use his troops to fight alongside the Sovit Army but this was not to be.


Some Polish fighters were allowed to go to England to fill the need for existing free Polish units already there. In August 1942, Churchill negotiations allowed the 44,000 soldiers and 26,000 civilians to transfer to Iraq. The British wanted to have more troops in that area to protect their oil fields. Polish General Anders wanted to ensure the Polish troops would be under the command of the British.


In the desert garrison of Iraq, the Poles formed into divisions based on the British pattern and joined up with veterans of the North African campaigns and others from England. It proved impossible to form an entire army, so they constituted a Corps, comprised of 2 divisions, each of 2 infantry brigades, instead of the 3 normally contained in a British division.


During winter, the Poles performed garrison duty in the oil fields of Kirkuk and Mosul in northern Iraq, with the general HQ in Baghdad area. Here they continued in intensive training thru the summer of 1943.


In June 1943, the Polish Prime Minister and Supreme Command, General Sikorski, visited the forces and christened them as the II Polish Corps. On 4 July, returning to England, General Sikorski was killed in an airplane crash.


The II Polish Corps was moved to Palestine and Jordan for further training that would better simulate the terrain of Italy. Just before leaving for Italy, the II Corps consisted of:


3rd Carpathian Rifle Division = 1 & 2 Rifle Brigades - 13,500 men

5th Frontier Infantry Division =5 & 6 Infty Brigades - 12,900 men

2nd Armoured Brigade (52 Sherman and 11 Stuart tanks) - 3,400 men

2nd Artillery Group = 7, 9, 10 & 11 Artillery Regts

30% were artillery, 23% were infantry, 6% engineers, 5% armoured cavalry,

4.5% armoured units, 3.5% signals. 10% transport

Total of 45,000 men


The II Polish Corps arrived in Italy on 21 December 1943, at Taranto. Soon they were joined by more free Poles who had heard of their new formation and the organization grew to 110,000 Poles.


Reference: "Poles in the Italian Campaign: 1943-1945" by Olgierd Teriecki.




Messages In This Thread
This Day in History July 4, 1943 - by Dogdaddy - 07-04-2006, 07:06 PM
This Day in History July 4, 1943 - by Custermen - 07-10-2006, 11:44 PM
This Day in History July 4, 1943 - by Custermen - 07-11-2006, 11:11 AM
This Day in History July 4, 1943 - by Dogdaddy - 07-11-2006, 01:14 PM
This Day in History July 4, 1943 - by Custermen - 07-11-2006, 10:08 PM

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