Gallery 3. Unvanquished
You are in: Room 3a.
Escape to Fight from Abroad (1939-40)
- Germany invaded Poland on 1st September 1939.
- Three ships and two submarines from the Polish Navy escaped to GB. They were put under the High Command of the British Navy and undertook operations immediately.
- In Poland, the forces fought heroically. Polish defences fell back to the South East.
- Then, on the 17th September, the Soviets invaded from the East.
- Poland did not formally surrender but, on the 18th September, the Polish leadership crossed the border into Romania where they were interned.
- The Polish Government-in-Exile was formed in Paris with General Sikorski as PM and Commander-in-Chief. Its primary objective was the rebuilding of our Polish armed forces in France.
- In total 84,000 Polish soldiers made their way to France, mostly retreating via the borders of Hungary and Romania. Many also made their way to French Syria.
- 50,000 Polish troops fought the Germans in May 1940 defending France, namely the 1st Grenadiers Division, the 2nd Rifles Division, the 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade and the Polish Airforce.
- After the French capitulation, around 25,000 Polish troops were evacuated to Great Britain.
- The Polish Government-in-exile also escaped to London. Here, the High Command began to re-organise the Polish Forces for the 2nd time.
- The ground troops, based in Scotland, were formed into the Polish First Corps under General Maczek. 7,000 personnel from the Polish Airforce came under the command of the Royal Air Force.
Submarine ORP Orzel which had an epic escape to G.B. September 1939. Jozef Aksnowicz served with the 3 Dywizjon Artylerii Konnej in the September Campaign 1939. President Raczkiewicz and General Sikorski in Paris, 1st October 1939; SOURCE: SIKORSKI MUSEUM. General Sikorski with Polish soldiers in Coetquidan, France, November 1939; SOURCE: SIKORSKI MUSEUM. Photographs Testimonies(3a) Escape to Fight from Abroad (1939-40) - the script for the audio narration
Polish Air Force units at Lyon, France 27th March 1940; SOURCE: SIKORSKI MUSEUM.Map of Montbard, French campaign 13-18 June 1940; source: Boje Polskie 1939-45, Fundacja Historia I Kultura, Warsaw.
Polish Navy Officer and then Polish Liaison Officer, Polish Armed Forces in the West