On the eve of WW2, 30th August 1939, three Polish destroyers escape to G.B. Two Polish submarines also escape in September. Most of the remaining Polish Navy fleet are destroyed in battle and the Polish Navy capitulates on 1st October. Under the high command of the British R.N. the Polish Navy continues to fight from exile.
The Polish Navy serves in the Norwegian campaign and the Dunkirk evacuation. Losses include 2 submarines, 1 destroyer and 2 merchant ships. The destroyer fleet is moved to Greenock, Scotland for convoy escort in the Battle of the Atlantic. Polish Navy officers, captured in 1939, are executed by the NKVD in Katyń.
On 22nd June 1941 Germany attacks USSR, bringing Stalin to the Allies and freeing thousands of Polish captives in Siberia. Two destroyers and 1 submarine are added to the Polish Fleet. In the Battle of the Atlantic, Bismarck is hunted and sunk. The Polish Navy begin operating in the Malta-bound convoys, the Mediterranean.
1,000 sailors are released from Soviet captivity and join the Polish Navy in G.B. Carnage in the Battle of the Atlantic continues with convoys PQ15 and PQ16 to Murmansk. Channel Operations include the ill-fated Dieppe raid in August. ORP Kujawiak hits a mine and is sunk on a Malta-bound convoy in the Mediterranean.
Devastatingly, General Sikorski, Poland’s PM and C-in-C, is killed in July. In the Battle of the Atlantic ORP Orkan is sunk on convoy in October. Only one officer and 43 men are saved. Channel Operations and Mediterranean convoys continue. The Polish Navy provide support for the allied landings near Salerno, Italy in September.
In the ranks there is uncertainty over Poland’s future. The Polish 2nd Corps is transported from Egypt to Italy, January – April, escorted by the Polish Navy. Polish ships also participate in the Normandy D-Day landings, beginning on 6th June. Naval operations continue with northern convoys, English Channel patrols and action in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Poland’s fate is decided by Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill at Yalta in February. Polish warships enter the German naval base at Wilhelmshaven following its capture by Polish Forces under General Maczek on 6th May. In post-war operations Polish destroyers are deployed to scuttle the German U-Boat fleet from November 1945 – February 1946.
Polish Forces do not march in the Victory Parade on 8th June in London. However the Polish Navy marches with the RN in Plymouth. The British Government withdraws its recognition of the Polish Government-in-Exile. All ships of the Polish Navy are returned to the RN and the Polish Resettlement Corps is formed.