Polish Naval Memories of WWII









Franciszek Rumiński, Ordinary Seaman

Polish Navy arrives at Wilhelmshaven on 27th.

Following the surrender of German forces on May 7th, ORP Conrad entered Wilhelmshaven on the 27th.

ORP Conrad enters Wilhemshaven

In 1945 the Polish Naval command again requested a modern day cruiser to replace Dragon, lost off the Normandy beaches, but the Admiralty wished to keep their modern warships for the war in the east against Japan in which Poland would probably not take part. Instead a sister ship to Dragon, HMS Danae, was loaned out. She was commanded by Cmdr. Stanisław Dzienisiewicz and manned by the Polish crew from Dragon. Initially the ship was to be renamed to either “ORP Wilno” or “ORP Lwów“, after the cities of Wilno (Vilnius) and Lwów (Lviv). This was seen as controversial because the cities were at that time claimed by the Soviet Union. The British authorities did not wish to offend the Soviets. Somewhat fittingly she was renamed Conrad, the nom de plume of the famous Polish born writer, and British merchant naval officer, Joseph Korzeniowski.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the Polish First Armoured Division had fought its way to the outskirts of Wilhelmshaven by 4th May 1945, the naval port from where much of the notorious U-boat war had been waged. Wilhelmshaven was the largest naval base for the Wehrmacht and was heavily defended by a land-based defensive perimeter as well as the sea. Taking it would be bloody. As preparations were being made for the assault on Wilhelmshaven, the German commanders in the sector surrendered to the Allies. The Polish division accepted the surrender of Wilhelmshaven on May 6, 1945.

After the surrender of German forces on May 7th, 1945 Conrad entered Wilhelmshaven and met with the First Polish Armoured Division, under the command of General Maczek. On the 13th May  the U-Boats left the lock at Wilhelmshaven and entered the harbour for their formal surrender to the Royal Navy. This was some consolation for warriors about to lose their country, despite the defeat of their original foe.

For most of 1945 Conrad was either undergoing machinery repairs or serving with the 10th Cruiser Squadron out of Scapa Flow, with numerous passages to Scandinavia and north German.


More from 1945

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