Were there any Polish citizens who served in the British army or navy?

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Komi
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Were there any Polish citizens who served in the British army or navy?

Post by Komi » 24 Jul 2021 23:04

I'm aware that the RAF had several Polish squadrons, and that there was also a Polish navy and army "in exile" that served alongside/under the Brits. But did any Polish nationals actually serve integrated into the regular British army ground forces or the British navy, and not in their own "exile" forces? Even on an individual basis?

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Sheldrake
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Re: Were there any Polish citizens who served in the British army or navy?

Post by Sheldrake » 24 Jul 2021 23:23

A total of 145 experienced and battle-hardened Polish airmen fought in the Battle of Britain - 79 airmen in various RAF squadrons, 32 in No. 302 (Polish) Fighter Squadron and 34 in No. 303 (Polish) Fighter Squadron.
https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-poli ... of-britain

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Re: Were there any Polish citizens who served in the British army or navy?

Post by Komi » 24 Jul 2021 23:31

Sheldrake wrote:
24 Jul 2021 23:23
A total of 145 experienced and battle-hardened Polish airmen fought in the Battle of Britain - 79 airmen in various RAF squadrons, 32 in No. 302 (Polish) Fighter Squadron and 34 in No. 303 (Polish) Fighter Squadron.
https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-poli ... of-britain
Yeah, I mentioned the pilots already. But as I said in the opening post I'm asking about army ground forces or the navy.

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Re: Were there any Polish citizens who served in the British army or navy?

Post by GregSingh » 25 Jul 2021 05:25

As for Navy, try Jerzy Pertek book: Pod obcymi banderami. (Under foreign banners).
One example: Józef Wojtkowiak
Served on at least 2 dozens of vessels during his career, starting with German Imperial Navy.
Briefly in 1940 on HMS Glowworm.

454 pages with many surnames in the Index, but they need to be verified against British sources, I would think.

Some examples here on Polish forum, but source is again Pertek's book.
https://www.dws.org.pl/viewtopic.php?f=87&t=13205
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Re: Were there any Polish citizens who served in the British army or navy?

Post by Komi » 25 Jul 2021 09:50

Thanks for that Greg.

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Re: Were there any Polish citizens who served in the British army or navy?

Post by Sheldrake » 25 Jul 2021 10:53

Most Poles ended up in the Polish forces in exile. Much of the British Army was inactive but ssome of the more aggressive types ended up in commandos or Special Forces

The Commonwealth War Graves commission lists several men born in Poland with the word Poland listed in additional information

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find- ... Y%20BOREN/ Royal Fusiliers
https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find- ... 0PLONCHIK/ SOE
https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find- ... 0UTCHITEL/ SOE
https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find- ... YNKIEWICZ/ Straits Settlements Volunteer Force

One of the men captured during Opeation Aquatint in September 1942 on what would be known as Omaha Beach was a Sergeant Adam Orr of the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment. This was not his true name or origins - probably Polish
https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find- ... POCZYNSKI/

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Re: Were there any Polish citizens who served in the British army or navy?

Post by Komi » 25 Jul 2021 11:44

Thank you Sheldrake.

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Re: Were there any Polish citizens who served in the British army or navy?

Post by Trinder » 26 Jul 2021 21:10

The Polish Armed Forces in the West fought under British command and numbered 195,000 in March 1944 and 165,000 at the end of that year, including about 20,000 personnel in the Polish Air Force and 3,000 in the Polish Navy.

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Re: Were there any Polish citizens who served in the British army or navy?

Post by Komi » 26 Jul 2021 22:29

Trinder wrote:
26 Jul 2021 21:10
The Polish Armed Forces in the West fought under British command and numbered 195,000 in March 1944 and 165,000 at the end of that year, including about 20,000 personnel in the Polish Air Force and 3,000 in the Polish Navy.
Yes, but like I said in the opening post I am asking about people who didn't fight in those "exile" forces, but within the regular British military.

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Re: Were there any Polish citizens who served in the British army or navy?

Post by Sheldrake » 27 Jul 2021 17:47

One of the distinctions may have been those Polish citizens who saw themselves as jews first and would prefer not to serve a Polish regime which tolerated discrimination and vioplence against jews. Anders'army lost many men en route from Russia to Zionist settlements in Palestine. Three of the five men born in Poland listed in the CWGC have old testament Jewish forenames.
MORDEHAY PLONCHIK, SHIMON UTCHITEL, ABRAHAM OPOCZYNSKI

I could be arrested in modern Poland for making this point.

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Re: Were there any Polish citizens who served in the British army or navy?

Post by Komi » 27 Jul 2021 18:01

Sheldrake wrote:
27 Jul 2021 17:47
One of the distinctions may have been those Polish citizens who saw themselves as jews first and would prefer not to serve a Polish regime which tolerated discrimination and vioplence against jews. Anders'army lost many men en route from Russia to Zionist settlements in Palestine. Three of the five men born in Poland listed in the CWGC have old testament Jewish forenames.
MORDEHAY PLONCHIK, SHIMON UTCHITEL, ABRAHAM OPOCZYNSKI

I could be arrested in modern Poland for making this point.
It's one that's worth remembering though, and a good point.

I was also curious whether there were any pre-war Polish immigrants or their second-generation children in the UK who served in the British regular army/navy during WW2. There had already been immigration from eastern-europe to the UK since the late 19th century, albeit not on the massive scale we've seen in the 21st century (for instance I know for a fact that there were some Lithuanians working in British coal mines before WW2).

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Re: Were there any Polish citizens who served in the British army or navy?

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 27 Jul 2021 21:02

Maybe this can for to help.
The War Office requested the Polish Ministry of Defence for a loan of a group of 450 officers; the Poles agreed to release 300. In the event, out of 800 candidates who applied for service in West Africa, 273 Polish officers passed through the R.W.A.F.F. during the 22 months the scheme was in operation (September, 1941-July, 1943). Of this number 65 carried on in the British Army, as individuals and not as members of a group, until the end of the war. They served with the 81st and 82nd West African Divisions in Burma. Furthermore a small number of ex- R.W.A.F.F. Polish officers were transferred to other units, and a few served in the British Military Administration in the ex-Italian colonies.
There were also some 103 Polish pilots and ground staff at a Polish unit of the K.A.F. Ferry Command in Takoradi. They began to fly aircraft across Africa to Egypt in December, 1940.

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Re: Were there any Polish citizens who served in the British army or navy?

Post by GregSingh » 28 Jul 2021 02:29

While checking out some surnames from Pertek's book, found this crew mix on ex-French ship: FS Medoc (HMS Medoc)
The first step to immortality is death.
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