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First Polish Armoured Division 1938-47 (Hardback)

A History

Military WWII > Battles & Campaigns > D-Day & Normandy WWII > Poland in WWII

By Evan McGilvray
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 320
Illustrations: 200 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781526724151
Published: 8th June 2022



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The First Polish Armoured Division was formed in Scotland in February 1942 from Polish exiles who had escaped first Poland and then France. Its commander, Stanislaw Maczek, and many of its men had previously served in Polish 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade (10 BKS), which had taken part in the Polish invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938 and given a good account of itself in the defence of Poland against German and Soviet invasion of 1939. Under Maczek’s leadership the division was trained and equipped along British lines in preparation for the invasion of France.

Attached to 1st Canadian Army, the division was sent to Normandy in late July 1944. It suffered heavily during Operation Totalize but went on to play a crucial role in preventing an orderly German withdrawal from the Falaise Pocket by its stand at Hill 262. They then played their part in the advance across Western Europe and into Germany.

This detailed history, supported by dozens of archive photos, concludes by looking at the often-poor treatment of Maczek and his men after the war.

This is an excellent account of the history of the First Polish Armoured Division.

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History of War

4.7 out of 5

This book is an examinate of the history of the Polish First Armoured Division during the years 1938 and 1947. Nine years that shook Poland to the core and changed it from being an independent country to one yet again occupied by the Germans and then the Russians. Like many who feature in this book my Grandfather could not go home after the war, due to the annexation and occupation by the Russians.

This book was a joint effort between Evan McGilvray and Janusz Jarzembowski who have used original pictures and new archives to open up the story of the division from its actions in 1938 invading Czechoslovakia to the end of their work in post-war Europe. The First Polish Armoured Division was a unit that sprang up quickly in response to the events of the 1930s central – east Europe which would affect the whole of the world. It was under the command of General Stanislaw Maczek a talented commander. Like many talented Polish commanders and soldiers who were talented were ignored and were allowed to disappear into obscurity. It was if the Polish were not part of the allied forces.

The First Armoured Division was formed in Scotland 1942 from the Polish exiled soldiers who had escaped from Poland, and then later France. Many of the men in this unit had originally served under Maczek when they were previously the Polish 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade. The Brigade had given a good account of itself in the defence of Poland from the Nazi invasion on the 1st September 1939 and when the Soviet Union swept in from the east on 17th September.

The division was equipped along British lines in preparation for D-Day and the Normandy offensive. Officially they were attached to the 1st Canadian Army and was eventually sent to Normandy in July 1944. It also describes how the division suffered during Operation Totalise and the crucial role they played during the Falaise Pocket.

The part that really hits home for many of the Polish diaspora is the concluded part of the book and how it looks at the very often poor treatment not only Maczek and his men received after the war. Remember the Poles were not invited to take place in the victory parade, a reminder of Churchill’s appeasement of Stalin for one.

An excellent history well worth reading and will remind many the Allies were made up of soldiers from many countries.

Amazon Customer, Paul Diggett

This release from Pen and Sword is well written, informative and if the Polish armed forces are of interest to you this title covering their distinguished service during World War II should appeal too many. The history is written with dedication to both specific information and recollection, making for a very thorough history.

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A Polish armoured division comprising volunteers from Polish refugees - it reads like a story from the Boys Own Paper... Astonishing!

Books Monthly

Overall, a really good book and a great story which goes well beyond just the story of the Mace and the closing of the Falaise Pocket.

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Military Model Scene

The book is supported by much evidence and reports, and I enjoyed the personal statements and stories that run throughout the book, and I must say there is a good standard of photographs throughout which do add weight to a good read... A rare book on Polish military history but one I enjoyed.

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The History Fella
 Evan McGilvray

About Evan McGilvray

Evan McGilvray specializes in 20th century military history. His previous works include Hamilton & Gallipoli : British Command in an Age of Military Transformation (2015), Ander's Army: General Wladislaw Anders and the Polish Second Corps 1941-1946 (2018), Poland and the Second World War 1938-48 (2019) and De Gaulle and Churchill (2024). He lives in Leeds, Yorkshire.

Perfect Partner

Poland & the Second World War 1938–48 (Hardback)

The invasion of Poland by German forces (quickly joined by their then-allies the Soviets) ignited the Second World War. Despite determined resistance, Poland was quickly conquered but Poles continued the struggle to the very last day of the war against Germany, resisting the occupier within their homeland and fighting in exile with the Allied forces. Evan McGilvray, drawing on intensive research in Polish sources, gives a comprehensive account of Poland’s war. He reveals the complexities of Poland’s relationship with the Allies (forced to accept their Soviet enemies as allies after 1941, then…

By Evan McGilvray

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