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

WWII Battle of Britain D-Day & Normandy Arnhem Military Poland in WWII

By Evan McGilvray
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 352
Illustrations: 16
ISBN: 9781473834101
Published: 9th September 2019


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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 betrayed to Soviet occupation in the post-war settlement), as well as the divisions between Polish factions that led to civil war even before the defeat of Germany.

The author narrates all the fighting involving Polish forces, including such famous actions as the Battle of Britain, Tobruk, Normandy, Arnhem and the Warsaw Rising, but also lesser known aspects such as Kopinski’s Carpathian Brigade in Italy, Polish troops under Soviet command and the capture of Wilhelmshaven on the last day of the war.

Evan McGilvray makes very good use of documentary sources, both British and Polish, and this provides a very strong foundation for his interpretation. This latter may be rather stark but it does provide a sound footing for a debate about what we see happening in modern-day Poland.

Historical Association, reviewed by Trevor James

The Second World War had different dates for different countries, starting first in China. The politicians of Britain and France proved unequal to the duplicity of Hitler and his Nazis with the real start date in Europe being the appeasement at Munich in 1938 – Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here


The compelling story of the invasion of Poland and the efforts of the Polish underground to undermine and frustrate the acts of cowardice and genocide of Hitler's invading troops. Some grim but essential reading in this fascinating book.

Books Monthly

This really is an excellent book, and not written by a bias historian of Polish descent such as me, but by an excellent military historian. McGilvray is an excellent researcher and writer who masters the subject he writes about. This is the beginning of putting further knowledge of the Polish response to war out to the general reader. An excellent book.

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GoodReads, Paul Diggett

The full story of Poland's part in World War II from the failure of pre-war diplomacy to betrayal by the Allies leading to civil war and Soviet occupation in the postwar years.

Bookseller Buyers Guide

This is a first class book, well researched and giving a comprehensive account of Poland between 1938 and 1948 that is delivered without obvious prejudice to post war politics. The narrative is well presented and reads well. As a general description of that country during that difficult time, written by a man with deep Polish connections, it cannot be bettered.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy
 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), and Poland and the Second World War 1938-48 (2019). He lives in Leeds, Yorkshire.

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