Official force name
1 Samodzielna Brygada Spadochronowa
Chain of Command
1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade
The Shortest Way
Standard British para brigade structure
Brigade composed of three battalions
with organic artillery and other troops
Reason for creation
The Polish paras were also extensively trained in usage of
German weapons and Polish pre-war weapons available to the Polish Underground
Liberation of Poland as part of the all-national uprising forces
training of cichociemni
sparing the few Polish recruits in Britain for high-profile units instead of cannon fodder
The 1st (Polish) Independent Parachute Brigade was a parachute brigade
under command of Maj.Gen. Stanisław Sosabowski, created in England in 1941 with the mission to drop into occupied Poland in order to help liberate the country.
The unit was eventually used during Operation Market Garden in 1944, in support of the British 1st Airborne Division. It jumped in the latter stages of the operation, suffering significant casualties but still being able to help cover the withdrawal of the survivors of the battered British 1st Airborne Division.
The anti-tank battery went into Arnhem during the first days of the battle, supporting the British paratroopers at Oosterbeek. This left Sosabowski without any anti-tank capability. The light artillery battery was left behind in England due to a shortage of gliders. Owing to bad weather and a shortage of transport planes, the drop into Driel, on the south bank of the Rhine, was delayed 2 days. Finally the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the brigade were dropped under German fire. They captured Driel, set up defensive positions and tried to cross the Rhine that evening. Unfortunately, the ferry which was supposed to take them across, had been sunk.
The following day, the Poles were able to produce some make-shift boats and attempted the crossing. With great difficulty and under German fire, the 8th Parachute Company and later additional troops from 3rd Battalion, managed to cross the Rhine in two attempts. In total about 200 Polish Paratroopers made it across in two days, and were able to cover the subsequent withdrawal of the remnants of the British 1st Airborne Division.
On the 26th of September 1944, the brigade (now including the 1st Battalion and elements of the 3rd Battalion, who were parachuted near to Grave on the 23rd September) was ordered to march in the direction of Nijmegen. The brigade had lost 23% of its fighting strength, amounting to 400 casualties.
Polish paratroopers in positions on the southern bank of Rhein (Arnhem).
Gen. Sosabowski during Operation Market Garden
In 1945 it was attached to the Polish 1st Armoured Division and undertook occupation duties in Northern Germany until 30th June 1947 when it was disbanded. The majority of its soldiers stayed in exile.
- Brigade HQ CO: Maj.Gen S. Sosabowski
- Deputy Brigade CO: Lt.Col. S. Jachnik
- 1st Parachute Battalion CO: Lt.Col. M. Tonn
- 1st Parachute Company
- 2nd Parachute Company
- 3rd Parachute Company
- 2nd Parachute Battalion CO: Lt.Col. W. Ploszewski
- 4th Parachute Company
- 5th Parachute Company
- 6th Parachute Company
- 3rd Parachute Battalion CO: Maj. W. Sobocinski
- 7th Parachute Company
- 8th Parachute Company
- 9th Parachute Company
- Airborne Anti-tank Battery CO: Capt. J. Wardzala
- Airborne Engineer Company CO: Capt. P. Budziszewski
- Airborne Signals Company CO: Capt. J. Burzawa
- Airborne Medical Company CO: Lt. J. Mozdzierz
- Transport and Supply Company CO: Capt. A. Siudzinski
- Airborne Light Artillery Battery CO: Maj. J. Bielecki
- George F. Cholewczynski (1990). De Polen van Driel. Uitgeverij Lunet. ISBN 9071743101.
- Stanislaw Sosabowski (1982). Freely I served. Battery Press Inc. ISBN 0898390613.