Polish Paratroopers

In Poland, parachuting started off in 1937 on the initiative of the Liga Obrony Powietrznej I Przeciwgazowej, the Polish air-raid defence with a membership of one and a half million people.bOn 5th September 1937 near Legionowo, parachutists jumped from a Fokker E-VIIE/3m in the presence of numerous spectators. Then the first military parachute course started.

After the military defeat in September 1939 the Polish army was reformed in France. In the same year on 13th November the Polish ministers committee established a secret organization: the ‘Confederation for armed battle’. The organization’s aim was: “to found centres for active national resistance, to carry out armoured operations against the occupier and to prepare a national uprising behind the enemy front at the moment the regular Polish army would reach the Polish border”. Parachutists would maintain the contacts with the Polish people. Because of the capitulation of France the realization of these ambitious intentions became impossible.

After the capitulation of France the President of Poland, the Commander-in-Chief of the army and the Government fled to England in order to continue the battle alongside Great-Britain.

On 29th June 1940 General Władysław Sikorski, the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish army, established in England the ‘Confederation for Armed Battle in Poland’. In a memorandum of July 1940 about the mobilization of the airforce and army in support of the revolt in Poland was pled for the establishment of training centres for liaison officers, for specialists in committing acts of sabotage and for the training of parachutists.The formation of parachutist units that could be dropped quickly into Poland was also comprehensively supported.

On 23rd August 1940 the 4th Cadre (Officers and N.C.O’s) Rifle Brigade was formed in the military camp of the Canadian Officers Cadre Brigade in Eliock in Scotland. Colonel Sosabowski became the commander of this brigade. In September 1940 the training of sabotage-specialists, who would be put into action in Poland, started. The first group of officers of the 4th Cadre Rifle Brigade (BKS) did the sabotage-course in the training centre SOE in Inverlochy Castle (Scotland).

On 10th October 1940 General Sikorski handed out a routine order about the preparation of a national uprising in Poland. The order contained specific instructions for the support and protection of the paratroopers and the supply of parachutists. The first Polish parachutist training in the British training centre in Ringway near Manchester started on 28th October 1940. Here parachutists were trained for the Forces of the Interior. Subsequently, in January 1941, these parachutists attended the sabotage course in the centre of the SOE in Briggens.

On the night of 15–16 February 1941 the first airplane left England for Poland with three Polish parachutists aboard. They parachuted near Skoczow. Their assigment was to support the resistance.

On 15th  March 1941, the 4th Cadre Rifle Brigade opened the centre for parachute training in Largo House (Scotland). This training centre was known as ´Małpi Gaj´, the Monkey Grove. In August, at Lundin Links in the neighbourhood of Largo House, the Poles set up a training tower from which the trainees could jump. This kind of training tower served as an example for the British parachutists training.

Twenty June 1941, General Sikorski approved of the design of the Polish parachute insigna, which had been designed by the well-known Polish graphic artist Sergeant Marian Walentynowicz. It shows a diving eagle with extended talons and on the reverse is engraved the moto “Tobie Ojczyzno” (For you, Motherland). This insigna was awarded on completion of training. A gold laurel wreath held in the talons of the diving eagle was added to the insigna for those parachutists who had actually fought in a parachutists operation.

On 23rd  September 1941, for the first time a real Polish airborne landing manoevre was organized in Kincraig in Scotland. In the presence of General Sikorski the entire 4th Brigade was dropped then.
After the successful operation General Sikorski decided to change the name of the 4th Cadre Rifle Brigade into the Parachute Brigade. On this occasion the parachute badges were distributed for the very first time. The 23rd of September was established as the “Polish Parachute Brigade´s Day”.

On 9th October 1941 General Sikorski confirmed by written order that the Polish Parachute Brigade was officially established.
This Brigade was to be used especially for operations in Poland. Colonel Stanisław Sosabowski was appointed as Brigade Commander.

On 8th September 1942 the Commander of the Polish Domestic Forces, the A.K., Brigadier Stefan Rowecki, signed the operation report number 154 concerning the General Uprising. In this report it was assumed that a conceivable uprising in Poland would receive support from the West and from Polish parachutists.
The brigade was officially given the name the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade (1 SBS pad) on 20th October 1942. The brigade was put at the disposal of the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish armed forces.
The Polish parachute training school gradually became more experienced. She developed new instruction methods and obtained better facilities. Students of various nationalities, including even Dutch students, successfully attended the Polish parachute training centre.