Pilsudski Institute of America, Photographs of Polish Soldiers and Civilians During WWII (1939-1945)

This collection of photographs displays Polish Armed Forces in the West with a focus on the Polish Armed Forces in the United Kingdom (1940-1944), the formation of the Polish Army in the USSR (under the command of General Władysław Anders), and the life of soldiers of the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade in Africa (1940-1942). The formation of the Polish Armed Forces in the West took place at the outbreak of WWII when, on September 1, 1939, German troops crossed the Polish border. The Polish Army, alone in combat, could not effectively resist Germany's aggression in addition to the Soviet invasion on Eastern Polish territories on September 17, 1939. As a result, Poland was partitioned for the fourth time by Hitler and Stalin, and its government fled into exile to France and later on to Great Britain. At the same time, in the autumn of 1939, the formation of regular troops was ordered by the Polish authorities in exile. This was possible due to prior war agreements with France and Great Britain. Polish Armed Forces in the West were initially formed in France and Syria and later in Great Britain and Palestine. Land army units, the Polish Navy and Polish pilots were organized and sent to function under British forces, and participated in various Allied military operations, including the Battle of Britain, the Norwegian campaign in Narvik, the Siege of Tobruk, and D-Day in France. In February of 1940, Soviets began the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Polish civilians to Siberia and other parts of the Soviet Union, where they were imprisoned or put to work in Gulags. Following the outbreak of the Soviet-German War in 1941 and the signing of the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement, Polish citizens were free to join the Polish Army in the USSR under the command of General Władysław Anders. In the Spring and Summer of 1942, after consultation with the Soviet authorities, approximately 78,000 Polish soldiers and about 35,000 civilians were evacuated to Iran. The civilians were then transported to refugee camps in Africa, New Zealand and Mexico, while the Polish soldiers remained in Iraq where they were fed and trained. On September 12, 1942, the Polish Armed Forces in the Middle East were established from the merging of the Polish Army in the Middle East and the Polish Armed Forces in the USSR. In 1943 the Polish Army in the East, renamed the Polish II Corps, participated in the liberation of Italy and the Battle of Monte Cassino. As the war continued, the now 200,000-strong Polish Army in the West fought faithfully for Poland’s legacy and freedom until 1945, when WWII ended.

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"Junak," A Boy with Traces of Starvation
"Junak," rescued from starvation in the Soviet Union by the Anders' Army, still showing traces of destruction hunger.
"Przemienienia Pańskiego" Hospital in Warsaw
September 1939. Transfiguration Hospital in Warsaw. Women and children sheltered in the cellar during an air raid, guarded by doctors and nurses.
"Skalski's Circus" - North Africa (1- group photos)
Photo 001 shows some of the men who were part of Skalski's Circus. From left to right: Król, Arct, Machowiak. Photo 002 is a group photo of the "Flying Boys" from "Skalski's Circus." From left to right: unknown, Rolski, Popek, Pniak, Kowalski. Photo 015 depicts Polish tank-busters at the carcass of one of their victims. From right ot left: Machowiak, Arct, Król, Skalski, Sporny.
"Skalski's Circus" -- North Africa (2)
Photo 007 shows Arct digging an anti-splinter trench. Photo 008 depicts on of the airdromes in North Africa used by "Skalski's Circus." Horbaczewski is seen pouring something out of a barrel in Photo 011.
"Skalski's Circus" -- North Africa (3)
Photo 003 shows Kowalski standing in the middle of a field. Photo 004 shows deputy commander Król. Photo 005 depicts Bronislaw Malinowski. Horbaczewski is displaying German booty in Photo 006. Arct is seen in Photo 014. He is now the commanding officer of the 316th squadron which was destroyed between June and July.
"Skalski's Circus" -- North Africa (4 - relaxation photos)
Photo 009 shows Kowalski taking a bath in the African desert. Pniak is lounging and drinking a beer in Photo 010. Photo 012 shows Sporny setting a table up. Machowiak is inflating a floating device in Photo 013.
10 Month-Old Receives His Aviator Father's Medal (Marian Bełc)
The baby of a Polish pilot receives his father's medal. Ten-month old Marian Bełc receives the D.F.C award to his father, the late Pilot Officer Marian Bełc, a Polish fighter pilot.
A Boy Playing the Trumpet in a Camp in Tehran
1943. A boy is playing on the trumpet in a Polish camp in Tehran, Iran.
A Boy Receiving Grapes in Polish Camp in Tehran
1942. A Polish Camp in Tehran, Iran. A woman offers a boy some grapes.
A Boy Undergoing his First Medical Tests
Tehran. A boy's first medical examination after arriving from Russia.
A Doctor Examining a Soldier
A doctor measures the heartbeat and blood pressure of a soldier. The doctor is using a stethoscope and a blood pressure cuff on him.
A Girl Saved by the Anders' Army
1942. A girl saved from death by Anders Army. She was suffering from a serious illness.
A Group of Children Playing After Arriving from Soviet Russia
A group of children playing outside after leaving the Soviet Union. The children are playing in the sand with wheelbarrows and shovels.
A Group of Children Standing on Hospital Stairs
The photo shows adults and children dressed in hospital gowns. They are standing on the stairs in front of a hospital.
A Group of Children in Military Clothes after Arriving in the Anders' Army
The photo shows a group of boys dressed in military uniforms.
A Group of Children in an Orphanage After Arriving from the Soviet Union
Polish children, rescued from the USSR by the Anders' Army, in an orphanage in Tehran, 1942. Children are dressed in uniforms.
A Group of Children with their Caretakers in Iran
The photo shows a group of children with their caretakers. The photo was taken in Iran. The children and adults are standing in front of houses.
A Group of Polish Children After Arriving in New Zealand
A group of Polish children after arriving in New Zealand. The group is watching sheep grazing on a field.
A Group of Polish Children Orphans During a Meal
The ice cream drive is on. It is the ice cream hour on a coast guard-mannered transport moving out of the dangers of the Indian ocean to a haven of safety. The children are being transferred from Bombay, India.
A Group of Polish Children a Few Months after Arriving from Soviet Russia
Polish children several months after arriving from Soviet Russia. The children are standing outside and preparing for their photos to be taken.
A Group of Polish Children in Uniform on an American Red Cross Truck in Tehran
Polish children from Russia in Tehran. The children are in uniform and sitting on an American Red Cross truck before an excursion.
A Group of Polish Exiles Rest on the Soviet-Iranian Border
Middle East. Refugees resting at the border between Russia and Iran.
A Group of Polish Girls after Arriving from the Soviet Union
A group of Polish girls arriving in a camp after leaving the Soviet Union. The girls are standing and fixing their uniforms.
A Group of Polish Girls in the Middle East
A group of Polish children in the Middle East. The girls are wearing uniforms, smiling, and looking into the camera.
A Group of Polish Orphans Cared by a Nun
Group photo of orphan children. The nun who takes care of them is also present in the photo.
A Group of Polish Orphans on Board a Warship en route to New Zealand from India
Taken aboard a coast guard-manned transport at Bombay, India, these Polish children are on their way to refuge from the sufferings that have pursued them. The orphan refugee children are treated to ice cream on their travel to New Zealand.
A Group of Polish Refugees at a Resort in the Middle East
Polish refugees are posing with flowers in front of a resort in the Middle East.
A Group of Polish Soldiers in Front of a Building
The photo shows a group of soldiers walking in front of a house. The soldiers are dressed in military attire. A volunteer from the Polish Women's Auxiliary Service is walking with them.
A Group of Polish Women in Winter Clothes After Arriving from the Soviet Union
Polish people saved from Russia. The women are dressed in winter coats after leaving the Soviet Union.
A Group of Teenage Boys of the Polish Armed Forces in Great Britain
The photo shows a group of young members of the Polish Army sitting on a field. The photo seems to have been taken in the midst of their conversation.
A Parade of Aviators
Polish Air Squadron serving with the Royal Air Force. The airmen are parading in the streets of London.
A Parade of Aviators
Polish Air Squadron serving with the Royal Air Force. The airmen are parading in the streets of London.
A Parade of Aviators
Polish Air Squadron now serving with the Royal Air Force. The airmen are parading in the streets of London.
A Parade of Aviators
Polish Air Squadron now serving with the Royal Air Force. The airmen are parading in the streets of London.
A Polish Family Rescued by the Anders Army in the USSR in Iran
A family of Polish exiles rescued by the Anders' Army from the USSR already in Iran. 1942. The Kowalski family in Iran. They look happy in their new outfits.
A Polish Infantryman on a Hill
The photo shows a soldier standing in the middle of a field. He is dressed in military attire and holding a rifle with a bayonet.
A Polish Soldier Looking at the British Coast
The photo shows the profile of a soldier standing with a beach in the background. The soldier is dressed in military gear and looking in the distance.
A Polish Soldier Standing at Attention
The photo shows a soldiers dressed in military attire holding a gun. He is looking into the distance. A tent and trees are present in the background.
A Polish Soldier in Great Britain Plays Bugle Call
The photo shows a soldier playing on a trumpet. A body of water and trees are in the background.
A Soldier Draws a Portrait of Winston Churchill
A soldier is drawing a portrait of Winston Churchill. He utilizes an easel, a pencil, and canvas for the portrait. The soldier draws while two fellow soldiers overlook him.
A Soldier Standing Next to a Road Sign
The photo shows a soldier standing in a forest. He is standing next to a sign that tells him the distance to major cities. He is holding a firearm in his left hand.
A Universal Carrier vehicle in the desert with four Polish soldiers
Universal Carrier "Wilk" in the desert with four Polish soldiers.
A burning on a desert military truck
View of a military truck with a soldier (driver?) and a burning engine.
A fig tree in the desert near Gazala
A lonely fig tree as a landmark on the stone desert near Gazala.
A maintenance crew of a Polish warship
Polish warships never took a break during their actions. The crew of sailors takes care of the machines
A military truck and a soldier in the desert
A military truck and a soldier in the desert.In the background a shell explosion is visible.
A naval artillery and its crew
Sailors on an unidentified Polish warship prepare naval guns for attack.
A portrait of Stanisława Kos
Stanislawa Kos, a member of the Polish Women's Auxiliary Service visiting a Training Center in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.
A portrait of a member of Polish Auxiliary Service
An unidenfied member of the Polish Women's Auxiliary Service saluting.
A portrait of an unidentified member of the Polish Women's Auxiliary Service
The youngest member of the Polish Women's Auxiliary Service in England.

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