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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Parades of the Polish Troops (Scotland) [1]
The photo shows tanks being driven down a road in the forest. A group of generals observes the tanks. A few cars are pulled over to make room for the tanks.
Parades of the Polish Troops (Scotland) [2]
The photo shows a parade of Polish troops in on a street in the city. The front of the parade is lined with soldiers playing instruments. Cars are found towards the back of the parade. A crowd of people watch the parade pass.
Parades of the Polish Troops (Scotland) [3]
The photo depicts a group of soldiers marching on a street in what appears to be a town. The soldier leading the parade is saluting.
Parades of the Polish Troops (Scotland) [4]
The photo is a close up of a group of soldiers during a parade. The soldiers seem to be walking faster than the rest of group. One of the soldiers is carrying a banner.
Parades of the Polish Troops (Scotland) [5]
Soldiers are seen marching in this photo. The men are all resting their rifles on their left shoulder. A man in the crowd is saluting them.
Parades of the Polish Troops (Scotland) [6]
Soldiers are parading in the street in this photo. Almost all the men are holding rifles in their left hands. A crowd of spectators watches the soldiers march.
Parades of the Polish Troops (Scotland) [7]
The soldiers are marching with a house and tall shrubs in the background. Every man is carrying a gun. The crowd is walking in unison.
Parades of the Polish Troops (Scotland) [8]
The Polish soldiers are marching in Scotland. Photo 001 shows soldiers marching and carrying flags. Photos 002 depicts armored cars driving down the street during the parade. Photo 003 shows a soldier driving a Universal carrier down the street.
Parades of the Polish Troops (Scotland) [9]
A parade of soldiers is walking down a main street in Scotland. The men are walking in unison with firearms in their left hands. A double-decker bus follows the men, and a crowd of people observes the soldiers.
Paratroopers Resting
The photo shows Polish paratroopers resting. They are sitting on the ground in front of a tent talking to one another.
Passing on the ORP "Conrad" to Poland
The first photo depicts the deputy chief of the Polish Navy reading a message from the President of the Republic of Poland, sent to ORP "Conrad" on the occasion of the hoisting of the Polish ensign. The second photo shows the Royal Navy handing over the cruiser, HMS "Danae" now known as ORP "Conrad." The British commanding officer is seen addressing the ship's company at the ceremony.
Polish Airmen During a Holy Mass
Polish pilots at a mass in a hangar. The pilots are kneeling on one knee during mass.
Polish Airmen at a Children's Party
Polish Airmen Entertain Evacuees. Two Polish airmen visited Oxford some days ago and said they and their comrades felt very sorry for the bombed out children of London and Coventry now staying at Oxford. They offered to throw the little ones a party at the Poles' expense. The result was that 200 evacuees were entertained right royally in Oxford Town Hall, and the airmen acted as waiters. The Polish airmen are waiting on the evacuees that they entertained at the party.
Polish Army Camp in Scotland (1)
The military training camps were located in forests. The soldiers lived in tents during their training. The photos show men standing in front of them.
Polish Army Camp in Scotland (2)
Photos of a military training camp in Scotland. The soldiers lived in tents that were either located in fields or in the forest.
Polish Army in the USSR - group photo (Anders, Tokarzewski, Okulicki, Spiechowicz, Bohusz-Szyszko)
Group photo of the military officials in the Polish Army. From left to right: gen. Tokarzewski, gen Bohusz-Szyszko, gen. Anders, lt.col. Okulicki, and gen. Boruta-Spiechowicz.
Polish Artillery
Position of Polish anti aircraft artillery unit in 1939 campaign.
Polish Balloon Unit
Members of the Polish balloon unit help inflate the a barrage balloon in photos 001 and 003. A soldier checks the equipment on the hot-air balloon in photo 002. Photo 004 shows one of the members of the balloon unit.
Polish Barber
Polish Army in the Middle East. 1942. Polish barber in Tehran. The soldiers are waiting in line for a haircut.
Polish Boy Examined in Camp in Palestine
The photo shows a medical examination at a Polish boys camp in Palestine. The boy is being examined by two medical professionals.
Polish Boys after Arriving from Soviet Russia
Polish children deported to Russia in 1941. Here, they are posing for a group photo.
Polish Boys in an Orphanage
Polish children, exiles from the USSR who were rescued by Anders' Army, in a camp in India. The boys are carrying a trunk together.
Polish Cavalry Division (USSR)
Winter 1941. Polish cavalry in the USSR. Anders' Army.
Polish Child in a Hospital after Arriving in New Zealand
Hospital in New Zealand. A nurse takes care of a Polish child. The nurse gives the child something to drink.
Polish Child in a Winter Suit
The child came from the exile to the Anders' Army. The child is dressed in winter clothing.
Polish Children After Arriving from Exile to the Anders' Army
1941. Polish children in the USSR after arriving in the Anders' Army. Two emaciated boys.
Polish Children Dressed in Uniform at a Camp in Tehran
Polish children arriving to Tehran from Russia. They are wearing uniforms and smiling as they arrive to a camp.
Polish Children During Kindergarten Classes
Polish children play during a kindergarten lesson.
Polish Children Receiving Candy and Fruit
1943. Polish camp in Tehran. Candy and fruit are being divided among the children.
Polish Children Sit at a Table Under a Tree in Iran
Iran 1942r. Children sit and talk outside at a table. One child looks straight at the camera.
Polish Children at the Sanitary Point after Arriving in Soviet Russia
Sanitary point. Children are waiting in line to see a doctor. Their hands are being disinfected by a doctor.
Polish Children from USSR, Lunchroom of the Camp
"Canteen" in the camp for children rescued from the USSR by the Anders' Army. 1942, Tehran.
Polish Children in a Camp in Tehran after Arriving from the Soviet Union
Polish boys and girls from Russia in Teheran. Candy is being distributed among them.
Polish Children in a Truck After Arriving in New Zealand
Polish children in New Zealand. There are 12 children seen looking out the back of a moving truck. An adult is looking over the newly arrived children.
Polish Children in front of a Bus
Polish civilians from Russia quartering on their way to Tehran and Palestine.
Polish Children in the USSR (Three Children After Arriving from Exile to the Anders' Army)
Three Polish children coming from exile to the Anders' Army. 1941
Polish Children on Their Way to New Zealand
A large crowd of Polish children en route to New Zealand from India. The photo also shows the sailors who will be transporting them to New Zealand.
Polish Children rescued from USSR at Camp in Tehran
1942. Camps in Tehran for Polish children rescued by the Anders' Army from Russia.
Polish Independent Highland Brigade During Battle
The photos show the Polish Highland Brigade during battle. The soldiers are in prone position with their rifles. They are ready to shoot when the enemy appears.
Polish Independent Highland Brigade Sailing to Narvik (Bohusz-Szyszko)
Polish soldiers on their way to Norway. Photo 001 shows the soldiers sitting on the deck of the ship listening to a record player. All of the soldiers are seen in photo 002. In photo 003, two soldiers are looking at the water while sitting in chairs. Photo 004 is a photo of General Bohusz-Szyszko.
Polish Orphan Children Play on Board a Battleship
On the deck of a coast guard-manned troop transport steaming across the Indian Ocean from Bombay, Polish war orphans skip rope and attempt to forget perils which have pursued them for two long years. They are bound for a new haven, far from sufferings that denied them the children's privilege of play.
Polish Orphanage in India
Orphanage - a camp for Polish children rescued from the USSR by the Anders' Army. Jamnagar, India, 1943 Probably with the funder.
Polish Orphans Sleeping on Their Way to New Zealand from India
A group of Polish orphans drift away into sweet sleep in the bunk room of a coast guard-armed transport. The children were taken aboard the coast guard ship at Bombay, India for transfer to get away from the war.
Polish Prisoners of War
The photo shows Polish prisoners of war. The large crowd of people is walking down a rural road as they enter Gorlice.
Polish Sailors Rescued from the USSR in Iran
Photo 001 shows Polish soldiers rescued by the Anders' Army from the Soviet Union during meal time. Photo 002 depicts Polish sailors from Russia talking with an officer of the Polish War Fleet. Polish soldiers are seen in their English quarters in Photo 003.
Polish Soldier House
At a Polish soldier house in London. Each man lived with a roommate in a room with two single beds, a telephone, a sink with two faucets, a table, a cabinet, and a mirror. The soldiers listened to the raido in the living room. The soldiers were also served by one of the housekeepers.
Polish Soldier House in Edinburgh
Polish soldiers' home in Edinburgh. The first photo shows the exterior of the soldiers' home. The second depicts two housekeepers setting up a dining room table. The third photo shows the soldiers relaxing by a fireplace.
Polish Soldier House in Scotland
Photo 001 shows a house for Polish soldiers invalided out of the Army. The remaining photos depict veterans during various hobby activities.
Polish Soldier with a Requiem that Remembers the Murdered Polish Professors
In memoriam of the Polish professors murdered by the Germans. The photo shows one of the soldiers praying in a church.
Polish Soldiers Dancing (Scotland)
A bonfire organized for the Polish soldiers. President and Commander-in-Chief Raczkiewicz is present at the bonfire. The Polish soldiers are dancing the "Scottish Mazurek" with Scottish women. The soldiers are dressed in their army uniforms whereas the women are dress in the Polish national outfit.

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