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Campaign in France

Campaign in France

Polish troops emerged of a stream of soldiers and officers that reached France through Romania, Hungary, Lithuania and Latvia. 43 000 evacuated, the rest of them ran away on their own. Also the Polish immigrants living in France applied to the army. In a few months the Polish Army reached the number of 84 000 soldiers in four infantry divisions and two brigades. There were also formed four air squadrons and units of anti-aircraft artillery that amounted to about 7 000 people. Besides, a part of withdrawing troops found their way to Syria (administrated by the French) where Samodzielna Brygada Strzelców Karpackich emerged (Independent Carpathian Riflemen Brigade).
During the German Blitzkrieg in France in May 1940 the Allied defense broke already after two weeks which was the reason for a hasty withdrawal of the British troops and capitulation of France. Polish units fought in the southern section of the front: the Polish Grenadier Division after one week of combat was dissolved because of the French-German armistice talks; the soldiers of the Brygada Kawalerii Pancerno-Motorowej (Armoured Cavalry Brigade) after the battles of Champaubert and Montbard upon the order of their commander, General Maczek, destroyed their equipment and withdrew south; 2 Dywizja Strzelców (2nd Riflemen Division) stopped the German attack on the Clos-du-Doubs hills but when on June 19 it turned out that the fight is almost over, it crossed the Swiss border and was interned there. The Samodzielna Brygada Strzelców Podhalańskich (Indipendent Podhalan Riflemen Brigade) was included in Allied forces sent to Norway in May 1940 and participated in the battle of Narvik. Altogether, about 50 000 Polish soldiers fought defending France, 1400 were killed, more than 4500 were wounded. Polish fighter pilots achieved 50 confirmed and 5 probable kills of enemy aircraft. The defeat of France meant the defeat of the Polish troops fighting at the side of the French. Only about 20 000 men were able to withdraw to England. The great organizational effort made since the autumn 1939 was in vain.



 
By: Andrzej Paczkowski
Paweł Sowiński
Dariusz Stola



Polish Army in France. Volunteers arriving.
Polish Army in France. The British Military Mission in the camp Coetquidan, 1940.
Polish air forces in France.

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Campaign in France