The Battle of the Atlantic and the Polish Navy
Just before war’s outbreak three Polish destroyers (Błyskawica, Burza and Grom) left for Great Britain. Later on they were joined by the submarines Orzeł and Wilk that managed to escape the Germans. The Polish Navy since 1940 was constantly expanded by the ships leased from the Royal Navy and in 1945 it amounted to 4 thousand seamen on 15 ships (1 cruiser, 6 destroyers, 3 submarines and 5 torpedo boats). Altogether, during the war there served 26 ships (2 cruisers, 9 destroyers, 5 submarines and 11 torpedo boats). At the side of the British and American fleets, the Polish vessels participated in tens of operations: e.g. in May 1940 in Narvik, during the evacuation from Dunkirk, in 1944 during the landing in Normandy (operation “Overlord”), escorting convoys to Murmansk and Malta but most of all in the Battle of the Atlantic which took place from 1940 to 1944, including the famous “hunt for Bismarck”, the greatest Kriegsmarine battleship (May 1941). Totally, they participated in 665 battles and escorted 787 convoys, sunk 12 enemy ships (including 5 submarines) and 41 merchant vessels, damaged 24 more (including 8 submarines). Besides that the Allied sea transport was reinforced with 36 Polish merchant vessels which 1939 were abroad, total displacement of 117 thousand tons.