Maczek, Stanislaw Wadyslaw, born on 31-03-1892, in Lwow Poland, son of Witold Maczek a judge and Anna Maczek “Müller” . Stanislaw attended Lwòw University between 1910 and 1914, studying literature and philosophy. He joined the Austrian Army during World War I and served as an officer in an alpine unit (on skis) in the Dolomites on the Italian front. Following Austria’s collapse at the end of the war, Maczek joined the new Polish armed forces . Maczek served in the cavalry and helped to defend the city of Lwòw from Soviet incursions. By the end of the Polish-Soviet he had risen the rank of major and made the military his life’s career. The marriage of Stanislaw Maczek with Sophia Kurys, 1928. In 1937, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel and given the task of organizing Poland’s first fully mechanized unit, the 10th Mechanized Cavalry Brigade (also known as the Black Brigade on account of the black leather coats worn by its tankers). In September 1939, this unit was assigned to Army Krakow in southern Poland. During the German invasion, Maczek led his unit in screening the retreat of Army Krakow. The brigade distinguished itself in numerous actions. Following the collapse of the “Rumanian Bridgehead” in the wake of the Soviet invasion.
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign, Polish Campaign, War of Poland of 1939, and Polish Defensive War of 1939 (1 September – 6 October 1939), was a joint attack on the Republic of Poland by Nazi Germany, the Slovak Republic, and the Soviet Union; which marked the beginning of World War II. The German invasion began on 01-09-1939, one week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
between Germany and the Soviet Union, and one day after the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union had approved the pact. The Soviets invaded Poland on 17 September. The campaign ended on 6 October with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing and annexing the whole of Poland under the terms of the German–Soviet Frontier Treaty. The invasion is also known in Poland as the September campaign and known in Germany as the Poland campaign
Maczek and many of his remaining men retreated across the Hungarian border and were interned. In October 1939, Maczek escaped from Hungary and made his way to France. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and was charged with rebuilding a Polish mechanized force. By May 1940, a new unit, the 10th Armored Cavalry, “nickname Buffalo Soldiers” was ready for action under Maczek’s command. The unit contained many veterans of the Black Brigade who had followed their commander to France. The unit saw action in the invasion of France, and again found itself screening a retreat, this time of French 4th Army. Maczek’s men distinguished themselves at the battle of Montbard on 16-06-1940, but once again the fortunes of war left Maczek and his command fugitives and refugees. Although some Polish soldiers were prevented from escaping by unsympathetic French authorities, Geneneral. Maczek and many of his men managed to escape to England. In February 1942, Maczek was given command of the new 1st Polish Armored Division, nicknamed “Black Division” . Created in February 1942 at Duns in Scotland, at its peak it numbered approximately 16.000 soldiers. Based in Scotland, Maczek was given the task of training a diverse group of recruits into an effective modern force. By D-Day, this division was ready for combat and was shipped to Normandy in July 1944 where it joined the Canadian 1st Corps , under command of Lieutenant-General Eedson “Tommy” Burns on Gold beach. Maczek and his division played a critical in the final stages of the struggle for Normandy. In August 1944, British and Canadian forces drove from the north and General Georg Smith Patton’s Americans
General Burns survived the war and died 13-09-1985, age 83, in Manotick, Ottawa, Canada
The 1st Polish Armored Division is in charge of reinforcing the divisions already present in Normandy during July 1944, while the British are trying to progress towards Falaise and the Americans are heading towards Brittany.
The Poles are under the command of the 2nd Canadian Corps, commanded by General Guy Simonds and operating south of Caen. As the Allied advance progressed in Normandy, the Poles accompanied the Canadians in the Falaise area, while the post General Georg Patton progressed from the south. The Germans find themselves encircled in a pocket that the Allies wish to close. The first Polish armored division participated in the closure of the now famous “Falaise pocket”, in the region of Trun and progressed towards the town of Chambois. The Germans, who tried to leave the pocket, are shelled day and night and the losses are very high. The Falaise pocket or battle of the Falaise pocket 12–21 August 1944) was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy in the Second World War. Allied forces formed a pocket around Falaise, Calvados, in which German Army Group B, with the 7th Army and the Fifth Panzer Army (formerly Panzergruppe West), under command of General der Panzertruppe Heinrich Eberbach were encircled by the Western Allies. The battle resulted in the destruction of most of Army Group B west of the Seine, which opened the way to Paris and the Franco-German border.
By 22 August 1944 all German forces west of the Allied lines were dead or in captivity. Historians differ in their estimates of German losses in the pocket. The majority state that from 80,000 to 100,000 troops were caught in the encirclement, of whom 10,000–15,000 were killed, 40,000–50,000 were taken prisoner, and 20,000–50,000 escaped. Shulman, Wilmot and Ellis estimated that the remnants of 14–15 divisions were in the pocket. D’Este gave 80,000 troops trapped, of whom 10,000 were killed, 50,000 captured and 20,000 escaped. Shulman gives est. 80,000 trapped, 10–15,000 killed and 45,000 captured. Wilmot recorded 100,000 trapped, 10,000 killed and 50,000 captured. Williams wrote that est. 100,000 German troops escaped. Tamelander estimated that 50,000 German troops were caught, of whom 10,000 were killed and 40,000 taken prisoner, while perhaps another 50,000 escaped. In the northern sector, German losses included 344 tanks, self-propelled guns and other light armoured vehicles, as well as 2,447 soft-skinned vehicles and 252 guns abandoned or destroyed. In the fighting around Hill 262, German losses totalled 2,000 men killed, 5,000 taken prisoner and 55 tanks, 44 guns and 152 other armoured vehicles destroyed. By 22-08-1944, the 12th SS-Panzer Division “Hitlerjugend” under command of SS-Oberführer Kurt Meyer,
had lost c. 8,000 men, out of its initial strength of 20,540, alongside most of its tanks and vehicles, which had been redistributed among several Kampfgruppe in the previous weeks. Although elements of several German formations had managed to escape to the east, even these had left behind most of their equipment. After the battle, Allied investigators estimated that the Germans lost around 500 tanks and assault guns in the pocket, and that little of the extricated equipment survived the retreat across the Seine.
On 19-08-1944, the junction took place between the Polish troops of the 1st Armored Division and the soldiers belonging to the 3rd Army of General Patton. Overlooking the Chambois region and the Vimoutiers road from Hill 262, the Poles are relentlessly bombarding the German columns, but they are counterattacking towards the fortified positions of the 1st Polish Armored Division. pushed from the south, threatening to trap the bulk of the German army in the west. In the face of fierce German resistance, Maczek executed a plan to cut the German bottleneck at Falaise. On 18 August elements of the Polish 1st Division linked up with Americans of the 90th Infantry Division, nickname “Tough ‘Ombres“or “Texas-Oklahoma Division “, under command of Major General Raymond Stallings McLain
and captured the high ground in the path of the main German escape route. Fierce resistance, however, meant that the U.S.-Polish breakthrough was isolated from the main body of the Allied force. From 18-20 August, the Poles and a regiment of the U.S. 90th held off desperate German attacks while directing Allied heavy artillery on the retreating German columns. By the end of the battle for Falaise, the German army in France had been decimated. The result was an enormous victory for the Allied forces. More than ten thousand Germans were killed and another fifty thousand taken prisoner. The Polish 1st Armored Division alone captured over five thousand prisoners and destroyed 570 German tanks and 100 artillery guns. The losses to the Poles were 450 killed and 100 tanks lost. So great was the contribution of the Polish 1st Armored Division that Sir Winston Churchill later acknowledged their tenaciousness and valor by describing the battle as, “the Germans trapped in a bottle with the Poles as the cork which would not budge.” Some of the German units faced by the Poles were the same ones they had faced in 1939. Following the breakout from Normandy, Maczek’s division participated in the Allied advance with their Canadian comrades. The 1st Armored liberated the cities in of Ghent and Ypres in Belgium. During the final Allied push beyond the Rhine, Maczek was assigned to capture the northern Dutch city of Breda
. Bernard “Monty” Montgomery at that time, during the battles nearby was relaxed playing golf near Valkenwaard. His skillful outflanking moves forced the German defenders to abandon the city without putting up major resistance, sparing the city and inhabitants from major destruction and loss of life. On 03-05-1945, the division fought its way into the outskirts of Wilhelmshaven and two days later General. Maczek accepted the surrender of a large part of the German Navy headquarter in that city. In May 1945, Maczek was assigned overall command of the Polish 1st Corps . By the end of the war, Poland had fielded over a quarter million soldiers, aviators and sailors in every theatre in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, making it the fourth largest Allied army and the only army that fought from the first day of the war to the last. The Polish 1st Armored Division was one of those proud fighting units and, in the year since it disembarked in Normandy, covered more than eight hundred miles capturing fifty-two thousand German prisoners, destroying 320 armored vehicles, 310 artillery cannons and shot down 13 aircraft. Its own losses were five thousand men and 350 armored vehicles. But also at the end of the war, Poland was given to the Soviet Union and Maczek and his men were left with few prospects. Facing persecution and possible imprisonment and execution if they returned to communist-occupied, many opted to stay in the west. Maczek’s service to the Allied cause was all but forgotten
and he was left without a home or prospects for the future. After the war, the hero of Falaise worked as a waiter in a Scottish pub opened by one of his former sergeants. Belated recognition came when Maczek was invited back to the city of Breda for the anniversary of its liberation in 1985 and given a hero’s welcome.
Death and burial ground of Maczek, Stanislaw Wadyslaw.
General Stanislaw Maczek here with his son Andrej
. died on 11-12-1994, at the very old age of 102 and was laid to rest in the Polish military cemetery in Breda alongside his men who had fallen in the fight to free the city. According to his last wish, he was laid to rest among his soldiers at the Polish military cemetery in Breda, the Netherlands. Each year during Liberation Day festivities, Breda is visited by a large Polish contingent and the city devotes part of the festivities to the fallen Polish soldiers.
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