Sosabowski, Stanislaw Franciszek

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Sosabowski, Stanislaw, born on 08-05-1892 in Stanislanów, in a railway workers’ family, graduated from a local gymnasium and in 1910 he was accepted as a student of the faculty of economy of the University of Kraków. However, the death of his father and poor economical situation of his family forced him to abandon the studies and return to Stanisławów. There he became a member of Druzyny Strzeleckie , a semi-clandestine Polish national scouting organization. He was soon promoted to the head of all Polish scouting groups in the area. In 1913, Sosabowski was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army . After training, he was promoted to the rank of corporal, serving in the 58th Infantry Regiment. After the outbreak of World War I he fought with his unit against the Imperial Russian Army  in the battles of Rzeszów, Dukla Pass and Gorlice. For his bravery, he was awarded several medals and promoted to First Lieutenant. In 1915, he was badly wounded in action and withdrawn from the front. In November 1918, after Poland regained its independence Sosabowski volunteered for the newly formed Polish Army, but his wounds were still not healed and he was rejected as a front-line officer. Instead, he became a staff officer in the Ministry of War Affairs in Warsaw. According to the Polish mobilisation scheme, Sosabowski’s regiment was attached to the 8th Infantry Division. Shortly before the German invasion of Poland started his unit was moved from its garrison in the Warsaw Citadel to the area of Ciechanów, where it was planned as a strategic reserve of the Modlin Army. On 2 September the division was moved towards Mlawa and in the early morning of the following day it entered combat in the Battle of Mlawa. Although the 21st Regiment managed to capture Przasnysz and its secondary objectives, the rest of the division was surrounded by the Wehrmacht and destroyed. After that Sosabowski ordered his troops to retreat towards Warsaw. On 8 September Sosabowski’s unit reached the Modlin Fortress. The routed 8th Division   was being reconstructed, but the 21st Regiment was attached to the corps led by General Juliusz Zulauf,  who died in a prison camp, age 52, on 21-05-1943. After several days of defensive fights, the corps was moved to Warsaw, where it arrived on 15 September. Instantly upon arrival, Sosabowski was ordered to man the Grochów and the Kamionek defensive area and defend Praga, the eastern borough of Warsaw, against the German 10th Infantry Division  under command of Generalleutnant Konrad von Cochenhausen  . Elements of the division took part in atrocities against the civilian population during the invasion of Poland. Together with elements of the 17th Infantry Division ,  under General der Artillerie, Herbert Loch   they took part in the murder of at least 14 civilians during the Division’s advance towards Sieradz and Lask. Herbert Loch died at the old age of 90, on 28-10-1976, in Landau. During the Siege of Warsaw the forces of Sosabowski were out manned and outgunned, but managed to hold all their objectives. When the general assault on Praga started on 16-09-1939, the 21st Infantry Regiment managed to repulse the attacks of German 23rd Infantry Regiment and then successfully counter-attacked and destroyed the enemy unit. After this success, Sosabowski was assigned to command all Polish troops fighting in the area of Grochów. Despite constant bombardment and German attacks repeated every day, Sosabowski managed to hold his objectives at relatively low cost in manpower. On 26-09-1939, the forces led by Sosabowski bloodily repulsed the last German attack, but the following day Warsaw capitulated. On September 29, shortly before the Polish forces left Warsaw for German captivity, General Juliusz  Rommel  awarded Colonel Sosabowski and the whole 21st Infantry Regiment with the Virtuti Militari medal  .  b was included among the Allied forces taking part in Operation Market Garden. The Brigade lost 23% of its fighting strength, which amounted to 400 casualties.  Due to a critical shortage of transport aircraft, the brigade was split into several parts before entering the battle.     A small part of the brigade with Sosabowski was dropped near Driel on 19-09-1944, but it was not until 21 September when the rest of the brigade finally arrived in the distant town of Grave, falling directly into the waiting guns of the Germans camped out around the area. The Brigade’s artillery was dropped together with the British 1st Airborne Division and the howitzers were to arrive by sea transport. This prevented the Polish forces from being used effectively. Three times Poles under Sosabowski tried to force the Rhine crossing in order to help the surrounded 1st Airborne . However, the ferry they planned to use to reach the British had been sunk and Poles attempted the river crossing in small rubber boats under heavy fire. Nevertheless, at least 200 men succeeded in crossing and reinforcing the embattled British. Despite the difficult situation on the front, during a 24 September staff meeting, Sosabowski suggested that the battle could have still been won. He suggested that the combined forces of 30th Corps  under  Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks   and the Polish Brigade  should start an all-out assault on the German positions and try to break through the Rhine. This plan was not accepted, and during the last phase of the battle, on 25 and 26 September, Sosabowski led his men southwards and shielded the retreat of remnants of the st Airborne. The 1st Airborne Division  had lost 8.000 men during the battle and never saw combat again. The rate of casualties among the Polish units that fought in the battle was high, in some cases as high as 40%. The cause of it was a decision of Browning, Fredrick Browning died age 68 on 14-03-1965, in Menabilly, Cornwell, who chose place to parachute,

534px-Browning   7 kilometers from the bridge. After the battle, on 05-10-1944, Sosabowski received a letter from Montgomery, where he described Polish soldiers as fighting bravely and offered Sosabowski to award 10 of his soldiers. On 14-10-1944, Montgomery wrote another letter, this time to British commanders, where he made Sosabowski a scapegoat for the failure of Operation market Garden. Sosabowski was accused of criticizing Field Marshal Bernard “Monty” Montgomery

    and the Polish General Staff was forced to remove him as the commanding officer of his brigade on 27-12-1944. He was made the commander of guard troops and in July 1948 he was demobilized. Shortly after the war Sosabowski managed to bring his only son and his wife from Poland. Soon afterwards, in September 1946 the communist Soviet-backed authorities in Poland deprived Sosabowski of Polish citizenship. Stanisław Sosabowski had no choice but to remain in exile. Like many other Polish wartime leaders and soldiers exiled from communist Poland he settled down working in West London. He found a job as a factory worker in the CAV Electrics assembly plant in Action,

Death and burial ground of Sosabowski, Stanislaw Franciszek.

    He died in London on 25-09-1967, age 75, of heart failure. It has been suggested that friends and associates with whom he lived and worked in England were largely unaware of his military accomplishments until they attended his funeral, at which his full rank and achievements were read out.  In 1969 his remains were interred with his wife Krystyna, on the Powazki Military Cemetery in Warsaw. Close by the graves of Generals Edward Rydz-Smigly Commander All Polish Forces. Chruściel ordered full mobilization of Home Army forces, Antoni “Monter” Chrusciel  and Flyer ace, Wing commander, Jan Zumbach.  

 My nephew, Guus Hopmans, has this signed biography of Sosabowsky from 1960.

 

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