*The French “13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade” and the Polish “Carphatian Mountain Brigade” are landed at Harstad
After the defeat in the 1939 campaign, the Polish government in exile immediately organised a new army in France. A mountain brigade took part in the Battle of Narvik. In 1940 two divisions (First Grenadier Division and Second Infantry Fusiliers Division) took part in the defense of France, with a motorized brigade and two infantry divisions were in the process of formation. The Polish Independent Carpathian Brigade was formed in Syria (a French protectorate at that time), where many Polish soldiers had fled from Romania. The Polish air force in France consisted of eighty-six aircraft in four squadrons with one and a half squadrons fully operational, and the rest in various stages of training.
The first unit, organized in France, to take part in combat was:
· Independent Podhale Rifle Brigade - SBSP - Samodzielna Brygada Strzelców Podhalańskich ('Podhale' is the Polish Highland region). Commander: Gen. Z. Szyszko-Bohusz. Organized according to a French mountain brigade pattern. First meant to be sent to Finland, the Brigade was finally sent to Norway. It fought at Narvik, capturing Ankenes on 28 May 1940. Then: evacuated to France.
vehicles: Renault UE tractors (for 25mm AT-guns)
In France, in combat there were used 2 infantry divisions and 1 armoured brigade (not complete), plus some AT-companies and further improvised and not entirely organized units:
· 1st Grenadier Division - 1.DGren - 1. Dywizja Grenadierów of Gen. B. Duch.
It fought in the French 20th Corps, since 26 May 1940 in Saar area (the Marne-Rhein canal, Lagarde, Baccarat).
· 2nd Foot Rifle Division - 2.DSP - 2. Dywizja Strzelców Pieszych of Gen. B. Prugar-Ketling.
It fought in the French 45th Corps (Belfort, Maiche, the Doubs and the Saone rivers). Then interned in Switzerland.
· 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade - 10.BKPanc - 10. Brygada Kawalerii Pancernej of Gen. S. Maczek.
Due to not entirely finnished organization, the Brigade in fact consisted only of the 1st tank battalion and one motorized dragoons battalion. During 5-day fighting it fought at Champaubert and Montmirail, on 16 June 1940 it carried out a succesfull assault on Montbard. Apart from it, the elements of the 2nd tank battalion fought separately, supporting the French units.
vehicles: R-35 tanks (the 1st tank battalion), R-40 tanks (the 2nd battalion), Renault UE tractors (infantry units).
8/1941 - 3/1942, North Africa
Created in 1940 in the French Syria, then went under the British control to Palestine:
· Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade - SBSK - Samodzielna Brygada Strzelców Karpackich of Gen. S. Kopański.
In 6 - 7/1941 the Brigade was keeping defensive positions in Egypt (Mersa Matruh, Baggush), without combat engagement.
In 8/1941 - 12/1941 the Brigade defended Tobruk, along with the 9th Australian Division and later 70th British Division. After freeing Tobruk, in 15-16 December 1941 the Brigade fought at Ghazala with a great success. Until February 1942, the Brigade occupied Cyrenaica, then it was moved back to Ghazala and involved in a patrols' warfare, keeping the defensive position with the Free French and the 1st South-African Division. In March 1942 it was withdrawn to the rear.
vehicles: Universal Carriers (some up-gunned with 20mm guns), motorized AT-artillery
In July-October 1942
the Carpathian Uhlan (Lancer) Regiment - PUK - pułk ułanów karpackich (the Brigade's reconnaissance unit) was protecting a dam on the Nile, in case of a German breakthrough, and was patrolling without combat engagement.
vehicles used in PUK in 5-10/1942 (not used in combat eventually): Carriers, Marmon-Herrington AC Mk II, few captured PzKpfw-III, four Stuart III, two Rolls-Royce AC, one Autoblinda AB-41.
details on the SBSK composition below
Due to delaying of the operation "Crusader", the Carpathian Brigade troops set the "record" of staying in the hardest sector of Tobruk defence, Medaur Hill, against the German positions, without being withdrawn from their outposts for 10 weeks (a practice was 4 weeks).
Laurent Pépé a écrit:OK, la Brigade des Carpathes est venue de Pologne par la Roumanie. Certains pilotes etaient en fomation en France, lors de la chute de leur pays. Ok
Mais les autres ? Comment sont-ils arrivés en France....
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