Jump to content
Gentleman's Military Interest Club
Conduit

British 8th Army, Polish 2nd Corps, 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division ****RECOMMENDED

Recommended Posts

Thanks to Leigh Kitchen for redirecting me to this forum.

I'm a first generation Canadian of Polish descent searching for information and in need of some direction.

My maternal grandfather was a member of the 2nd Polish Corps, 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division during the Italian Campaign, specifically the action at Monte Cassino.

I am searching for information on his service record and the military awards he may have received but I am unsure as to where to begin searching for such information. He spoke rarely of details of his experiences and his medals were lost during long and arduous emigration so any help in tracking down those details would be much appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awards at a guess would include the 1939 - 45 Star, the Italy Star, possibly the Defence Medal, the Monte Cassino Cross, & either the Brtish or Polish War Medal (possibly both, although if you had one you were'nt supposed to have the other).

"Don't quote me", but just a guess, these are the likely ones that he could have based on servce with the forces in the west, in Italy, without considering any British or Polish decorations for bravery, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

My granddad was also in the 3 DSK and was at Tobruk and Cassino. Please drop me a line and I will see what I can do to help.

Leigh is correct in his assumption regarding the medals. He may have also qualifies for the Africa Star if he was with the Independant Carpathian Rifles Brigade. Add to that he would have been entitled to one or more breast badges as well.

Cheers,

Greg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for these suggestions, Gentlemen

I believe my mother may have some of his badges somewhere, but I haven't seen anything like that in decades.

More importantly, I'm looking for a resource that could tell me which medals he received and how to identify them. The family's belief is that his medals were destroyed, but if I had an extremely detailed record perhaps I could rebuild a collection to replace them ... or, in my wildest dreams, find some of his that escaped their supposed fate intact.

I suspect that the British have the records of which medals he was accorded and I'm hoping the medals were numbered. Which archives should I be chasing? Who should I be dogging for service records, etc?

Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

POLISH FORCES UNDER BRITISH COMMAND & POLISH RESETTLEMENT CORPS

Postal Address Ministry of Defence

Record Office

Bourne Avenue

Hayes

Middlesex UB3 1RF

UNITED KINGDOM

And this:

Polish Records.

Royal Navy and Army:

Polish Correspondence Section

Room 28B

RAF Northolt

West end Road

Ruislip

Middlesex

HA4 6NG

Email: polishasstdisoff@northolt.raf.mod.uk

Email: polishdisoff@northolt.raf.mod.uk

Certificate of kinship:

http://veterans-uk.info/pdfs/service_records/raf_kinship.pdf

May be information for you here:

Polish Institute

and Sikorski Museum

20 Princes Gate

London, SW7 1PT

British medals were'nt numbered, some Polish including The Monte Cassino Cross were, the basic British medals & stars are unnmaed & common, the Polish depend on which medal or award we're talking about, as do British gallantry awards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

Leigh provides some good info for record searches. My first try would be the Sikorski Institute as they hold all records relating to the Polish army in exile. If they don't have it then it's likely the others won't either. A little closer to home you might want to try your local branch of the Polish Combatants Association. If you let me know what part of Canada you're in I can direct you to your local branch. There is usually an archivist available at most branches and they may be able to help if your relative was a member.

As far as medals and badges I will post what was typically awarded. Bear in mind that your grandfather may have won other awards. I will do my best to explain them as we go along.

1. A "typical" rack of medals worn by most members of the Polish 2nd Corps. From left to right: Cross of Merit (Bronze)with swords, Polish Army medal, Monte Cassino Cross, 39-45 Star, Italy Star, British Defence Medal, British War Medal. As mentioned most Poles were not technically entitled to both the Polish and British War Medals but most of them got both.

Rack.jpg

2. He may also have won a Cross of Valour. It is not uncommon to find this medal in groups as well.

Front:

KWf.jpg

Back:

KWr.jpg

3. Breast badge of the 3 DSK. He would have undoubtedly have had one of these as well.

3DSK.jpg

4. Typical cloth insignia that he would have worn on his tunic. He would most likely have had collar badges of some form but I couldn't tell you which ones without knowing his exact unit.

Patches.jpg

5. Polish 2nd Corps badge. Worn above the left pocket midway between the breast and collar. These are #'d to each individual. These are common but your grandfather would have had one numbered specifically to him.

Front:

2KPf.jpg

Back:

2KPb.jpg

6. This next badge and medal may not apply as not everyone in the 2nd Corps was entitled. Prior to the formation of the 2nd Corps there were some fellows that managed to escape to French Syria and formed a rifle brigade there. Once the 2nd Corps was formed this brigade was absorbed and most were transferred into the 3 DSK although others were assigned elsewhere. Only your granddad's records would say for sure.

Badge:

SBSK.jpg

Africa Star:

Africa.jpg

Monte Cassino Crosses were individually #'d so if the original has disappeared it may never be retrieved. There are many available on the open market though. Likewise almost all of the other material is readily available.

Hope that was helpful. Please feel free to drop me a line if you have any other questions and I'll do my best to assist.

Cheers,

Greg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Greg.

I'll try the local SPK first, then the Sikorski Institute.

These examples of yours look fantastic; I'll see what my mother can find in the way of old pictures of my grandfather's medals and other insignia so I have a solid lead.

Thanks for all your help, everybody. I'll let you know how it goes.

EDIT:

My mother found an old accounting!

  • 8th Army
  • 2nd Corps
  • 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division
  • 1st Brigade
  • 3rd Batallion
  • 4th Infantry Company
  • 3rd Platoon (commander)

The limited info shows action in Ancona, Monte Cassino and Bologna(?).

Medals:

  • 3 DSK breast badge
  • 2 Crosses of Valour
  • Monte Cassino Cross
  • British War Medal
  • British Defense Medal
  • Service Cross ("Krzyz Zaslugi"?)
  • Stormtrooper ("Odznaka Szturmowa"?)
  • 2nd Corps Medallion
  • Star of Italy
  • "Znak Lacznosci"?

Some of these are from the Polish so it's difficult for me to translate. I'd be grateful for any remaining pictures of these pieces so I can get an idea of what I'm up against in terms of finding replacements (or even originals).

Which of these would have been numbered?

Edited by Conduit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi again,

Now that we have more info I can help a little bit.

- the 3DSK badge would the be one I featured in #3 of my previous post. Common badge and easily replaceable.

- Cross of Valour is the same as in #2 except that it would have had a bar on the ribbon denoting a second award. The crosses are common but finding one with a bar is a little more difficult.

- Monte Cassino Cross - 3rd from left in #1. These were serial #'d to each individual awardee. If you do not have the award document (which would show his original award #) then you should be able to get it from his records at the Sikorski Institute. Relatively easy to replace but it will have a different # than your grandfathers.

- British War and Defence Medals are the last two on the rack in #1. War medal with the red ribbon and Defence with the green. Both extremely common medals.

- Krzyz Zaslugi is referred to as the "Cross of Merit". First medal on the rack in #1. These came in three grades (Gold, Silver, and Bronze). Bronze being the most common. Again his records should state which one he rec'd.

- Odznaka Szturmowa - Again awarded in gold, silver and bronze. Technically only awarded on paper as they were never authorized for wear. I can provide photos of the bronze and silver from my collection (gold versions are tough to find)

- 2nd Corps badge is the same as in #5. These were individually serial #'d to the awardee. His record should show his particular #. Common but it will not be the same # as your grandfathers.

- Italy Star is the 5th from left in #1. Very common and easy to replace.

- Znak Lacznosci. Signaller badge. I don't have one to show. I will get a scan of one to show you what they look like. Not too hard to find but prices have climbed in recent years.

His collar insignia would have been in the shape of a kite. It would have been blue with yellow trim at the top. I will provide a photo.

Hope that was of some help. I will attempt to get some photos of the missing badges as soon as I can.

If you need help finding replacements for any of his medals, badges, etc then let me know as I can certainly help there as well. If I don't have them I know people who do!

Cheers,

Greg

Edited by GregK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! Thanks, Greg!

I'll have to dig further to get medal numbers and whatnot, but at least I now understand what I'm even looking for.

Once I get more details from the archives I'll start hunting around. Perhaps you can direct me to resources for actually acquiring some of these pieces? It couldn't be as simple as EBay, could it?

We're on our way with the family project!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

.....

- the 3DSK badge would the be one I featured in #3 of my previous post. Common badge and easily replaceable.

- Cross of Valour is the same as in #2 except that it would have had a bar on the ribbon denoting a second award. The crosses are common but finding one with a bar is a little more difficult.

Cheers,

Greg

Greg, 3DSK badge numbered, but produced wartime for purchase as unnumbered as well?

The Cross of Valour - issued numbered, but at some time or times Crosses were issued unnumbered? - were some of those awarded in the wWest unnumbered ? - I can't remmeber & have'nt got reference to hand.

Crosses of Valour confuse me a bit, helped by what appears to be deliberate ommission of certain info by dealers - not "bothering" to state whether their items for sale were issued during any particular period, by East or West, during post WWII communist period etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Leigh,

3DSK badges were never #'d. All members that qualified received one. I have never seen or heard of any being available for private purchase but I do have a cased example that appears as if it would have been purchased as opposed to being awarded. The Independent Carpathian Rifles Brigade (forerunner of the 3DSK) badges were individually #'d to each individual. If I remember correctly you have two identically #'d to the same man!

Crosses of Valour are #'d pre-war. Wartime produced and awarded pieces do not have #'s. Likewise anything awarded post war was sans #.

As for the confusion regarding Crosses of Valour there are a few rules of thumb to ID them. Anything with a date of 1920 on it is generally considered to be wartime or earlier. Of course current issue are identical to wartime/pre-war in design but the quality is quite different. Anything dated 1939, 1940, or 1944 with the eagle missing it's crown is Communist issue. There is a great reference work (in Polish) dedicated to the Cross of Valour. I don't have it underhand as I am at work but I will get the info and pass it along.

I will also get to the pictures I promised in an earlier reply as soon as I can.

Greg

Edited by GregK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks - I got confused between the numbering of The Independent Carpathian Rifles Brigade & the 3DSK badges.

I do have a good OMRS article or similar somewhere, a lot of useful info on The CRoss of Valour - it would help if I dug it out & read it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gentlemen,

I'm glad to see you are as excited by this project as I am.

My grandmother and mother have collaborated to find some of my grandfather's old documents, which until now we had believed all lost.

Addendum and corrections to my previous post:

  • 8th Army
  • 2nd Corps
  • 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division
  • 1st Rifle Brigade
  • 3rd Batallion (Signaller)
  • 4th Infantry Company
  • 3rd Platoon
  • Commander (corporal)

medals/badges/insignia

confirmed(all of these I have documents and orders for)

  • the insignia you listed, Greg, plus the ubiquitous Polish eagle on his head-gear (I remember him having a beret)
  • 1st Rifle Brigade badge
  • 3 DSK (doc#16644)
  • Monte Cassino Cross (doc#4349 ... it implies this is also the cross#)
  • British War Medal
  • British Defense Medal
  • Polish Army Medal
  • 2nd Corps Badge (scrawled note on doc implies #80310)
  • Italy Star (doc#220)
  • Cross of Valour
  • Signaller Badge (doc#6983)
  • Wounded Silver Star (doc#788)

unconfirmed(these are known within the family, but I won't confirm until I get response from DoD)

  • second Cross of Valour (bar)
  • Cross of Merit
  • Combat Badge (szturmowa)
  • 1st Rifle Brigade badge

we've also found

  • his diploma for an officer's course in signaling where he received very high standing and was designated "radiotelegrafista".
  • his military driver's license, authorizing the driving of military trucks (though we also know he rode a motorcycle)

I believe I know enough now to begin building a replacement set. As I mentioned before, I'm willing to make the effort to acquire original pieces but I'm concerned about authentication. My adventures on the internet imply Professor Zdzislaw Wesolowski in the US is a good resource (and relatively nearby, for me), but perhaps you can suggest other reliable means of identifying and acquiring pieces from trusted sources? Greg, you mentioned you had access to some of these?

Edited by Conduit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although already posted on another thread, here's a bit of info on the wound star & a photo of a full sized ribbon & enamelled miniature that I have. They are in the communist era light blue & black, the type of rbbon your grandad would have been awarded would have been in a slightly different shade of blue - "Garter Blue".

The fact that he rode a motorcycle does'nt necessarily mean that your grandad was a Despatch Rider, but there are British cloth badges, official & unofficial for that "trade" as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry for a slow reply but things have been a tad busy of late.

Judging by the info you have given I can add a few things. Leigh is correct about the wound badge. It consisted of a blue/black ribbon (which was basically a miniature of the Virtuti Militari) with a star added for every wound suffered. It would have looked much like the cloth one that Leigh posted although with only one star. It was worn above the medal ribbons on the left breast.

The document #'s you have only apply to the Monte Cassino Cross and the 2nd Corps badge. Both of those would have had the #'s on the documents pressed onto the reverse of the badges.

I will now add a couple of photos of some of the other badges you need.

1. Znak Lacznosci. Unfortunately this is only a drawing from a reference book. They aren't all that uncommon but they are one of the harder badges to locate.

Signaller.jpg

2. Odznaka Szturmowa. As mentioned they come in three grades. Bronze is the most common with Silver and Gold grades being a little more difficult.

Szturmowa.jpg

3. 1st Rifle Brigade badge - 3rd Battallion. The one I have pictured is actually for the 1st Battalion. The badge is identical for the 2nd and 3rd Battalions the only difference being the numeral. An Edelweiss sans numeral is for HQ. This one will be tougher to replace. I have seen them for sale but the asking prices were too rich for my blood. It should be said that this technically isn't a "badge" but is actually collar insignia.

DSK-1.jpg

As I mentioned previously I have access to most of what you need. As far as medals and such I can replace pretty much every one. I will have to look at what I have for spare badges. If you're interested then please send me a PM and I'll forward you the details. What I don't have on hand I should be able to locate for you. I am most happy to point you in the right direction.

Cheers,

Greg

Edited by GregK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was reading your post and although, I'm a little late in responding and you may have found the relevant departments to obtain your Grandad's Polish Army service records, thought I'd give you the address where I have obtained my Father's service records. ( Two Lots ) One from MOD stating his services with the British and the other service Records are from his actual Polish Army service records all written by regiment officers.....

POLISH SOLDIERS WHO SERVED IN BRITISH UNITS IN WW II The British Government records of Poles who served under British Command during WW II can be obtained from both address I've written below. You will be required to prove a family relationship to the individual that you are researching. If your Grandmother is still alive she can obtain all Grandad's army service records FREE of charge, if she's not, then you will have to pay for these records. In your Grandad's records it tells you which MEDALS he received.

From this address below, I received my Father's Army Records (ALL IN POLISH ) Siberia to England........tells me everything, conduct, postings, divisions, sickness, injuries, hospitalised etc, etc.

Attention Mrs. B. Kroll.

Polish Correspondence Section

Room 28B

RAF Northolt

West end Road

Ruislip

Middlesex

HA4 6NG

ENGLAND.

Email: polishasstdisoff@northolt.raf.mod.uk

Email: polishdisoff@northolt.raf.mod.uk

The address below *** NB. this address could have changed*** I received records about Father's service in the Polish 2nd Corps under British 8th Command......conduct, which battles he fought, what medals he received.

The Ministry of Defense

Army Records Center, POLISH SECTION

Bourne Avenue

Hayes Middlesex,

England UA3 1RF

*** Inquiries about British Medals lost or never received granted to Polish Soldiers serving in British units are made at MOD office***

Hope this HELPS!!

Cheers Hela!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gentleman, I have an album commemorating, I believe, the Battle of Monte Cassino. My father was there. I believe in armour. I do not speak Polish. I do not know what to do with this album , as I am getting older, and I don't believe it will be as cherished by my child. I am looking for suggestions. Thank You P.S. I can't seem to upload a picture. The inside 1st page:

Zolnierz Z Montecassino

Album fotografij z terunu i okresu bitwy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gentleman, I have an album commemorating, I believe, the Battle of Monte Cassino. My father was there. I believe in armour. I do not speak Polish. I do not know what to do with this album , as I am getting older, and I don't believe it will be as cherished by my child. I am looking for suggestions. Thank You P.S. I can't seem to upload a picture. The inside 1st page:

Zolnierz Z Montecassino

Album fotografij z terunu i okresu bitwy

Hi,

Thanks for posting. Glad to see another poster with an interest in Polish history. As far as your question RE: the album. Your description is a little vague. Is it a professionally bound album or is it a personal photo album. Value will be affected depending on which type. If you have pictures you can post them here and I'll do my best to give you an estimate of value. If you're looking to sell it I can also suggest the best avenue to do so and get the maximum return.

Thanks,

Greg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

Thanks for posting. Glad to see another poster with an interest in Polish history. As far as your question RE: the album. Your description is a little vague. Is it a professionally bound album or is it a personal photo album. Value will be affected depending on which type. If you have pictures you can post them here and I'll do my best to give you an estimate of value. If you're looking to sell it I can also suggest the best avenue to do so and get the maximum return.

Thanks,

Greg

Hi Greg,

This is a professionaly made album. I tried to upload a picture, but , could not. I will be happy to send you pics by private email. As for selling, I'm not sure. It cantains a picture of my dad

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gentleman, I have an album commemorating, I believe, the Battle of Monte Cassino. My father was there. I believe in armour. I do not speak Polish. I do not know what to do with this album , as I am getting older, and I don't believe it will be as cherished by my child. I am looking for suggestions. Thank You P.S. I can't seem to upload a picture. The inside 1st page:

Zolnierz Z Montecassino

Album fotografij z terunu i okresu bitwy

Cwaver

If I were you and you really don't need "money" for the album, you could think about donating the album to the Polish War Museum or the Sikorski Museum where the album would be treasured by people like myself. also adding history to the Museums Polish collection and of course leave your Father's mark at the Museum forever. I know if my children don't show interest in my Father's medals,f amily history or whatever, that's what I'll be doing. I would hate to think if I passed them onto family (greedy family at that) and they showed no interest in them, then sold them for monetary reasons or throw them in the rubbish bin. I would be HORRIFIED! Sometimes people like yourself sell these precious family memorabilia thinking they are going to someone who really love them, but then they go to dealers who onsell them for money only and so the cycle starts. Where do they eventually end up?

This is only my opinion of course. Hope you get to upload some of this album, I'd love to see a little of it's contents.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cwaver

If I were you and you really don't need "money" for the album, you could think about donating the album to the Polish War Museum or the Sikorski Museum where the album would be treasured by people like myself. also adding history to the Museums Polish collection and of course leave your Father's mark at the Museum forever. I know if my children don't show interest in my Father's medals,f amily history or whatever, that's what I'll be doing. I would hate to think if I passed them onto family (greedy family at that) and they showed no interest in them, then sold them for monetary reasons or throw them in the rubbish bin. I would be HORRIFIED! Sometimes people like yourself sell these precious family memorabilia thinking they are going to someone who really love them, but then they go to dealers who onsell them for money only and so the cycle starts. Where do they eventually end up?

This is only my opinion of course. Hope you get to upload some of this album, I'd love to see a little of it's contents.

I cannot seem to upload any pics. I have a Mac. I would like to donate album, officers holster, tank goggles and medals to a place where they will be appreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I cannot seem to upload any pics. I have a Mac. I would like to donate album, officers holster, tank goggles and medals to a place where they will be appreciated.

Hello,

I believe I know which album you are speaking of. If you have photos you can email them to me and I would post them here on your behalf if that is something you wanted to share with all of us.

As to what to do with the entire lot it is entirely up to you but I can say that if you wish to share it with a wider audience then a museum is NOT the way to go. I know that some will come down on me for suggesting this but the absolute truth is that in any museum (even one dedicated to the Poles in WWII like the Sikorski Institute) the medals would be put into storage and never see the light of day again. How do I know this? Because I volunteer in a local regimental museum in Winnipeg. We literally have thousands of pieces in our collection but 99% will never see the light of day. Unless your father's collection had something spectacular and unique about it the entire group would sit in a drawer somewhere and eventually be forgotten. Add to that that all museums can and will part with items from their collections if it means that they can acquire something that is needed for display. I have seen it happen first hand.

If you are really interested in donating it to somewhere that it will be appreciated it might do some good to research schools in the towns he liberated in Italy. Any serious history teacher would love to have items like this that would give a human side to the conflict in their hometown.

Others here may try to tell you otherwise but selling these items to a collector is NOT a bad thing. Most collectors that I know truly honor the items earned by veterans. Most collectors record every piece of history that goes with medals, etc. and preserve and display these pieces. I know that every piece in my personal collection is meticulously recorded with photographs, names, etc. Who the items belonged to and any history that goes with it. That way when I go to the other side my children (or other collectors) will know the history of every piece I own. I don't mean to sound like I'm soliciting the purchase of these either so I apologize if it seems that way.

I'd love to help you post photos of these items if you are having difficulty. You can email me @: sgt.rock@shaw.ca and I will gladly post them on your behalf.

Regards,

Greg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you Greg, I'm afraid you are right about this stuff sitting in a museum. I sent you 8 photos to choose from. My father was tank commander after being released from the russians. He never talked much about his time in the war.

I'd like to learn more about him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×