Freely I Served, Major General Stanislaw Sosabowski

Freely I Served, Major General Stanislaw Sosabowski

The Memoir of the Commander - 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade 1941-1944

Major General Stanislaw Sosabowski was the commander of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade, one of the airborne units committed to the fighting at Arnhem during Operation Market Garden. His unit was dropped on the opposite bank of the Rhine to the British, and was involved in the last desperate efforts to establish a bridgehead across the river and the agonising attempts to rescue the troops fighting in and close to Arnhem.

Sosabowski's military career began in the Austro-Hungarian Army of the First World War. After the end of that war he joined the newly independent Polish Army, and fought against the Germans during their invasion of Poland in 1939. After that he served in the Underground Army in Poland, before being ordered to move to Paris to join the army in exile. He then ended up in Britain, where he formed the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade. After the war he spent some time in exile, before eventually returning to Poland, where he was only allowed to work in menial jobs. This book was written during that period of post-war exile.

This text makes it clear why Sosabowski was considered to be difficult to work with, and why some of his British colleagues were suspicious of his commitment at Arnhem. His main concern was to preserve his brigade for a possible intervention in Poland, and he was always worried that it would be absorbed into the British commander structure or committed too early and suffer casualties that would make it impossible to use it in Poland. This concern appeared in arguments over the brigade's command structure and its possible use in Normandy. This must have been infuriating for his British hosts, who were funding and equipping a high quality brigade.

He was also very willing to let his superiors know when he disagreed with his superiors and their plans. This didn't mean that he didn't then do his best to put them into effect, but one can see why it worried his colleagues, especially in the UK.

Sosabowski is an impressive figure. He decided to form the Polish Parachute Brigade on his own authority, and managed to get it officially recognised, funded, equipped and trained. His memoirs cast light onto several unfamiliar areas of the war - the Polish campaign as seen by a Polish combatant, the early days of the Underground Army, especially in the Soviet zone and finally the long period of inactivity between the campaigns of 1940 and the D-Day landings, an experience shared by many units that spent the entire period in Britain, waiting for the invasion to begin.

1 - Early Years
2 - Blitzkrieg
3 - Occupation
4 - French Interlude
5 - England
6 - Parachute Pioneers
7 - Colours from Warsaw
8 - Tactics and Politics
9 - Prelude to Arnhem
10 - Arnhem
11 - Personal Reflections
12 - Last Post

Author: Major General Stanislaw Sosabowski
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 216
Year: 2013 edition of 1982 original

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