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D-Day and Polish military role

June 6 America and Polish Americans remember D-day-a 1944 Allied operation designed by US military to open up a second front in the European theatre towards the end of WWII.

For that purpose a bridgehead was indispensable. Just the first day-156 thousand soldiers crossed the LaManche Canal into France. Of the 16 Polish Squadrons in RAF, 11 participated in the Allies' Normandy landing. The famous 303 Squadron which joined the RAF halfway through and still made its Battle of Britain highest victory claims shooting down 126 German bombers in 40 days-on D-Day shielded the invading fleet's left wing and landing units. 307 Squadron-the Polish night command unit fought off enemy submarines. In just the first day of Operations-one of the Polish wings shot down the highest number of German planes. Polish pilots shot down 38 of them by June 25. Four times a day Polish wing planes escorted Allied bombers. 305 Squadron destroyed German fuel depots near Nancy (13 million litres) which was hailed by war correspondents as "the Polish Victory in the Battle for France" ! Polish ace pilot Stanislaw Skalski Bomber wing 133 CDR operated from British airports fighting off German V1 rockets. The 1 Polish Armored Division under Gen. Stanislaw Maczek was dislocated to Normandy during July 1944 with its last elements arriving in August. As part of Operation "Totalize"-the Polish Division together with the Canadian Armored Division attempted an encirclement of the 7 German Army along Caen-Falaise line which failed. Polish-Canadian fierceful fighting to capture Mt. Ormel and Chambois-a strategic communications interchange collided with heavy German fortifications. Polish General Maczek ordered his Division to split up. The Zgorzelski unit took Chambois, Stefanowicz grouping dug into Mt. Ormel called "Maczuga". Despite German counterattacks, the Poles withstood. General Montgomery said: "the Germans were in a bottle and the Polish Division was like a cork which we capped them with". After this victorious Battle of Falaise, the Polish "Black Devils" as Poland's 1 Arm. Div. went by, continued the Allies' chase after the withdrawing Germans. General Maczek and his men would liberate major cities and sea ports in Belgium and the Netherlands! Last but not least-Poland's Navy destroyer Dragon fired on Franch shoreline German artillery targets and laid cover fire for Polish ships Slazak and Krakowiak. This incredible historically largest military landing led by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and American, British, Polish and Canadian troops significantly sped up the end of that monstrosity of a war. Please visit our Museum to see original Polish Squadron Air force uniforms-part of our amazing Military Exhibit! We are Open! And we honor all the heroes of D-Day!

Beatrix Czerkawski

PMA Collection of Photos show Polish President in exile Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz among Polish ace pilots 1941

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