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General Bronislaw DUCH

Bronisław Duch was born on 15 November 1896 in Borszczów in Borszczów, Tarnopol province, Poland. He graduated from high school in Sambor, where he was active in Polish scouting, as well as in the organization “Zarzewie” and the “Sokół” teams. He obtained his high school diploma in 1914.

He began his military service in the Infantry of the 3rd Regiment, which was part of the 2nd Legion Brigade. From December 1918, he commanded the 1st company of the Polish Independent Murmansk Unit as part of the British intervention forces fighting with Red Army units. In August 1919, in connection with the withdrawal of British troops, he went along with the entire Polish Independent Murmansk Unit to Great Britain, where in November 1919 he became its commander.

He returned to Poland and participated in the Polish-Bolshevik war of 1920. When the war ended, he remained in the military. In 1926, he was appointed battalion commander of the Infantry School for NCOs in Bydgoszcz.  He obtained the following ranks: Major (from 1 December 1924), Lieutenant Colonel (24 December 1929), and Colonel (in 1938).

After the outbreak of World War II, Colonel Bronislaw Duch was a division infantry commander in the 39th Reserve Infantry Division. On 26 September 1939, Polish troops began destroying weapons and documents before capitulation. Colonel Duch avoided captivity and escaped to France, where he put himself at the disposal of General Władysław Sikorski who re-formed the Polish army.

In January 1940, he was appointed commander of the 1st Grenadier Division, which was formed in Cóetquidan. On 5 May 1940, Colonel Duch received the rank of brigadier general. After the defeat of France, he evacuated to Great Britain as part of the Dunkirk evacuation. For the heroic attitude of the 1st Grenadier Division and his own combat services, he was awarded the French Croix de Guerre.

In London, General Duch served the Commander-in-Chief, General Sikorski, who trusted him, appreciated his military skills, loyalty, honor and devotion to his homeland.  In March 1941, Colonel Duch flew on a mission to Canada, where he was to form the Polish Armed Forces. After returning to London, he took command of the 1st Rifle Brigade of the 1st Polish Armoured Division in Scotland, which he commanded until July 1943.

At the end of July 1943, he assumed the position of commander of the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division (3 DSK) in the Polish 2nd Corps of General Władysław Anders. The division transferred to Italy, where the Carpathians were baptized at Monte Cassino. After two days of fighting, the soldiers of General Duch broke into the ruins of the monastery and planted the white and red banner.

Gen. Duch commanded 3 DSK in subsequent battles in Italy. The division took part in the operations on the Chienti River, in the liberation of Ancona, on the Metauro River, in breaking the strongly fortified Goth Line, in the Emilian Apennines. The Carpathians were instrumental in the liberation of Monte Fortino, Monte Piano, the crossing of the Senio River and the liberation of Bologna in April 1945.

General Duch was one of the most experienced line commanders of the Polish Armed Forces at the end of the war. He was one of the generals of combat glory, universally respected and valued by soldiers. On June 1, 1945, Bronislaw Duch was appointed Major General. He continued to command the Division while it was part of the Polish Resettlement Corps in the UK. When the Polish Army Forces in the West were disbanded, he went to great lengths to prepare his soldiers for civilian life. The division organized various specialist courses, preparing them to work outside the military.

After demobilization in 1947, he moved to London. He was instrumental in establishing the Carpathians Association and in commemorating the combat deeds of the 3 DSK. The Carpathians were a very strong veteran group, carefully cultivating their traditions, combat signs and symbols. General Duch was also associated with the 1st Grenadier Division, with which he started the combat trail in the West. He took part in ceremonies commemorating the combat operations of both divisions.

He was the author of several studies on the battles in France in 1940. In February 1980, he was appointed by President Raczyński to the position of the Inspector General of the Armed Forces.

He was awarded the following medals:

  • Polish: The Order Virtuti Militari (III, IV and V class), the Cross of Valour (eight times),the Cross of Independence, the Order Polonia Restituta (II and IV class), the Gold Cross of Merit, the Gold Cross of Merit with Swords.

  • He was also honoured with medals by the Allied countries.


General Bronislaw Duch died in London on 9 October 1980. The urn with his ashes was buried in the Polish war cemetery at Monte Cassino, among the Carpathians.


Source: Krzysztof Hoffmann, Warsaw, Poland

(Translated here from the original Polish text).

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