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Karol Complak

_______1st Polish Armoured Division_______


Colonel Karol Józef Complak was born on 20 II 1899 in Przemyśl-Zasan to parents Francis and Veronica (nee Kotapka). From 1906 he attended the Middle School in Przemyśl, where he belonged to the Polish shooting team.


In January 1915, he joined the Polish Legions, where he served in the 2nd Infantry Regiment. He was awarded the Silver Cross of Virtuti Militari V class, for the battles on the Wolyn front.


On 12th XI 1916, he was promoted to Corporal, and in May 1917 he was deployed to the Officer's School: the Infantry Regiment of the Polish Legions in Zegrz, and then at the beginning of 1918 to the Officer Cadet School in Bolechów.


At the end of World War I, he served at the Italian front in the 32nd Infantry Regiment of the Austrian Army. In November 1918, he joined the newly formed Polish Army. That year he also took part in the battles for Przemyśl and Lwow, with the Infantry Regiment.


On 20 V 1919, he was promoted to the rank of aspirant. For the Polish-Bolshevik war he was awarded the Warrior's Cross. In the period from 1 V 1930 to 1 II 1933, he was the director of the DOK X training in Przemyśl. After completing an information and intelligence course in Division II of the Main Staff in Warsaw, he worked at the Main Staff as a security officer at the level of captain.


In 1937 he was promoted to the rank of major. On 1 IX 1939, he was assigned to the post of information officer of the Chief of Staff of the General Command. On 18 IX 1939, he crossed the Polish-Romanian border with the Chief Command Staff. After a short period of internment in Romania, he trecked through Yugoslavia and Italy and arrived in France.


In May 1940 he took command of the 9th Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, the Podhalań rifle battalion. When France fell, the Infantry Division evacuated to the UK, where he was assigned to the 4th Squadron of Shooters. In July 1941, he underwent parachute training, and on 23 IX 1941 he participated in a parachute drill at Kincraig Hill, after which he received the regular parachute mark. On this day the 4th. Shooters Squadron has been renamed to the 1st Independent Parachute Brigade.


As a result of exceeding the age limit, he retired from the Brigade and on 2 XII 1943 he took the position of commander of the Podhala shooters battalion, with which he passed the entire battle trail through northern Europe and served with the occupation forces in Germany. He retired from the army on 30 IX 1949.

On 12th April 1945 in the Tange-Onstwedde/Holland/ the Ist Infantry Brigade attacked a strongly defended enemy position under extremely heavy enemy fire. Lieutenant Colonel Complak seeing that the attack was held up by enemy fire, put his command post in the area of the forward company, and despite the personal danger, commanded and co-ordinated the attack of the leading companies. In this way, being in the fore front of the attack and giving a fine display of bravery and coolness, Lieutenant Colonel Complak stormed with his men the first row of houses in Tange. In no time, the localities of Tange and Onstwedde were taken, and the enemy had heavy losses / 70 killed and more than 100 prisoners, while our losses were exceedingly small. Without Lieutenant Colonel Complak's presence, this attack on a very heavily defended enemy position would have been very costly, both in men and time lost. Throughout the fighting in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, Lieutenant Colonel Complak showed great coolness and personal bravery and was an example of true Soldier's bravery on the Battlefield.


After the war he worked on the farm. In 1964, he was awarded the rank of colonel. He died on 11 XII 1967 in London.


Medals awarded:

Virtuti Militari Silver Cross V Class. (1920),

Cross of Valour 1919-1920, three times

War Cross 1939-1945,

British Distinguished Service Order,

French Croix de Guerre with Gold Star,

Dutch De Bronzen Leeuw



Source: source:

Translated from the original Polish

Copyright: Komplak family

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