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1st Polish Armoured Division

Stanislaw Biernacik was born in Lwow, Poland in 1920. He was training to be an officer in the local infantry regiment when war broke out on September 1st, 1939. He immediately reported for duty.  The Luftwaffe knocked out communication lines throughout the country, and this hampered a quick mobilization. After the invasion of Poland by the Russians on September 17th, Polish leaders called upon the Air Force and Army to evacuate to Romania for a subsequent return to fight in Poland.


Having fought in the September Campaign in Poland, Stanislaw obeyed orders, crossed into Romania on September 21st, and ended up in an internment camp near the city of Pitesti. After a few days at the camp, Stanislaw managed to escape and reached Bucharest, where he contacted the Polish Embassy. The French Embassy was informed that some members of the Polish Air Force were also being held in the camp that Stanislaw had escaped from. The French then made strong efforts to get those valuable pilots to France.


Stanislaw was made a courier, secretly delivering French Visa documents to the interned Polish pilots. For the next two months, he made numerous trips between Bucharest and Pitesti until he was ordered to report to the Polish officers’ training school at Coetquidan in France. Late in November of 1939, Stanislaw arrived in Coetquidan and began training in field artillery. Thousands of Poles who had escaped German captivity, as well as those who lived in other parts of the world, heeded the call to report for training, so they may help in the eventual liberation of their country.


Following graduation on 14 June 1940, he was ordered to join the Polish forces near the Maginot line. France quickly capitulated, and established the Vichy government. Stanislaw again escaped and arrived in the UK on July 9th where, once again, the Polish army was being reformed. At this point, England, her dominions and Poland stood virtually alone against the Nazi onslaught.


As a result of his previous military training, Biernacik was assigned to the Polish artillery being formed in Scotland. In1942, the 1st Polish Armoured Division was born and placed under the command of the experienced and able General Maczek. Stanislaw became the reconnaissance officer for the 2nd Motorized Artillery Regiment. The regiment’s 25 pounder helped navigate a way for the equipment to get where it was needed in a combat environment.


As often happens in combat, maps are incorrect and roads that should be there are suddenly impassable due to bombardment. Lt. Biernacik often found himself in hostile territory in merely a jeep or even on a motorcycle, while scouting roads for the artillery to pass. At the end of 1944, Stanislaw was ordered to return to Scotland and assigned as an artillery training instructor for the newly-formed 15th Field Artillery Regiment. The 1st Polish Armoured Division in Scotland was continuing to grow from the influx of more Polish volunteers and they needed his combat experience to train them.


In 1944, Stanislaw left Scotland for the Continent, along with the rest of the Division.  He ended up participating in the following battles:

  • The battle of Normandy in June 1944,

  • The Battle of Falaise in August 1944, 

  • The Battle of Arnhem in September 1944.


Stanislaw received numerous Polish, British and French decorations:

  • The Cross of Valour,

  • The 1939 Polish War Medal,

  • The 1944 Normandy, Belgium and Holland Cross,

  • The Crois Des Combattants,

  • The Defense Medal,

  • The 1939-45 War Medal,

  • The France and Germany Star.


At wars end, the British government offered educational opportunities to their Polish allies. Stanislaw first attended the School of Economics in London and later the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Upon earning his M.A. degree, he was accepted as a history teacher at St. Patrick's High School in Carlisle, England. Following four years of teaching there, he emigrated to the United States, where he was first employed as a school teacher and later at commercial managerial positions in the Buffalo, NY area. After his retirement, Stanislaw stayed very active in various Polonia, veteran and civic organizations around Buffalo.

Copyright: Stanislaw Biernacik family

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