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Bi-Partisan Effort?

One day in November of 1944 the USS Ulvert M. Moore (DE-442), commanded by Lt. Cdr. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., lay in Pearl Harbor, preparing for movement to the Western Pacific.  There was much hustle aboard and many communications back and forth to shore establishments to ensure that the ship was ready for combat, as the newly commissioned ship was having some mechanical problems.

On this particular day, among the messages was one for the Moore's skipper, reading "Do you need a good Republican sail maker?"  It was from the skipper of the Moore’s sister ship,, the USS William Seiverling (DE-441), who was a noted yachtsman and, by chance, also a presidential kinsman, albeit a different president, or rather two of them, Charles Francis Adams IV.  A "rock ribbed Republican," Adams was having some fun with his Democratic comrade.

Despite their political differences, Adams and Roosevelt got along very well, as befitting proper Harvard men.  A signalman recalled once sending a message by searchlight from Roosevelt to Adams reading "Meet you on the beach for a short snort 15 minutes."

 

The Polish 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade

Organized in February of 1937, the 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade was the only fully motorized unit in the Polish Army when the Germans invaded on September 1, 1939.  By then the brigade, commanded by Col. Stanislaw Maczek (1892-1994), comprised two battalion-sized motorized regiments, a light tank company and two tankette reconnaissance companies, plus, an artillery battalion, anti-tank and anti-aircraft batteries, an engineer battalion, and some administrative elements, all motorized.

During the German invasion, the brigade served primarily as a mobile reserve and screening unit, helping to defend Polish Silesia as part of the Krakow Army, and then covering the Polish retreat until the Soviet invasion of September 17th made further resistance impossible.  Although defeated, and having lost perhaps half its personnel, the brigade remained intact, and retreated into Hungary, where it was disarmed and interned.  Through Hungarian connivance, many of the troops, especially the officers, were able to find their way to France.  There a Polish-army-in-exile was being formed from men who had eluded captivity or internment, and from Poles who had been living abroad.  Maczek began to reform his brigade around a cadre of its original personnel, hoping to create a Polish armored division.  This project was hardly begun when the Germans invaded France, Belgium, and the Netherlands on May 10, 1940.  The new Polish "10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade," hastily organized from a tank battalion, two motorized cavalry squadrons, an anti-tank battery, and an anti-aircraft battery, went into action with minimal training in early June near Reims.  By June 18, that is, after Dunkirk, having helped cover the retreat of the disordered French forces, Maczek ordered his troops to destroy their equipment and attempt to make their way to Britain.

After often impressive adventures, Maczek and many of his men managed to make their escape, some men reaching French ports still in friendly hands and others getting to Britain by way of Spain and Portugal.  Joined by other survivors and more overseas Poles, the brigade was reconstituted in Scotland in late 1940 and early 1941, eventually comprising two armored regiments and two mechanized infantry regiments.  Early in 1942 the brigade became part of Maczek's new Polish 1st Armoured Division.  After two years of training, the division was committed to the Normandy front on August 1, 1944.

Serving with the Canadian First Army, the division took part in "Operation Totalize," helping to form the northern pincer that ultimately trapped the German Seventh Army in the Falaise Pocket, with the 10th Brigade being prominent in beating off repeated German attempts to break out.  The division then went on to take part in the Liberation of Belgium and the southern Netherlands, and in early 1945 helped clear the eastern provinces of the Netherlands, before proceeding into Germany, where it seized the major naval base at Wilhelmshaven shortly before the surrender of Germany.

After two years of occupation duty in northern Germany, the division was disbanded, as most of its personnel refused to return to by-then Communist-dominated Poland.  The Polish 10th Armoured Brigade was apparently the only Polish Army unit in the war to never be defeated and the only one to go through the entire conflict with essentially the same officer cadre.

Following the end of the Cold War, a new 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade was constituted in the Polish Army, and remains on active duty.

 


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