POLISH CORPS IN ITALY 1945
Originally, General Władysław Albert Anders commanded the Cavalry Brigade; after the collapse of the Polish Northern Front the brigade withdrew towards Warsaw, and fought heavily in battles against the Germans. Anders was captured, after being wounded twice. He was jailed in Lwów and subsequently transferred to a prison in Moscow where he was interrogated, tortured and unsuccessfully urged to join the Russian Army. After the launch of Operation Barbarossa, Anders was released by the Soviets with the aim of forming a Polish Army to fight against the Germans alongside the Red Army. Continued friction with the Soviets led to the eventual exodus via the Persian Corridor into Iran, Iraq and Palestine where Anders formed and led the Second Polish Corps. The Corps became a major tactical and operational unit of the Polish Armed Forces in the West. Most importantly, Anders commanded the Corps throughout the Italian Campaign, capturing Monte Cassino on 18 May 1944, later fighting on the Gothic Line at Piedimonte, Ancona and finally Bologna; but at the end of the conflict the tragic events in Poland and the new political situation prevented the majority of fighters from returning home, so that the last troops left Italy only in November 1946. During those three years the Second Polish Corps had their field post offices – thirty by the end of 1945 – which used, when necessary, British, US, Canadian or Italian stamps and postal stationery. In 1945 a series of stamps denominated in Polish currency that should have been used by the Polish military post offices were vetoed by the allied authorities and in due course by Italy’s postal administration. However these virtually unissued stamps reached the philatelic market and were eventually listed by Italian catalogues together with a second series denominated in Italian currency: these stamps had some questionable postal use.
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