Poland (1918-1945, IInd Republic)

list of awards | list of persons

When looking at the Polish medals for the Second World War, we can see four different periods. Before the Second World War, until the German occupation, we have the Second Polish Republic. During the Second World War the Poles had their forces partly in the West and partly in the Soviet Union. The Polish Government in exile in London decided which decorations were awarded. From 1944 we however get the People’s Republic of Poland, that began instituting its own decorations. Finally since the collapse of the Soviet Union we have a new Polish Republic from 1990 on.

The Second Polish Republic.
After the First World War, a new Polish Republic emerged. The Poles received their independence on November 11th 1918. The young republic immediately found itself in war with the Ukrainian National Army for the city of Lwow. After conquering the city, the Poles got into another war, this time with the Bolsheviks of the new Soviet state. Finally the Poles succeeded in winning a final battle for the city of Warsaw. This resulted in a peace treaty with the Soviet Union in 1921. Many of the decorations date back to these heroic battles. Some old decorations from the First Polish Republic were reinstated and some new ones were instituted. Most of these decorations were still in use when de Germans attacked in September 1939.

The Order of Precedence during this period:

1. Order of the White Eagle
2. Order of Virtuti Militari I class
3. Order of Virtuti Militari II class
4. Order of Virtuti Militari III class
5. Order of Virtuti Militari IV class
6. Order of Virtuti Militari V class
7. Order of Polonia Restituta I class
8. Order of Polonia Restituta II class
9. Order of Polonia Restituta III class
10. Cross of Independence with or without Swords
11. Order of Polonia Restituta IV class
12. Order of Polonia Restituta V class
13. Cross of Valour
14. Cross for War Volunteers
15. Cross of Merit for Bravery
16. Gold Cross of Merit
17. Independence Medal
18. Medal for War Volunteers
19. Silver Cross of Merit
20. Bronze Cross of Merit
21. Cross of Merit of the Central Lithuanian Army
22. Silesian Cross on Ribbon of Merit
23. Medal for Rescuing the Perishing
24. 1918-1921 War Medal
25 Gold Academic Laureate Medal
26. Silver Academic Laureate Medal .
27. 10th Anniversary of Independence
28. 3rd of May Medal
29. Gold 30 year Long Service Medal (Never awarded)
30. Silver 20 year Long Service Medal
31. Bronze 10 year Long Service Medal

The Polish Forces in the West.
After the invasion by Germany and the Soviet Union, member of the Polish Government and several military, were able to get away through Romania, Hongary and Slovakia. Many of them came to France, where new Polish military units were formed. Others could get to Syria, where they formed the Carpathian Infantry Brigade. However many Polish soldiers went into POW camps in Germany and the Soviet Union. The Polish Government in Exile held office in Paris, but after the fall of France they brought their seat to London. Several Polish military also escaped to Great Britain and formed new military units. The Polish Government in Exile would have to stay in London until 1990. When in June 1941 the German Army invaded the Soviet Union, many of the former POW’s were permitted to go to the West and formed more Polish units.

Most former Polish decorations were adopted by the Government in London, but during the war many new ones were instituted. Even until the homecoming of the Polish Government in Exile in 1990 the instituted new decorations.

Order off Precedence Polish Forces in the West:
1. Order of the White Eagle
2. Order of Virtuti Militari I class
3. Order of Virtuti Militari II class
4. Order of Virtuti Militari III class
5. Order of Virtuti Militari IV class
6. Order of Virtuti Militari V class
7. Order of Polonia Restituta I class
8. Order of Polonia Restituta II class
9. Order of Polonia Restituta III class
10. Order of Polonia Restituta IV class
11. Order of Polonia Restituta V class
12. Cross of Valour
13. Gold Cross of Merit with Swords
14. Gold Cross of Merit
15. Silver Cross of Merit with Swords
16. Silver Cross of Merit
17. Bronze Cross of Merit with Swords
18. Bronze Cross of Merit
19. Monte Cassino Cross (Commemorative)
20 A. Army Service Medal
B. Navy Service Medal
C. Air Force Service Medal
D. Merchant Marine Service Medal
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