The Polish People's Army is Born
It became obvious to the Soviet leadeship that the Polish Army being raised on Soviet territory during
1941-42, under the command of General Anders, was not going to accept Soviet orders. By the end of August, 1942, most of this
army had evacuated from the Soviet Union into Iran, and Stalin closed the borders. Many Poles were left behind.
With the aim of forming the remaining Poles and former Polish citizens into Soviet controlled units who
would fight when told, the Soviets decided to establish the Tadeusz Kosciuszko 1st Infantry Division. It's commander,
colonel Zygmunt Berling, issued the first order on May 14, 1943, thus bringing to life the first unit of the Polish People's
The only regimental commander who was Polish was Lt. Col. Leon Nalecz-Bukojemski of the 1st Artillery Regiment.
From that first month, "volunteers" began to arrive at the camp in Sielce from across Siberia
(e.g. from Chelabinsk - 1094 persons, Nowosybirsk - 684, Omsk - 364, Archangielsk - 178).
The initial organization of the 1st Polish Infantry Division included 3 infantry regiments (1st, 2nd
and 3rd) and an artillery regiment. Units were added as the division grew although, more than anything, the Division lacked
Poorly trained, the Kosciuszko Division was sent into its first battle on November 12, 1943, at Lenino.
Against a strong German defence, the Poles lost 3,054 soldiers (almost 24% of initial strength). Of that total, 510 were killed
in action or died of their wounds, 1,776 were wounded, and 768 went missing (of the 768, 400 were captured by the Germans).
By December, 1943, the Division had grown into a Corps with 2 infantry divisions and a third being
formed. The number of soldiers had grown to 32,400.
The Red Army crossed the former border with Poland in the area of Rokitno on January 4, 1944. This entry
into former Polish territory greatly increased opportunities for recruitment. By March, 1944, the numbers had swelled to 40,262
soldiers and the reorganization of the Corps into an Army had begun. It would contain: 4 infantry divisions, 1 air force wing,
1 armoured corps, etc.