Polish Independent Carpathian Brigade

A few months ago, the Institute received an e-mail from a historical reconstruction group from Poland, in connection with the 80th anniversary of the defense of Tobruk (located in Libya, near the border with Egypt). The group wanted to see the photos of the Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade's soldiers. We keep many photos of the Independent Brigade in our archives, thus the email was an impulse for us to digitize another part of our collection. This time, we managed to prepare an unique collection, a great source of the information about the WWII battles in North Africa. thumb SBSK1553Anthony Eden, British Foreign Secretary with the soldiers of the Brigade, October 1941

Preparing the photos for an online presentation is a tedious process, first, we have to research the collection diligently, then make a selection of photos, next the photos have to be scanned, annotated and finally posted online. After a few weeks of work, the project was successfully completed. We have posted photos showing the soldiers' training, the construction of the Latrun camp, fortifications near Tobruk, exercises and combat operations of the Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade's soldiers. In the black-and-white photos we see soldiers' difficult life in the desert, all the sacrifices; fight in unfavorable weather conditions, under the constant threat from the enemy.

On April 12th, 1940, the Commander-in-Chief, Gen. Władysław Sikorski, gave an order to create the Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade, alongside the French Levant Army. Col. Stanisław Kopański (1895–1976) was the brigade commander. After the capitulation of France, on June 30th, 1940, the Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade, with around 3,700 soldiers, moved to Palestine. After reorganizing according to British standards in August 1941, the formation was transferred to North Africa.

thumb SBSK6800The soldiers from the Brigade with a figure of Sphinx , 1941

The Battle of Tobruk took place between April 10th and November 27th, 1941. The German and Italian forces clashed with the Allies defending the fortress, the Allies forces, including the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade. Tobruk was defended by the Allies, but the battle took lives of over 3,000 allied soldiers and approx. 8 thousand of the enemy soldiers. In 1942, the Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade was transferred to Palestine, and consequently to Iraq. In 1942, after merging with the units evacuated from the USSR, the Brigade was expanded and renamed the 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division, it fought on the Italian front in 1944–1945.

Photographs of the Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade (photo numbers 639-755).


Ministerstwo Kultury
Biblioteka Narodowa
Naczelna Dyrekcja Archiwów Państwowych
Konsulat RP w NY
Fundacja na rzecz Dziedzictwa Narodowego
NYC Department of Cultural Affairs