General Stanislaw Maczek

1892 - 1994

Exiled army commander. Born in Lviv in Ukraine (which was then Lemberg in Austro-Hungarian Galicia), Maczek studied Polish literature and language at the university there. During the First World War he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army and fought in the Italian Alps. After the war Lemberg was ceded to Poland, becoming Lwów, and Maczek joined the Polish Army. He fought against the Ukrainians, who occupied his city in 1918, and the Russians, who attacked in 1920.

By the outbreak of World War II he was in command of one of Poland's most modern army units, which successfully fought off the German invaders, only to have their efforts undermined when the Russians attacked from the east. Maczek withdrew and was eventually able to reach Britain via France. Based in Scotland, Maczek led the 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade, which was initially headquartered at Barony Castle in the Scottish Borders before moving to Perthshire. His troops trained in Blairgowrie and then Duns. By 1942, Maczek was Commander of the 1st Polish Armoured Division, with 16,000 men. This division became an integral part of the Normandy Invasion in 1944 and liberated towns across France, Belgium and Holland, culminating in the capture of the significant German naval base at Wilhelmshaven. Maczek was subsequently appointed Commander of all Polish forces in the UK.

Unable to return to Poland, which had fallen under the influence of the Soviet Union, Maczek settled in Edinburgh in 1948. Sadly, he was refused a war pension by the British Government and had to take employment in an hotel. His importance was recognised by the post-communist Polish Government in 1989 and there is a memorial plaque at his former home at 16 Arden Street in Marchmont, where lived for 46 years. He was buried next to his former comrades in the Polish Military Cemetery at Breda in The Netherlands.

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