319: Polish ww2 Medals

This entry was posted by Tuesday, 14 December, 2010
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Polish ww2 Medals

Monte Cassino Cross Medal

During the last few years because of the rarity of this decoration, replicas have been produced adding to the confusion about Polish decoration being sold on the market today. Several of these fake crosses have been identified and they fall into three cataegories;

1.  Crosses without any numbers in soft and hard metal

2.  Crosses with irregular size and type numbers, in many cases the numbers were beaten into the cross by hand in hard and soft metal.

3.  Cross with correct size numbers in hard and soft metal. These were produced in thousands all with the same number.

As of this date,  three numbers have been identified that fall into this categoty, #12,397 and  #36,430 in hard metal and #48,930 which is made in soft metal and can be bent without any problem. There are several firms that produce these copies today in Poland an abroad. Collectors should be aware that if the price is too good to be true, the item probably is a fake.

The Abbey at Monte Cassino is one of the most famous abbeys in Europe. It was founded by Saint Benedict of Nursia in 529 AD on a former site of the temple of Apollo. It is located 75 miles southeast of Rome. The abbey stands at an altitude of 1,700 feet, overlooking the town of Cassino and the surrounding countryside. The abbey’s original buildings were destroyed by the Lombards in 580 AD and rebuilt in 720 AD. Monte Cassino was again destroyed in 883 by the Saracens and restored in mid 900. In 1349, it was damaged by an earthquake. It was rebuilt again in 1600 only to be sacked by French troops who invaded the Kingdom of Naples. It was again rebuilt and would remain in beautiful condition until 1944.

The town of Cassino and its abbey stood in the way of allied forces in their objective to liberate Rome. The German troops surrounded the abbey. From this vantage point, they controlled air and ground fire against the Allies. American and British forces were unable to take Monte Cassino from the Germans and withdrew from the battlefield. The Polish 2nd Corps took their place and were victorious. It succeeded in taking Monte Cassino after three weeks of fierce fighting in mountain terrain which left the troops exposed to enemy snipers on the slopes. Upon taking the abbey, the Poles raised the white and red flag of Poland on top of the ruins of the monastery. The Battle of Monte Cassino is an eternal monument to the gallantry of the Polish soldiers. It surpasses Polish military heroism at Samo Sierra and the Charge at Rokitna.

At the conclusion of Polish military operations in and near Monte Cassino, the Polish government in Exile, (London) established a campaign cross to commemorate the battle. A total of 48, 498 crosses were awarded with accompanying award documents issued in the field to each soldier who took part in the battle. Today, original Monte Cassino crosses with award documents are scarce. Unfortunately, the High Command of the Polish 2nd Corps did not keep a master roll record of names of soldiers who received the crosses, either by cross number or by the name of the recipient. It is therefore impossible to determine whom a specific cross was issued to without the award document.

In recent years, a large number of original numbered Monte Cassino crosses have surfaced. These crosses have high numbers in the upper 48,500 to 49,999 range. After the conclusion of hostilities near Monte Cassino, the Polish 2nd Corps ordered 50,000 crosses from a manufacturer in Tel Aviv. Of this total, 48,498 were awarded and the rest remained at the headquarters of the Polish Government in London until 1989. The government decided to release the remaining 1,502 crosses since no further awards were being made. The crosses were sold to several dealers and auction houses, resulting in a flood of unawarded Monte Cassino crosses. Today, even these original unawarded crosses are scarce.

Official documentation to include a list of recipients will never be known. Records have been located which indicate blocks of crosses by serial number distributed to specific units. The statistical analysis shown below identifies these groups.

In closing, I must mention that at the foot of the Polish cemetery at Monte Cassino is an inscription in Polish which is worthy to mention for those who read the language. In translation it lessens its true meaning:


Passerby, tell Poland that we fell faithfully in her service, for our freedom and yours, we Polish soldiers gave our souls to God, our bodies to the soil of Italy, and our hearts to Poland.


Distribution of Awarded Monte Cassino Cross, 1944 by unit of assignment

Commanders 1 13 13
Headquarters Group 14 744 731
Various Units 745 750 6
3rd DSK 751 14672 13922
Various Units 14673 14750 78
5th KDP 14751 28691 13941
Various units 28692 28750 59
2nd Armored Brigade 28751 32269 3519
Various Units 32270 32300 31
2nd Artillery Group 32301 34945 2645
Various units 34946 34960 15
2nd Corp Artillery 34961 38083 3123
Karpathian Lancers 38084 38760 677
Regiment 2nd Corp 38761 40420 1660
2nd Corp Signals 40421 41446 1026
Medical Corps 41447 42159 713
Signal Corps 42160 42171 12
2nd Medical Corps 42172 42328 157
1st Medical Hospital 42329 42736 408
2nd Medical Hospital 42737 43169 433
2nd Medical Corps 43170 43520 351
Supply and Transport 43521 45973 2453
Various Units 45974 46012 39
Materials and Supply 46013 46515 503
Maintenance 46516 47394 879
Geographic Group 47395 47475 81
Military Police 47476 47676 201
Palestine Command 47677 48006 330
Various Units 48007 48407 401
Commando Company 48408 48498 91

On may 18th 1994, Poland commemorated one of its greatest victories during World War II against Nazi Germany. Ceremonies were conducted at the Polish Cemetery at Monte Cassino to honor the 1,100 Poles who died while storming the abbey (11-25 May 1944.) The ceremony also honored the living veterans of that historical battle. President Lech Walesa and other dignitaries placed wreaths at the cemetery at Monte Cassino and for the first time, the Armed Forces of a free and independent Poland served as honor guards during the ceremony. Five thousand Polish veterans and their families visited Monte Cassino from Poland and from around the world. Military representatives of allied nations also participated in the ceremony. The author had the honor of representing the South Carolina State Guard and the U.S. Armed Forces at this ceremony at the direction of the Pentagon.

The Monte Cassino Commemorative Cross is a commemorative medal awarded to all soldiers of the Polish II Corps who fought in the battle of Monte Cassino and the battles for Piedimonte and Passo Corno. After the capture of Monte Cassino in May 1944, the Polish government in Exile, (in London) created a campaign cross to commemorate the role of the Polish II Corps (often known as Anders Army) in capturing this strategic point, which had long blocked the Allied advance up the Italian peninsula.

A consignment of 50,000 crosses was ordered from a manufacturer in Tel Aviv, then part of British-ruled Palestine, where the Polish forces had spent part of 1942 and almost all of 1943 in training. A total of 48,498 crosses (serial numbers 1 to 48,498) were awarded with accompanying award documents issued in the field to each soldier who took part in the battle. Although no master record exists to indicate which serial numbers were given to specific soldiers, records do indicate which blocks of serial numbers were given to units within the Polish II Corps. The 1502 un-awarded crosses (serial numbers 48,499 to 50,000) were eventually sold off to dealers and collectors.



The medal for participation in 1939 defensive war was instituted in 1981 as a word of homage for participants who took the active part in polish defensive war against German invader between September 1st and November 6th 1939. The medal has been given to Polish citizens and foreigners who has been brought the essential contribution to defensive war. The medal could have been given also posthumously. The awarding was recognized finished in 1999.



Instituted in 1945 due to commemorate the heroes’ battle fight of the partisan soldiers against the Nazi invader of Secondary World War. Distinction has been given only one time creators, leaders, and members of partisan squad fighting against Germans in Poland, and Polish citizens fighting at partisan croups in USSR, Yugoslavia, France and foreigners supported croups in Poland. The award has been given by Bureau of the Home Council of National up to 1952, between 1952 and 1989 by National Board, and since 1989 by the President of Poland. It has been given also to towns. The awarding was recognised finished in 1999.


The cross of Peasant Battalions, it set up on 28 December 1988 r. to the resolution of Chief Committee United Stronnictwo the People’s Presidium according. It did honoured before persons participating in the armed act of the Polish village, during II world war. In the year 1992 recognized for the military distinction. Till the year 1999 been useful by The president Polish Republic. It ceased to be awarded in 1999. In years 1988-1992 she was the manufacturer of this distinction Wielobranzowa Spoldzielnia Rzemieslnicza in Michalin (PRL-type, light-green enamel). The Varsovian Mint the production took over after 1992 (RP-type, dark green enamel).




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