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General Stanisław Sosabowski

General Stanisław Sosabowski

Comments on Lieutenant General 'Boy' Browning’s letter
by Stan Sosabowski

What startling rubbish, what nonsense, what perplexing trash Boy Browning wrote. Another ignominious letter of betrayal which, having had its effect, was confined to the archives of military history. General Sosabowski was without doubt, a very stubborn soldier, not easy to work with and always said what he thought was right, but he always did exactly as he was ordered. And Browning of all people was in the best position to know all this - they had worked closely together for three whole years and knew each other well enough for Browning to have offered Sosabowski the position of Divisional Commander- curious, I am sure you'll agree.

The charges are all the more unjust, petty, vindictive and deceitful since they were made outside the normal chain of command. Gen. Urquart, his Commanding Officer was never consulted, and for good reason since he had only the highest praise for the Poles – 'Everything I asked was done, unless there was a very good reason'. Moreover, General 'Boy' Browning hadn’t a clue about what was happening on the Arnhem battlefield until day five.

Lastly, the letter is startlingly ironic since it maligns the one really honest commander out of the whole bunch. His unpopularity at staff meetings, his continual doubting questioning and probing all had the highest of motives – the success of the operation and the lives of the men. And all along he had been exactly right.

A rather unpleasant nagging thought remains. Glorious defeats are a tradition in the British army, and as is often the case in life if a scapegoat is at hand he is sacrificed. Reading between the lines of this letter the reader could infer that General Sosabowski was negligent during the operation. Most convenient then to have an unpopular Eastern European white nigger around upon whom a little of the blame for the failure of the operation could be shifted.

And so as of 27th December 1944 General Sosabowski became the former CO of the First Independant Parachute Brigade. The Polish President signed the order removing him from command and he was awarded the Cross of Valour for his part in Operation Market Garden. The British were pulling all the strings so no surprise there.

Just another petty injustice. No surprise then that he felt bitter and unforgiving.

His demotion had no effect on his 'military career' on his 'future' in Poland nor on his future in England. All were bleak or non existent. But he and his Brigade could have, and should have been given credit, lots of it for their gallant role, as were all the British Market Garden Combatants and their Commanders (Orders of the Bath all round we believe) and the more famous Polish Commanders in other theatres of war.

So there he remained in limbo for the rest of his life punished by the British, deserted by his fellow Polish Generals and very unwelcome in his native Poland. But he was well loved by the world wide Polish Parachutists’ family and each year in the Arnhem area the Dutch show their very profound gratitude. And still the unanswered questions remain. Why parachute in 10km away from the objective ? Why underestimate or ignore the German presence? Why the six days for XXX Corps to reach Arnhem ? Why send a puny battalion in to its certain death? Why not ford the Rhine elsewhere at divisional strength and turn the tables - and so on and so forth.

Stan Sosabowski.

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Authors: Hal Sosabowski & Stan Sosabowski
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