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75th Anniversary of the First Drop of the Cichociemni Paratroopers

The first group of the Cichociemni (Silent Unseen) – the soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces trained in the United Kingdom and redeployed into the territory of occupied Poland as support for the cadre of the Union of Armed Struggle (ZWZ), later to become the Home Army (AK) – lands on the territory of occupied Poland in the night of 15 and 16 February 1941. This is, at the same time, the first redeployment of paratroopers from the United Kingdom to the Continent. The operation, known under the cryptonym “Adolphus”, is experimental – the goal is to achieve maximum efficiency while minimizing the losses. The drop is planned at a post situated 7.5 km south of Włoszczowa. By mistake the plane drops the paratroopers in the Cieszyn area, just outside the village of Dębowiec near Skoczów, onto a territory incorporated into the Reich. Among the paratroopers there are Maj. Stanisław Krzymowski aka “Kostka”, Captain of Cavalry Józef Zabielski aka “Żbik” and Courier to the Government Delegate for Poland, Bombardier Czesław Raczkowski aka “Orkan”. The first two manage to get to Warsaw on their own, but all the equipment and codes are intercepted by the enemy. The third, “Orkan”, gets arrested by the Germans when crossing the border of the General Government. He is, however, taken for an ordinary smuggler and spends only three months in prison in Wadowice. This pioneer flight, despite the difficulties encountered, proves that deployment operations to the occupied countries are feasible and can be effective. By December 1944, 316 Cichociemni paratroopers and 28 couriers are deployed to Poland. Following sabotage and diversion training courses, they are assigned to such organizations as Wachlarz, the Union of Retaliation and Kedyw, and they fight in the partisan units too. Others work in intelligence, document legalisation and in communications. Over 90 take part in the Warsaw Uprising. In every area of the fighting, they stand out as being superbly trained and exhibiting a valorous attitude and professionalism. Since 1995, the GROM Military Unit has preserved the heritage and continued the traditions of the Cichociemni Paratroopers.

Col. Piotr Gąstał