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Major Henryk Dobrzański Hubal

Henryk Dobrzański was born in Jasło on 22 June 1897 to a landowning family, whose members had fought in national uprisings. In 1914, he joined the Polish Legions and served in the 2nd Uhlan Regiment. In 1918, when the II Brigade broke through to the Russian side near Rarańcza, he was interned and imprisoned in a camp, which he fled. In November 1918, Dobrzański joined the 2nd Uhlan Regiment, which was being reformed in Krakow. He was awarded the Silver Cross of the Virtuti Militari Order and four times the Cross of Valour (Krzyż Walecznych).

After World War I, Dobrzański served in the Cavalry Training Centre in Grudziądz and in several cavalry regiments. In 1924, he was a member of the Polish equestrian team which won the Nations Cup in Nice. He also won several other prestigious equestrian competitions. On 31 July 1939, Dobrzański was retired only to be reinstated in September. He was appointed as the deputy commander of the 110th Reserve Uhlan Regiment. After the Soviet aggression, on 28 September, the remnants of the regiment divided. Some soldiers remained with Dobrzański, who wanted to get to Warsaw, which was still fighting.

On hearing the news that the capital had fallen, Major Dobrzański decided to continue fighting in Poland, in uniforms, until the allied offensive expected in the spring of 1940. He organized an underground network and chose his ancestral nickname “Hubal” as his alias. He named his unit the “Detached Unit of the Polish Army”. The unit won several skirmishes and effectively avoided the enemy’s ambushes. Fearing the Germans’ retribution on the civilian population, the command of the Union of Armed Struggle ordered that the 250-strong unit be disbanded. “Hubal” left the choice to his subordinates and 72 of them stayed with him. The Germans gathered a force of several thousand soldiers and policemen to fight “Hubal”. Venting their rage after several defeats, the occupiers torched 620 homesteads and murdered 712 civilians.

On 30 April 1940, the enemy surprised “Hubal’s” unit when it was bivouacking. The major was killed in action. His burial place is unknown. In 1966, he was posthumously promoted to lieutenant colonel and awarded the Gold Cross of the Virtuti Militari Order, and in 2010 the Grand Cross of the Order of Restored Poland (Polonia Restituta). His actions became the epitome of soldier’s valour and fight to the end in defence of the country.

Prof. Janusz Odziemkowski

The obverse of the coin shows the Eagle established as the national emblem of the Republic of Poland and Major Dobrzański on horseback with a drawn sabre. At the bottom, there is a model 34 sabre used by the Polish cavalry in 1939 and a model 37 field cap worn in September 1939. Below, there are the words uttered by the major on hearing of the downfall of Warsaw.

The reverse presents the portrait of “Hubal” as he looked during the guerrilla time: with facial hair, wearing an unbuttoned uniform and a sheepskin coat over his shoulders. On the uniform, he is wearing the Silver Cross of the Virtuti Militari Order awarded to him in recognition of his struggle for the independence and the borders of Poland in the years 1918–1921.