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        Given that the British Government had decided to recognise the Polish Provisional Government in Warsaw, it seemed only natural to the Government and the Foreign Office that the Warsaw authorities should have some involvement in the whole question of the repatriation of the Polish Armed Forces in the West.
        In principle this seemed, at the time, to be a good idea. Some resistance from the Polish Forces was to be expected, and possibly the British military authorities might have something to say about it, but it was considered that anything that helped to remove the Poles from British hands could not be a bad thing.
        What the British in London failed to realise was just how resented these Warsaw Poles were by the troops in the field, and just how much of a nuisance they could make themselves.
        The British field commanders who had Poles serving under them were painfully aware of a potentially explosive situation which was being laid on their shoulders, non more so than Supreme Allied Commander Mediterranean [SACMED], Field-Marshal Alexander. In a note to the War Office [WO] of the 18th August, 1945, Alexander wrote of his worries:
        "...I am not prepared to guarantee personal safety of any representative of Polish Provisional Government who may be allowed access to Polish Troops nor am I prepared to answer for the morale or discipline of Polish troops in Italy should any such access be permitted. Morgan [Alexander's Chief of Staff] during a recent interview with Sir Orme Sargent at Foreign Office warned him in this sense."[ 1]

The War Office reply, although sympathetic in saying that they "Fully appreciate difficulties you mention", still maintained that Alexander would have to obey Government policy whether he liked it or not.
        The two men who proved the biggest problem in Italy were Prof. Stanislaw Kot, newly named as Warsaw's ambassador in Rome, and Colonel Kazimierz Sidor, the military attaché.
        Kot was almost universally unpopular with the Poles in the West. Formerly a member of Sikorski's Cabinet he had served as Minister of Information, an appointment described by Tadeusz Kochanowicz as "unfortunate". [2] There were rumours circulating at the time that it was Kot who was the inspiration of the Polish note to the Geneva Red Cross over the Katyn massacre, with the resulting break in Polish-Soviet relations. A notorious intriguer, Kot, apparently, had a talent for offending people from all sides.
        General Anders was certainly of the opinion that Kot was a bad choice. In a report from the Resident Ministers Office, Allied Forces Headquarters [AFHQ], Caserta, to the Foreign Office, 22nd August, 1945, the opinion was put that Kot's appointment was opposed by Anders and that he "would be lynched" by Anders' men if they got hold of him. [3]
        Although unpopular, Kot did not present the same degree of annoyance as Col. Sidor who seemed to spend his time in Italy thinking up new ways of giving SACMED a headache.
        Described by Denis Hill, who had first worked with the 2nd Polish Corps and then became a repatriation officer for Russian POWs, as "an elegant colonel who wore a magnificent peaked cap" [4], Sidor was the subject of some heated inter office communication. According to a report from the Liaison Section AFHQ, Sidor had the habit of calling himself the "Chief of the Polish Military Mission for Repatriation, Rome" - as already mentioned he was in fact the military attaché. The principle complaints against him were that he condoned and even encouraged desertion from the Polish Armed Forces. He would employ some of the deserters in his staff in Rome, others he would train to return to the Polish ranks and spy on the high ranking personnel. The recommendations of the report were threefold: the Foreign Office had to ask the Warsaw authorities to remove Sidor; all the Poles had to be moved to the UK to keep them away from such unhealthy influences; Rome had to be asked to declare Sidor persona non grata. [5]
This was not the first complaint against him. On the 5th February, 1946, General Morgan, the new SACMED who had replaced Alexander, ciphered the Foreign Office with a protest about an interview given by Sidor to the newspaper of the Italian Communist Party "Unita". Morgan pointed out that if Sidor got himself beaten up then he only had himself to blame. Similarly "Unita" might well "go up in flames". The General again requested that Sidor be removed before things got out of hand. If not then SACMED would "disclaim responsibility for any retaliatory measures taken by the troops of the 2nd Corps." [6] The Foreign Office was unmoved by the military point of view and answered that His Majesty's Government [HMG] could not appear to be pro-Anders or anti-Warsaw, therefore Sidor would have to stay. SACMED would have to step up control of the Polish Corps to prevent things from getting out of hand. Doubtless this was not what General Morgan wanted to hear.
        The text of the "Unita" interview consisted of three main points - the accusation that 2 Polcorps was involved in Italian right wing politics and that anyone who volunteered for repatriation among the Polish forces risked disappearing without trace. The third point related to the case of one 2nd Lt. Francziszek Ferenc who had been repatriated from Italy to Poland and then managed to escape and return to Italy. There were in fact nine such Poles with whom the War Office was concerned as the picture they presented of Poland was one that would do little to encourage further repatriation. According to Sidor, Ferenc and the other returnees were "collaborators and Gestapo agents".
        Warsaw's attitude to Volksliste Poles is dealt with later; from the British point of view, however, Ferenc was a nuisance they could have well done without. A Top Secret report by Major Shergold, of the 11th January, 1946, tried to work out what motivation Ferenc may have had in his attack on the new Polish regime.

        "a/ the fact that he had himself registered in the Volksliste would be held against him;
        b/ he was from Feb 43 until Nov 44 a member of
the Wehrmacht which would prove detrimental to any career in the new POLAND even if he could prove that he deserted at the first opportunity
and was subsequently fighting on the Allied side;
        c/ the raping of his wife by a Russian officer and the loss of all his property at the hands of Russian soldiers made him hate anything connected with Russia and the Russians and thus incapable of accepting the official policy of friendship with and gratitude to the Russians." [7]

        The War Office decided to wash their hands of this small group of Poles, with the exception of Ferenc. A letter from Lt Col. Hemans of the WO to W.D. Allen at the FO suggests that in the case of Ferenc "some British Army involvement may have been involved" [8] and he should be an exception. The rest would be handed over to the Italian Government to deal with. The Foreign Office agreed to this point: the Poles returned to Italy as civilians and not as soldiers and they could be dealt with as such.
        The agitation of the Warsaw Poles in Italy did nothing to endear them to the British. After Major Gawronski, Officer Commanding [OC] AFHQ Liaison Section, submitted a report of his conversation with Kot and Sidor, Hancock of the FO minuted:

        "Quite interesting; but both Prof. Kot + Col. Sidor are ruffians and one cannot believe that anything they may say is a sincere expression of their views." [9]

        Similarly the agitation of Sidor's mission did little to endear him to the Polish Forces in Italy. According to Czerkawski the mission was so over the top with its calls for the soldiers to attack their 'fascist' officers and to refuse to obey their orders that it put many off, and proved to be counter-productive. Czerkawski says that many soldiers asked their officers as to why they had to beat their officers up. Had they not gone through the same misfortune and painful wanderings as the other ranks. [10]
        Sidor continued to be the major pain in AFHQ's side. SACMED again complained to the FO on the 24th April, 1946. The first repatriation shipment from the camp at Cervinara had been held up largely due to a protest over gratuity payments. Sidor had told the Poles not to board the ships until the matter had been sorted out. Such agitation was guaranteed to raise British hackles.
        The meddling of the 'Warsaw Poles' was not confined to Italy. General Paget, C-in-C Middle East Forces [MEF] ciphered London in protest at the actions of Warsaw. Colonel Podwysocki, an officer of the 'London Poles', had been promoted to Major General on the authority of Warsaw and although sympathetic to the new Polish regime he did not want to return to Poland - this caused Paget the problem of pay and seniority. The British could not enforce his promotion to the rank of General as this would risk the morale and security of the Polish troops under his command. The Polish Army in the Middle East on the other hand had no intention of enacting the promotion. Paget's recommendation was that Warsaw should act only among the Poles who had volunteered for repatriation. The Foreign Office agreed with this view. [12]
        The concerns of the Foreign Office were such that on the 24th of August, 1946, Robin Hankey, newly appointed Head of the Northern Department, wrote:
        "We must continue to preserve the distinction we have made hitherto:- the Polish Govt. may have access to Poles who wish to return, but we must continue to prevent their carrying out any subversive activities among Polish formations + units under our command. (Warsaw might in certain circumstances be delighted if the Resettlement Corps broke up in disorder!) WO agree this general line." [13]

        On the 14th of February a new storm had broken from Warsaw. They had announced that the Polish Armed Forces in the West no longer existed - the troops that had constituted this body would, from then on, have to apply to the Polish Consulate as individuals. This was described by the Foreign Office as "grossly discourteous" [14] in the way they had sprung the news on HMG. In this respect it appears that the Polish (Warsaw) Embassy in London was equally surprised. Colonel Kuropieska, the military attaché, according to his memoirs, was told the news in Warsaw and told he would have to go to London to explain. He even had to break the news to Deputy Foreign Minister Modzelewski, who had read the news in the British Press but had not been officially informed. According to Kuropieska the news came as a bombshell, made worse since Modzelewski seemed to be making progress on the question of repatriation. [15]
        The excuse the Warsaw authorities had used to act in the way it had was apparent obstruction and British stalling on getting the Poles 'home'. On the 20th February, 1946, the BBC monitoring unit picked up a "Proclamation by the National Unity Government to Polish Soldiers Abroad":
        "The Polish Government has failed to break down the barriers separating you from the homeland. It has been unable to obtain consent for you to return in battle units. Therefore we appeal to you to return individually. Let every one of you who has had enough of the lies and the instigators of fratricidal struggle and who wants to return home with a clear heart, report to the nearest Polish Consulate, Legation or Embassy, which will do its utmost to get you home." [16]

But the Communist criticism did not end there. A 'Warsaw' news-sheet "Polish Facts and Figures" No.22 from November, 1946, again laid the blame for the slow rate of repatriation to Poland squarely at the British.
        "Until October this year, the repatriation, which was entirely in British hands was being constantly delayed, in spite of the continuous flow of soldiers wishing to return and many interventions made by the Polish Government." [17]

The Foreign Office took great offence at these words, Hankey describing them as "Shocking". The Poles had written that they had even begun to work on Sundays to screen Polish troops while it was known to the British that this was no longer the case.
        By the end of November mutual feelings were hitting a definite low; tempers at the Foreign Office were beginning to fray. The acrimony came to a head with a letter from the Polish (Warsaw) chargé d'affaires, K. Lapter, on the 30th of November, 1946, in which he complained that Polish volunteers for repatriation were being used as forced labour to collect the harvest in England, and on the work of de-mining British beaches. The protest went on that only German POWs were required to work - the Poles should be paid for their work, like UK workers. There was a protest that only volunteers for repatriation were required to work and this was discrimination. The fact that the Poles in question were working must, according to Lapter, be having an effect on the rate of repatriation: there were many thousands of Poles who wanted to return to Poland yet there were only 2,000 a month returning.
        Hankey's file minute was short and to the point:

        "Let's tell him he can't have it both ways. He objects to the Polish army existing and doing military training. It is illogical for him to object to their doing civilian work." [18]

Lt. Col. Fitzgeorge-Balfour from the War Office wrote to the Foreign Office in support.

        "To my mind his assertion amounts to a not very well veiled insult in that he virtually accuses you of stating a falsehood. It is absurd for him to say that the rate of 2,000 a month is due to harvest work and the kindest thing to do is to believe that he is acting on instructions to make trouble on every possible point." [19]

It did not end there. Dr Przewanski, the Consul General, sent a letter to Hankey again complaining that the British were holding up repatriation; a group from Cumnock Camp in Scotland who had volunteered had, apparently, been left out completely. Hankey's anger and frustration are evident in the draft of a letter to the Consul:
        "I must say I resent the numerous unpleasant insinuations in your letter and I must reject them all herewith. I do not see any point in raking up a lot of past episodes, but in view of what you say I feel obliged to point out that most of our present difficulties are due to the refusal, or inability, of your consulate to screen men in the camps as your own MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] said you would and as you did screen them in October, to say nothing of your failure to send screening teams when invited last May.
As for the men in Cumnock we have repeatedly told you of their discontent at the delay owing to your attitude about screening in camps. We shall, I understand, have to bring many of them to London for screening at your consulate at great expense to the taxpayer + much inconvenience to the railways. I do not know what would be said of this in Parliament if the facts became known. I should really like to settle these questions in co-operation with your Embassy + yourself, but quite frankly it is not easy and letters like yours make it no easier." [20]

Hancock of the FO pointed out to his chief, tactfully, that the letter was not very diplomatic. "They are swine," he minuted to Hankey, "but I'm not sure quarrelling with them does much good." Hankey was forced, "reluctantly", to agree to a toned down version being sent instead.
        The question of screening the Poles was definitely causing a backlog of repatriation, but the composition of the body in charge of repatriation did not help matters either. Warsaw's
original intention was to send General Karol Swierczewski to become Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces in the West and organise their return. This plan was unacceptable to the British: the Poles in London would certainly not accept a Communist nominee as their head and the British had no intention of forcing the issue. General Izydor Modelski was sent instead as head of the Polish Mission. Swierczewski was subsequently killed by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army [UPA] in 1946.

        Modelski's arrival in London on the 15th October, 1945, was welcomed originally by the Foreign Office as a step in the right direction; the London Poles, not surprisingly, did not welcome him with open arms. Kuropieska's opinion of Modelski was that Warsaw had made a mistake in choosing him for the job that he had been sent. General Modelski was one of the handful of Polish Generals who had volunteered for repatriation and many of the exiled Poles considered this as close to desertion; in any case they would not take him seriously. Kuropieska asked the pertinent question:

        "What an idea. How could they send him here. Who is going to believe him and how is he going to convince any of these fine soldiers to return?" [21]

The Foreign Office largely backed up the Colonel's views. Although Modelski was a man of "moderate political opinions" he was "not particularly popular with the other Polish generals over here, who regard him as too 'political'" [22]
        Modelski's 'deputy' was of little use either. Colonel Grosz was sent to London to keep an eye on Modelski, possibly to see that his loyalty did not waver. The Foreign Office's W.D. Allen who wrote the above report on Modelski also commented there that Grosz was in fact a "Communist watchdog sent to keep an eye on General Modelski."
        The Military Mission had very little effect on the whole repatriation, publicly the aspirations of it and the British Government did converge. The British wanted as many Poles as possible to return to Poland and, apparently, so did the Warsaw Poles (although to how great an extent is dealt with in Chapter 5), yet the repatriation was still going slowly. The Communists blamed Britain and the London Poles and so pushed for command of the troops. Grosz is reported to have said to Stafford Cripps:
        "The Republic does not make pacts with its Generals it only gives them orders. If they do not want to listen and act in a systematic way that is against the good of their country and try to ensure that as few soldiers as possible return home then we will have nothing to do with them, and they do England a disservice too since you are also interested in as great a number of returnees as possible." [23]

According to the Military Mission, opting out of repatriation was a better way forward than opting in. In other words the Polish forces would be sent back to Poland unless they specifically objected. For the Poles in question this was not a happy solution, but worse than that, many feared that the British might decide to solve the whole problem by shipping them back against their will.
        British Government policy towards the Poles should be seen in a context that includes the policy towards the other foreign nationals that were in British hands at the end of the Second World War. As one Polish exile wrote:

        "Another threat which hung over our heads was the possibility of being sent back to Poland by force. Some of us were afraid of this horse-trade arrangement. Anything could happen in a nation governed only by self-interest. We did not know Britain's limit in selling us out to Soviet Russia. Different rumours were circulating from Germany, where all Ukrainians and Russians who had surrendered to the German Armed Forces and organised some anti-Communist units were being forcibly sent to Russia by the Allies. Some of those unfortunates were so-afraid of going back to their homeland that they committed suicide. Who could guarantee that the same thing would not happen to us? More important promises and principles had been broken in the last few years." [24]

The Poles in the West were fully aware of what the British and Americans were doing in forcibly repatriating those wanted both by Moscow and by the Tito regime in Yugoslavia. Such was the efficiency of the 'Oddzial 2', the Polish Intelligence service, commonly referred to at the time by the British as the 'Deuxieme Bureau' and by the Poles as the 'Dwojka', that very little happened in Italy without the Polish General Staff knowing about it. On the 28th of May, 1945, Col. Bakiewicz head of 2 Polcorps Intelligence ciphered the General Staff that the forced repatriation of Russians was resulting in "tragic scenes". To the Poles the British appeared to be completely indifferent to the fate of these unfortunate people. [25]
        Despite all appearances to the contrary, the British military establishment did not relish what was a most distasteful job. Whereas the Foreign Office decided that repatriation was the policy that had to be carried out it was the War Office which was charged with the task. Just as the Poles had a Military Mission in Italy, so too did the Soviet Government and in June of 1945 they requested of the SACMED, Field-Marshal Alexander, that he begin to repatriate Soviet Citizens. He in turn contacted the War Office for instructions:

        "Two. Soviet Mission have requested their transfer. This would require use of force including handcuffs and travel under escort in locked box cars.
        Three. We believe that the handing over of these individuals would almost certainly involve their death.
        Four. There are likely to be many more such cases.
        Five. Request your ruling earliest possible as how these personnel should be disposed of..." [26]

Alexander did his best to minimise the forced repatriation. It was impossible for him to stop the process, he was, after all, still a soldier and orders were orders. But it appears that he was prepared to go slowly and do as little as possible unless he was given a direct order by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff [CIGS], Field-Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, and he wrote to "Brookie" in that respect on the 20th August, 1945:

        "So far I have refused to use force to repatriate Soviet Citizens, although I suppose I am not strictly entitled to adopt this attitude - nevertheless, I shall continue with this policy unless I am ordered to do otherwise." [27]

The Foreign Office was at a loss to see why the forced repatriation was not going ahead at speed. Alexander maintained that he had not been ordered to use force while the FO had already sent instructions to the War Office. They complained to the Secretary of the Chiefs of Staff Committee:

        "No instructions however to this effect [the use of force] have been sent to Field-Marshal Alexander who has referred the matter to the Combined Chiefs of Staff, making it clear that he would be very reluctant to use force against Soviet women and Children." [28]

The Foreign Office knew very well what was happening. The War Office was fully aware what the policy on repatriation involved and they were deliberately slowing it down. What was even worse for the FO was that the War Office had withheld the order from Alexander. It was, in the words of John Galsworthy of the FO, "a matter in which they have behaved shabbily, to say the least." [29]
        If Alexander was willing to hold up the repatriation of Soviet citizens, it seems most unlikely that the Poles would have been sent back from Italy, the British would first have to disarm them and once it was known what was going on then the results would not have been pleasant.
        In the first American repatriation from a detention centre set up in the former concentration camp at Dachau there was a mass suicide. As the Americans moved in to send back the Russians on January 19th, 1946, 31 men tried to kill themselves - 11 managed. Nine men hanged themselves and two died from self-inflicted knife wounds. [30] The whole episode made its way into the US press and the public was shocked. Had the British attempted to repatriate the Poles, an ally, the public outcry would have been more than the Government could deal with. Anyone who advocated sending the Poles to Poland was in a no-win situation; if the British Army was ordered to repatriate the Poles in Italy, firstly they would probably have stalled for time, and secondly they would have had a fight on their hands - this could not be withheld from the public. If the Poles were sent to the UK and disarmed then it would have been easier to use force, but in Britain a Polish mutiny would certainly not have gone unnoticed by the public, so here too secrecy would be compromised. Since the whole question of forced repatriation was shrouded in secrecy the repatriation of the Poles by force was not really an option.
        Perhaps one of the strongest reasons why the Poles would not have been repatriated by force was a strong sense of mutual respect between the Polish and British military. The Poles saw in Alexander a good soldier who could be trusted, as one Polish soldier noted, and a comment subsequently removed by the Polish Base Censor Unit, "He is a soldier not a politician who can easily sell even a loyal friend." [31] The Field-Marshal was, according to Nicholas Bethell, sympathetic to those who opposed Communism.
        "Alexander had spent the year 1919, as a young officer, organising forces to resist the Bolsheviks in Poland and the Baltic States. It may well be that his sympathy for people who feared the revenge of the Soviet government stemmed from this period in his life." [32]

Some Generals could not accept that they had a role to play in trying to stop a reprehensible policy from being carried out. General Musson, who was the GOC Operation "Highjump" in which Croat POWs were returned to the hands of Tito to be exterminated, claimed a soldier's obedience:
        "I can't envisage a case where an officer would ever disobey an order. A soldier is an agent of government policy. He can't judge the rights and wrongs. He doesn't have enough information. He can represent his views, and we did this, we made it perfectly clear how ghastly the job was. But the ultimate decision must lie with the political leaders. I don't see how you can run an army or anything else if your soldiers refuse to carry out orders." [33]

Bethell is right to parallel such attitudes with the Nazis Jodl and Keitel who also claimed "soldier's obedience" at the Nuremburg Trials but were hanged regardless. Fortunately for many of these 'victims of Yalta' not all soldiers took this line.
        Denis Hills, a Major in charge of Operation "Keelhaul" soon realised that he had the power of life and death over his Russian charges, and he did everything possible to let as many as possible escape the Soviet net. As he wrote:

        "This incident illustrates the quandary in which the politicians who signed the Yalta repatriation terms had landed the British soldiers responsible for carrying them out, and the absurd power of a whim to decide a man's fate. [...]
To many of us who were on the spot, however, the Russian men and women, the refugees, prisoners and deserters we had to handle, were not names on a nominal roll, or War Crimes statistics. They were human beings, sometimes our batmen, cooks, orderlies and mechanics. This is what the higher authorities, who never set eyes on the men whose fates they were controlling from far away offices, ignored or did not sufficiently recognise." [34]

If the Communists could not get the British to hand over the Poles by force, they fell upon the idea of claiming them back under the Yalta terms - according to the Soviets any person born in Soviet territory was, by definition, a Soviet citizen. The problem for many of the Poles was that Polish Lwow and Polish Wilno, and all the land in between, were now Soviet Lithuanian Wilno and Soviet Ukrainian Lwow and the land in between was Soviet Byelorussia. By British definitions people from this area were 'disputed persons' who were to be given the choice whether to return or not, for the Soviets it was more clear cut - they would take everyone they could get their hands on even to the extent of kidnapping them.
        The case of Jan Rasimowicz was highlighted in an Intelligence cipher from Ancona in June, 1945. Originally he had been held as a POW in Klagenfurt with fifty other Poles when they were being transported to Italy by the British. Whilst in transit they were kidnapped by Soviet soldiers who were then about to send them on to Odessa. On the 18th of June, as the Taranto-Udine train was passing Ancona most of the Poles managed to escape: eight, however, did not. Urgent intervention was needed by the British to rescue these unfortunates. [35]
        On the 11th July, 1945, Gen. Anders wrote to SACMED:

        "a/ As previously reported by this HQ [...] a Soviet transport of Ex P[O]W, passing by rail through ANCONA on 19 June, containing about 50 Polish citizens who were pressed into this transport against their will and in spite of their protests.
        b/ Many Polish citizens are also being held in Soviet Camps against their will. They have endeavoured to escape by every means, sometimes at the risk of their lives. A list of Poles who have already escaped from Soviet camps can be submitted on condition that it will not be passed to the Soviet Representatives, in order to avoid reprisals against their families in Poland.
In the past, incidents have occurred in which Soviet officers were apprehended and detained in the area of 2 Polish Corps and were subsequently handed over for disposal to HQ Eighth Army. These incidents were, at the time, reported, since the officers concerned were engaged in illegal activities contrary to the interests of Polish Corps." [36]

        The campaign of mutual vilification between the Poles and the Soviets was taken up by the Soviet General Vassiliev, who protested to Alexander on the 3rd of August, 1945, with the accusation that Polish soldiers had insulted Soviet officers, and with the less convincing claim that Soviet citizens had been conscripted into 2 Polcorps at gun point:

        "I do not see what measures the British military authorities in Italy intended to take for safeguarding Soviet citizens from coercion and ill treatment at the hands of militarists, nor if anything has already been done to liberate all the Soviet citizens compulsorily embodied in Anders' Army, and hand them over to the Soviet Military authorities." [37]

A copy of this protest was passed to Anders. Yet the matter did not end there. According to the Soviet authorities there were some 30,000 "Soviet citizens" in the Polish Corps in Italy, and Moscow was not giving up its claim to them. On the 18th of August a meeting was held at SACMED HQ, Casserta, where the claim was again put to Alexander. The confidential minutes of the meeting run:

        "Referring to Major General Basilov's request for Russian officers to visit Polish units, Field-Marshal Alexander stated that it must be clearly understood that the Poles were Allies. Their forces formed a Corps, which had fought exceedingly well in the armies under his Command. They must, therefore, be treated exactly as any other Allies were. He would not dream of ordering an Allied Corps under his command to submit to inspection by officers of another nationality. That was not the way he was in the habit of exercising his supreme command. If General Anders should invite Russian officers to visit the Polish Corps, then Field-Marshal Alexander would have no objection whatever. It would, however, be most improper for him to order General Anders to receive such officers uninvited, and he was most surprised that Major General Basilov had requested him to do such a thing." [38]

It was, as Alexander wrote to the CIGS "Brookie" in his letter of the 20th August, a "...damned cheek and I told him so in different words." [39] Yet the Soviet claims to certain Poles were not confined to Italy.
        General Thorpe, GOC Allied Land Forces Norway, protested to General Ratov, Head of the Soviet Repatriation Mission there, about the abduction of a Pole called Protasewycz, on the 6th July, 1945. Ratov's reply is typical of the line Moscow was taking on 'disputed persons'.

        "Nevertheless, if you assert that citizen Protasewitch [sic] has already gone to his Homeland, this has evidently occurred through his own free wish, especially since you yourself assert that Protasewitch is a resident of Vilno. On this ground, he is a Soviet citizen and therefore I, for my part, do not see the reason for your objection which, in the given instance, is groundless." [40]

As the unsigned comment on the Foreign Office file put it: "I think we can only 'mark this up' against General Ratov". This was, however, little comfort for 'citizen' Protasewycz.
        General Ratov's assertion that such people went to their 'homeland' of their own free will had a cruel and perverse truth to it. Tolstoy's 'Victims of Yalta' examines one Polish citizen who returned to Soviet territory under moral rather than physical pressure.
        "Later Olenicz, who was in tears, stated that the Russian officer who interrogated him was a member of the NKVD (Russian Secret Police), who reminded him that his family were living in Soviet territory. No threats were used and nothing out of place was said, but he knew what lay behind the Russian officer's words and was afraid of him and what might happen to his family. He therefore agreed to return to Russia as a Soviet subject, and although concerned as to what the future might hold for him, was prepared to stand by his decision". [41]

        Even when the Poles had reached Britain the Soviet authorities still pursued them. In February, 1947, the Soviet Embassy still claimed 609 men in the PRC as Soviet citizens. The British Advisory Staff PRC wrote to HQ PRC to ask for the pre-war addresses. The Polish response was : "It is to be pointed out that all these men resided on Polish pre-war territory." [42]
        There were, of course, Poles who were prepared to be returned to what was then the Soviet Union. When the Americans invaded Algeria in 1942 they took over a camp at Djebel Oulad Nail in the Atlas Mountains that had been run by Petain's Vichy administration. In the camp there were 300 Poles living in rather difficult conditions. When the Poles were handed over to the Polish Consul in Algeria he refused to have anything to do with the men - the soldiers had served in the Spanish Civil War as part of the 'Dabrowski Legion' and the Polish Government deprived the men of their citizenship in 1938; this had been in the Polish constitution as the punishment for any Pole who served in a foreign armed force. Since the Poles refused to do anything for this Algerian group so the Soviet Military Mission stepped in to ensure the men's release. In June, 1943, the group left for the Soviet Union. [43]
        In the Polish Armed Forces in the West there were many 'Poles' who were in fact Soviet citizens. The Soviet Embassy complained bitterly in April, 1946, that the British were trying to hold up the repatriation of these 'Soviet citizens'. The Home Office Aliens Dept. declared that this was far from the truth:
        "On the question of putting a brake on a too generous issue of the Soviet passports to members of the Polish Forces, our view is too many cannot be given..." [44]

The Foreign Office had no reason not to comply with requests for voluntary repatriation but they were also anxious to absolve themselves from allegations of forcing these people to leave, so it ordered that any person who wanted to go to the Soviet Union would have to sign a document to that effect. This move brought an angry response from the Soviets. Hankey minuted his concerns:

        "The question we have to answer is "why do you make men who wish to go to Russia sign an application while applicants for Poland apply orally" - The real reason is of course that we must protect ourselves against someone accusing us afterwards of sending Poles to Russia against their will. We however don't want to make repatriation to Poland any harder." [45]

Many soldiers had brought all manner of trouble on themselves by signing documents given to them by foreign governments and so refused to sign the British ones, however, they still expressed the desire to go to the USSR. The Soviet Embassy complained of victimisation by the British so the Foreign Office tried to calm things down by saying that if the Soviets themselves forwarded letters from these Polish soldiers that would be acceptable.
        The original plan was to send the 'Soviet' transport to Poland and for them to go on from there. This brought another protest from the Soviet Embassy and so much fuss was made that an alternative routes had to be found.
        The first transport to the Soviet Union was due to depart on the 27th June, 1947. Of the 130 men who were scheduled to go only 46 actually turned up on the day.

46 Handed Over
33 Refused at the last minute in protest over gratuities
2 Arrived too late for the transport
7 Repatriated to Poland
5 Changed their minds
37 Remained unaccounted for
130 [46]

The second transport took 35 of these missing and they left on the 11th July. The third transport on the 29th July developed into a fiasco. The soldiers were put on ships at Dover to sail to France only to be turned back at Calais due to an administrative error by the Soviet Embassy. The Foreign Office had left it to the Soviet side to organise visas and passports for France but they had forgotten and the French would not let the troops land. The soldiers were brought back to Dover to sit in a camp there but unfortunately for the plan the French closed their military transit route and so these soldiers had to be moved via Poland after all. Hancock of the FO, on hearing the episode, minuted: "Rather funny I call this. Ha Ha". [47]
        As well as the volunteers, the Soviets also had strong claims on certain other "Poles". Denis Hills writes of the Halychyna (Galicia) Division that was formed in Lwow in 1943 from Ukrainians. The Anders Poles would have nothing to with these people as they were not Poles. At the same time they refused to return to the Ukraine, their fate as 'Traitors to the Soviet Union' could easily be imagined, so Hills, as repatriation officer, classified them all as Polish Citizens from Polish Galicia. In that way, as Hills himself confesses, Ukrainians and Soviet Citizens, war-criminals among them, all went free. Such was the unwillingness of some British Officers to forcibly repatriate people. [48]
        Some Ukrainians did not take the more pragmatic approach of others, and did not hold to the idea that it was better to live as a 'Pole' than to die in a Soviet labour camp. The War Office, on the 5th March, 1945, wrote to W.D. Allen of the FO regarding a group of some 200 Ukrainians they were holding as POWs. They had been offered the chance of joining the Poles but had refused as they did not consider themselves as Polish nationals but as independent Ukrainians. The end result was that they would continue to be held as prisoners with repatriation the end result. [49]
The treatment of Balts was also a cause of many arguments between London and Moscow. Like the eastern Poles the Balts were "disputed". While Moscow claimed all citizens of the pre-war Baltic Republics as their own, from British and US perspectives they had to be given the choice to return home or not. Many senior Allied commanders took this upon themselves. The 15th 'Latvian' SS Division "melted away" after having been warned by Army HQ in Germany. The Latvians 'acquired' civilian clothes and papers and moved into "Displaced Persons" [DP] camps in the East Friesland area. Here too, war-criminals were to escape justice. [50]
        It was easier for the British Departments of State to decide what not to do with the Balts, what was more difficult to decide was how best to dispose of them. In a letter to the Control Commission for Germany, October 27th, 1945, the War Office put forward its view on the Balts: Because HMG did not recognise the Soviet annexation of the Baltic Republics it subsequently did not recognise the people there as Soviet citizens and even if it did recognise it "...the citizens of those states would not be regarded as repatriable." [51] The War Office wanted the Balts to go to Germany to be disposed of as DPs. The Control Commission responded by saying they could not take any more DPs as the camps were full to bursting. Yet the Soviet insistence that all Balts should be repatriated met with official opposition that was unknown in the case of the Yugoslav anti-Titoists, the Ukrainians and the Vlassov Russians. In Denmark there were some 1,000 Balts and in Finland the British were concerned for 37 of them and in a magnanimous gesture the Foreign Office declared that it was ready to accept all the Balts in the UK rather than see them handed over to the Soviets. [52]
        Of the other Allied nations whose wartime history bears any relevance to the Poles, the Czechs must come high on the list. Like the Poles, the Czechs were expected to return home after the war. As the Home Secretary, Chuter Ede, explained to the Commons :

        "The general arrangement as regards members of the Czech Armed Forces is that they will be repatriated to their own country. There are, however, certain cases where there are special grounds for allowing individuals to remain for the present in this country...." [53]

What this meant in reality was explained in a FO minute of February, 1946, whereby a Czech soldier could make an individual application to his HQ to stay in Britain. If this was rejected he would be expected to return to Czechoslovakia, however, no compulsion would be applied if he refused. [54]
        Such was the nature of anti-Anders propaganda that emerged after the war that the allegations that the Polish Army was the enslaver of peoples was taken seriously. Max Steinberg, the Secretary of the US Trade Union Committee for Jewish Unity, sent a telegram to the British Government on the 26th March, 1946:
        "We are receiving numerous complaints to effect that Jews are being detained against their will in Polish Army commanded by General Anders. Relatives and Friends of these Jewish soldiers who are ready to assist them settle in countries of their choice are prevented from doing so. This monstrous situation adds insult and injury to Jewish people everywhere. The fascist anti-Semitic character of Anders Army too well known to warrant elaboration. Forcible detention of Jews in this army is the more reprehensible because they are being made the instrument of their own destruction. This is comparable to hideous practices of Nazi beasts who forced Jews to dig own graves before dispatching them. In view of acknowledged financial support British Labour Government is giving this fascist Polish Army you bear a major responsibility for this deplorable situation. In name of thousands of American Jewish workers we ask you to immediately correct this grave injustice and to liberate these Jewish soldiers." [55]

The Foreign Office did not take such agitation seriously but was still obliged to refute the allegation by replying that the Jews in the Polish Armed Forces were not being kept as prisoners but demobilisation had not, at that time, begun. When the Polish Forces were wound down the Jews would, according to the FO, be treated the same as the Poles.
        One of the major problems that the British saw in their dealings with the Poles was the fear that the Poles might withdraw from the front line. In the overall grand strategy the effect of a Polish pull-out would not have been dire but politically the fall-out would have been serious. The muttering of the rank-and-file were picked up by the British liaison officers who reported to the War Office about a possible mutiny. General Beaumont-Nesbitt from AFHQ Liaison Section reported to the War Office in December, 1944:

        "It is not desired in this report to present an exaggerated picture, for outwardly there is little indication of any very serious loss of morale so far, but it must be stated that if the present political uncertainty continues regarding the ultimate policy which Great Britain will adopt towards Poland, the fighting efficiency of the Corps is liable to deteriorate. [...]

        "Finally in this connection I must state, with all the force at my command, that I am convinced that, if the British Govt was to recognise the LUBLIN Govt, this Corps will cease fighting within 24 hours of the publication of the news, or even less." [56]

        Things did not get any better from a British perspective. The Yalta agreement in February of 1945 was seen by the Poles in the West as a 'sell out'. It appears that Anders' reaction to the Crimea Conference was to threaten to pull his soldiers out of the line, as an AFHQ report to Alexander from the 15th February, 1945, explains:

        "Polish Situation: No catastrophic developments reported. McCreery [GOC 8th Army] had three hour interview with Anders this morning. He wished to withdraw his troops from the line but McCreery refused to agree pointing out that he had nothing with which to relieve them and that it was vital in their own best interests apart from any other factors that Poles should continue to participate fully in war against Germany. McCreery is satisfied that military aspect of situation is reasonably satisfactory but reports Anders himself desperately dejected and apparently without hope for future." [57]

Field-Marshal Alexander was of the opinion that given their strength of feeling it was probably best not to push the Poles too far. In his reply to the AFHQ cipher he wrote:

        "I do NOT think we need have any fear that his Polish troops will NOT do their duty but in their present frame of mind I would NOT ask them to carry out any operation which would require great effort or loss of life. The only advice I could usefully give Anders is to remain calm and await events. Although this is NOT in his nature I think he will follow this advice." [58]

The Polish military cemetery near Bologna bears witness to the fact that the Poles were asked to carry on the fight in Italy. The final assault on Bologna, from the 9th to the 21st of April, 1945, cost 300 Polish lives with at least 50 being killed in a 'friendly fire' incident as a wave of Liberator bombers emptied their loads on Polish positions.
        The obvious question that is now asked is: why did the Poles continue to fight? Given what the Poles knew at the time and given their feeling of general betrayal what drove the Poles forward to further sacrifice? The question is not an academic one as at the time the Polish troops were in fact asking themselves that very same question. Although most soldiers, at some time, ask themselves the perennial question: "why am I here?", there is usually some rationale that can be used to justify military action. After Yalta the Poles found it increasingly difficult to find such motivation.
        Ever aware of the need for security, the British had issued new "Guidelines for Censorship" in October of 1944:

11 4(m) Negative Criticism Derogatory opinions, criticism or statements likely to have a detrimental effect on individuals, units or the whole Polish Army or Allied troops.

(n) Reports of atrocities unless officially released. [59]

The Chief Polish Base Censor would send AFHQ a fortnightly report of excisions he had made to Forces letters, the short extracts remain some of the best indications as to what the Polish soldier was thinking at the time, and to the bitterness that most felt.

12th-27th August, 1944. Officer:

        "We are fighting for "Yours and our freedom". But now I think rather only for yours."

27th July-12th August, 1944. Sergeant:

        "I can say only that the Polish blood is very cheap because it's soaking the soil all over the world and probably not for our freedom."

27th July-12th August, 1944. Cadet Officer:

        "If you have heard the latest radio news you will know that the future of my country is not clear. I don't know who we are fighting for and bleeding here? Nobody is going to do anything for us but in 1940 the British Prime Minister told that our land must be the same as before the war. We are trusting very much to every word he had said. And now...."

Yalta, described by the Poles as "the grave of our hopes" only highlighted how hopeless the Polish position was:

12th-27th February, 1945. Officer:

        "When this morning we heard the news about the statement from the Big Three meeting we got deadly silent. Up to now I was one of the most trusting Pole in your policy which now I can call only as the policy of an ostrich hiding its head into the sand. You can think about our 'small' and 'too proud' nation as you like, that we are politically narrow-minded, stupid in a way, naughty, or obstinate, but you can't treat us worse than you treat countries which didn't put up any effort at all to help you against Germany. We sacrificed most of all countries - more than you even. We trusted you so much, and what have we got. Our biggest friend let us go down. That is darling my accusation. How I wish I was wrong but I can't see it."

Even more depressing to the Poles was not the question of the future but rather if the past suffering had achieved anything at all or had it been one, almighty, waste. Further to this there was the hope, more a case of optimism over realism, that someone would preserve 'natural justice'.
12th-27th January, 1945. Officer:

        "Sometimes we ask even each other what are we fighting for? And more and more we can't find a proper answer.

...but don't think please that I'm a pessimist, not at all, in my heart of hearts I do believe that the better part of the world won't permit so that something with the ending on "ism" will rule over the world. Don't you think so?" [60]

        Jan Podoski, who spent the war among the British and had had any idealism and hope for the future removed in the cold of the British climate, put forward the idea that such hopeless optimism was almost virtually confined to the Poles in Italy and the Middle East. When General Klemens Rudnicki, the 'Liberator of Bologna', was made GOC 1st (Polish) Armoured Division in Germany the first thing Podoski noticed was Rudnicki's different attitude. Unlike the rest of his men the new CO was an idealist. Rudnicki was convinced that Poland would have to be reborn as a full and independent country. "The great sacrifices which we have made surely will not be allowed to go to waste." Podoski's cynical response was: "why not?" In the end Rudnicki was right, but as Podoski admits, he had to wait nearly half a century for it to come about. [61]

        Yet the censor continued to extract protests from Polish letters, a fact that made a bad situation seem worse, as one Polish Officer wrote:

12th-27th February, 1945. Officer:

        "Never, never congratulate our people of Warsaw and Poland being 'liberated'. This sounds like the most cruel irony and is deeply resented by every Pole. You could speak about a lamb being liberated from a bear by a tiger. A day will come when most if not all of the British people I like and love so much, will understand full meaning of what I am saying - including the censor who is probably wondering if he has to cut out certain sentences of this letter or destroy it as a whole. Don't do it, it is not propaganda - it is truth and remember that the only countries where we Poles can express our thoughts and feelings are your great democracies Great Britain and United States. If you order us to close our mouths - I ask you - what are we fighting for ?" [62]

The natural extension to this line of thinking was to stop fighting. As with all the armies there were sporadic desertions from the Polish ranks, but on the whole the fighting unity was maintained. This did not stop the Polish Government from feeling that it had to appeal to its troops for calm and co-operation with the Allies. Directly after Yalta the Polish Government issued the following:

         "In view of the heavy blow which the Polish cause has suffered - the Polish Government realising the worries and disquiet pervading the Polish Forces - appeals to its commanders and soldiers for further carrying out of duty, retaining peace, dignity and solidarity as well as maintaining brotherhood in arms with soldiers of Forces of Great Britain, Canada, United States and France, with whom they have been tied by bloodshed in common battles.
        The esteem and friendship for Poland, grown during service full of sacrifice by the Polish Armed Forces among free peoples of the West, are still in possession of the Polish Republic, which her soldiers must retain and multiply." [63]

        If Sikorski represented this esteem and friendship for Poland until his death in 1943, then Anders was the man most people associated with Poland at the end of the war. Attitudes to him largely depended on political grounds. To the British political right wing and to the military establishment he was a soldier whose record commanded respect; to the left he was an avid anti-Communist who had been labelled a fascist by Moscow, and the label had stuck to him in British eyes. Churchill, for one, had some respect for Anders and on the 31st May, 1945, he sent a memo to both the Foreign Office and War Office requesting some decoration for him:

        "This gallant man has long fought with us. I am not prepared to allow our distribution of military honours to be overshadowed by Bolshevik prejudices. I should propose that General Anders should receive a decoration for his long fighting services." [64]

For Anders this was not to be. On June 15th Parliament was dissolved for the General Election, an election that Churchill lost. The new Labour administration was less well disposed to Anders and any idea of further honours died a swift death. To be honest, Anders did not help his own cause with an endless stream of anti-Soviet Orders of the Day and speeches that were guaranteed to irritate British Government circles, and in particular the Foreign Office.

        Anders' Order of the Day for July 6th, 1945, was written just after the British and US Governments had switched their recognition from the London Poles to Warsaw. Not surprisingly the text is a bitter attack on Allied policy and echoes the then current Polish feeling that their sacrifice should not be allowed to go in vain:

        "Men - I am turning to you at a period of extreme difficulty and of far-reaching importance. The Governments of the Western Powers have decided to recognise the so-called Provisional Government of National Unity imposed on Poland by her occupation and thus to withdraw recognition from the legal Government of the Polish Republic in London. [...]
        The World Powers by-pass our constitution and our lawful authorities, and in accepting the present circumstances, they have agreed to the fait accomplis created with regard to Poland and the Poles by a foreign force.
        Men, at this moment we are the only part of the Polish Nation which is able, and has the duty, loudly to voice its will, and just for this reason we must prove today by word and by deed that we are faithful to our oath of allegiance, true to our citizen's duty towards our country, and faithful to the last wish of our fallen comrades in arms, who fought and died for an independent, sovereign and truly free Poland. [...]
        Our country, deprived of the rights of speech, looks towards us. It wishes to see us in the land of our ancestors - to that end we are striving and longing from the bottom of our hearts - but it does not want to see us as slaves of a foreign force: It wants to see us with our banners flying as forerunners of true freedom.
        As such a return is impossible today, we must wait in closed and disciplined ranks for a favourable change of conditions. This change must come, or otherwise all the terrible and bloody sacrifices of the whole world, suffered throughout six years, will have been in vain. It is impossible to imagine that humanity has suddenly become blind and has really lost the consciousness of a mortal danger. [...]
        We will fulfil our duty towards our country and its lawful authorities!
        Long live the glorious republic of Poland!" [65]

The British reaction to Anders' words was one of shock and horror. Sir Orme Sargent of the FO described it as "lamentable", but later toned down his assessment to "not at all suitable". The War Office laid out its objections in a cipher to all Commands:

        " was a most unsuitable declaration to have been made by General under British High Command.
2. Order contained:
a/ direct and almost insulting criticism HMG's policy;
b/ mischievous propaganda in conflict with our guiding principles approved by Prime Minister namely that we should do our best to ensure that individual Poles have proper chance of opting for return to Poland;
c/ description of either our Russian allies or Polish Government now recognised by HMG as enemies;
d/ Improper remarks on general situation in Poland." [66]

Something as profoundly damaging to British interests as this could not be kept quiet for long. To reassure Stalin, who was at Potsdam, or 'Terminal' as it was referred to in official circles, Churchill announced at the Second Plenary Meeting that "Disciplinary action w[oul]d be taken against this officer." [67] On the 25th of July, 1945, Anders received a letter from Alexander's Chief of Staff, W.D. Morgan, the terms of which were quite clear:

"1/         Field-Marshal Alexander reports from Potsdam that he has been approached on the highest level concerning an Order of the Day issued by you on 6 July, to which exception has been taken.
2/ In order to close the matter, Field-Marshal Alexander sought and obtained permission to deal with it himself on his return. He accordingly desires me to send you the following message:
"As a friend I most sincerely advise you not to repeat anything of this nature and as your Commander-in-Chief I must insist that, in future, all statements by you which might be politically controversial must be submitted to me for my approval first."
3/ Pending Field-Marshal Alexander's return, I ask you to ensure that nothing which might be politically controversial is issued without prior submission to, and approval by, this Headquarters.

Chief of Staff"

The British press, always keen for a scandal, picked up on the Anders affair, and "The Observer" ran a story about Anders' visit to AFHQ in Caserta, on the 13th of July, where Alexander was reported to have rebuked Anders for his Order. For the sake of unity Alexander informed the War Office that:
        "No (rpt no) rebuke was issued by Field Marshal Alexander at this or any other time and interview was most cordial." [69]

Anders was not alone in feeling that the end of the war was, for the Poles, not really the end of the struggle. As the Polish Base Censor's reports indicate, the Polish Forces could foresee that the West's honeymoon period with the 'Russian Ally' would not last. This did not, however, mitigate the feeling of emptiness and waste:

27th May-12th June, 1945. Cadet Officer:

        "When the loudspeakers announced the end of the war - I was not happy. I abstained with difficulty from the weeping. The weeping of an immeasurable pain. I am an old soldier. I took part in a number of battles. And I was happy that I was left alive. I did it because I was sure that it happened for my destination for a beautiful future and now? The end of the war indicates for me:- the certainty that I'll never more see my beautiful fatherland - the certainty that I'll never see my family and friends - the certainty that the ideas for which I fought about 6 years never have existed - the beginning of leading a homeless life. Bitter words. Bitter minds. But - can they be other?"

Or as another officer put it:

        "In the time when the whole world rejoices at the end of the war, we Poles are sad. We pray for the second war, which will bring the real liberty for us and our country."

This was a particularly worrying aspect of the Polish problem. The British Government had on its hands several tens of thousands of very bitter troops waiting for an excuse to fight the Communists. To quote one sergeant:
        "Oh! My Dear, the war is finished, but not for us! We are further soldiers and we are expecting a moment when we will go back to Poland with weapons in our hands." [70]

Although the British did not expect a spontaneous rising by the Polish Forces, there was a worry about the more radical officers inciting revolt. Brigadier Frith of HQ 26 British Liaison Unit forwarded new guidelines to HQ 2 Polcorps entitled "Press Interviews - Instructions to Commanders" in which it was forbidden to openly discuss certain topics:

"3c - Political matters of any kind which may involve higher policy.
d - Matters of policy outside the jurisdiction of the Command.

4 - Statements by Senior Officers

        A summary of the text of all statements (verbal, written or broadcast) which are to be attributed to Senior Officers by name, by appointment or by implication, will be submitted for prior approval." [71]

Although it was the Brigadier's intention to control Anders' brand of anti-Communist propaganda the effect was largely unsuccessful.
        The Polish Chiefs of Staff, Anders, Kopanski, Swirski and Izycki, sent a letter to the British Government on the 25th May, 1946, saying that it was in Britain's own interest to keep the Polish Armed Forces to safeguard the future. The Poles protested at the plans to demobilise their forces. According to Anders' ADC this letter was by way of a final protest, 'for the record' as it were. After this Capt. Lubomirski told Hankey of the FO that the Poles would quietly co-operate with British plans. [72]
        Anders was still determined to get his message across to anyone who would listen. His Order of the Day for the 29th May, 1946, was another text guaranteed to incite the wrath of the British political establishment.

        "We are marching from Italy through British lands, and tomorrow, by a road which is still unknown, to the true Poland for which we have fought and which no Polish heart can picture without Lwów and Wilno. We shall not depart from this road which is our historical road. Our service is not ending. Our march is towards Poland, free, whole and independent."

        To Polish ears this was just what they wanted to hear, defiant words that harked back to another time when Poles fought in Italy under General Dabrowski 'for Poland' and Napoleon. From the British perspective just the opposite was true. Hankey of the FO minuted that it was "Pretty bad + one sided statement. I'd hoped for better than this" and in a Cabinet minute...

"It was pointed out that these statements were likely to give offence to the Governments of Poland and the Soviet Union and might increase the difficulties of arranging for the disposal of these Polish forces." [73]

For the Foreign Office the course was clear. Anders had to go. The plan formulated was to replace him by General Tadeusz Kutrzeba (the spelling of whose name provided some difficulty for the clerks at the FO) as Kutrzeba was considered to be a non-political soldier who was then in a state of semi-retirement writing a military history. During the September Campaign in 1939 he had commanded the Poznan Army and taken part in the battle on the Bzura. He was also the officer who had signed General Blaskowitz's act of capitulation for Warsaw. After having spent the war as a POW in Germany he was released in May, 1945, and had made his way to London. Although he was acceptable to London and to the Warsaw Poles, to the troops on the ground he was a poor substitute for Anders.
        General Boruta-Spiechowicz, one of the handful of Generals who returned to Poland after the war, agreed with the British view, in highly secret talks on a return visit to London, that Kutrzeba was the best candidate to replace Anders. As the minutes of the meeting show:

        "Boruta saw Kusczeba [sic] in London and he (Boruta) is convinced that Kusczeba would be the only officer acceptable to both sides who could take command for repatriation purposes of the forces outside Poland in case at any time it is considered that command must be changed." [74]

In the list of possible candidates to fill Anders' shoes Boruta-Spiechowicz's name had also been mentioned in high places. Marshal Rola-Zymierski, Warsaw's Minister of Defence, had put the suggestion forward to the British in August of 1945. The War Office was painfully aware of what the effects of imposing a Warsaw appointee on the Polish Armed Forces would be. As with Colonel Sidor's Mission, the London Poles, who had little enough respect for Boruta-Spiechowicz for going back to Poland, would have had nothing to do with him as Commander. An AFHQ cipher to Field-Marshal Alexander on the 31st of August, shows that the military foresaw the worst:
        "We must handle this affair very firmly otherwise we shall have a disaster. To replace ANDERS by any nominee of the Warsaw Government will lead to mutiny. Anders is NOT only a well loved Commander but the trusted guide and mentor of his men whom he has brought out of Russian captivity and led through years of fighting ending in great victory. My advice is NOT to allow any intervention in Italy by representatives of the Warsaw Government. I have already segregated 12,000 Poles who wish to go back to Poland and as soon as I get authority I will arrange their return." [75]

Six months later Alexander's successor as SACMED, General Morgan, was coming to the same conclusions. As this Top Secret report to the Cabinet Offices concludes - Anders should stay:
        "The turn out of the Poles and discipline was of a very high standard. Poles were helping local Carabinieri to ensure a higher standard of law and order than in most of Italy.
iv/ There is a considerable volume of evidence from refugees - some Jewish - from Poland which gives fairly conclusive information that conditions in Poland for all except supporters of the existing Communist Government are deplorable and are deteriorating further.
vi/ As a result of my visit...I view with the gravest concern the certainty of serious trouble that will arise throughout the Corps if General Anders is arbitrarily removed from command or not permitted to rejoin the Corps after his visit to London." [76]

The last passage was highlighted in the Foreign Office and C.F.A. Warner noted: "Altho' Gen. Morgan may exaggerate Gen. Anders' qualities, we cannot altogether discount the last sentence of his tel.m".
        The prospect of mutiny was one that did not leave British policy makers. Even at Potsdam Churchill had to tell Stalin that "...we had to be careful about the Polish Army, for if the situation was mishandled there might be a mutiny." [77] Certainly while the Poles were carrying out occupation duties there was always the possibility of armed protest, and even when the Poles were in Britain for demobilisation the risk did not subside. General Lyne, the War Office Director of Staff Duties, wrote to Hill of the Aliens Dept.:
        "We have not in England at present nearly sufficient troops of the right type, and standing by, ready to deal with such a situation, if it was well organised." [78]

The agreed line was that 'prevention was better than cure' and conditions would have to be made that the Poles did not feel it necessary to rebel. In any case, in the event of "large scale disturbances" the War Office might have to bring back troops to the UK from 'Imperial policing' duties. It would not be possible to keep large numbers of troops in the UK mobilised for an eventuality that, hopefully, would never happen.
        But still the Warsaw regime kept insisting that the British hand over control of the Polish Armed Forces in the West and still the British had to keep refusing. The official policy of the British Government was ciphered by the Foreign Office to Cavendish-Bentinck, UK ambassador to Warsaw, on the 6th March, 1946.

        "They [the Polish Provisional Government] proposed that the Polish Armed Forces should be placed under the command of officers appointed from Warsaw and that they should then be returned to Poland in their existing units.
        3. It was impossible for His Majesty's Government both on practical and on moral grounds, to agree to the proposed transfer of command to officers appointed from Warsaw. The state of mind of the majority of the men described above made it certain that there would have been a breakdown of discipline and grave disorders if an attempt had been made to impose commanders appointed by Warsaw. There can be no doubt whatsoever that the majority of the officers and men would simply have refused to obey such officers." [79]

Yet if the Foreign Office expected Anders to maintain some discretion then they were to be disappointed. On the 15th of June, 1946, he issued what was to be known as his 'Oath'. Another call to his men to remain faithful to the cause and a, not very thinly disguised, attack on the post-war settlement was sure to vex the British, and indeed it did.
        "Our tradition which is a thousand years old binds us with the Western civilisation and we do not intend to be forced in to the Eastern system which is foreign to us and hostile towards us. We shall therefore, remain loyal to our Allies. We shall stick to them even if they do not at the moment see eye to eye with us, as we believe that the true liberty of nations and men will be achieved through the triumph of truth over falsehood and of Christian Culture over barbarism." [80]

The reaction of the Warsaw regime was swift and angry. The BBC monitors picked up the Polish Press Agencies response:

        "Would the British Government allow any other military commander to announce his intention to fight with arms Allied Governments, members of the United Nations?
We are convinced that it would not do so. Why does the British Government allow Anders to make such declarations? Do they consider that this is a better way to encourage Polish soldiers to return home?" [81]

Other sections of Anders' text were even more belligerent:

        "According to the decision of our Allies with whom we fought side by side all the time for the common cause of freedom, the Independent Polish forces are to be demobilised.... Today the world understands that Poland is ruled by servile agents of Moscow.... We are deeply convinced that we were always loyal to our Allies at times most perilous for them. In spite of this, however, there were no Polish soldiers parading on V-Day. The Polish airmen, who were the only ones to be invited, refused to take part in the celebration as the Polish sailors and soldiers from Monte Cassino were absent.... As soldiers of the sovereign Polish Republic, who remain faithful to their oath, we vow before God, our colours and the graves of our comrades, that in unity with the aims of the whole nation, both in Poland and abroad, we shall continue our struggle for the liberty of Poland, regardless of the conditions in which we shall have to live and work" [82]

W.D. Allen of the FO minuted the file about the 'Oath':

        "This summary suffices to show that the statement is as bad as it could be... if anything were needed to damn the Resettlement Corps in their [Warsaw's] eyes this is it. We could tell the press that the statement was not authorised by the British Command. But I think we should have to ask Caserta before doing so and in any case such an announcement would provoke the further question (a) how is it that we have so little control over the Poles under our command and (b) what do we propose to do about this obvious indiscipline. The logical course would be to remove Gen. Anders from his command. But by doing do we should probably weaken rather than strengthen our control and make Gen. Morgan's task all the more difficult." [83]

The Head of the Northern Department minuted in the margin: "I agree... We haven't got to stand Anders much longer anyway."

         The War Office contacted General Morgan to find out what was going on in Italy. In a cipher from AFHQ to the War Office on the 25th of June, the SACMED explained that he was not consulted by Anders about the text. He had met Anders who had told him that he did not ask Morgan since Morgan would, undoubtedly, have refused permission and Anders did not want to put the onus on him. Morgan believed that this was an honest explanation. What was of greater concern was the idea that Anders was not the master of his house. Morgan's telegram continued:

        "The statement was presented to him [Anders] by the officers and men of the corps with a demand for ratification. He toned it down considerably but he is convinced that unless some statement had been made he was in danger of losing control of his corps." [84]

There had been murmurings of unrest from Anders' subordinates for some months and this only served to complicate the deliberations over Anders future. The Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin wrote to J.J. Lawson, Minister of War, back in January of 1946:

        "HM Embassy in Rome... have recently reported that General Anders himself is less extreme in his views than some of his senior staff officers, and have suggested that the latter might be capable of causing any amount of mischief in the General's absence. I think therefore that serious consideration should be given to recalling some of the most undesirable senior Polish officers in Italy at the same time as General Anders himself." [85]
The predicament of the British appeared to be such that they could not live with Anders and they could not live without him.
        Anders himself appears to have undergone periods of self-doubt. Like his troops Anders could not help thinking that all that had gone before had been a supreme waste of effort, and as the officer in command Anders had asked thousands of Poles to make sacrifices for little reward. The Resident Minister to AFHQ wrote of Anders:

        "General Anders is generally considered in Polish circles to be pro-British, even excessively so. [...] He has around him however several officers of Pilsudski's faction who have not failed to seize on any British "exposition" towards Polish Forces to urge the General to adopt a reactionary nationalistic policy. Only the General's loyalty to us and his personal control of his troops have prevented the spread of such anti-British tendencies in the Corps." [86]

Yet if Anders was 'pro-British' then the conflict of interests was gradually wearing him down. One of the Polish liaison officers to AFHQ, Major Gawronski, wrote a report for the British under the title "Atmosphere in Polcorps" on the 5th of June, 1946:

        "General Anders is in a most pathetic mood. He feels he has let down his men who have trusted him so blindly. He speaks with the highest admiration and gratitude of the sympathy and kindness he has met with everywhere in London and in AFHQ. He says he has met with nothing but friends who quite obviously are doing their best to give him decent treatment, but at the same time they fail to see that he has been let down on what is essential, and that owing to that he has - what is far worse - let down his own men. That is what hurts him most." [87]

The constant umbrage that was taken by the British Government over the attitude of the Poles in London and on military service overseas rather begs the question - what did they expect? The British had achieved their war aims; the Poles in the West had fulfilled non of theirs. By the end of the war Poland had not been liberated from foreign occupation, Poland had been robbed of her eastern territory and her allies in London and Washington had stood by and let it happen, they had signed the Yalta accord that made it 'legal' but what was worse was that the Poles were having their noses rubbed in it by expecting them to accept it without protest or criticism. To many in Britain Anders was a 'nationalist', a 'reactionary' and even a 'fascist'. The fact, however, was that Britain at Yalta had not signed away British territory but rather one more of those small European states about which the British confessed they knew so little.
        Perhaps what is more surprising about the Polish reaction to events was just how restrained they were. As Field-Marshal Alexander was leaving Italy for the last time Anders gave him a memorandum containing the main objections which grieved the Poles. In Anders' own words:
        "In this memorandum I called attention to the strong feeling of the average Polish soldier that, although he knew that he had done his duty well and loyally, he and his country had been wronged, and that conditions did not permit of his return to the free and independent Poland for which he had so steadfastly fought. [...] If the state of uncertainty continued, the Polish troops, whose patience was, after all, not limitless, might well get out of hand." [88]

Apparently Alexander's opinion on Anders' memorandum was that it was "True, sound and moderate" yet Anders never heard another anything else about it. His comments "...disappeared like a stone thrown into water."
        Anders was certainly not the only Polish commander whose outspoken criticism got him into trouble. The commander of the 14th Armoured Brigade, Colonel Bobinski, stationed in Egypt also wrote a hostile Order of the Day for the 7th of May, 1945:

        "Today all hostilities against the Germans in Europe have ceased. Our eternal Teutonic enemy has been defeated. [...] This is not (repeat not) the end of our efforts. Our country is occupied by the second enemy Soviet Russia to (? war) with whom we must further prepare ourselves. Do your best in order to become good Armoured soldiers in the least possible time. Poland suffers in captivity and awaits her liberation which can only be brought home by the Polish Soldiers." [89]

General Paget, the C-in-C Middle East Forces, wrote to Alexander as to whether Bobinski should be relieved of his command, but the SACMED replied on the 19th of May that a rebuke would be enough but, just to pre-empt a total collapse of morale, the Brigade was moved from Quassasin near the Suez Canal to El Amerya on the outskirts of Alexandria "for a change of climate and to improve the facilities for training." [90] - Alexandria also contained some of the more obvious facilities for bored troops to amuse themselves.
        The Poles were becoming a major problem for the British Authorities. The Cabinet, at its meeting on the 22nd of January, 1946, agreed that:
        "...the maintenance of these substantial Polish Forces under arms was a source of increasing political embarrassment to us in our relations with the Soviet Union and with Poland."

Above all the Government had to get from Warsaw:

        "...a precise statement of the conditions that would be offered to them on return; and he contemplated that this information should be included in a statement of our policy in respect of the future of the Polish Armed Forces, which would be drawn up for communication to all Polish troops under British command. This statement must also include information, which at this stage should be definitely discouraging, about the prospects for those not desiring to return to Poland."

The Government also had to explain "fully and frankly" to Anders and the Polish General Staff that they should not use their "great influence with their troops to prevent men returning to Poland". It was considered that it would probably be necessary to prevent them returning to Italy. Although the Home Secretary had no legal powers to prevent Anders leaving the UK:
        " was suggested that, without the exercise of any civil powers, military measures could be taken to secure that, as a soldier under British Command, he could not return to Italy."

The key line which the British were to take was that:

        " should be recognised now that we should be under a moral obligation to deal generously with them, even though it were not thought possible to grant them British nationality to the extent implied in the statement by the late Prime Minister on the 27th February, 1945." [91]

The statement mentioned here was the so-called 'pledge' by Churchill. It appeared that the new Labour administration was to follow the gist of what Churchill had announced although not the letter and so Operation "Keynote" was born. The idea was to distribute a copy of an appeal by Bevin to all the Polish Forces in the West in the hope that it would convince as many as possible to return to Poland. The Polish Armed Forces would be dissolved and the Poles had either to return to Poland or await some, as yet, unclear future at the hands of the British Government.
        Although the Foreign Office had largely given up the idea of removing Anders from his command, it was assumed that his attitude to the note would be unhelpful and so further steps would have to be taken in the event that this proved to be so. The Foreign Office minuted on the 4th March, 1946:
        "On the other hand it is probably unlikely that we shall find General Anders and the Commanders very co-operative. We shall be lucky if they adopt merely a neutral attitude and there is certainly a substantial risk that their attitude may be so uncooperative that we shall have to retain them in this country." [92]

So Anders was summoned to London on the 14th of March and the next day he and the senior Polish commanders met with Attlee and Bevin where the future was outlined in no uncertain terms. As Anders later freely admitted, he had little option but to go along with the plan dependent as he was on the largess and goodwill of London. He convinced the British that he would not use his influence to prevent the distribution of the appeal nor to hinder the

way for any Pole who wanted to be repatriated and thus was allowed to return to his troops.
        The whole operation, carried out by the War Office under strict secrecy, involved the transport of Bevin's note to all commands where Poles were stationed. The details for distribution were:

90,000 fly Naples Friday 8 March
10,000 fly Cairo Friday 8 March
30,000 fly Naples Saturday 9 March
5,000 fly Paris Sunday 10 March
25,000 fly Buckeburg Sunday 10 March
50,000 Train Edinburgh Sunday 10 March [93]

There were some 210,000 leaflets to be distributed to the Poles. What many Poles found the most disturbing was the British refusal to allow informed debate on the subject of repatriation. The War Office sent a Top Secret cipher to GHQ Central Mediterranean Forces on the 6th of March:
        "In view forthcoming announcement giving HMG's policy on return of Poles it is essential you ensure that no articles advising refusal to return to Poland or questioning bona fides of Warsaw Government terms should be allowed to appear in papers run by Polish Forces."

GHQ CMF in its return cipher to the War Office stated that censorship of Army newspapers had been stopped from September 1st, 1945, so articles could not, in fact, be refused. The War Office, full of helpful advice, returned the cipher to Italy saying:

        "These papers are regarded as official mouthpiece of 2 Polish Forces. At this stage some control is therefore essential. In UK control is exercised by making paper allotment only on condition that controversial political questions are avoided. Suggest you adopt same procedure." [94]

This did not affect any pro-Warsaw, pro-repatriation articles. Anything that got rid of the Poles was allowed; anything that encouraged to Poles not to return was frowned upon.
        Because 'Keynote' was such an important element of British Policy, and because the Government had told Warsaw that it was doing its utmost to get the Polish Forces to return to Poland, then the distribution had to go smoothly. No pretext was to be given for the Communists to turn around and say that the British were not really serious in their aim. Not only had Bevin's note to be given out to each and every Pole, but it had to be seen to be given out by Warsaw.
Since neither the War Office nor the Foreign Office has confidence in the good will of the Polish Forces in this matter so it would have to be supervised very carefully by the British. On the 3rd March the War Office ciphered General Paget, C-in-C MEF:
        "On date of issue a British officer will be present in all major Polish units in all theatres other than ITALY. In ITALY British supervision will be to greatest possible extent and must in any case be sufficient to ensure British evidence that statements were issued down to Polish rank and file." [95]

Although the Poles in question had nothing to do with the formulation of the note they were still expected to carry out the distribution, whether they liked it or not. As the cable from 2 Polcorps Quartermaster shows, the Poles were expected to be an instrument of their own demobilisation:

        "For the days 20 and 21/III arrange 5 translators to be at the disposal of 3 District. They will escort the British officers controlling the distribution of the declaration of the English and Warsaw Governments. They are to be equipped with field beds." [96]

        The British also made provision for the Polish Air Force and Navy to receive Bevin's appeal, but, as with the Army, mutiny could not be ruled out by the Poles. Once the Poles knew that they were to be disbanded as a military body there was a threat that they might scuttle their ships or take to the sea like a latter-day "Potemkin". The Admiralty contacted all commanders of naval bases used by the Poles on the 13th March, 1946:

"2.        Polish Ships are not repeat not to leave present British ports without express Admiralty authority. Polish ships in foreign ports are to be recalled.
2.[sic] No further ammunition is to be embarked and only stores necessary for current maintenance should be supplied." [97]

This was confirmed on the 22nd March, 1946 when a "Stand-Still Order" was issued to ensure the rapid distribution of pamphlets and to "keep ships manned by Polish personnel in close supervision by appropriate authorities" until evidence became available as to what the reactions to the pamphlet were likely to be.
        On March 20th, 1946, Operation "Keynote" swung into action and the text was delivered to the Polish Armed Forces. [The text of Bevin's address and that of the Warsaw Provisional Government is at Appendix XXXXX, including sections - highlighted - that were deleted from the text just prior to distribution] The reactions from the Poles were varied. Although there were sporadic refusals to accept the Bevin note, on the whole the British were very pleased with the distribution. An AFHQ Interim Report to General Morgan, who was visiting the War Office at the time, was quite positive in its appraisal:

        "Two. The distribution of the pamphlets to the entire rank and file of the Corps was completed without incident by evening 21 March. Most of it was completed by evening 20 March. The smooth accomplishment of this task reflect great credit on 2 Polcorps and upon British officers participating. It is evident that General Anders' orders were explicit and the Corps abided by the spirit as well as by letter of the orders. Individual Unit Commanders distributed statement to individual soldiers without comment or propaganda.
        Three. 2 Polcorps press has co-operated fully printing statement without editorial comment." [98]

But the report did say that further reaction might come about and a close watch would have to be kept. Colonel Tappin, Head of the AFHQ Liaison Section, noted that distribution was "...carried out without incident and in an atmosphere of calm efficiency..." and that was "...despite the strong dislike of the majority for political doctrines of the Polish Government." [99]
        It was not only the British who were keen to find out just what the reaction among Polish troops was. Polish Forces HQ in Ancona sent a cipher to the Head of 2 Polcorps Intelligence, Colonel Bakowicz, on the 21st of March to find out if attitudes had changed in ranks:

        "Please report by telegram, before 23/III, what impression has been made on the troops by the address of Minister Bevin and also how their moods are being affected in relation to this." [100]

If the initial reaction was one of calm, that is not to say that there were no problems. The Interim Report for General Morgan, cited above, also made several observations that the Poles were quick to pick up on.

"Four. Following general reaction apparent so far.

A- Personnel are perplexed that neither General Anders nor their Commanding Officers have issued clarifying statement. It seems then that this may affect the final decision of a large number.
B- Some confusion caused by fact that no date for decision indicated.
C- Personnel are suspicious because,
        1- Warsaw terms are neither signed nor dated.
        2- Bevin's statement is not dated and no title appears below his signature.
        3- Pamphlet is in bad Polish. [...]" [101]

        Another of the minor oversights with the text was its layout. It was presented as a four side pamphlet but only three and a half of the pages had printing on them, half of page four was left blank - an ideal space for angry Poles to write their ideas on what Bevin could do with his offer. The files of the PRO contain some of these returned pamphlets with opinions written on them, for example:

Major Boleslaw Glaser: "After you Sir. It is not truth. Do you know, maybe, what happened with my family."

2nd Lt. Dr. Leon Waldman: "I have been one time in Russia - that is sufficient."

Rifleman Franciszek Luszcz: "...I therefore beg you for protection abroad. I would rather die under a hedge in a democratic country than experience communistic luxury." [102]

As these comments began to arrive at the Foreign Office suspicions began to arise that there might be some form of Polish conspiracy to register this mass protest. One of the key pieces of evidence was that the same phrases began to crop up - "Asiatic" being the most common. Cadet Officer Edward Laniewski, for example, wrote:

        "I decided after reading above, to fight for our freedom and yours against Asiatic dominators of Europe. I can't come back to Poland in present conditions." [103]

Suspicions were confirmed at the FO when they received the reply of 2nd Lt Dr Roman Drozd which was a, not even thinly veiled, copy of Laniewski's. Even a cursory study of Polish letters to the Foreign Office demonstrates that there must have been some collusion and the similarity of these letters could not have been by chance.
        The Polish Press reaction was, on the whole, not as negative as the British had feared. In a report to its Embassy in Warsaw the Foreign Office concluded that although the "Polish Daily" has a few references to the Warsaw regime like "so-called Government" and "imposed on Poland by a foreign will" the reaction had been acceptable. As Hankey minuted in the margin of the report: "This is probably the best that could be expected - we shall continue to watch it." [104] The report in the "Polish Daily" was considered to be fair as it did not dissuade Poles from going back.
        The war-diaries of Polish units show that, officially, the reaction of the Poles was deemed as dignified and efficient - echoing the War Office view. The 14th Armoured Brigade records that

        "The soldiers of the Brigade, after making themselves familiar with the text of the pamphlet accepted it with calm and dignity" [105]

The HQ 3rd Carpathian Rifle Division was more precise:

        "In general the address was accepted without incident. The Brit. officers who were controlling whether the address would reach all the soldiers received a clear and unequivocal answer in that:
a/ The soldiers have no confidence or certainty in the guarantees of return or of personal security.
b/ The announced reprisals against soldiers formerly serving in the German Army may be applied quite arbitrarily.
c/ Every soldier is liable to action against him under the Polish Penal Code." [106]

Whereas the British tried there best to be reassuring and positive, if not a little vague, then the text that accompanied Bevin's from the Warsaw Provisional Government was decidedly unhelpful to the British cause. If the British wanted the Poles to go back to Poland, and this was also the stated aim of the Warsaw Poles, then to issue a statement which dwelt on the fact that some repatriates would, almost certainly, end up in prison was not best advised.
        Anders in the Polish version of his memoirs, a version not quite so tactfully edited as "An Army in Exile" for an English reading audience, puts down exactly what was wrong with the message in 'Keynote'.

        "The understanding between the British Government and the Provisional Government of National Unity in Warsaw, underlining the treatment for soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces returning to their country, in the first section dealt with a precise catalogue of repression and punishment which might be visited upon them. The second section gave some nebulous promise to treat them on an equal footing to all troops in the reborn Polish Army based on public declarations by Bierut and Zymierski, on the addresses of the Provisional Government and on Orders of the Day to celebrate various festivals. This understanding did not have the character of a mutually binding agreement between two governments and it was not signed by anyone. On the document that was given to me their was neither a date nor a place of signing." [107]

One of the other major criticisms made by the AFHQ Interim Report of the presentation of Bevin's declaration was: "Pamphlet is in bad Polish". Such was the secrecy involved in the preparation of the text, and in particular in its translation, and such was the mistrust in which the Poles were held that the Polish version, translated by an Englishman, came out in a most un-Polish Polish. This, of course, had a most negative effect of the troops:

         As a member of the Polish forces who has received a copy of the foreign secretary's appeal, may I suggest that more care might have been exercised in translating it into Polish? It contains at least 25 errors of grammar and syntax which do anything but sweeten a bitter pill. One would have expected the authority in charge to realise that the poor quality of the language in which a historical document is couched does not contribute to its intended effect.

L.R. Lewitter, Christ's College, Cambridge." [108]

Lewitter's letter to "The Times", March 25th, 1946, highlights the indignation many Poles felt at this lapse in organisation. The poor language, per se, was not the problem. Jerzy Potocki writes that the bad Polish made the Poles feel that if the His Majesty's Government had neglected such an easily remedied fault as the translation of a note then how could they have confidence in the British to stand by them over the more difficult question of repatriation. [109]
        Even Kuropieska, Warsaw's military attaché, agreed that the language of Bevin's text was "monstrous" [Potworna]. But worse than that it did not create a favourable impression on Poles all round. For reasons already mentioned it hurt the exiles but it also offended the Poles in Warsaw who were galled at Bevin's presumptuous nerve at guaranteeing things outside his bailiwick. [110] Warsaw Radio, on the 21st March, broadcast the view of the Communists:

        "Minister Bevin's attitude, as defined by these words, is misrepresenting the truth. Neither the Yalta nor the Potsdam decisions entitle Britain or any other power to interfere in internal Polish matters....
        We are sorry, but we will pay no attention to the magnanimous and enigmatic gestures of the British Foreign Minister." [111]

        The Polish Armed Forces refused to take 'Keynote' seriously. Certainly some Poles were tempted to go back at that point - most were not.

        Professor Kot, the old 'ruffian' complained in Rome that the Polish troops were not getting the message. Perhaps Bevin had been overly vague with regards to the future. On the 14th May, 1946 he contacted the Foreign Office via Rome:

        "From a number of conversations with officers and men of second Polish corps I have gained the impression that Mr Bevin's declaration was received by them as a first step towards a solution and that they still expect to be asked a direct question and to fill up and sign some kind of individual question form to be distributed by the British Military authorities." [112]

        Bevin's appeal to the Polish troops' sense of honour, historical tradition and patriotic duty were clearly not enough to get the Poles to leave. There was widespread resentment at Bevin's effrontery at telling the troops what was in Poland's best interest and it was apparent that there would be no mass exodus to Poland. If nothing else worked then bribery was one idea that was still open.
        On the 19th February Cavendish-Bentinck in Warsaw had put one idea to the Foreign Office which he considered might be worth investigating:

        "... a large gratuity might prove a potent incentive to many to return, and it may be cheaper in the long run to pay these gratuities than to have to maintain the Poles or provide for their future." [113]

This was not a new concept as LaGuardia, when he became the Head of UNRRA, tried to reduce the chronic problem of European refugees and Displaced Persons in Germany by offering sixty days rations for any Polish DP who returned to Poland. While most did not avail themselves of the offer; many did. [114] Although it was an idea in embryo the British did not attempt to pay the Poles to return to Poland. They preferred to concentrate on encouragement and appeal while at the same time being deliberately vague about the options.
        At the 6th meeting of the Polish Armed Forces Committee on January 4th, 1946, where discussions were held as to what to put into Bevin's address, Cavendish-Bentinck...

        "...said that members of the Polish Armed Forces and their families in Poland entertained unduly optimistic ideas about what His Majesty's Government was prepared to do for them if they did not go back. It was necessary to correct this. The statement should therefore be in a frank and discouraging tone. The men would in fact be presented with a choice of evils."

The minutes of the meeting go on to elaborate just how this "choice of evils" was to be put into practice for the Poles.
"i/It should make clear the restricted scope of the Home Secretary's offer to accept in the United Kingdom the relations of aliens established here.
ii/It should present His Majesty's Government's interpretation of Mr. Winston Churchill's "Pledge" to the Poles.
iii/It should elaborate His Majesty's Government's policy towards Poles who elected to remain behind indicating the possibility that they might be able to expect no better treatment than that accorded to stateless persons." [115]

The original draft of the minutes included the phrase that the Poles would be "...treated as displaced persons" but this was later amended.
        The Government put off for as long as possible any discussion on what it was going to do for the Poles so as not to give the wrong impression. As Bevin, quoted in "The Times" of the 21st March, 1946, explained to the House of Commons:

        "I would like all hon. members not to encourage members of the Polish forces to decline to go back. (Cheers) I feel that these magnificent troops will be such an asset to Poland in her political and industrial reconstruction that if too much emphasis is placed on what we will do a wrong impression may be caused. We are very anxious, extremely anxious, that the Polish will return to their own country." [116]

        The British were hampered in their planning by a great deal of uncertainty of just how many Poles they would have to be dealing with. Although they had hoped that a great proportion would return to Poland they had always suspected that the numbers who did not go would be great.
        On the 4th April the Ministerial Committee on Polish Questions met to...:

        "direct and stimulate the search for an early solution of the problems connected with the dispersal of the Polish Armed Forces under British Command, their dependents and certain Polish civilians now in this country." [117]

On the 20th February prior to that meeting the Committee had given an estimate to the shape of their problem:

        "We are faced with the problem not only of finding permanent employment and places of settlement for between one and two hundred thousand members of the Polish Armed Forces under British command as well as at least fifty thousand civilians many of whom are dependents of service personnel. Recent moves on the part of the Polish Provisional Government are likely to have reduced our chances of persuading any substantial number of these Poles to return to Poland in the near future." [118]

Sir Orme Sargent's words were echoed in a reply to the Ministry of Labour which had enquired of the FO as to how many Poles to budget for. There was a rumour that as many as 75% of the Poles might go back. The Foreign Office was quick to dash such hopes. Again they wrote that the actual numbers would depend on what was happening in Poland and how the Warsaw regime was behaving. The first and most obvious symbol of Warsaw's good intent would be the 'free and unfettered' elections that had been promised. The FO concluded:

        "Our present indications are that elections are unlikely to be free. If this is the case we cannot expect that the rate of repatriation to Poland will increase and it may indeed dry up altogether. In any case, I think that we should be careful to avoid undue optimism... I fear that we ought to budget for 150,000 Poles for the next two years." [119]

        Once the British Government had decided to demobilise the Polish Armed Forces events began to move quickly. Plans were drawn up to move all the Polish troops to Britain - another move fraught with tension as the reaction of the Polish troops could not be counted on. On the 25th of May, 1946, the Head of 2nd Corps Intelligence contacted the heads of his Intelligence stations 'C', 'J', 'R', 'S' and 'Z' located over Italy to: "Report by telegram the mood and change of mood with the new situation of the Corps' transfer to England." [120]
        The plans of shipment from Italy were set by the War Office on the 5th June. Advance parties from all Commands would be the first to arrive in Britain then by the following order:

14th Armoured Brigade - 4,000 troops
2nd Armoured Division - 15,000 troops
Corps and Base Troops - 42,000 troops +
3,000 Women's Auxiliaries
3 Carpathian Rifle Div.- 19,000 troops
5 Kresowa Infantry Div.- 20,000 troops
  ======= 103,000

The exact number and geographical location of the 2nd Corps in Britain is attached as appendix XXXXX but the total number of troops, including those already in Britain forming the 1st Polish Corps, came to 137,000 spread over the five Home Commands:

Scottish Command - 38,000
Northern Command - 16,000
Eastern Command - 22,000
Southern Command - 20,000
Western Command - 41,000
137,000 [121]