In the interwar period of WW1 and WW2 Bronislaw studied at the AVA Radio Co. in Poland. Learning Wireless Transmission and Cipher. He also was under 'Maksymillian' and worked on the 'Enigma'. Also attached to the AVA Radio Co. was the Polish Intelligence Bureau to which he joined. As Polish Intelligence he was finally placed into and as Plutonowy for Dederkaly Baon of the Border Protection Corps. (K.O.P).
In early 1939 after NAZI invasion of Czechoslovakia in April 1939 K.O.P. and Bronislaw become involved with British Intelligence. He becomes an integral part of Britain's MI(R) - 'D' Section and reports apart from Smolenski to also Colonel Colin McVean Gubbins. Bronislaw was involved with 3 x Armies during the course of WW2 and afterwards (in Poland, England and U.S.A.). He was captured by the Germans in late Sept / Oct. 1939. Bronislaw after his escape in 1942 and until his final involvement with the U.S.A. Army used "various names" or aliases for his own safety, for fear of German re-capture and identification of his family. In so doing he became immersed into many Polish resistance groups both during and after WWII in an effort to free Poland from the grips of Nazi and Communism.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Bronislaw Urbański was 6'2" and born on 10 October 1912 in Piotrkow Trybunalski (Poland) to parents Piotr Urbański and Marianna Urbańska (Stepien) of the 'House of Urbanski' of Haczow, formed in 1602 by King Sigismund III, Bronislaw was believed to have had the title of Count before Polish Nobility laws were eliminated from their constitution 17 March 1921. Their family Lived in many towns, including Lodz. The Urbański line where he came from were listed as Landed Magnates – and defined as 'Szlachta' with their Herbarz (Crest) Nieczuja of Haczow (Szlachta were the legally privileged Noble Class), they were also land owners of Southern Poland including towns of Kombornia, Urbanica and Haczow and many other towns and were the original owners of the famed church in 'Haczow'. Ref* Count Felix Urbański family Haczow  Other members of this Noble family were Alfred Urbański, Prime Minister in Exile of Poland (1972 - 1976) and Franciszek Urbański (trial of sixteen 1945)
Captured by the Wehrmacht[edit | edit source]
In late 1939 whilst protecting the very last team visit of MI6, General Adrian Carton De Wiart and the Polish Cipher Bureau to escape to Romania. Bronislaw Urbański was not captured as K.O.P. (Korpus Ochrony Pogranicza) as 'Plutonowy' but rather as a standard Sergeant of the Polish Army after changing into discarded Army clothing on the sides of the road.
He was captured by a German Panzer Division on a remote farm in 'Kulikov'(then) in Poland and he became a Sergeant of the Regular Army. This identity change reflects the same strategy that Jan Karski also used, this strategy unbeknown to him or Jan would save their lives from massacre at KATYN.
Bronislaw was Polish Military Intelligence, and this is the only known shot of British Intelligence (his partner) of Piotr Ryback (see inset, Piotr is to the LHS). of British Intelligence. His team and Piotr have no choice and are captured by the Wehrmacht late 1939. Bronislaw also gave a slightly different birthdate and also created another 'dog tag' using a new blank and a special tool, so this would not tie him to his true identity.
Now officially Prisoner of War No. 1749 Bronislaw’s capture was marked by the "Worchenchau" (see video ref) German Film Crew at 1:00 min in, they filmed the collection point of Polish P.O.W. this film was used as a Propaganda film for the 3rd Reich to demonstrate how kind they were to their enemy. Before taking him to Germany Stalag VA. The film crew swept along the lines of P.O.W.S. and for their own reasons stopped at Bronislaw and panned him up and down clearly this helped identify him to his family many years later when this footage became public viewing.
Bronislaw was initially taken to Stalag VA, then to Stalag VC and eventually to Stalag VB in Villingen  where he reconnected with his brother Janek Urbanski, who also by now was a P.O.W.
Imprisonment/Death of Family Members[edit | edit source]
April 1942 saw Bronislaw's much younger brother, Janek taken on a work detail outside the Stalag VB. Bronislaw was able to recount that the work detail was to hide some treasures of the Fuhrer. Janek never returned. Bronislaw continued by telling how he challenged the guards about his missing brother only to be told that "he fell off the truck, ..hit his head and died". Bronislaw knowing from the guards behaviour that this was untrue attacked the guards but he was knocked unconscious with the steel end of a rifle butt for his efforts. Bronislaw was unconscious for two and a half days and his skull was broken. The scar from this can be seen above his nose in the 1946 photo. Bronislaw was near death during this time but did recover. 2 months later he was transferred to the first of two farms he would work at. These German farms were to provide food for the Third Reich.
Bronislaw managed to escape from the second farm with the aid of a RAYON / SILK map found in a Monopoly  Game given as a CARE package by unknown group instead of the RED CROSS whilst in Stalag VB in Villingen Germany. This Wartime version of the game contained a Map made of Rayon, a compass hidden inside a metal toy figurine and 500 French Francs. He escaped to France and used the real FRANCS found hidden inside the games 'pretend money' and joined the Polish underground. Later on Bronislaw finds that no less than 9 of his male family members have been killed by either the German in Concentration Camps or Russian Camps during their internment in Buchenwald, Stablowicz, Sashenhauser, Dachau, Oboz koncentracyjny, Gross Rosen (belsen), Siberia.
Bronislaw joins the Polish run 'Musketeers' with Stephen Witkowski and he is directed by Krystyna Skarbek of whom he also romantically involved with for a short time.
World War II resistance[edit | edit source]
After his escape he contacts British Intelligence via the Polish in Exile - Second and Sixth Bureau via wireless transmitter. Later in early in 1943 he became involved with the allies in ‘Operation Vulcan’ which occurred on On April 22, 1943 by the British Infantry Division, as a part of 1st Army's offensive with General Sikorski the battle was successful over the AXIS.
After Operation Vulcan Bronislaw (using a slightly 'altered name' and 'rank' again for his survival) eventually found his way to Prime Minister in exile General Wlaydslaw Sikorski and as he was a survivor of K.O.P. he claims he became one of his 'personal protection team' one of twelve bodyguards, but he was using a different name and rank.
He was involved with the Polish II Corps and stopped the AXIS in North Africa and went onto Italy with the ALLIES. In Sicily to Monte Cassino, he was parachuted back into Poland to help 'train' and 'set up' many resistance movements. He eventually joined the famed Brygada Swietokryska (later referred to as a Salamander).
His code to the Allies and Poland’s underground by using HAM Radio (wireless) and other's was the p.s. 'White Ghost' via his contact (and relative) Franciszek Urbański who was then a leader of the Polish Underground (ref: Trial of Sixteen) Bronislaw a member of the Brygada Swietokryska OW-ZJ a breakaway group that did not listen to the A.K. directions as they eliminated both Russian and German enemies of their beloved Poland who wanted Poland free from Nazis and Communism with the help of intelligence reporting just before the war ended.
He also was in contact with General George Patton with contact via Polish American Soldiers by HAM Radios in which later on he had three other actions with him including the 'freeing' of the Holysov Concentration Camp as a Brygada Swietokryska. Bronislaw was also a member of various groups such as 5 Wilenska Brygada (including its earlier versions).
The Brygada Swietokryska on the 5/5/1945 attacked the Holysov  concentration camp. Bronislaw had co-ordinated this attack with General Patton's (3rd U.S. Army) as a simultaneous attack on Flossenberg concentration camp as well. The Holysov attack was precipitated by a conversation that was overheard by a Brygada member. The Holysov camp held approx 700 female prisoners and was used to make 'anti-aircraft ammunition' for the Third Reich. Guarding this camp were approx 200 SS Commando's. The Commando's were tasked to destroy and exit the camp which included killing all the prisoners. Bronislaw was in horror upon hearing this information so with the aid of other members of the Brygada they set four charges of explosives around the perimeter of the Camp and then successfully attacked and freed the women and killed all of the SS Commando's. Within the next few hours General Paton's third army met with the Brygada and expressed to Bronislaw and the other members of their stunned disbelief at his and their undertaking. From this point onwards Bronislaw and the Brygada were to be Officially hired then by the US third army and placed under the direction of General George Patton as Polish Guard and also as C.G.T.C. (civilian guard military police) in U.S. occupied Germany.
Their task was to round up Nazis and to guard over at Dachau but mostly under U.S. Occupied Germany and other select camps now filled with German Nazi prisoners . He also guarded at the Nuremberg trials, and Police the now Lawless U.S. Occupied Zone in Germany.
Even though WWII was over Bronislaw stayed involved with the 'underground movement' for he wanted Freedom from Communism for Poland. For his family whilst under this rule had lost everything and his father (Piotr) had disappeared to Siberia and was never heard from again, presumed murdered.
To enable Bronislaw to remain undetected whilst with the U.S. Army he removed his ‘Salamander badge’ although the 4004th group kept their 'Salamander' badge on their uniforms. Other's in the Brygada who did wear their Salamander badges had previously upset Stalin and could not remain undetected were often killed. The U.S. Army in a never-to-be-repeated action issued their own Army uniforms to the 'select men' of the Brygada. These uniforms were dyed ‘navy blue’ as a sign of respect and noticeably different from the other C.G.T.C. or Polish Guards. (many of these men were unfortunately hunted down by the Soviets well after the war not just within Poland but within the 14 Communist controlled countries they had now taken over. The wrath of the Soviets extended also to the families of these men). In defending Poland, Bronislaw's actions in trying to fight for Poland's freedom from the grips of Communism placed him as a 'Doomed Soldier'  and must exit to a Western Country.
It was just after WWII that Bronislaw ALSO joined the WIN  organisation as well as working for the U.S. Army as S/Sergeant at the same time. In reconnaissance work and directed by the OSS (which became the CIA) at the same time. In 1949 with the aid of the '1947 Secret Agreement'  Bronislaw, his wife Helena and child Janek emigrated to Australia under its protection. This PCIRO  agreement allowed for special forces/military personnel in U.S. occupied Germany to leave Germany and live in Australia. Travel and accommodation was paid by for the Australian government via this agreement.
Life in Australia[edit | edit source]
Bronislaw and his wife and son arrived in Melbourne, Australia, on 6 December 1949 on the ship The General Hersey. Upon arrival they were billeted to the 'Bonegilla Migrant Hostel' Victoria which was considered by the family as harsh and spartan.
After moving to Adelaide, Bronislaw found work with the British atomic tests at Maralinga, and endured the 'Buffalo series' of atomic tests in 1956. Bronislaw in this work witnessed and was within unsafe ranges during these atomic blasts as part of his employment.
He also entered atomic sites directly after the blasts, to review and report on the outcomes of radiation on vehicles (military vehicles) left in the test zone. Bronislaw commented to his family that the ground he walked on after these tests turned to "thick orange glass" for a kilometre around the blast.
After returning to Adelaide after Maralinga, he worked at 'Rubbery Owens' producing car mag wheels until the early 1980s.
Bronislaw developed emphasaemia from, in all probability, the exposure to radiation at maralinga, plus his smoking habits of a lifetime. He succumbed to this disease in 1984.
Recognition[edit | edit source]
Bronislaw has been recently post humously awarded with various medals for his war and post war service, including a specific medal for the role he played in the release of the women at Holysov concentration camp.
Bronislaw's service in WWII is still under review for further medals as more of his heroic actions are unravelled and revealed.
Information now shows that he fought under Poland then later during WWII with the British under Anders and finally before and after WWII with U.S. Army.
References[edit | edit source]
- "Magnates of Poland and Other Countries". Avotaynu.com. 1927-07-15. http://www.avotaynu.com/magnates.htm. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "Wooden Church in Haczow Photo Gallery by Tomasz Dziubinski - Photography at". Pbase.com. http://www.pbase.com/smok53/haczow_church_world_heritage_photography. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "The London Gazette, 16 February 1945". London-gazette.co.uk. http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/36943/pages/942/page.pdf. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
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- "Katyn Forest Massacre". Katyn.org.au. http://katyn.org.au/. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "Polscy jency 1939 - (Polish POW 1939)". YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1voMpNWFBYI. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "Stalag V-A - Encyclopedia". Encyclo.co.uk. http://www.encyclo.co.uk/define/Stalag%20V-A. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "The CIA Museum … OSS Escape and Evasion Map — Central Intelligence Agency". Cia.gov. https://www.cia.gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2010-featured-story-archive/oss-escape-and-evasion-map.html. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "Holy Cross Brigade part I". Electronicmuseum.ca. http://www.electronicmuseum.ca/Poland-WW2/holy_cross_brigade/hcb_1.html. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "World War 2 Battles". World War 2 Facts. http://www.worldwar2facts.org/world-war-2-battles.html. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "Axis". Worldwar2history.info. http://www.worldwar2history.info/war/Axis.html. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "Holy Cross Brigade part II". Electronicmuseum.ca. 2012-04-09. http://www.electronicmuseum.ca/Poland-WW2/holy_cross_brigade/hcb_2.html. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
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- "Agreement with the International Refugee Organisation". Info.dfat.gov.au. http://www.info.dfat.gov.au/info/historical/HistDocs.nsf/d30d79e4ab5621f9ca256c8600163c0d/34de11e5815c539dca256b7e00810cb6?OpenDocument. Retrieved 2012-10-03.