Lieutenant-Colonel Stanislaw Jachnik
Unit : Headquarters, 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade Group
Polish Awards : Cross for Valour 1939 and 1944, Gold Cross of Merit with Swords, Independence Medal, Silver Cross of Merit, Army Medal and 2 bars, Campaign Medal 1918-21, Medal of the 10th Anniversary of the Restoration of Independence, Bronze Medal for Long Service, Field Parachute Badge.
British Awards : Officer of the British Empire, Distinguished Service Order, 1939-45 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal.
Stanislaw Jachnik was born in Ukraine on the 31st October 1903. From 1928 to 1932 he studied at the School of Political Science, Warsaw, but began his military training in 1923 at the Officers Infantry School, Warsaw. He completed this training in 1926, and later from 1935 to 37, he attended, and graduated from the Polish Staff College.
At the beginning of the Invasion of Poland, Jachnik was a Staff Officer at General Bortnowski's Headquarters, but during September 1939 he served with Colonel Sosabowski in the defence of Warsaw. Following the surrender he was interned in Hungary until the 25th October 1939. He made his way to France, where served on the Maginot Line in 1940, whilst attached to the French 82nd African Infantry Division. He was evacuated to Britain when France fell and, promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, was made Second-in-Command of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade Group.
For his actions at Arnhem he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order:
This officer landed in command of a Battalion of 1st Polish Parachute Brigade Group North of Elst during the Allied attack on the Arnhem road bridge. Almost immediately after landing the troops under this officer's command found themselves heavily engaged by the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Jachnik, displaying a total disregard for his personal safety, organised the defence and beat off the enemy attacks. He then moved off his troops to the Brigade Group assembly area in good order. During the night 21st / 22nd September this officer displayed great coolness and organising ability under heavy enemy fire during the first crossing of the Neder Rijn by troops of the 1st Polish Parachute Brigade Group.
In the aftermath of Market Garden, the Polish Brigade were seen as a convenient scapegoat for British commanders to explain away the failure of the operation, as a consequence of which Major-General Sosabowski was dismissed from his command and control of the Brigade fell to Jachnik.
Colonel Jachnik stayed in Britain after the war as a political émigré, though he continued to take a learned interest in the Polish Military and the wider political implications. He worked as a researcher in The Sikorski Institute; his particular interests lay in the organization, goals and assignments of the Polish Army during the post-war years, and he lectured on the subject. He never gave up hope of returning to a free Poland. His daughter Anna described him as "a kind, modest, highly principled gentleman, respected by all. Above all he was a dedicated family man and Polish Patriot."
Stanislaw Jachnik died in London on the 25th November 1970.
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