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Man Of Steel And Honour: General Stanislaw Maczek

Soldier Of Poland, Commander of the 1st Polish Armoured Division in North-West Europe 1944-45

Man Of Steel And Honour: General Stanislaw Maczek : Soldier Of Poland, Commander of the 1st Polish Armoured Division in North-West Europe 1944-45

Author : Evan McGilvray

Hardback Helion & Company 234mm x 156mm 256 pages c 175 b/w photos, 10 maps

Out of print

This is a biography of one of the most undervalued commanders of the Second World War, General Stanislaw Maczek, a soldier overlooked by most military historians in the West both because he was Polish and above politics. Unlike most Polish commanders he rocked no boats and after his service was complete in 1947 he retreated into relative obscurity. When he died at the age of 102 he had left a single published book of his war memoirs and little else to the popular imagination. One had to be acquainted with his armoured division, the wartime 1st Polish Armoured Division, in order to know anything of the man or even to have heard of him. This book is an attempt to try to put the historical record right, at least in the English language, and place front and centre into the wartime historiography the story of an extraordinary man.  Maczek's story is the story of 20th Century Poland and begins naturally enough with his birth in 1892, into a Poland that hadn't existed since 1795 when it was trisected between the three empires of Austrian, Russia and Prussia (later Germany). Maczek was born in the Austrian sector, which meant in 1914 he was conscripted into the Imperial Austrian Army, with which he served with great credit on the Italian Front, high in the Alps. It was this experience which was to serve Maczek well in his future career in the Polish Army after 1918.  Maczek should be remembered for his pioneering use of mixed armour and infantry units as well as the early use of commando-style units during the Polish border wars of 1918-1920. However his work was ignored despite its obvious success. He should also be recognised as being the saviour of the Normandy Campaign, which by August 1944 was seriously bogged down. It was feared that the German forces in Normandy might be able to flee over the River Seine and head eastwards towards Germany. A magnificent, stubborn and costly stand by the Polish 1st Armoured Division during August 1944 prevented this happening, and the Normandy Campaign was able to succeed. This is yet to be credited to the Poles in the imagination of the West. Maczek's division was later able to advance into Germany, fighting its way through the Low Countries. Maczek's command of the division and its combat service in North-West Europe 1944-45 is fully described, and represents, in particular, an important contribution to our knowledge of the Normandy Campaign.  After the war, Maczek, now exiled and stateless and with his homeland seized by the Soviet Union, was stripped of his Polish citizenship by the Communists, and was left to bring up his young family on his wages as a barman. This is the story of a man who changed history, fully researched from archival and printed materials, and with a heavy reliance on original Polish language sources. The text is complemented by over 100 previously unpublished photographs, focusing on Maczek and the 1st Polish Armoured Division 1944-45. This book has been produced in a limited-edition hardback printing of 500 copies, all copies individually numbered, and signed by the author.


"This is a most illuminating and insightful account of a little-known Allied military commander. General Maczek’s odyssey across occupied Europe and the part his troops played in the liberation campaign of 1944-1945 deserve much greater recognition and acclaim. Hopefully Evan McGilray’s highly knowledgeable new study will go some way to correcting the lack of knowledge about this aspect of the wartime years. Drawing upon sources from London’s National Archives and the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum, it is an admirable addition to his expanding body of work on the Polish experience of the Second World War. The inclusion of a wonderful collection of photographs and some most useful maps along with the impressive quality of the publication only serve to enhance what is a highly readable and most enjoyable biography." Dr Andrew Stewart, Senior Lecturer in Defence Studies, King’s College London


"...a very worthy tribute to this most undervalued and perhaps least recognised of World War II commanders... although McGilvray might not be Antony Beevor (not many writers on the Second World War are), he makes for a very edifying, as well concise and compelling writer." David Marx Book Reviews


“The strength of this book lies in the mass of detail that McGilvray has amassed using sources from the National Archives and the Sikorski Institute. The book also has over 100 previously unpublished photographs. The book is very readable and the reader will gain a great deal of knowledge of what Maczek did.” Mars & Clio

Additional Information

Helion & Company
Date of Publication
November 2012
Book Size
234mm x 156mm
256 pages
c 175 b/w photos, 10 maps
English text
Helion Book Code
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