THE POLISH NAVY 1918-45: FROM THE POLISH-SOVIET WAR TO WORLD WAR II

Reviewed by: ANDREW LIVSEY

This is a short and clear summary of the Polish Navy from the inception of the inter-war Polish state to the end of the Second World War. It covers both operations and procurement, including the implications of both for international relations. Presumably for reasons of space it says rather less about internal organisation.

The early sections, on riverine warfare in the Polish-Soviet war and the waxing and waning of the inter-war procurement relationship with France, are particularly interesting, and not often referred to in other works. The heroic tale of Polish resistance in 1939, and then engagement alongside the Royal Navy, from the Arctic convoys to the Mediterranean, is slightly better known, but again told well. Polish manned ships sank 11 German warships, including two U-boats and contributed to many engagements. In particular, the action of the Piorun in drawing fire from Bismarck while the British destroyer squadron set up to deliver a torpedo attack is a great tale.

Those wanting more detail might try Poland’s Navy 1918-1945 by Michael Peszke, but The Polish Navy 1918-45 is reliable, admirably succinct and well-illustrated even for an Osprey book of this type. Recommended.