The Black Devils' March - A Doomed Odyssey

The 1st Polish Armoured Division 1939-45

Evan McGilvray

Date Published :
August 2012
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
94 photos, 9 maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781906033538
Pages : 160
Dimensions : 11 X 8 inches
Stock Status : Available


The Black Devils' March is an account of how the 1st (and only) Polish Armored Division in the West under the leadership of General Stanislaw Maczek, arose out of the ashes of defeat and while attempting to avoid the internal politics of the Polish Government in Exile, was able to return to Europe in August 1944 on the side of the Western Allies. In Europe the Division achieved glory, honor and victory but was unable to liberate Poland owing to the politics of the postwar settlement in Europe.

The account of the formation and combat service of the Division is fully researched from Polish, English and German sources, and includes training in Scotland, the unit's sharp introduction to warfare in the Normandy bocage, the Falaise Gap and Hill 262, the advance into Belgium and Holland, and final victory on German soil. The text is supported by nearly 100 photographs (many previously unpublished), maps, and detailed appendices, including a list of the Division's medal recipients.

The politics of the Polish Army are examined as well as the historical legacy of the Polish soldier in exile. This helps the reader understand the frustration of the Poles as they sought to form an armored unit - not only was it of value as part of the Polish Army fighting alongside the Allies, it was also of considerable political value to the Poles as they sought to preserve their dignity and sovereignty. The conclusion points to a rather hollow victory for the Poles by May 1945, as Germany may have been vanquished but Poland remained occupied, this time by the Soviet Union.

About The Author

Evan McGilvray was born in August 1961 in Winchester, Hampshire. He is a graduate of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London (UCL). Following this he undertook post-graduate studies at the University of Bradford and the University of Leeds, where he researched the politics of the Polish Army from 1918 to date. He also taught at the two universities. Evan is quite happy to challenge the myths that Poles have created around the Polish Army and the role of Poland during the Second World War. He also has an interest in other militaries and their role in society - quite simply civil-military relations - Poland being one of the most interesting European examples. At present Evan is writing a new history of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising in readiness for its seventieth anniversary in 2014, as well as researching the military politics regarding the involvement of General Sir Ian Hamilton at the Dardanelles during 1915. He is also anticipating the opening of the archives relating to the Falklands War in 2012. To relax he has learnt to ignore the rest of the world, and notes, "Despite what Poles think, I am not a Scot, only in name!"

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