Polish officer's service dress tunic: Second Lieutenant Z Sobczak, Polish Army

Place Africa: North Africa
Accession Number RELAWM33000.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Uniform
Physical description Cotton, Felt, Gold bullion wire, Silver bullion wire, Velveteen, White metal, Wool barathea
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1944
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Polish Second World War officer's service dress tunic. The tunic is a four button open collared garment. The four front buttons are white metal and bear the crowned Polish Eagle in raised detail. Stitched to each side of the collar is a dark purple felt shield with a dark blue top edge. The colour shows that the wearer was part of a medical unit. The shoulder straps each have a single white metal five pointed star, denoting the wearer is a second lieutenant. The shoulder straps are secured to the uniform by white metal buttons bearing the crowned Polish Eagle. The left and right breast pockets are both box pleat pockets with three point pocket flaps. Located on the pleat of the right pocket is a white metal badge featuring a crowned eagle standing over the word 'TOBRUK' between two upwards pointing bayonets in a 'V' shape. The bottom of the badge has an upwards facing crescent moon. The left and right pockets below the waist are both expandable pockets with straight pocket flaps. All four pockets are secured with white metal buttons bearing the crowned Polish Eagle in raised detail. Located above the right breast pocket are two rows of service ribbons. The ribbons on the top bar are the Polish Cross of Valour (1944) with colours reversed to show that it was awarded by the Polish Government in exile, the Polish Army Active Service Medal and the French Medal for Volunteers for Combat Service. On the lower bar are the ribbons for the 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Defence Medal and the British War Medal 1939-45. Located above the service ribbons is a Polish forces wounds badge. This is a rectangular light blue ribbon with a black stripe running horizontally at the top and bottom of the ribbon. Two white metal stars are attached to the ribbon denoting two wounds. At the top of each sleeve is a red felt shoulder flash with 'POLAND' embroidered in gold bullion wire. Beneath the shoulder title on the right sleeve is a red felt shield with a gold bullion embroidered shield within it. Within the shield is a mermaid with a shield, swinging a scimitar also embroidered in gold bullion wire. This is the formation sign for the Polish Second Corps. Below the shield is a square patch divided horizontally with the upper half being white and the lower half red. Sewn into the middle of the patch is a green cedar tree. The patch is that of the Independent Carpathian Brigade. Under the shoulder title on the left sleeve is the British 8th Army emblem showing a gold bullion wire Latin cross upon a white shield bordered in silver bullion wire against a black background. Under the third front button is a metal hook and catch to keep the front of the tunic straight. The interior of the jacket is lined with cotton fabric and has an internally hung pocket inside the left and right breast of the tunic. The belt for the tunic had a metal double claw buckle, slide on belt loop and a series of three double holes for securing the belt. The rear of the tunic has a single vent.

History / Summary

Associated with the service of Second Lieutenant Zenon Sobczak of Warsaw, Poland. He was called up from the Reserves to join the Polish Army on 1 September 1939. He took part in the defence of Warsaw during that month and was wounded in action on 25 September. From December 1939 until May 1940 he served with a Polish underground organisation until ordered to flee the country. Sobczak made his way to Beirut, Syria and reported to the Polish authorities there. He was placed under French Command from 10 June 1940. He served with 2 Machine Gun Company, 2 Rifle Regiment, Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade until the capitulation of the French. His unit was then transferred to British command. He took part in the fighting in North Africa, including the battles at Tobruk and was wounded in action for the second time on 25 February 1942. In August 1942 he was posted to Luba Reconnaissance Squadron and sent to the United Kingdom. Later that year he was transferred to 10 Light Field Ambulance, 1 Armoured Division, 1 Polish Corps. In February 1943 Sobczak joined the Field Dressing Station of 1 Armoured Division. From November 1943 until July 1946 Sobczak studied pharmacy in Edinburgh, Scotland. During his study he met a Scottish woman, Janet Mitchell Beatson, whom he married on 25 March 1944. On 19 September 1946 he joined the Polish Resettlement Corps and was discharged on 10 June 1947. On 13 December 1949, Zenon and Janet immigrated to Australia arriving in Melbourne aboard the Toscana on 27 January 1950. Sobczak applied for Australian citizenship later that month, which was granted on 14 July 1952. On 3 July 1956 he changed his name by deed poll to Michael Mackay. The Mackays settled in Adelaide and had three children.