Beret : Second Lieutenant Z Sobczak, Polish Army

Place Europe: United Kingdom
Accession Number RELAWM33000.002
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Headdress
Physical description Brass, Cotton grosgrain, Polished cotton, Silver wire, White metal, Wool barathea
Maker Lock & Co. Hatters
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made c 1944
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Polish Army beret. The beret is tailor made and has a one piece side panel, joined at the back to form the band. The lower edge has been seamed with cotton grosgrain and has a ribbon, also of cotton grosgrain threaded through the seam to tighten the beret's fit if required. Two brass eyelets have been attached to the right side of the beret above the seam to assist in ventilation during wear. The crown is one piece and has been stitched to the lower part of the beret. Attached to the beret above the wearer's left eye is a woven silver wire badge showing the crowned Polish Eagle on a curved shield. Beneath this is a white metal five pointed star, denoting that the wearer is a second lieutenant in the Polish Army. On the left side of the beret above the wearer's temple is a white metal edelweiss badge, which signifies the wearer having served as part of a mountain specialist unit. The interior of the beret is lined with polished cotton. Sewn inside the crown of the beret is a triangular white cotton maker's label with the maker's details 'LOCK & CO. / HATTERS / ST. JAMES STREET / LONDON' printed in black within a circle in the centre of the label.

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.