The only Polish Cemetery in France, near Grainville–Langannerie & Urville


Cemetery of the Polish 1st Armoured Division
Cemetery of the Polish 1st Armoured Division

This is the only Polish cemetery in France and it lies on the crossroad from Grainville–Langannerie to Urville, a few kilometers south of Caen. These fallen soldiers belong to the units of Major–General Stanislaw Maczek and the Polish 1st Armoured Division who fought during the Battle of Normandy in August 1944.

Operation Totalize and Chambrois

The Polish 1st Division was stationed in Scotland and first saw action during Operation Totalize on 8 to 13 August of 1944. The operation was an Allied offensive to break through the defensive lines South of Caen and part of Operation Tractable.
The Division also achieved victories against the Wehrmacht on Hill 262 in the Battle for Mont Ormel on 19 to 21 August 1944 and the town of Chambrois. Chambrois was the scene of some of the bitterest fighting of the Normandy campaign. Here the Polish 1st Division fought hard to close the Falaise Gap, and met up with the American 90th Infantry Division on the 19th of September in 1944, playing a crucial part in sealing off the gap and halt the escape of the fleeing German forces.

Entrance to the Polish Cemetery
Entrance to the Polish Cemetery
Memorial on the Cemetery
Memorial on the Cemetery
Died for the Fatherland with a rosaries
Died for the Fatherland with a rosaries

The Liberation of Europe

The Polish soldiers fought alongside the Canadian, British and Americans troops in Europe and with a flanking manoeuvre liberated the city of Breda in the Netherlands without any civilian casualties.
The Division liberated numerous cities from France to Belgium, the Netherlands and ended their campaign in the northern part of Germany.
At its peak the 1st Armored Division numbered a total of 16.000 soldiers.

Jewish Polish Soldiers on the field of honour
Jewish Polish Soldiers on the field of honour
Huge "V" shaped monument
Huge “V” shaped monument
Huge "V" shaped monument from the back
Huge “V” shaped monument from the back

The Free Polish Forces

The soldiers of the Free Polish forces who fell in other parts of France are all buried here. There are 696 graves on this War Cemetery. The graves are arranged around a huge “V” shaped monument, with a sculpture on top, resembling the Polish Eagle.
The field of honour is taken care of by the French Anciens Combattant, a veterans association. Unlike other cemeteries you see many religious memento’s as rosaries and such placed on the graves.

Badge of the 1st Armoured Division inspired by armour of Polish winged hussars
Badge of the 1st Armoured Division inspired by armour of Polish winged hussars

Visit

The cemetery lies 17 kilometers South of Caen next to the N158.


2 thoughts on “The only Polish Cemetery in France, near Grainville–Langannerie & Urville

Ellen Evans on

We think our uncle is buried here how can we check please ? his name was Joseph Rusiecki and his age we think 21 only very young, we never knew him, but we would like to make a journey to salute him. We know nothing else except he was killed by” friendly fire” and was trained in Scotland. We have one tiny photograph and just a few of my late father’s stories to tell us that this young man ever existed. Dad said that the last time they met was quite by chance in North Africa, he was stationed there after liberation from Siberia and heard the news one day that a other Polish division was passing through,he went to see If he knew anyone and found his brother. According to dad they met up at night, got drunk on vodka and arranged to meet the next day…..this never happened as the division moved on early doors.they never met again. Dad did know in retrospect what happened to Joseph, but life was a scramble for all Poles in the 50s and 60s and afterwards just life got in the way of a visit, we aim to rectify this in the coming year and find Joseph.

Patrick @(Ellen Evans) on

Hello Ellen,
Thank you for you message. You could try the commonwealth grave commission at https://www.cwgc.org/ They have an online search machine for commonwealth soldiers and hopefully all others in the British forces as well. Ask (email), if they do not have any records, if they know how to get in touch with the Polish government on this matter, else try to get in touch with a French local administration in the vicinity of the cemetery.
Good luck with your search.

Share your thoughts on this article