9. Bologna April 1945

2nd Polish Corps in the Battle of Bologna - Polish troops enter the city. The Soldiers of the 5th Kresowa Infantry Division welcomed by the citizens of Bologna. 2nd Polish Corps in the Battle of Bologna - Polish troops enter the city. The Soldiers of the 5th Kresowa Infantry Division welcomed by the citizens of Bologna. Pictures come from the National Digital Archives, Polska
I n October, the 8th Army leadership decided to direct the 2nd Polish Corps into the mountainous area of the central Apennines. On 14 October, a section of the front south of Forli was seized by the reinforced 5th Kresowa Infantry Division which three days later went on the offensive, gradually pushing the opponent to the north. After taking a proper area, which allowed for the deployment of the entire corps, the battle was also joined by the 3rd Carpathian Infantry Division. The Division played the major role in the warfare that was taking place on the way leading to Forli, thus facilitating the seizure of the city at the beginning of November by the British 46th Infantry Division. On 12 November, the Polish troops engaged in the Battle of Faenza. The offensive of the 2nd Polish Corps in 1944 ended after reaching the River Senio on the night of 16/17 December, where, due to losses and the deteriorating weather conditions, they had to go on the defensive.
The Polish Army in the West

2nd Polish Corps in Italy, 1945

In the winter of 1944/45, taking advantage of the fact that the offensive was stopped, efforts were taken to carry out an intensive development of the 2nd Polish Corps. It was mostly due to the enlistment of the Poles who had been forced to serve with the Wehrmacht armed forces and who were taken prisoners by the Allied army that the 3rd Carpathian Infantry Brigade and the 4th Wołyń Infantry Brigade were formed in the 3rd Carpathian Infantry Division and in the 5th Kresowa Infantry Division, respectively. Additionally, also the 12th and 13th Heavy Artillery Regiments were formed. Still before that, in 1944, the 1st Independent Commando Company was turned into the 2nd Motorised Commando Battalion which then was included in the 2nd Armoured Brigade.
The offensive in the Italian front in 1945 was resumed as late as 9 April. The goal of the first stage was to seize Bologna which was an important transportation hub. Its invasion was to be carried out by the American 5th Army to the south and the centre of the British 8th Army, composed of the 2nd Polish Corps and the V British Corps, to the south-east.
Because General Anders was Commander-in-Chief at that time, substituting for General Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski, who was in captivity, the command over the 2nd Corps was temporarily handed over to Maj. Gen. Zygmunt Bohusz-Szyszko. For the time of the offensive, under his command were the British 7th Armoured Brigade, Indian 43rd Motorised Infantry Brigade, as well as several artillery regiments.
The 2nd Polish Corps started the offensive in the evening of 9 April by crossing the Senio River, the southern bank of which the Corps had been defending throughout the winter. Two days later the bridgeheads on the Santerno River were successfully taken and on 14 April the town of Imola was liberated. Carrying on with their offensive, the Polish troops had to surmount numerous water obstacles that were defended by the enemy. As early as 21 April, despite those difficulties, they reached Bologna which had already been abandoned by the Germans, entering the city two hours before the American troops which had much less of a distance to cover. The liberation of the city ended the military route of the 2nd Polish Corps in Italy which suffered heavy losses during the entire company, totaling 17, 131 soldiers, 2,620 of whom died.

After the warfare ended and thanks to the influx of Poles from the Wehrmacht and German POW camps, the 2nd Warsaw Amroured Division was formed as part of the 2nd Polish Corps. Maj. Gen. Bronisław Rakowski became its commander. It was composed of the 2nd Armoured Brigade, newly formed 16th Pomorska Infantry Brigade, 7th Mounted Artillery Regiment, 16th Light Artillery Regiment, 2nd Anti-aircraft Artillery Regiment, 2nd Anti-tank Artillery Regiment, Carpathian Uhlan Regiment and sapper, signals and services units. The 2nd Polish Corps was the major tactical unit of the Polish Armed Forced which were formed alongside the western Allies. More than 107,000 soldiers served in it towards the end of 1945.

When the war ended, the 2nd Polish Corps units were moved to different locations in the Marche, Romagna and Abruzzo regions of Italy. Apart from keeping the troops in readiness for combat, there were also numerous cultural and educational initiatives undertaken. In the years 1945–1947 an approximate number of 1,300 Polish soldiers began attending Italian colleges. In the autumn of 1946, the 2nd Polish Corps was transported to Great Britain and was demobilised in stages, whereas on 10 July 1947, along with the entire Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland, was dissolved.
From among over 100,000 soldiers of the 2nd Polish Corps only about 14,000 decided to return to Soviet-controlled Poland where some of them were later persecuted and kept imprisoned for their service in the 2nd Polish Corps. In 1946, the Poland's communist government took the citizenship away from General Anders and 75 officers of the Polish Armed Forced who had been fighting as allies of Great Britain and the United States of America.
Only a small number of the 2nd Polish Corps soldiers remained in Italy. Among them were about 40 students of the Polytechnic University of Turin who were getting closer to their graduation and a small group of those married to Italian women. Those of them who stayed in the capital of Piedmont created a "Polish Community in Turin" at a later time.

Pictures come from the National Digital Archives, Polska logo-nac