The 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade
(1 Samodzielna Brygada Spadochronowa)
Kincraig Point, Elie
1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade
By Sept 1941 there had been such an enthusiastic number of volunteers to the unit (presumably not just from the 4th Polish Cadre Rifle Brigade but also other soldiers who had joined them, probably back at the distribution camp in Auchtertool, Fife) who had gone through basic training that airborne exercises started to be carried out in the form of an assault on Kincraig Battery, Shell Bay, Earlsferry, Fife, Scotland.
Photo: Kincraig Point, Elie, Fife 1942
Also at Kincraig Battery, Shell Bay, Earlsferry, Fife, were the 4th Polish Cadre Rifle Brigade protecting Buckhaven to Crail coastline (having arrived in the UK in June 1940) whom were sent to Largo Bay and Shell Bay in October 1940 to defend the North East Fife coastline and also for instruction as a cadre unit).
On 23 Sept 1941 at Kincraig Battery, Fife, Polish parachutists flew in 12 planes from what is now Manchester Airport (RAF Ringway) and dropped around Shell Bay, Earlsferry, Fife, for an assault exercise on Kincraig Battery, watched by Polish and UK generals as well as Lord Elgin.
General Sosabowski along with General Sikorski was there too.
What was formed there was quite outstanding...
1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade Is Born
Because Polish soldiers were forced out of Poland in Sept/Oct 1939 it was their deep longing and determination to return to Poland as a lightning force and repay on Polish soil for their defeat and humiliation.
This desire was in every polish soldiers mind and heart and it was likely that this desire (of General Sosabowski's) suddenly saw an outlet on 23 Sept 1941.
On 23 Sept 1941, General Sikorski who was present at Kincaig point with General Sosabowski, was so impressed with the 4th Polish Cadre Rifle Brigades parachuting skills that he announced "As from today you will be called the 1st Independent Parachute Brigade. When the hour comes you will like victorious eagles swoop down upon our foe and you will be the first to fight back in our motherland".
When this announcement was made, essentially the 4th Polish Cadre Rifle Brigade became dissolved and rebranded as the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade.
Therefore the 23rd Sept 1941 is regarded as the birth date of the unit and General Sosabowski as it's founder. The founding place of the unit therefore was Elie in Fife (and not Leven which is about 10 miles down the road).
The original plan was to have the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade (1 Samodzielna Brygada Spadochronowa) work closely with underground resistance in Poland and form an uprising against the Germans, AKA the "Warsaw Uprising".
However, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin (!) protested over this plan and in the end they were dropped in 1944 over Arnheim in Operation Market Garden.
On 9 October, 1941 the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade (1 Samodzielna Brygada Spadochronowa) was formally recognized as a Paratroop Brigade by the polish military HQ.
It took till Feb 1943 for the British Army to recognize this regiment, at that point the parachutists were granted pay of two shillings a day, which was considered extremely good pay.
In July 1944, the Brigade moved to Cambridgeshire/ Lincolnshire centering on Peterborough/Stamford areas of eastern England.
Training At Kincraig Point / Shell Bay
A lot of training was undertaken around Kincraig Point, particularly in Shell Bay, which was a very dangeroud place for a civilian to be during exercises involving mortars, grenades etc.
Visiting Kincraig Point, Elie
This video details the type of training that was done at Shell Bay:
If you are interested in the history of the Polish Parachute Brigade then visiting Kincraig Point near Elie in Fife, where it all began is an absolute must! And it's a fabulous walk with stunning, absolutely stunning, views of the Forth.
Kincraig Point is best accessed from Shell Bay Caravan Park outside Elie, Fife, Scotland. You can park up there outside the main area then walk to the foot of the cliff. Go over the wooden bridge and then follow the path along the cliff.
You will eventually reach Kincraig Battery, the place where the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade (1 Samodzielna Brygada Spadochronowa) was officially formed.
A Call To The Middle East
In General Sosabowski's biography "Freely I Served" he states that he was in the YMCA at Leven in Fife, where his office was, and it was there that the idea of the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade (1 Samodzielna Brygada Spadochronowa) first entered his mind. As matters developed he must have thought more and more about this idea.
At Kincraig Point, with Sikorski, the announcement was made that the 4th Polish Rifle Cadre would now be known as the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade (1 Samodzielna Brygada Spadochronowa). They must have conferred together, likely that day, about increasing the size of the Brigade.
What we do know is that once the exiled Polish soldiers had gotten to The Middle East, a call was put out from Britain to The Middle East for volunteers for this unit.
According to the account of this Polish Soldiers biography http://www.rymaszewski.iinet.net.au/, 300 Polish soldiers initially left for the Uk to join the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade.
This was the beginning of the movement of Polish troops from the Middle East to the UK (As the ones that came prior to this came out of France to the UK)
Kincraig Point Now
The photos were taken at Kincraig Point in 2018. What a lovely walk to the top it was and what rewarding scenery! The World War 2 structures are still there along with the anti-aircraft gun battery.
This is where Skikorski and Sosabowski stood on that notable day when the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade was formed.
This is Kincraig Point today, with remnants of the World War 2 military installation still there;