The 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade

(1 Samodzielna Brygada Spadochronowa)

Ship No 2 (Wave 1)
The Turkmenistan


The ship was a converted hospital ship and was owned by an unknown entity.

It was one of the official ships (unofficial flotillas of fishing boats were also involved) organised by Stalin in 1942 at Krasnovodsk (Russian: Красноводск) (Modern day Türkmenbaşy) to transport Polish exiles (also mistakenly called "deportees") who had been held captive in Siberia/Kazakhstan labour camps over the Caspian Sea to Pahlevi (Pahlavi) now called Banzar-e Anzali which is in modern day Northwest Iran.

Ship Movements

From passenger testimonies & any other available data this is a "best educated guess" of the ships movements.

  • Embark: 24/03/42 (Tadeusz Piotrowski) | Time: ?
  • Depart: 25/03/42 (Francis Joseph Philips) | Time: ?
  • Arrive: 27/03/42 (Ross report) | Time: ?

Extract From "The Ross Report"

According to the Ross Report, here is who was on this ship;

Various Infantry

Related Accounts

  • Account Of Francis Omulak an aviator (provided by his son, Lenarda Szymczak) on this thread : "Following the decision to evacuate the army of General Anders to Persia, March 22, left the center to Krasnovodsk on the Caspian Sea, and on March 27 the ship arrived at Pahlevi".
  • It would appear that some Aviators that never got onto ship 1 were present on this ship, also some reserves from Kermine might have been on this boat.
  • Account of Francis Joseph Philips: "Since that time he was a soldier of the Krechowiecki Cavalry Regiment. He left in Stanislau his wife and three children, with who he never saw again. In April 1942, he was in the Polish Armed Forces in Iran. March 25, 1942, in the connection with the reduction of food portion of the army, the regiment in the first evacuation sailed from Krasnovodsk (USSR) to Pahlevi (Iran). (Editors Note: This identifies that the Krechowiecki Cavalry Regiment were on the sailing that left on 25 March 1942, however, see the notes on Ship 1 relating to this regiment as it is just possible the date in this account is wrong and is in fact the landing date not the departure date)".
  • Per the "Ross Report"Point 13: General Szarecki D.M.S to The Polish Forces In Soviet Russia and Colonel Okulicki Chief of Staff To General Anders arrived on this boat on 27th March 1942. More about Colonel Okulicki on this link.  (Editors Note: After arriving, Colonel Okulicki had a meeting with General Anders to discuss the camps layout etc this is all in the Ross report. If Colonel Okulicki, as Chief of Staff, assisted in the organisation at Pahlevi, it's a fair guess this ship was meant to be the first one there. However it left a day later than ship 1. Also,  likely, due to "rough seas" as mentioned in the accounts on ship 1 that sailed at the same time, this ship was delayed and came in later than expected.It departed after ship 1 (unusual if the top man, the Chief of Staff. Lastly, in the Ross report it mentions Colonel holding meetings with Anders straight after his arrival. Can we conclude from this that the ship arrived early in the day? Maybe.But important meetings can also be held at night, so the Jury is out on using this as a basis for back calculating the ships arrival time).
  • Account Of Marta Morton: "My Dad, Maciej Zwierz writes "By boat from Krasnowodsk, through one unbelievable storm on the Caspian Sea, I arrived on 27 Feb 1942 to the Persian port of Pahlevi. Gloria tibi Domine or Slawa Bogu! for I never expected get alive from USSR." (Editors Note: His unit was 3rd Polish Carpathian Division . Also, he surely meant March instead of February as there were no crossings in February.)"
  • Photograph from Czeslaw BlicharskiLink  - Czeslaw was an amateur historian so can be considered a reliable source. This photograph he states was taken 25th March 1942 apparently on the Turkmenistan. Notice how uncrowded the decks are.
  • A Boy In The Gulag By Jerzy Kmiecik P239 - P240 - "It was very hazy during the whole morning...We alighted and sat on the quay near an old ship, The Turkmenistan, with a black hull and a dirty superstructure. Then the head counting began. We were counted and counted yet again...The soup arrived, the parting gift of our tormentors...and we were on our way. The momentous day was 24th March 1942...Early the next morning the ship nosed its way into a small bay and then dropped anchor a mile or two from shore... A small boat arrived at the side and a few men came aboard. After about an hour they left...Another boat heaved to, more men boarded the ship then left as had the others. Judging by the expressions on their faces, things were not going right. Four or five agonising hours passed with more visits by different people before the ship weighed anchor and steamed into port. [P240] That was the first transport of poles from the USSR via Persia, and I was on it!.. .[P241] The first transport consisted of some 500 men  (Editors Note: This account is causing a complete rethink of Ship No1. Previously we had thought Ship 1 was the Astrakhan and the evidence was good for it. But this account is bullseye accurate, it names the boat, it gives the date and the detail about what happened outside of Pahlevi harbour absolutely places this as ship No1 because those little boats that came up to the ship in early morning were part of Colonel Ross's party (per his report) checking out the condition of the evacuees.)"
  • Account Of Czeslaw Blicharski  - This account is, at present, giving many issues on ship 2, because the account (and indeed a photo of an uncrowded ship deck that he took dated 25 March 1942 with the words "Turkmenistan") indicate ship 2 is the Turkmenistan (Based on deparature date). He says "After a few weeks, he volunteered to go to the air force and from December 14, 1941, he was in Kołtubance, in a clash of aviation and navy. In February 1942 with the staff of this center was transferred to Kermine in Uzbekistan. On March 24, 1942 he sailed from Krasnovodsk aboard the ship "Turkmenistan" to Pahlevi in ​​Iran. On April 17 from the port of Bandar Shahpur on the ship "Canterbury" sailed to Bombay. Then on the New Zealand "Awatea" he traveled to Cape Town, and after transferring there to the Norwegian "Bergensfjord" on 16 May 1942 he sailed to England. After a cruise across the Atlantic on June 6, 1942, he reached Glasgow. As a candidate for, aviation, he was placed in Kirkcaldy from where he was soon transferred to a six-month recruitment course (infantry training) to St. Andrews." (Editors note: Looks like Czeslaw was an aviator and should have been on ship 1 with other aviators but for some reason was on this ship as was Francis Omulak, also an aviator, whose account is above). Mr Blicharski also appears in this video.