The 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade
(1 Samodzielna Brygada Spadochronowa)
Ship No 3 (Wave 1)
The Agamali Ogli (Ага-мали-Оглы)
Overview Of The Agamali Ogly
The Agamali Ogly was a lenin class tanker and was owned by Kasptanker.
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.
From passenger testimonies & any other available data this is a "best educated guess" of the ships movements.
- Embark: 26/03/42 (Zosia Zemanek) | Time: ?
- Depart: 27/03/42 | Time: Before 3pm (Back calculation from arrival time) (Zygmunt Blumenfeld says 1PM)
- Arrive: 28/03/42 (Ross report) | Time: Afternoon (Zosia Zemanek) (Zygmunt Blumenfeld says after 11am)
Extract From "The Ross Report"
According to the Ross Report, here is who was on this ship;
- Account Of Zosia Zemanek (Via Marta Morton (daughter)) - mothers testimony identified this ship as "AGAMALI OGLY" naming the boat and embarkment/arrival dates along with approx number of passengers on boat. Visit source of extract here. She mentioned that she embarked on the 26th but soldiers embarked on the 27th March.
- Alexandra Copley (KS, Australia letter, Mar 26, 2013): We (father, who was in the Air Force, mother and I) made the journey down the Caspian in March 1942. I grew up knowing the story of the terrible storm that occurred during our crossing; my father lashed the three of us to some sort of fixed post on the deck of the ship (name unknown) to save us from being washed overboard, but a small quantity of 'black flour' Mama had saved was lost to the waves. I have recently come across a photograph of Mama and me (a babe in arms) standing on what appears to be a wharf. In the background are crowds of people (both men and women) some of whom are wearing army greatcoats. On the back my father has written Pahlevi. 28.lll.1942, and in Polish translated as 'First steps beyond the border'. I understand this to mean that this photo was taken immediately after we arrived in Pahlevi from Krasnovodsk, Russia. I had assume that we left Krasnovodsk on 27 March, and arrived on 28 March. If indeed we were on a ship that drifted for days because of a storm at sea we must have left several days earlier. I wonder if there was more than one stormy crossing, which accounts for the confusion with dates. (Editors Note: Because this lady mentions the photo with the arrival date in Pahlevi, we can be absolutely certain it is this ship she is referring to. Note she mentions the bad storm. Other accounts mention a bad storm and the ships rudder breaking, drifting for days then switching ships in the middle of the Caspian. As this account doesn't mention this problem with the ship we can safely assume that more than one ship was in the Caspian during the bad storm. Alternatively, (but I don't have so much belief in this idea) is that the storm lasted for days. This is flawed as surely a ship would not leave and go into a storm?)
- The Orphanage from Guzar was on this ship. One of the orphans, Helena Miluk, wrote her account Here. According to the Ross report point 14, the orphans were aged 6-12 years old.
- Account Of Anita Paschwa (nee Kozicka) - The Polish Deportees Of World War II - Tadeusz Piotrowski P102 Link - "On March 24, 1942, we boarded a Russian ship called Zdanov to Pahlavi, Iran. The seas were very rough. Many people became sick and died on the way. I did not dare move from my blanket for fear of coming into contact with the smelly mess that covered the deck of the ship." (Editors Note: She says the seas were very rough but she also mentions "I did not dare move from my blanket". From this we can see "rough seas" was not a one-off that happened to the ship whose rudder broke, but rather that "rough seas" was an ongoing issue as clearly her boat arrived undamaged. This helps us realise that trying to name the ship whose rudder broke is not as easy as just identifying a ships name whom went through a storm or rough seas). Having done research on Anita Paschwa, it would appear that she was an ORPHAN, she had been at Guzar where the orphanage was, she refers to having lost her father, there is no mention of her mother in her accounts and on page 116 refers to being in Isfahan (The city of Polish Children i.e orphans). Being an orphan, obviously, she was a child, no children are recorded on ship 2 which would be the likely candidate based on her departure date, so we are confident this supports her ship as being ship 3. On Ship 3 were 70 orphans from Guzar aged between 6-12 years old (Ross report). Therefore, it is almost a certainty that she was on ship 3, the only ship associated with orphans. The next question is the date. She says she boarded on "March 24". But Zosia Zemanek mentions embarking on the 26th and also mentions the soldiers embarking on the 27th. Personally I think Anita Paschwa got the dates wrong because it was on the 24th March that the evacuation plan was finalised so how could orphans be transported so quickly to Krasnovodsk and get on a boat? More likely is that she boarded on the 25th/26th. I've read enough accounts to know that there could be around a days wait after embarking (i.e Zosia Zemaneks accounts of the soldiers boarding a day after her) before departure commenced, so this fits. My ultimate conclusion is that Anita Paschwa was on Ship 3 and embarked on the 25th/26th. Therefore, her naming of the ship as the Zhdanov is probably not from her journal or true memory but rather from hearing the ships name and adopting it as her memory. On a last note she mentions the "smelly mess" on the decks, this is consistent with the overcrowded Agamali Ogly and less consistent with the prior 2 ships that were not overcrowded.
- Account Of Zygmunt Blumenfeld P164 - P165 - "On the morning of Friday, March 27, we arrive in Krasnovodsk. As a group, we leave the wagon and go in files to the Soviet military canteen (similarly to the previous day in Mary). Superbly tidy - good food. Then we board the ship. From the shore, without any formalities, we pass to the Agamali Ogly, a large ship already overloaded with military forces. Crowding and Russian dirt. We can barely find any space on the middle deck. Around 1 p.m., the tug boat and pilot lead our ship out to full sea. ... It's chilly. The turquoise sea and gentle waves do not even rock the ship. It sails without a murmur and I do not feel that we are moving away from the golden-yellow, mountainous shore at a rate of 20 knots.... Sharp white waves splash from both sides, as the ship slowly sails towards a distant, again unknown future. The night was terrible! It was crowded, there was a whirlwind, it was raining, and from far off came the sounds of thunder and flashes of lightning. The morning arrived cold, soggy. Everyone is shivering and weary ... Around 11 a.m. the weather clears and from far off we can see an ever-closer port, bright pagoda-like roofs and white buildings. From a distance I get a look at Persia for the first time. And then we are relocated to the deck (or rather under the deck) of a smaller ship, and finally on March 28, 1942, I was again beyond the borders of the USSR.”