Some four months after Pearl Harbor, as a doomed American garrison was still valiantly holding out against fierce Japanese attacks in the Philippines with no relief in sight, the war news was gloomy, indeed. The Japanese had already landed on New Guinea, threatening Australia, and had established bases in the Solomon Islands. British and Nationalist Chinese troops were retreating in the teeth of a determined Japanese assault on Burma. In the Atlantic, German submarines continued to roam at will, sinking thousands of tons of Allied merchant shipping, as they had throughout the previous year. Hitler’s legions, although stopped before Moscow by heroic Soviet resistance, remained a serious threat on the vast Russian front. The United States, still building its military and naval forces, had yet to face the Germans on land and would not do so until the landings in French North Africa in November of 1942. The war, it seemed, would be long and difficult.
At some point during these first few months after Pearl Harbor, Colonel William J. Donovan’s Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI)—soon to become the now legendary Office of Strategic Services (OSS)—broached the intriguing idea of an all-Polish American special unit within the United States Army. The project, as we shall see, appears to have been a serious one, but after months of work, came to nothing. The reasons for its abrupt abandonment are not clear. This writer has found himself at one dead end after another in his attempts to find a solid conclusion. Nevertheless, the story is offered here as a tantalizing research mystery of sorts awaiting a proper ending.
The Polish American military project was most likely the brain child of Lieutenant Colonel M. Preston Goodfellow (1892–1973), who had been assigned by Major General Sherman Miles, the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (G-2) to serve as a liaison between the Army’s General Staff and Donovan’s newly-created COI in August 1941. After Miles was replaced by Brigadier General Raymond E. Lee in February 1942, Goodfellow continued to perform his liaison duties, but Donovan also appointed him to the directorship of the COI’s new Special Activities Branch in January 1942. In this dual capacity, Goodfellow contacted Dr. Teofil Starzyński, the president of the Polish Falcons of America, and asked him to accept the role of chief recruiter for a proposed Polish American “Special Service” unit. The idea would have had the approval of the Army’s General Staff, which during the same month—April—had given its imprimatur to the creation of an all-Norwegian American special unit within the army, another project hatched by Goodfellow. Starzyński, a physician with a long record of service to Polonia and the Polish cause, immediately agreed to take on the responsibility.
Goodfellow, a colorful character in his own right, had been the publisher of the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper before the war, and a prominent critic of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration. Clearly, his choice of Starzyński as the right Polonian leader to assist him in recruitment of Polish Americans for a special military unit was based on the Pittsburgh physician’s own World War I experience, and his work on behalf of the Polish Government-in-Exile’s efforts to rebuild a military force after the September 1939 disaster.
Teofil Antoni Starzyński was born in Osowiec, in German-ruled Western Poland in 1878. His father, Antoni, was the administrator of the country estate of the Mlicki family, nobles who originated in the eastern borderlands several centuries earlier. Young Teofil was educated with the Mlicki children on the estate by private tutors. The Mlickis were patriotic Poles who constantly opposed the efforts of the Kaiser’s authorities to stifle any vestiges of Polish nationalism. This anti-Hohenzollern attitude was shared by the Starzyńskis. A few years after the elder Starzyński died in 1881, Teofil’s older brothers, Andrzej, Marcin, and Ignacy, emigrated to the United States and settled in Pittsburgh. They were joined in the Steel City by nine-year old Teofil, his older sister, and his mother in 1887.
Young Teofil quickly learned English in a Catholic school. While in high school, he took a job in a Polish pharmacy on Pittsburgh’s South Side. His employer, who had been a member of the original Polish Sokół (Falcon) physical fitness organization in the old country, influenced Starzyński, who together with his mentor, helped found the first Falcons “nest” in Pittsburgh in 1897.
Starzyński enrolled in the pharmacy program at the University of Pittsburgh, known at the time as the Western University of Pennsylvania, and graduated in 1901. He then attended the medical school at that university and earned his medical degree in 1904—the first Pittsburgh Pole to become a physician. While still a student at Pitt, he had been elected to a national vice-presidency of the Polish Falcons. As a newly-minted medical doctor, he married Helena Wyszyńska and established a thriving professional practice among Pittsburgh’s Polish community and compatriots from surrounding steel towns.
After a period which saw the Falcons first become a part of the Polish National Alliance—a move opposed by Starzyński—and then split into two separate wings by 1909, one headquartered in Chicago and affiliated with the PNA, and the other based in New York, the two groups agreed to merge at a special convention held in Pittsburgh in December 1912. Starzyński, who had been instrumental in bringing the two wings together, was elected president of the now-unified Polish Falcons of America. Pittsburgh thus became the national headquarters of the organization, and remains so to this day.
Starzyński was always interested in the problem of Poland’s resurrection as a sovereign state. He understood that undoing the partitions of the eighteenth century would be a most complex task, indeed. Yet he hoped it might be possible within the context of a general European war. Should such a conflagration happen, he believed, the Falcons must be ready to make a military contribution toward this end if the circumstances warranted it.
The World War I Example
The Pittsburgh physician realized, of course that the cherished goal of Polish independence was far beyond the capabilities of the Polish Falcons movement with its relatively small membership of 20,000 or so. All of American Polonia would have to be enlisted in this cause, and President Woodrow Wilson’s support was essential. In November 1913, Starzyński visited the White House at the head of a Falcons delegation to apprise the President of his organization’s efforts to train volunteers for military service on Poland’s behalf if and when such an opportunity should arise. When American troops were dispatched to Tampico and Vera Cruz, Mexico, in the spring of 1914, Starzyński actually proposed the deployment of several hundred newly-trained Falcons—a kind of “Polish American National Guard” contingent, as he described it—to serve in the occupation, an offer the War Department promptly but politely declined.
The beginning of the First World War in August 1914 found organized Polonia at odds over what course of action would best advance the Polish cause. With two of Poland’s partitioners engaged in a war against the third, Russia, the homeland became a battleground on the Eastern Front. In view of American neutrality, which made the raising and training of a Polish American army impossible in the United States, Starzyński distanced the Falcons from those who advocated action in favor of one side or another and adopted a position of “Stand Ready and Wait” as the only realistic option at the time.
The Falcons joined the newly-formed Central Polish Relief Committee in the fall of 1914, an organization that linked the conservative leadership of the Polish National Council (Rada Narodowa) with the large Polish National Alliance and a host of smaller fraternals, creating a federation that represented over 90 percent of organized Polonia. Within months, the committee established connections with the Swiss-based Polish Victims Relief Fund chaired by the Nobel Laureate novelist Henryk Sienkiewicz, a close associate of the celebrated pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski.
In December 1914, Starzyński and a Falcons delegation presented an eloquent statement justifying the case for Polish independence to President Wilson, who was said to have reacted sympathetically. During the following year, the Polish Central Relief Committee formed the National Department (Wydział Narodowy) as its political arm, which, in due course, would establish the Polish Military Commission with Starzyński, in effect, as the chief recruiter of a Polonian military force. An important first step was taken in late 1916 when the Falcons negotiated an agreement with the Canadian authorities for the training of Polish Americans at an officers’ school in Toronto, thus circumventing American neutrality restrictions.
As the United States edged closer to war during the early months of 1917, Starzyński scheduled an extraordinary Falcons convention to discuss plans for the recruitment of a Polish American volunteer army. As fate would have it, on the second day of the Pittsburgh meeting—April 2—Wilson asked Congress to declare war on the Central Powers. Making the most of this momentous coincidence, the Falcons president contacted Paderewski, then in Washington as the representative of Roman Dmowski’s Polish National Committee, and persuaded the Maestro to address the convention in favor of the creation of a Polish American military force.
It was Paderewski, more than anyone else, who had influenced, and charmed, both Wilson and his chief advisor, Colonel Edward M. House on the Polish issue. Moreover, the renowned pianist and composer had given so many concerts across the United States to raise funds for Polish war relief that he was, unquestionably, the personification of Polish aspirations for many Americans as well of immigrants from his homeland. Paderewski’s appearance at the Pittsburgh Falcons meeting electrified the audience, as did his proposal that Starzyński’s organization lead the effort to recruit a 100,000-strong “Kościuszko Army” to fight alongside American forces on the Western Front.
Despite Paderewski’s stirring call to action, however, no actual recruitment could begin until the War Department worked out its own plans for a large U.S. expeditionary force. In early June, the French government offered to sponsor the creation of a Polish Army in France comprised of Poles living in Western Europe, prisoners-of-war from the German forces, and immigrants from the United States. By September, 1917, Washington finally agreed to the formation of a Polish American force to be sent to France as part of a French-commanded Polish Army after training at Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, Canada. The fact that Dmowski’s Polish National Committee, by then ensconced in Paris, was included in these negotiations underscored the willingness of the Western Allies to deal with that entity as an official Polish organization.
Recruiting poster for the Polish Army, 1918–19. This and other illustrations are from Artur L. Waldo, Sokolstwo: Przednia Straż Narodu (Pittsburgh: Polish Falcons of America, 1974, Vol. IV).
Members of the Polish National Committee: from left seated, Maurycy Zamoyski, Roman Dmowski, Erazm Piltz; standing from left, Stanisław Kozicki, Jan Jordan Rozwadowski, Konstanty Skirmunt, Franciszek Fronczak, Władysław Sobański, Marian Seyda, Józef Wielowiejski. From Artur Waldo, Sokolstwo.
Starzyński and his colleagues, working under the aegis of the Wydział Narodowy, officially began to recruit Polish American volunteers in mid-October, eventually establishing forty-seven enlistment centers. The War Department, however, had imposed certain restrictions on the process: no American citizen of Polish origin, or any Polish-born resident who had already applied for citizenship could be recruited. Poles with dependent families were also off-limits to Starzyński’s recruiters, as were all those born within the Hohenzollern or Habsburg domains of partitioned Poland lest they be executed if captured as traitors to those empires. Thus the base of potential enlistees was reduced to only non-citizens born in the Russian provinces of the homeland, although these rules were violated in a number of cases.
As expected, the first wave of volunteers came from the Falcons. Overall, some 38,000 from eighteen states and three Canadian provinces applied for enlistment. After screening and training, nearly 22,000 ultimately were transported to France, the first 3,000 of whom arrived before the end of 1917. Placed under French command, the Polish-American troops joined other Polish units already attached to the French Army and saw action in a string of engagements during the last months of the Great War, including the defense of Paris at the Marne. These soldiers of the Polish diaspora performed well on the battlefield, suffering their share of casualties in the process. In early October, 1918, five weeks before the Armistice, Gen. Józef Haller was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army in France. At that point, the combined Polish force, six divisions, was officially recognized by France, Great Britain, and Italy as an autonomous and co-belligerent army under the supreme political authority of Dmowski’s Polish National Committee in Paris. The United States followed suit a month later.
General Józef Haller accepts command of the Polish Army in France, October 6, 1918. From Artur Waldo, Sokolstwo.
Meanwhile, dramatic events were unfolding in Poland. Józef Piłsudski, just released from German imprisonment, had become Commander-in-Chief on November 11, and shortly thereafter, Chief of State of an independent Polish Republic in the wake of the collapse of the Central Powers. The third partitioner, Russia, was embroiled in a civil war between various forces of the old regime and the Bolsheviks, who had seized power a year earlier. The establishment of the resurrected Polish state’s borders was of paramount concern to Piłsudski, considering the confusion and fluidity of the situation in East Central Europe at that time. Gen. Haller’s well-trained and equipped Polish army, 60,000-strong by Armistice Day, was needed in Poland to augment the disparate forces under Piłsudski’s command.
After negotiations with the Polish National Committee, headed by Piłsudski’s arch-rival Dmowski, a compromise was reached in January 1919 between the two factions: Paderewski would serve as prime minister and foreign minister in a broadened Warsaw government, while Dmowski and the Maestro would represent Poland at the Versailles Peace Conference. Haller’s troops would be shipped to Poland by rail, arriving in April.
The transfer of these units, with over 20,000 immigrants from America, boosted Piłsudski’s army from 170,000 to 230,000. Various contingents of Haller’s forces served in Upper Silesia, but the bulk of the “Blue Army,” so-named because of their distinctive French-supplied uniforms, were assigned to the eastern borderlands, where they engaged in combat against nationalist Ukrainians west of the Zbrucz River line. Other units fought to secure Polish control in Pomerania. During the Polish-Soviet War of 1919–21, Polish American units helped to stem the Bolshevik tide before Warsaw in August 1920, which resulted in a resounding Polish victory over Lenin’s Red Army.
Dr. Teofil Starzyński in the uniform of a major of the Polish Army, 1919. From Artur Waldo, Sokolstwo.
Starzyński himself joined the Polish Army he had helped to create. In December 1918, he gave up his Falcons presidency, accepted a commission as a major, and sailed for France. The physician, forty years old at the time, performed medical duties with Haller’s army—a force that included at least 6,000 of his fellow Falcons—in Poland and eastern Galicia. Decorated by the French and Polish governments and promoted to the rank of colonel, he returned to Pittsburgh in 1920 to resume his practice. Four years later, he once again became president of the Falcons, a position he held for the rest of his life.
The recruitment of over 20,000 Polish immigrants to serve in a Polish army on the Western Front and in the newly-independent Polish republic in its hour of need stands as one of the greatest achievements of American Polonia, and Starzyński played a significant role in much of it. “The Polish Army in France,” writes Blue Army scholar Joseph T. Hapak, “was instrumental in winning American recognition for the Polish National Committee in Paris. This action reinforced President Woodrow Wilson’s support for an independent Poland … [and] helped the Polish republic to meet the military challenge of 1919–1920, which threatened the new state’s survival.” In about two decades before the Great War, Polonia had transformed itself from “okolica-bound” peasants and members of their local parishes and fraternal societies into a much broader identification as the “fourth province of Poland,” sociologist Helena Znaniecki Lopata tells us. “They contributed to Poland’s rebirth through intensive effort and willingness to part with money that was being saved for their most important status symbols—land and durable property,” she notes. “Their action was a reflection of political patriotism and an emotional response to dynamic leadership despite the fact that they did not identify with the parties, ideologies, or internal struggle in Poland.”
The World War II Experience
Unquestionably, Starzyński’s efforts on Poland’s behalf earned him the respect of Polonia, and especially Pittsburgh’s Polish population. His military title, “Pulkownik” (Colonel), was used by Pittsburgh Poles to address him even more than “Doctor.” When Poland was overrun by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in September 1939, the Polish Government fled to Romania, and was later reconstituted in France; having suffered enormous casualties during the dual invasion that began the Second World War, the Polish Army had to be rebuilt in exile. The Polish Government, under its new Prime Minister, General Władysław Sikorski, lost much of its new forces during the German conquest of France in June 1940; the Polish Government and what remnants of its 80,000-man army that could be rescued were evacuated to England. Another rebuilding program was of crucial importance. Colonel Starzyński would be called upon to try to duplicate what had been achieved in 1917–18: a volunteer force of Polish Americans willing to join the Polish Army and serve the cause of Poland. As all concerned would discover, however, the times were considerably different from the First World War years, and so was American Polonia.
In early 1941, the optimistic Polish military authorities in London, in conjunction with the Canadian War Ministry, opened a camp at Owen Sound, Ontario, for the training of Polish American volunteers for service in the Polish Army. On February 21 of that year, the Polish ambassador to the United States, Jan Ciechanowski, called on Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles to apprise the Roosevelt Administration of “the urgent desire of the Poles…,” Welles reported, “to obtain a reserve force and said he hoped they might be able to obtain ten or twelve thousand volunteers from Canada and the United States for training in England after a preliminary period in Canada.” Welles responded that surely the Ambassador was “fully familiar with the position of this government in view of existing neutrality legislation which made recruiting within the United States impossible.” The Roosevelt Administration, it seemed clear, was decidedly cool to the idea of Polish military recruitment; both Starzyński and the Polish London government were disappointed, to say the least.
The situation seemed to brighten somewhat when Prime Minister Władysław Sikorski visited the White House on April 8, 1941, and was assured by the president that “Poland, as a fighting democracy, had the same right to participate in the facilities granted under the Lend-Lease Bill as, for instance, Great Britain.” But the Poles also sought clarification as to the status of Polish American volunteers for the Polish Army. Would they be exempted from U.S. Selective Service law? Was there a possibility that such volunteers would be required to forfeit their American citizenship in order to serve Poland?
In a press conference on June 25, 1941, Roosevelt endorsed a British effort to recruit 15,000 to 30,000 American technicians to serve in the Royal Air Force. “Mr. Roosevelt made it plain that any American boy desiring to enlist in the armies resisting aggression,” the Pittsburgh Press reported, “whether they be those of Britain or China, had a perfect right to do so…,” but was “unable to say whether these enlistees would be exempt under this nation’s selective service laws.”
Needless to say, the confusion surrounding these issues severely hampered the efforts of Starzyński and others who, at the request of the Polish government, were attempting to recruit Polish Americans for service in the Polish army, air force, and navy. The Falcons president wrote to Sumner Welles on June 26, asking whether the president’s remarks endorsing the recruitment of Americans for the British Royal Air Force would also apply to Polish Americans who wished to join the Polish forces, since FDR had made no mention of the Poles in his June 25 press conference. Under Secretary of State Welles routed Starzyński’s letter to the European Desk at State; almost a month later, Loy Henderson, Assistant Chief of the Division of European Affairs, replied. The enlistment of Polish Americans in the armed forces of Poland, he declared, “would not, under existing legislation, entail the loss of American citizenship unless … they took an oath of allegiance to the foreign state or unless they also had the nationality of the foreign state in the armed forces of which they enlisted or unless by such act they acquired that nationality.”
The Polish Government, having made similar inquiries, was pleased, but the recruitment effort was not producing the expected results. By October 1941 Polish troops in Canada included only 1,300 volunteers. Despite the best efforts of Starzyński, who worked hard to increase these numbers through his own Polish Falcons organization, the Polish American Council (Rada Polonii Amerikańskiej), the Friend of the Polish Soldier Society (Towarzystwo Przyjaciel Zolnierz Polskiego), and the Polish Army Veterans Association (Stowarzyszenie Weteranów Armii Polski), the enlistments envisioned by the Sikorski government fell stunningly short of expectations. Second-generation Polish Americans were not responding the way their fathers had during the First World War when they enlisted in the new Polish Army to assist the holy cause of Polish independence.
Even the publicity employed by Starzyński and his colleagues in their efforts to recruit volunteers for the Polish Army in 1941 seemed more attuned to the World War I-era immigrants than to their American-born sons. Brochures distributed throughout Polish-American communities spelled out the conditions for enlistment and promised that volunteers would not lose their American citizenship if they joined to help Poland “at the most critical moment in her history.” At the same time, Polish American newspaper editors were sent a list of slogans for use in articles about the recruitment program that sounded strikingly similar to the catch-phrases used in Polonia’s 1917–19 enlistment campaign. “Armia Polska w Kanadzie czeka na Ciebie!” (The Polish Army in Canada waits for you!) read one, while another used more forceful language: “Baczność! Do szeregu! Zbiorka! Kierunek Windsor—Marsz!” (Attention! To the ranks! Gather! Direction Windsor!—March!) These exhortations, however, failed to resonate in the hearts of enough of the more Americanized second-generation to whom they were directed. “It is probable,” Lopata postulates, “that the Americanization process had been so extensive in Polonia that few young men were motivated to join what was to them a ‘foreign army’ speaking Polish, and sharing a cultural background different from that of the descendants of the immigrants.”
Yet, there are other factors for the failure of the Polish Army recruitment effort that should be considered. There was a lingering bitterness among the veterans of Haller’s Army over the way they had been treated during their service in Poland from 1919 to 1921, which they passed on to their American-born children, and the belief, especially after Pearl Harbor, that service in the American military would result in greater influence for Polonia, while simultaneously benefiting the cause of Poland.
Reluctantly, the exiled Polish Government was forced to shut down its operations at the training camp in Owen Sound, Canada in the spring of 1942. In the end, only 772 Polish Americans remained, many of them Polish-born, who were incorporated into the Polish forces commanded by the Sikorski regime in London. In retrospect, the historian Richard C. Lukas notes, “the hopes and plans of the Polish Government to recruit large numbers of men in the United States were based on assumptions about Polish Americans and Polish nationals resident in the United States that proved to be incorrect. Most Polish Americans and Polish nationals who had declared to be American citizens preferred to serve in the United States Army rather than the Polish Army.” In fact, tens of thousands of second-generation Polish Americans had already been inducted into the American forces months before Pearl Harbor, this writer’s father among them, since conscription was re-introduced in September 1940.
Almost immediately after Dr. Starzyński was informed of the closure of the Canadian training base for Polish American recruits, he was enlisted as chief recruiter for Lt. Col. M. Preston Goodfellow’s project to create a U.S. Army unit comprised solely of Polish Americans. Starzyński accepted this new role with the same enthusiasm (and optimism) he displayed in his earlier efforts on behalf of the Polish Government-in-Exile. The Polish Falcons, headquartered at 97 South Eighteenth Street on Pittsburgh’s South Side, became the national recruiting station for this unique undertaking.
“I beg to inform you,” the Pittsburgh physician informed Goodfellow, “that I accept your proposition and agree gladly and wholeheartedly to recruit volunteers of Polish extraction for the United States Army Special Service Unit.” Starzyński had already notified his associates about the “new work we are about to start….” He mentioned that “this association has been organized over a year ago at the Polish Falcons National Headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the purpose … to further the cause of the Polish Army in Canada … and to promote by all means help to … the United States of America and the United Nations in defeating the ever-treacherous Axis powers.” The Falcons network to recruit for the Polish Army was still operational, Starzyński wrote, and had offices in St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Schenectady, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Newark, New York City, New Britain, Connecticut, Springfield, Massachusetts, and Boston. All these offices, including various “Sub-chapters” located in smaller towns, were manned by trusted Starzyński associates, fellow members of the Friend of the Polish Soldier Society, the Polish Army Veterans Association, and the Polish Falcons. Eager to start, Starzyński asked Goodfellow to cover the expenses for “one secretary with command of English and Polish … for about $25.00 a week,” and full-time recruiters for Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, New York, and New Britain at “about $175.00 or $200.00 a month,” plus incidentals.
On May 25, Goodfellow wrote Starzyński to inform him that the project was indeed in the works, but the “green light” to proceed had to wait “for Colonel Donovan’s commission in the army to come through.” This was a reference to the temporary nature of the COI director’s First World War rank of colonel; he now sought to be recommissioned as a brigadier general. Starzyński’s reply, nevertheless, brimmed with optimism:
Right along I keep contact with my organization and I tell them to be ready for work as soon as I get final instructions from you. So far, I have a beautiful response from all sections. It seems that our boys are quite interested in this proposed U.S. Army Special Service Unit and are anxious to fill out the applications as soon as they can get them. Last week, there were about 35 boys, first-class types, relieved from the Polish Armed Forces in Canada, who are American citizens and sent back to the U.S. They wish to make application and join … the Special Service Unit … I would be very happy if we could start work as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Starzyński was still receiving inquiries from Polish Americans of draft age regarding service with the Polish forces despite the closure of the training camp in Canada. Two such would-be volunteers from Rhode Island, Edward Domnanski and Charles Dowiot, wrote the Polish Falcons president on June 1, 1942:
We are both American citizens of Polish descent and we wish to join the Polish Air Force. Our ages are eighteen and nineteen, and we both have a high school education.
This has been on our minds ever since Poland has been conquered. We have understood in Boston that they do not take any more American citizens since the attack on Pearl Harbor.
We are both in good health. We had a chance to join up with the American Navy, but our folks at home want us to join the Polish Air Force.
Starzyński directed both youths to apply for the U.S. Army Special Service Unit; he would send them applications as soon as possible. The COI’s Goodfellow, for his part, continued to encourage Starzyński regarding the creation of a totally Polish American U.S. military unit. “We will shortly be able to give you the green light to go ahead,” Donovan’s Special Activities director said in a June 2 letter to Starzyński. But June and July passed without word from Goodfellow to proceed with the actual, official recruitment. The delay worried Starzyński, but may be attributed to President Roosevelt’s executive order of June 13 placing the Office of Coordinator of Information under the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a supporting agency with a new name: the Office of Strategic Services. Donovan was retained as the director, and Goodfellow was appointed as a deputy director. In addition to this reorganization, Donovan and Goodfellow visited London together in June to coordinate plans with the British. By August, Goodfellow would be detached from the G-2 office of the Army General Staff, assigned to the OSS full-time, and promoted to full colonel.
Whatever the reasons for the seemingly stalled Polish American Special Service Unit project, an anxious Starzyński met with Goodfellow in Washington on August 5. The Falcon president’s notes from the conference clearly indicate that the Polish American special unit idea was still alive, and that Starzyński obtained answers to many procedural questions.
Starzyński was granted permission to send notices to Polish-language newspapers announcing that a special force of Polish Americans would be formed. The twenty offices of the Friends of the Polish Soldier Society, which Starzyński had helped to create to recruit volunteers for the Polish Army, would now be asked to select twenty young candidates to be sent to Officers Candidate School from each of the Polonian centers served by these offices—a total of 400 men. Goodfellow confirmed that “young officers of Polish parentage now serving in the U.S. Army may transfer to this special unit.” He also revealed that the plans called for three or four officers from the Polish Army in England, preferably captains and one major, none over the age of 33, to be attached to the unit. These officers will have had commando training and would serve as instructors in glider piloting, parachuting, and other specialized military arts.
Starzyński suggested that high schools and colleges in the United States where one might find a fair degree of Polish American enrollment be contacted for recruitment purposes. The Falcons president also proposed a publicity blitz throughout Polonia, replete with recruiting posters and photographs of Polish Americans in training for the special unit. This material would then be posted in Polish social halls and parishes. As part of the campaign, Starzyński strongly recommended that older men “who were either officers in the last war or qualify for commissions by reasons of education and aggressiveness” be permitted to join the unit “for purposes of canvassing all Polish communities for recruits.”
After the August 5 meeting with Col. Goodfellow, Starzyński was more optimistic than ever that the Polish American special unit concept was on track for imminent approval. Rumors abounded within Polonia about the creation of an exclusively Polish American formation, and the Falcon leader was besieged with letters and phone calls seeking more information. “I am … reliably informed that the Adjutant General has now under consideration an idea of creating a Polish expeditionary force,” one Polonian leader from Chicago wrote. “Whether or not non-citizens will be permitted to join is of interest to me … I have had numerous requests from subjects [sic] of Poland who are eager to serve.” Starzyński replied on August 7, now apparently confident enough to declare that “after many months of study, the Washington authorities finally and favorably decided to form … the U. S. Army Special Service Unit.” This outfit, he asserted, will consist of “combat formations of special character,” enlisting Polish Americans of the “highest caliber” between the ages of 20 and 40. They need not be U.S. citizens, but they must be totally fluent in the Polish language. “All draftees who are classified as I-A,” Starzyński wrote, “have priority privilege of joining this outfit … and those who have already been inducted into the U.S. Army and are still in this country may on application, be transferred.” Furthermore, the Falcons president declared,
This proposition … is a quite important matter for the Government of the United States and also for the cause of Poland and others who are with us against the Aggressive Powers. Therefore, it is expected that we will combine our efforts to make this a great success, which in turn will put us still even higher before American Public Opinion, and no less, will help us in winning this great war for the preservation of the American way of life, the Freedom and Independence of Poland … and all Peace Loving Peoples.
By mid-August, meanwhile, Starzyński had begun to place notices in the Polish daily newspapers and a host of fraternal publications. Written in Polish, probably by Starzyński himself, these press releases were usually titled “Polskie Bataljony W Armii Amerykańskiej” (A Polish Battalion in the American Army). “Not long ago,” the announcement noted, “the American press reported the news that the American government has called for the organization of a separate military unit comprised entirely of Norwegians.” Now, the time has come for a similar unit made up of Poles born in America and Poland who would be able to apply for this “specjalnie służby” (special service). The creation of a cadre of officers will come first, readers were told, followed by enlisted men. This special combat unit would be formed soon; those who wished to join were urged to contact Dr. Starzyński at Polish Falcon headquarters in Pittsburgh. Such a Polish American military formation, it was hoped, “might be able to play a role in reestablishing order and helping to rebuild the ruined homeland after the defeat of the Germans.”
By this time, Starzyński was using letterhead stationery with the legend “U.S. Army Special Service Unit” above the address of the Falcons national office. On August 19, he cabled Leopold Krzyżak of the Polish Veterans Association in New York—a long-time colleague from the days of Haller’s Army—to inform the latter that he had “just talked to Colonel G[oodfellow]. He is waiting patiently much as we are for final go which he expects this week. Meantime we should pile up all applications with possible background of [officer] candidates. Will contact you when I get good news.” Five days later, a potential candidate for the proposed unit was told by Starzyński’s secretary, Wanda Rybicka, that “the Colonel” was still “awaiting final instructions from Washington so that we may get the work underway.”
As the weeks passed by with no official word that an exclusively Polish American unit would indeed be formed, an exasperated and very concerned Starzyński wrote to OSS Deputy Director Goodfellow on August 28, complaining that “the go-ahead, which I was to get about last Wednesday, has not reached me yet.” This delay, the physician intimated, was causing quite a problem:
I perfectly understand your position and know that you are doing your best to get this great idea, which would have a tremendous moral uplift and influence in Poland and no less among American Poles—started and realized. However, believe me, dear Colonel, this continued delay in getting things started puts me, before the leaders of our organization and the American-Polish press, in a peculiar and delicate situation. In other words, it puts this great cause and especially me “on the spot.”
Starzyński assured Goodfellow that “judging from the letters and inquiries I am getting from some of the boys in the camps, and from other public-spirited men from all sections of the country in response to my initial letters and announcements—are very good.” Indeed, the volume of inquiries about the possibility of serving in an all-Polish American unit shows the Falcons president was not exaggerating; these letters are preserved in the Falcons archive, and do not include the many telephonic inquiries for which there are no records.
Starzyński in his Falcon uniform.
Courtesy of the Polish Falcons of America.
In early September, Starzyński informed Krzyżak, who in the meantime had been drafted and, as a former junior artillery officer in Haller’s Army, was seeking a commission in the special Polish unit, that he had just received word from Col.Włodzimierz Onacewicz, the Polish military attaché in Washington, that a “favorable decision had been reached,” presumably in the matter of the creation of the special service outfit. Why Onacewicz should have been told before Starzyński, however, is not clear. In any case the news was either false, or a change of heart within the OSS or the War Department had occurred. The delay, much to Starzyński’s chagrin—not to mention embarrassment—continued.
At the end of September, the Falcons president received a letter from a fellow Falcon, a desk-bound major in the Army Engineers “itching for more arduous and active work….” In response to his inquiry about the status of the Polish American Special Service Unit, Starzyński replied that “the question of [this special force] is still in the making, although the principle of the idea was figuratively decided by the Army authorities in the early spring but the details are still coming in and we can’t move forward until these details are given to me.”
While awaiting the final order from the OSS to proceed with the Polish American military project, Starzyński continued to pile up quite a thick dossier of letters from Polonian soldiers stationed all over the country asking how they might join the proposed unit. One Army Air Force private, Karol Anuszkiewicz, asked Starzyński’s secretary, the aforementioned Wanda Rybicka, for more application forms to hand out to his fellow Polish Americans based at Buckley Field, Colorado. “I am so sorry that at the present time I cannot divulge more information on this subject….” Miss Rybicka replied. “I can, however, assure you that once this [Special Service Unit] gets underway, you and the other Polish boys interested in the Polish Cause will be greatly satisfied with the work you can accomplish in this Unit—not only for Poland, but for the … United States.”
In mid-October, Starzyński attended the convention of the Polish American Council ( Rada Polonii) in Buffalo. The Rada, a war relief organization that represented virtually all fraternals, societies, churches, and press outlets throughout Polonia, was eager to learn more from the Falcons leader, who also served as a vice-president of the Council, about the effort to create an army unit. “Inquiries were made …,” Starzyński reported to Goodfellow, “and although I was limited in giving details—the whole proposition was enthusiastically accepted.”
By late November, Starzyński had faithfully sent Goodfellow a number of lists of potential Polish American officer candidates and enlisted men already serving in various U.S. Army units who had requested a transfer to the Special Service formation. Many of these soldiers mentioned in their letters that they had been sent a news clipping about the proposed unit by their Polish parents at home. The Pittsburgh physician had counseled patience to all those who wrote him to inquire why they had heard nothing further after having applied to join the unique outfit that Starzyński had promised was about to be created.
On November 25, 1942, Colonel Goodfellow informed the Falcons president that “our tables of organization are progressing, but the progress is slow and in view of this fact I think it best to discontinue the lists for the present…. You will hear from me immediately when the tables have been approved.” The deputy director of the Office of Strategic Services asked Starzyński to send him a bill for his expenses incurred on the Polish American project since the last payment.
This brief letter from Goodfellow appears to have signaled the end of the idea for the Special Service Unit comprised solely of Polish Americans. No other reference regarding this fascinating proposition exists in Starzyński’s files, as far as this writer can determine. Nor is there any item that directly refers to the project in the papers of OSS director William J. Donovan at the Center for Military History in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Of the 1,560 documents on the Polish American community amassed by the OSS Foreign Nationalities Branch from 1942 to 1945, none mention the proposed Special Services Unit, although Starzyński’s activities are mentioned a number of times during 1943–1945. Goodfellow’s papers, housed at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, California, likewise reveal no references to either Starzyński or the Polish American military project. The finding aids of the records of the Army General Staff also turned up nothing connected to this effort.
Many questions remain concerning this failed project. What was the original purpose for the idea to create a special force of Polish Americans in the spring of 1942? Were these troops, who were expected to have a total command of the Polish language, to be attached to Polish combat units of the London Polish Government? Or were they to be used in commando-type subversive operations, behind enemy lines under the operational command of the OSS, since such missions were Colonel Goodfellow’s specialty? Why was the project scrapped, seven to eight months after Starzyński accepted Goodfellow’s apparently unsolicited offer to head the recruitment drive for the special unit?
Let us now turn to another Goodfellow project, the Norwegian American Battalion, approval for which was granted by the War Department on May 9, 1942. Designated as the 99th Infantry Battalion (Separate), the unit was comprised solely of Norwegian Americans and Norwegian nationals resident in the United States. Ostensibly created to be used in a possible Allied invasion of German-occupied Norway, these troops underwent intensive schooling in mountain warfare, but never saw their ancestral homeland until after the collapse of the Third Reich, when they were sent to play a largely ceremonial role. The unit was activated in July 1942, and saw action in France, Belgium, and Germany in 1944–1945. Although the 99th would also serve as recruitment tool for Goodfellow’s clandestine operations—over a hundred of its members volunteered to be sent into France and Italy under OSS command to conduct sabotage operations—this unique unit performed quite well as a regular infantry battalion attached at different times to infantry and armored divisions during its 101 days of combat against the Germans in the last year of the war.
Other ethnic battalions were also created at about the same time as the proposed Polish American project. A Greek American Battalion was formed of second-generation and native-born Greeks. Designated as the 122nd Infantry Battalion, they trained for unconventional warfare as a unit, but the OSS took about 200 volunteers among them and turned this select group into Company C, 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion, and placed it under the tutelage of OSS officers, veterans of the French Resistance, and British commandos. While the remainder of the 122nd was disbanded in August 1943 and transferred to other regular infantry units, the 2671st Special Reconnaissance Battalion was sent into Greece under British operational command, where they spent 219 days throughout 1944, amassing an exemplary record of guerrilla warfare against the German occupiers. The exploits of this outfit were sealed by the Central Intelligence Agency until 1988.
In marked contrast to the outstanding service records of the Norwegian and Greek American special units is the brief history of the ill-fated Austrian Battalion, allegedly the idea of the State Department, and encouraged by the last empress of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Zita von Habsburg. When efforts to enlist Austrian-born volunteers fell far short of expectations, the Army scoured the ranks of draftees, pulling soldiers out of other units who had listed their birthplace as “Austro-Hungarian Empire,” and transferred them to the 101st Infantry Battalion (Separate)—the Austrian Battalion—for training at a camp in Indiana. The result was an ethnic potpourri of Croatians, Slovenians, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Ukrainians, and some Poles born in Galicia. Three Habsburgs, Karl, Felix, and Rudolf, joined as enlisted men, but insisted on being addressed as Grand Dukes. Unit cohesiveness was never achieved, and the Army, unenthusiastic about the idea from the beginning, disbanded the unit in 1943, scattering its members throughout a number of other outfits.
Apart from the dismal Austrian venture, these ethnic units performed well and provided the OSS with special operations groups—Colonel Goodfellow’s forte in the OSS. It seems almost certain that the idea for a “Polish Battalion” was conceived with a similar purpose in mind. The interest displayed by the Polish military attaché in Washington, Col. Onacewicz, in the project through his correspondence with Starzyński, also appears to indicate that the Polish American Special Service unit would work with Polish commando troops trained for special operations in Nazi-occupied Poland. This is mere conjecture, of course, since the project was ultimately scuttled by either the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the OSS itself.
We know that Goodfellow’s Special Activities Branch was modeled in large part after the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), which had laid claim to the Balkans and Eastern Europe as within its operational jurisdiction for clandestine missions. This much, it must be assumed, was made clear to Donovan and Goodfellow during their June 1942 visit to London to coordinate plans with the British intelligence services. Furthermore, without closer bases yet, Poland was at the very extreme edge of the Royal Air Force’s range in 1942. It should also be remembered that at the time the special Polish American unit was proposed, the Soviet Union still appeared to be on the ropes in its struggle to stem the German tide. By late November 1942, however, the Red Army had begun to encircle the enemy at Stalingrad; the momentum was about to change. In that case, Poland would lie on the Soviet road to Berlin within the foreseeable future. Such a scenario would have political implications as well.
In addition to the above considerations, Donovan himself seems to have soured on the idea of using foreign nationals in Goodfellow’s guerrilla and special operations schemes. The ethnic units already approved and in training by the fall of 1942 were a mix of second-generation Americans and foreign-born residents of the United States. On October 15, 1942, Col. Goodfellow sent a memorandum to Donovan recommending the use of more foreign nationals in OSS special operations and guerrilla warfare. “These peoples,” Goodfellow wrote, “see in the Office of Strategic Services a friendly governmental agency, flexible enough to render quick and effective help and definitely interested from an operations standpoint of military action…. These peoples, with whom I have had an intimate association, are a great reservoir of military strength.” The Deputy Director for Special Activities concluded his memo by recommending that “I be instructed to work out a program with a number of these groups for submission to you and for further consideration by the Joint Chiefs when you are convinced the plan is a good one.”
The OSS Director’s response was brief and to the point: “Such organizations (as you already have experienced) present difficult diplomatic and political problems,” he replied. “They do not belong in an organization like yours.” Donovan advised Goodfellow to “concentrate solely upon the very important matter of the Strategic Service Command,” the precursor to the Special Operations command. Whether this attitude regarding Goodfellow’s recommendations had any bearing whatsoever on shutting down Starzyński’s recruitment efforts for a special Polish American contingent a month or so later is not certain.
Starzyński’s role in the project was, of course, significant, and he must have been severely disappointed when the plan was terminated. The Pittsburgh physician, an American as well as a Polish patriot, was probably advised not to discuss the matter further once he received official word, possibly by telephone, that the Polish American unit was not to be. Starzyński went on to become a key figure in Polonia’s efforts to safeguard the territorial integrity and independence of Poland in the face of Soviet determination to subjugate that land. The Falcons president became a prominent officer in the Polish American Congress in 1944, chairing the founding convention in Buffalo that year. After an aggregate total of thirty-four years as the head of the Polish Falcons, he died in 1952, a revered figure in Pittsburgh Polonia, and a national Polish American leader of considerable importance.
One of the last letters from a Polish American soldier in Starzyński’s Special Unit file came from Private Michael J. Mieczkowski in December 1942. Stationed at Westover Army Air Field in Massachusetts, he was quite concerned that he had not yet been granted a transfer to the Special Service Unit for which he had applied. “I cannot be more satisfied than being in the Polish Battalion … and my enlistment [application] … without any answer makes me quite low in spirits,” he wrote. “I’d do most anything to be in the ‘Polish Battalion’.” The young soldier had tried to join the Polish forces before he was drafted into the U.S. Army, but was turned down at the Polish Consulate in Chicago “on account of the law against U.S. citizens enlisting in foreign forces since December 7, 1941.” Upon hearing of the plans to create a Polish American unit within the U.S. military, however, he believed his wish would come true. “Please send me a quick return,” he pleaded.
“As you know,” Starzyński replied, “your application has been sent to the proper authorities [but] I have not yet received any details regarding these applications…. Please do not be too impatient with the tardiness of this matter,” the Falcons president advised. “The Army authorities know what they are doing and are doing it for specific reasons.” At this point, it was all he could say after more than eight months of work on behalf of the battalion that never was.
Could the onus for the demise of the Polish American Special Service Unit be laid at the feet of a disinterested Polonia? Was the fate of this endeavor a postscript of sorts to the failure of Polonia to provide more than a few hundred volunteers for the Polish Army before Pearl Harbor brought the United States into the war? From the available evidence, it appears that Starzyński and his colleagues generated enough interest to insure that a battalion-sized formation of 600 to 800 Polish Americans, at least, could have been raised, considering that many of those who expressed a desire to join such a unit were already serving in the U.S. Army at the time. Starzyński himself never revealed the slightest doubt on the matter of securing enough volunteers for the proposed outfit, assuring Goodfellow on several occasions that the response from “our boys” was quite good. Clearly, more research is necessary to ascertain whether Starzyński’s optimism was justified from the perspective of the OSS and Army authorities. This remains one of the key unanswered questions, along with the following: when, exactly, was it determined that the Polish American project be shelved, and by whom? Were political, or strategic factors involved here?
The American armed forces during World War II drew in about one million Polish Americans either through the draft or voluntary enlistment. They served in all theaters of the war and were represented in all branches of the service, including the women’s components. Citing a 1944 study by Mieczysław Haiman, historian John Radzilowski points out that although Polonia constituted only four percent of the American population in 1940, it produced about 8.5 percent of the nation’s servicemen and women. A broader perspective indicates that the United States mobilized about 12.3 percent of its military-age population for the war effort out of 132 million. Thus, some sixteen million were in uniform, half of them in the army alone. The Haiman survey of Polish parishes taken in the spring of 1944—more than a year before the end of the war—shows that 16.2 percent of all Polish Americans were in the service at that time.
Unquestionably, Polish American participation in World War II was massive. As Radzilowski notes, however, “this did not mean that Polonia ceased to think of itself as Polish. As in World War I, the cause of Poland and loyalty and love of America became synonymous.” But, as we know, there was no separate Polish American unit in the United States Army, as presumably there could have been. Whatever the reasons for this failure, it cannot be charged to Dr. Teofil Starzyński, who was totally committed to first recruiting volunteers to the Polish Army, and then to the creation of the U.S. Army Special Service Unit. “His work,” Szymon Szytniewski reminds us, “is worth remembering and being appreciated by both Poles and Polish Americans.”
1ï¿½ Letter, Lt. Col. M. Preston Goodfellow to Dr. T. A. Starzyński, April 24, 1942. Staryński Papers, Polish Falcons of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Cited hereafter as Starzyński Papers. For Goodfellow’s early role in COI, see William R. Corson, The Armies of Ignorance: The Rise of the American Intelligence Empire (New York: The Dial Press, 1977), 179.
2ï¿½ “General Theophilus Anthony Starzyński,” unsigned, undated typed manuscript most likely authored by Arthur Waldo. Starzyński Papers. The “General” in the title refers to the posthumous promotion granted to the Polish Falcons leader in 1962 by the Polish Government-in-Exile for his long service to the Polish cause.
3ï¿½ The author’s grandfather, Bronisław Szymczak, a steelworker from a Polish community some thirty miles from Pittsburgh in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, would take a train to visit Dr. Starzyński’s office in order to be treated by a doctor with whom he could speak Polish. He was one of many Poles from outlying areas who sought Starzyński’s care.
4ï¿½ See David T. Rustkoski, “The Polish Army in France: Immigrants in America, World War I Volunteers in France, Defenders of the Recreated State in Poland” (Ph.D. diss., Georgia State University, 2006), 26–28.
5ï¿½ Starzyński became disillusioned with Józef Piłsudski’s Galician-based, Austrian-sanctioned legionary movement during a visit to Poland shortly before the war. Upon his return, he pulled the Falcons away from the pro-Piłsudski Polish National Defense Committee (Komitet Obrony Narodowej, or KON) headquartered in New York. For a good summary of the internecine problems that affected American Polonia during this period, see Andrzej Brożek, Polish Americans: 1854–1939 (Warsaw: Interpress, 1985; trans. by Wojciech Worsztynowicz), 135–42.
6ï¿½ Donald E. Pienkos, One Hundred Years Young: A History of the Polish Falcons in America, 1887–1987 (Boulder, Colorado: East European Monographs, 1987), 86.
7ï¿½ For the full text of the “Memorial to the Civilized Nations of the World: An Appeal for Poland” presented by Starzyński’s delegation to President Wilson, see Artur Waldo, Sokolstwo: Przednia Straż Narodu IV (Pittsburgh: Polish Falcons of America, 1974), 252–56.
8ï¿½ For a discussion of the Polish National Department, see M. B. B. Biskupski, “The Polish National Department, 1916–1925: A Review Essay,” Polish American Studies, Vol. 47, no. 2 (Autumn 1991), 81–86. On the work of the Polish Military Commission, see Joseph T. Hapak, “The Polish Military Commission,” Polish American Studies, Vol. 38, no. 2 (Autumn 1981), 26–37. For the details of the complicated Canadian negotiations, see M. B. B. Biskupski, “Canada and the Creation of a Polish Army, 1914–1918,” The Polish Review, Vol. 44, no. 3 (1999), 337–78.
9ï¿½ Pienkos, One Hundred Years Young, 95. Roman Dmowski (1864–1939) was the leader of the Polish National Democratic movement, whose right-wing ideology held that Germany was Poland’s greatest enemy, a position at odds with that of Józef Piłsudski (1867–1935), the socialist revolutionary whose own legions, created under Austrian auspices, were fighting the Russians on the Eastern Front. Dmowski’s Polish National Committee moved from Switzerland to Paris in 1917 and would be accorded the status of a de facto Polish government by the end of the war.
10ï¿½ See M. B. B. Biskupski, “Paderewski as a Leader of American Polonia, 1914–1918,” Polish American Studies, Vol. 43, no. 1 (Spring 1986), 37–56.
11ï¿½ Pienkos, One Hundred Years Young, 96–98. Prior to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in March 1917, the French had regarded the sensitive “Polish issue” as an internal Russian problem. When the Russian Provisional Government declared its support for an independent Poland and permitted the organization of separate Polish military units in Russia, it also agreed to the creation of a Polish army in France to fight on the Western Front. The funding and equipping of such a force would be undertaken by the French.
12ï¿½ Pienkos, One Hundred Years Young, 97.
13ï¿½ Pienkos, One Hundred Years Young, 100–01. Total Polish casualties during the 1918 campaign amounted to over a thousand. Of the more than 200 men killed in action, 106 were immigrant volunteers from the United States. For the statement of Secretary of State Robert Lansing on the American decision to recognize the Polish Army in France as a co-belligerent entity, see The New York Times, November 5, 1918. Also, it should be noted that between 200,000 and 300,000 Polish Americans served in the United States military during World War I, most of whom either had become citizens, or had declared their intention to do so.
14ï¿½ For the events leading to Piłsudski’s assumption of authority in Poland, and his keen desire to have Haller’s troops brought to the country, see Wacław Jędrzejewicz, Piłsudski: A Life for Poland (New York: Hippocrene Books, 1982), 72–75.
15ï¿½ Jędrzejewicz, Piłsudski, 72–75.
16ï¿½ See Pienkos, One Hundred Years Young, 106–10. Total casualties suffered by Polish American units in both France and Poland from 1918–21, according to an inconclusive review, amounted to 1,832 killed, and 2,011 wounded.
17ï¿½ Pienkos, One Hundred Years Young, 276–77.
18ï¿½ Joseph T. Hapak, “The Polish Blue Army: 1917–1919,” Zgoda, November 14, 2008.
19ï¿½ Helena Znaniecki Lopata, Polish Americans: Status Competition in an Ethnic Community (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1976), 23–24. Polonia also contributed over $20,000,000 to the Polish cause during World War I, and purchased $67,000,000 in American Liberty Bonds, remarkable figures for a population of perhaps three million immigrants and their children at that time.
20ï¿½ Memorandum of Conversation, Sumner Welles with Jan Ciechanowski, February 21, 1941, Sumner Welles Papers, Box 165, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York. Hereafter referred to as FDRL.
21ï¿½ Memorandum of the Polish Government, July 22, 1941, Welles Papers, Box 165, FDRL.
22ï¿½Pittsburgh Press, June 25, 1941.
23ï¿½ Letter, Starzyński to Sumner Welles, June 26, 1941, Starzyński Papers.
24ï¿½ Letter, Loy Henderson to Starzyński, July 21, 1941, Starzyński Papers.
25ï¿½ For the best account to date on Starzyński’s efforts to raise a substantial force of Polish American volunteers to serve in the Polish Army before the American entry into the Second World War, see Szymon Szytniewski, “Teofil Starzyński’s Activities to Recruit Polish Soldiers in Canada During the Second World War,” Polish American Studies, Vol. LXIII, no. 2 (Autumn 2006), 59–77.
26ï¿½ “Information: Conditions of Admission of Volunteers to the Polish Army in Canada” (Windsor, Ontario: Polish Recruiting Centre Brochure, 1941); “Hasla do Prasy,” (Mottos to the Press), three typewritten pages of slogans, no date, but almost certainly 1941, Starzyński Papers.
27ï¿½ Lopata, Polish Americans, 25.
28ï¿½ Szytniewski, “Teofil Starzynski’s Activities,” 72–75. The disaffection of a number of “Blue Army” veterans stemmed from the belief that their contributions to the new Polish Republic had been minimized in comparison to the role played by Piłsudski’s followers, who considered Dmowski’s National Democratic Party, under whose aegis the Polish Army in France operated, as the political enemy of the Piłsudski regime.
29ï¿½ Richard C. Lukas, The Strange Allies: The United States and Poland, 1941–1945 (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1978), 5–6.
30ï¿½ Letter, Starzyński to Lt. Col. M. Preston Goodfellow, May 1, 1942, Starzyński Papers. When an impatient Starzyński had yet to receive further instructions from Goodfellow after nearly two weeks, he asked the Polish military attaché in Washington, Col. Włodzimierz Onacewicz, to make “indirect” contact with Goodfellow, and Donovan, if necessary, to ascertain the reason for the delay “despite telephone conversations and assurances” that the “answers” were forthcoming. The tone of Starzyński’s letter to Onacewicz indicates that the Polish embassy was well aware of the Polish American Special Unit project at this early stage. Letter, Starzyński to Onacewicz, May 13, 1942.
31ï¿½ Letter, Goodfellow to Starzyński, May 25, 1942, Starzyński Papers. Donovan’s commission was approved in March 1943. It remains unclear, and unlikely, that the delay in the formation of the proposed unit was caused by the OSS director’s lengthy wait for his new commission in light of the fact that other ethnic units had already been created.
32ï¿½ Letter, Starzyński to Goodfellow, May 29, 1942, Starzyński Papers.
33ï¿½ Letter, Edward Domnanski and Charles Dowiot to Starzyński, June 1, 1942, Starzyński Papers.
34ï¿½ Letter, Goodfellow to Starzyński, June 2, 1942, Starzyński Papers.
35ï¿½ Memorandum, “Conference with Colonel Goodfellow,” August 5, 1942, handwritten notes, Starzyński Papers.
36ï¿½ Memorandum, “Conference with Colonel Goodfellow,” August 5, 1942, handwritten notes, Starzyński Papers.
37ï¿½ Letter, Wencel F. Hetman to Starzyński, August 4, 1942, Starzyński Papers, PFA.
38ï¿½ Letter, Starzyński to Wencel F. Hetman, August 7, 1942.
39ï¿½ “Polskie Bataljony W Armii Amerykańskiej,” Sokol Polski, August 15, 1942. Copy in Polish Falcons Archives. Although the word “battalion” was bandied about in regard to the proposed Polish American formation, the term was not used by Goodfellow in his correspondence with Starzyński. But since the other ethnic units had all been designated as battalions, it is likely that had the Polish American unit been created, it too, would have been labeled as such. A World War II U.S. Army battalion could have ranged from 300 to 1,000 men, depending on its purpose. Generally speaking, however, most battalions consisted of about 600–800 troops—three or four companies—commanded by a lieutenant colonel.
40ï¿½ Telegram, Starzyński to Leopold Krzyżak, August 19, 1942, Starzyński Papers.
41ï¿½ Letter, Wanda Rybicka to Stanley Wisnioski, August 24, 1942, Starzyński Papers.
42ï¿½ Letter, Starzyński to Goodfellow, August 28, 1942, Starzyński Papers.
43ï¿½ Letter, Starzyński to Goodfellow, August 28, 1942, Starzyński Papers.
44ï¿½ Telegram, Starzyński to Leopold Krzyżak, September 8, 1942. Interestingly, two weeks after Starzyński received word from Onacewicz that a “favorable decision” had been reached, he still had no message from Goodfellow to that effect. Instead, Starzyński was informed by Captain Adam Zamoyski of the Polish Military Attaché’s staff, who, acting under Onacewicz’s instructions, revealed to the Falcons president that new information indicated that the Special Unit project was currently in the hands of the War Department and approval was expected within a few days. Letter, Captain Adam Zamoyski to Starzyński, September 22, 1942, Starzyński Papers.
45ï¿½ Letter, Major Stanley W. Wisnioski to Starzyński, September 27, 1942; Starzyński to Major Stanley W. Wisnioski, October 2, 1942, Starzyński Papers.
46ï¿½ Letter, Private Karol Anuszkiewicz to Wanda Rybicka, n.d., but almost certainly in early October 1942; letter, Wanda Rybicka to Private Anuszkiewicz, October 12, 1942, Starzyński Papers.
47ï¿½ Letter, Starzyński to Colonel M. Preston Goodfellow, October 27, 1942, Starzyński Papers.
48ï¿½ Letter, Colonel M. Preston Goodfellow to Starzyński, November 25, 1942, Starzyński Papers. The “Table of Organization” refers to a chart-like document created by the War Department which laid down the organic structure and equipment for military units from division-size on down, and also included the headquarters of corps and armies.
49ï¿½ See Howard R. Bergen, The History of the 99th Infantry Battalion, U. S. Army (Oslo: E. Moestue, 1956), and Gerd Nyquist, The 99th Battalion (Oslo: H. Aschehoug and Company, 1981). For an account of the clandestine missions undertaken by volunteers originally from the 99th Battalion, see Bruce Heimark, The OSS Norwegian Special Operations Group in World War II (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1994).
50ï¿½ Patrick K. O’Donnell, Operatives, Spies, Saboteurs: the Unknown Story of the Men and Women of World War II’s OSS (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004), 110–12.
51ï¿½ The story of the 101st Infantry Battalion (Separate) is recounted at http://avalanchepress.com/Austrian101st.php. The most well-known ethnic unit was the Japanese American 442nd Infantry Regiment comprised of American-born troops drawn in large part from the Hawaiian National Guard. The 442nd, which was not an OSS-conceived outfit, proved to be an exceptional combat force in the Italian Campaign in 1944–45, earning many awards for valor. See Geoffrey Perret, There’s a War To Be Won: The United States Army in World War II (New York: Ballantine Books, 1992), 438–41.
52ï¿½ For a wide-ranging overview of U.S.-British cooperation on intelligence matters, see Nelson MacPherson, American Intelligence in Wartime London (Portland, Oregon: Frank Cass Publishers, 2003).
53ï¿½ Memorandum, Colonel M. Preston Goodfellow to Colonel William J. Donovan, October 15, 1942, William J. Donovan Papers, United States Army Military History Institute, Carlisle, Pennsylvania (hereafter Donovan Papers).
54ï¿½ Memorandum, Goodfellow to Donovan, October 15, 1942; Colonel William J. Donovan to Colonel M. Preston Goodfellow, no date, but attached to Goodfellow’s memorandum, Donovan Papers.
55ï¿½ Starzyński is buried in the cemetery at the Our Lady of Częstochowa Shrine in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. See Pienkos, One Hundred Years Young, 277.
56ï¿½ Letter, Private Michael J. Mieczkowski to Starzyński, December 12, 1942, Starzyński Papers.
57ï¿½ Letter, Starzyński to Private Michael J. Mieczkowski, December 12, 1942, Starzyński Papers.
58ï¿½ See John Radzilowski, “American Polonia in World War II: Toward a Social History,” Polish American Studies, Vol. 58, no. 1 (Spring 2001), 65–66. This eye-opening article not only casts Polonia’s contribution to the American war effort in a new light, but also suggests new avenues for research into this period. For Mieczysław Haiman’s conclusions based on his survey of Polish parishes, see Mieczysław Haiman, “The Polish American Contribution to World War II,” Polish American Studies, Vol. 3, no. 1–2 (1946), 35–37. Haiman’s study, for which he sent postcards to 796 Polish parishes requesting the number of parishioners, the number in the service, and how many form each had been killed, garnered 538 responses.
59ï¿½ Radzilowski, “American Polonia in World War II,” 75.
60ï¿½ Szytniewski, “Teofil Starzynski’s Activities,” 77.