Polish Legions 1914–19

Published on
June 20, 2018
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Author: Dr. Nigel Thomas - Illustrator: Johnny Shumate
Other Publication Information
Soft Bound; 7.3” x 9.8”, 48 pages
Product / Stock #
Men-At-Arms 518
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

Dr. Nigel Thomas graduated from Tiffin Boy’s School, Kingston-Upon-Thames in 1964 and proceeded to attend Manchester University, earning a BA in Modern Languages. He attended Durham University and Newcastle University where he obtained his MA in German History and Literature. He was awarded a PhD on the Eastern enlargement of NATO. Nigel is an accomplished linguist and military historian and formerly a Principal Lecturer in French and German Languages and Politics at Northumbria University, He is now a freelance military author, translator and military uniform consultant. His interests are 20th century military and civil uniformed organizations, with a special interest in Germany, Central, and Eastern Europe. He has written more than 20 books on military history and uniforms, many of them with Osprey. He lives in Tyne and Wear, UK.

Johnny Shumate works as a freelance illustrator living in Nashville, Tennessee. He began his career in 1987 after graduating from Austin Peay State University. Most of his work is rendered in Adobe Photoshop using a Cintiq monitor. His greatest influences are Angus McBride, Don Troiani, and Edouard Detaille. His illustrations have been featured in over 70 books. His interests include karate, running, Bible reading, history, and making English longbows. Check out his website at https://johnnyshumate.deviantart.com, https://www.facebook.com/johnny.shumate.7, https://johnnyshumate.com , and https://www.freelanced.com/johnnyshumate.

Osprey’s 518th book in the Men-At-Arms series is a square back soft cover includes 48 gloss paper pages. The front cover features a color illustration of a Junior NCO in Russian clothing and equipment, a cavalry officer cadet in an officer’s uniform with NCO chevrons, and a Squadron Commander of the 4th Rifle Division Air Squadron, all from the Polish Army in Russia circa 1918-1919, by Johnny Shumate. I counted 33 black and white photographs, 24 color illustrations, and 8 tables. Johnny Shumate contributes the twenty-four color illustrations of Polish men in uniform in various poses. The Plate Commentaries section provides full detail on each uniform and insignias.

Dr. Nigel Thomas kicks off with an introduction featuring an overview of Poland’s history from 1569 where the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth dominated east-central Europe. During the era of the American Revolution, Poland as a country essentially ceased to be as Austria, Prussia, and Russia annexed parts of the previous Commonwealth. Despite several Polish uprisings, the parsing of the Polish people continued until the Great War where Polish independence was finally achieved in November 1918. One of the more interesting parts of this strive to independence was the fact that Polish soldiers served on both sides of the Great War, fighting with Russia, France, Germany, and Austro-Hungarian forces. Of course, fighting with these different armed forces, the Polish soldiers saw many different uniforms, although many managed to maintain a distinct Polish influence. Dr. Thomas covers the different units histories and addresses the unique and colorful uniforms and insignias that were used.

Topics covered include the following sections:

  • Acknowledgements
  • Abbreviations / Acronyms
  • Introduction
    • Poland in the Great War
  • Polish Forces in the Austrian Partition
    • Austro-Hungarian Army
    • Polish Rifle and Sports Clubs 22 June 1910 – 27 Aug 1914
    • 1st Cadre Company and Battalion, 3-23 Aug 1914
    • Uniforms and Insignia
    • GHQ of the Legions, 16 Aug 1914 – 22 Feb 1918
    • Western Legion, 27 Aug - 19 Dec 1914
    • I Brigade Polish Legions, 19 Dec 1914 – 3 Aug 1916 [Page 9]
    • Western Legion & I Bde Uniforms and Insignia
    • Table 1: Polish Independent Units: 3 August 1914 – 4 November 1918
    • Eastern Legion, 27 Aug – 4 Sept 1914
    • II Brigade Polish Legions, 4 Sept 1914 – 3 Aug 1916
    • Eastern Legion * II Bde Uniforms and Insignia
    • III Brigade Polish Legions, 8 May 1915 – 3 Aug 1916
    • Polish Auxiliary Corps, 20 Sept 1916 – 19 Feb 1918
    • Polish Auxiliary Corps Uniforms and Insignia
    • The Polish Armed Forces, 10 Apr 1917 – 11 Nov 1918
    • Polish Armed Forces Uniforms and Insignia
  • Polish Forces in France, 1914-1918
    • French Army, Aug 1914 – June 1917
    • Polish Army in France, 4 June 1917 – 1 Sept 1919
    • Table 2: Polish Army in France: 4 June 1917 – 1 Sept 1919
    • Uniforms and Equipment
    • Rank Insignia
    • Branch Insignia
  • Polish Forces in the Russian Partition
    • Putawy Legion, 30 Nov 1914 – 5 Feb 1915
    • Polish People’s Militia, 5 Feb – 15 Oct 1915
    • Polish Rifle Brigade and Division, 5 Oct 1915 – Sept 1917
    • Table 3: Polish Army in Russia: 30 November 1914 – 11 November 1918
  • Polish Corps in Russia, 1917-1918
    • Polish Corps, 24 July 1917 – 21 May 1918
    • I Polish Corps Uniforms
    • I Corps Rank and Branch Insignia
    • II Polish Corps in Russia, 21 Dec 1917 – 11 May 1918 [Page 33]
    • II Corps Rank and Branch Insignia
    • III Polish Corps in Russia, 4 Dec 1917 – 14 Apr 1918
  • Color Plates [Page 25A)
  • Polish Army in the East, 1918 – 19
    • Polish High Command
    • 4th Polish Rifle Division, 24 Aug 1918 – 19 July 1919
    • 5th Polish Rifle Division, 1 July 1918 – 30 Oct 1920
    • Other Fronts, July 1917 – Dec 1919
  • Polish Forces in the Prussian Partition
    • German Imperial Army, 1914 – 18
    • Greater Poland Army, 27 Dec 1918 - 28 Aug 1919
    • The Greater Poland Uprising, 27 Dec 1918 – 28 June 1919
    • Table 4: Greater Poland Army: 27 December 1918 – 5 March 1920
    • Greater Poland Army Uniforms
    • Rank, Branch, and Unit Insignia
  • Plate Commentaries
    • Table 5: Rank Insignia of Polish Legions and Auxiliary Corps: October 1914 – 15 February 1918
    • Table 6: Rank Insignia of Polish Independent Forces: 10 April 1917 – 20 December 1920
    • Table 7: Branch Insignia of the Polish Forces: October 1014 – 11 November 1918 [Page 46]
  • Index

Dr. Nigel Thomas delivers a nice historical summary of the Polish units and the myriad of battles that were fought on the way to Polish independence in 1918. Nigel addresses the uniforms and the rank, branch and unit insignia for each of these units in detail, both in text and in tables. This is a great reference for figure modelers addressing the Polish soldiers of World War I. Dr. Nigel Thomas provides a readable text that is supplemented with photographs and the color plates from Johnny Shumate. I was able to read the book easily in one night. If you own one the previous releases in the Men-At-Arms series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


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