Author: Lt.Col Jan Karcz
In 1937, the Polish army began the process of mechanizing its horse cavalry regiments, the plan called for four brigades of two regiments each with several specialized units. Towards the end of that year, the 10th cavalry brigade handed over its horses and started learning how to drive.One new unit was the Reconnaissance Detachment, of some 400 troopers. The unit was given a distinctive pennon to wear on its uniforms as well as a unit badge, to be worn on the right top pocket of the blouse.
The 10th brigade fought bravely in September of 1939 and as a unit crossed over to Hungary where the men were interned. However, the Hungarians allowed most men to escape and many reached France to join the Polish army there. The detachment was reconstituted and fought briefly alongside the collapsing French army. Many men succeeded in escaping to England, where the unit was reformed and again called the Reconnaissance Detachment.
After many reorganizations, identical to those in the British army, the unit became the 10th Dragoon regiment, its troopers riding in armored half-tracked vehicles and fighting on foot alongside the tanks of the 1st Armored Division. The division crossed the channel to Normandy late in July 1944. During the height of the fighting in the bloody Normandy campaign it was the Dragoons that closed the famous Falaise Gap, in Chambois where, with a battalion of the 90th US Infantry Division, it took over 3500 prisoners.
After Normandy, the Polish 1st Armoured division pursued the fleeing Germans through Northwestern France, Belgium and to Holland. Here the 10th Dragoons fought a very bloody battle on the Axel-Hulst canal. During the winter months that followed the regiment stood guard on the lower Rhine River but in early April 1945 it crossed into Germany where it again fought several pitched battles.
The fighting was not cheap, the Regiment lost nearly 200 officers and men killed and over 650 wounded, effectively 100 percent of its original strength, After the war ended, the regiment formed a part of occupation force in Friesland, where it was stationed until April 1947. It then returned to England to be disbanded. The regiment has now been reconstituted in the current Polish army, again a part of 10th Cavalry Brigade.