The submarine ORP “Eagle” aroused great social emotion long before being laid on 14 August 1936 at the Dutch shipyard De Schelde keels for its construction. The nation’s many years of efforts to raise funds for the construction of the ship, an expression of dreams of Poland as a modern, strong and capable of defending maritime borders and our interests at sea, left an indelible mark in the hearts of Poles. This ship, both in the 1930s and during its service during World War II, as well as in the post-war period, became the subject of numerous publications and images, as well as activities aimed at commemorating the achievements of its heroic crew. Over the years it became a part of Polish culture, and the memory of him was found, and still finds expression in almost all fields of creativity.
Already in the interwar period after the beginning of fundraising for the construction of the ship (initially under the name Łódź im. Józef Piłsudskiego) numerous, although still quite general, visualizations of the future ship started to be published in the press. Along with its construction more and more press publications started to appear, and we will try to present their modest part in the Gallery. The ship became the main theme of many events and meetings of various bodies, giving asumpt for conducting a collection for his fund. It is worth mentioning that distributing small souvenirs with the image of a submarine was made one of the ways of collecting donations for its construction. Below is a photograph of a pin made on behalf of the Maritime and Colonial League. In the information presented below, the National Defence Fund about the results of the collection, published in the publishing house of the League “Sea and Colonies” has already used a photograph of the ship taken during the sea trials that were carried out in the spring of 1938 in the Skaldy Delta.
Stamp of the Maritime and Colonial League on the receipt of payment of 1 zloty in 1939.
Medal from the jeweller Wincenty Wabia-Wabiński’s studio.
And about this and the photo of the memorial plaque, the text of which was proclaimed:
THE BRIGHTEST REPUBLIC OF POLAND
FIRST POLISH SPEAKER
Stariness of His Name Committee, among the Army
and the Navy collected PLN 2,644,567
among the whole society for the Maritime Defence Fund
thanks to the efforts of the Maritime and Colonial League PLN 5,555,433
total of PLN 8 200 000.
For the above amount ORP “ORZEŁ” was built.
who arrived in Gdynia from the Netherlands on 10 February 1939
and increased our Armed Forces on the Sea
Among the Maritime and Colonial League activities related to the ship we find the information that the members of the first crew of the Eagle received small souvenirs related to the ship on the initiative of the League, including a badge. Probably it was just such a badge:
On one of the Polish discussion forums devoted to history, among others, there were also photographs of a signet, whose shape, and especially the content of engraving, may suggest that it has a similar connection with the case of ORŁA.
ORP “Orzeł” both before the outbreak of the war, during its course, as well as after the war, became the subject of Polish Post publications in Poland and abroad, including postage stamps:
The above stamps issued during the Second World War by the Polish Post Office in London from the series Polish Army in Great Britain, one of the stamps shows the submarine ORP “Eagle” – a stamp in circulation since 15.12.1941, and the stamp with Monte Cassino print since 27.06.1944.
Next in 1970 the Polish Post issued a series of postage stamps entitled “Poland at sea 1939-1945”. This series included three stamps depicting Polish warships, including the ORP “Orzeł” submarine.
“Eagle” also became the subject of postcards, commemorative envelopes and anniversary stamps:
Conditional envelope put into circulation on the occasion of raising the Polish flag on ORP “Orzeł” stamped on February 10, 1939.
by the post office of GDYNIA – PORT.
Stamp introduced in 1969 to commemorate the “ODYSEI” of the ship from the beginning of combat operations on 1st September 1939 until the arrival in Great Britain, with the image of the Eagle on which the absence of the 105 mm cannon Bofors with a cover is striking.
What is characteristic of most publications of this type from the period of the People’s Republic of Poland was an artistic representation of the ship, it resulted from the lack of its photographs at that time, as well as from the fact that in the few photographs available for reproduction the ship had a tactical sign and a sign which it received in service at the State Museum in the West, which was not in the taste of communist censorship.
Also after Poland regained independence, similar occasional publications appear periodically:
As few people know, in 1957, the issue of the youth weekly “PrzZYGODA” was published in issue 22. (dated 12 July 1957) a two-page comic book entitled: ORP “ORZEŁ” passed through the Sound …
On the frames of the film, the lost ORŁA was replaced by the twin ship ORP “SĘP”, which on 26 October 1945 returned to Poland from internment in Sweden, unfortunately deprived of the characteristic cannon cover during the filming, and Bofors himself 105 mm, which was replaced by the Russian cannon B-24 PŁ Kal. 100 mm wz.1936.
The film, although quite loosely connected with real events, describes in more detail the escape from the port of Tallinn, it also reflects the atmosphere of the first days of the battle patrol without the support of the ship and the lonely crossing of the Baltic Sea waters, as well as the experiences and dilemmas of the crew detached from their loved ones during the German invasion of Poland. Scenes with the participation of the ship allow you to admire the excellent construction of ships of the ORZEŁ.
It is worth mentioning that the fame of “Eagle” was so great that two decades after its construction the Dutch construction office referred in advertising announcements to the fact of designing a ship designed for the Polish Navy.
The moats and achievements of the ORP “Eagle” were also commemorated in the form of small monuments, in places special to its history. The first in the form of a memorial plaque can be found on the wall of the Maritime Museum in Estonian Tallinn, the bilingual text reminds of the internment of the Eagle. The event caused consequences for a small Estonia on the part of the USSR. The second modest plaque was placed in the Tallinn war port, recalling the name of the ship and the dates of internment and escape of the ship.
Memorial plaque on the wall of the Tallinn Maritime Museum, and below from the war port.
Source: www.wikipedia.pl and www.mw.mil.pl
On the 65th anniversary of the ship’s disappearance in the North Sea on 8 June 2005, a commemorative plaque was also unveiled on the wall of the (former) Navy Headquarters in Gdynia.
Rio de Janeiro heading for the transport of troops and equipment to the Norwegian coast as part of the invasion that began. This fact, although it unmasked German activities, had no influence on the course of the Norwegian campaign.
Memorial board in Lillesand. Source: www.digitaltmuseum.no.
Unfortunately, despite the initiatives born in Poland after the fall of communism, the “Eagle” crew did not find a worthy official commemoration of it. Only in the cemetery of the parish of St. Michael the Archangel in Gdynia-Oksywie, among other plaques commemorating the ships of the Polish Navy, you can find a modest plaque with the name of the ship.
The staff and their achievements are still alive in our memories, also thanks to permanent and temporary museum exhibitions organized in various places in Poland, or chambers of remembrance. Regularly, representatives of the Navy remind us of the events concerning the ship and its heroic crew, paying tribute to the fallen seamen on the occasion of the anniversary celebrations. Enthusiasts and enthusiasts also organize historical picnics to remind and familiarize the public with the events connected with the fate of the ship, which are accompanied by exhibitions, or review lectures on the events of 1939-1940 in which ORP “Orzeł” .
The memory of the ship and the achievements of its crew is reflected in the names adopted by at least three schools in Poland, i.e. the ORP “Orzeł” High School Complex No. 2 in Wejherowo, as well as Primary Schools No. 9 in Szczecin and No. 20 in Gdańsk, which chose as their patron the last commander of ORP “Orzeł”. taking the name of kmdr. lt. Jan Grudziński.
Pupils of Szczecin school with the banner. Source: www.facta-nautica.graptolite.net
The author of the famous maps drawn from memory, thanks to which ORP “Orzeł” managed to happily get to Great Britain, Lieutenant Marian Mokrski, became the patron of the school. On June 8, 2002, his name was given to Junior High School No. 11 in Lublin. In the school building you can see very interesting in its style plaques commemorating the patron and the ship with which he disappeared.
As early in the 21st century ORP “Orzeł” was also commemorated by the National Bank of Poland, which on 14 August 2012 issued in the series Polish ships, a commemorative coin with the face value of 2 zlotys. Ceremonial “launching” of the coin took place on 18 August 2012 in the War Port in Gdynia-Oksywie.
It is also impossible not to mention the publications that ignite the imagination of enthusiasts devoting dozens of hours of their time to single ships, namely model periodicals, in which “Eagle” appeared many times, and most often probably in the Small Modeler, although we will also find it in the Cardboard Arsenal, or Ship Modeling. Ship’s plans were usually supplemented with a description of the most important events in which the ship participated.
It should be emphasized that it was the modellers, both making models of the ship based on ready-made templates, as well as developing their own, studying for hours for this purpose the ship’s construction plans, its descriptions, photographs, and exchanging experiences and information on professional modelling forums, who possessed invaluable knowledge about technical details of the construction of the Eagle. In many places in Poland we can come across models of the ship made by them with great attention to technical details and the smallest details (e.g. in the National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk or the Naval Museum in Gdynia). This year such a model on a scale of 1:10 also found its way to the Lighthouse Miniatures Park in Niechorze
Z pamiątek materialnych jakie pozostają po zało zało załoaka ORŁA, it is worth mentioning the unusual radio broadcast recorded on 18.12.1939 for Radio BBC, in which one of the crew members – from the description on the packaging of the recording shows that it is Captain Jan Grudziński, from the later announcement that it is Lieutenant Stanisław Pierzchlewski – talks about internment, escape from Tallinn and the crossing to Great Britain. This programme can be listened to using a link located in the Gallery. Also for the BBC radio, a short radio play was prepared then, a few minutes long, “sonically” bringing closer the circumstances of the internment and the escape of ORŁA. Broadcasts and radio plays on the anniversaries of events connected with the ship were also regularly broadcasted by the Polish Radio Free Europe.
In the more than half a century since Leonard Buczkowski’s film was made, the fate of the ship, and above all its mysterious disappearance became the subject of several documentaries, including Bogusław Wołoszański and Adam Rogala. Appropriate links to sites where they can be viewed can be found in Gallery.
The most numerous and most complete fate of ORŁA over the last seven decades has been brought closer by historical writers and marineists in more than a hundred books describing the events of the Second World War published in Poland and abroad, not only in Polish. The list of publications opens with such names as the participant of the fifth patrol of the Eagle, cf. Eryk Sopoćko – “Orzel’s patrol”, London 1942, or Józef Bartosik – “Faithful Ship”, London 1946. It is complemented by Jerzy Pertek, Bolesław Romanowski and Stanisław Biskupski, while contemporary authors, such as Stefan Łaszkiewicz’s biography of captain Jan Grudziński “Szum młodości” published in Finna 2008, Kacper Śledziński “Braga straceńców” published in Znak 2013, or Mariusz Borowiak “Stalowe karpniki”, Almapress 2013.
, complete it with their flagship positions.
The moats of the ship have also been described by publicists, scientists and enthusiasts in dozens of articles published in popular magazines, as well as in the trade press, and recently also in numerous websites devoted to the ship and its crew.
Undoubtedly, the legend of the Polish ship is still alive, arousing unflagging emotions and the interest of future generations of Poles in the fate of the Eagle and its crew.
The coming years may bring new fascinating events related to the ship, resulting both from the officially launched production project of a new film about the fate of the ship, which is to be made for a substantial amount by Jan Kidawa Błoński. As well as in connection with the hopeful discovery of the wreck’s resting place, new findings made by historians and enthusiasts on the basis of documents found in British and German archives. In the coming months, the Polish Navy and the “civilians” successive expeditions aimed at verifying the hypotheses as to the causes and place of sinking of the submarine ORP “Orzeł”.