In December 15, 1941, the Polish Government in Exile in Great Britain inaugurated the "Polish Postal Service" in a limited way. The emission of Polish postage stamps and the service was dictated by the necessities of contacts with Poles still fighting, Polish Nationals in the world and to propagandize the fact that Poland still fights and the Polish Army, Air Force, Navy, and Merchant Marine are still fighting as the fifth world power, although fighting beyond Poland's boundaries. In order that adhesives issued by Polish Government would retain its full monetary values and philatelic recognition, special postal agencies were created on Polish battleships and on the merchant ships sailing the seas under the banner of Poland, thereby giving this philatelic venture a status of postal service operating on Polish soil.
In this manner 38 postal agencies were established; the centrum of this postal network being the "Postal Department" under the authority of the "Ministry of Defense" of the Polish Government.
In compliance with the mandates of the World Postal Convention, the regular and registered correspondence was accepted exclusively on ships of the Merchant Marine at sea, or the regular Polish Naval Forces. The mail franked with the stamps of the Polish Government in Exile was accepted only for delivery in Great Britain and friendly or neutral nations. This mail-prepaid with Polish stamps-was delivered through the regular postal channels.
This humble postal service has established full philatelic recognition for covers and stamp issues by the Polish Government in Exile. These stamp emissions not only gained great popularity among stamp collectors, they also established a financial income for the Ministry of Finance and a great war propaganda.
1-8: First Definitive Issue (1941)
9-16: Second Definitive Issue (1943)
17-20: 1944 Battle of Monte Cassino (1)
21: 1945 Warsaw Uprising (2)
(1) The Battle of Monte Cassino was a costly series of four battles in World War II, fought by the Allies with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and seizing Rome. The Gustav Line was anchored by Germans holding the Rapido, Liri and Garigliano valleys and certain surrounding peaks and ridges, but not the historic abbey of Monte Cassino, founded in 524 AD by St. Benedict, although they manned defensive positions set into the steep slopes below the abbey walls. But on February 15 the monastery, high on a peak overlooking the town of Cassino, was destroyed by American bombers. Two days after the bombing, German paratroopers poured into the ruins to defend it. From January 12 to May 18, it was assaulted four times by Allied troops, for a loss of over 54,000 Allied and 20,000 German soldiers. On May 18, after many failed attempts by Allied forces, this strategic point blocking access to Rome was conquered by the 2nd Polish Corps after a bloody battle which lasted seven days.
(2) The Warsaw Uprising
was an armed struggle during the Second World War by the Polish Home Army
to liberate Warsaw from German occupation. It started on August 1, 1944, as
part of a nationwide uprising, Operation Tempest. The Polish troops resisted
the German-led forces until October 2 (63 days in total). Losses on the Polish
side amounted to 18,000 soldiers and over 250,000 civilians killed. Casualties
on the German side amounted to over 17,000 soldiers killed. During the urban
combat and after the end of hostilities, when German forces acting on Hitler's
orders burned the city systematically, an estimated 85% of the city was destroyed.
The Uprising started at a crucial point in the war as the Soviet army approached Warsaw. The Soviet army had reached a point within a few hundred meters across the Vistula River from the city on September 16, but failed to make further headway in the course of the Uprising, leading to accusations that Stalin did not want the Uprising to succeed. It is likely that Stalin ordered his forces to halt right before entering the city so that the Home Army would not succeed. Had the Home Army triumphed, the Polish government-in-exile in London would have increased their political and moral legitimacy to reinstate a government of its own, rather than accept a Soviet regime. By halting the Red Army's advance, Stalin guaranteed the destruction of Polish resistance (which would undoubtedly also have resisted Soviet occupation), that it would be the Soviets who "liberated" Warsaw, and that Soviet influence would prevail over Poland. The Soviet military gave a shortage of fuel as the reason why they could not advance. German and Polish sources disagree.