75th anniversary of Anders’ Army capturing Ancona

A commemoration ceremony was held on July 17th to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Polish Anders’ Army taking the Italian port city Ancona from the German Army. The ceremony, which had to be kept to a minimum size due to the coronavirus pandemic, was held at a cemetery near the city, the final resting place of more than 1000 Polish soldiers.

Anders’ Army was a Polish military formation formed in the Soviet Union out of Polish deportees and POWs taken by the Red Army following its joint invasion of Poland in 1939 together with Nazi Germany. It was initially supposed to fight against Nazi Germany on the eastern front but was evacuated through British-held areas in the Middle East and transported to the Italian front.

In the summer of 1944, it was given the task of capturing the port city of Ancona to shorten the allied supply lines to the front, achieving its mission after a little more than a month’s intensive fighting. More than 500 Polish soldiers were killed in the battle for the city, the first completely independent action of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, with more than another 500 Poles killed in the surrounding area in the phase leading up to and immediately after the battle.

Most of the surviving Polish soldiers settled in the UK, and other parts of the British Commonwealth after the war, as their security back in Soviet-occupied Poland could not be guaranteed.