The Polish II Corps was created in 1943 from various units fighting alongside the Allies in all theatres of war. The 3rd Carpathian Division was formed in the Middle East from smaller Polish units fighting in Egypt and Tobruk, as well as the Polish Army in the East that was evacuated from the USSR through the Persian Corridor. Its creation was based on the British Allied Forces Act 1940 which allowed the allied units of the exiled government of Poland to be grouped in one theatre of war.. In 1944 the Corps was transferred from Egypt to Italy, where it became an independent part of the British Eighth Army under General Oliver Leese. During 1944–1945 the Corps fought with distinction in the Italian campaign, most notably during the fourth and final Battle of Monte Cassino, the Battle of Ancona during Operation Olive (the fighting on the Gothic Line in September 1944) and the Battle of Bologna during the Allies' final offensive in Italy in March 1945.
In 1944 the Corps numbered about 50,000 soldiers. During three subsequent battles it suffered heavy losses (in the final stage of the Battle of Monte Cassino even the support units were mobilised and used in combat) and it was suggested to General Anders that he withdraw his units. However, since the Soviet Union broke off diplomatic relations with the Polish government and no Poles were allowed out of the USSR, Anders believed that the only source of recruits lay ahead – in German POW camps and concentration camps.
By 1945 new units were added comprising mainly freed POWs and Poles forcibly conscripted into the Wehrmacht. This increased the Corps strength to around 75,000 men; approximately 20,000 of whom were transferred to other Polish units fighting in the West. After the war the divisions of the Corps were used in Italy until 1946, when they were transported to Britain and demobilised. The total establishment of the Polish Second Corps in 1946 was 103,000. The majority of soldiers remained in exile and settled in Britain. The Corps had a consistently high fighting reputation and was well-regarded by the American and Commonwealth troops with whom they fought.
Uniform and gear:
Polish soldiers was wearing British uniforms model P37. The only variations from British uniforms were insygnia: Polish Eagle on helmet and beret, nationality patches "POLAND" on both arms, Army logo on right arm and Divisional Logo (3rd Carpathian Rifle Division) on left. Regimental colors (12 Lancers pennon) were aplied on colar tips.
Photo-compilation from different events:
British basic gear type P37 conisted of: