If you have heard of Monte Cassino, you know of this protracted World War II battle to seize the strategic monastery and thus enable the Allies to advance northward in Italy. More than 50,000 Poles fought at Monte Cassino. More than 4,000 died. The high ground was taken by Polish troops even though they knew by then of the sellout of Poland to the Soviets by Churchill and President Roosevelt.
I wondered where 50,000 Polish troops came from when their country was defeated in 1939. My research discovered that after Hitler invaded Poland, he gave half to Stalin. Stalin first murdered 5,000 Polish officers along with 17,000 of the Polish intelligencia in the Katyn forest. Stalin then sent 200,000 Polish soldiers to Siberia. Later in the war, Gen. Anders (a Pole) negotiated for their release. These were the men who fought in Italy. Many chose never to return to Poland.
One thousand Poles are interred in a cemetery at Monte Cassino. Over them is this epitaph:
“For our freedom and yours
We soldiers of Poland
Our souls to God
Our life to the soil of Italy
Our hearts to Poland”