Building a Polish Commonwealth Army | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Monday, 17 November 2008

Overview picture


Poland is not yet lost
while we live
We will fight (with swords) for all/
That our enemies had taken from us.

                        - Polish National Anthem, Source: USC

When the BattleFront British Rifle Company Box came out we popped off and bought one because of the changes in sculptors and factories. But we really didn’t have a specific use in mind, and figured that we would build an infantry company from the 8th army when the time came. But then Dom of Dom’s decals came out with his Polish 1st Armoured Division decals (transfers to our friends on the other side of the pond), and we decided to run with those.

Dom was kind enough to supply us with the decals, and we had a pool of Universal Carriers sitting around waiting to join an army. So we were almost set. We had a couple of Sherman 76’s that were in an army but not required for it, and some half-tracks that were not even in an army yet, that left some Fireflies to fill out the army. So we ordered them, and set about researching.

As with our Universal Carrier Review, Dom was a great resource for details about the gear and uniforms of the Polish army under the commonwealth. We also hit some excellent web sites for reference, and in the end decided that we’d paint them up like any other British/Commonwealth infantry except some would get the black shoulder tabs, and all would get the red “Poland” patch. While Dom was a great reference, any errors in this judgment are ours and ours alone. The best advice is only good if it is taken, after all.

This army is built for BattleFront: World War II, but with only a few changes could be adapted to many other rulesets, including a Flames of War supported Rifle Company from Festung Europa.

First off, let’s take a look at the Decals that inspired this army. We’ve applied them for the final pictures, so pardon the quality of these.

According to the documentation we’ve seen (including the excellent reference on the Fire and Fury website), the Polish 1st Armored was required to give up its Fireflies when the Sherman 76s were finally delivered, but as so often happens, they failed to turn in just as many as they could get away with – supposedly by marking them as destroyed by enemy fire. So while we have a mix of Sherman 76’s and Fireflies, you may wish to go with straight Sherman 76 platoons.

Our painting went as normal for 15mm and smaller, with passes over the entire army of each color. Here you can get a peek at mid-paint-job layouts. We mounted up the mortars and HMGs prior to painting to keep the teams separate from the infantry figures.

The army in progress.


The final touch-up and decal preparation.


With that, let’s look at some figures.

Command Team


The command staff is composed of an Old Glory M3A1 Halftrack, the company command stand, and the Sgt. Major Hollis stand. Interestingly, we received two of the good CSM, and decided to mount them both up – cloning in action!

Note the great looking decals we pulled from Dom’s set, vehicle type on right front, unit type on left front, Polish first armored on the visor right… Really wonderful decal bits.

Next up, we’ll check out the special units – the HMG platoon first. This consists of four HMG carriers (two BF, two QC), and the British Late War HMG Platoon by BattleFront



The HMG Carriers


Note that one of our carriers doesn’t have the HMG mounted. These were assembled and painted for the carrier review, and hence we did not foresee needing the HMG to be mounted up. As it turns out, we needed four, so we used what is essentially a scout carrier as an HMG carrier. Since it has the black mark of an HMG platoon, we were okay with this compromise.


One dismounted HMG Stand


The entire dismounted HMG Platoon


The platoon is exactly as delivered in the BF package, and we assigned one carrier per stand. To play Flames of War with this unit, the command team would need a separate transport.


The Mortar Carriers


Believe it or not, even with the massive number of Universal Carriers that our review covered, most of the mortar carriers were UC Mark I models, so they are painted sand colored. BF had clearly delineated Mark II models, so they are all that’s available to this unit – the Polish were equipped after the Mark II took over production, so it is unlikely they had many (if any) Mark Is. So again we’re short a couple for a Flames of War company, but they work well with BF: WWII.



The Polish Mortar Platoon as delivered.

The British 81mm Mortar Platoon blister from BF has all the infantry you’ll need for any game – six mortars, a command team, and two forward observers.

Next let’s take a look at the scout platoons. We put these together from the Universal Carrier review and went with three four-carrier platoons. Here’s a sample.

Scout Carrier Platoon number one.

Note again the excellent decals and where we chose to apply them. These platoons are good in most games for getting the enemy to show himself so that your mortars can rain death down upon him. In most games they’re sacrificial lambs though, so three platoons isn’t the overkill it might seem.

Decals and all of the vehicles we choose to use, preparing for application.

There is a lot of decaling to be done with an army this size – there are at least five transfers per model (universal carriers have six each) and you can see in the above picture how many models there are. It took several hours to work through the application, but the results are pretty good looking as detail pictures in this article should illustrate.

The tanks chosen for this army.

We could have gone very tank heavy with this unit from the Polish First Armored Division, but our gaming style is to use primarily infantry with some armored support, so we kept it simple – two Sherman 76’s (BattleFront/Flames of War) and Two Sherman Fireflies (Old Glory/ Command Decision). The Fireflies were a lot of work, as usual for the brand, but look good enough for us when finished.

And there are the sniper teams included in the BF British Rifle Company Box

These are nice little teams, very similar to their American Paratrooper counterparts (reviewed on this site). We like them well enough, and put them in the army, but are not certain how often we’ll actually deploy them yet.

All in all this army took us about two weeks of free time to build, utilizing Universal Carriers and a couple of tanks that had already been painted and just needed the correct markings applied. There are nearly 200 figures in the army and 22 vehicles. To round it out for a BF armoured Infantry company, we would have to nearly double the number of vehicles, but it would be an impressive little army.

Patches painted on – note the red “Poland” arch on the arm and the black 1st Armored on the collar tabs of two figures.

Thankfully, unlike their White Russian counterparts, these brave soldiers who shared in the hazards of the war in Europe (including Italy) were given a choice of staying in England, going home to Poland, or going to another allied country at the end of the war. Many of them chose not to return to Poland, as all that they had fought for had been frittered away to Russia – one of the original invaders of their country - by the Western Allies to keep the peace after Germany’s capitulation.

We have everything gathered to model up the brave soldiers of the First Polish Army – who fought for all of the same reasons as the Commonwealth Poles, but on the Russian side – and will slip that army into our schedule in the relatively near future. But first, we’ll look at another eastern European player – the Rumanians as German Allies.


We have tried a different, more blog-like format for this article, let us know what you think. There are less hardcore facts about the miniatures and more information about building the army, we’re curious which you prefer. We could have used this army as our platform for reviewing the British Infantry Company box set from BattleFront, but chose instead to talk a bit about the figures and a bit about the history of these brave soldiers. It is entirely possible that we ended up missing the mark completely, and neither the history curious nor the figure curious got what they wanted out of this article. If so, please let us know so we can adjust future army-building articles to suit your needs.


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