Monument of the Polish 1st Armoured Division

Monument of the 1st Armoured Division

Onze-Lieve-Vrouwstraat, Sint Niklaas, Belgium
Keywords for this place of interest
Fighting Liberation Victory and defeat
Liberation Route Europe

Monument of the 1st Armoured Division

Wanting to commemorate the 1st Armoured Division, the city of Sint-Niklaas ordered a monument from Zygmunt Dobrzycki, a Polish sculptor and painter renowned in France and Belgium. That is how the most original of the monuments commemorating general Maczek’s soldiers was created.

In the Belgian city of Sint-Niklaas the news of the Allied landing in Normandy caused sharper repressions, giving citizens yet another reason to look forward to the liberation. It was brought to them on 12 September 1944 by the 1st Armoured Regiment, a part of general Maczek’s division. The Belgians were especially glad that Polish soldiers tried to limit the harm done to civilians. Subsequent cities were not stormed, but outflanked to force the Germans to fall back. “A welcoming ovation in Ghent, armoured units poured out on the flowery fields of Belgium, between Ghent, Sint-Niklaas and Antwerp, reaching to the river Scheldt” – recalled the commander of the 2nd Armoured Regiment, colonel Stanislaw Koszutski. “Gunshots on the outskirt of conquered cities hadn’t ceased yet, when in the town square an orchestra played and people danced in restaurants. The citizens gave balls, and graves drowned in flowers. People prayed for us and Poland spontaneously and sincerely” – he added. The liberators were welcomed like that in Sint-Niklaas.

The 1st Armoured Regiment stationed near the city for a few days, gathering strength for next battles. Polish soldiers were remembered warmly by the locals. In 1946 both the unit and its soldiers were granted honorary citizenship. Moreover, the local society funded an embroidered banner. In its upper left corner, just as on the special badge of the regiment, there is the coat of arms of Sint-Niklaas – Saint Nicolas on an azure shield. Another symbol of gratitude is the speartip-shaped monument, designed by Zygmunt Dobrzycki. It was unveiled twenty years after the liberation of the city, in 1964.

Project realized with the support of the Polish Institute in Brussels 


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Onze-Lieve-Vrouwstraat, Sint Niklaas, Belgium

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