Tadeusz Walenty Pełczyński
Patron of the Foreign Intelligence Agency’s Training Facility
Brig. Gen. Tadeusz Pełczyński,
a.k.a. Tadeusz Pawłowski
“Adam”, “Alois”, “Grzegorz”, “Robak”, “Rolski”, “Wolf”
(1892 – 1985)
Tadeusz Walenty Pełczyński, born on February 14, 1892 in Warsaw, great-grandson of Brigadier General Michał Pełczyński (1775 – 1833), a member of the Kościuszko Uprising, army officer of the Duchy of Warsaw and the Kingdom of Poland. He was the son of Ksawery (technician) and Maria née Liczbińska (home teacher).
He attended a secondary school in Łowicz (a participant of a school strike in 1905) and General Paweł Chrzanowski Middle School in Warsaw. After receiving his high school diploma in 1911, he began his studies at the Faculty of Medicine of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, where he completed five semesters until the outbreak of the First World War. During his study years he was a member of the “Pet” (“Future”) National Youth Organization and “Zet” Polish Youth Union from 1907 (in the years 1912-1913 a member of “Zet”’s Centralisation) and a member of the Riflemen’s Union from October to December 1912. In 1913 he became the commander of the “Freelancer” organization, which in October 1913 became a part of the “Falcon”’s Field Teams, where he completed an 8-week military course. After the outbreak of World War I, he was mobilized in Włocławek to the German army, where he served for half a year.
From July 1915 he served in the 6th Infantry Regiment of the Polish Legions of Józef Piłsudski. Appointed as Corporal in August, platoon sergeant in October and warrant officer with seniority of November 11 (first officer rank promotion). Initially, he commanded a platoon, and from August 1916 – a company (after the death of warrant officer Józef Skrzyński in the battle of Kostiuchnówka). He was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant with seniority of July 1, 1916. From May 1917 he attended the training course No. 6 in Zambrów, from where he returned to his regiment in July. In the same month after the oath crisis he was interned in the camp in Benjaminowo. He stayed there until March 1918, and then took up a job in the Main Welfare Council in Warsaw, while studying at the Faculty of Law at the University of Warsaw.
In the independent Second Republic of Poland, he served in the Polish Army from November 1918 and was formally accepted as a lieutenant by decree of the Commander-in-Chief on December 2. Initially, he was the commander of the 1st Company and the deputy commander of the 1st Battalion of the 6th Infantry Regiment of the Legions. Together with his regiment, he took part in the Polish-Bolshevik war in battles on the Lithuanian-Belarusian front from April. After completing the application course for battalion commanders in Rembertów (September – November 1919) and being promoted to the rank of captain with seniority of December 1, 1919, he took the position of commander of the 22nd class, and in January 1920 – Commander of the Second School Battalion at the Infantry Officer Cadet School in Ostrów Mazowiecka.
He was appointed Major with seniority of April 1 of the same year (along with Stefan Rowecki). During his studies at the Higher War School in Warsaw (1921-1923) he was a member of the Honor and Homeland” secret organization”, also known as “The Watchtower”, which was dissolved in July 1923. After graduating from the Higher War School (taking the fifth place), he returned to the position of commander of the school battalion at the Infantry Officer Cadet School.
In September 1924 he was assigned to the Office of the Inner War Council. There he was successively a clerk, the head of the cover department and, from December 1926 to March 1927, he was the head of the “East” Department. During the May coup in 1926, he took the side of Marshal Józef Piłsudski and for a few days he was an operational officer in the headquarters of the Brig-Gen. Gustaw Orlicz-Dreszer’s Group. He was appointed Lieutenant Colonel with seniority of January 1, 1927, from March of the same year he was the Head of the Records Department II in Branch II and from February 1929 to December 1931 he was the Head of the Branch II of the Main Staff.
In the years 1927-1929, he was also a member of the editorial office of “Military Review” (Przegląd Wojskowy), whose editor-in-chief was Lieutenant Colonel Stefan Rowecki. At the same time, from 1928 to 1934, he was a member of the Supreme Council of the Union of Seniors of the National Youth Organisation and the Union of Polish Democratic Youth.
From March 1932 he commanded the 5th Infantry Regiment of the Legions in Vilnius (promoted to the rank of Colonel with seniority of January 1, 1934), from September 1935 to October 1938 he was again the Head of the Division of the 2nd Main Staff (but until January 1939 he transferred his duties to his successor, Colonel Marian Józef Smoleński). At that time, he also participated in the work of the Committee for Nationalities at the Prime Minister’s Office. At the same time, from 1936 he was a deputy commander of the 6th Infantry Regiment of the Polish Legions, and from 1938 he was a member of the Supreme Command of the Polish Legionnaries Union.
From January 1939, he commanded the infantry division of the 19th Infantry Division, also during the September Campaign. In the second half of September, he fought in the back of the German army at the head of an independent grouping, which was dissolved by him on October 2 near Żelichów.
After the end of the war, he came to Warsaw and settled with his family at 32 Rozbrat Street.
From October 1939, he operated in the underground in the Service for the Victory of Poland (SVP) – Union of Armed Struggle (UAS) – Home Army (HA), initially in Warsaw, and from November – in Lublin (without a specific allocation).
When, on June 24, 1940, mass arrests took place in Lublin (the Germans captured 814 men, including several connected with the Lublin District Command of the UAS), the Commandant General Stefan Rowecki “Grot” dismissed Major Józef Spychalski “Socha” as “Too well recognized by the Gestapo” and in July 1940 appointed Pełczyński as his successor. In fact, he was the commander of the Lublin District of the Union of Armed Struggle (UAS) in absentia, directing the district from Warsaw. He used the “cover” surname “Tadeusz Pawłowski, engineer” and used such pseudonyms as “Adam”, “Alois”, “Rolski” and “Wolf”.
Relatively quickly deciphered by the German security authorities, he was dismissed from the position of commander of the Lublin District in March-April.
After the arrest of Colonel Janusz Albrecht (July 7) he was appointed as Chief of Staff of the Union of Armed Struggle – Home Army’s Headquarters in August 1941, of which the Home Army Commander General Stefan Rowecki “Grot” informed the Polish authorities in London with a message dated May 28, 1942. He used the pseudonym “Grzegorz” at that time; later, he used the pseudonym “Robak”. From that moment and until the end of the Warsaw Uprising, Pełczyński was the number 2 in the Home Army hierarchy. This was confirmed by the fact that he was appointed deputy of Home Army Commander General Tadeusz Komorowski “Bór”; by virtue of the order Ref. No. 975 of September 10, 1943 (about which the Home Army Commander informed the Polish authorities in London with a telegram of October 15 of the same year). From that time on, he held both functions – Chief of Staff of the Main Headquarters (until September 4, 1944) and Deputy Commander of the Home Army (until October 5, 1944).
He was appointed Brigadier General by order of the Commander-in-Chief General Kazimierz Sosnkowski of 24 November 1943 with seniority of October 1, 1943.
During the Warsaw Uprising he stayed together with the Home Army Commander and the Home Army Headquarters initially in Wola, then in the Old Town and later in the city centre. After passing through the sewers to Żoliborz, he voluntarily commanded the second attack in the area of the Gdansk Railway Station and Stawki in the night of 21/22 August, aimed at connecting the Old Town and Żoliborz. On August 22nd he returned to the Old Town, and on August 28th he went to Żoliborz again and watched another attempt to connect with the Old Town. Heavily wounded in his jaw during the bombardment of the PKO building at 9 Jasna Street, at the corner of Świętokrzyska Street (headquarters of the Home Army Headquarters) on September 4, despite the wound, he remained Deputy Commander of the Home Army (first, the function of Chief of Staff of the Home Army Headquarters was assumed by Colonel Józef Szostak and then by Brigade General Leopold Okulicki).
On October 5, 1944, together with the Home Army Commander, he accepted the parade of Home Army units leaving for captivity. From that day on he was in German captivity in Langwasser Oflag (where he underwent an operation that saved his life) and from February 1945 in Colditz Oflag. After being released from captivity by American troops (May 5, 1945), he went to London through Paris.
From May 1945 he remained at the disposal of the Ministry of National Defence. From August to October 1945, he was Head of the Cabinet of the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces General Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski; from November 1945 to December 1946 he was the Chairman of the Historical Committee of the Home Army at the Main Staff in London, then he was at the disposal of the Chief of Staff. Demobilized in March 1947, he served in the Polish Resettlement and Deployment Corps until March 1949.
While in exile in London, he worked as a manual labourer, and in the years 1950-1958 as the first manager of “Antokol” (retirement home for senior citizens of the émigré intelligentsia) in Beckenham near London.
He was the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Home Army Soldiers’ Circle, established in December 1945, and from the time of the first Congress of Delegates of the Home Army Soldiers’ Circle in March 1947 he was its member and from 1956 – its Vice-Chairman, and after the death of T. Komorowski – the Chairman of its Supreme Council in 1966-1974 and then its honorary chairman.
In February 1947, he was a co-founder and then, until 1982 – the First Chairman of the Board (later honorary Chairman), and at the same time in the years 1949-1966 – Vice-Chairman and in the years 1966-1969 – Chairman of the Polish Underground Movement Study Trust in London. He was an anonymous co-author of the 3rd volume of The Home Army, a multivolume work by the Polish Armed Forces in the Second World War (London 1950), he also headed the Editorial Committee of The Home Army in documents 1939-1945 (vol. l-5, London 1970-1981). It was him who, after the death of Major General Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski, awarded the first Home Army Cross decorations in London on August 15 ,1967.
From 1950 he was a member of the Council of the Józef Piłsudski Institute in London, and a member of the National Council of the Republic of Poland in 1973-1979.
He died on January 3, 1985 in London.
He was buried in the Gunnersbury Cemetery in London. After his exhumation, his and wife Wanda’s ashes were buried on November 10, 1995 next to their son Krzysztof in the “Baszta” regiment’s section in the Municipal (former Military) Cemetery in Powązki in Warsaw.
He was awarded the Cross of Valour six times (four times in 1922, twice in 1944), the V class (1921) and IV class (September 28, 1944) Order of War Virtuti Militari, Gold Cross of Merit (1928), the Officer’s Cross Polonia Restituta, the Cross of Independence (1931), and posthumously -the Order of the White Eagle (decision of the President of the Republic of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski of November 11, 1996).
His wife (wedding on August 30, 1923), Wanda Izabela Pełczyńska née Filipkowska (1894-1976), was born on 6 January 1894 in Puerto Rico. She studied Polish philology at the Jagiellonian University. She was a member of the Polish Shooting Teams (a graduate of the non-commissioned officer course, commander of the women’s sanitary unit), from 1914 was a courier of the First Brigade of the Polish Legions, and during the Polish-Bolshevik war from 1919 was a courier commander of the Lithuanian-Belarusian Front and then the head of the Department of Educational Instructors at the General Command of the Polish Army.
In the independent Second Republic of Poland she edited “Ivy” (“Bluszcz”) and “Contemporary Woman” (“Kobieta Współczesna”), at the same time she co-edited “Young Mother” (“Młoda matka”). She was the godmother of the transatlantic liner M.S. “Piłsudski” (launched on December 19, 1934). Member of the Polish Parliament in the term of 1935-1938. In the underground, she was in the Union of Armed Struggle in Vilnius, imprisoned by the NKVD (1940-1941), then she was active in the Office of Information and Propaganda, and from 1943 in the 7th (financial) Branch of the Home Army Headquarters. Participant of the Warsaw Uprising. After the dissolution of the Home Army (January 1945), she headed the care cell for the families of Home Army soldiers.
While in exile in London, she was the organizer and from 1946 – the First Chairman of the Polish Women’s Union in Exile, a long-time member of the Józef Piłsudski Institute in London, and from 1963 – a member of the Council of National Unity.
She died on 5 September 1976 in London.
She was awarded, among others, the V class Virtuti Militari War Order, the Cross of Independence with Swords, the Officer’s Cross Polonia Restituta, and the Home Army Cross.
Their son, lieutenant cadet Krzysztof Pełczyński “Kasztan” (“Chestnut”) (1924-1944), born December 31, 1924 in Warsaw, student of the Faculty of Architecture at the secret Warsaw University of Technology, graduate of the third substitutive course at the Infantry Reserves Officer Cadet School, in the Warsaw Uprising commander of the B-3 company of the “Bałtyk” battalion of the Home Army “Baszta” regiment, seriously wounded on August, 1, died of wounds on August 17, 1944.
Their daughter, Maria Izabela Pełczyńska, married name Bobrowska (1929-1991), born on August 13, 1929 in Warsaw, a Home Army soldier, architect, in exile member of the London Branch of the Home Army Soldiers’ Circle and the Home Army Foundation Council, and a long-time member of the Council for Underground Polish Studies. She died on December 25, 1991 in London.
Maria was married to Andrzej Krzysztof Bobrowski (1925-2002), a Home Army soldier, twice wounded in the Warsaw Uprising, an officer of the Second Polish Corps, a sculptor in exile, a designer of the Home Army Cross (established on August 1, 1966) and many medals, the Chairman of the London Division of the Home Army Soldiers’ Circle, the originator of the Home Army website, who died on May 31, 2002 in London.
Andrzej’s father was Colonel Ignacy Bobrowski (1890-1965), officer of the Polish Army in the independent Second Republic of Poland, chief inspector in the State Office of Physical Education and Military Training, participant in the September 1939 campaign, interned in Lithuania and imprisoned in the USSR from 1940. From 1941 he was the commander of the 27th Infantry Regiment of the Polish Army in the USSR, in the years 1942-1945, the first commander of the Junatic Schools and the School of Younger Volunteers of the Polish Army in the East, in the years 1945-1946 the commander of the Polish Barletta-Trani Centre in Italy. He died on November 1, 1965 in London.
Andrzej’s elder brother, Zbigniew Bobrowski (1922-1943), participated in the September Campaign of 1939 and was a Home Army soldier. He was arrested by the Germans on July 9, 1943 in a “boiler” in Poznańska Street in Warsaw and died when he jumped out of the fifth floor onto the pavement to warn his friends.
Jan Kowalewski was born in 1892 in Łódź. After graduating from the local School of Commerce of the Merchants’ Association, he studied at the University of Liège in Belgium between 1909 and 1913 and graduated with a diploma in technical chemistry. After the outbreak of World War I, he was conscripted into the Russian army, graduated from an officer’s school in Kiev, and then took part (with the rank of warrant officer) in battles against the armies of the Central Powers on the Belarusian and Romanian fronts. After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, he participated in the creation of Polish troop formations in Russia and became vice-chairman of the Polish military committee on the Romanian front. He then joined the 4th Polish Rifle Division under the command of General Lucjan Żeligowski. He became the head of the intelligence section at the division headquarters. On 1 January 1918 he was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant and on 15 July 1918 to the rank of first lieutenant. In May 1919, he returned to Poland through Bessarabia, together with elements of the 4th Division.
Jan Kowalewski had a good technical education, knew foreign languages (German, French, and Russian), and his hobby was cryptanalysis (code cracking). All these aspects were the basis for a decision to entrust him with the organization and command of the 2nd Radio Intelligence Section of the Encryption Bureau of the 2nd Department of the General Staff of the General Command. He held this post from 1919 until 1924. Kowalewski’s great achievements in building the structures of Polish radio intelligence and in working on cracking Soviet codes were described by Dr. Grzegorz Nowik from the Military Historical Research Bureau in his book entitled Before “Enigma” was Cracked. Polish Radio Intelligence During the War with Bolshevik Russia 1918-1920 (Warsaw 2010). Lieutenant Jan Kowalewski created a network of listening stations connected by Hughes printing telegraphs and hired excellent mathematicians, including professors Stanisław Leśniewski, Stefan Mazurkiewicz, and Wacław Sierpiński. In late August and early September 1919, the first code keys of the Red Army and then of other military formations operating in the East were cracked. By the end of 1920, the Polish radio intelligence cracked more than 100 Red Army code keys and read several thousand cyphertexts. The information obtained turned out to be extremely valuable, especially during the key Battle of Warsaw in August 1920. The most important decisions made by Józef Piłsudski were to a large extent based on based on the intelligence provided by the radio intercepts. Without Lieutenant Jan Kowalewski, the Miracle on the Vistula would not have taken place!
In March 1921, Lieutenant Kowalewski was sent to Upper Silesia and took the position of the chief of intelligence of the staff of the insurgent army in the Third Silesian Uprising. In recognition of his contribution, in 1922 he received the Virtuti Militari order of the 5th Class. In 1923, at the request of the Japanese government, he was sent to Tokyo, where he conducted a three-month course for Japanese cryptoanalysts on cracking Soviet codes. The leaders of Japanese intelligence considered this training to be very useful. Jan Kowalewski returned to Poland, decorated by the grateful Japanese with the Order of the Rising Sun of the 5th class. Jan Kowalewski, who was promoted right away to the rank of a major in 1924, was a student at the famous Parisian (founded in 1876) War College (École Supérieure de Guerre) in the years 1925-1927. After graduation, in 1928, he began service as military attaché at the Polish embassy in Moscow. Of course, he was involved in intelligence activities and, thanks to his excellent visual memory, he was able to memorize Soviet military equipment. In 1931, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1933, he was expelled by the Soviet government as persona non grata. In the same year, he became a military attaché in allied Romania and stayed in Bucharest until 1937. Upon his return to Poland, he was appointed the chief of staff of the Camp of National Unity. In the same year, he became the director of the state enterprise TISSA (Society for the Import of Raw Materials), which purchased strategic raw materials for the Polish armaments industry. Needless to say, TISSA was a front organization for the intelligence activities of the 2nd Division of the General Staff of the Polish Military.
In September 1939, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Kowalewski evacuated to Romania. In Bucharest, he headed the committee to help Polish refugees. In January 1940, he went to Paris. In Paris, commissioned by General Władysław Sikorski, he was a co-author of the concept of an allied military offensive against Germany in the Balkans. Even before the French defeat, he made his way to Lisbon. In the Portuguese capital, he was involved in intelligence and diplomatic activities, the results of which were also passed on to the English. On 15 January 1941, Lieutenant Colonel Kowalewski became the head of the Center for Communication with the Continent, an information center for communication with the countries on the European continent based in Lisbon. He reported to Stanisław Kot, the Minister of Interior of the Polish Government in Exile. The Center for Communication with the Continent in Lisbon was part of the Continental Action established by the Polish government in London, which was to conduct a “secret combat against the enemy by all means except open armed combat.” Its program provided for the secret organization of Polish gatherings in Europe, maintaining resistance against Germany, comprehensive intelligence activities, and information and propaganda activities. Kowalewski established contacts with the Polish resistance movement in France. It was a source of first-class information. However, he also had other sources and he obtained significant information even from Germans in Hitler’s service. An important goal of Kowalewski’s secret diplomacy was to bring Romania, as well as Hungary, Italy, Bulgaria, and Finland into the Allied camp. The Western allies were not interested in Kowalewski’s concepts, even though an appropriate policy towards Italy, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Finland could have shortened the war. This opportunity was neglected, and Kowalewski’s efforts in this direction proved fruitless.
Despite many successes in intelligence and diplomatic activities, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Kowalewski was dismissed by the minister of interior Władysław Banaczyk in a letter dated 20 March 1944. This was done at the request of the English, who succumbed to Joseph Stalin’s pressure during the conference in Tehran. The Soviet leader expressly demanded that Kowalewski be removed from his post and mentioned him by name. In the words of historian Jan Ciechanowski, “It is clear from the exchange of opinions in the Foreign Office that the key concern in relation to the conversations of Poles that were not controlled by the British was the possibility that the Soviet allies would raise objections. So it was part of the British policy of submission to the demands of the USSR. The position of the Polish officer in Lisbon was so strong that it was feared that he would make any contacts that would prevent the implementation of the dynamically developing Soviet-British agreement concerning Poland, which was beneficial only to the USSR. Consequently, Lieutenant Colonel Kowalewski became for the Western Allies an inconvenient figure in Portugal who could, to a small but rather cumbersome and harmful – propaganda-wise – extent, counteract the idea of putting Central and Eastern Europe under Soviet domination” (www.criwwre.wp.mil.pl/pl/pages/jan-kowalewski-2018-03-06-h/).
Thus, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Kowalewski was transported by plane to London. In the United Kingdom, he coordinated the activities of Polish sabotage and diversion units during Operation Overlord. After the war, Kowalewski remained in exile in London. The Polish Government in Exile promoted him to the rank of colonel. From 1955, he published the monthly magazine East Europe and Soviet Russia, cooperated with Radio Free Europe, and appeared in its programs. In 1963, he broke the code of Romuald Traugutt, the dictator of the Polish January Uprising.
Jan Kowalewski died in 1965. Only the fall of the communist dictatorship in Poland made it possible to properly commemorate Jan Kowalewski. On 4 July 2012, he was posthumously awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. On 17 October 2019, the Polish Senate declared the year 2020 as the Year of Jan Kowalewski.
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- Zdzisław Nicman, Tadeusz Pełczyński. Wspomnienie w 15. rocznicę odejścia, „Gazeta Wyborcza”, Warszawa, 14 I 2000, nr 11;
- Wiktor Cygan, Oficerowie Legionów Polskich 1914-1917. Słownik biograficzny, 4, Warszawa 2006, s.34-36 (tamże bibliografia).
- Wojciech Polak, Pułkownik Jan Kowalewski, Toruń 2020.