Officer’s passport issued in Bucharest
Issued after evacuation to the east in 1939.
The months of September-October of 1939 were unique with connection to the issuing of passports, well, a specific type of passport.
Following the German invasion of Poland from the West on September 1st and by the Red Army from the East on the 17th, thousands of refugees and soldiers fled into neighboring Romania & Hungary, poring continuously from the north, for a crucial period at the beginning of the war.
During that time, the consulates in countries neighboring Poland were working around the clock in issuing travel documents for those who wanted to continue fleeing mainly to France and the United Kingdom. One of those diplomatic missions was the Polish consulate at Zagreb in Yugoslavia.
The passport here fits into this period of time and is extra special and an important document for two main reasons:
- The passport was printed in France after the Polish embassies and consulates exhausted their natural supply that was kept in their vaults; thus resulting in having new samples being printed in France (from 1939 to beginning of 1940 and later on in the UK, at the end of 1940, after the fall of France).
Sample French & British imprints:
Imprimerie Nationale. – J. 486 – 39
Imprimerie Nationale. – J. 309 – 40
William Clowes & Sons., Ltd., London and Beccles 25.xi.40
William Clowes & Sons., Ltd., London and Beccles 14.1.42
- The passport was issued on July 30th 1940 to a legal advocate named Wladyslaw Sobotkowsi aged 53 from Warsaw (back page passport imprint: Imprimerie Nationale. – J. 309 – 40).
According to on-line archival material we can learn about this individual the following:
He was drafted to the Polish military after war broke out and evacuated to neighboring Romania shortly afterwards. Major KS. Władysław Sobotkowski was listed as an officer in the Polish army already in the 1920 War and served as a Major in the Military Field Courts of the Polish Army ( in 1923 he was listed as such in Reserve – 81st in seniority, by the following year 1924 he had risen to 65th in seniority. By the 1934 Reserve Officers Yearbook he was 10th in Seniority and by then awarded the Independence Medal, the Army Medal of 1918-1921 and the 10th Anniversary of Independence Medal as well). As mentioned above, after reaching Bucharest he was able to obtain an emergency Polish passport from the consulate in the capital and from there be evacuated to British Palestine. When the future 2nd Corps was evacuated from Russia he and his staff would be assigned to the 5KDP where he was the head of the Field Court and then later deputy of the 12 Field Court.
November 1st he received his special entry visa to Palestine, no doubt being issued to a Polish military officer that would be joining the allied cause later on. The following month the Turkish transit visa, also being issued in Bucharest, assisted him on his departure via sea to reach Istanbul (this was done six days after receiving the Turkish visa on December 16th), and from there, with relative ease to arrive at Haifa port on January 11th 1941.
Wladyslaw clearly understood the state of his beloved country after the end of the war, realizing that retuning back home to a hostile communist regime would have sealed his fate, thus he decided to remain in the United Kingdom where he eventually passed away at the age of 80 on September 28th 1967. He was buried in Wrexham Cemetery on October 3rd.
Enjoy the images of this simple but interesting passport.
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