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Thread: Insertion of agents into Poland

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    Default Insertion of agents into Poland

    I have been shown a document which involves selection of former Polish airmen for training and insertion into Poland immediately after the War. It gives a resume of their service careers (aircrew and ground crew) and recommended salaries. It appears to be covered by some kind of code name (OBOPUS BGFIEND) and appears to be American - OSS? as the CIA did not come along until about 1947.

    I have tried to find more on this but it appears to concentrate on Albania. Does anyone know if there was any British participation in this scheme - most of the Poles addresses are in England. If so, where were these men trained and did the insertions actually take place? I would be most grateful for any input.

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    Archivist, Hi,
    Now IF this document is true (and not a forgery, for example!) then there are several ways of inserting personnel into Poland immediately post-WW2.
    1 Land, through Germany (although the Russians would be on the look-out for such personnel).
    2 Land, through Greece (although it is a long way from the Greek/Bulgarian border to Poland?) Nevertheless, I include it as I know that some elements of UK forces recce’d that border later. This may well account for the Albanian connection?
    3 Air, by parachute. There were a large number of Polish forces trained to Allied Para standards. However, your document seems to concentrate on Polish aircrew/groundcrew. But any such para insertions might well have attracted Russian attention on radar – even if mounted from ‘friendly’ territory such as Denmark, or W Germany.
    4 Sea, by boat. This method (from Germany, Denmark, or even Sweden (if OSS put sufficient political pressure on the Swedes?)) would have attracted less attention. There are a lot of remote beaches between Szczecin and Gdansk which any well trained SF (or similar) forces could take advantage of!
    I suspect that something may come "out of the woodwork" - if knocked hard enough!! Let us see what transpires!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Hello Peter, thanks for your contribution. It appears from CIA documents released under Freedom of Information that OBOPUS BGFIEND was directed against ALBANIA to prevent a joint Albanian/Jugoslavian incursion into Greece but the level of security among the Albanian agents was abysmal and six of the original 39 defected to Jugoslavia as soon as they arrived!

    I am now beginning to think that the Poles were not agents at all except in the sense that they were the "delivery" agents ie they flew and maintained the aircraft used to infiltrate and exfiltrate the agents into and out of Albania. Being Poles, they also were deniable black operators by the OSS who sent them in and the CIA which was the successor to OSS.

    Freedom of Information, or not, it appears that the Americans were not totally honest about this material. One document states that it was terminated in September 1951; others refer to activities in 1954. Another states it was a joint US-British mission.

    My interest is in the Polish part of the operations and it seems most likely that they were only the taxi drivers. One thing is for sure - the men and supplies went in through Greece. This is backed up by the story of Stanislaw Jozefiak who openly admits to flying missions for the CIA and was based in Greece. Training, initially at least, was in Germany - presumably in the American and or British occupied areas.

    Regards
    Neville

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    Hi
    I already did an article on the men, before the CIA files were available, at least to most of the people, and it is available online, albeit in Polish. It is a bit outdated, and now I have lots more information, and I think able to cover most of the missions, day by day, but I need time to crawl through the piles of paper.
    The group of mostly Polish airmen existed between 1950 and 1962, and about 100 airmen went through the unit during its existence. The operation was purely American, and they tried to keep it this way, despite various interferences, and obviously the fact the stateless Poles were UK based.
    I know of similar operations flown by the British, and it seems they involved Poles as well, but I was unable to establish any details with any certainty, and I was unable to contact families of the airmen involved (few candidates) to review their log books an other documents.

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    Hello Franek,

    I have established that it was run under the code names OBOPUS and later BGFIEND (American CIA) and VALUABLE (British MI6). Reading the story of Tiger (the first British Albanian incursion group) I think the agents going in were difficult to sympathise with in their methods and the Albanians were almost totally loyal to their Communist masters and betrayed the agents without hesitation. This is all new to me and I find it difficult to understand the motivations of the Albanian people. However, it is the Polish crews that interest me.

    Regards
    Neville

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    Neville,

    Have a look at "Operation Valuable Fiend: The CIA's First Paramilitary Strike Against the Iron Curtain" by Albert Lulushi. Book is online so do a search for "Roman Rudowski" who headed the Polish contingent.

    Other names mentioned include pilot Zbigniew Wysiekierski, navigator Stanislaw Krol and radio operator/dispatcher Janusz Barcz.

    Given that Kim Philby ran the Albanian drops for the UK side.........

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Thanks Dave,

    The Philby connection surprised me - but it shouldn't have. This was prime territory for his type of treason and he certainly made the most of it. The behaviour of the Albanians, on both sides, seems to have left a lot to be desired too.

    The information you gave is the first mention of Polish airmen by name - although I had read some material on Operation Valuable Fiend so I will certainly have a look at this.

    Regards
    Neville

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    You are opening a can of worms here. BGFIEND was just a code for the Albanian operation, actually one of the many used in various contexts. Poles are usually known by one of their code names - OSTIARY - but there was a number in use.
    The history of the Albanian operation is complicated to say the least, the UK-US co-operation controversial, the role of Philby not confirmed, the success of Sigurimi not fully explained. I know of at least one history of the Albanian operation being researched, and this in spite of several books written on the topic. Would it be ultimate? Possibly for the time being. As long as all archives are not open, we cannot be sure of anything, though.

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    The more I read, the more I agree with what you have to say! In fact, I do not wish to go into it in so much depth. I really would like to know only a couple of things which do not concern the politics of it. Nor do I want to justify whatever happened on either side.

    Basically I would like to know whether one specific airman was involved and, if so, did he have a regular crew. I would also like to know whether the British side of things was run by MI6 and from where. Finally, did it have any connection with RAE Farnborough?

    Regards
    Neville

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    But politics is just the fun of it! The problem with this, and other secret operations of the period is, that not all of the documents are available, and it is quite easy to draw false conclusions.
    Anyway, what is the name of the airman? Basically there was one crew initially, but it changed and grew in time. I think, at the peak there were about 40-50 aircrew at one time, in the late 1950s.
    The British operation run parallel to the US one, but not interfering it, and using boats rather than aircraft was in care of SIS or MI6 as you like. The only British aircraft in Albania, that I am aware of, were used for leaflet drops. There was a number of other operations run elsewhere, though, as well as a number of covert recon aerial operations.
    I am not aware of RAE being directly involved in any of those operations, but I cannot state that for sure. I know that a Soviet Yak-9 was investigated in the UK in great depth, but no information on it ever surfaced from the UK.

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