During World War II, Poland’s Government in Exile was on the move.
Following the Nazi invasion, it set up shop in Paris, and then in Angers, France, before moving to London. By this time, three most of the Polish Navy destroyers and two submarines were in Great Britain.
Between December, 1941 and February, 1945, Poland’s Government in Exile released 21 stamps.
This was not simply a publicity stunt. Poland operated an intelligence service, which played a major role in breaking German codes. It’s Navy and Air Force each made significant contributions to the war effort.
The Government in Exile stamps were highly sought after, sold out quickly, and were valid for postage when mail was sent from Polish ships and Polish military camps in Great Britain.
In accordance with international law, which ruled that Polish ships were indeed Polish territory, these stamps had the blessings of British postal officials. There were also situations where the British allowed these stamps to be used on mail sent from Great Britain by members of the Polish Army and Air Force.
The designs mirror pre-war Polish stamps. Some show scenes of destruction. The week after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into World War II, a stamp was released depicting the ruins of the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw.
The final stamp issued commemorated the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.
In July, 1945, British, American, and French governments withdrew official recognition of Poland’s Government in Exile in London. Diplomatic recognition shifted to the Russian-run “Polish Provisional Government of National Unity.”
Long after World War II, and long after its last stamps had been issued, the exile government plodded on, throughout the Cold War years.
When Soviet rule over Poland came to an end in 1989, it was still meeting every two weeks in London.
Do you collect stamps from Poland? I try to keep an interesting selection in stock. Please visit my online stamp store to see what might find a good home in your collection.