Na Zdrowie! Strathconas in Poland
By Major E. Angell
During the time period 18 to 22 August 2012, a delegation of seven Strathconas visited our partnered formation in Poland, 10 Brygada Kawalerii Pancernej (10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade). The Brigade garrison is at Swietoszow in the province of Lower Silesia. The delegation consisted of the CO LCol Paul Peyton, RSM CWO Bill Crabb, OC A Sqn Maj Eric Angell, HQ SSM MWO Tony Mayfield, Cpl Adrian Droogers from A Sqn, Cpl Ben Kroker from B Sqn and Tpr Scott Muirhead from Recce Sqn. After a “pleasant” international flight we arrived at the Nicholas Copernicus Airport in Wroclaw. We were met by our escort Capt Piotr Wołyński, who proceeded to take us on a scenic tour of the countryside on some roads reminiscent of Bosnia. He said it was to give us a better understanding of agricultural practices in Poland, but when we saw the airport again after driving for an hour our general consensus was that navigation had been left to the junior guy. That night we settled into our accommodations at the Kliczków Hotel, a real bargain at under $100 per night.
The next morning we travelled to the garrison and were treated to an office call with Brigade General Cezary Podlasinski, and yes, there were cookies! The Brigade General was very gracious with his time and spent the better part of our visit to the garrison with the CO. We visited the garrison during two days, which included a tour of the facilities, an equipment display, and a session for swapping lessons learned from theatre. The 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade base and troops were very impressive. They possess 124 Leopard 2 A4s and have very modern maintenance, storage and simulation facilities. They face many of the same challenges as the Regiment, given that they have mixed fleets of German and Russian equipment.
Aside from our visit to the Brigade, we had the opportunity to visit the historic cities of Zagan and Bolesławiec, as well as some of the historic sites in the surrounding area. The most memorable was the visit to Stalag Luft 3, the notorious German POW camp that was the site of “The Great Escape” during World War 2. It was a whirlwind trip, but absolutely invaluable for sharing lessons learned and strengthening our partnership. 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade is in a word, awesome. They were incredible hosts and the Regiment is extremely fortunate to have allies and partners such as these.