Belgium / Monument
Wanting to commemorate the 1st Armoured Division, the city of Sint-Niklaas ordered a monument from Zygmunt Dobrzycki, a Polish sculptor and painter renowned in France and Belgium. That is how the most original of the monuments commemorating general Maczek’s soldiers was created.
When the news of the Allied landings became known in Sint-Niklaas, the German occupation took an even stronger form. This made the citizens yearn even more for liberation. This finally came on 12 September 1944 in the form of the 1st Armoured Regiment that was part of General Maczek's division. The Belgians were especially pleased by the fact that the Polish army tried to minimise the number of casualties. Cities were not stormed but flanked so that German troops were forced to retreat.
"A warm welcome in Ghent, armoured units in the Belgian flower fields, from Ghent, St. Niklaas and Antwerp and up to the Scheldt" - recalls the leader of the 2nd Armoured Regiment, Colonel Stanislaw Koszutski. "The shots could still be heard in the suburbs of the conquered cities when on the main square the music was already sounding and people were dancing in the cafes. People organised balls and the graves were covered with flowers. There were spontaneous and intense prayers in the churches for us and for Poland" - he added.
That is also how the liberators were welcomed in Sint-Niklaas. The 1st Armoured Regiment was stationed near the city for a few days and gathered forces for the next battles. The Poles conquered a very good place in the memory of the inhabitants. In 1946, both the unit and its soldiers received the honorary citizenship of the town. In addition, the local population donated an embroidered banner. In the top left corner, just like on the unit's insignia, is the coat of arms of Sint-Niklaas, Saint Nicholas on a light blue shield.
Another sign of gratitude was an original statue in the shape of a spearhead, designed by Zygmunt Dobrzycki. This work of art was unveiled in 1964, twenty years after the liberation of the city.
Onze-Lieve-Vrouwplein 1 - 33, 9100 Sint-Niklaas, Belgique