Stanislaw Franciszek Sosabowski would become one of the most well-known Polish militaries in history. Famous and reviled. Famous because of his flight from Poland and his immaculate career, but reviled because he dared to give his opinion. At the end of WWII he was sacrificed for the "failure" of operation Market Garden. The well-deserved recognition would not come until many years later.
Stanislaw Franciscek Sosabowski was born on 8 May 1892 in Stanislawow, a small town in Galicia. In that time, Galicia was part of Austrian-Hungarian Poland. Nowadays, it lies in Ukraine. Stanislaw grew up in a family with 4 children (besides Stanislaw, his brother Andrzej and sisters Janina and Kazimiera). At a young age, his father died (1904). What his mother earned was insufficient to provide for the Sosabowski family, so Stanislaw earned an additional income by tutoring other kids in the French language and mathematics. He had a talent for it and teachers therefore recommended him to parents of pupils who were not doing so well. Despite his difficult youth, he was able to follow an education. In 1910 he graduated with honours from the gymnasium and ultimately got a job as bank employee. During his youth he enjoyed mountain climbing and skiing and learned how to survive in the wild. All experiences that he would benefit from later in life.
It was during this period that Stanislaw also got involved with organisations that would later form the basis for the Polish independence. For instance, he was a member of the Legion of Marksmen and the Association of Polish Youth. In 1910 he became commander of the division that was founded by the Scouting, that would later be the Armia Polska. More and more he was found within the circle of people fighting for Polish independence. He left for Cracow to study at the Higher School of Commerce. Here he was involved in several activities regarding Polish independence. In October 1911 he was co-organizer of a training camp of the Scouting, which was in fact a military training camp. When he returned to Stanislawow in 1912, he became commander of the XXIV Legion of Marksmen of the Scouting. He would carry the sable he received as a souvenir of this activity with him until the end of his career. Due to an altercation with the management of the Scouting organisation, Stanislaw Sosabowski resigned from his position in 1913. Many wanted to follow him, but he requested them to stay with the organisation, in order from preventing it to fall apart. A true example of the unselfish attitude that would portray Sosabowski in his later career.
During the First World War he was mobilised as corporal with the 58th Emperial and Royal Infantry Regiment within the Emperial Austrian-Hungarian Army. He quickly distinguished himself as a soldier and soon became a sergeant. In 1914 he was sent to the front with the Russians and experienced his baptism of fire at Przemysl. On 15 June 1915 he was injured by shell fragments and ended up in the hospital of Lublin.
In 1917 he was promoted to 2nd lieutenant and married Maria Tokarska. In the same year, his first son Stanislaw Janusz was born in Brno. Because of his injuries Stanislaw was found unsuitable for front service and so he served as a Staff Officer at the Austrian Headquarters. In 1918 he requested to be relocated to Lublin. As a Lieutenant he came into contact with other Polish officers in Austrian service. He also met members of the so-called Polish Military Organisation led by Major Seweryn Burhardt-Bukacki. On 1 November 1918 he joined the Polish army. On 15 November he was promoted to Captain. Among other things he organised the return and the disarming of many Ukrainian soldiers from the former Austrian army.
In 1919 he was assigned to the Ministry of Military Affairs in Warsaw. Together with his family he settled in the military suburbs Zoliborz in Warsaw. His position took him to Belgium for a short period of time. In Spa he was responsible for the resurrection of Poland with the aid of the Allies. On 9 November 1920 he was promoted to Major. Also during the Polish-Russian war from 1919 to 1920 he wanted to go to the front. The Polish Minister of Defence decided however that someone with the capacities of Sosabowski was of greater use as a member of the General Staff. This was confirmed in writing by the Minister of Defence, Kazimierz Sosnowski, in a letter dated 28 April 1921.
From 28 October 1922 onward Stanislaw Sosabowski was employed by the General Staff of the Polish army, the "Wyszsza Skola Wojskowa", in WarsawĖ an education that would provide many high-ranked Polish militaries. In that same year, his second son Jacek was born. After finishing his education in 1927, he was placed at the General Staff as staff officer. His duty involved the building of the Polish army and officers corps. In March 1928, he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel and was given command of the 75th Infantry Regiment in Chorzow and later in Rybnik. In that same year he was appointed to deputy commanding officer of the 3rd Mountain Riflemen Regiment Ė a Polish elite group from Podhale in Bielsko-Biala. In 1930 he was already a teacher and later the head of the Army General Staff College. After six years, Sosabowski longed for an operational position and became commanding officer of the 9th Infantry Regiment within the 3rd Infantry Division in Zamosc. In 1938 tragedy struck for the Sosabowski family. His eldest son Stanislaw Janusz was severely injured in an incident and in the fall of that same year his youngest son was killed in an accident. Sosabowski suffered a nervous breakdown and returned to Warsaw.
In January 1939, Sosabowski was promoted to colonel and was given the command of the 21st Infantry Regiment, called "Dzieci Warszawy" (The Children of Warsaw) Ė one of the most prestigious units of the Polish army. In May of that year Sosabowski led then annual military parade in Warsaw. In the course of time Sosabowski had become known as a stern but righteous officer. He expected devotion and discipline from his subordinates, but also expected this same attitude from their officers and superiors.