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This is a photograph of my husbands grandfather. He was born in 1920 and in the image he appears to be about 20 ish making the picture 1940 ish.

We believe he was born in Poland and later moved to the UK.

Any help to identify the uniform would be amazing. Thank you.

Man in uniform with crushed beret; large cross prominent on left breast

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  • Hello. It is displayed under my text. I hope I uploaded correctly.
    – Kath181
    Jan 16, 2022 at 10:27
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    Any chance of a better quality photo? It would help folks here to help you. Jan 16, 2022 at 10:28
  • When did he move to the UK? Is this likely to be a Polish uniform or a UK uniform?
    – MCW
    Jan 16, 2022 at 11:57
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    The cap badge looks very much to me like the kind of eagle badges worn by the Polish Army in Exile, which wore (basically) British-style uniforms with Polish insignia. The breast patch looks like that of a medical unit. Jan 16, 2022 at 12:46
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    Maybe BD = "Battledress", the standard UK term for combat uniform. Jan 16, 2022 at 21:56

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The photo is blurry and the provided backstory is thin on details, so this partial answer is conjectural. One thing is clear to me, though: this is a picture of a happy man.

The subject is wearing what looks like a uniform of the Polish Army in Exile, which played an important role in World War II. (There is a section on these uniforms in a book Military Uniforms in Europe, 1900-2000, by R. Spenser Kidd, pp.82-83.) This army was equipped by the British, and the basic fabric and cut of the uniform was the same as the British Army's. The shape of the breast pockets and the beret are two obvious features illustrating this.

The cap badge, however, looks to me like the standard Polish Army cap badge, illustrated here and here. The smooth curved bottom outline of the badge is visible in your image, and the lumpy upper outline in your image seems consistent with the spiky outline of the badge.

The rank shown on the shoulder straps seems to be that of a "Starszy szeregowy", private first class.

The meaning of the badge on the breast pocket is unclear to me. It looks a bit like a medical unit badge, but I think unit badges were usually worn on the shoulder.

I suggest you contact the Pilsudski Institute in London to see if they can tell you more about your relative and his photograph. They might be able to look his name up in various unit rolls.

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  • This is amazing 👏 Thank you so very much!! This will mean so much to his living relatives. I will continue to research as you have suggested. A million thanks once again 😊
    – Kath181
    Jan 17, 2022 at 20:32

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