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How a Lone Polish Cadet Rampaged Through German Panzers

War Is Boring
By Wistula - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12024659

War Is Boring

History, Europe

Edmund Roman Orlik rode in the puniest tankette imaginable.

How a Lone Polish Cadet Rampaged Through German Panzers

We tend to impose narratives on history, seizing on compelling legends and streamlining complex events into a convenient and rousing story. Thus first act of World War II is often told as a story of Polish cavalry, lances in hand, charging unstoppable Nazi tanks.

However, one Polish cadet and his ridiculously tiny tankette would illustrate that the Panzers of that conflict did not have everything go their way—though even his heroic narrative may turn out to be a bit tidier than the reality.

War affected Edmund Roman Orlik from the onset—his father, a military pilot, had died in World War I just prior to his birth on January 1918 in Rogozno, Poland. Mechanically inclined, Orlik joined the Polish Army as an officer cadet after graduating from high school and trained with its armored forces.

The Polish army’s principle armored vehicles were its 580 tankettes, based on the British Carden-Lloyd. The little 2.9-ton TK-3 stood less than four and a half feet tall and carried a crew of two and a single machine gun for armament.

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