When Poland regained its independence after having been partitioned among three large empires at the end of the 18th century, the country still faced a similar situation to 1795 when she was last independent. Poland was still surrounded by larger, more powerful neighbors. In 1795 the neighbors were the Empire of Russia, Kingdom of Prussia and Austro-Hungarian Empire. These same countries were the major losers of the First World War. As a result of the Great War each state suffered a different fate. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had been an aggregate of many different peoples and was broken apart into a number of new nations. The Kingdom of Prussia was the main power behind the unification of Germany and creation of the German Reich in 1871, an empire that had come to an end less than 50 years after its founding. The Russian Empire was also gone. Although Russia had been on the allied side at the start of the war, when the Bolsheviks gained control of the government in November 1917, they concluded a separate peace with Germany and withdrew from the war. As a result the new Soviet Union was regarded as a social outcast, as was the Weimar Republic, by the rest of the victorious allies.
In 1919 the new Polish Republic was again at war with one of her neighbors, the Soviet Union. In a see-saw campaign Polish forces advanced to Kiev before being thrown back by the Red Army to the gates of Warsaw. In two desperate battles, the Battle of Warsaw in August 1920, followed by the Battle of Nieman, the Poles fought to remain independent and were successful. The Polish boarders were restored and the war came to an end with the Treaty of Riga in 1921. With her other neighbor, the equally new German Republic, there was no shooting war but instead economic warfare. Both Germany and Russia harbored much resentment. Both had gone from world powers to the role of social outcasts, shunned by the majority of the European powers. Equally as galling to them was the loss of large tracts of territory, the largest of which came with the restoration of an independent Poland. Even after the Treaty of Riga Poland felt as if she was under siege. Poland needed allies and quickly went to France. This was hardly a surprise as the Poles had felt an affinity with France since Napoleon had created the Grand Duchy of Warsaw during the Napoleonic Wars. France was the chief supplier of armaments for the Polish Army and chief financier for the Polish government. It was only natural that Poland and France entered into an alliance in 1921. When the Republic of Poland decided that the country needed new warships, they went to France. France, who was financing the Polish construction, insisted that the contracts be distributed among various French firms. Poland wanted nine submarines but due to French insistence ended with three submarines and two destroyers. The Burza (Storm) was the first to be laid down but didnít join the Polish navy until August 1932. The Wicher (Gale) was much quicker in construction. Laid down on February 19, 1927, she was commissioned on July 8, 1930. Both were derivations of the French Bourrasque Class destroyers. In the mid 1930s Poland decided to double its destroyer fleet. This time she went to Great Britain for the new designs. The British built Blyskawica (Lightning) and Grom (Thunder) were very large designs, larger than the Tribals. The big 2,144-ton standard (3,383-ton full load) ships packed seven 4.7-inch guns as well as six 21-inch torpedo tubes. The Polish navy was very happy with the British design and decided to build two more in her own yards. To be named Orkan (Monsoon) and Huragan (Hurricane), only the Orkan was laid down at Gydnia on July 15, 1939. Six weeks later Germany invaded.
On September 3, 1939 Wicher was lost in a Stuka attack but the other three destroyers managed to reach Great Britain with the fall of Poland. After Grom was lost to an air attack on May 5, 1940 during the Norwegian campaign, the free Polish Navy would have been down to two destroyers, except for an event that occurred two days earlier. The Polish government in exile still had crew to man ships but did not have the ships. On the other hand Great Britain needed both ships and crews. One answer to the crew problem was to transfer units to the Polish navy operating in Britain. These units were to be "on loan" for the duration of the war and were not permanently ceded to Poland. On May 3, 1940 Great Britain transferred one of her G Class destroyers, HMS Garland, to the Polish navy. Although HMS Garland was in the eastern Mediterranean off of Greece, she was now the O.R.P. Garland as the Polish government decided to keep her original name. O.R.P. is the abbreviation for Okret Rzeczypospolitey Polskie (Warship of the Polish Republic). At Malta the new O.R.P. Garland raised the Polish flag to her masthead with at least a partial Polish crew. As her first mission in the Polish navy, she escorted a merchant ship of Polish military evacuees from the Balkans. It wasnít until September 3 that Garland reached Britain. On September 26 she was assigned to Plymouth and was incorporated into the Polish Squadron, RN 5th Destroyer Flotilla, with the balance of a Polish crew. The initial mission was as escort in the Western Approaches. The first commander of O.R.P. Garland was Kdr. Ppor. (Komandor Podporucznik equivalent to Commander) A. Doroszewski.
The Royal Navy G Class destroyers were laid down in fall 1934. As usual there were eight in the class and they were further refinements of the original A Class of 1928. Indeed the G Class had the same displacement of 1,350-tons standard as the A Class, although the full load displacement of 1,854-tons was 81-tons heavier. The machinery produced the same 34,000 shp of the A Class but produced a full 36-knot maximum speed, which was three-quarters of a knot faster. Initial armament was four 4.7-inch guns, eight .50 machine guns in two quadruple mounts and eight 21-inch torpedoes in two quadruple mounts. The class was given a tripod mainmast, which distinguished them from the previous F Class.
Spring and summer 1940 presented a series of unmitigated disasters as country after country fell to Blitzkrieg. At the conclusion the front line had become the coastline of the English Channel. Now the emphasis of RN destroyer operations shifted. With French ports available, German U-Boats became far more lethal, as their range and length of patrol greatly increased. With the fall of France, not only did the aerial Battle of Britain begin but also the far more lengthy Battle of the Atlantic. In this battle ASW became the key mission of almost every RN destroyer, including the Polish flotilla. In summer of 1940 the Polish 5th Destroyer Flotilla was moved to Greenock near Glasgow, Scotland for convoy escort duty. Not only did the O.R.P. Garland have to fight German submarines and aircraft, they had to fight the weather. Weather conditions in the North Atlantic were far harsher than the land enclosed Baltic Sea. In November 1940, while serving as escort for HMS Revenge, two men were lost overboard from Garland. The destroyer suffered damage to her superstructure as well because of the very rough seas. However, Garland, was quickly back in action and on January 22, 1941 left for Canada on a west bound convoy escort. Garland often worked in company with the most modern Polish destroyer, the ORP Piorun an N Class destroyer, originally named HMS Nerissa.
Garlandtook part in the Spitzbergen operation in the Arctic Ocean. This was her first contact with severe ice-choked northern seas, where the Garland would later face her greatest challenge. However, by late September she was back to the warm Mediterranean to escort, in company with Piorun and one RN destroyer, the HMS Nelson back to Gibraltar after the British battleship had suffered damage through aerial attack. With end of this brief sunny interlude, the Polish ships went back to convoy escort missions in the treacherous North Atlantic, operating between Greenock in Scotland and Nova Scotia, which is Latin for New Scotland.
In 1942 a new naval front emerged. As losses to the allied convoys soared in the North Atlantic, a new requirement was placed on the already over-stretched and over-burdened Royal Navy with its Polish destroyer flotilla, convoy missions to Murmansk in Russia. All of the dangers faced by the merchant ships and escorts in the North Atlantic convoy runs were greatly magnified in these deadly and grueling missions. Obviously, weather conditions were worse in the freezing northern seas with crew survivability in the water being measured in minutes. Not only did the merchants and escorts have to face the scourge of U-Boats but in their transit past the German occupied Norwegian North Cape, they came far closer to German airpower, than the North Atlantic convoys ever did.
On May 16, 1942 Garland was dispatched to Iceland as escort for Murmansk bound PQ 16. Now she was under the command of Kdr. Por. H. Eibel. The first part of the mission was to escort the transport Stephen Castle to Reykjavik. After this was accomplished she steamed to Seydisfjord in eastern Iceland to resupply and refuel. The PQ 16 escort had grown to nine destroyers, which left on May 23, 1942 to link up with the 10th Cruiser Squadron, consisting of Kent, Norfolk, Liverpool and Nigeria. The next day sonar detected a U-Boat and Garland made a depth charge attack. An oil slick was spotted but this was in all probability a German ruse, as a post-war search of German records failed to show any loss or damage to any U-Boat on this occasion. However, it was an omen for Garland, that this mission would be different from her previous escort experiences in the North Atlantic. On the 25th there was an under-way replenishment and juncture with the 35 merchant ships of PQ 16. Additionally, five corvettes, three trawlers and two submarines joined the escort. Almost immediately FW-200 Condors started shadowing the convoys, as vultures waiting for the wolves.
At this latitude in late spring, there is no night, so German air attacks could be mounted almost continuously. By 0800 on the 25th east of Jan Mayen Island, the Luftwaffe attacks from their Norwegian bases began in earnest. Three attacks were mounted on that day, comprised of dive-bombing and torpedo attacks. There was one CAM ship, which immediately launched its Hawker Hurricane. The British fighter knocked down two German bombers but was in turn shot down by convoy AA fire. Although the pilot was rescued, the convoy had expended its one air escort. On the 26th three more air attacks came in, directed against the merchant ships but that was not the worst event to befall PQ 16. The 10th cruiser squadron left the PQ 16 escort force and the first U-Boat appeared.
On the 27th the convoy was south of Bear Island, only 45 minutes flying time from the German airfields in northern Norway, when a massive 13 attacks were launched against it. The remaining escorts were already short of AA ammunition from the previous two days air attacks. ORP Garland was selected as the target by seven bomb laden Ju-88s. At 1355 they bored in and released their bombs. There was no direct hit but Garland suffered significant damage from near-misses. Six fires were started, some guns were put out of action and Garland lost her fire director, so now her guns were under local control. The ship also experienced severe casualties from splinters and bomb blast damage. The Garlandís surgeon, W. Zabron, with the assistance of some corpsmen, worked for 30 hours without rest tending to the injured and dying crew members of Garland. During this time the Polish destroyer continued to fight for her life against continued air attacks. Throughout the 27th eight more attacks were mounted against the destroyer. Finally at 2300 the crew of the Garland had a brief respite in which they could stand down. At that time Garland requested additional medical help and HMS Achates sent over her surgeon, Lt. Surgeon Lloyd Armstrong. However, the Garland was damaged to such an extent and had suffered so many casualties, that she requested to depart the escort and use her best available speed to reach hospital facilities in Murmansk. This request was granted but Garlandís best speed was now down to 23-knots.
At 0230 May 28, 1942 Garland spotted a U-Boat on the surface and attempted to chase. Because of her damage, reduced speed, proximity to German air bases and distance from the submarine, she had to give up the hunt. The 25 Polish sailors that had died aboard Garland during this mission were buried at sea before she put into Murmansk on May 29. Once in the Russian port the 40 wounded crewmembers were transferred to a hospital already overflowing from wounded from convoy PQ 15. RN engineers at Murmansk made make shift repairs to Garland to enable her to return to Britain. Additionally she received new crew members in the form of the survivors of the Polish submarine Jastrzab, which had been lost after being attacked by a British destroyer while surfaced in the PQ 15 mission. By the time the British realized that they were firing on a Polish submarine, actually the old American S-25, it was too late for the boat. Jastrzab sank but almost all of her crew had been rescued and taken to Murmansk, where they were gratefully accepted as reinforcements for Garland. When the Garland finally made it back to Britain, five of the crew were awarded the highest Polish decoration for bravery, the Virtuti Militari, as well as British awards for a number of the crew.
After permanent repairs in Britain Garland resumed her escort duties. By early 1943, now under the command of Kpt. Mar. B. Biskupski, her runs were between the Clyde and Newfoundland. As 1943 ran its course and the Battle of the Atlantic decisively swung in favor of the allies, Garland saw her mission and area of operations change. By October 1943 Garland along with Burza were involved with escort duties for carriers to the Azores. Although Burza went back north for a refit, Garland was reassigned to ASW and convoy duties operating from Freetown, West Africa, which no doubt was a very welcome change from the frozen environment of the Arctic Ocean. Some may consider this a backwater of the Atlantic campaign but the heroics of Garland were not over.
In early 1944 Garland was reassigned to duty in the Mediterranean, as escort along the North African ports, allied occupied Italian ports and Malta. Between May 14 and 16, 1944 Garland was flag for a mixed bag of 12 British, American, Polish and Greek destroyers in a ASW sweep between Sardinia and Sicily. On September 9 she was part of Force A in the eastern Mediterranean for operations around Crete and the invasion of Kythera. While on this mission on September 18, lookouts on Garland spotted smoke on the water. This was then recognized as diesel exhaust from a schnorkel equipped U-Boat. At 1645, 1722 and 1728 Garland conducted three depth charge attacks on the submarine. At 1800 a RN destroyer also joined the attack. Early on the 19th the damaged U-Boat, U-407 surfaced close to Garland, which opened up with all of her guns. The U-Boat was finally sunk by depth charges as she again tried to submerge. Thereafter Garland escorted carriers involved in British landings in Greece. In October she escorted HMS Black Prince in sweeps of the eastern Mediterranean and shelled German positions at Kassandra. On November 20, 1944 her duties in the Mediterranean came to a close.
After a refit at Plymouth, Garland was briefly assigned to Scampa Flow before returning to Plymouth for patrol work off the German held Channel Islands. When the war in Europe ended, Piorun had logged the most miles of any Polish warship with 218,000. However, Garland was only a hair behind with 217,000 miles of her own, far ahead of the third place Blyskawica at 146,000 miles. In 1947 ORP Garland, only on loan to the Polish navy, since the dark days of May 1940, again became HMS Garland. The Royal Navy sold the Garland to the Netherlands where she became the Marnix in December 1947. (History from Destroyers of World War Two, 1988, by M.J. Whitley; Polandís Navy 1918-1945, 1999, by Michael Alfred Peszke)
The Niko Model ORP Garland
Almost every deck fitting is cast as part of the hull and the crispness, fidelity to scale and detail is about as good as it gets. Of course you get the standard bollards and cleats but there is a lot more detail on this deck. The anchor deck hawse are greatly complemented by what appears to be a raised chain locker. The recessed deck plate for the forward 4.7-inch gun has a distinctive pattern and two very nice solid bulkheads at the deck edge on either side of the gun. At the break of the focísle the detail increases, since there is a short raised deck running on the centerline that is packed with detail. The aft bridge base, assorted ventilators and various deck houses are found decorating this low centerline raised deck, flanked on either side by bollards, cleats and single depth charges. At the stern the deck is cluttered with ASW weapons. Although the depth charge throwers found here are some of the smallest fittings on the deck, they are certainly among the best with very well defined depth charges resting atop very delicate discharge pedestals. Another dose of detail on the quarterdeck wraps it up. There was no warp, no voids and no defects of any description. In fact there is only one negative that I could find about the hull. It was apparently cast on a resin film and some cleanup is needed along the bottom of the hull and bottom hull sides.
Smaller Resin Parts
Different armament systems are found all over this ship. The three 4.7-inch guns are two-piece with separate guns and gun shields. There is a lot detail on these guns, breech blocks, slide and recoil mechanisms and mount detail but a lot of it will be hidden behind the gun shields. The 3-inch HA doesnít have a gun shield and is angled upward in its AA pose. The remaining single 21-inch quadruple torpedo mount the same exceptional detail. There are four 20mm Oerlikon AA positions on the ship but Niko Model supplies six of these guns as a guard against breakage. These guns are totally one-piece resin, including the gun shield and yet they are very in scale and delicate. There are plenty of depth charges, two rows for the stern racks and eight short rows for the side racks of the expanded ASW fit. The Garland carries depth charges all over amidships and stern.
Both masts, steam pipe for forward stack and galley stack are found on a small resin film sheet. Since they are on a sheet, there is no warp and they are as finely done as the other smaller parts. The pole mainmast even has the vertical ladder cast onto the mast. The stacks have separate caps with grates although the grates are slightly thick. The davits are resin but are as finely done as photo-etch would be with the added advantage of being three-dimensional. There are three shipís boats and plenty of carleys. Gun directors, searchlight, foremast crowís nest and anchors round out the resin components.
Brass Photo-Etch Fret
Decals and Instructions
The instructions are one page and back printed. One side has a large clear assembly diagram with nine detail inserts. There is no sequence of assembly, as everything is shown in the one drawing with inserts. It is very similar to the instructions used by other resin companies, although the assembly drawing clearer and larger than average. All in all, they could be better but should be more than sufficient to assemble the kit. I would recommend dry fitting the parts first as there are no locator outlines for the superstructure on the deck. I found that the parts dry-fitted with the hull very well. On the reverse there are two profiles and one plan of the Garland. One profile and the plan shows the ship without the camouflage scheme and the other profile shows Garland with the camouflage scheme of 1942. At the bottom is a color chart with the colors required described and Humbrol paint numbers provided.