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August Agbala - Nigerian soldier in Warsaw Uprising


McCoy 27 | 1,283    
15 Dec 2010  #1
Nigerian boy, english sailor, varsowian jazzman and polish soldier

Has anyone heard of a Nigerian man who took part in the Warsaw Uprising in Poland? No ? His story has managed to save from oblivion . I just published a book , " Africa in Warsaw" . And in her extraordinary, widely unknown story.

- This story is very mysterious - admits Dr. Zbigniew Osinski from the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising. - There is no doubt : August Agbala ( or Agboola ) O'Brown took part in the Warsaw Uprising and was the only black participant. He fought in the city center , in the battalion " Iwo " his superior was Corporal Alexander Marcińczyk , ps . " Swan" .

alexw68    
  15 Dec 2010  #2
Cool, great find, thanks!

As with the jazz scene in 1920s/30s Paris, Warsovians gave Black jazz musicians a far warmer welcome than they could expect under the Jim Crow laws back home.

For similar reasons, there was also a number of black officers in the 1920 war with Russia (source: odkrywca.pl - roll over pics for English descriptions):

1) Murzyn - dowódca polskich katolickich , antykomunistycznych zołnierzy , wojna z sowietami w 1920 r.

Negro leader of Polish Catholic antcommunist soldiers in the Soviet War, 1920

2) oficer armii polskiej - murzyn 1920 r. wojna polsko - sowiecka

Polish Army officer, 1920
Trevek 26 | 1,703    
15 Dec 2010  #3
Very interesting. Does Poland have any historic connection with Nigeria?
alexw68    
15 Dec 2010  #4
Doubt it. As with Joseph Conrad, the British Merchant Marine's your point of contact here.
PennBoy 77 | 2,439    
16 Dec 2010  #5
nigerian

What is up with all these Nigerians in Poland?
isthatu2 4 | 2,710    
  20 Dec 2010  #6
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Although the pics from the 1920 war are interesting Im not sure they offer any conclusive proof for black officers or atleast these two guys being officers. On the top photo I can see no trace of any rank insignia either on jacket or rogatewka.

The second photo,frankly,the officer looks to be,quite rightly in militery ettequette,sitting in the rear seat and infact if you look carefully,although its not clear,it looks as though the steering wheel is directly in front of the black soldier....so Driver,not Commander,in which case,shook horror,a black man driving white folks around.....

Black guys had been officers in many forces many years before say the US forces were even de segregated,a British officer in 1915 and the leader of the lincoln brigade in the spannish civil war,but these pics,while interesting just seem to show what the first picture does,an example of the fact that europe,all of it ,has for hundreds of years had a small black population and when global war ,or atleast local wars,come calling they too get caught up in them,being a tiny minority though they like all other minorities were naturaly forgotton in most countries national conciousness as more bland,all encompassing patriotism was order of the day.
Trevek 26 | 1,703    
20 Dec 2010  #7
Although the pics from the 1920 war are interesting Im not sure they offer any conclusive proof for black officers or atleast these two guys being officers. On the top photo I can see no trace of any rank insignia either on jacket or rogatewka.

I'm not an expert on uniforms, but would the boots show anything? British army officers had special boots, whereas ordinary ranks wore puttees (cloth wrapped around the ankle/leg)

the fact that europe,all of it ,has for hundreds of years had a small black population and when global war ,or atleast local wars,come calling they too get caught up in them,

Indeed. There was a TV programme on BBC during the summer about Black sailors on English ships at the Battle of Trafalgar.
isthatu2 4 | 2,710    
20 Dec 2010  #8
I thought that about the puttees too trevak and wondered if maybe the lad behind him was also just "in the photo",but to be honest the uniform supply situation in the 19/21 war was crazy,anything went so it would be hard to say, a bit of braid or cloth tape for rank insignia wouldnt be a problem though as witnessed by german uniforms in the uprising being so quickly covered in Polish rank and unit badges.

It was an interesting programe on Trafalgar too,must confess if you know anything about that period though it wasnt exactly a revelation(Im a huge Patrick O'brain"master and commander"books fan) and it was hardly a secret with the old victorian memorial cleary showing black guys,it just seems that these days there is some weird attempt to paint our forebearers as being as bigoted as some of the muppets on here when in fact rascism really wasnt a huge issue for most people when the "others" were more of a curiosity.
Trevek 26 | 1,703    
20 Dec 2010  #9
It was an interesting programe on Trafalgar too

I didn't see it but did see the one on 303 sqn. It was a bit of a joke because they advertised it as "the untold story" and it had all been told before.

in fact rascism really wasnt a huge issue for most people when the "others" were more of a curiosity.

Indeed. We had Indian parliamentarians in 19th C.
peterweg 36 | 2,323    
  21 Dec 2010  #10
We had Indian parliamentarians in 19th C.

The third was a communist, Indian MP for Battersea. Very popular he was.
ShortHairThug - | 1,104    
  21 Dec 2010  #11
Getting back on topic.

The black man in the second photo, post #2 of this thread is 'Dżek', Polish citizen born in South Africa and a volunteer in Polish Army. For those who are interested in the subject another example of a black man in the Polish Army was Sam Sandi, a French soldier who as a prisoner in the German POW camp in Strzałkowo during WWI quite by chance ended up on Polish soil, then participated in The Greater Poland Uprising of 1918–1919 on Polish side of course and eventually went on to serve in Polish Soviet war wearing Polish uniform. There also was a China-man Czen-de-fu aka Józef Zdzisław who served as a volunteer in the same uprising eventually becoming a citizen of Poland in 1933.
mamba    
25 Mar 2011  #12
,although its not clear,it looks as though the steering wheel is directly in front of the black soldier....so Driver,not Commander,in which case,shook horror,a black man driving white folks around.....

YOU ARE WRONG WHEN DID YOU SEE A CAR BUILD IN THAT TIME, DRIVING IN POLAND AND HAVING STEERING WHEEL ON THIS SIDE , CLEARLY THE STEERING WHEEL IS ON THE LEFT HAND SIDE AND THE WHITE SOLDIER IS SITTING IN FRONT OF IT.
Grzegorz_ 52 | 6,181    
  3 Apr 2011  #13
I read that there were quite a few black soldiers during Polish-Soviet war, usually they were... Polish-Americans from mixed marriages. There was also a black general in Polish army fighting on French side in Napoleon's wars.

On the top photo I can see no trace of any rank insignia either on jacket or rogatewka.

He was a private. I saw that foto much larger and It was clearly seen then. To become an officer he would have needed some serious previous military experience and rank in European/American army.
isthatu2 4 | 2,710    
3 Apr 2011  #14
WHEN DID YOU SEE A CAR BUILD IN THAT TIME

Not that often to be honest old chap.

CLEARLY THE STEERING WHEEL IS ON THE LEFT HAND SIDE

No need to shout,I speake de lingo .....click on pic,magnify window to 400 then come back and apologise....or alternatly we shall call it a score draw for Ishwandlana.....

Whats the big deal any way my pretend blackman? A Driver in those days was still a highly skilled job,most people couldnt drive and drivers had to be skilled mechanics. Its no slur to say a (real) black man was a Driver. The first Doughboy into Berlin in 1918 was a Black motorcyclist.
Grzegorz_ 52 | 6,181    
4 Apr 2011  #15
Yes, looks like he was a driver... IF the wheel was on the left side, It would be seen in the right corner on a picture taken from that position.


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