Legend of the Polish WWII Sub Orzel

In my studies I’ve read a lot about the Polish Army, but I’m humbled to say I hadn’t really thought about the Polish Navy. Poland’s Ministers of Culture and Defense recently announced plans for both a television series and feature film on the story and fate of one of Poland’s submarines, the Orzel.

The modern Polish Navy came into being in 1918, shortly after Poland regained her independence. By September 1, 1939, the Polish Navy consisted of four destroyers, five submarines, one mine layer and six minesweepers, as well as two gunboats and several other old or auxiliary vessels. An independent Poland only had 21 years, but had laid the foundation of a naval fighting force.


The Orzel sub (Orzel is Polish for Eagle), the Polish Navy’s newest and most sophisticated submarines was commissioned by Poland, built by the Dutch, and completed in February 1939, barely six months before the German invasion of Poland. The sub, equipped with 20 torpedoes engaged in battle. The story includes a traitorous captain, narrow escape from Estonia and a sinking of a large German ship. The story speaks to Polish patriotism and pride, and sounds like a fabulous story. I hope the Polish film of Orzel includes English subtitles, because my mind is already wandering to the last great submarine movie I remember: The Hunt for Red October with Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin. 

Like many legends, the ship lived fast and died young. The ultimate fate of the Orzel is unknown, but it’s believed it lies at the bottom of the North Sea, victim of either a British or German minefield. The date of last contact was May 23, 1940. 
Photos of the Orzel, taken in early 1940, are in the public domain of both Poland and the United States. Downloaded from Wikipedia

Information compiled from the following web sites. I have not vetted or verified all information, but these sites look interesting if you want to explore further.

Polish Navy Portal:  polishnavy.pl
The following web site appears to be a private, undated blog, but it does contain a lot of information, photos, a bibliography, and links to other web sites. 
Orzel: The Legend of WWII:  http://crolick.website.pl/orporzel/  
WWII magazine published an article in 1996 on the Orzel: