According to the „Instruction for Soldiers flown by Air to the Country” of June 1, 1943, the preparation process for the jump was based on a set of guidelines Cichociemni had to follow. After a successful completion of the check-in course soldiers assigned to a flight to occupied Poland were transferred to the Waiting Station and subordinated to the Head of the Special Branch Department „S” of the General Staff of the Supreme Commander (Wydział „S” Oddz. Specjalnego Sztabu Głównego Naczelnego Wodza). Before going to the station, each paratrooper received severance pay in the form of banknotes and gold dollars, as well as a certain amount of German currency (Reichsmarks) and Polish zloty (Młynarki). Dollars were packed in metal cans while Reichsmarks and Młynarki were hidden in purses. During the check-in course Cichociemni also received the following parachute equipment:
– helmet with glasses,
– two elastic bandages on the ankle,
– two rubber insoles for shoes,
– two automatic pistols,
– pistol ammunition (50 pieces per pistol),
– two spare magazines,
– folding knife,
– shoulder blade,
– an electric torch with a spare battery,
– a flat bottle for alcohol,
– first aid kit,
– canvas impregnated with rubber, for making bags for weapons and ammunition.
Poison on request
In addition to the above-mentioned objects of personal equipment and parachute equipment, one was allowed only private items (watch, lighter, etc.) which were closely related to his legend. Permission to take these items was issued by the commander of the check-in course during the final control of the legend. At the waiting station the paratrooper received additionally a shoulder
parachute Irwin type X or parachute harness Irwin A, a set of maps of the landing area, an inventory of equipment dropped with that team. On request, a portion of food and a poison (tablet „L”) would also be granted.
At the Waiting Station, soldiers assigned to fly to the country were divided into teams marked with successive numbers and English cryptonyms. During their stay at the Station, they replaced the names of soldiers. Separated from the outside world, Cichociemny was accompanied by young women from the FANY organization (First Aid Nursing Yeomantry), which greatly facilitated waiting for a jump. The supervisor of the paratroopers at the Waiting Station was the so-called senior group, appointed each time by the Head of the Department „S”. In addition, paratroopers received individual numbers in the team determining the jump order. The paratroopers’ commander was also appointed with the power to command all team members on the battlefield. On the site Cichociemni received operational and business equipment, which they individually matched. According to the mentioned instruction the paratrooper equipement already at the Waiting Station consisted of:
– back pocket: folder
– right pocket:
a) outer part (large pocket): ammunition and instruments for maintenance and cleaning of weapons (ammunition sorted in bags),
b) internal part (small upper pocket): first aid kit,
c) inner pocket (small bottom pocket): a bottle of rum, and weapon pouches (for the case of burial) together with a supply of insulating tape and vaseline,
– left pocket – shovel with shaft (paratrooper jumping the A parachute did not take a shovel, enabling him to hide one of the guns in this pocket).
– two side pockets, two guns mounted additionally with cords (sufficiently long) to the pocket buckles, and four magazines (2 in guns) – magazines loaded, guns unreloaded
– pocket on the left sleeve: folding knife
– pocket on the left thigh: electric torch.
spare underwear, toiletries, a set of accessories for cleaning clothes and shoes.
– outer pocket – a portion of food
– inner pocket – map set 1: 300,000
– personal documents (passport)
– handheld money (Reichsmarks, Młynarki) in the wallet and purse
– inventory of the equipment passed with the given team
– 1: 000,000 maps of the landing area
– check-in money in a sealed can
Parachutists often wore belts with the money they received from the Polish Government in Exile. The belts were sewn from strong and impregnated canvas that ensured its durability and water resistance. The belt was also provided with a special wire to serve as a marker if, after landing in occupied Poland, the jumper had to hide the currency. The wire protruding from the ground would later help locate where the belt was buried.
On the eve of a possible flight, the paratrooper received the following data:
– location of the receiving outpost and the reserve area
– identification of the outpost codes
– contact addresses and passwords in the provinces and in Warsaw.
The paratroopers had to remember all these data along with an in-depth analysis of the landing area map.
At the time of the flight, the team was subordinated to the commander of the aircraft, which forwarded his orders by the paratroopers’ operator accompanying the team. Cichociemni took places on the plane in the order of jump numbers. In the event of a possible threat, only the commander of the aircraft could issue an order to jump. At least 15 minutes before reaching the area of the outpost, an emergency call was given and it was only then that preparations for the jump would begin. The jump was carried out on the orders of the commander of the aircraft handed over to the crew by the operator. The discharge height could not be less than 150 m for jumpers and 100 m for equipment, and the speed of the aircraft was about 200 k / h. Before the jump, the operator informed the paratroopers about whether the discharge would be made to the receiving outpost or to the reserve area.
In addition to the Cichociemni and couriers for the Polish Underground, 670 tons of combat equipment (weapons, ammunition, explosives, medical supplies, radio stations, etc.) were dropped. This equipment was dropped in special trays. Money for the resistance movement (Młynarki, dollars) was put in special parachute packages. The number of containers and parcels collected by the aircraft was dependent on the type of aircraft.
The matter of receiption of aerial discharges in the occupied Poland was dealt with by a special cell of Division V of the Head Command of the Home Army (Komenda Główna Armii Krajowej)/Union of Armed Struggle (Związek Walki Zbrojnej) that existed since at least the autumn of 1941. Its code name changed in particular periods of operation. During the trial dumps (February 1941 – April 1942) it was „Syrena”, in „Intonation” (August 1942 – April 1943) and „Riposta” (August 1943 – July 1944) the codename was „Import”. In the period from June to July 1944, the special cell was called „Mll-Grad”. After the fall of the Warsaw Uprising, it became ‚Syrena’ again. The full name of the cell is not known until today. At various times it was called, for example, „receiving air transport cell ‚Syrena’ „, „Dropping Cell” or „Cell of Air Transfers” or „Discharges Cell”. The functioning of „Syrena” was constantly modified and improved during the discharge seasons, through telegrams with insights and suggestions.
In the end, several few basic rules were developed:
– the arrival of the plane was signaled on the day of the operation with melodies broadcast in Polish BBC programs, and later with the so-called „Ducks” (one of a series of three-digit numbers sent by radio, which indicated the receiving outposts, which was chosen by the Staff of the Supreme Commander to outposts of the next discharge),
– the dump was carried out on an organized receiving outpost, on duty in accordance with the plan of vigil,
– the method of making the discharge and its reception were regulated by instructions and, therefore, the same for all airplanes and outposts.
The reception of both the paratroopers and the equipment was preceded by arduous preparations on the ground made by the „Syrena” soldiers. The opening of the operating season was preceded by a trip to the area of a trained „Syrena” employee, called the „Delegate of the Head Command”. He would designate, with the help of people from the local conspiratory network, a parachute discharge area. At the same time, contact points for the paratroopers were established in case the discharge had taken place outside the outpost. German local aviation observation points, so-called ”obsmeldungi”, spread throughout the territory of the General Government, gendarmerie outposts, anti-aircraft artillery, and other potential threats were registered. After the place of discharge was selected by the Delegate, the reception outpost commander would then complete the crew selection and appoint soldiers to perform specific tasks in the reception group, and the evacuation and insurance teams. Until the completion of the merger of various military clandestine organisations was conducted by the Head Command of Home Army (KG AK), the reception outposts were largely based on the staff of these organizations. They were well settled in the field and had local people who were best suited for the staffing of local receiving outposts. As the consolidation action progressed, all branches were incorporated into the field network of the Home Army (AK). In 1944, in some districts, discharges were received by partisan units brought on by dynamic changes in the relationship of armed operations in occupied Poland. Records of Division S of Branch VI include 642 outposts. Some of these were the same units with a changed code name, some had been „burned” and could not be woken up. It is estimated that in the summer of 1943 there were about 550 units. The number of soldiers receiving discharges is estimated to be between 5,000 and 10,000 people.
At the time, communication signals between the plane and the outposts, and signal melodies and slogans for the paratroopers, were established in the ”Syrena” unit. The locations of the outposts were applied to maps on a scale of 1: 300,000. Before Riposta, appropriate categories of code names for specific districts were established. In the Lviv district, for example, it was decided that names related to weapons would be used, such as Rakieta (Missile) or Myśliwiec (Fighter). Later, the names from one category began to have the same letter. Also, backup areas of discharges were established, so in the case of the lack of possibility to find the outpost by the aircraft crew, it could have dropped only the paratroopers without the containers needing special preparations. Initially, the location of each outpost was agreed upon between London and Warsaw, but soon, for reasons of security and health, plans were created initially for individual outposts and later on for groups of outposts. The group standby system was introduced during the „Intonation” period from the autumn of 1942, when the reception of 8 to 12 discharges per month was counted. A few of the outposts were group A, watching for a period of 3-4 nights (called for ”tercet”), after which a group B replaced it. Initially, they were watching on moonlit nights, later also on moonless ones. For the period of each ”tercet” a particular set of signal melodies, slogans for paratroopers and airplanes reconnaissance letters were used. The outpost where the dump was devlivered would be „dropped off” from the schedule to the end of the „tercet”, in order not to draw attention of outsiders. With time, permanent outpost units able to take a discharge on the outposts of both groups were organized. Groups of outpost in the „tercet” were completed depending on the so-called „stella”, that is, the actual range of the aircraft’s coverage. Before the operational season, the Special Division of the of the Branch 6th of Supreme Commander Staff established new „Stella”s (eg „Stella 1”, „Stella 2” etc.), which gradually covered a larger and larger area of occupied Poland. Their length depended on the type of aircraft and the place of takeoff. This system was the basis for arrangement of standby plans for receiving facilities.
Along with the increase in the number of aircraft, the creation of the Polish Squadron C within the 138th Squadron, as well as planning for additional engagements of the 161st special purpose squadron cell, „Syrena” carried out extensive work aimed at increasing the so-called reception capacity. It was assumed that each month there will be 24 discharges in the „tercet” and 12 in dark nights (moonless). The code-names of all outposts were changed and a significant number of new ones were launched, including for the first time the so-called „Bastions” able take discharges from several air-crafts simultaneously. Each outpost was assigned a reserve area, which was taken by the plane when, for some reason, it could not make a drop to the main outpost. The units were divided into those designated for receiving paratroopers and separate for material discharges, which did not need contact points.
During the ”tercet”, the reserve areas of parachute discharges were also set on the return routes to Great Britain. In connection with the preparations for the announced opening of the southern routes, additional meteorological stations were organized in Krakow and Lviv. Due to the enormous number of outopsts opened in the period of „Riposta” preventing an efficient management, a position of discharge officers was appointed, also referred to as discharge officers in the areas, districts, and subdistricts, which were granted increasingly wider autonomy. It turned out to be a necessary solution, especially during the Warsaw Uprising and immediately after, when the link between Head Command (KG) and the districts was interrupted for some time. In the last period, when the vigilance plans were transfered individually to the Main Transfer Base in Italy from individual districts and subdistricts, the Base was forced to take over the function of the ”Syrena’s” operating cell, including having to set all of the specific standby days, a radio call signal, a light signals, reconnaissance letters, and passwords for the paratroopers.
In subsequent years, the receiving outposts underwent other necessary changes. These included special evolution, mainly for security reasons, in the field of light signal communication between the outposts and the airplanes. The plane would initiate communication, and only after its signal was received the outpost would responded. New lighting code systems were also introduced and periodically changed. In case of danger, red flashlights were used as signal, so the plane could go to a reserve outpost or a spare drop area. The rumbling from the engines that could alert enemy units was minimized. In the last period, to facilitate the finding of the outpost, at some distance before it and in a particular arrangement, a bonfire was lit. In order for the discharge to be successful, it was necessary to provide the outpost with radio communication. For this purpose, ”Syrena” provided radio apparatus, equipment necessary to hear the signal melodies anouncing the discharge. However, the radio availability was limited because Germans had already requisitioned most of such devices at the beginning of the occupation, and possession of them was punished with death or concentration camp. Also the so-called „S-phones”, or radiotelephones were used to communicate with the plane. However, there were very few of them (about 30 items) and often they could not reach to the outposts where the discharge took place. The second auxiliary device used in communication with airplanes was „Eureka”, which was a transmitter of ultra-short waves, triggered from the plane and helping to redirect it on itself from a distance of up to 60 km with an accuracy of 200 m. The plane had a second part of the device on board, i.e. „Rebeka” – a receiver with a screen on which the pilot tracked the pulse and aimed the plane at the target. At the same time, visual observation continued to be widely used.
The well-instructed and trained staff of the outposts used to await the arrival of the KG Delegate, signaling the start of a waiting period for the arrival of paratroopers and equipment. The Delegate participated in the standby period and the reception of the drop. Together with the commander of the outpost, he would take over the mail for the Head Command, lists of contents of the drop, belts or ”nails” with the money and personal weapons from the paratroopers. After checking the paratroopers’ documents, they were sent to acclimatization, usually to Warsaw. When all of the required formalities were met, the Delegate would leave immediately to submit a report in the „Syrena”, which sent a receipt to London of the admission of paratroopers and equipment.