Colonel Jozef Hartman - ‘’father of the Silent Unseen’’

Colonel Jozef Hartman - ‘’father of the Silent Unseen’’

Pseudonyms: ‘’Roch’’, ‘’Slawek’’, ‘’Tata’’ (eng. ‘’Dad’’)

Józef_Sławomir_Hartman-228x300 płk. Józef Hartman - "ojciec cichociemnych"

Colonel Jozef Hartman


Born on the 27th of October, 1898 in Swarzyszow near Jedrzejowo, died on the 24th of April, 1979 in London - Colonel of the Polish Army of the Second Polish Republic, longtime adjutant of President Ignacy Mościcki, soldier of the Polish Armed Forces in the West.

The chief of the polish SOE (Special Operations Executive pol. Kierownictwo Operacji Specjalnych), sekcja SISsection, responsible for tasking the Home Army intelligence networks with missions), commander of Audley End STS 43 (along with Colonel Terry Roper-Caldbeck) where the Silent Unseen were trained, the man responsible for training of the Unit VI (Special) of the Commander-in-Chief’s Staff, many called him the"father of the Silent Unseen’’.„.


In 1910, he finished elementary school in Tarnawa near Jedrzejowo, then continuing on with his learning at the gymnasium in Szczekociny. In the school year 1913-1914 he attended pedagogical courses in Warsaw. In the years 1916–1917 he studied at the Public Male Teachers' Seminary in Jedrzejow. He graduated with a teacher's license "in public folk schools with the Polish as language of instruction.’’. From June 1917 to July 1920 he managed a school in Krzciecice.


Independence activities

While studying at the gymnasium in Jedrzejow, as a 16-year-old, he joined the Polish Shooting Teams and completed a shooting course in 1914. On May 3, 1916, he joined the Polish Military Organization (pol. POW) in Jedrzejow under the codename ‘’Roch’’. In 1917 he passed his school-leaving exams and completed the POW instructor course in Kielce, then in 1917 he finished an NCO’s course in Jedrzejow.

He took organized and took part in a protest against the Regency Council on the 17th of November, 1917. Along with about 200 POW members, they demonstrated on the market in Jedrzejow. The protest soon turned violent as the POW clashed with Austrian and German troops, Hartman was wounded in the clash (leg injury, a bayonet was used to inflict the damage). The following day he was arrested by the gendarmerie commander in Sedziszow and imprisoned in Kielce. He managed to escape the prison roughly 6 weeks later, with the help of fellow POW members.


Service in the Polish Army
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Marshal Józef Piłsudski signing in the scouts' memorial book. Behind the Marshal, stands Lieutenant Jozef Hartman, wearing full uniform and holding an inkwell in his hand. In the collections of NAC
Collection of NAC

He volunteered to join the army in July 1920. He was assigned to the 25th Infantry Regiment in Miechow, and went to the battle front with the 204th Voluntary Battalion of the 4th Legion Infantry Regiment. He fought in the Battle of Warsaw. After the dissolution of the battalion, his company was incorporated into the 2nd Podhale Rifle Regiment. He fought against the Bolsheviks, in Battle of Nemen and the Battle of Kock amongst others (August 14-16, 1920). On September 22, 1920, he was wounded during a Bolshevik counterattack along the Grodno-Kuznica railway line. After the war, he joined the garrison in Krosno with his regiment.

From February 14 to June 30, 1921 at the Infantry Officer Cadet School in Warsaw. On July 11, 1921, he was sent to an internship at the 1st Legion Infantry Regiment in Vilnius as a platoon commander. From February 1925 to March 1931 in the Maneuvering Battalion at the Infantry Training Center in Rembertów as a platoon commander, training platoon commander and, as acting company commander when the company commander was not there.

In 1923 he met Marshal Józef Piłsudskias the commander of his protective platoon during his stay in Druskininkai and Świątniki. From 1925, he often visited the Piłsudski manor in Sulejówek, looked after his daughters and helped in the garden. During the "May Coup" in 1926, he fought on the side of the Marshal against government forces, including near the Kierbedź bridge and Zamkowy Square.

From March 1931, he commanded a platoon of the 5A Infantry Reserve Officers Battalion in Cieszyn for a year. In 1932, he was transferred to the Infantry Department of the Ministry of Military Affairs. In 1934 he completed a parachuting course in Jabłonna, organized by the 2nd Balloon Battalion.

Piłsudski-Mościcki-Hartman-300x150 płk. Józef Hartman - "ojciec cichociemnych"

Funeral of Marshal Józef Piłsudski. The third man from the left is the President of the Republic of Poland Ignacy Mościcki, fourth from the left aide-de-camp of the President of the Republic of Poland Capt. Józef Hartman. 17 May 1935, Warsaw, Mokotow Field

From January 24, 1934, following the recommendation of Józef Piłsudski, aide-de-camp of the President of the Republic of Poland prof. Ignacy Mościcki. He accompanied the President of P.R. in the uniform of the Mountain Division, of which he was a soldier, becoming a symbol of the Polish Army. A veteran of the POW, took part in the war against the Bolsheviks, he was said to be handsome, blonde, 190 cm tall, fluent (spoken and written) in English, French and Russian.


World War II

After the Soviet invasion of Poland (September 17, 1939), he crossed the Polish-Romanian border with the President of the Republic of Poland. He ended his service as an aide-de-camp of the President of the Republic of Poland in December 1939. From January 1940 in France, he became a company commander and instructor of anti-tank weapons course in Nemours.

In July, he was evacuated with Polish soldiers to Great Britain. In autumn, he renewed his pre-war friendship from the parachute course with Capt. Maciej KalenkiewiczKalenkiewicz was a colleague and friend to Captain Jan Górski, both of the men were heavily involved in coming up with a plan to create a means of communication between Poland and Britain. The Captains presented to Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski innovative concept of air communication with the country. With the approval of the plan coming from the Commander-in-Chief himself, Hartman joined both of the captains. He was tasked with training specialists in various fields, men who were believed to be good candidates for future airdrops to Poland.

He was one of the first to undergo extensive training, including the Shooting course at Inverlochy Castle and organizers of the underground fight in BriggensOn April 1, 1941, he was sworn in as a soldier of the Union of Armed Struggle (ZWZ) and adopted the pseudonym ‘’Sławek’’. He underwent parachute training at Ringway and started a communications course at Dunkeld.

During his training at Dunkeld, he was transferred to Division VI (Special) of the Commander-in-Chief's Staff. He was never airdropped to Poland due to the high risk of capture - he was well known in the country as a long-time aide-de-camp of President Mościcki.


Józef-Hartman-12-300x195 płk. Józef Hartman - "ojciec cichociemnych"

Audley End. Maj. Józef Hartman using the Thompson machine gun during exercises, 1941 - 1943. IPMS, reference number arch. coll. 604/9. Source: Karolina Brąkowska, Łukasz Karolewski, Colonel Józef Hartman, ed. NAC and Fundacja im. Cichociemnych Spadochroniarzy AK, p. 91

"Father of the Silent Unseen’’

button-zrzuty_200-150x150 płk. Józef Hartman - "ojciec cichociemnych"Due to the risk of being exposed, he participated in only two commando expeditions to the French coast.

In 1941-1943 he was a: commander of the covert-operations course in Briggens, Polish commander at Training Center of Unit VI of the Commander-in-Chief at Audley End (UK), head of the Department of Training of the Commander-in-Chief’s Staff and head of a Department at Unit VI of the Commander-in-Chief’s Staff. 

From July 1944, he took the role of deputy head of Division VI (Special) of the Commander-in-Chief’s Staff. He actively participated in the training of all the Silent Unseen candidates. He was often called "dad" for his fatherly relationship. As time went on, he was called the ‘’father of the Silent Unseen’’.

He spoke about them, saying:

All of our and my boys "chosen by themselves" - the most beautiful flower of the army - all of them were another, unusual army! They never stood together as one unit, they did not parade to the sound of the orchestra. They did not receive a banner, they did not have a holiday dedicated to what they did, and they did not enter the battle collectively! The "chosen ones" entered the fight individually, at once losing their current civilian and military personality. Death had been waiting for them from the moment they broke away from English land, it [death] accompanied them for a long time on their own land, and when it reached them it was cruel


zobacz publikację Narodowego Archiwum Cyfrowego – „Pułkownik Józef Hartman”:

After the War
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Audley End. Visit of General Władysław Sikorski to one of the Silent Unseen training centres. The commander of the centre, Maj. Józef Hartman, reports to General Władysław Sikorski, 28 August 1942, CAW WBH - list no. 2381/13 annex 104, reference number A.27902. Source: Karolina Brąkowska, Łukasz Karolewski, Colonel Józef Hartman, ed. NAC and Fundacja im. Cichociemnych Spadochroniarzy AK, p. 91

On December 2, 1945, he was transferred to the Vocational Training Department of the Commander-in-Chief’s Staff, in 1946 he was appointed the head of the Liquidation Committee of the Special Staff. After the dissolution of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, from January 1947 he worked in the Polish Corps of Preparation and Arrangement. He documented the course of service, promotions, awards of jumpers, emissaries, demobilized soldiers, helping them obtain the right to reside in Great Britain.

On August 13, 1948 he ended his military service, in 1964 he was appointed a colonel by General Władysław Anders.

He remained in exile in Great Britain and lived in London. The authorities of the Polish People's Republic deprived him of his Polish citizenship, as he was accused of ‘’espionage against the country’’. In 1959 he adopted British citizenship.

His health has soon after deteriorated, he was active in the veteran community (pol. Kolo Cichociemnych). He worked in the Main Verification Commission of the Home Army. Until the end of his life, he remained close to other Silent Unseen, he enjoyed writing letters, collecting publications about the Polish Armed Forces in the West and the Home Army, and meeting former subordinates. After the death of a Silent Unseen, in their honor he would plant a rose bush in his garden (it is thought that he planted approximately a hundred of them).

He maintained contact with the family of Marshal Józef Piłsudski, as well as with President Ignacy Mościcki Moscicki and his wife. In the years 1957-1978 he wrote 220 letters to Maria Moscicka and received 191 personal answers from her. In 1965 he was in a car accident, as a result of which he suffered serious injuries and spent 8 months in hospital, he received a fur coat from the president’s wife as a gift from prof. Moscicki.

He died on April 24, 1979 in his apartment at 10 Ambassador Close in London. The urn with ashes was buried in the New Brentford cemetery.


Family Life

Son of Karol Hartman and Małgorzata née Białek. Grandparents Fryderyk and Karolina were illiterate and landless peasants living with their hosts, living off the wages from the work that they carried out for the hosts. They were both Lutherans of German descent. The family converted to Catholicism, father Karol was baptized in the Roman rite. At the beginning of the 20th century, Karol Hartman became a forester in the Bugaj estate. In gratitude for his excellent service he received four hectares of land and a forester’s lodge in a small village called Szalas.

He had four brothers: Antoni, Stanisław, Jan and Tadeusz, and sister Jadwiga. On February 15, 1947, he married Grace Leborgne, widow of an English test pilot. Not having the right to receive a British pension, he lived a very modest life and undertook simple jobs, such as work in the hospital and in the restaurant. Grace Leborgne, wdową po angielskim pilocie doświadczalnym. Nie mając prawa do brytyjskiej emerytury żył bardzo skromnie i podejmował się prostych prac, salowego w szpitalu oraz pomywacza naczyń w restauracji. 




Orders and decorations


  • Pour le Merite – 1938 r.
  • Steave Romanniei in gradul de ofiter – 1938
  • Medalia Amintirei Carol of the 2nd class - 1939
  • Order of the Crown (Romania) - 1939
  • Commenndatore deil’ordina della Cirina d’Italia – 1939 r.


Hartman_500px-220x300 płk. Józef Hartman - "ojciec cichociemnych"

okładka albumu pt. Pułkownik Józef Hartman – do pobrania plik pdf

button-publikacje_200-300x101 płk. Józef Hartman - "ojciec cichociemnych"

  • Own sources
  • Wikipedia
  • Roman Lewicki, Wojciech Markert, Józef Sławomir Hartman 1898-1979 Adiutant prezydenta i Ojciec Cichociemnych, OW Ajaks, Pruszków 2004
  • Katarzyna Brąkowska, Łukasz Karolewski – (pdf do pobrania) Pułkownik Józef Hartman, wyd. Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe oraz Fundacja im. Cichociemnych Spadochroniarzy AK


Also see:
  • NAC website, publications (also in English) and RWE recordings Józef Hartman



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