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Polish Mine Detector

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The Polish Mine Detector was invented by a Polish signals officer, Lt Józef Stanisław Kosacki (1909 – 1990), serving with the 1st Polish Army Corps which was stationed in Scotland following the German defeat of Poland in 1939.

Prior to the war, Kosacki had worked as a technician with the Department of Artillery of the Ministry of National Defence. Just before the outbreak of war and the invasion of Poland in 1939, he joined the clandestine Special Signals Unit, a secret institute working on electronic appliances for the Army.

After the war he returned to Poland, becoming one of the country's pioneers of electronics and nuclear machinery. For many years he headed the Chair of Electronics at the Institute for Nuclear Research in Świerk, and was also a professor at the Military Technical Academy in Warsaw. He died in 1990 and was buried with military honours. In 2005, the Wrocław based Military Institute for Engineering Technology was named after him.

During the war, Kosacki's name had been classified, as his family was still trapped in German occupied Poland. Most of his patents were registered using fictitious names such as: Józef Kos, Kozacki and Kozak. Consequently, his surname is often spelt incorrectly, as can be seen in a number of the following quotations.

Time Magazine/Canadian Edition, March 8, 1999, page 18:

The historical note, © Time Magazine
The historical note
© Time Magazine

Last week Time Warner vice chairman apologized for joking that Polish soldiers clear mines with their feet. In fact, a Polish officer invented the first practical electronic mine detector during World War II. In the winter of 1941-42, the British War Office invited designs for a robust and reliable mine detector. The one they adopted was submitted anonymously by Lt Jozef Stanislaw Kozacki, a signals officer with the 1st Polish Army Corps stationed in Scotland following the German defeat of Poland in 1939. His invention was tested and developed and 500 Mine Detectors No 2 (Polish) were rushed to the Western Desert in time for the advance on El Alamein. Their effect was to double the speed of British troops through the heavily mined sands from 100 to 200 meters an hour. The same basic design continued in use for 50 years and last saw the action with British forces during the 1991 Gulf War.

The History of Landmines, by Mike Croll, first published in Great Britain in 1998 by Leo Cooper, an imprint of Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 47 Church Street, Barnsley S270 2AS, ISBN 0 85052 268 0: Page 54: (discussing the 350,000 mines laid on the English beaches to deter an invasion):

The mining of the beaches had several unexpected consequences. As the defence of Britain became more organized it became necessary to move or to re-lay minefields. The laying of the original fields was so poor that entirely new methods of clearance, laying and accurate recording had to be devised. The difficulties of locating buried mines in the shifting sands of the beach prompted the War Office to issue specifications for a mine detector during the winter of 1941/42. The design accepted was submitted by Lieutenant Jozef Stanislaw Kozacki, a Polish signals officer who had escaped to France and then to Britain in 1940.

The Polish detector had two coils, one of which was connected to an oscillator which generated an oscillating current of an acoustic frequency. The other coil was connected to an amplifier and a telephone. When the coils came into proximity to a metallic object the balance between the coils was upset and the telephone reported a signal. The equipment weighed just under 30 pounds and could be operated by one man. The Polish detector saw service throughout the war and the Mark 4c version was still used by the British Army until 1995. The experience of mine warfare gained on the Home Front was to prove useful throughout the war. While the Germans dominated mine design and mine laying, the British were the great innovators in clearance techniques, initially as a result of their own short sightedness."

The following text is from the book "The Polish Contribution to The Ultimate Allied Victory in The Second World War" by Tadeusz Modelski. Page 221:

The thirteenth Polish invention: at the end of 1941, the technical unit of the Polish General Staff in London introduced the British Ministry of War production to a new improved model (the old model was invented in Poland in 1937) of the mine detector constructed in Scotland in 1941 by the Polish engineer, J Kosacki. The British authorities accepted it as the best one of its time, praising the Poles, and ordered mass production, under the name of "Mine Detector Polish Mark I". All of the British Army was issued with the detector; 500 mine detectors were used by General B Montgomery's Eighth Army, to clear the terrain before the El Alamein attack.

Polish Mine Detector. This name was given to a device invented by Polish engineer Jozef Kosacki. His friend Jan Zakrzewski, who was an officer in the Polish Communication Training Centre in St Andrews, Scotland, told this story to the press:

He said: "Kosacki, while still in Poland, was researching radio waves, he came up with the idea of a machine which would find hidden in the ground metal items. In St Andrews he was given a laboratory and a sergeant as an aide. He showed me what he constructed. It looked like a small box with an antenna. His research became an interest of the commanding officers of the British Army. All those who knew what he has been working on were obliged to sign a secrecy agreement. One day, Kosacki was called to London. Experts agreed that production must be started immediately. Kosacki's mine detectors were already used in the North African campaign. His discovery was not patented; he gave it as a gift to the British Army. He was given a thank you letter from the King for this. The English were very happy that they could bring something to the co-operation table with the Americans that they did not have.

The invention was never patented, and Kosacki's only reward for his significant contribution to the war effort, and later development, was a personal letter of thanks from George VI, and the Silver Star medal from the Polish government.

From: "The History of Landmines" by Mike Croll published in Great Britain in 1998 by Leo Cooper, Pen & Sword Books Ltd. ISBN 0 85052 268 0, page 54:

Components
Components
  1. Detection plate
  2. Two-part handle with counterweight
  3. Operating box fixed on the handle
  4. Amplifier and battery in the carrier bag
  5. Headphones

The mining of the beaches had several unexpected consequences. As the defense of Britain became more organized it became necessary to move or to re-lay minefields. The laying of the original fields was so poor that entirely new methods of clearance, laying and accurate recording had to be devised. The difficulties of locating buried mines in the shifting sands of the beach prompted the War Office to issue specifications for a mine detector during the winter of 1941/42. The design accepted was submitted by Lieutenant Jozef Stanislaw Kozacki, a Polish signals officer who had escaped to France and then to Britain in 1940. The Polish detector had two coils, one of which was connected to an oscillator which generated an oscillating current of an acoustic frequency. The other coil was connected to an amplifier and a telephone. When the coils came into proximity to a metallic object the balance between the coils was upset and the telephone reported a signal. The equipment weighed just under 30 pounds and could be operated by one man. The Polish detector saw service throughout the war and the Mark 4c version was still used by the British Army until 1995. The experience of mine warfare gained on the Home Front was to prove useful throughout the war. While the Germans dominated mine design and mine laying, the British were the great innovators in clearance techniques, initially as a result of their own shortsightedness.

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