The Historical Significance Behind the Name of Poland’s New Service Rifle

    (PAP / Marcin Obara)

    Back in September TFB reported that Poland had officially renamed its new MSBS 5.56x45mm infantry rifle the ‘Grot’. The move to rename the MSBS came as Poland increased its orders for the new rifle.

    The significance of the new name has a great deal of historical and national importance to the Polish people. In English ‘Grot’ translates to spearhead or arrowhead. ‘Grot’ or Spearhead was the code name of General Stefan Rowecki, a Polish army officer and resistance leader who fought against Poland’s Nazi German occupiers.

    Stefan Rowecki in the 1930s

    Rowecki, a veteran of the 1919-20 Polish-Soviet War, was a brigade commander when Poland was invaded by Germany and the Soviet Union in September 1939. With the surrender of the Polish Army and the occupation of Poland by two foreign aggressors Rowecki became a leader of the Polish resistance and went on to be the first commander of the Polish Home Army. In the summer of 1943 Rowecki was betrayed by Polish double agents and arrested by the Gestapo. He was later executed as the valiant but ill-fated Warsaw Uprising broke out in August 1944.

    On 30 November, at a snowy official ceremony was held in Warsaw, in front of a monument to Stefan Rowecki, the the first Grot rifles were handed over to the Wojska Obrony Terytorialnej – WOT (Polish Territorial Defence Force). The ceremony was attended by two surviving members of the Home Army,   Colonel Jerzy Majkowski and Major Zbigniew Matysiak.

    Maj. Matysiak & Col. Majkowski (wearing a Home Army armband) hand new Grot rifles to members of the WOT  (PAP / Marcin Obara)

    The event was also attended by Polish defence ministers Antoni Macierewicz and Michał Dworczyk, as well as senior Polish officers and representatives of Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ), FB Radom’s state-owned parent company. The presence of two Home Army veterans at the ceremony reinforces the national importance of a new Polish-designed service rifle, while the Polish government is keen to link the historic defiance of the resistance with the new volunteer Territorial Defence Force.

    Members of WOT parade in front of the Rowecki monument with their new Grot rifles (wpolityce/PAP)

    New MSBS rifles on display at the ceremony (wpolityce/PAP)

    Majkowski and Matysiak examine the new rifle (wpolityce/PAP)

    Matysiak hands a member of the WOT her new rifle (wpolityce/PAP)

    Lieutenant Colonel Marek Pietrzak, of the WOT, told press at the hand over ceremony that “ultimately, this weapon will replace our Beryl rifles, which will be handed over to operational troops by the end of next year.” The rifle recently completed initial adoption testing. Another Polish news site, Coza dzien, reported that Estonia and Pakistan are interested in the MSBS 5.56/Grot. Announcement of rifle orders for Poland’s regular army are anticipated next year.

    Matthew Moss

    _________________________________________________________________________ – Managing Editor – Managing Editor

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of The Armourer’s Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms.

    Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]