Polish defense during the German/Russian invasion ?

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Mostowka
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Polish defense during the German/Russian invasion ?

Post by Mostowka » 12 Oct 2003 16:50

Does anybody have any good information about the numbers of Polish soldiers, tanks, airplanes, artillery during the 1939 september invasion ?

Other than that i´m most interested if anybody has found any good pages about this invasion and it´s more important battles. I´v also been curious about the Russian "backstab" that started during the same time; was there any opposition in the east by Polish forces or did the Red Army merely march in ?

Would be grateful for an responses !

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Jeremy Chan
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Post by Jeremy Chan » 13 Oct 2003 08:50

I think they only had one regiment of armour, and light tanks at that. Or I could've been a few light armoured battalions spread across reconaissance regiments.

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Eryk
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Post by Eryk » 13 Oct 2003 13:11

Hi, Mostowka

Small comparison (September 1939):

Weapon / Poland / Germany

Infantry / 950 000 / 1 850 000

Tanks / 800 / 2800

Planes / 400 / 2000

Artillery / 4 500 / 11 000

If You need exactly data try here
http://www.militaria.cyberk.net.pl/wrze ... jenia.html

Most of Polish planes and tanks ware outdated. Only about 100 7TP tanks and 36 PZL P37b Los (Deer) medium bombers were up to day.

Here
http://www.geocities.com/kumbayaaa/polrepcav.html

you can read about Polish cavalry. I assure you – they never charged tanks :) . German and Russian propagandas claimed such BS’s.


And here
http://www.geocities.com/kumbayaaa/warp ... t1939.html

you can read about Soviet invasion 17th September.

Regards,
Arek

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Musashi
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Post by Musashi » 13 Oct 2003 17:13

Eryk wrote: Small comparison (September 1939):

Weapon / Poland / Germany

Tanks / 800 / 2800
There were 211 tanks .Its hard to call Polish TKS or TK-3 "tanks". There were tankettes. Imagine of British Bren Carrier with a roof and you'll have a Polish tankette.
Eryk wrote: Most of Polish planes and tanks ware outdated. Only about 100 7TP tanks and 36 PZL P37b Los (Deer)
No LOS (ŁOŚ) means ELK in English not Deer :) :wink:

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Orok
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Post by Orok » 13 Oct 2003 21:51

Eryk wrote:you can read about Polish cavalry. I assure you – they never charged tanks :) . German and Russian propagandas claimed such BS’s.
I don't think it's German propaganda. What would the Germans achieve from such propaganda? Simply to portray their Polish adversary as stupid and foolhardy?

I read somewhere that this alleged charge was an episode in a very popular post-war Polish movie by a very famous director, but I cannot place him.

I know Guderian mentioned the so called cavalry charge in his memoir but his was written after the war, so he might have been inproperly informed by someone after this myth had became popular legend with the help of the above movie!

Soviet propaganda? Nah, the Russians wouldn't portray the Poles as brave, albeit recklessly so.

Best Regards!

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 13 Oct 2003 22:10

Polish armored vehicles and tanks :

50x Renault R-35
135x 7TP
102x FT-17c and FT-17m
34x Vickers tanks
574x TK, TKS or TKF tankettes
100x armored cars
10x armored trains

Polish Artillery :

Field Artillery :
1374x 75 mm mle 1897 french guns
466x 75mm mle 1902 russian guns
900x SKODA 100 mm howitzers
254x 105 mm Schneider french guns
43x 120 mm guns
340x 155 mm Schneider french howitzers
27x very heavy 220 mm mortars

AT artillery :
1200x 37 mm Bofors guns

AA artillery :
306x 40 mm Bofors guns
156x 75 mm Bofors guns



I have grossly this figure :

Polish army :
39 infantry divisions + 40 cavalry regiments + 2 armored brigades + independant units
995 tanks + armored vehicles
3400 field arty
400 planes

German army :
68 divisions (40 ID + 14 totally or partially mechanized + 4 motorized ID + 6 PzD + 4 Light Divisions)
3000 tanks and armored cars (tanks are essentially PzI and PzII, mainly 20 mm tanks no much better armament)
5000 field arty
3000 planes
Last edited by David Lehmann on 13 Oct 2003 22:29, edited 1 time in total.

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Musashi
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Post by Musashi » 13 Oct 2003 22:27

Orok wrote:
Eryk wrote:you can read about Polish cavalry. I assure you – they never charged tanks :) . German and Russian propagandas claimed such BS’s.
I don't think it's German propaganda. What would the Germans achieve from such propaganda? Simply to portray their Polish adversary as stupid and foolhardy?

I read somewhere that this alleged charge was an episode in a very popular post-war Polish movie by a very famous director, but I cannot place him.

I know Guderian mentioned the so called cavalry charge in his memoir but his was written after the war, so he might have been inproperly informed by someone after this myth had became popular legend with the help of the above movie!

Soviet propaganda? Nah, the Russians wouldn't portray the Poles as brave, albeit recklessly so.

Best Regards!
You are wrong. Polish cavalryman never charged German tanks with sabres or lances. I have also seen the film you are writing about ("Lotna"). The film was made for Polish communist government purposes and its totally a bullshit, believe me. Do you think somebody is so stupid to attack a tank with a sabre or lance? I don't. Polish cavalrymen charged German tanks with grenade bundles SOMETIMES. However they had not to do it. They had 37mm AT guns, 75mm field guns and AT rifles. Remember they were elite of the Polish army, they were excellent trained and had fanatic morale. They usually did not surrender on their own until their commander have issued such an order to save their lives and experience (its possible to escape from a POW camp). Polish 18th cavalry regiment performed his most famous charge at Guderian's XIXth Armoured Corps in Krojanty charging MOTORIZED collumns with GRENADE BUNDLES. In spite of suffering more than 70% casualties, the charge was successful. The German collumn has been stopped and Polish "slow" infantry units could withdraw to avoid encirclement.
Best regards,
Chris

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Orok
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Post by Orok » 13 Oct 2003 22:35

Musashi wrote:
Orok wrote:
Eryk wrote:you can read about Polish cavalry. I assure you – they never charged tanks :) . German and Russian propagandas claimed such BS’s.
I don't think it's German propaganda. What would the Germans achieve from such propaganda? Simply to portray their Polish adversary as stupid and foolhardy?

I read somewhere that this alleged charge was an episode in a very popular post-war Polish movie by a very famous director, but I cannot place him.

I know Guderian mentioned the so called cavalry charge in his memoir but his was written after the war, so he might have been inproperly informed by someone after this myth had became popular legend with the help of the above movie!

Soviet propaganda? Nah, the Russians wouldn't portray the Poles as brave, albeit recklessly so.

Best Regards!
You are wrong. Polish cavalryman never charged German tanks with sabres or lances. I have also seen the film you are writing about ("Lotna"). The film was made for Polish communist government purposes and its totally a bullshit, believe me. Do you think somebody is so stupid to attack a tank with a sabre or lance? I don't. Polish cavalrymen charged German tanks with grenade bundles SOMETIMES. However they had not to do it. They had 37mm AT guns, 75mm field guns and AT rifles. Remember they were elite of the Polish army, they were excellent trained and had fanatic morale. They usually did not surrender on their own until their commander have issued such an order to save their lives and experience (its possible to escape from a POW camp). Polish 18th cavalry regiment performed his most famous charge at Guderian's XIXth Armoured Corps in Krojanty charging MOTORIZED collumns with GRENADE BUNDLES. In spite of suffering more than 70% casualties, the charge was successful. The German collumn has been stopped and Polish "slow" infantry units could withdraw to avoid encirclement.
Best regards,
Chris
Hi Musahi,

You obviously did not read my post closely. I didn't say the charge was a historical fact. On the contrary, I, as you do, believe this never happened. I only disagree with Eryk's assertion that this myth was created by German propaganda. I believe it was created by the post war movie I mentioned. That is why I said Guderian was misinformed when he included this so called charge in his post war memoirs!

Regards!

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Mostowka
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Post by Mostowka » 14 Oct 2003 00:42

Many thanks to everybody for the information ! Very useful !

BTW, Were there any larger tank battles during the September campaign worth mentioning ?

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Re: Polish defense during the German/Russian invasion ?

Post by PolAntek » 14 Oct 2003 05:11

Mostowka wrote:Does anybody have any good information about the numbers of Polish soldiers, tanks, airplanes, artillery during the 1939 september invasion ?

Other than that i´m most interested if anybody has found any good pages about this invasion and it´s more important battles. I´v also been curious about the Russian "backstab" that started during the same time; was there any opposition in the east by Polish forces or did the Red Army merely march in ?

Would be grateful for an responses !
Hello Mostowka,

The following is excerpted from a letter titled "Facing Westerplatte" by John Radzilowski. It touches on a couple of your questions as well as other points raised in some of the other posts. It is particularly well written and gets the facts straight. Well worth the read.

Facing Westerplatte
John Radzilowski

For many years, the Nazi invasion of Poland has been the subject of distortion by western historians and for decades Polish Americans have had to endure false stories about how Polish cavalry charged German tanks, the Polish air force was destroyed on the ground, and the Polish army collapsed after a few days.

In school, many of us endured the taunts and snickers of our classmates after the teacher made the Polish kid read the paragraph about the cavalry being slaughtered by the German panzers. It was just the teacher's way of telling us we really were inferior.

Of course, all these stories are nothing more than Nazi propaganda. (Why people in the west including educated scholars and some Poles choose to believe Nazi propaganda rather than Polish historians and veterans is a whole other subject.) The reality is that Poland fought far better than it should have been able to.

Facing the bulk of the German army, Poland was an impoverished agricultural country with little industry. Germany outspent Poland 50 to 1 in defense. In addition, Poland's French and British allies stopped Poland from fully mobilizing in order to avoid "provoking" Hitler. Although the Polish high command was far from perfect, faced with long odds, they chose a strategy that would draw the British and French into the war and then stage a fighting withdrawal into the southeast corner of the country where they could make a last stand and wait for the expected French attack on Germany. Instead, the Soviet Union attacked Poland on September 17, undermining the Polish strategy.

The German and Soviet invasions were conducted with maximum brutality. Hitler called on his generals to "kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of Polish descent or language." German troops and aircraft often targeted civilians, bombing hospitals, orphanages, cultural sites, and columns of civilian refugees. The Soviets also conducted massacres of Polish citizens and POWs.

The first German shells fell on a small spit of land in the harbor of Gdansk, called Westerplatte. Held by only 182 soldiers, Westerplatte was a Polish island in the pro-German Free City of Danzig. Bombed and shelled continuously for seven days and subject to repeated ground attacks, the Westerplatte garrison held its ground and inflicted severe losses on German and Danzig forces before being forced to surrender.

Many times, Polish forces put up bitter resistance against great odds. In Pomerania, the commander of the German 20th Motorized Division begged to be allowed to withdraw in the face of "intense cavalry pressure." The pressure was being applied by a force one tenth the size of the German division. At Mokra, another Polish cavalry unit inflicted severe losses on German panzers, staving off attacks all day on Sept. 1st. In the air, Polish pilots, flying from secret bases, took a heavy toll on German raiders.

The overwhelming German strength, the speed of the Nazi motorized forces, and problems caused by the French-mandated delay in obilization soon forced the Polish army back and opened large gaps in its lines. As the Germans raced for Warsaw, General Tadeusz Kutrzeba's Poznan Army counterattacked on the Bzura River. The Poles broke through the German lines and stopped the advance on Warsaw. The battle raged for several days, seesawing back and forth, until the Germans pulled troops away from Warsaw and surrounded Kutrzeba's forces.

In many cases, Polish forces fought to the bitter end. At Gdynia, the Polish commander, Col. Stanislaw Dabek, committed suicide as the Germans closed in around his bunker. Col. Dabek was not the only Polish commander to take his own life rather than surrender.

Similar scenes took place in the east, where a slender force of Polish
reserves tried to hold off the onslaught of the Red Army. At Sarny, soldiers of the army and border defense corps held off the Soviets for five days. A platoon of 50 men commanded by Lt. Jan Bolbot holed up in their bunker and refused to surrender despite hopeless odds. Bolbot's men stopped every Soviet attack with heavy losses. Unable to drive the Poles from their positions, the Soviets set the Polish bunkers on fire. Through the flames and choking smoke, the Poles continued manning their weapons. Bolbot and his entire command died in the flames. In 1989, Bolbot was posthumously awarded the Virtuti Militari, Poland's equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Polish forces continued fighting until Oct. 6, 1939, over a month after the start of the campaign. Even after then, many small units kept up partisan activity against the German and Soviet occupiers, becoming the nucleus of a powerful resistance force.

All this time, the French and British, facing only a slender German force in the west, did nothing. A determined French attack during September 1939 would have almost certainly broken through into Germany's industrial heartland and ended the war. The bloodbath of World War II and the Holocaust would have been avoided. In 1940, despite a superiority in troops and equipment and protected by short, well-fortified border, the British and French performed poorly. France capitulated and many Frenchmen joined the shameful Vichy regime.

Due to the German invasion, Poland lost its independence for over 50 years. As the first country to say no to Hitler in the only language he understood, Poland suffered terrible losses. Yet, the fierce resistance put up at Westerplatte and Sarny and throughout September 1939 proved a beacon to all the Poles who fought in the war and all those who struggled against communism after the war. The heroism of those dark days should be a source of pride to all Poles and Polish Americans.

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Eryk
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Post by Eryk » 14 Oct 2003 08:53

Musashi wrote: No LOS (£O¦) means ELK in English not Deer

:oops: :oops: :oops:
... of course.
Orok wrote:You obviously did not read my post closely. I didn't say the charge was a historical fact. On the contrary, I, as you do, believe this never happened. I only disagree with Eryk's assertion that this myth was created by German propaganda. I believe it was created by the post war movie I mentioned. That is why I said Guderian was misinformed when he included this so called charge in his post war memoirs!

Regards!
You're right - but not quite. I said "German and Russian propaganda". Maybe I should say "Soviet". The movie was named "Lotna" and was inspired by German "memories" and a German propaganda film (I forgot the name). The German film showed "Polish cavalrymen" (wearing German stahlhelmets :lol: ) charging tanks with lances and sabers. BS.

As Musashi said, "Lotna" was made for communistic purposes, and showed "how stupid pre-war Poland was". Remeber it was 1959 - everything, what acted against “old” Poland was good. Andrzej Wajda directed this “work of art”.

regards
Arek

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Mostowka
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Post by Mostowka » 14 Oct 2003 09:41

PolAntek:

Very interesting post. Where is the letter from ? As always I am stunnded by how passivly the French and Brittish acted during the september campaign. I never seem to end my thoughts regarding the "what if..", well well. Pre-War Poland stays in our dreams, :-).

Why was the east border so thinly manned ? I understand that they had to pull up most troops to the German border as it was obviously a larger threat but was not Slovakia and Russia an equal threat at least in the eyes of the Polish high comman ?

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Orok
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Post by Orok » 14 Oct 2003 14:04

Thanks Eryk,

Now that you mention it, I think Wajda is the name of the director! :lol: By the way what is the meaning of Lotna, the name of the movie?

Thanks.

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Eryk
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Post by Eryk » 14 Oct 2003 15:55

Orok wrote:Thanks Eryk,

Now that you mention it, I think Wajda is the name of the director! :lol: By the way what is the meaning of Lotna, the name of the movie?

Thanks.
Lotna was a horse (mare) name. It is female form of adjective "lotny", which can means

1. aeriform
2 fugacious
3 ethereal
4 etherial
5 light
6 airy
7 subtle

etc., etc.

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Orok
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Post by Orok » 14 Oct 2003 17:05

Thank you Eryk for this interesting information! :D

Best Regards!

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