This page contains word-for-word excerpts from the book "The Defence of Poland,
September 1939," by Lt. Gen. M. Norwid Neugebauer, published originally in Polish in 1941 and translated into English in
1942. The book was written to counter the voluminous, one-sided propaganda coming out of Germany during the initial years
of the German occupation of Poland.
The original military report on which the book was based, was compiled in the year following the
September 1939 campaign, and the author's forward was finished just as the Germans began their second major attack, the
invasion of Norway. At this time, the rapid and stunning defeat of France, which would soon follow that May and June
(1940), was not even considered a possibility. By the time the book was first published in its original Polish edition, France
was under German occupation.
The value of this book is that it was, although preliminary, the first relatively objective
compilation of the facts of the September Campaign of 1939 that were known at the time of its printing, and it was written
by a general familiar with the Polish defensive preparations (and therefore the basic German offensive plans) and with
access to the archives of the Polish Government-in-Exile.
General Norwid-Neugebauer was a former Polish Minister of Defence and was in fact chosen to lead
the Polish Military Mission which was dispatched to London on September 3rd, 1939, to impress on the British leaders
the immense strength and speed of the German attack and the gravity of the Polish situation, and to plead the case for the
immediate launch of an air offensive against Germany.
It is interesting to note that Oswiecim is mentioned occasionally in the text. The reference
is to the sleepy town near Crakow which every now and then comes in to play in the book as the border of a defensive zone
or a line of resistance or planned withdrawl. Years later it would become infamous, better known by its German name,
Dedication: To the Soldiers fighting for Poland
The present work is an extract from a military study, based mainly on the reports of the participants in the campaign
and such documents as are at present available. Many facts are still kept secret by both sides, for natural reasons.
In consequence certain stages of the campaign can be treated only in a general way or with the degree of accuracy permitted
by the sources of information used in each case.
The appearance of many propaganda publications, presenting a one-sided view of the Polish campaign, made it necessary
to compile an objective account of the actual events, as accurate as it is at present possible to make it.
There is still too little material for an analysis of the motives and for a closer study of the decisions of the commanders.
It is only possible to present the situations and facts on which were based the ideas of the commanders. It is also still
too early to discuss the work of the staffs and the executive services. The character of the soldier, on the other hand, is
already clearly outlined and his moral and national strength can be fully appreciated.
Although the events under review are still quite recent, it is difficult to estimate at present the moral effort of the
Polish nation and army, while the work done by the commanders and their subordinates will have to be judged in the perspective
of time. The same applies to the general attitude and actions of the two nations at war. In order to avoid the suspicion of
propagandism, it has been necessary to omit descriptions of the brutal treatment of the civilian population both during the
hostilities and after their conclusion, although it included facts which have no parallel in history and have never been surpassed
for sheer cruelty and inhumanity.
In the interests of impartiality it seems preferable not to pass premature judgement on various individual war moves
and decisions, thus avoiding superficial or casual verdicts.
It is natural that the side living in the bitterness of defeat can hardly achieve complete detachment. We are witnessing
the well-known phenomenon of seeking out the darkest side of things and condemning everything as error. But even the commanders
of various formations are not in a position to assess the elements of a campaign on its whole vast scale, and their opinion
has only a relative value. The feeling which prompts it is understandable in view of the reports of brutal oppression and
crime which are reaching us from Poland.
On the other side there is the conceit and arrogance of the victor, who distorts or exaggerates the truth for the purpose
of creating a legend suitable for his political or propaganda purposes. These methods are all the more necessary as they are
used not only for outside consumption, but also with the object of overcoming any hint of opposition, which might appear from
time to time in some parts of the Reich, which are not entirely uniform in their Nazi enthusiasm.
That is why I prefer the facts of the day-to-day account of the campaign to tell their own story.
I believe that the present work will encourage the participants in the campaign to throw further light on the course
of events. When the archives are opened, it may serve as a skeleton for a complete historical study of the first lightning,
total war in Europe.
The rich experience of the one month of war in Poland suggests definite conclusions concerning the use of armoured forces
and aircraft and their terrific power of destruction. It is now possible to think over calmly the stages of the offensive
and devise new means of defence of national independence against armed might. Other conclusions may also be reached with regard
to the choice of methods of government suitable for nations which desire to follow the path of human evolution.
I am grateful to the Commander-in-Chief, General Wladyslaw Sikorski, for affording me access to the archives and to the
personal reports of the participants in the campaign.
I also wish to thank the Vice-Minister of War, General Kukiel, and the Chief of Staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Colonel
Kedzior, for their kind assistance in my work.
Thanks are also due to Lieutenant Reychan and others of my colleagues for their technical help in the production of this
Mieczyslaw Norwid Neugebauer,
The Political Issues and Geographical Conditions
About the middle of March 1939, immediately after the occupation of Czechoslovakia, it was rumoured in Poland
that (German Foreign Minister) Ribbentrop had made three demands to the Polish Ambassador
in Berlin. First, Poland should renounce her rights in (the Free City of) Danzig, and the Free City should return
unconditionally to the Reich. Secondly, a strip of land twenty-five kilometres wide, running across Polish Pomerania (Pomorze),
should be ceded to Germany for the purpose of constructing a motor road to East Prussia. Thirdly, Poland should join the Anti-Comintern
These rumours, not denied in official circles and hinted at in the daily Press, gradually confirmed public
opinion in the belief that Germany had decided that the time had come to apply her methods of intimidation to Poland. It was
realised that, to maintain her prestige and the morale of his nation, Hitler had to set up before his people some new point
in his programme of righting the wrongs allegedly suffered by Germany at the hands of others. It was doubted, however, whether
he would really hazard the prestige he had already won by resorting to force, or whether he even felt sufficiently strong
to do so, seeing his demands were being energetically rejected by the Polish Government, backed by a unanimous nation determined
to defend itself. This doubt was strengthened by the certainty that Great Britain and France, having affirmed their resolve
that there should be no second Munich, would come to the aid of Poland.
It was therefore thought that Hitler would exploit his method of intimidation to the utmost, and then retreat
when faced by the solidarity of the Polish nation and world opinion.
It is unnecessary to discuss here the political pressure which the Reich had been exerting on Poland for five
months, a pressure accompanied by increasing territorial demands and culminating in the now notorious sixteen-point terms
which Germany claims to have submitted on 30th August. It is unnecessary to recall the proposal for a new partition of Poland
included in the secret clauses of the German-Soviet Treaty of Non-Aggression and Amity of 21st August 1939. All these facts
are to be found in the British Blue Book, the French Yellow Book, and the Polish White Book. It is enough to study the clear
and well-written report of Sir Neville Henderson, the British Ambassador in Berlin, to see that Poland was the victim of an
attack and waged a defensive war.
The real purport of the demands was not the acquisition of Danzig or of a motor road across Pomerania. Nor
was it to gain privileges for the German minority, already enjoying in Poland a much greater measure of the rights and liberties
of citizenship than was the Polish minority in Germany. Documents indeed throw light on how the German minority had abused
its rights, amounting at times to real privileges, and both in peace and war had organised subversive activities in order
to create a semblance of discontent.
The real purpose of putting the demands was that Poland should say "No."
It was the first direct challenge met in Europe by the brutal Brown imperialism of Germany, which robbed neighbours
of land and freedom, destroying cultural and personal individuality and aiming at world hegemony on grounds of alleged race
That war, postponed for a time, would indeed come, was shown by many factors. Poland had a population of only
34.7 million, the German Reich 84 million: on three sides she had a common frontier with Germany; there was a great discrepancy
in the economic and, in particular, in the industrial potential of the two countries. The scope of German rearmament remained
a dead secret; her propaganda grew in violence; the activities of the Bund der Deutschen im Ausland grew feverish.
When war came, it was totalitarian. Embodying ideas based on the experience after the last phase of the war
of 1914-1918, it was amplified by the development of aviation and mechanisation. The entire country and the whole population
were immediately affected by operations. The attack was directed not only against the armed forces but also, and primarily,
against the civilian population; it was directed not only against war potential but against the whole life of the country,
to break it morally and materially. Poland was to serve as a warning to all other countries.
The attack on Poland at 4.40 A.M. on 1st September by the German Air Force was unexpected; it found the country
insufficiently prepared both in the organisation of its forces and in equipment. But the morale and spirit of the nation were
equal to all the demands of war. At a threat to the freedom and existence of the nation, internal dissension disappeared.
The people were confident and trusted that the ideals they shared with other nations would prevail.
Poland had with France a defensive alliance, which became operative when Germany attacked. The military collaboration
of the two countries was therefore of a defensive nature only, as appeared from the talks between the two Governments and
the military leaders. There was with Rumania too a similar defensive alliance for mutual aid in the event of Soviet aggression.
Through these defensive alliances, by non-aggression pacts with her neighbours, by years of effort within and outside the
League of Nations to achieve general disarmament, and later by some actual reduction in her state of military preparedness,
Poland had been enabled to pay more attention to the economic development of the country, totally neglected before the Great
War and arrested during its course and in the subsequent war with the Bolsheviks in 1920.
Defensive also in its nature was the guarantee given to Poland by Great Britain and transferred in May 1939
into a pact of military assistance. It left indeed to Poland the decision as to the precise moment when her independent existence
was threatened, but implying as it did a close collaboration in foreign policy it could become operative only after all efforts
at peaceful settlement had failed.
The staff talks in May and June 1939 were simply for an exchange of information, leaving complete freedom
on either side. The time factor was discussed only with France, and then not in a binding form.
This may explain Poland's marked tendency to avoid any action which might be interpreted as a provocation
of the Reich. Hence the militarisation of Danzig was not opposed; no drastic action was taken against subversive bands in
the frontier region and sabotage within the country itself.
Poland's geography and the nature of her frontiers made her particularly vulnerable to German offensive. There
were frequent threats of a lightning war. It was therefore imperative for Poland to exercise extreme caution in assessing
the good faith of any political move and especially in calculating the time which might remain to her to
complete her preparations. Germany's systematic preparations and her gradual mobilisation were not overlooked. But were these
preparations estimated in their true proportions by the politicians? Did they lead to an intensified defence effort? The first
days of the war supply the answer.
Strategically the form given to Poland by its frontiers is unfavourable. The three provinces of Pomerania,
Poznan and Silesia, jutting out of the west, have always been in danger of being cut off by invading armies. By the occupation
of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 a new Polish-German frontier was created in the south, exposing Poland to the threat of flanking
operations. The total length of the frontier with the Reich and the Free City was hereby extended from 2034 kilometres, of
which 1912 were with the Reich proper, to 2800 kilometres. The Germans had also two bases, East Prussia and Slovakia, from
which they could strike at the very heart of the country. In Slovakia, Germany had arrogated to herself the right to build
fortifications and to introduce garrisons into the valley of the Wag, along the southern Carpathians.
in the north, not a hundred miles from the Polish capital and the main concentration of population, was the
district of of East Prussia, which, apart from fortifications remaining from the Great War and since restored and amplified,
had an excellently developed system of communications and the defensive triangle of Heilsberg which had been built up in the
last seven years. Thus there existed here two separate zones, the frontal from Deutsch-Eylau (from Ilova), to the south of
Osterode (of Ostrod) and Ortelsberg (and Szczytno) along the forests and lakes of Mazovia; and the central from the Oberland
Canal in the direction of Wormditt (of Ornetta), Heilsberg (Licbark), and Bischofstein (and Bisztynek). The defensive line
of Konigsberg (of Krolewiec) along the Pregel (the Pregola) and Deime rivers formed the core.
It was therefore possible to make a short-range attack from this district towards Grudziadz and Torun, and
one of greater depth towards Warsaw and Modlin, via Mlawa. The first operation could cut off Polish Pomerania from the eastern
parts of the country; the second deliver a blow at Warsaw. A more extended action could be under-taken east of the Vistula,
towards Siedlce, as was suggested during the last war by General Conrad von Hoetzendorf, who had decided on the same direction,
Siedlce-Brzesc, for the operations of the Austrian army.
Although the Germans complained of the so-called "Polish corridor," alleging that it involved railway and
road transport difficulties, Poland in fact allowed not only commercial but also military supplies, including arms and munitions,
to pass through Pomerania. Moreover, German troops could be transported to East Prussia with great speed. Thus a whole German
division could be transferred by sea by sixteen average-sized transports from Stettin or Luebeck, or even from Hamburg or
Bremen, in one night. In time of war it was easy to bottle up the whole of the Polish navy in the Bay of Danzig, between Hel
On the western frontier of Poland was a second district which could serve as a base for operations to cut
off the Pomeranian "promontory," and with it Poland's access to the sea. From here two German drives could be made, the one
of about 50-60 kilometres, from Beutow (Bytov) and Chojnice towards Koscierzyna or Tczew and Danzig, and the other, of about
60-70 kilometres, from Schneidemuehle (Pila) and Deutsch-Krone, along the River Notec towards Bydgoszcz. Proceeding in this
direction the German army could attack the province of Wielkopolska from the rear and then continue its southward advance
There was also the possibility of simultaneous attacks developing on both sides of the Vistula from East Prussia
and German Pomerania in the direction of Modlin-Warsaw.
West of Poznan, inside the Warta-Oder fork, there was the German defence district of Kuestrin(of Kostrzyn)-Frankfurt
on Oder (Slubice), since 1936 a prohibited area for civil aviation. These defences were continued farther south along the
Oder through Cosel (Kozle) to Ratibor (Raciborz).
From the Glogau(Glogow)-Breslau (Wroctav) region and from Oppeln (Opole), German forces could strike east
in the following directions: (a) through Lodz-Lowicz-Sochaczew; (b) through Wielun-Piotrkow-Tomaszow-Mszczonow;
The Oppeln area could also be used as a base of operations to outflank the province of Wielkopolska, or for
an action against Cracow for cutting off the Silesian coal basin from the north, with simultaneous action from Slovakia in
From the Oder, too, drives east were possible by outflanking the Beskides, the western end of the Carpathians,
which form Poland's southern frontier; through Frydek and Morawska Ostrawa in the direction of Cieszyn and Biala, or Bogumin(Racziborz)-Ratibor
towards Pszczyna and Oswiecim, and thence to Cracow.
From the Wag valley and Slovakia there were roads through the Carpathian passes which made it possible for
the southern part of the Vistula between Skoczow and Sandomierz to be outflanked. These roads led: (a) from Zylina-Czcacza
to Zywiec-Cracow; (b) from Trzciany (Trstena) to Chabowka-Jordanow, and then to Cracow or Bochnia and Tarnow; (c)
two narrow passes through Czorsztyn and Muszyna to the valley of the Dunajec; (d) through the Tylicka pass to Nowy
Sacz and Grybow; (e) the Dukla pass to Jaslo and Krosno; (f) the Lupkow pass to Sanok.
The last two passes in the Lower Beskides and the Bieszczady range are famous from the last World War. In
the present German campaign they could play only a secondary role because they were served only by a single railway track,
running along the valley, from Zylina and Pressov, branching off into mountain tracks to Podoliniec, Muszyna, and Bardjow.
It could therefore be assumed that especially in the early stages any concentration in this part of the mountains would be
Even this superficial survey clearly shows that the territory west of the central Vistula (Torun, Plock, Sandomierz
and Cracow) could be subjected to several simultaneous outflanking attacks. Danger threatened in particular from the direction
of East Prussia and Breslau, whilst the crossing of the Carpathian mountains could affect defence only at a later stage, if
we overlook the proximity of the area where Poland's war industries were being developed. The Central Industrial Zone included
Kielce, Konskie, Opoczno, Radom, and Lublin in the north, the River Dunajec, Tarnow, Krosno, Drohobycz, Boryslaw in the south.
In the east it was bounded by the River San. Armaments and munitions factories, aeroplane and motor works, the chemical industry
and most of the military depots were concentrated there. This zone also contained coal deposits, and in the south, between
Jaslo and Boryslaw, there were oil wells, earth gas, and refineries of petrol and lubricants. It was therefore essential in
the later stages of the military operations to make a stand against the drive from Breslau and from Slovakia, to keep the
industrial zone in Polish hands as long as possible, even if at the beginning it was impossible to do anything more than guard
the Carpathian passes.
On the western bank of the Vistula the flat country crossed by small rivers afforded no natural defences against
speedily advancing motorised units. The tributaries of the Warta and Vistula presented some slight obstacles; but there were
no appreciable barriers inside the bend of the Vistula between Cracow and Torun.
Examining this area from the west to the east, we find the following main barriers:
(a) The lakes in the region of the upper Notec from Wongrowiec to Inowroclaw and Konin, the River
Prosna, the upper Warta, and the hills of the Cracow Jura, with the Przemsza and Brynica rivers; to the south of Cracow the
Podhale foothills and the smaller mountain tributaries of the Vistula, such as the Sola, Skawa, and the Raba.
(b) The Warta with the Widawka, the upper course of the Pilica, and the western slopes of the Sandomierz-Cracow
(c) South of Tomaszow, the Bzura and Pilica rivers; then the Nida and Dunajec rivers and the Carpathian
The barriers farther east, already deep in the industrial zone, and defending only specific objectives, are
the range of the Swietokrzyskie Mountains and the River Wisloka, the southern tributaries of the Vistula, the Radomka and
Kamienna, and the forests in the Kozienice-Ilza-Ostrowiec region.
I shall not deal with the Vistula reinforced by the San, which was the main barrier to a movement from west
to east. The choice of lines for the frontal and the main defences could be determined solely by the purpose of operations
and the time available. On the other hand, the abandonment without fighting of the Silesian coal basin and the provinces of
Poznan and Pomorze was not a decision that could be easily taken.
Concentration of troops for defence was considerably impeded by difficulties of communications. Permanent
bridges across the Vistula existed at Grudziadz, Torun, Plock, Warsaw, Deblin, Sandomierz, and Cracow. The main railway lines
from east to west went via Warsaw, Deblin, and Cracow. The north-eastern lines and those at Warsaw converged at the Bialystok
and Siedlce junctions, whence they spread out westwards to Lodz-Czestochowa, Lodz-Kalisz, Sochaczow-Kutno-Poznan and Torun-Bydgoszcz.
In this area north of Warsaw the bridges below Torun and Plock were the only links joining the left and right banks of the
The traffic coming from Brzesc, as well as that passing from Wolyn (Volhynia) and eastern Malopolska (Galicia)
through Lublin, converged on the Vistula bridge below Deblin, whence it spread out towards Kielce-Sosnowiec, Kielce-Czestochowa
One way from the province of Malopolska through Sandomierz in the direction of Skarzysko made it possible
to avoid the Cracow junction on the western bank and to establish a connection with the Lodz district, whence from the northern
side of the Vistula bend could be reached Leczyca, Kutno, or Skierniewice-Kutno. The line Lwow-Cracow-Katowice, with its heavy
traffic, as well as those branching off southwards to the Carpathians (Przemysl, tarnow, Cracow, and Oswiecim), were only
of lateral importance.
The following defence lines existed east of the Vistula:
(a) The forests of Augustow and the Biebrza, Narew and Bug rivers;
(b) The River Bug combined with the large Bialowieza forests;
(c) The Wieprz and Krzna rivers and the swamps of Pinsk;
(d) The range of low hills south of Lublin, stretching from the Vistula through Krasnik, Tomaszow-Lubelski
to the vicinity of Lwow, the Lublin plateau and the Roztocze.
An eastward advance south of the Vistula would come up against the River San, the marshy Tanwja valley, and
the the forests of Zamosc and Tomaszow, and also several of the Dniestr tributaries. All these provide a succession of possible
positions, from which the one serving the immediate purpose of operations would be chosen. The general purpose, however, indicated
the necessity of establishing a strong base on the Carpathian Mountains, the San, Tanwja, and Bug rivers, and secondarily
on the upper course of the Dniestr and the Gologory Mountains, and finally the southern tributaries of the Dniestr and the
Dniestr proper, in order to secure supplies in the rear through Rumania and Hungary.
Thus we see that, as the crow flies, between 900 and 1300 kilometres of modern defences would have to be built,
necessitating expenditure far exceeding Poland's financial possibilities. At the same time, such a plan would have involved
the abandonment of the most valuable parts of Silesia, Poznania and Pomerania.
Hence it was necessary to find a compromise. First of all, it was essential to consolidate the political and
moral powers of the nation, to develop the economic and, in particular, the industrial potential of the country, to raise
internal and foreign loans (e.g., a Fund for National and Sea Defence was initiated and a Loan for Anti-Aircraft
Defence was launched), and to increase expenditure for rearmament and war industries. Finally, it was necessary to construct
fortifications of a strictly limited extent within the general plan of defence. It was essential to confine efforts to
an unambitious scheme, which was however capable of realisation.
History will show what had been achieved and what was in the course of being realised at the outbreak of the
war. But history will certainly confirm that the Polish nation, fully aware of the sacrifices involved, took up the fight
against German rapaciousness which was rearing its head, for the second time in one generation. Once again, the Polish people
threw into the scales all their material and spiritual resources which had been accumulating during the twenty years of their
The Strength of the Two Opponents and the Operational Development
The Strength of the Armies
According to the new mobilisation scheme adopted in 1936, Poland on a war footing could raise 30 infantry
divisions, 10 reserve divisions, one motorised brigade, one rifle brigade, and 11 cavalry brigades. In addition to the formations,
this army would include 50 infantry battalions, 7 battalions of machine-guns, 35 national defence battalions, 38 artillery
groups (including 28 of heavy artillery), 29 companies of 2-ton tanks (T.K.), 9 companies of light tanks (of 8 tons), 10 armoured
trains, and other formations and units for the front and home defence.
The anti-aircraft defences consisted of 49 batteries, of which 13 were of the older type, and 11 of a modern
75 mm. type of Polish make; 15 batteries for mobile units and 10 batteries of the 40 mm. type, unattached to any division.
In addition it was expected that 20 batteries with 40 mm. guns and 89 machine-gun companies could be raised, but this plan
was still in the course of being realised.
The effective strength of the army, with only partial calling on trained reserves and man-power, was roughly
50,000 officers and 1,700,000 men, organised in six armies, four operational groups of infantry and two of cavalry.
A first mobilisation could raise 21 infantry and frontier brigades; partial mobilisation 5 infantry divisions,
and general mobilisation 4 infantry divisions and 10 divisions of reservists and all the other formations (10-12 days of mobilisation).
. . . . .
. . . . .
It was noteworthy that the cavalry was numerous, though its maintenance was expensive. In fact only three
cavalry regiments had been motorised. This is explained by national tradition, the bad state of Polish roads, the special
conditions of warfare in the east, the agricultural character of the country, and the fact that industrialisation and motorisation
were in their infancy.
Although Poland had a total of some 1500 planes, only 377 of them were military ones. The Polish air force,
which in peace-time was organised in six regiments, was in the process of being expanded in 1939. Polish aircraft works had
reached a satisfactory stage of technical development, and cadres of Polish aircraft constructors, engineers, and skilled
workers were being trained. Within the limits of an extremely small budget they achieved complete self-sufficiency. Indeed,
they could compete with old-established and experienced foreign firms and even secured a number of orders abroad, which augered
well for their future development.
Gliding and amateur flying were encouraged among all classes, numerous civil aviation clubs were formed, and
"L.O.P.P.," a league for promoting national air defence, was a rallying-point for the youth of the country and one of the
most popular clubs. In international contests a number of successes were achieved.
In spite of this the Polish air force was weak to an extent out of all proportion to those of her two
neighbours to east and to the west. It was handicapped too by financial difficulties and adherence to the principle of self-sufficiency.
There was a marked insistence that the whole war industry should be kept within the budget of the ministry, and even go out
and conquer markets in which it had to compete with firms of international standing. Such a policy for a new industry could
produce results only after some lapse of time, despite the great efforts of engineers and workers. Production was reaching
to a satisfactory point when war broke out; it was then too late.
Consequently at the outbreak of war Poland was able to muster only four "Los" squadrons and five "Karas" squadrons
of light bombers, eight "Karas" reconnaissance and light bombing squadrons, fifteen fighter squadrons of the "P11" type, and
nine "Czapla," i.e. R.XIII squadrons of an old type for liaison work. All those planes were of Polish make, as were also the
training and flying club planes. Only passenger aircraft of the Polish airline "Lot" were of American origin.
Although the Polish air force was organised in groups and regiments in peace-time, it was planned to combine
them in war-time in certain operational formations according to the situation and strategic requirements. Planes were to be
transferred to camouflaged airfields. This explains the comparatively small losses suffered, despite the numerous mass raids
of the enemy, for during the September campaign only 97 planes were shot down in aerial combat, the rest of the planes destroyed
being unarmed civil and training machines. The Polish fighter plane was slower and not so well armed as the German Messerschmitt
but it had greater manouverability. Poland had no heavy bombers.
Although the Polish aircraft factories worked day and night the internal defence loan could not have given
results before before December 1939, when completion of a further 800 modern machines was forseen. The reserves of trained
pilots and other personnel were sufficiently large for the manning of these machines.
A serious difficulty in the conduct of the war was the undeveloped state of industry, as were also the lack
of certain essential raw materials, the unfavourable situation of a number of factories near the western frontier, and the
inability to maintain direct communications with the Allied countries. The few armament and munition factories which Poland
possesed, producing in particular small arms, machine guns, anti-aircraft guns, anti-tank guns, munitions and explosives,
were unable to keep pace with the rate at which material was used up during the war, even when working to full capacity. Hence
it was essential to have large stocks for the first month of the war, and that they should be properly distributed throughout
possible areas of operatons. This programme was carried out in varying degrees, in some instances to 100 per cent., as the
budget of the War Ministry permitted.
It was not expected that supplies from abroad would be shipped by the shortest route through the Baltic, which
could at any time be closed by the German fleet. There remained the circuitous route through the Mediterranean, the Black
Sea and Rumania, which involved considerable delay. At an optimistic estimate supplies from the West could reach Poland within
four to six weeks.
A Polish Division consisted of three infantry regiments, one regiment of light artillery (including six batteries
of 75 mm. and three batteries of 100 mm. howitzers), and one heavy artillery group of 105 mm. guns and 155 mm. howitzers.
The heavy artillery groups were included only in about 12 active divisions. The rest formed the artillery of the Commander-in-Chief,
grouped according to the demands of the changing situation.
Only two artillery regiments were motorised, one light and one of the heavy type, comprising 120 and 220 mm.
guns, 24 batteries in all.
Each division included usual services and auxilliary units and a reconnaissance unit with a company of small
1.5-ton tanks known in Poland as the T.K. type.
The anti-tank defence in a regiment should have consisted of a battery of three guns, but this programme was
carried out only in a few exceptional instances by 1st September. The signal equipment of the smaller units up to the divisions
was modern, but the higher command possessed only obsolescent equipment, and that in insufficient quantities. This applied
particularly to wireless equipment. It was hoped that this deficiency would be adequately compensated for by a wide telegraph
and telephone system.
A cavalry brigade consisted of three to four regiments, a group of light horse-drawn artillery, reconnaissance
detachment of armoured cars, and auxilliary troops. Both cavalry and infantry regiments were equipped with anti-tank guns.
The anti-aircraft defence of an infantry division or cavalry brigade consisted of one battery of 40 mm. guns
of medium range; temporarily a battery was represented by a section of two guns.
A motorised brigade, known as the O.M., was a motorised formation designed for action against large enemy
armoured forces. From the point of view of organisation it corresponded more or less to the light formations of other armies,
but it was 50 per cent. weaker numerically and in firing power. It was equipped with anti-tank guns and included a motorised
company of sappers, whose duty it was to organise obstacles to trap enemy tanks.
The advantages of horses for transport columns have often been pointed out. In reality, however, they considerably
hampered the movement in the rearward areas and complicated the task of the command. In principle therefore it was decided
to replace them by motorised columns, and certain units were actually in the process of being motorised. But this question
is bound up with the economic structure of the country and in particular with its industrial and fuel resources, which would
require a separate study.
The training of the Polish army was thorough. The N.C.O.s were a competent body of men with expert knowledge
and high ideals. The officers, both senior and junior, constantly refreshed their training in the field and in the lecture-hall,
where modern technical achievement and the lessons of contemporary wars were demonstrated and discussed.
Indeed there may have been too indiscriminate a tendency to modernise weapons and principles of warfare, though
this was restricted in practice by the narrow limits of the budget of 700 million zlotys (roughly 120.5 million dollars) to
cover the needs of an army of 280,000 men on a peace-time footing and an air force, and leave a margin for mobilisation. Considerable
sums were devoted to research work and experiments to find the most suitable modern weapons, in order to make home production
completely independent of import and export difficulties. Some remarkable successes were achieved with light and heavy anti-tank
guns, machine guns of the heaviest types, field artillery, anti-aircraft guns, and so on. But the tendency to keep up-to-date
was exaggerated, and resulted actually in a postponement of production for fear of investing in obsolescent equipment.
On the other hand, the Military Academy and refresher courses were designed to standardise training and adjust
it to the real situation and technical possibilities of the country.
Army instructions had always laid stress on manoeuvrability and mobile warfare. Hence the training manuals
were actually being revised and brought up-to-date and should have been completed by 1940. In the meantime, however, special
instructions had been issued on the use of the latest types of weapons. The natural tendency of the Polish soldier is to attack,
special emphasis was necessarily laid therefore on inculcating the principles of defence and night warfare. The principles
of defence prepared in 1938, which took into account terrain and local conditions generally, were subjected to careful tests
and studies in 1938-1939. Unfortunately constant difficulties arose from a shortage of weapons and the cost of travelling
the great distances involved.
When estimating the military assets of Poland, we cannot omit the psychological bond between the army and
the people. All differences of class and party disappeared before consideration of national defence. It is no exaggeration
to say that the Polish army lived in an aura of love and confidence of the nation.
Amongst the young, there was great enthusiasm for the army and for pre-military and physical training. Criticism
was silenced by the consciousness of the role which must be played by the national army in maintaining independence in a difficult
geographical and political situation in the face of constant danger from two aggressively-minded neighbours.
The army fulfilled its duty on the battlefield of Poland to the last. Now it continues the battle abroad,
while the nation at home, in a land overrun by invaders, silently but determinedly wages the struggle for independence.
The belief that it was impossibe to solve the problem of neighbourly relations with Germany largely explains
the spirit of willing sacrifice shown by the Polish people in the September campaign. That is why the non-aggression pact
with Germany evoked little enthusiasm, and why there was widespread conjectures as to what was behind it. Public opinion was
critical of the policy of the Government and sincerely welcomed the change brought about in 1939.
Polish history is a tale of continuous resistance to German greed and German designs on Slavonic lands. It
is unnecessary to go far back: recall the methods adopted by the Prussian Government in the Polish provinces under their rule,
and the excesses of the Germans in all the Polish territories overrun by them during the war of 1914-1918. People in all parts
of the country and of all nationalities, remembering the disregard for national honour, violation of religious feeling, utter
lack of humanity, lawlessness and violence, were determined to bear every sacrifice for the defence of their country. All
this must be realised to understand the spontaneous withdrawl of the civilian population before the advancing German armies,
and the dogged opposition which frustrated even the most cruel and ruthless repressions of the invader.
The equipment of the Polish army had not been brought up to the level forseen in the schemes of organisation.
It was much less developed technically than that of the enemy. Its main deficiencies were:
(1) The larger formations did not possess a full complement of heavy artillery, and were even short of other
(2) The equipment of the first-line defences with anti-tank guns was incomplete and there was also a lack
of anti-tank units capable of operating behind the front lines;
(3) The anti-aircraft defences of the country were weak, and consequently there was a state of unpreparedness
against air attack. Few formations had anti-aircraft artillery incorporated in them;
(4) The meagre air force, which was five or ten times smaller than that of the enemy, and especially the insufficient
number of fighter planes;
(5) The inferior quality and smaller calibre and number of weapons used by the infantry;
(6) Smaller operational mobility due to the lack of motorisation.
These deficiencies were known. A special committee, which included high officers, worked out an estimate of
expenditure for guidance. New sources of revenue to cover this additional expenditure were also suggested. Suggestions confirmed
by the Inspector-General's Department of the armed forces were in the process of materialising and had produced satisfactory
results over a period of three years previous to the war. The pace of rearmament was slowed down as a result of a recrudescence
of optimism in western Europe and the usual budget difficulties. The outbreak of war prevented the completion of the plan.
The German army at its peace-time strength in 1939 consisted of six group commands, one command of motorised
troops, 15 corps of land forces and four tank corps. In addition there were three fortress commands (Eifel, Saar Pfaltz, and
Oberheim), the six commands of the fortified regions of Breslau, Glogau, Stettin, Lec, Koenigsberg, and Allenstein (Olsztyn),
and twenty-four to thirty higher Landwehrkommandos.
These troops represented a total of 35 infantry divisions, 3 mountain divisions, 1 cavalry brigade, 13 motorised
and armoured divisions, 12 unattached infantry regiments, 13 unattached cavalry regiments, 4 heavy artillery regiments, 3
mountain artillery regiments, about 24 unattached tank battalions, and a considerable number of miscellaneous wheeled signal
formations, chemical units, motor-cars and sappers, etc. It must be added that apart from the above organisation there were
102 so-called Ergaenzungs battalions, known as the "E" battalions.
Taking into account the active troops and the first and second reserves, the Reich could muster about 120,000
officers and 2.7 million men. In the event of calling up the "national defence" class of reservists, this number would increase
roughly by another 2 million. It must be stated, however, that of the total strength of 4 million men under the age of thirty-five,
about half never served in the army, except for the short period of preliminary training.
When estimating the strength of the German army and the efficiency of its methods of mobilisation, we must
condsider that there were several factors which necessarily slowed down the pace at which full capacity could be reached,
and to a certain extent affected its striking power. There was a tendency in Poland to draw over-hasty conclusions from this
and to underestimate Germany's powers. The small Reichswehr of 184,000 men was increased in 1935 to 24 divisions, including
a motorised one, and in 1938 it consisted of 42 divisions, including 8 armoured and motorised ones. This had obvious reults:
the speeding-up of promotion for officers, a shortening of the period of training for junior officers, and ease of promotion
from N.C.O. to officer rank. In spite of this, certain posts could not be filled. Further results were that the number of
N.C.O.s increased at least twelvefold, and a vast number of officers with little experience were alloted to the new formations.
To some extent there was a time to make good the greatest deficiencies by recalling certain classes of officers and N.C.O.s
who had served in the last war, and by intensive training in military schools; but a weakening of co-ordination was bound
to follow, as was indeed revealed at times during the Polish campaign.
But these facts did not affect the general plan for building up the army, which had been co-ordinated with
the demands of industry and the general life of the country. It was assisted by the seizure of war material after the invasions
of Austria and Czechoslovakia. Thus, for instance, Germany obtained in Czechoslovakia 1582 motor-cars, 501 anti-aircraft guns,
469 tanks, 2575 guns of various calibre, and most important of all, productive potential varying between 25 and 80 working
days, according to the different types of industry, calculated on the basis of the Reich production.
The relative sizes of the age-groups is of great importance when considering the speed and scope of mobilisation.
They were as follows:
Active army: 1910-1921 groups (approx.)
fully trained 1905-1909 groups (approx.)
partially trained 1905-1909 group (approx.) 1,200,000
Complete mobilisation of the 1884-1897 groups
with military experience (approx.)
Fully fit men in National Defence
classes of 1895-1904
Trained from the last war
As the Reich had six years at its disposal for rearmament, it could be anticipated that Germany would be able
to raise between 38 and 40 active infantry divisions (including the forces of the incorporated Sudetenland), 30-40 reserve
divisions, and at least 34 Landwehr divisions, which included four fortress divisions, one cavalry brigade and 15 tank divisions,
making approximately 130 army formations. This would entail the calling up of 5,000,000-6,000,000 soldiers, 700,000 N.C.O.s,
and 150,000 officers. Arms and equipment for such an army were sufficient, but it would take six weeks to distribute them.
It could be anticipated that in the first month of the war not more than 70 to 80 active and reserve divisions would be raised,
with at the utmost 20 Landwehr divisions.
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. . . . .
. . . . .
The peace strength of the air force was 7300 officers, 56,000 N.C.O.s, 197,000 men and 50,000 volunteers,
accepted at the beginning of 1939. The air force consisted of 35 bomber groups, equalling 950 planes; 11 groups of dive bombers,
equalling 300 machines; 23 single-pilot fighter groups, equalling 650 machines; 8 heavy fighter groups, equalling 270 machines;
55 reconnaissance squadrons, equalling 550 machines; 380 troop-carriers, and 300 seaplanes. This makes a total of approximately
3500 machines. In addition, there was a reserve of about one-third of the above figure. These figures may have changed before
the outbreak of the war, as Germany was able to produce 600 planes and 1000 engines a month.
This expansion of Germany's air force was a key to her future military tactics. Before Hitler's rise to power,
the German air force consisted of about 30 squadrons camouflaged as civil planes. The first steps after his taking office
were that a separate Air Ministry was formed, the budget was trebled, training centres were opened, the aircraft industry
was expanded, sites were prepared as landing grounds and aerodromes all over the country, and schemes were worked out for
the organisation of the future air force. It was a feature of the plans that they foresaw an expansion of 100 per cent. Thus,
whilst in 1935 the Reich could muster 27 bomber squadrons, 3 dive-bomber squadrons, 6 auxiliary bomber squadrons, 6 fighter
squadrons, and 6 reconnaissance squadrons, totalling 48 squadrons, in the following year, in 1936, the German air force had
96 squadrons. In 1938 the fighter units in particular were built up, and in 1939 the dive-bomber formations. In 1939 the Reich
had 220 squadrons organised in 89 groups, of which half were bombing planes. In this way, the Germans possessed six air force
divisions, organised in the four fleets of East, North, West and Austria, the Air Force Command of East Prussia, and the Coastal
Command, with Parachute Division No. 7, an experimental division and the Western anti-aircraft defence zone. Armies 1 and
4 were specially intended for use against Poland, but it was established that after 5th September 1939 armies 2 and 3, and
a parachute division, were also operating on Polish territory. Each army had standardised equipment; for instance, the bomber
force in the first army consisted of Junkers 81, in the second army of Heinkel 111, in the third and fourth army of Dornier
DO; the dive-bomber force consisted of Henschel 123 and Junkers 87, the long-range reconnaissance formations consisted of
Henschel 70, Dornier 17, and Henkel 45; fighter units consisted of Messerschmitt Bf 109; the parachute and landing divisions
were carried by transport planes of the Junkers 52 type. It is not necessary to give further descriptive details of the various
types of plane and their armament.
The final principles of aerial warfare were laid down in the Air Force Regulations in 1938-1939. The plan
for organisation, disposition, and use in the event of war was completed in 1939.
Anti-aircraft artillery consisted of 43 active and 30 reserve groups of heavy guns, 30 groups of light guns,
and 150 anti-aircraft machine guns. In 1933 Germany had only 7 anti-aircraft batteries.
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. . . . .
. . . . .
Armoured forces were organised in 5 armoured motorised divisions, 4 light divisions, and 4 motorised divisions. The organisation
of German armoured divisions is so far different from formations of this type in other countries that a motorised battalion
of anti-tank weapons is included in the reconnaissance unit, and a motor-cycle battalion in the rifle brigade. An armoured
division includes 416 tanks, of which 72 are medium size; about half that number is included in the four light divisions.
However, the existence of a certain number of unattached tank battalions, the motorisation of the country with standard cars,
and the great quantity of equipment siezed after the occupation of Czechoslovakia - all these would indicate that Germany
had raised a greater number of divisions. During the war new units were formed: the Gemischtes Panzerkorp, the "S.S.,"
the 10th and the 8th (the number of the last is not certain) armoured divisions. Their main weapon was light tanks of 4-6
tons, and 18-20 ton tanks. New light tanks of 10-12 tons and medium-sized tanks of 18-24 tons were being produced.
The principles of German operations and tactics could be studied in the German Army Regulations and the so-called Merkoblaetter
(views expressed by German army men in books and periodicals), at manoeuvres, at field practice in military schools, in the
tendencies shown in education generally, and in the manner in which Austria, the Sudetenland, and Czechoslovakia were occupied.
Periodical reports were made in Poland on this subject and once a year it was the subject of study for the higher commanders
of the Polish army.
Germany's larger industrial and financial resources gave her a vast superiority over Poland. Endless examples could be
quoted. It is sufficient to mention the sums expended by the Reich for rearmament during the last five or six years.
According to official statements, which were probably exaggerated, this expenditure amounted to 90,000 million Reichsmarks.
It must also be remembered that while in Poland 60.6 per cent. of the population was engaged in agriculture and only 19 per
cent. in industry, in Germany 13.5 per cent. was engaged in agriculture and 44.6 per cent. in industry. But whereas Poland
had a population of 34.7 millions, Germany had 84 millions. Poland's share in world trade was only one-tenth of that of the
Reich. Germany was able to produce 30 times more iron than Poland and 17 times as much steel. These are a few examples which
show the difference between the war potential of the two countries.
A German division was better armed than a Polish: it had 106 guns against 36 field and probably 6-12 heavy guns in a
Polish division; a German infantry regiment had 84 light and 54 heavy mortars against 54 light and 6 medium-sized Polish mortars;
75 German anti-tank guns against 27-36 Polish ones; three 88 mm. batteries of A.A. guns and one 37 mm. battery and one company
of heavy machine guns against 2-4 Polish 40 mm. guns.
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. . . . .
. . . . .
Thus we see that the Reich, having begun to reconstruct its military power in 1933, had devoted most attention to the
air force and armoured and motorised formations. The new method of warfare figured prominently in the curriculum of staff
schools and other military training centres, as well as at manoeuvres. Certain problems were repeatedly worked out in great
We have heard of the many experiments which ended in failure, but the present results of the war have justified earlier
failures, at times compromising for the leading military circles which launched them. Intensive training was made possible
by discarding theory, which usually militates against speedy results.
There is no other nation that has made such a thorough study of space and speed applied to warfare or so widely and consistently
used intimidation and violence as economic and psychological instruments. This largely explains the autarchic structure of
Germany, the turning of the individual into a mere cog, and the introduction of the principles of mass production into the
life of the community. In their materialist attitude to the individual and the State and to the spiritual aspects of human
life, Bolshevism and Hitlerism are in no way different.
It was repeatedly said that the use of substitutes (ersatz) would lessen the value of even the most modern types
of weapon, especially lowering their resistance to wear and tear and seasonal and climactic influences. From the point of
view of technology these observations were true. But if the raw material used is of inferior quality, the resultingly shorter
life and increased susceptibility to atmosphere are taken into account in planning, as, for instance, is the case with
synthetic fuels. These factors are allowed for in production schemes and the assessment of losses. Preponderance in numbers
and mass strength are not affected if quick results within a limited period are aimed at. For Poland's purpose it would have
been much more to the point to have lowered the standard of quality in equipment rather than to have striven for a perfection
which resulted in limiting output.
It has frequently been said that the German economy is on the brink of collapse. This would be correct if it applied
to a State and nation whose principles and laws respected the rights of the individual and the accepted conventions of international
relations. In a State, however, in which the individual has been reduced to a cipher and the scale of everyday values has
been upset, where everything is subordinated and subservient to the realisation of the ideas of the Fuehrer (or of Stalin
as in Russia), such considerations have only a limited application. The catastrophic effect will be felt in either of these
States only after the democracies have won their battle and freed the people.
To the orthodox weapons of war, the Reich has added open and secret propaganda, which spreads its network in all countries,
but especially in those on which Germany has predatory designs. The extent and means of this propaganda were not fully realised
until the Polish campaign; later its workings were again manifested in Germany's action against Norway, Holland, Belgium,
and France. The methods employed range from diversions to the spreading of panic among the populace in the immediate rear
of an army in order to immobilise it, or further back to undermine morale and to prevent leaders executing their plans.
Anyone wishing to convince himself that Germany had long been planning her attack on Poland should read the German papers
published in the districts bordering on Poland, and the publication Ostland, in particular. Here we find reiterated
all the slogans about the injustice of Versailles, the frontiers reeking with blood, the eternal German soil, and the master-race
for whose development all other nations must work.
These slogans resounded from the signing of the Treaty of Versailles to the outbreak of war, and are now put into effect
on a wide scale in Poland. They were not silenced by the signing of the Polish-German Non-Aggresion Pact. There were only
moments when the leaders publicly endorsed one policy while the National Socialist Party (Nazi) put in practice a
completely different one to prepare public opinion, and especially the younger generation, for the time when arms would supersede
To-day the full blast of propaganda is turned against Great Britain, for Hitler deals with only one enemy at a time.
This does not however mean that German propaganda is inactive among other nations, only that it has there other aims and uses
less drastic methods.
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. . . . .
. . . . .
As Germany's intention of starting a war with Poland became increasingly obvious, the Poles began to consider what forces
the enemy could use against them. It was anticipated that the Germans would throw against Poland the main body of the forces,
that is, about 40-50 divisions and the whole of the armoured forces; about 10-15 infantry divisions to be used as central
reserves, garrisons of occupation, and for the observation of other countries; 6-10 active army units to contain the enemy
in the West. As mobilisation proceeded the Reich could increase the forces on the western front to a strength of 50-70 army
Upper Silesia was the main concentration area, and it was likely that the main drive from there would be eastwards and
to Warsaw, with subsidiary action from the other districts, the importance and development of which could only be ascertained
after hostilities had actually begun. The Allies were informed of these views of the Polish High Command.
The Plans of the Two Opponents
The defensive measures taken arose from the conviction that it would be against Poland that the Reich directed
its main forces and delivered the first blow. Once the non-aggression pact with Poland had been denounced, the attack became
a certainty. The date was left to Hitler alone to decide. Disturbing reports about warlike preparations arrived in ever-increasing
number from Germany, as well as information about the speeding-up of military training. Roads leading from Slovakia to Poland
were improved and widened; troops of the line appeared in the frontier regions, where fortifications and road barriers were
being constructed. Reserves were reported as being called up. Diplomatic conversations conducted by Germany up to the last
moment represented nothing more than an attempt to separate Poland from France and England, and to lull the world into a sense
of security. Thus, far from removing the threat of war, these talks made it only more certain, since the Reich never expected
Poland to yield to pressure.
Poland was bracing herself to withstand the first blow from Germany, then mobilising, until the Allied forces
could be ready for the action to which they were committed, France by her alliance and Britain by her guarantee. It was a
question of inflicting as heavy losses as possible on the Germans during the first battles, using every opportunity to counter-attack,
and holding out even at the cost of losing some territory until the offensive could be taken later in conjunction with the
Allied armies in the west.
Such action could be of a defensive character only, and would postulate a speedy offensive in the west, which
would relieve Poland of having to bear alone the whole impact of the superior German war machine. Of course, in all these
calculations, a war in which Germany was the only opponent was expected.
The outline of the plan for meeting the attack from the west was passed on 23rd March 1939 to the various
armies and operational groups formed for the defence there. The armies to be used remained in their peace-time garrisons,
only those forces being moved which were to cover the zones which in peace-time were non-military. Instructions were issued
to carry out all preliminary moves in such a way as to avoid any incidents that might precipitate hostilities. Such a handling
of the situation had the character of intensified study of the problem of defence in the west, rather than that of preparation
for impending war.
In calculating the main lines of action open to the enemy, it was expected that there would be a main drive
towards Warsaw from the Breslau-Oppeln district along the most direct line, with a supporting action towards Silesia and the
industrial region, and possibly also reinforced from Slovakia. A subsidiary push towards Warsaw could come also from East
The possibility of an intermediate attack from eastern Pomerania in the direction of Bydgoszcz, Torun, and
Inowroclaw, with a view to linking these other two drives and containing the Polish forces stationed in Pomorze and Poznan
provinces, was also considered.
It was assumed that the strengths of the various attacks would be:
From East Prussia (approx.)
From Silesia (approx.) 20-30
Towards Polish Pomorze (approx.)
From Moravia (approx.) 10-15
For these reasons it was
planned to form defensive lines in certain sectors; in others to make a strategic retreat, whilst at the same time opposing
the main offensive of the enemy with strong reserves.
Up to the outbreak of the war, the grouping of troops decided on in March was subjected only to minor modifications,
and these simply for reasons of organisation.
The general line of defences would be the Augustow forests, the Rivers Biebrza, Narew, Bug-Narew, the Vistula
with the Modlin bridgehead, Torun, the Bydgoszcz bridgehead, the lakes around Znin, the lakes in the zone of Inowroclaw, Warta
with the bridgeheads at Kolo and Turek, the Widawka, the country west of Czestochowa, the fortified points in Silesia (Brynica,
Mikolow, Zory), the country west of Oswiecim, Biala, Zywiec, Jordanow, Chabowka, Nowy Sacz. The Carpathian passes were as
yet only kept under observation and nothing more than barriers against mechanised and horse-drawn vehicles were erected. The
points selected for advanced positions were at Mlawa, Brodnica-Grudziadz and the lakes in the region of Wongrowiec-Znin.
The construction of defensive lines was started only after the harvest, and they were nothing more than field
fortifications with barbed wire entanglements. Special attention was paid to anti-tank traps, which were chiefly laid near
the main roads. The construction of fortifications was entrusted to the local military commanders. Semi-permanent works were
built at the following points: Osowiec, Wizna, Nowogrod, Hel, Brynica, Mikolow, Zory, Zywiec, Jordanow, Chabowka, and Nowy
Sacz. Barriers to form inundations were constructed on the following rivers: Dzialdowka, Orzyc, Ossa, Drweca, Brda, Widawka,
Brynica, and Gostynka. But they proved of little use, owing to the exceptionally dry autumn and the very low water-level of
If the line could not hold, a second line of resistance was decided upon along the Rivers Narew, Vistula and
Dunajec. It was considered unlikely that the enemy could force his way across the Narew, but for this contingency a withdrawl
of the Bug line and the forests of Bialowieza was planned.
To facilitate operations eight bridges were built on the Vistula, two on the Polica, and two on the Warta.
During the initial stage of the preparatory work, peace-time strength was increased by the calling up of certain
groups of reservists, without however exceeding the peace-time budget estimate. Several formations were withdrawn from the
east, including the 20th Infantry Division, the Nowogrodek Cavalry Brigade, and one regiment from the 26th Infantry Division.
The army and the various groups were organised according to the following scheme (fig. 1):
(I) The Narew Group, commanded by General Mlot-Fijalkowski, consisting of one infantry division, one reserve
division, and two cavalry brigades. Eastern limit: the far side of the Augustow forests; western limit: Chorzele and Ostroleka.
Duty: (1) To reconnoitre in this region and report on the enemy. (2) To cover the flank of the Modlin army. (3) To cover the
railway line Grodno-Warsaw. (4) To prevent the enemy from crossing the line of the Rivers Biebrza and Narew. Instructions
issued contained provisions for defensive measures to enable the group to proceed with its own mobilisation and the disposition
of its own reserves in the Zambrow-Lomza area.
(II) The Modlin Army, commanded by General Przedzymirski, consisted of 2 infantry divisions, 2 cavalry brigades
(one infantry division and a cavalry brigade were brought in later). Western limit: Lidzbark, Sierpc, Plock. Duty: (1) To
cover the line Warsaw-Plock, with the Vistula, Bug, and Narew as its final stand. (2) To keep open a line of retreat on the
rivers at Modlin and Pultusk. Instructions were given that two infantry divisions and one cavalry brigade should be detailed
for action in the direction of Warsaw, that an advance should be made as far north as possible to obtain sufficient space,
and it was also stated that 2 infantry divisions of the reserve of the Commander-in-Chief would be stationed in the Wyszkow-Goworowo
(III) The Pomorze Army, commanded by General Bortnowski, consisted of 4 infantry divisions, one cavalry brigade
(to be reinforced later by one infantry division). Southern limit: Naklo and Inowroclaw. Duty: (1) To cover the line from
East Prussia and Danzig (Gdansk) to Bydgoszcz, Torun, and Wloclawek. (2) To ascertain the strength of the enemy. (3)
To carry out defense against enemy action. (4) To use every opportunity of taking the offensive. (5) To keep apart the enemy
forces of East Prussia and German Pomerania as long as possible. (6) To defend the bridgeheads of Torun and Bydgoszcz, as
the final line of withdrawl. The instructions contained the information that the Modlin Army was operating with its main forces
along the line Mlawa-Warsaw; one cavalry brigade would be operating around Plock; and in the south the Poznan Army would be
operating along the axis Pila (Schneidemuele)-Inowroclaw.
(IV) The group defending the coast, commanded by Rear-Admiral Unrug, and consisting of one naval brigade,
3 battalions of home defence formations, and the fleet. Duty: To cover mobilisation of the fleet and the evacuation of the
Hel peninsula, and to defend Westerplatte in order to hold Hel and Oksywie as long as possible.
(V) The Poznan Army, commanded by General Kutrzeba, and consisting of 4 infantry divisions, 2 cavalry brigades
(to be reinforced later by one infantry division and one cavalry brigade). Southern limits: Kalisz-Uniejow. Duty: (1) To cover
the flanks of the Pomorze Army along the line Pila-Inowroclaw and of the Lodz Army along the line Glogau-Kolo to the Notec
and Warta rivers. (2) To cover the line Slubice (Frankfurt)-Poznan and to operate in the forefield of the Warta. (3) To discover
the strength of the enemy. (4) To occupy the defensive line of the Znin and Goplo lakes and the Goplo Warta canal, together
with the bridgeheads at Kolo and Turek. Instructions provided for the defence of the line Torun-Bydgoszcz by the Pomorze Army,
while the Lodz Army was to hamper enemy action directed against Lodz, concentrate the main body of its forces and defend this
(VI) The Lodz Army, commanded by General Rommel, and consisting of 4 infantry divisions, the cavalry of a
special detachment maintained for the defence of the eastern frontier and known as the "K.O.P." (8 squadrons of horse) and
2 cavalry brigades. Later 3 infantry divisions and 2 cavalry brigades were brought in. Southern limit: Czestochowa, but excluding
the town, and Radomsko, including the town. Duty: (1) To hold the Lodz-Piotrkow area. (2) To keep under observation the Radomsko-Skarzysko
line. (3) To prepare an attack in the direction of Kalisz or Kolo from the Sieradz zone. The instructions provided that the
Poznan Army would delay enemy action in the direction of Glogau (Glogov)-Breslau (Wroclaw)-Kolo and hold the Warta, while
the Cracow Army would cover the Oppeln-Czestochowa line and defend the Czestochowa-Zabkowice railway in the area of Upper
(VII) The Cracow Army, commanded by General Szylling, consisting of 5 infantry divisions and one cavalry brigade.
Eastern limit: The boundaries of the Fifth and Tenth Military Commands (D.O.K.). Duty: (1) The defence of the Silesian industrial
area. (2) To protect Cracow from action from the south-west. (3) To hold as long as possible the semi-permanent works in Upper
Silesia and the railway line Czestochowa-Zombkowice. (4) To fall back on their final line of defence, consisting of the Silesian
fortifications at Mikolow, Pszczyna, Bielsko, Zywiec. The instructions indicated that a group consisting of 3 infantry divisions
would be formed in the Bielsko zone; 2 infantry divisions were to be kept in reserve. The neighbouring Lodz Army would delay
enemy action in the direction of Lodz-Piotrkow and keep watch on the line Radomsko-Skarzysko.
Certain groups formed a reserve to be used to reinforce resistance to the enemy offensive:
a) Northern Group: the Wyszkow-Goworowo zone, consisting of 2 infantry divisions.
Duty: To attack, from the line of the River Narew, the enemy flank operating in the direction of Modlin.
b) The Kutno district, consisting of 3 infantry divisions. Duty: To defend
the Vistula, if the enemy operated through Sierpc aiming at Wloclawek or Plock, and to aid the Modlin Army, and if possible
the armies of Pomorze and Poznan at the point where they meet.
c) The Main Warsaw Reserves, consisting of 7 infantry divisions (including
2 reserve divisions), one cavalry brigade, one motorised brigade, 2 tank battalions. Duty: To make a counter-attack in the
direction of Lodz or southwards to relieve Cracow Army. Area: Sochaczew-Lowicz-Brzeziny-Tomaszow-Nowe Miasto-Grojec.
It appears from the above outline of duties for Poland's western front that the Narew Group and the Cracow
Army were to hold the flanks, while the Modlin, Pomorze, and Poznan armies were entrusted with the task of coverture and delaying
the enemy advance to the selected line of Polish defences. The Lodz Army was to protect the Lodz district, and was to be ready
for attack against Kalisz and Kolo, as it was anticipated that enemy operations would aim at cutting off Poznan province by
an advance from the south. The fact that special attention was given to holding the Lodz region and Piotrkow, taken in conjunction
with the task of the Cracow Army and the disposition of reserves, shows that the Polish plan anticipated the main operations
would take place in the direction Warsaw-Czestochowa.
23 infantry divisions and 10 cavalry brigades were detailed for preliminary action (fig. 1, table 1).
As information of the disposition and transport of enemy troops was received, and conferences with the various
army commanders took place, the general directions were somewhat modified. Up to 28th August these modifications can be summarised
(1) As the Germans began to concentrate troops in Slovakia, a Carpathian Army was
formed on 4th June under the command of General Fabrycy. It consisted of a special formation of two rifle brigades from the
"K.O.P.," detachments and unattached battalions, though without artillery (the Nowy Sacz brigade commanded by Colonel Stawarz
and the Sanok brigade commanded by Colonel Kotowicz), and the 11th and 24th infantry divisions from the reserves of the Commander-in-Chief.
(2) The area of operations of the Cracow Army was reduced so as not to extend beyond
the line Czorsztyn-Tarnow. The Zywiec mountain brigade was added; it consisted of 2 infantry regiments of the "K.O.P." and
two groups of mountain artillery. The strength of this army was increased to 6 infantry divisions, one mountain brigade, one
cavalry brigade, and one motorised brigade. But the plan of forming a special group, consisting of 3 infantry divisions, in
the Bielsko district was dropped.
(3) The defence of the district of Silesia was reinforced and a special garrison
for semi-permanent works was formed; it included one infantry regiment and a fortress battalion.
(4) A separate Grodno group was formed under the command of General Wilczynski, who
was entrusted with the task of holding the Augustow forests with a separate force, comprising "K.O.P." battalions and infantry
units from Wilno and Grodno, consisting of about 8 battalions and 5 artillery sections. The sector of the Narew group was
thereby considerably shortened, although its strength remained the same. Later, when hostilities had actually begun, the defence
of Ossowiec and the River Biebrza was among the duties assigned to the Grodno Group.
(5) As for the Coastal Defence, the naval brigade was reinforced by the addition
of the Sienkiewicz battalion of the "K.O.P.," which was detailed for the garrison of the Hel peninsula, which thus was brought
up to the strength of 10 battalions.
(6) 23 sections of fixed armament artillery were formed, with 3-inch guns. These
were assigned as follows: 5 sections to the Grodno group, 5 sections to the Narew group, 4 sections to the Modlin Army, 8
sections to the Cracow Army, and one section to the Coastal Defence Group.
(7) Finally garrisons for other semi-permanent works were drawn from National Defence
battalions. Efforts were also made to make anti-aircraft defences as effective as possible.
(8) Germany had been pressing the Danzig question with increasing urgency. A state
of unrest and uncertainty was prevailing in the town as a result of the violation of international agreements by Germany and
of constant German provocation of Polish officials and private individuals, carrying out their duties under agreements with
At the same time experts were being sent to the Free City by the Reich, disguised as tourists; arms, artillery,
anti-aircraft guns, and tanks were also being smuggled into the Free City. By these means a Danzig division, composed of 15,000
infantry, 62 guns, 36 anti-tank guns, 36 anti-aircraft guns, 40 tanks, and 24 armoured cars, of Czech make, was formed on
25th August over and above the 2000 or 3000 Heimwehr men and 1800 police who were organised on military lines. Danzig even
had its own fleet, consisting of the training battleship Schleswig-Holstein, which was re-equipped with modern armament,
and its own air force for reconnaissance purposes.
In view of the presence of a German division in Danzig, the Polish General Staff had to consider the
problem of safeguarding Poland's interests. It was planned to use two infantry divisions from the Kutno Reserves, together
with a cavalry brigade from Pomorze, if the necessity for intervention arose. One of these, the 27th Infantry Division, was
en route when the war broke out; the other, the 13th Infantry Division, managed to reach the Reserves of the Commander-in-Chief
in accordance with instructions.
(9) It was decided to move the Reserves of the Commader-in-Chief southwards into
the region of Tomaszow-Konskie-Radom-Kielce-Sandomierz, with the object of operating in the direction of Czestochowa-Piotrkow,
and to place one division - the 22nd - in the region of Debica, near Tarnow. This necessitated revision of transport arrangements.
(10) Additional reports received up to 22nd August indicated that the final stage of military
readiness of the Reich had been reached. This view was borne out by a number of indications.
(a) On 15th August all reservists were called up in East Prussia. As a result, the
number of troops stationed in this province was raised to 9 infantry divisions, as provided for in the general plan referred
(b) Over 300,000 tons of war material was sent to East Prussia, mainly by sea.
(c) Reservists were called up in Austria, Upper Silesia, Bavaria, and in coastal districts.
(d) It was established that troop movements had taken place in Silesia, Moravia, and
(e) The air force was placed on a war footing. A number of landing fields had been
constructed near the frontier and a separate liaison service for the air force organised. A number of bomber and fighter squadrons
had been moved from East Prussia to Pomerania, Silesia, and Slovakia. German planes were constantly violating the Polish frontier.
Ground formations of the Air Fleets Nos. 1 and 4 were shifted to scattered field air bases.
In view of these unmistakable signs the Polish High Command ordered that the garrisons of all the army corps should be
in a state of readiness and the individual call-up of reservists of 6 army corps was ordered.
On 25th August the Western armies were ordered to complete their administrative services and the formation of a Reserve
Army was started under the command of General Dab-Biernacki. The anti-aircraft artillery was placed on a war footing. Measures
were taken to reinforce the police, anti-aircraft defences, and railway troops.
These measures did not however affect the normal mobilisation dates of active and reserve units nor the majority of the
army administrative services and arrangements.
(11) Having reviewed the situation which arose after the secret general mobilisation of the
Reich during the night of the 25th and 26th August, Marshal Smigly-Rydz decided to proclaim general mobilisation. The date
was fixed for 29th August. But owing to the intervention of the military representatives of the Allied States, caused by the
diplomatic talks in Berlin, he postponed the date, and 31st August was fixed as the first day; the hour was eleven o'clock
in the morning. This was a fact of the greatest importance. This caused considerable difficulties on the railways and for
the lines of communications, as a considerable number of reservists set out to join the colours in spite of the postponed
The postponement affected the normal mobilisation of four infantry divisions (the 3rd, 5th, 11th, and 24th) and of five
divisions of reserves (the 35th, 38th, 39th, 44th, and 45th); it delayed the transports of four infantry divisions (the 19th,
29th, 28th and the 1st of legionaries) and of two reserve divisions (the 36th and 41st). Further it meant that units which
had orders to march from their peace-time garrisons to new stations were unable to reach them according to schedule. Finally
it necessitated improvised transfers of higher formations within the General Reserve.
In this way Germany's aggressive act on 1st September without declaration of war was an operational surprise for Poland.
The supreme command of the Polish army was taken over by Marshal Smigly-Rydz, assisted by the Chief of Staff, General
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The period from 23rd March to 30th August 1939 was used by special staffs to work out the defence system of the Polish
western front. During this time the general plan of operations could be developed and made ready for execution and the tasks
of the various commanders co-ordinated, and finally various contingencies could be forseen and alternative courses of action
mapped out (Sketch 1). Some of these can be seen from the points mentioned above.
The army commanders were to attain their objectives by a deployment of the Polish forces. This was described in the orders
as exit grouping as distinct from the main defence line (Sketch 2, table 2). The Polish deployment was as follows on 31st
(1) The Grodno Group, which was in the course of being organised, took over the work
in the terrain from the Suwalki brigade and prepared for the defence of the forefield west and north of Grodno. The expected
composition: 3rd "K.O.P." regiment, and 4 march battalions from the Wilno and Grodno garrisons.
(2) The Narew Group adopted the following grouping in order to carry out its task:
(a) One infantry regiment of the 33rd Reserve Division and one artillery group to occupy
Ossowiec, the rest of the forces remaining in reserve in the region of Zambrow; (b) one infantry regiment with artillery
group at Lomza and Ostroleka respectively, the rest of the 18th infantry division in the Sniadowo region; (c) the
Suwalki cavalry brigade was mobilising in the region of Augustow; (d) the Podlasie cavalry brigade to march to the
Stawiski area to cover the mobilisation of the 18th infantry division. A battalion of National Defence at Wizna and Nowogrod.
(3) The Modlin Army in its advance positions, had the 20th infantry division in the
Mlawa area, the Mazovian cavalry brigade in the area of Krzynowloga, the Nowogrod cavalry brigade in the district of Lidzbark.
The 8th infantry division marching in the Ciechanow region was in reserve. To cover Rozany the one infantry regiment was used,
together with an artillery group from the 41st Division of Reserves; in Pultusk one infantry regiment and an artillery group
from the 1st infantry division of the Legionaries were employed, both from the Wyszkow general reserves; in Zegrz, Serock,
Wyszogrod, and Plock protecting garrisons from the national defence units; in Modlin a battalion from the 8th infantry division.
(4) The Pomorze Army had formed two operational groups. General Boltuc took over the command of the 16th and
4th infantry divisions to cover the line in the general direction of Torun, east of the Vistula. Detachments were advanced
to the line Grudziadz-Jablonowo-Brodnica.
National Defence battalions formed the defensive garrisons in Torun. To cover Danzig a special Czersk group was formed
under the command of General Skotnicki, composed of the Pomorze cavalry brigade, the rifle battalions of Tczew and Chojnice,
and National Defence battalions. The bulk of the cavalry forces was used to counter the enemy thrust from German Pomerania.
This duty was also shared by the 9th infantry division along the general line Wiecbark-Koronowo-Bydgoszcz. The Bydgoszcz bridgehead
was to be protected by the 15th infantry division with advanced elements towards Wyrzysk. But the 27th infantry division,
which was unable to leave in time to join the general reserve of Kutno, was kept as a reserve of the army in the area Swiecie-Bukowiec-Pruszcz.
(5) The Poznan Army. The 26th infantry division, which on 9th August had been transported
to the district Szubin-Golancz-Kcynia and had moved forward its detachments to the line Skoki-Smogulec, was ordered to cover
the line in the direction of Pila-Inowroclaw.
The line Breslau-Kolo was covered by the 25th infantry division, which had advanced the 70th infantry regiment and National
Defence detachments towards Krotoszyn, Daniszyn, and Ostrow. Cover on the Glogau (Glogow) side was to be provided by the 55th
Infantry Regiment and the 17th Uhlans. The Wielkopolska cavalry brigade covered the line Slubice (Frankfurt)-Poznan. The 14th,
17th, and 25th infantry divisions were completing their mobilisation. The Podole cavalry brigade was in the course of being
transported by rail. It was to detrain in the Kolo region. Later the region of detraining was extended to Wrzesnia.
(6) The Lodz Army prepared a defensive line on the Warta and the Widawka from Sieradz
to Szczercow. The advanced positions were occupied by an infantry regiment and an artillery group along the general front
of each division, and by cavalry forces on the line Grabow (the 10th infantry division)-Ostrzeszow-Kepno (National Defence
and eight squadrons of the "K.O.P."), Wielun (28th infantry infantry division), Dzialoszyn (30th infantry division and the
Wolhyn cavalry brigade). This army consisted of the 10th, 28th, and 30th infantry divisions, and the Wolhyn cavalry brigade.
The 2nd infantry division of the Legionaries was diverted to the region of Lask during transportation and the cavaltry brigade
called the Kresowa was directed to the Szadek zone. The bulk of the army, including the Eastern Frontier Cavalry Brigade,
the 10th, 28th, and 2nd infantry divisions of the Legionaries, were to defend the line towards Lodz, while a separate group
of General Thomme, composed of the 30th infantry division, the Wolhyn cavalry brigade, and the 3nd infantry regiment of the
2nd infantry division of the Legionaries, which was detrained at Radomsko was to defend the Piotrkow region and observe the
(7) The Cracow Army had formed two operational groups to attain its object: one commanded
by General Sadowski, charged with the defence of the industrial district of Silesia, consisting of 23rd infantry division
and the 55th reserve division, and the garrisons of the semi-permanent works; the other the group of General Boruta-Spiechowicz,
consisting of the 21st infantry division and the Zywiec mountain brigade, which had to cover the line in the direction of
Cracow from the west and south. The Czestochowa district was defended by the 7th infantry division with an advanced infantry
regiment at Lubliniec, and by the defence line from Opatow to Wozniki. The line in the direction of Tarnowskie-Gory-Zawiercie
was covered by the Cracow cavalry brigade. In the Zator the 6th infantry division, with an advanced infantry regiment and
artillery group west of Pszczyna, was among the operational groups. A motorised brigade was stationed in the zone Justowska-Wola-Skawina,
south of Cracow. The 22nd infantry division was sent to the zone Trzebinia-Chrzanow, instead of the 45th reserve division,
which was mobilising. In order to reach the line of defence which was their destination, the regiments of the 21st infantry
division had to march from their peace-time garrisons.
(8) Carpathian Army. The line in the direction Nowy Sacz and Grzybow was occupied by
the Nowy Sacz infantry brigade, and the Krosno-Jaslo line by the "Sanok" infantry brigade. Both brigades were incorporated
in the operational group of General Lukowski. It was planned to join to them the 11th and 24th infantry divisions, whose mobilisation
was to be normal and could therefore start only after it had been proclaimed. The Carpathians were to be covered from Sanok
to the Rumanian frontier by units of the Frontier Guard and about 10 battalions of the National Defence under the command
of General Langner.
(9) The Coastal Defence Group comprised altogether 10 battalions. It consisted of one
brigade of marines of a strength of 6 battalions, and 3 mixed battalions composed of unembarked sailors and National Defence
units, and one battalion of the "K.O.P." of Sienkiewicze, which formed the permanent garrison of the Hel peninsula.
(10) General Reserves. The 1st infantry division of Legionaries and the 41st reserve
division were detailed for the Wuszkow area; their transport was to take place after mobilisation had been proclaimed. But
only the 19th infantry regiment and an artillery group with the 5th infantry division reached the Kutno zone, as the rest
were sent to Modlin after mobilisation. The 13th infantry division was transferred to the reserve army of General Dab-Biernacki
and the 27th infantry division remained in Pomorze. Thus the "Kutno" reserve never came into being.
The greatest changes are to be found in the reserve army. Table 1 shows its projected composition, but the composition
in fact was an extemporisation with formations of earlier readiness in two groups: first, the northern, consisting of the
19th, 29th, 13th infantry divisions and the Wilno cavalry brigade in the area of Tomaszow and Piotrkow, under the direct command
of army commanders; and secondly, the operational group of General Skwarczynski in the Kielce zone, composed of the 3rd and
12th infantry divisions and 36th reserve division.
The motorised brigade and the remaining reserve divisions had later dates of readiness, and their destination will not
be given at present.
All these measures of the army commands and the General Staff were confirmed by the Commander-in-Chief, and the plans
for transport, liaison, provisioning, etc. were the basis for the deployment and action of the troops in the first battle.
The proclamation of general mobilisation automatically caused certain actions: for the armed forces it was the signal
to occupy the jumping off positions described above; for the country it meant the putting into effect of previously prepared
war measures, such as anti-aircraft defence, liaison, transport, police regulations, and evacuation. This was how the general
plan for putting on a war footing was worked out by the General Staff. In actual fact it was only partly put into operation,
as can be seen from Table 2.
It was not surprise alone that was the cause of this; gaps and ambiguities in the scheme indicated that in certain cases
the preparatory work was behindhand. A general comparison of the cases which came to notice leads to the conclusion that main
operations were anticipated on the southern part of the front, where the strong attitude of the Cracow and Lodz Armies (11
infantry divisions, 3 cavalry brigades, 1 infantry brigade, and 1 motorized brigade) would create conditions favourable for
the action of the main reserve (8 infantry divisions, 1 cavalry brigade, and 1 motorised brigade). This action was to
be protected from the south and east by the Carpathian Army (2 infantry divisions and 2 infantry brigades), with possible
support from one infantry division of the reserve of the Commander-in-Chief (at Debica). In the north the Modlin Army and
the Narew Group (4 infantry divisions and 4 cavalry brigades) were to withstand a secondary pressure against the rivers Bug
and Narew; it was expected that they would be further reinforced by 2 infantry divisions of the Commander-in-Chief (at Wyszkow).
The task of holding the enemy by contesting the ground as they fell back was entrusted in the centre to the Poznan and
Pomorze armies, composed of 8 infantry divisions and 3 cavalry brigades. For the purpose of co-ordinating the operations of
the northern flank and the centre, a reserve of 3 infantry divisions was created in the Kutno region at the point where they
met. The role of these 11 infantry divisions and 3 cavalry brigades was of secondary importance in relation to the underlying
principle of the plan.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
An analysis of the basic idea, revealed in the above chapter, must prompt certain questions and raise doubts as to whether
calculations were correct and whether the whole plan had been sufficiently elaborated.
However, it is certain that the work carried out by the General Staff and by the army commands extended to the planning
and preparations for delivering the first battle.
The remaining technical task of the Staff was to consider all contingencies and work out alternative cases. First of
all it was necessary to plan counter-action and to keep events on the front under control so that the armies could carry out
their tasks and the centre of gravity in the general plan of the Commander-in-Chief be maintained. Then came such factors
as calculations of time and space, which determine what action could be taken and the organisation of supplies of material.
In addition the enormous physical strain to which the army was exposed was a factor that had to be taken into account.
The General Staff had therefore worked out a second line of defence along the Narew, Vistula, and Dunajec; it determined
the axes of movement, co-ordinated the time of the retreat of the various armies, and defined any possible new tasks for them.
In view of calculated distances, it appeared that the Pomorze Army would have to be the first to withdraw along two axes:
(a) Torun-Wloclawek, on the right bank of the Vistula; (b) Aleksandrow-Wloclawek, on the left bank. The
axis then ran through Kowal, Gostynin, Sochaczec to the Warsaw zone. The bridges Nowy Dwor, Warsaw, and Swider were at the
disposal of the Pomorze Army. The Poznan Army was to retreat along the axis Kolo, Kutno, Lowicz, Zyrardow, Tarczyn, Gora,
Kalwarja, with the Vistula bridges at Swider, Maciejowice, and perhaps the Warsaw bridges.
Two possible courses were forseen for the reserve army: (a) to remain in the area of the Swietokrzyskie mountains
to form bridgeheads from the Nida to the Pilica; (b) to cross the Vistula by the bridges at Solec, Annopol, Sandomierz,
Baranow, Szczucin, Nowy Korczyn.
The Cracow Army covered the Vistula on both sides. In order that the manoeuvre of retreat should succeed it had to perform
the heaviest task - namely, to withstand enemy pressure from three to five days longer than the Pomorze Army.
The tasks for the Carpathian, Modlin, and Narew armies remained unchanged. The defence of the Vistula was assumed by
three central armies, and the Lodz Army or the Poznan Army (about 4 infantry divisions and 2-3 cavalry brigades) was to be
sent to reinforce the reserves, which were weaker in the area of Yukow-Miedzyrzec in the north. It was expected that the main
reserve could be formed either in the Zamosc area or in the area Jaroslaw-Rzesow (8 infantry divisions, 3 cavalry brigades,
and a motorised brigade).
The next decision as to further defensive action should it be necessary to withdraw from the second line of defence was
of a general nature, although it was linked up with the problem of meeting demands for war material and with the complete
evacuation of the war industry. This decision was largely affected by considerations of foreign policy.
Generally speaking, three possibilities were taken into account: (a) to move towards Grodno and Polesie, which
was least suited for holding out, until decisive operations the west began; (b) to move towards the Polesie area,
which offered certain favourable conditions for defence; (c) to withdraw the northern flank and move back the centre
with a view to supporting the Wolyn and Malopolska provinces. After detailed analysis of the effects of each of these three
manoeuvres, it was decided to adopt the idea of resting on Malopolska whilst at the same time making every effort to hold
the Polesie district. One of the main reasons why this course was decided upon is that it left open the possibility of using
transport facilities through Rumania and Hungary.
The plans allowed for the following variants of the line of defence:
(1) Upper Silesia, Kielce area, the Rivers Vistula, Bug, Narew, and Biebrza;
(2) The River Dunajec, Kielce area, the Rivers Vistula, Bug, Narew, and Biebrza;
(3) The Rivers Dunajec, Vistula, Bug, the Bialystok forests and the upper reaches of the Niemen;
(4) The Rivers Dunajec, Vistula, the upper reaches of the Wieprz and western and northern Polesie;
(5) The Rivers San, Vistula, the upper Wieprz, western and northern Polesie;
(6) The River San as far as Jaroslaw, Tomaszow, Lublin-Hrubieszow, the western Bug and northern
(7) The San as far as Jaroslaw, Tomaszow, Lublin-Hrubieszow, Wlodzimierz, the northern fringes
of the Wolyn plateau.
It can be seen that the further course of the campaign was considered only in a most general outline. It was clear that
no detailed scheme could be worked out, as it might be upset during the first days by the changing fortunes of the war or
unforseeable developments. So the general plan did not consider the problem in all its aspects. It is my opinion that the
planning was largely affected by the conviction that Poland would soon be relieved by the victorious action of the Allies
in the west. Hence the present picture must be incomplete.
I shall mention only the problem of technical preparation of terrain, the organisation of the country, the consideration
of the physical limitations of the armies, and the state of supplies. The contingency of the main defence line breaking down
and the time needed to transfer forces to the second line should have been worked out in greater detail and more thoroughly.
The aim was to hold out until the Western Powers took action, but unfortunately the date of this was not strictly determined
or agreed upon by both sides.
The outline of the German plan of action is contained in the communique of the German High Command published
on 24th September 1939. It is also known from numerous propaganda publications which give to the facts a biased interpretation.
But even the official pronouncement of the High Command allows itself such latitude, for its communique describes the spirit
of Poland as one of "extreme chauvinism." Further, the communique argues that the existence of plans for occupying Danzig
and invading East Prussia is revealed by a study of Polish writings. The communique attributes aggresive intentions to the
Polish army. It even suggests that the Poles underestimated Germany's strength, as it alleges that the Polish High Command
was convinced that the bulk of the German forces would be used in the west.
This assertion had also certain propaganda aims, being used in particular to substantiate the claim that the
Reich was menaced by Poland.
The object of the German High Command was to surround and destroy the Polish forces grouped in the Vistula
bend from Torun to Cracow.
The Wehrmacht operating in Poland was organised in 5 land armies, 2 air fleets, and special groups of the
naval air force and air force of East Prussia (Table 3).
All the forces, divided into two groups of armies, were under the command of General Brauchitsch, with his
Chief of Staff, General Halder. The line of division between the two groups was at first the River Notec.
(1) The Northern group of armies was commanded by General Bock, with General Salmuth
as Chief of Staff.
It was composed of the 3rd and 4th Armies, and the naval forces commanded by Admiral Albrecht.
The air fleet No. 1, commanded by General Kasselring, with two bases - in East Prussia and in German Pomerania
- as well as the naval air forces, were at the disposal of the command of this group. The Vistula formed the line of division
between the two armies.
The 3rd Army, commanded by General Kuechler, was deployed in East Prussia direct on three axes: the western,
from Marienwerder (Kwidzyn) to Deutsch Eylau (Niemieckie Ilovo), 2 infantry divisions; the main forces at Gilgenburg (Dombrowno),
Neidenburg (Nibork), Willenberg (Wielbork), and Friedrichshof (Rozogi), 4 infantry divisions, 2 armoured motorised divisions,
1 cavalry brigade; the eastern flank was covered by the garrisons of the Mazovian forest and Lake forts (Landwehr division)
at Biala and Arys, the garrison of the fortified Letzen district, and one reserve division in the Goldaps area.
The reserves consisted of one reserve division south of Allenstein (Olsztyn) and one Landwehr division in
the Szczytno (Ortelsberg) area.
Altogether 6 infantry divisions, 2 armoured motorised divisions, 1 cavalry birgade for attack, and 4 infantry
divisions covering the east were kept in reserve.
The task of the army was to make a thrust directed east of Warsaw across the Bug in order to join forces there
with the group of southern armies and outflank the Polish forces west of Warsaw and further to cut them off by a projected
wide sweep movement beyond the Bug and San.
The divisions operating from the Marienwerder and Deutsch Eylau district were ordered to maintain contact
between this group and the western army (the 4th Army of General Kluge), which was deployed in German Pomerania, and to co-operate
along the Vistula in the direction of Grudziadz. These divisions were at first under General Kluge.
The main forces of the 4th Army were concentrated in the region of Krojanke (Krojenka), Flatow (Zlotov), Friedland
(Frydlond), Schlochau (Czluchov). Strength: 4 infantry divisions, 3-4 armoured motorised divisions. The northern flank was
covered by the 1st reserve division in the Buetow district and a combined unit (Landwehr) in the Lauenburg (Lembork) district.
The same task south of Pila (Schneidemuehle), along the Notec, was entrusted to one reserve division. At first a motorised
unit operated between Kreuz and Schoenlanke (Trzcianka).
Altogether this makes 5 infantry divisions, 3-4 armoured motorised divisions of the first line, and 2 higher
formations kept in reserve.
The task of the army was to cut off the salient formed by Polish Pomorze in order to link up East Prussia
and Danzig with the Reich by seizing the crossings on the Vistula near Grudziadz and Bydgoszcz, and then to operate south-eastwards
jointly with the 3rd Army. The task of seizing the Polish coast was entrusted to the northern wing, stretching from Bytom
to the forces organised in Danzig (one or two infantry divisions) and the naval forces.
The joint forces of the group of the Northern Army including reserves, but excluding the Danzig forces, were
17 infantry divisions, 4-5 armoured motorised divisions, and 1 cavalry brigade.
(2) The southern group of armies was commanded by General Rundstaedt, whose Chief
of Staff was General Manstein. The land forces consisted of the 8th, 10th, and 14th armies; in addition there was the 4th
Air Fleet, commanded by General Lohr.
The main task was entrusted to the 10th Army, commanded by General Reichenau. In the Opole (Oppeln) part of
Silesia the forces were in general distributed over the following area: Opole (Oppeln), Namyslow (Namslau), Byczyna (Bitschen),
Kluczborek (Kreuzberg), and Gliwice (Gleiwitz). The armoured motorised forces (5-6 divisions) were concentrated in the region
of Olesno (Rosenberg), Namyslow (Namslau), Byczyna (Bitschen), Dobrodzien (Guttentag), and Tworog (Tworog). Behind the northern
and southern flanks of the armoured motorised forces there were 2 infantry divisions each, and behind the centre 2 infantry
divisions. Altogether 6 infantry and 6 armoured motorised divisions.
The army had to reach the Vistula from Kluczborek (Kreutzberg) by a powerful thrust eastwards and thus to
cut off in the Vistula bend the Polish forces stationed in the provinces of Pomorze and Poznan.
South of Gliwice (Gleiwitz) the 14th Army, under the command of General List, was grouped in the military
district of Upper Silesia, Cieszyn Silesia, Moravia, and Slovakia.
The area of the concentration of forces was planned with a view to enabling movements in an easterly direction
to be made without reference to the convex shape of the Polish frontier. Thus along the line Sosnicowice (Kieferstaedtel)-Rybnik-Katowice-Cracow,
2 infantry divisions were stationed; 1 armoured motorised division, Raciborz (Ratibor)-Pszczyna-Oswiecim; 2 infantry divisions,
Frydek-Biala; 3 infantry divisions, Zylina-Zywiec; 2 armoured motorised divisions, Trzciana (Trstena)-Chabowka; in the valley
of the Poprad Kierzmark (Kezmarek)-Druzbaki, 2 infantry divisions. In all, 9 infantry divisions. Two Slovak infantry divisions
were located in the area Lubowla-Moedzi-Laborce.
It was established that 6 reserve divisions and 1 infantry division, which later took part in the occupation
of Silesia and the Crakow province, were kept in immediate reserve in the area of Prudnik, Kornow, Raciborz, Morawska Ostrawa,
Frydek, and Jablonkow.
General List's task was to contain the Polish forces grouped in the industrial basin and to aim at cutting
them off from the east by action from south and north, which would at the same time cover Slovakia. To cover the northern
flank of General Reichenau's Army on the Poznan side, the 8th Army of General Blaskowitz was grouped in echelon with the axis
of operation towards Lodz-Warsaw. The northern flank extended to the Notec, skirting the Poznan province, the southern to
Namslau. The main forces consisted of 5 infantry divisions: (1) in the Milice (Militsch)-Twardagora (Festenberg) area - 2
divisions; (2) in the Olesnica (Oels)-Bierutow (Bernstadt) area - 3 infantry divisions.
This containing group of the 8th Army was protected from the north by Landwehr divisions in the region of
Wasosz (Herrnstadt) and Wschow (Fraustadt). The front sector between Glogow (Glogau) and Krzyz (Kreutz) was occupied by 3-4
fortress and Landwehr divisions. All these divisions (4-5) gradually occupied Poznania and some took part in the battles on
The southern front had in all 30 infantry divisions and 9 armoured motorised divisions.
In addition to the troops on the front and those mentioned held in immediate reserve, about 10 infantry divisions
were kept near the Polish frontier. Some were in the course of formation as garrisons of occupied territories, others were
already garrisons of occupation of the frontier districts of Poland, Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The Air Fleet No. 1, which was included in the northern front, had two bases: in East Prussia, with 400-600
aeroplanes, and in German Pomerania with 700-1000 aeroplanes. The Air Fleet No. 4, which operated from the southern front,
had one base in the area of German Silesia, with 600-900 planes, and a second in the Slovak aerodromes with 300-500 planes.
The whole of Poland was divided into sections approximately corresponding to the projected area of operation
of the various armies. The zone of the operations of the East Prussian group comprised Eastern Poland and was bounded on the
west by a line running along the Vistula to Grudziadz, through Warsaw, Sandomierz, and thence to Lwow and Krzemieniec. The
section of the Pomorze group extended from the frontier of this province south to the line Poznan-Kielce-Radom-Warsaw. The
section of the Silesian group extending from the border of the former included the area of Western Malopolska to Jaslo-Przemysl-Lwow.
The section of the Slovak group extended from the border of the former and included the whole of south-eastern Poland. The
routes of flights for particular duties were so traced out inside each sector that they ensured a double effectiveness along
the line Warsaw-Lwow.
In addition to the air fleets mentioned above, which for operational purposes were subordinated to the commanders
of the groups and land armies, the air forces of the Reich organised in fleets Nom. 2 and 3 carried out special tasks, taking
their orders from Field-Marshal Goering. The air force totalled 2000-3000 airplanes.
A superficial calculation based on bombing raids and the aeroplanes used in them yields a figure exceeding
that given above, on certain days well above 5000 planes being engaged over Poland. Hence the conclusion that various formations
effected several flights or that the same machines were used by several crews.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
All this shows the main purpose of the plan was to destroy Polish troops in the Vistula bend by using two
groups of forces: (a) in the Oppeln-Breslau region the armoured motorised arms were to pierce the Polish defences
and reach the Vistula, containing the Polish forces from the south and cutting off their retreat to Warsaw and Sandomierz;
(b) an armoured motorised group striking from German Pomerania was to reach the Vistula and establish tactical contact
with East Prussia in order to encircle the Polish forces from the north and east by a thrust along both sides of the Vistula.
The first action would at the same time make it possible to thrust deep into the main population centres and
the interior of the Polish State, paralysing the Government and the military command and destroying the centres of the war
industry. The second action was to achieve the occupation of Polish Pomorze, cut Poland's access to the sea, set Danzig free,
and establish direct communications with East Prussia.
Meanwhile the flank armies were to threaten the Polish flank and create conditions for further action beyond
the Vistula-San barrier. In this way full advantage was to be taken of the formation of the frontier which was unfavourable
to Poland. This explains why the German Command deviated from its favourite manoeuvre of using great pressure on the enemy
flanks while at the same time containing the frontal forces (Cannae manoeuvre). The plan for a speedy military success, producing
a situation which would present an accomplished fact in the sphere of politics, necessitated a restriction of aims.
This was necessary owing to the impossibility of foreseeing how operations in the west would develop and in order to obtain
a position that could be used for diplomatic bargaining.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
As the Germans have not published a detailed account of the operations, the data given here may be somewhat
incomplete as regards the organisation of the army or its various sections. The deployment of German forces and their numerical
strength are shown in Table 3.
German sources and publications give the strength of forces used against Poland as 38 infantry divisions.
No doubt the armoured forces have not been included in this figure, and the reserves of the army and the large formations
operating on the coast and in Danzig have certainly been omitted. In any case, during the first engagements 38 land divisions
were identified, as well as 14-15 armoured motorised divisions and 1 cavalry brigade. Later, on 14th September, this figure
rose to 59 infantry divisions and 16 armoured motorised divisions (Table 5).
A glance at Tables 1 and 3 will show the difference between Poland's projected strength and Germany's actual
strength. Poland planned to raise 39 infantry divisions, 4 infantry brigades, 11 cavalry brigades, and 2 motorised brigades,
whilst the Reich's forces of the first line were: 47 infantry divisions, 14-15 armoured motorised divisions, and 1 cavalry
brigade. This comparison reveals the numerical superiority of the Germans. Furthermore, 10 infantry divisions which were farther
from the Reich frontier zone could at any time be put into the field.
A still more striking contrast is provided by Table 2, showing the strength which Poland actually attained,
and Table 3, giving a picture of the German forces.
On 1st September, Poland had only 16 infantry divisions, 3 infantry brigades, 6 cavalry brigades, and 1 motorised
brigade, grouped for operation. From this it appears that the first German thrust alone engaged 40 per cent. of the
In this connection it is difficult to refrain from observing that military writers in some countries allow
themselves considerable poetical licence when they speak of a Cannae in Poland. This is contradicted by the reversed numerical
ratio of the contesting sides: in Poland the weaker was on the defensive and the stronger attacked.
The Polish troops being shifted to take part in the decisive manoeuvre and to be added to the general reserves
continued to arrive up to 3rd September. In addition to the armies, 30 infantry divisions, 4 infantry brigades, 11 cavalry
brigades, including the Suwalki cavalry brigade, which had reached its destination and completed its mobilisation, should
have found themselves in the field at that time.
But from the first day the German air force had paralysed the railways. Some divisions suffered considerable
losses during transport (the 1st, 2nd, 13th, 22nd, 41st, the Podole and Kresy cavalry brigades, some (the 19th and 29th) reached
the appointed concentrations by marches, and three (the 3rd, 12th, 36th) had to detrain about 90 km. behind the battle zone.
At first only a few battalions of the latter went into action. Owing to the development of events the 45th reserve division
was never mobilised, and as for the 5th infantry division, only fractions of it operated at three points (Kutno, Modlin, Warsaw).
Such was the effect of the powerful surprise operations of the air force. It should be added that the "Kutno"
reserve never came into existence, and in the main direction of operations, despite the improvisations attempted, only 3 (the
13th, 19th, 26th) infantry divisions and a cavalry brigade and about 9 unattached battalions were available, in place of 8
infantry divisions, 1 cavalry brigade, and 1 motorised brigade supposed to be there. The enumeration of the divisions indicates
that the shifting was improvised to obtain a strong concentration in that area. Thus it can be seen that the first improvised
deployment led to other deployments which at times proved less fortunate.
This is no doubt due to the fact that there is a constant conflict in the human mind between the tendency
to adhere to an approved plan and the pressure of circumstances which necessitates a decision to change over to a diametrically
opposite course. Normally such a change entails great sacrifices, and necessarily leads to an abandonment of ground. As a
result, the changed plan is usually unsatisfactory. Finally, as is always the case in the drama of war, there are too many
obscure factors due to lack of knowledge of how operations are developing. Another factor which may militate against change
and the adoption of a new plan better suited to conditions is the tendency to risk the gamble that the plan embarked
upon may after all turn out successful.
The bare figures given in our tables point to one unhappy conlusion. By waiting for the results of the diplomatic
game of the Western Powers, Poland failed to reach full military preparedness at the right moment. The task of the German
air force was thus facilitated, as it was able to prevent the concentrations of the Polish forces. The German High Command
found an asset in the psychology of the Polish Command which attempted to carry out its original plan by means of improvised
moves. It must be added that certainly both Poland and the Reich expected that the West would take action.
To describe fully the military effort devised by the Reich against Poland, I have drawn up Table 4, which
indicates the position and the larger size of the formations from the peace-time establishment of the Wehrmacht which had
been concentrated up to 1st September. The group of unidentified formations has been introduced because, though their latter
arrival in the zone of a particular army was known, these formations did not appear in the initial engagement.
(A) Observations on the Polish Plan
(1) Correct Assumption
The underlying idea of the Polish plan was to hold out in order later to change over to attack in co-operation
with the Allies. When considering the tasks with which the various armies were entrusted, we see in a number of cases a departure
from the orthodox operational conception of defence. The acceptance by Poland of the defensive principle created difficulties
when its execution was being planned.
The terrain and the configuration of the Polish frontiers do not offer permanent strong-points in the west.
The length of the frontiers and the number of the troops made it necessary to find out where and in what manner decisive concentrations
could be made. Moreover, behind the main line of resistance there was from the north the danger from East Prussia, and in
the south a flank had been exposed by the creation of the protectorate of Slovakia. There was a threefold danger of being
cut off-namely, (1) from the sea, (2) in the Wielkopolska province, (3) in the Silesian industrial basin. Consequently it
was decided to hold the south and north (the tasks of the Carpathian Army and Narew Group).
But the most highly industrialised part of Silesia as well as the mineral resources essential for the life
of the country are in the south, close to the western frontier. Hence the decision to hold Silesia (which was the task of
the the Cracow Army). As the crow flies, the front of these armies was 600 km. long, and there remained an open stretch of
another 600 km. for which a solution had to be found. However, the decision to make a direct defence in the Vistula bend would
have entailed the abandoning of the provinces of Wielkopolska and Pomerania, including Gdynia - territories that were essential
from the point of view of agriculture and economics, and 92 per cent. of the population there was Polish to the core. I shall
not produce military arguments here, but shall confine myself to asking one question. Was abandonment of these territories,
representing half of Poland both in area and population, possible to a nation that had recently been liberated from the German
yoke? For all Poles there could only be one answer; and it was No. And this answer must suffice for the many military critics
who recalled the example of Russia in 1914 and pointed to the inundations barrier formed by the Rivers Narew, Vistula, and
San as a kind of Maginot Line. What the decision in this difficult military position would be was a forgone conclusion owing
to the spirit of the nation. Hence the compromise nature of the solution that in the centre, in accordance with the accepted
assumptions of the strength of the enemy, a retreat was to be carried out by manoeuvre and ground yielded only as a result
of fighting action. The minimum possible number of free forces for decisive action by the General Reserves were to be concentrated.
The 600 kilometres' area of manoeuvre was eventually divided. The space reserved for retreat was reduced to
the first 400 km., while a decision was to be sought on the remaining 200 km. The reserve army was supposed to launch a counter-attack,
supported by the defences of the Lodz army (80-100km.) and the semi-permanent fortifications of Silesia.
It is a different matter to answer the following questions:
(1) Was it not too great a proportion of the forces set aside for the maoeuvre in
retreat operations in view of the fundamental idea being defence? Was not too small a force sent in the decisive direction?
Where was the centre of gravity of the forces strength which would decide the result and assure success?
(2) Were the flanks, the pivots of the attack, sufficiently defended?
(3) Was the action planned to fill the gap on the Warta and Widawka between the defence
of Silesia by the Cracow Army and the defence of the Lodz region sufficiently thought out and technically prepared?
(4) Was due consideration given to the strength which these armies had at their disposal
in order to fulfil such an important role, which required 3-5 days?
(5) What was the expected result of this manoeuvre? How long a respite did it give
to the defence?
(6) How far the other armies would be in a position to comply with the general decision?
(7) The attack would exhaust all reserves. Forces for further defence were therefore
necessary. Where were they to be found? How strong would they be?
(8) Would the time gained by this action be sufficient for the action of the Allies
in the West to bring relief to Poland?
I have raised only a few of the questions that force themselves upon anyone who examined the plans of the
General Staff. However, the question of successful outcome remained foremost, and this was bound to influence the decision
as to when the execution of the plan should be abandoned and steps taken that, while contrary to the general temper of the
nation, would have the higher aim of avoiding the breakdown of defence and consequently the loss of the war.
Respect of military secrets is a duty in view of the importance of the problems of war, but it would not have
been any breach of military confidence to ask the opinion of certain representatives of the nation and receive assurance that
the nation would decide to make the sacrifice even of a temporary evacuation of half the country in order to win the war.
This would not have changed the methods of preparation for the war, but it would have allowed the choice of a shorter and
more convenient line of defence. In relation to space the Polish forces were numerically weak, their equipment was insufficient,
the tasks to be fulfilled greatly taxed the individual soldier and the various groups - all this counselled caution and prudence.
These tasks were settled on 23rd March 1939; meanwhile, before the outbreak of the war, important moves in
international policy took place, and these in turn should have caused considerable changes in the plans. Events, however,
took an unexpected turn. The Polish forces were taken by surprise before they were ready to carry out the course that had
(2) Organisation of Command
Everyone must be struck by the marked centralisation of the Army Command, although the accepted grouping itself
points to other conclusions.
If the Cracow and Carpathian armies were charged with the task of holding the enemy and with defence, it appeared
essential that these their tasks should be co-ordinated. If the reserve army was to be used in the area Kielce-Radom-Tomaszow,
either to support the north or in a southerly direction, a combination of actions co-ordinated in time and terrain with those
of the armies operating in the vicinity would have to be worked out. If it was the task of the Lodz Army and Narew
Group to hold certain lines up to which the three remaining armies (Modlin, Pomorze, Poznan) manoeuvred in retreat in difficult
conditions (for they had to penetrate differing depths or were separated by the important elongated barrier of the Vistula),
co-ordination was essential here too. In any case it appeared necessary that at least two centres of control should be created:
one to co-ordinate the action of the main reserve with the Lodz and Cracow armies, the other for co-operation between the
Pomorze and Modlin armies, on the assumption that the Poznan Army could without great effort reach the appointed line of defence;
later, however, it would have to take its orders from this central command.
It would be possible to quote further opinions of this kind. Generally speaking, I believe that as the defence
was organised on a basis of two flanking groups (Narew-Silesia and the Carpathians) and five armies manoeuvring in the centre,
the terrain demanded that the command also should be organised in three directions: between the Vistula and Narew; between
the Vistula and the Warta as far as Lodz; and between Lodz and the Carpathians.
The unfavourable effects of excessive centralisation were repeatedly shown in several instances in the course
of the campaign. It was not until 10th September that there were signs that the need for co-ordinating the work between the
commanders of the various armies was being realised.
I mention only in parenthesis the technical difficulties of command due to the great areas involved, the varying
tasks given to the armies, inadequate means of communication and defects which might occur in the liaison service. Those in
the immediate vicinity of the front are always better able to cope with unforseen contingencies.
(3) Discrepancies in the Defence Plan
(a) The so-called "main line of defence" was somewhat vague when considered
in conjunction with the "opening grouping." A number of armies had advanced positions and had to operate in the forefield.
Other armies had their positions so near the frontier that the first engagements and the enemy break-through were of decisive
importance for the fate of the line of defence and its staying power. The possibility that some armies might be defeated in
the forefield and others on the line of resistance had to be considered. This was to be met by the disposition of the reserves
of the Commander-in-Chief and the alternative course of withdrawing behind the Vistula and Dunajec. The different depths involved
in the above retreat manoeuvre necessitated not only calculation of time and terrain, but also the preparation of additional
temporary positions. But how is the term "main line of defence" to be understood from the point of view of operations? It
can have only a conventional meaning restricted to tactics. This is clear from the tasks of all the five manoeuvring armies.
(b) In 1939 draft defence regulations were issued. Considering the number
of units and the sectors of the various armies, it is difficult to see how these regulations could be applied.
Not one higher unit, not one army, was able to carry out a true tactical defence. We can only speak of an
"offensive retreat," which made it possible to hold every position from one to three days, this resulting from the great fighting
qualities of the soldiers and commanders of the higher units. Yet the defence plan necessitated defending certain sectors
in accordance with regulations, and hence also the need for fortifications and garrisons able to hold out for a considerable
(c) The notion of "opening grouping" further complicated the conduct of
defence operations. It was used to describe the moment when the positions were taken up by all armies, but it meant for some
holding out, whilst for others the starting of mobile operations, according to the tasks set. As a result of this superficial
conception army commanders paid disproportionate attention to the tasks of reconnoitring the enemy cover and yielding ground
All the forces on the forefield (e.g. the Lodz and Modlin armies) were used for these tasks and their
defensive role was pushed into the background. As a result, five armies carried out defence on the forefield. The effect of
this was obvious in the case of the Lodz Army.
(d) The manoeuvred retreat of the Pomorze and Poznan armies revealed lack
of planning in view of the area involved and the direction of the operations. The time at their disposal was so out of proportion
to the course of action open to the neighbouring armies in the direction of Modlin that it was certain that both would leave
their flanks exposed on the so-called main line and would find themselves in the same position as "the opening grouping."
This explains the purposeless dissipation of the reserves of the Commander-in-Chief by forming the Kutno reserve, for it was
obvious even without detailed calculations that the directions Sierpc Plock or Wyazograd were important from the point of
view of operations. This question could have been solved by a different co-ordination of the movement of the forces
which had to march to the line of the Vistula. This had the advantage of lessening the congestion of such a large number of
higher units on a narrow strip between the Vistula and the line Kolo-Lowicz-Gora Kalwarja.
(e) The "main line of defence" does not really exist in the sense of a fortified
line. Each army or even divisional commander conceived it for himself from the tasks he had to fulfil. As a whole it did not
represent a uniform defence system.
There were big gaps, and the ability to hold the various sectors did not depend only on the strength of the
forces there but also on the extent to which the works had been completed. With the exception of semi-permanent works these
were a provisional measure of ground reinforcement. Therefore the term "main line of defence" is not justified, for these
were the sectors of greatest resistance for the army, between which the enemy was able to pass easily, and where he met more
serious resistance he could cover the flanks without danger of meeting reserves, on the majority of the lines of his operations.
The same may be said of the plan of destruction within the forefield of each army.
(4) The Idea of Using Reserves
(a) Reserves can be used in several ways, and there is no fundamental condition
that is essential for every tactical and operational manoeuvre. All is determined by the aim and task. The notion "to defeat
the enemy along a certain direction" is so vague that it cannot evoke any response. If the aim is to arrest movements, this
must take place along a certain defined line. If the aim is to obtain a decisive superiority by counter-attack, this can take
place only after the centre of gravity of the enemy attack has been seized.
Personally I do not believe in a manoeuvre of reserves without ascertaining the depth of the enemy range admissible
for operations, and without definitely resting at least one flank on its neighbour, especially as regards lateral manoeuvring
operations. Otherwise this is only a temporary lateral holding combination. The use of reserves during the retreat of the
neighbours will always remain only a means of stiffening the front.
(b) It was emphasised in the tactical teachings for the lower commands,
and even in the instruction centres for soldiers, that the attack of armoured forces should always be met defensively. If
the attack is mixed (infantry and armoured forces) the main aim is to separate the armoured units from the infantry. It may
happen that if the tanks infiltrate the first enemy positions, in the depth the reserves and the forces of the higher command
will be able to tackle them, and the frontal line can then engage the attacking infantry. According to regulations, the distribution
in depth, with successive lines of defence, was to serve this purpose. It was said that even if the tanks risked deep infiltration
of the defence lines the higher commanders would be in a position to intervene.
If we translate these ideas into the language of operations, after the break-through of the frontal defence
line the need arises again for a containing action against the armoured forces in order to deprive them at a certain depth
of their most menacing feature - that is, speed - and so to put an end to the striking power of their armoured fire.
Such could have been the aims of the reserves of the Commander-in-Chief, but they required appropriate application,
especially in view of the possibility that several waves of armoured forces could be used in the attack. In any case it was
doubtful if the movement of armoured units could be stopped by the counter-attack of land reserves. It appears necessary to
separate the task of containing from the attack proper.
(c) The grouping of reserves that was planned did not always take into account
the speed of the motor, under-rated the srtength of the armour and the fire, and altogether left out of account virtual enemy
superiority in the air.
(d) The reserve units of later preparedness were assigned to the reserves
of the Commander-in-Chief; no doubt this was so because the most important directions and tasks had first to be considered,
and the reserves were required as supplementary troops at a later date. Yet in the operational sense the reserves form an
indivisible entity with the first lines, and having both forces available, the containing and the attacking forces, manoeuvring
could be used to change over to counter-action. It may be asked whether there were not too many maoeuvring units. If the main
idea was defence, then for instance there was a dangerous convergence on the direction Czestochowa-Kielce; hence the reserves
were more needed here than elsewhere, and forces making for long endurance should have been concentrated on this direction
so as to facilitate the re-grouping of the remaining units which were arriving.
It is distinctly stated in one of the regulations that in an attack by armoured units time should be calculated
for the defending side as four times less. Although the concentration of armoured motorised units here was known, a solution
was improvised which ignored this convergence and left uncovered such an important direction of movement of the reserve army
and ignored the time factor. The fact was also overlooked that this was the nearest line to the centre of an important group
of our war industry.
(5) Improvisation and Mobilisation Difficulties
(a) The organisation of the army is marked by considerable improvisation.
Thus it was with the first, second, and third mountain brigades. If the first looked tolerably complete, the others were merely
patched up from the regiments of the "K.O.P." and loose National Defence battalions. It can be stated positively that the
National Defence battalions were only suitable for a third-rate part in combat, in spite of the high morale of the soldier
and the quality of the organisation cadres selected from the regiments. In my opinion it would have been more to the purpose
not to have weakened the cadres of the regiments but to have formed the reserve divisions speedily in two stages of preparedness,
or to have accelerated the readiness of marching formations, filling the gaps caused during action in the higher units and
provided for by the general mobilisation or the call-up system by means of coloured cards.
(b) Among the improvisations which were constantly criticised in peace-time
was the formation of staffs of armies and operation groups in an inconsequent manner, affording no opportunity for development
of the team-work which would have resulted from common work over a certain period. Both during mobilisation and in the course
of hostilities the command was improvised without having the essential organisation at its disposal.
(c) There are certain objections to the method of putting mobilisation into
effect by means of coloured cards. True this gives great elasticity to the working of the higher staff, but it demands from
the lower administrative authorities additional information which is always available, and also necessitates special additional
training for those carrying out the scheme. Even with great enthusiasm among the population, and whole-hearted police co-operation,
muddle and technical difficulties are bound to arise. If to the normal difficulties of mobilisation and concentration we add
an excessive tendency to "military secretiveness," it is clear that the goal could be reached speedily only by rejecting improvisation,
and refraining from great changes, and adhering to the simplest form of organisation.
(6) Preparations in the Sphere of International Policy
It seemed that the most important trump cards of European policy were in the hands of Poland as a result of
her alliance with France, the guarantee of Great Britain, the officially binding alliance with Rumania (although the relations
were not of the best in actual fact), and the non-aggression pact with the Soviets. But was there sufficient evidence that
Poland's position had not been undermined by work behind the scenes? Had the collaboration of the Allies been secured in questions
of time and positions? The course of hostilities has revealed that merely outlines had been agreed upon. The non-aggresion
pact between Germany and the Soviets recalled the history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when every treaty of
Poland's age-old enemies created an immediate danger to her. The German-Soviet agreement took the world by surprise, as did
also the rejection by the Soviets of the agreement offered them by France and Britain.
(B) Observations on the German Plan
(1) The Political Bases of the German Plan
The above description of the deployment of Poland's armed forces and of her intentions shows that when the
German High Command referred to the conclusions to be drawn from study of Polish publications and military writings, this
was done only to mask their own aggressive intentions.
The German plan was based on the following assumptions:
(a) That it would be possible through diplomatic channels to prevent active
intervention by France and Britain, and so to isolate Poland;
That Germany would throw in all her forces to break an isolated Poland before her Western Allies came into
the field, thus taking full advantage of surprise timing and the unpreparedness of the enemy;
That her agreement with the Soviets would enable her to effect a partition of Poland and divide the east of
Europe into the sphere of interests revealed by subsequent events during the war.
(b) The moment chosen for the attack was not postponed in spite of
diplomatic pressure by France and Britain, who hoped to the last that the crisis would subside. This enabled the Germans to
start operations before the Poles had completed their preparations, and the immediate activity of their air force caused further
(c) It can hardly be assumed that the Germans did not take advantage of
the efforts of Poland's allies towards appeasement, and did not calculate how long it would take them to set their war machine
in motion. No doubt the Germans really believed that, once they had defeated Poland, their peace offers would receive serious
consideration in the West. This is why the Germans in their action against Poland lavishly used material which was rapidly
worn out and took a long time to re-condition.
(d) By throwing in all its forces against Poland and merely screening itself
in the West, the Reich gained three valuable days (Britain and France declared war on 3rd September), which gave it a decisive
advantage and enabled it to continue the attack against Poland with undiminished vigour after war had been declared.
(e) The attack was so thoroughly prepared in the sphere of foreign policy
(the Soviets, Italy, the outlook in the neighbouring countries in the East) that Germany started operations with the prospect
of being able to impose her rule on Eastern Europe.
(2) Seizure of Initiative of Operations
(a) The success of Germany's plan depended on her seizing the intiative
and maintaining it to the end of operations. She was assisted in this by the policy of the Allies, who were anxious to save
(b) This end was also furthered by the attitude adopted by Poland, who in
spite of her determination wished to avoid anything that might be interpreted as provocative of war. This enabled Germany
to seize the initiative; the one side had not completed its preparations and the other was thus able to take it by surprise.
(3) Relative Strength cancels out the Effects of Erroneous Information
(a) Among Polish citizens of German nationality, Germany had a thoroughly
organised and well-trained intelligence service. Yet from data derived from this source about the peace-time disposition of
considerable forces in Wielkopolska and Pomorze, the Wehrmacht drew false conclusions as to Poland's offensive intentions.
The German authorities were supplied with the minutest details of Polish troop movements and preparations. The fact that the
conclusions drawn were false had, however, no detrimental effects for Germany on account of her vastly superior strength.
(b) The German war-plan had clearly defined aims and used for that purpose
all the modern means of war which it had been accumulating. The air force and the armoured units which were used in great
numbers assured speed and striking power, whilst other weapons served to consolidate gains.
(4) Organisation of Command and Easy Regrouping through Superiority in the Air
(a) From the operational point of view the German choice of the lines of
attack revealed complete familiarity with the Polish terrain and confidence in their superiority of material. The Germans
took advantage of the weather conditions; the dry autumn in Poland favours aerial activity and the use of armoured forces
(b) The organisation of command was uncomplicated and was adapted to the
various tasks. This facilitated the regouping of higher units and the allotment of their successive tasks. Obviously the overwhelming
superiority of the air force simplified the task of the German High Command.
To obtain a clear picture of operations we can divide them into five periods, taking the main decisions of
the Polish Commander-in-Chief as the basis.
Period I. Operations up to 3rd September and the decision to wthdraw behind the Narew,
Vistula, and Dunajec.
Period II. The operations leading to the failure of the withdrawl manoeuvre and the
decision of 6th September to fall back on positions behind the Bug, Vistula, and San.
Period III. The fighting up to 10th September and the decision to regroup the Polish
forces with Eastern Malopolska as base.
Period IV. Attempts made by the army up to the 10th September to realise the projected
manoeuvre and the decision to defend Eastern Malopolska.
Period V. Situation created after the entry of the Soviet troops and final fighting
of the various Polish armies.
Although German sources maintain that up to 5:45 A.M. on 1st September the German forces stationed along the
frontier had Hitler's orders to do no more than use covering fire, in reality the war was started by an unexpected raid of
the German air force at 4:40 A.M. on that day. Bombs were dropped: on Rumja, Puck, the port of Gdynia, Grudziadz, Torun, Chojnice,
Tczew, Plock, Lodz, Czestochowa, Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Radom, Biala Podlaska, Katowice, Krakow, Lwow, Brzesc, Terespol, Krosno,
and Warsaw. In addition there was less intensive bombing of places in the western frontier districts.
The first targets were aerodromes, military bases, training centres, and flying clubs. The second wave aimed
at the destruction of railway junctions and lines east to west and those linking southern Poland with Gdynia. Already in the
first six hours of this day all transport movements to and from the front on the left bank of the Vistula, and which were
visible from the air, were attacked by the German air force.
The first operations therefore were carried out strictly according to the thesis of General Duhet, interpreted
in Germany by General Wever, that mastery of the air is to be gained and ground organisation to be struck at.
The Reich Government informed the Polish Government through Holland that the German air force would not attack
open towns and the civilian population. An identical declaration was made by Hitler in his speech to the Reichstag on 1st
At the same time there was reconnoitring of the frontier districts and the rear of the immediate Polish grouping
for the information of the various German armies. Between 5 and 6 A.M. the German land forces made their attack, which was
of a reconnoitring character. It resulted in a number of local successes for Polish advance formations at Myszyniec, Chojnice,
Wielun, and Katowice.
Concentrated attacks followed (Sketches Nos. 2 and 3).
The 3rd Army attacked Mlawa and Myszyniec from East Prussia, directing its main onslaught on Krzynowlogi,
which was captured. From Kwidzyn and Kisielice (Freystadt) the Germans reached the forefields of Grudziadz, directing the
main push east of the village of Rogozno.
The 4th Army directed from Pomerania a concentrated attack in the direction of Koronowo and Tuchola,
and a subsidiary one towards Chojnice. Meeting no resistance, a large infantry unit advanced against Koscierzyna from Bytow.
The Westerplatte forces repulsed several attacks and remained under the fire of the cruiser Schleswig-Holstein. In
the south, and along the Notec, reconnaissance operations were being carried out.
The 8th Army along the Wielkopolska frontier carried out movements in the Czarnkow, Zbonszyn, and
Leszno area. It directed the main attack against Ostrzeszow, Kepno, Wieruszow, and Wielun, where it encountered stiff resistance.
The 10th Army conducted operations by means of two concentrations of armoured forces: the northern
in the direction of Klobuc, north of Czestochowa, the southern on both sides of Lubliniec. The attacks were linked in the
centre by the operations of three infantry divisions, and covered from the south in the direction of Gliwice by a corps consisting
of two infantry divisions.
The 14th Army consolidated the line of Silesian fortifications by small attacks supported by artillery
fire, two infantry divisions being concentrated against Rybnik-Mikolow and one armoured motorised unit against Pszczyna. The
retreating Polish advanced units were closely followed up by two German infantry divisions towards Cieszyn, where an engagement
developed. From Moravia the Germans attacked with two armoured motorised divisions in the direction of Nowy Targ-Chabowka,
supported by the action of one infantry division operating in the direction of Zywiec and by weaker operations further east
along the Slovak frontier.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The bombardment of this day caused much damage in Poland. This was repaired and transports continued. The
German air force inflicted considerable losses in the immediate rear of the Polish forces, especially on the sector of the
Lodz Army. As a result of this there was a chaotic movement of the population eastwards into the interior of the country:
this increased day by day, obstructing communications and forming a target which enabled the enemy to carry out raids and
machine-gunning from the air with impunity.
The Narew Group successfully carried out major frontier engagements in the Grajevo and Myszyniec
region. Owing to the movement of the enemy in the direction of Myszyniec, this group concentrated its reserves on the left
flank in the Ostrolenka region.
The Modlin Army fought a battle for Mlawa. At the same time it received informatin of a large concentration
of German forces behind the first line of fighting. The 20th infantry division maintained its position, whereas the Mazowsze
cavalry brigade was withdrawn. At this point, however, the 8th infantry division arrived as a reinforcement.
The troops of the Pomorze Army were repulsed. Near Grudziadz the 16th infantry division fell back behind the
River Ossa, across which the enemy penetrated to the Rogozno region. The situation in the west looked more serious; after
heavy fighting the 9th infantry division was pushed back behind the River Brda in the Koronowo region. A cavalry brigade therefore
moved to Chojnice. Tczew defended itself. It was decided to reinforce the Koronowo direction by the 27th infantry division
and to withdraw the group of General Skotnicki to the south to the line Cekcyn-Zalesie-Osie.
The Poznan Army was engaged in a successful clash in the frontier district of Zbaszyn and Leszno.
The Lodz Army, which also decided to deliver the first battle in the forefield, moved on 31st August
east of the line Wieruszow (National Defence and "K.O.P."), Wielun (28th infantry division), Dzialoszyn (30th infantry division),
with protection from Krzepice and Parzymiechy (the Wolyn cavalry brigade). All the higher units were in full complement. Attacks
of superior infantry forces were twice repulsed in combat, but under the pressure of the armoured forces the southern flank
fell back to the other bank of the Warta at 10 P.M. The Wolyn brigade moved from the region of the Mokre forest to the Lobodna
The Cracow Army received information that the 7th infantry division had been compelled to fall back
to its next defensive position of Klobucko-Wozniki. North of Czestochowa, turning Lobodno, a large German armoured force moved
to the Gidle area, despite considerable losses. The Cracow cavalry brigade spported by the 11th infantry regiment withdrew
towards Kozieglowy and reported that it was faced by an infantry corps and outflanked in the Wozniki direction by armoured
units. The sector of the semi-permanent fortification was being held. A deflection was made in the south on Zory, where contact
was maintained with the 6th infantry division at Pszczyna. Owing to strong enemy forces it was decided to move the 23rd infantry
division to Tychy. Farther south there was fighting in the area of Cieszyn, Zywiec, Chabowka, where a motorised brigade and
the 12th infantry regiment (from the 6th infantry division) were moved up from the reserves.
The Reserve Army of General Dab-Birnacki was concentrated in the district of Piotrkow-Tomaszow-Sulejow
by night marches, and in the meantime the first railway transport of the southern group reached the area Konskie-Skarzysko-Szydlow.
Small German detachments and Slovak patrols, slightly supported by armoured forces, were observed on the Carpathian
Reports on that day mentioned considerable enemy losses in armoured weapons. As many as sixty tanks were destroyed
on the sectors of some divisions.
In these engagements five infantry divisions (11th, 1st, 11th reserve and 21st divisions, and 217 Landwehr),
one cavalry brigade, and one armoured motorised division ("S.S." or "Kampf") were identified in an attack from the general
direction from of East Prussia. From German Pomerania four infantry divisions (24th reserve, 32nd, 3rd, 23rd) and two armoured
motorised (3rd armoured and the 1st light); on the Poznan front four infantry divisions and a large group of motor-cyclists.
On the line Wieruszow-Wielun-Czestochowa-Katowice at least five armoured units (29th, 3rd motorised, 1st, 4th armoured,
3rd light); on the sector Rybnik-Mikolow-Pszczyna two infantry divisions and one armoured division (28th, 8th and 5th armoured).
In the rear a third division followed. Two infantry divisions (44th and 45th) moved in the direction of Cieszyn from Bogumin-Morawska-Ostrawa-Frydek-Mistek;
on the sector Zywiec one infantry division (7th); in the Chabowka area two armoured motorised divisions (2nd armoured and
On 2nd September the air force bombarded: the port and railway station of Gdynia, the station of Cracow, Lodz,
Radom, Deblin, Terespol, Lublin, Luck, Golub, the aerodrome and broadcasting station at Okencie in Warsaw, the Lawica
aerodrome in Poznan, the munition factory at Skarzysko, the Hel area, and a number of towns and villages immediately
behind the front. On that day there were concentrated attacks against ground organisations and railway transports. The
enemy was already conscious of his overwhelming superiority in the air.
Operations of German land forces were made in the same direction.
The 3rd Army moving towards Ostrolenka occupied the village of Kadzidlo. New infantry and armoured
divisions were brought up to the Mlawa battle. To the south and the east of Grudziadz successive attacks continued.
The 4th Army, attacking from Tuchola, proceeded with its action in the Koronowo direction with two
armoured units, and having broken resistance advanced from the Brda to the Vistula and Swiecie. Naklo on the Notec was occupied
by a thrust from the Pila.
The 8th Army crossed the frontiers of the Wielkopolska province at four points. Fighting continued
in the general direction Wieruszow-Dzialoszyn. New forces were moved in the direction Kalisz-Sieradz.
The 10th Army continued the advance of its armoured motorised units in the direction of Radomsko
and eastward. The defence of the 7th Polish infantry division west of Czestochowa was broken.
The 14th Army fought along the line Katowice-Zory and occupied Pszczyna and Cieszyn. The battle along
the line Zywiec-Sucha-Chabowka gained in intensity and Nowy Targ on the flank was occupied.
This was a very unsuccessful day for the Polish Army.
In the Narew Group the situation remained unchanged. An attack was planned against Kadzilo. The cavalry
brigade made sallies into enemy territory.
In the Modlin Army the 8th infantry division, which occupied positions between the 20th infantry
division and the Mazowsze cavalry brigade, was moved to the Sulmierz region as a result of increased enemy pressure against
Mlawa from the east and the occupation of Przasnysz; temporarily it took up a defensive position.
As for the Pomorze Army, the 16th infantry division was forced to fall back south behind the railway
Grudziadz-Brodnica after fighting near Grudziadz. The commander of this army ordered the 16th infantry division to concentrate
about the Radzyn and the 4th infantry division to prepare for a night counter-attack. Enemy pressure near Koronowo broke the
resistance of the 9th infantry division and the counter-attack of the 27th infantry division. Fighting to cover retreat continued.
In the afternoon the forces were being regrouped in order to enable the 27th infantry division and a cavalry brigade to resume
the attack from the Bukowiec-Bladzimie region and to maintain control of the axis of operations against the Bydgoszcz bridgehead.
An armoured motorised column was observed in the Czersk area.
The Poznan Army continued to hold its positions. Only the 14th infantry division in the Zbaszyn region
and the 26th infantry division along the Notec contacted the enemy, frustrating his attempts at crossing the river and
routing his marching columns with artillery fire. In the south the 25th infantry division was collecting in the Kalisz region,
where the movement of three infantry columns of the enemy was observed.
The Lodz Army repulsed two enemy attacks carried out with the assistance of artillery fire and the
air force. The superiority of the enemy infantry supported by armoured forces was noticeable. About 8 P.M. the enemy forced
a crossing of the Warta and occupied Wielun. During the night a retreat was ordered.
As for the Krakow (Cracow) Army, after the withdrawl eastwards from outside Czestochowa of the 7th
infantry division, a cavalry brigade was outmanoeuvred by a flanking movement, and after suffering heavy losses it reached
the Zawiercie region. The 6th infantry division on the southern flank of the Silesian line of defence also withdrew to the
Vistula and the Sola. Although fighting continued near Skoczow, Zywiec, and as far as Rabka, here too resistance was broken.
In this unfavourable situation the Army Command ordered withdrawl to Zawiercie-Zabkowice, Przemsza, and Sola, and moved the
22nd infantry division from Trzebina-Chrzanow northwards in the direction of Zawiercie. Owing to the exhaustion of reserves
and the cutting of the Silesian defence line the Cracow Army applied to the Commander-in-Chief for permission to fall back
behind the Nida and Dunajec. After two refusals permission was finally granted about midnight. The two days' engagement of
the Cracow Army is an example of a withdrawl manoeuvre from a firmly held line of defence (semi-permanent fortifications of
Silesia) by striking on both flanks. The enemy suffered such heavy losses in infantry units during his engagements with the
Lodz and Cracow armies that the retreating Polish detachments felt only the pressure of his armoured motorised forces.
North-west of Czestochowa in the Klobucko area the Polish air force successfully bombed a cloumn of armoured
A further two infantry divisions were identified (the 12th and 80th reserve), which fought from the direction
of East Prussia, and two new infantry divisions (the 50th reserve and the 31st) advancing from German Pomerania. On the Poznan
front inconsiderable formations of fortress troops began to move from Czarnkow, Miedzychod, Cylichow, and Lesno. Three infantry
columns in the direction Krotoszyn-Ostrow-Sieradz however penetrated fairly deeply. Enemy mountain divisions were reported
moving towards Kroscienko and the region of Nowy Targ.
By the evening of 3rd September the Germans had further success.
On that day the air force extended its activities with the object of demoralising the civilian population
and disorganising Government services. Special attacks were made against railways and against the town of Warsaw, which was
raided six times. Captured German airmen, on being asked why they bombed villages and towns and machine-gunned defenceless
civilians, replied that they had received the order: "Fire at anything standing or fleeing." That is how the declarations
of Hitler and his Government were put into practice!
The 3rd Army moved south towards Ostrolenka, putting the main pressure on Przasnysz, and fought for
Ciechanow. Grudziadz was occupied.
The 4th Army, moving towards the sea, took possession of Kartuszy. Thus communications were established
with Danzig. Swiecie was occupied by armoured forces coming from Koronowo, and Laskowice was taken by large motorised units
advancing from Czersk. An attack against Bydgoszcz from the west was repulsed in spite of an attempted German rising in the
Detachments of the 8th Army moved in Wielkopolska up to Wagrowiec, Pniewy, Leszno, Krotoszyn, and
Ostrow. The infantry continued to move north-eastwards in the direction of Sieradz.
Armoured units of the 10th Army, moving from Radomsk, occupied Kaminsk and penetrated to Przedborze
on the Pilica. Czestochowa and Szczekociny farther south were occupied by units of this army.
Units of reserves of the 14th Army occupied the Silesian basin, entering Katowice and Krolewska Huta. Armoured
motorised units crossed the Sola and occupied Sucha and fought near Mszana.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
In the Polish army part of the troops were regrouped and part were in retreat.
In the Narew Group the Suwalki and Podlasie cavalry brigades carried out a successful sally into
East Prussia (Margrabowa, Biala, Klaryszyn).
The 8th infantry division of the Modlin Army made one thrust in the Przasnysz direction, pushing
the enemy back, and made a flanking attack with an armoured motorised division. The 8th infantry division was routed, and
retreated southwards, followed by the 20th infantry division, from near Mlawa. In the afternoon the whole army was in retreat
towards Ciechanow. The Nowogrodek cavalry brigade covered the line Sierpc-Wyszogrod. There was lively activity of armoured
forces and cavalry along the axis of retreat of the Mazowsze cavalry brigade, along the river Orzyc.
In the Pomorze Army the attack of the 4th infantry division near Grudziadz took place only at dawn,
but was broken by armoured enemy forces. The frontal pressure of the enemy on both divisions weakened, for he directed his
efforts westwards, moving round the fortifications of Grudziadz. At 7 P.M. both divisions of the group of General Boltuc received
the order to retreat; the 4th infantry division in the direction of Torun and the 16th infantry division in the direction
of Golub on the Drweca. The garrison of Grudziadz, from both sides of the Vistula, broke through the enemy and joined the
4th infantry division at 5 P.M. Throughout the day the army was attacked by the enemy air force, which inflicted heavy losses
owing to the inadequacy of the Polish anti-aircraft artillery; for instance, there were no anti-aircraft batteries in the
16th infantry division.
An attempt made at 1 A.M. on 3rd September to stop the enemy, who had intercepted the 9th infantry division near Koronowo,
failed. The 27th infantry division and a cavalry brigade received the order to reach the road Bydgoszcz-Swiecie in the Kusow
region under cover of the 9th infantry division, which was retreating to Blondzim. Both these major units carried out the
order with part of their forces after a whole day of fighting. The movement of the higher units of enemy armoured motorised
forces from Koronowo in the direction of Swiecie, and from Czersk in the direction of Laskowice, cut off nearly the whole
9th infantry division, three-quarters of the Pomorze cavalry brigade, one-third of the 27th infantry division, both battalions
of the Pomorze rifle regiment, and four battalions of National Defence covering the Vistula.
On 3rd September at four o'clock in the afternoon the order was given to retreat from Bydgoszcz to beyond the Brda and
Vistula. Although the enemy claims the contrary, Bydgoszcz was evacuated without further resistance.
The Poznan Army made no contact with the enemy apart from encounters along the Notec. The Podole cavalry brigade
completed detrainment in the Wrzesnia region.
As enemy armoured forces penetrated deep into its southern flank, and pierced the defence of the 7th infantry division,
the Lodz Army withdrew the Wolyn cavalry brigade and the 30th infantry division beyond the Widawka to the line Szczercow-Lenkawa.
Further east, in the Rozprza area, the defence was organised by the second infantry division of legionaries and the 7th battalion
of heavy motorised cavalry. Their positions were reached during the night of 3rd-4th September. During the day the troops
on the march were attacked by the enemy air force. On 3rd September the 28th infantry division occupied fording positions
on the Warta on the sector Burzenin Rychlowice-Konopnica, and in the evening it moved to positions in the Widawa region.
Nevertheless in the morning, after preparatory artillery fire, the enemy made an attack on the abandoned Polish positions
Wielun-Dzialoszyn, but having ascertained that there were no forces there did not order pursuit. Towards the evening contact
was made with motorised reconnaissance formations at the Sieradz bridgehead on the defensive line of the 10th infantry division.
During the night the 2nd Kaniow rifle regiment of the Wolyn brigade made a successful sortie into the region Glupice-Druzbice
in order to make contact with operations of the reserve army.
Cracow Army. The group of General Sadowski and a cavalry brigade occupied the front Przemsza-Zabkowice-Zawiercie
without any pressure from the enemy. The 22nd infantry division reached Olkusz. In the morning the enemy forced a passage
of the Sola, driving back the 6th infantry division. After the departure of the 21st infantry division from Skoczow, Biala
was occupied. From the Chabowka region the enemy penetrated to Myslenice and made a flanking movement with armoured formations
from south of Mszana. On 3rd September, in the afternoon, an order was issued to all forces of this army to retreat beyond
the Nida and Dunajec. Successive positions were marked out to harass the enemy's advance, but the liaison between the group
north of the Vistula and the group of major units in the south continued to be indirect, and thus two uncoordinated actions
developed. Only sporadic contact with the High Command existed.
In the Carpathian Army on 2nd September it was ascertained that only one large unit of the highland corps advanced
towards Kroscienko, and another towards Stary Sacz. Reinforced by the 156th Infantry Regiment, taken from the 45th reserve
division, the mobilisation of which had been prevented, and by the Zyten regiment of the K.O.P. frontier guards, the Nowy
Sacz brigade turned its flank on the enemy. On 3rd September, in the afternoon, an enemy formation occupied Limanowa.
Polish bombing aircraft made two raids on enemy armoured units in the Radomsko and Gidle-Plawno region. Wireless messages
were picked up that the 4th armoured division had lost 28 per cent. of its equipment. During the first raid the Polish bomber
formation suffered considerable losses when it made a number of low-level attacks.
A squadron of the Cracow Army bombed successfully an enemy armoured column on the Rabka-Chyze road in the Jablonka region.
The bombing attack was carried out as a result of a wireless request of the Polish motorised brigade.
During fighting in the direction of East Prussia the following enemy forces were identified: eight infantry divisions
and two armoured motorised divisions (the S.S. and the 10th armoured division), six infantry divisions and three armoured
motorised divisions (the 3rd light, 2nd motorised, and 3rd armoured) operating from German Pomerania, and four infantry divisions
in the Poznan region. During fighting extending from Krotoszyn to Nowy Sacz, twenty-two infantry divisions and nine armoured
motorised divsions were identified. Altogether eleven reserve infantry divisions, fifty-one infantry divisions, and fourteen
armoured motorised divisions were engaged against Poland (Sketch No. 3).
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The two enemy armies contacted on the line of the Vistula in the Chelmno-Grudziadz region, and thus the Polish forces
were cut off from the sea and Polish Pomerania was occupied. A considerable part of the tasks for which the Poznan, Pomorze,
and Modlin armies had been advanced to the forefield of the main line ceased to exist, and in the changed conditions it was
necessary to assign new tasks. The projected long defence of Silesia was broken. The Cracow Army had thrown in its reserves
and was fighting in retreat. The heaviest losses were suffered by the 6th Infantry Division and the Zywiec brigade. The task
of this army, too, was rendered impossible of fulfilment by its lack of success in fighting; it could be used as a point
d'appui of a planned retreat only on the line Nida-Dunajec.
Three days of fighting revealed the direction of the enemy's main drive and at the same time showed the advantages and
weaknesses of fighting on the forefield. It also revealed the varying depths of the retarding manoeuvre for each army and
the danger of the armies of Lodz and Modlin cutting in on each other.
The High Command met the situation by ordering a retreat to the main positions. This order applied only to the armies
of Modlin, Pomorze, and Poznan, for the Narew Group had nothing but cavalry in the forefield. Certain field fortifications
had been prepared for the northern flank along the Narew and Bug and up to the Vistula, and for the Poznan and Lodz armies
before the outbreak of war; the Pomorze Army however, had partly left its line. The Cracow Army left for a completely unprepared
sector Nida-Dunajec as early as 2nd September.
The Germans proved stronger in all branches of the fighting. The Modlin Army gave way before overwhelming pressure and
was held by the fighting along the line Ciechanow-Makow. The Pomorze Army, although considerably reduced, could however perform
the manoeuvre designed for it. The Poznan Army, in the absence of any pressure on it, remained considerably advanced west.
The Lodz Army was forcibly pushed back and outflanked from the east by armoured motorised formations which reached the Kaminsk
region. The Cracow Army had its flank smashed near Czestochowa and made a forced retreat on the rest of its front. Armoured
forces were attacking in the direction Oswiecim-Cracow, breaking Polish resistance on the mountain tributaries of the Vistula,
which at that time of year were rather shallow. From the other side armoured motorised units were threatening its rear in
the direction Bochnia-Tarnow. Finally the enemy was extending his operations through the Carpathians as far as Nowy Sacz,
and probably even farther east, for fresh forces were reported to have been detrained in Slovakia in the area Przeszow-Humenna.
Taking stock of the three days' fighting we find serious losses in men and increasing difficulties in maintaining railway
traffic. The reserves of the Commander-in-Chief were unfavourably situated. Three divisions and a cavalry brigade (the 19th,
29th, and 13th divisions, and the Wilno cavalry brigade) were successfully concentrated in the main reserves in the region
Tomaszow-Piotrkow-Sulejow. The transports of the 13th infantry division suffered considerably as a result of the bombing.
Individual transports of the 5th infantry division were smashed and stopped throughout the whole supply area (one infantry
regiment at Kutno and the command and battalion at Modlin). The transport of the 12th and 13th infantry divisions to the Kielce
region (Skarzysko and Szydlowiec) had hardly begun. A small section of the 36th reserve division had been transported through
Cracow to Konskie; the rest, stopped owing to the retreat of the Cracow Army, was to go through Deblin and Sandomierz. All
railway stations on the lines to points of concentration were being destroyed. The mobilisation of the 45th reserve division
was disorganised and the mobilisation of other reserve divisions remained incomplete. The transports of the 11th and 24th
infantry divisions were in a similar situation in the region Tarnow-Przemysl. The 11th infantry division was assembling at
Rzeszow and the bulk of the 24th infantry division was in the Tarnow region, both ready for service. The great uncertainty
of the situation in the Vistula bend called for attention. Consequently, in the evening of 3rd September the various commands
received an urgent order of the Chief of General Staff to organise the defence of Warsaw from the south and the defence of
the bridges of the Vistula between Modlin and Sandomierz. The troops in the garrisons and mobilisation centres as well as
the formations of the motorised Warsaw brigade were ordered to be used for this purpose. Preparations had to be made to destroy
The command of the anti-aircraft defences received similar orders to move A.A. batteries in order to strengthen the defence of
the crossings at the most important points. All these measures were of a precautionary nature, but it is interesting to note
that no provision had been made for the command to maintain contact with the armies in their new positions or for the organisation
of the defence lines on the Vistula, Nida and Dunajec. If the 24th infantry division in Tarnow was to be the point d'appui
of the Cracow Army this could happen only at the expense of the Carpathian Army, and though it had only improvised formations
(the Nowy Sacz and Sanok brigades, with a total strength of 12 battalions) there were indications that it would have to go
Important political information was received that the Soviet frontier garrisons were being reinforced and troops moved.
On 3rd September, at eleven o'clock in the morning, Great Britain declared war, and France at five o'clock in the afternoon.
Mussolini's offer of mediation failed. He suggested a suspension of hostilities, the line reached by the German troops
being maintained, and the calling of a peace conference. Obviously, these terms played into the hands of the Reich and were
therefore inacceptable for the Allies.
The communique of the German G.H.Q. of 4th September states that there was no encounter with the enemy on
the western front up to that date. The eastern plan was therefore carried out (Map No. 4).
The northern group fulfilled a part of its task by occupying Pomorze; then it was charged with advancing towards
the river Narew and assisting in the encirclement of the Polish armies within the bend of the Vistula.
The southern group smashed open its way east of Czestochowa. In order to make this secure, it continued the
northward pressure on Sieradz and Piotrkow. It made full use of the speed and power of its armoured units in the direction
of Cracow and Tarnow, in order to arrest the consolidation of the Polish southern wing and to prevent the organisation of
permanent resistance between the Vistula and the Carpathians.
The inner wings of both groups collaborated closely with each other, pushing the southern group in the direction
of Lodz-Warsaw and the large bend of the Vistula.
These tasks were entrusted mainly to the air force and to armoured and motorised troops. The air force destroyed
on 4th September the railway connections between Kutno and Warsaw, Cracow and Lwow, Kielce-Radom-Warsaw and Torun-Niemieckie
Ilowo (Deutsche Eylau). The Inowroclaw station was completely wrecked. In many places trains were derailed and destroyed by
bombs. At the same time the Polish armies and the areas in their immediate rear were also attacked from the air.
The operations of the German land forces were the following:
The 3rd Army opened the battle for Ciechanow and Makow, directing most of its strength (3 infantry
divisions and the armoured and motorised units) towards Makow. There was a concentration of armoured troops in the region
west of Ostrolenka. The raid of Polish cavalry into East Prussia was repulsed. Radzyn and Chelmno near Grudziadz were occupied.
The 4th Army established communications with East Prussia through Starogard and Tczew. Using Danzig
territory for support, it carried out a movement directed northwards of Kartuzy. Attempts at taking Westerplatte were again
unsuccessful. A Polish attack recovered Puck and Orlowo. The destroyer Wicher and the minelayer Gryf were
sunk by dive bombers off Gdynia. In the Tuchola forest and its environs there was fighting against isolated Polish forces
(3 infantry divisions and 1 motorised). Armoured and motorised units crossed the Brda, advancing along the Vistula towards
Bydgoszcz, which they occupied and established contact with the Polish forces near Inowroclaw. A crossing of the Vistula
was prepared under cover of Chelmno, which had been previously taken.
The divisions of the 8th Army were slowly moving eastwards in the province of Poznan. After the occupation
of Wielun they directed their thrust mainly along the Warta, northwards, on Sieradz and Kalisz.
Two motorised divisions of the 10th Army attacked Widawa and Szczercow, while two armoured formations
took Gorzkowice, maintaining the passage across the Pilica near Przedborz. Another crossing of the Pilica was secured near
Koniecpol, and Jendrzejow was reached from Szczekociny. In the district of Olsztyn and Zloty Potok there was fighting against
elements of the 7th Polish infantry division, which had been surrounded.
Pursuing the Polish troops in their withdrawl, the 5th armoured division of the 14th Army took Jaworzno
and Wadowice, crossing the Skawa. A strong thrust was made from Chabowka on Myslenice and Mszana (2nd armoured division and
4th light division), while in the south Limanowa, Kroscienko, and Stary Sacz were taken.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The Polish armies were carrying out the retreat as ordered. In the Narew Group the enemy advanced
towards towards Ostrolenka and news was received about the movements of an armoured formation south of Dylewo and westward
in the district of Przasnysz-Rozan. A rearrangement was accordingly carried out. The line of the Narew (Ossowiec-Wizna-Lomza-Nowogrod)
was held by the forces detailed for that task, while the main strength of the 18th infantry division, together with artillery,
was grouped south of Ostrolenka. The 33rd division (without the 135th Regiment, which was holding Ossowiec) was to reach the
forests south of Ostrolenka (district of Troszyn) by a night march. One infantry regiment of the General Reserve (41st division)
held the bridgehead of Rozan and the remaining forces were grouped on the eastern bank of the Narew (the 1st division of infantry
in the region Pultusk-Wyszkow).
The Modlin Army began its retreat after some unsuccessful encounters. A part of the 8th and 20th
infantry divisions was in the region of Ciechanow and a cavalry brigade in the region of Nasielsk. A part of the 8th infantry
division reached Opinogora, without making contact with the enemy, but the supplies and various other dispersed groups were
withdrawn towards Wyszogrod and Plock, where they organised defence: Wyszogrod was defended by two battalions of the 41st
Infantry Regiment (29th division); Plock was held by the cavalry brigade from Nowogrodek, the patrols of which met small enemy
forces in the environs of Sierpc.
The Pomorze Army was on the right bank of the Vistula. The 16th infantry division reached Golub on
the Drwenca and formed a bridgehead there, the 4th infantry division reached defence positions in the forests north of Torun.
On the left bank of the Vistula from Torun as far as Solec Kujawski the cavalry brigade of Pomorze guarded the possible crossing-places.
Solec was held by the 27th infantry division and the remains of the 9th infantry division which joined it, while the 15th
infantry division organised defence between the Brda and Notec rivers.
The units of the Poznan Army held their advanced positions until the evening and then withdrew
roughly to the line Znin-Gniezno-Wrzesnia-Prosna. There was no enemy pressure.
The Lodz Army carried on local fighting on the sector Sieradz-Widawa. In the Szczercow district the
enemy attacked suddenly at about fifteen o'clock, without artillery preparation, with troops brought up on lorries. The attack
was repulsed, but the enemy armoured formations, after occupying Gorzkowice, pressed strongly towards Rozprza.
The Reserve Army. The northern group, under the command of General Dab-Biernacki, was disposed as
follows: 19th infantry division in the region of Piotrkow, 29th infantry division in the region of Tomaszow-Mazowiecki, the
cavalry brigade from Wilno in the forests near Lenczno, south-east of Piotrkow, while one cavalry regiment was sent in the
direction of Przedborz on the Pilica.
The southern group was in the process of assembling its forces. It had brought together so far: 5 battalions
of the 36th reserve division near Konskie; 2 battalions and 2 batteries of the 12th infantry division in the region of Starzysko,
and 3 battalions of the 3rd infantry division in the region of Szydlowiec. The defence of Kielce and of the detrainment troops
was in the hands of Colonel Glabisz from the G.H.Q., who had at his disposal some detached units of the Radom and Kielce garrisons.
The detrainment area was attacked several times from the air in the course of the day. The terminus stations and some of the
track were destroyed, and in consequence the transport of troops was diverted to the Radom area and south to the Wierzbnik
The Cracow Army in retreat sent its northern group across the line Olkusz-Krzeszowice-Alwernia. The
southern group, dislodged from Skawa, organised the defence of the line Skawina-Gdow-Myslenice. The motorised brigade, the
mountain brigade of Zywiec, and the 12th infantry regiment were engaged with the enemy armoured forces. They were encircled
south of Mszana.
In this situation it was decided to break away from the enemy by crossing the Dunajec, with the support on
the southern flank of the 24th infantry division of the Carpathian Army, which was in the region of Zakliczyn, and
to cover the movement towards Tarnow with the motorised brigade, strengthened by units of the Zywiec brigade, on the line
The right wing of the Carpathian Army, composed of the strengthened Nowy Sacz brigade, was fighting
on towards Nowy Sacz and Stary Sacz. In the afternoon the group was outflanked by the enemy in the gap between the 24th infantry
division and the Nowy Sacz brigade, then withdrawing on the line of the Biala river from Bobowa to Grybow and then over the
mountains to Zmigrod.
Polish bombers attacked enemy armoured units at Ciechanow and north of Radomsko, as well as an infantry column
crossing the River Warta in the Zloczew and Widawa areas.
The day might be described as one of operational expectation for the Polish High Command. The liaison with
army commanders was made difficult by the destruction of telephone and telegraph lines, while all communication with the Cracow
Army was broken.
A review of the situation displays a certain fluidity, which could have been controlled by a command able
to maintain direct contact with the army commanders. The fighting on the Narew and in southern Poland did not conform to the
basic plan, and therefore the expectant attitude with regard to the battle of Lodz and the action of the reserve army did
not justify the concentrating of attention on that sector alone. The Poznan and Pomorze armies carried out their moves in
accordance with the basic plan of development, but did not undertake any special tasks. The southern flank was left to its
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The fighting of 5th September was a continuation of the successes of the German armoured units and air force
which collaborated with the armies attacking Polish positions and groups (Zdunska Wola, Sieradz, Skarzysko, Tarnow, Wrzesnia,
Ostrolenka, Plock, etc.). German bombers continued their destruction of military transports. The German sources claim the
destruction on that day of 15 Polish aeroplanes in combat and of 25 by anti-aircraft artillery. The actual figure was a half
of the claim.
In the 3rd Army an armoured attack broke through the resistance of the Polish forces at Ciechanow.
Fast-moving enemy units reached the Narew from Makow and encountered there the defences of Ostrolenka, Rozan, and then Pultusk.
After the crossing of the Vistula at Chelmno by infantry divisions of the 4th Army, the forces of the 3rd Army were directed
to the centre of fighting on the Narew on the Ostrolenka-Plonsk front. Several Landwehr divisions were grouped in the direction
of Ossowiec-Augustow-Suwalki, covering the moves of armoured and mechanised formations.
The 4th Army crossed the Notec and Brda, establishing contact with the line of defence south of Bydgoszcz.
The second group (three infantry divisions) from Grudziadz and Chelmno was directed towards Torun and the Drweca river in
pursuit of Polish forces. On the sea-coast there was an attack against the first line of the defence of Gdynia-Wejherowo-Sopieszyno-Koleczkowo-Wiczlino.
The 8th Army carried out a concentric attack of three divisions on Sieradz, simultaneously encircling
the defence line from the north. It occupied Sieradz and forced the river Warta. Two infantry divisions were advancing towards
Kalisz from the south and from Krotoszyn in the west. In the province of Poznan the towns of Oborniki, Koscian, and Gostyn
The 10th Army continued fighting on the line Widawa-Szczercow. The resistance was broken by the occupation
of Rozprza. The part of the 7th infantry division surrounded in the region of Olsztyn-Zloty Potok was captured. The 3rd light
division advanced from Koniecpol through Wloszczowa to Lopuszno and the 2nd light division from Sendziszow reached Checiny.
Infantry corps crossed the Sola and Skawa rivers.
The 14th Army carried out reconnaissance in the direction of Trzebinia and then sent the 5th armoured
division to Skawina, which it reached from the west, while the 45th infantry division arrived in the same district from the
south. After fighting on the Mszana-Myslenice line the 19th armoured corps reached Lipnica Murowana, while a part of its 4th
light division crossed the Biala north of Bobowa. A mountain division specially detailed for that purpose was preparing a
thrust from Preszow in the direction of Jaslo.
The first wave of fighting forces was followed by reserve units, military police, and Gestapo, charged with
holding the country and preventing the population from waging guerilla warfare.
The Polish High Command agreed to the proposal of the Narew Group to attack the flank of the enemy
movement, but limited it to the line Wyszkow-Pultusk (1st infantry division, 41st and 33rd reserve divisions). The direction
and time of the attack were to be decided by the commander of the Modlin Army. The cavalry brigades of Podlasie and Suwalki
were ordered to the forest region between Pultusk and Ostrow Mazowiecka. The reconnaissance in the direction of Dylewo and
Kadzidlo, designed to detect the movements of enemy armoured units, did not achieve its object because an inadequate force
The Modlin Army, after heavy rearguard fighting, reached the Bug-Nasielsk line. The enemy exerted
slight pressure on Sonchocin and Plock. This army sustained serious losses and its reorganisation required some time.
The Pomorze Army maintained contact with the enemy only in the direction of Brda and Bydgoszcz.
The Poznan Army reached its basic line of defence, but only its right flank did some fighting, as
it maintained contact with the Pomorze Army.
The Lodz Army was engaged in fighting along the whole front from Sieradz to Rozprza. The defence
was overcome and the defence line lost in spite of the reaction of the reserve and legionary infantry division. The bridgehead
of the Sieradz was captured, and the 10th infantry division which was defending it was heavily defeated. At first retreat
on the line Dutow-Chechlo-Wadlew was ordered, but when the enemy moved towards Piotrkow the direction of retirement was changed
to the line Tuszyn-Pabjanice-Aleksandrow, which was reached on 7th September about midday.
The situation of the Reserve Army was not clear. Most of its forces were ready for attack, but the
orders for an offensive were countermanded several times in the course of the day, so that only some battalions of the 29th
infantry division attacked. They did not achieve their object and the Wilno cavalry brigade being encircled was compelled
to withdraw. The enemy surprised the 19th infantry division's flank and attacked the reserve 13th infantry division before
it was ready. Some units were pushed on to the Pilica and required some time for reorganisation.
An enemy advance on Jezow and Tomaszow was reported. In the southern group an active movement took place in
the direction of Kielce from Sendziszow and Wloszczowa.
There was no liaison with the Cracow and Carpathian armies. The High Command believed the Cracow Army to be
in action in front of the Nida and the Dunajec. Actually the northern group of General Sadowski in the Cracow Army was marching
on Cracow and had crossed the line Krzeszowice-Ojcow-Olkusz. The southern group was moving to the line Skawina-Gdow-Myslenice-Mszana,
from which the motorised brigade moved in the evening to Wisnicz. The Carpathian Army fought armoured units south of Tarnow
(24th infantry division) and in the direction of Gorlice, where the enemy had crossed the river Biala at Bobowa.
The Polish air force bombed enemy armoured columns on the road Ciechanow-Rozan and west of Ciechanow.
According to accounts of officers who participated in the campaign, the High Command permitted the Lodz Army
to withdraw gradually to the Vistula through Mszczonow and south of Warsaw. The question of the retreat from Kalisz of the
Poznan Army, requested by the command of the Lodz Army in view of the crossing of the Warta by the enemy remains somewhat
The commander of the Poznan Army also suggested an attack on the flank of the enemy advancing on Lodz. This
proposal was supported in a dispatch brought by air. In view of the absence of pressure from the west, it was suggested to
leave the one cavalry brigade and the 26th infantry division in position and carry out an attack from the Kolo bridgehead
along the eastern or western bank of the Warta in the direction of Kalisz or Ozorkow with three infantry divisions and one
cavalry brigade. The southern group, commanded by General Knoll, and composed of the 25th and 17th infantry divisions, was
situated in the region of Uniejow and south of Kolo. After a telephone and telegraphic conversation, the High Command
turned down the suggestion.
In the course of the day there was a revision of views and three alternatives were discussed: (a)
an attack by the 25th infantry division and one cavalry brigade, (b) by the 25th infantry division and the whole
cavalry force, (c) by the 25th, 17th, and 14th infantry divisions and the whole cavalry force. At 4:45 P.M. on 5th
September an order was issued announcing action to assist the Lodz Army. The general instructions ordered the grouping of
the 25th infantry division on the western bank of the Warta in the direction of Dobra and, farther west, of the 17th infantry
division in the direction Uniejow-Wartkowice, and behind it of the 14th infantry division. The Poznan cavalry brigade was
to act from the region of Turek and the cavalry brigade of Podole was to cover the western flank from Skulsk. In that case
the 26th infantry division would pass to the Pomorze Army. This order was subsequently cancelled by telephone, in spite
of the difficulties occasioned to units which were already in the process of carrying it out.
A staff officer was sent to the group of General Skwarzynski (Wolanow, west of Radom) in order to investigate
the situation on the spot and deliver instructions, which ordered: (a) close collaboration with the reserve army
in the region of Piotrkow, (b) a careful watch on the passages through the Swietokrzyski mountains (Lysa Gora) and
the road to Opatow, (c) in case of retreat to withdraw in the direction of Solec and hold the Vistula bridges at
Annopol, Jozefow, and Solec, (d) keep the transport units on the eastern bank of the Vistula, (e) direct
the retreating units of the 7th infantry division towards Zwolen and Pulawy.
As there was a distinct gap in the middle of the bend of the Vistula, a Lublin Army was formed in Lublin under
the orders of General Piskor. It had as nucleus the 39th reserve division, the Warsaw motorised brigade in the course of organisation,
and the units brought up by transport of the garrisons of the middle Vistula.
There was some ground for expecting that the Lodz and reserve armies might offer resistance by fighting successively
on the lines of Lodz, Tomaszow, and Pilica; but the situation of the advanced Poznan and Pomorze Armies demanded a more radical
solution, in view of the moderate pressure in the west and a strong one in the direction Sieradz-Piotrkow.
In order to control the situation west of Modlin, General Przewlocki took over command in the region of Wyszogrod,
as group commander within the Modlin Army. At the same time orders were given to evacuate the administrative department of
G.H.Q. and the military authorities. This was carried out during the night of 5th September.
This last decision, in connection with the consent to the withdrawl of the Lodz Army behind the Vistula, the
cancelling of the order to the Poznan Army and the instructions for General Skwarzynski's group, seemed to indicate that a
general withdrawl behind the Vistula was decided upon. In this case it is difficult to understand why there was no definite
decision as to the Poznan and Pomorze Armies, and why the situation in south-western Poland was overlooked. The only active
step planned was the thrust of the improvised group of General Kowalski, the commander of the 1st legionaries infantry
division, along the axis Wyszkow-Pultusk.
On that day the British air force for the first time bombed German territory (Wilhelmshaven, Cuxhaven).
From the eastern part of the country came news about the calling-up of four classes of recruits and a further
strengthening of frontier garrisons.
Fifty-two German large formations were identified along the Polish front.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
On 6th September the situation became quite clear on the whole front.
The German 3rd Army attacked Rozan with its armoured units, seized the bridgehead and crossed the river. The
flanking movement from Plonsk caused a further withdrawl of Polish forces behind the river Bug. Advanced guards were posted
in the direction Modlin-Vistula, in order to cover the bringing in of the divisions from the right flank of the front to the
axis of the main action. A large German armoured formation (the 10th and 3rd armoured divisions) moved to the region of Prostki,
north of Grajewo.
The German 4th Army pushed its forward elements as far as Drwenca in the district of Brodnica. It brought fighting
in the Tuchola forest to an end. German sources report the capture of 25,000 prisoners and 125 guns. The crossing of the Vistula
was continued, while contact with the Polish forces was maintained along the rest of the front.
The German 8th Army advanced most of its forces towards Lodz. The leading units of its north wing crossed the
road Lask-Uniejow; in the province of Poznan and on the eastern wing the regular occupation of the country was proceeding.
The German 10th Army took Tomaszow in its northward movement. It then moved to Rawa Mazowiecka and Jezow. The
southern armoured group took Kielce, advancing from Cechiny, and in the north developed a movement in the direction of Konskie
and in the south another for the purpose of encircling the Swietokrzyski mountains.
The German 14th Army secured the whole of the Polish industrial region of Silesia and took Cracow without fighting,
as well as Nowy Sacz, and advanced towards Wisloka, fighting at Gorlice. There was also fighting south of Tarnow, where the
German 5th armoured division was sent after occupying Skawina through Niepolomice.
Railway lines and stations, army positions and establishments, as well as civilians, evacuated from the fighting zone,
were bombed by the German air force.
The eastern railway station in Warsaw was set on fire and the bridges on the Vistula south of Warsaw were damaged. The
railway line Lwow-Crakow was severely damaged.
On the Polish side the events of the day brought about a situation which determined the decision of the Commander-in-Chief.
In the Narew Group, on the Ossowiec sector, there was an encounter between the motorised enemy patrols and a
battalion from the fortress garrison. The enemy withdrew from Grajewo. In the morning the enemy armoured units attacked Rozan,
took the bridgehead, and crossed the river, where they encountered most of the 41st reserve division. Instead of an offensive
along the axis Wyszkow-Pultusk, an evening attack was prepared by the 33rd reserve division, assisted by the 77th infantry
regiment, one group of heavy artillery and one group of light artillery from the 18th infantry division. There was fighting
at Pultusk. Both the cavalry brigades were moving. The Podlasie brigade reached the region of Sniadowo, while the Suwalki
brigade went to the
region of Tykocin, leaving on the Biebrza, from Sztabin to Augustow, the 3rd infantry regiment of the Frontier Defence
The Modlin Army, in view of the encirclement of Plonsk and the capture of Ciechanow, withdrew its remaining
units to the line of the Vistula and Bug and reorganised the 8th and 20th infantry divisions. On the flank, from Serock to
Pultusk, the Narew was defended by the group of General Kowalski, in which were to be incorporated the 1st infantry division,
the 41st and 33rd reserve divisions, and the Mazowsze cavalry brigade. The High Command did not define strictly the distribution
of the reserve divisions between the Modlin Army and the Narew Group, and some confusion in the issue of orders was the consequence.
The Pomorze Army was disposed on both sides of the Vistula north of Ciechocinek, covered from Bydgoszcz by the
15th and 27th infantry divisions and the Pomorze cavalry brigade.
The Poznan Army, with the 26th infantry division, repulsed the enemy's attempt to move from Bydgoszcz. Its remaining
units were in the course of withdrawing to the line of Notec, Slupca, Konin, Turek, Uniejow, without contact with the enemy,
covered from the west by cavalry.
The headquarters of the Lodz Army in Juljanow were bombed by enemy aircraft. The army carried out a retreat
to the line Tuszyn-Rzgow-Pabjanice-Konstantynow, under pressure on both flanks from armoured units, with the result that the
2nd infantry division did not take up its position but entered Strykow. The Staff of the army was again attacked from
the air during its transit to a new headquarters and it reached Grojec in the evening, but lost contact with some units.
The Reserve Army withdrew to the southern bank of Pilica and held the river crossings with the Wilno cavalry
brigade and battalions of the 19th infantry division. The remaining forces were in the course of reorganisation. The southern
group of General Skwarczynski established contact with the enemy on the line of the Kamienna river, to which the forces of
Colonel Glabisz had withdrawn after the fall of Kielce. The strength of the army was inadequate (from Konskie to Skarzysko,
through Odrowonz, there were three groups corresponding to divisions, formed of 11 battalions and 3 batteries in all) so that
it was unable to make a drive towards Opatow, along the southern slope of the Swietokrzyski mountains. The troops unloaded
from trains in the region of Radom and Wierzbnik were concentrated in the region of Ilza, in the direction forseen for eventual
It is notable that there was a clear gap between the Pilica and Tuszyn, permitting the movement of armoured and motorised
units along the shortest way to Warsaw. In the night of 6th September the army command ordered the withdrawl of the group
from Pilica to Maciejowice and of the southern group to Pulawy and Deblin, that is farther north than the High Command had
The Cracow Army. The northern group of General Sadowski reached the region of Skalbmierz-Proszowice-Brzesko
Nowe. The 22nd infantry division fought a battle with the enemy east of Miechow. The liaison with the Cracow cavalry brigade
was broken. The southern group of General Spiechowicz (the 6th infantry division was going to Klaj, while the 21st infantry
division and the Zywiec brigade were directed to Bochnia) was attacked on the march near Bochnia by the 7th Bavarian infantry
division, brought up by motorised transport. The attack was repulsed, but after the departure of the motorised brigade from
the district of Wisnicz a further retreat towards the forests west of the Dunajec, to the region of Borzecin, Radlow, and
Zabno, was ordered in the evening. The motorised brigade was to cross the Dunajec at Bobrowniki and take up a second-line
position in the region of Radomysl Wielki. It was known that the 24th infantry division of the Carpathian Army was in the
The reverses suffered in fighting since 4th September by the Carpathian Army resulted in its suffering a break-through.
Enemy armoured units penetrated the defence of the Nowy Sacz brigade at Gorlice and attacked the flank of the 24th infantry
division after crossing the river Biala at Bobowa. Both those formations suffered heavy losses, especially the 24th infantry
division during its retreat. The front was withdrawn to the line of the Wislok, where the defence was grouped in the region
of Brzostek (the 11th infantry division, after detraining in the region of Rzeszow 6 battalions and 2 artillery groups). The
24th infantry division was directed to the region of Pilzno, while the Nowy Sacz brigade, reinforced by a regiment of the
Frontier Defence Corps of the Sanok brigade, retreated to the region of Jaslo.
Between the Dunajec and the Wisloka was a gap towards which were aiming two enemy formations (2nd armoured and 4th light
Polish aircraft bombed armoured columns east of Rozan and a park of tanks in the Piotrkow region on the way to Radomsko.
Reconnaissance, with some aerial combats, was carried out along the Vistula as far as Grudziadz.
In the evening the High Command ordered the withdrawl of the Poznan and Pomorze Armies behind the Vistula, adding that
the 26th infantry division was transferred to the Pomorze Army. It was decided to move G.H.Q to Brzesc. The Chief of the General
Staff, with some of his officers, remained in Warsaw in order to maintain contact with the front-line formations until the
headquarters should be established in its new station. It is reported by members of the staff that the Lodz Army also received
orders to retreat on 5th September and was directed to Mszczonow and Gora Kalwarja. The Reserve Army was charged on 6th September
with defending the Vistula from the Pilica to Annopol; the Carpathian Army was ordered to take command of the southern group
of the Cracow Army and to hold the front between the Dunajec and the Carpathians. The Modlin Army was organising the defence
of the Vistula and Bug. The Narew Group, on the other hand, was ordered to recover Rozan by counter-attack and to continue
the defence of the Narew. Convesations on those lines had alreay taken place in the afternoon of 6th September. The attack
of the 41st and 33rd reserve divisions was co-ordinated by General Piekarski. There was fighting near Rozan and at the Chelsty
ford. The enemy, however, took the bridgehead near Pultusk. In the evening Colonel Czerwinski brought to General Piekarski
an order for withdrawl for the two divisions, which were moved behind the Bug: the 41st reserve division by road to the bridge
near Wyszkow and the 33rd reserve division to Brok.
The order was confirmed by a Hughes message, which added that commanders of the divisions were to agree between themselves
on the respective routes of march. At night the Commander-in-Chief had a telephone conversation with the commander of the
Narew Group, in which he again requested him to hold the Narew and eliminate the enemy on the eastern bank, but it appeared
that the two divisions had already carried out the previous order and were marching towards the Wyszkow bridge, as the bridges
of Malkinia and Brok had been destroyed by enemy bombing.
Thus the Narew Group was broken into two parts: the defence of the Narew, composed of the 18th infantry division and
the two cavalry brigades, was suspended between the Bug and the Narew, while a new front was formed behind the Bug.
The decision of the High Command concerning the retreat to the other side of the Vistula and the transfer of G.H.Q deserves
attention. It was known in Warsaw that the retreating Cracow Army had fought a rear-guard action near Tarnow. The front of
the Lodz and Reserve Armies was practically broken. The numerical superiority of the enemy armoured formations near Tomaszow
was obvious. Between Tomaszow and the Vistula some enemy motorised units were on the move, and in view of the fine autumn
weather their speed was at least four times greater than that of any other units. They would not encounter along that line
any substantial resistance from either the Tomaszow or Radom groups of the Reserve Army, which was in retreat. The Pomorze
and Poznan Armies were still about 150 kilometres from their Vistula crossings, while the enemy - victorious at Piotrkow and
Tomaszow Mazowiecki - was within 65 to 70 km. of the river.
On the Lodz axis the enemy was held by forces which had already been through six days of heavy fighting and which in
consequence could do no more than delay his progress. The situation of the Reserve Army was uncertain. About five days were
needed for the Pomorze and Poznan Armies to reach their appointed crossings on the Vistula, while the enemy was within one
or two days' motorised march from them. There was nothing to show that the enemy would advance east of the Vistula, which
is a serious obstacle, although no stronger forces than those which were detailed to the Lublin Army could be found to defend
it. The enemy must have sensed that he was on the flank of the defence and that there was towards the east a gap which he
hoped to maintain open by continuing effective action against railway lines and transport. It was therefore likely that he
might turn northwards and reach the Vistula before the Polish armies could.
I do not propose to suggest any alternative solutions which might have constituted an attempt at seizing the initiative,
but there is no doubt that the order for such a retreat was a natural outcome of the reverses suffered in the first battles,
without much regard for the for the full consequences of such a decision. The situation called for a careful coordination
of actions and a disposition of attacks and movements of troops calculated to make fast motorised units, isolated from
infantry support, pay a heavy price for their raids. The whole machinery of command was centred on Warsaw. The destruction
of signal lines by the enemy air force and the rapid change of position of units made liaison with some of them very difficult.
The transfer of G.H.Q to a new place was bound to increase those difficulties. It would appear that the command should have
On 7th September the German High Command exploited the results obtained by its armoured formations, especially
within the bend of the Vistula and on the two flanks of its armies.
The German 3rd Army drove out the advanced forces of the garrison of Ossowiec and moved a group of
armoured divisions to the line Nowogrod-Lomza. The attack on Ostrolenka was continued. An East Prussian cavalry brigade, supported
by tanks, attacked Ostrow Mazowiecka through Rozan. After a day's fighting it took the bridgehead of Pultusk and the ford
of Chelsty, which enabled an armoured-motorised division (S.S.) to carry out pursuit in the direction of Wyszkow and Bug.
Reconnaissance was carried out in the Bug-Narew area, with a covering from the side of Modlin by the Plonsk region. Infantry
divisions from the right wing from Grudziadz arrived at the height of Ciechanow-Golymin and from Chorzele to Krasnosielce.
The eastern boundary was constituted by Niemieckie Ilowo-Modlin.
The German 4th Army moved a group of three infantry divisions (the 32nd, 31st, and 38th reserve divisions)
southwards from Grudziadz and Chelmno. Advanced guards crossed the Drwenca in the direction of Lipno and Rypin. In the region
of Bydgoszcz the army engaged Polish forces near Inowroclaw and regrouped the units fighting in the Tuchola forest. The western
boundary was moved from Naklo along the Notec as far as Inowroclaw and Sempolno Kujawskie.
The German 8th Army passed Lodz on the west and the east, two infantry divisions moving on each side
in the general direction of Leczyca and Lowicz. A second thrust was made towards Lodz. In western Poland infantry divisions
were directed to Inowroclaw, Gniezno, Pleszew, and Kalisz, aiming at co-operation with the neighbouring army in the north.
The boundary of the army ran from Namyslow to Lodz and Lowicz.
The German 10th Army concentrated armoured and motorised formations in the region of Piotrkow. Then
one armoured formation, acting on the flank, carried out an encircling movement in the direction of Tuszyn and rolled up the
Polish flank in front of the 8th Army. Another covered the direction of Pilica.
Two armoured divisions moved into the open gap in the direction of Warsaw and Rawa Mazowiecka. The southern
group of two motorised divisions pushed aside the Polish cavalry and, after occupying Kielce, carried out a reconnaissance
in the direction of Kamienna and Konskie. That group was followed by infantry in a strength of about 7 divisions. The southern
boundary of the army ran from Gliwice to Jedrzejow and Sandomierz, including that town.
The German 14th Army. An armoured division attacked from Niepolomice towards Tarnow and Zabno. South-west
of Tarnow the 4th light division smashed a retreating column of Polish infantry after crossing the Dunajec and then reached
Wisloka near Debica. The 2nd armoured division made use of its success on the southern flank and attacked Jaslo. It took place
after severe fighting, which was followed by the withdrawl of the Polish forces. It crossed the Wislok. Infantry divisions
followed the armoured formations, without making contact with the Polish defence forces. Another echelon of them took possession
of the conquered towns. Thus most of the attacking units were concentrated along the axis Cracow-Tarnow. An attack on Krosno
was made from Slovakia.
The German air force bombed the whole area immediately in front of its armies, especially in the bend of the
Vistula. It also attacked railway stations and bridges on the Vistula and the Bug. The damage was so severe that few trains
arrived at their destination. The huge waves of refugees and columns of troops were equally bombed and machine-gunned.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The Polish High Command had an opportunity during its journey to the new headquarters after midnight of 7th
September to witness the extent of the damage and the disappearance of discipline in rear of the armies. The headquarters
of Brzesc were largely improvised as far as signal service and organisation were concerned. The Chieff of Staff, who had remained
in Warsaw, was in communication with the Poznan Amry on the subject of the previously abandoned offensive plan, but communication
with the Lodz and Reserve Armies was broken. The command of the Modlin Army moved to new headquarters. Contact had been established,
however, with the Cracow Army and by a devious route through Lwow with the Carpathian Army. There were no reports about the
disposition of forces. The haste with which some orders were written and the improvised nature of the organisation of the
counter-action resulted in the exhaustion of all reserves. Only the 35th reserve division was left and it was being transported
to the region Czeremcha-Bialystok, while the 38th and 39th reserve divisions were already allocated. The technical unpreparedness
on the rivers Nida and Dunajec seriously compromised the situation in the south.
According to the reports of participants in the campaign, the activity of the Polish forces consisted of a
series of isolated battles designed to cover retreat. Generally speaking, the armies moved along the routes designated by
plan for passing to the second line of defence, but several important incidents remained unknown to the High Command in Warsaw,
while only scraps of information reached Brzesc.
In the Carpathian Army the line of defence of the Wislok was broken during the day and the enemy
took Debica. The 24th infantry division (39th and 17th infantry regiments), which had only a part of its artillery, was attacked
from the north by armoured formations and pushed to the rear of the 11th infantry division. The Nowy Sacz brigade in the region
of Jaslo and the Sanok brigade in the region of Zmigrod repulsed lighter enemy attacks. The motorised brigade was hastily
directed from Radomysl Wielki to Glogow near Rzeszow; in the evening all the troops in the sector were ordered to retreat
The headquarters of the Carpathian Army lost contact with the group of General Spiechowicz, which had been
incrporated in this army since 7th September midnight. Thus General Spiechowicz was deprived of guidance and information.
It is apparent from the detailed orders which were issued that the army commander intended to organise resistance on Wistok,
the affluent of the San, from Rzeszow through Krosno and Dukla.
The headquarters of the Cracow Army moved from Mendrzychow to Korczyn in consequence of the commander
of the Carpathian Army taking over the command south of the Vistula. The group of General Sadowski reached Opatowiec and Wislica,
and the 22nd infantry division arrived at Busko. The cavalry brigade reported to Korczyn very heavy losses in the fighting
in the direction of Miechow and Kielce. There was no liaison with the neighbouring army in the Kielce region; communication
with the group of General Spiechowicz south of the Vistula was also broken. In the west the advanced guards of two enemy corps
were observed in the direction of Cracow and Miechow. In the evening there was fighting with enemy infantry at Wislica.
The group of General Spiechowicz, left in the district Zabno-Borzecin-Radlow, between two army commands, did
not carry out sufficient reconnaissance and measures of security. It learned indirectly, through the command of the motorised
brigade, of the crossing of the Dunajec and the capture of Tarnow by the enemy, as well as of the ordering of the motorised
brigade to the Rzeszow district.
An immediate retreat beyond Dunajec was ordered, but the enemy attacked from the south while it was being
carried out and also bombed the bridges. There was also an enemy parachute landing. The forces of the group were cut into
two parts and lost some of their artillery. The commander of the group took at first a pessimistic view of the fighting, but
he eventually assembled his divisions and took them beyond the San to the region of Nisko through Radomysl, Mielec, and Kolbuszowa.
He arrived in the region of Nisko and Rudnik on 10th September, establishing contact with the headquarters of the Carpathian
Army in Przemysl.
The Reserve Army. In spite of the destruction of railways, some troop-trains reached the group of
General Skwarczynski on foot. The general strength of the army on 7th September was the following: the 36th reserve division
in the region of Konskie - 5 battalions, the cavalry of the division and one battery of the 7th infantry division; the 3rd
infantry division in the region of Ordowonz - 6 battalions and two batteries; the 12th infantry division in the Skarzysko
district - 7 battalions, 4 batteries and one heavy artillery group. The force of Colonel Glabisz joined the southern flank
of the defence line. In the course of the day no communication was established either by wireless or by wire with the army
command in Spala or G.H.Q., in spite of repeated efforts. The reports received from advanced posts stated that a motorised
unit (one tank company and one infantry battalion) moved from Przedborze to Ruda Maleniecka, and then attacked the 36th reserve
division on 7th September, without much success. An attack was made in the direction Kielce-Skarzysko, uncovering the 2nd
and 3rd light divisions. The enemy took Kielce and began to penetrate between the 36th reserve division and the 3rd infantry
division. According to the report of an officer from the Cracow cavalry brigade, who joined the group, after he had been detached
from his brigade, the enemy was turning the Swietokrzyski mountains by the south. In the morning the news of the retreat beyond
the Vistula of the Tomaszow force was brought to headquarters, while at 4 P.M. the Chief of Staff of the Reserve Army arrived
with a report about reverses in the north, bringing to the group orders of withdrawl to the other side of the Vistula. The
order requested the continuation of the covering of the flank of the Reserve Army, which was crossing the river at Maciejowice.
This meant that the axis of movement had to be moved northwards in the direction of Solec-Pulawy. The bridge of Annopol was
said to have been destroyed by enemy aircraft. Behind the Vistula the group was to join the Lublin Army. General Skwarczynski
decided to assemble his divisions and to reach by night marches the region of Ilza in the first stage, and that of Zwolen
in the second, intending later to cross the Vistula. At 7 P.M. the withdrawl was carried out without waiting for the 36th
infantry division and without enemy pursuit.
In the northern group of the Reserve Army there had been no time for ordering the sections of three divisions,
some of which were confused. Several units did not know of the order nor the direction of the retreat. They crossed the Pilica,
passing to the southern region.
The retreat was mostly carried out by regiments to the forests in the Ryczywol, Brzoza, and Maciejowice area.
Some units attempted to get to Warsaw. The locality for the crossing was reached on 8th September, but the troops were in
a state of disorder. The Wilno cavalry brigade, marching through Przysucha, reached the area selected for covering the crossing,
but it was attacked by armoured forces from Radom and had to leave its position. It suffered heavy losses during a dyalight
crossing under enemy aircraft attacks. The enemy air force then destroyed the bridge, while the armoured forces which approached
from the north dispersed the units assembled there. Some of them lost many men taken prisoners by the enemy.
The action between 7th and 9th September was a typical example of an uncommanded retreat, in which the desire
for reaching the left bank of the Vistula took precedence over the duty of regulating the movements of troops and covering
the locality of the crossing.
The Lodz Army, carrying out its orders, occupied about midday the positions Tuszyn-Rzgow-Pabjanice.
The enemy outflanked the 2nd infantry division from the north and attacked with armoured forces from Piotrkow, pushing aside
the Wolyn cavalry brigade. A counter-attack of the reserve of the 30th infantry division repulsed him to Bendkow. As communication
with the army headquarters was broken, General Thomme took over the general direction and ordered at 10 P.M. a retreat to
Brzeziny, Cyrusowa Wola, and Strykow, while the Wolyn cavalry brigade was directed through Andrespol to the forests west of
Brzeziny. There was no liaison with the High Command in the course of the day, and it was intended to continue the retreat
in the direction of Mszczonow-Gora Kalwarja.
In the Poznan Army the bulk of the force was situated at the Turek-Kolo-Skulsk bridgehead, with the
cavalry advanced westwards. In the north the 26th infantry division was holding the lakes in close collaboration with the
Pomorze Army, and was moving towards Inowroclaw without any serious encounters with the enemy. They marched by night, using
side roads, for the main thoroughfares were jammed by the mass of refugees.
The Pomorze Army was in constant contact with the enemy in the Bydgoszcz direction, and
it was retreating in the region of Wloclawek along both banks of the Vistula. The area of Wloclawek was defended by the 19th
infantry regiment with an artillery group of the 5th infantry division. The High Command placed General Kutrzeba at the head
of both those armies, while the 26th infantry division was transferred to the Pomorze Army.
General Kutrzeba suggested again a southward attack. The selection of the direction of attack was discussed
in view of the uncertain situation of the Lodz Army forces.
In the Modlin Army the cavalry brigade of Nowogrodek was moved to the southern bank of the Vistula
to the region Gombin-Gostyn, while one regiment was sent to cover Wyszogrod. The group of General Zulauf was formed for the
defence of Modlin and the Bug. It was composed of the 8th and 20th infantry divisions, and battalions of National Defence.
The group of General Kowalski and the Mazowsze cavalry brigade took up positions on the Bug, while the 1st infantry division
with the 41st and 33rd reserve divisions retreated during the night from the Pultusk-Rozan line to Wyszkow and farther east
The Narew Group could not carry out the order of the High Command to cover the direction of Ostrow
Mazowiecki with the 41st infantry and 33rd reserve divisions, since they had left for the other side of the Bug. That is why
the Podlasie and Suwalki cavalry brigades were directed towards Ostrow and reconnoitred in the direction of Rozan via Czerwin
and Wisniewo. On the line Ostrolenka-Nowogrod-Lomza there was fighting against the enemy. The bulk of the forces of the 18th
infantry division bent its wing in the region south of Ostrolenka.
The Lublin Army, formed on 5th September, was organising the defence of the Vistula and assembled
the following forces: (a) The south, from Warsaw to the Pilica, was held by four odd battalions of the 44th reserve
and 10th infantry divisions. (b) The group of the cavalry reserve centre in Garwolin and a part of the Kresy cavalry
brigade from Pilica to Maciejowice - about 10 squadrons. (c) A part of the transports of the 3rd infantry division
- the Demblin and Pulawy section, reinforced by a regiment of riflemen from the Warsaw motorised brigade. (d) The
section Kazimierz-Solec, the Warsaw motorised brigade, and the 8th uhlan regiment. (e) The section Annopol-Zawichost
- 2 infantry battalions and 2 companies of Major Majewski. (f) The section Sandomierz-Baranow - the group of Lieut.-Colonel
Sikorski (94th and 164th infantry regiments and a battalion of the 15th infantry division, 1 battery of the 12th infantry
Only the regions of Deblin, Pulawy, and Sandomierz had anti-aircraft defences. The 39th reserve division was
kept in readiness behind Demblin. Beyond the line Demblin-Krasnik there was an area for the assembling of divisions which
had effected the crossing in parts.
The Polish air force bombed the enemy on the road Lodz-Lenczyca and in the region of Rozan on the road Rozan-Ostrolenka.
A reconnaissance between the Narew and the Vistula provided detailed information about the disposition of enemy forces.
On the eastern front there were 55 German infantry divisions, some of which were in the second line and were
destined for the occupation of the country; 16 armoured and motorised divisions had taken part in the fighting.
The German armoured and motorised divisions continued on 8th September their movements and fighting in the appointed
directions. Infantry divisions were brought up by motorised transport to hold territory.
In the 3rd Army an armoured group reached Lomza and carried out reconnaissance along the Narew. After passing
Rozan and Pultusk the columns developed further in the directions of Ostrow and Wyszkow. They fought against the Polish patrols
of d. S.S. and a cavalry brigade which came to Ostrowia Mazowiecka. Troops and the bridges on the Bug were bombed by the enemy.
The 4th Army moved its forces along both banks of the Vistula in the trail of the retreating Polish divisions.
The 8th Army in Western Poland occupied Gniezno and Kozmin. It continued the movement in the directions Lenczyca-Lowicz.
On its flank a motorised division was in constant contact with the Polish flank and pushed the Polish cavalry northwards.
The 10th Army, marching on Warsaw, took Mszczonow with an armoured group and at 5:15 P.M. reached the outskirts
of Warsaw with its motorised advance guards. Another group crossed the railway line Konskie-Opoczno and marched towards Radom
from Kielce, reaching and occupying it in the evening. A light division moving south of the Swietokrzyski mountains reached
The 14th Army moved one of its armoured groups along the road to Rzeszow, reconnoitring on a wide front ahead
of its advance, but encountered resistance in the region of Blazowa. Near the Carpathians an armoured-division thrust at Krosno
broke down the defence of the Wislok. An infantry column advancing from Slovakia displaced the Polish forces from the Dukla
The routes of withdrawl of the Polish army and the bridges on the Vistula were the main objects of German air raids.
The air force collaborated closely with the armoured units, bombing immediately ahead of their movement and enemy troops.
On the Polish side, in view of the changed disposition of troops and the difficulties encountered in the use of telephone
and wireless, the liaison between High Command and the armies in the northern part of the front was assured by officers using
cars or aeroplanes. There was a shortage of wireless transmitters with sufficient range. The communication with the Reserve
and Cracow Armies was broken. The reports of the Carpathian Army were coming by a roundabout route and were frequently delayed.
The Polish High Command issued on 8th September an order outlining the new tasks of the armies and regulating questions
of command resulting from the retreat and the situation within the bend of the Vistula. The method of collaboration between
the armies was also decided upon. It was necessary to take into account the possibility of some divisions reaching the other
side of the Vistula in a dispersed and incomplete state. The morale of the Polish soldier is liable to be adversely affected
by retreat, while he is always willing to attack.
The contents of the order were the following:
(1) The Narew Group is to defend the Narew and the direction of Ostrow Mazowiecka,
as far as Malkinia. It is composed of the units which already belonged to it and those of Suwalki, Ossowiec, and Grodno, as
well as the 35th reserve division in the region Bialystok-Czeremcha. The indicated axis of cover ran through Zambrow, Wyslokie,
Mazowieckie, Bielsk, and Brzesc, while the order enjoined full use to be made of the forests of Bialystok and Bialowieza.
(2) General Przedzymirski was charged with holding the Bug from Brok to Serock (33rd
and 41st reserve divisions, the Mazowsze cavalry brigade, and the 1st infantry division). The axis of the army: Kaluszyn-Siedlce.
(3) General Rommel, who arrived with a part of his staff at Warsaw from Grojec, is
to organise the defence of the Vistula from Bug-Narew to the Pilica (20th and 8th infantry divisions. The National Defence
on the Bug, parts of the 5th infantry and 44th reserve divisions in Modlin and the forces assembled in the region of Otwock,
including the 10th infantry division, the Kresy cavalry brigade, and the group of General Thomme in the region of Skierniewice,
which is to be held as long as possible).
(4) The task of the Lublin Army remained unchanged and consisted of the defence of
the Vistula from the Pilica to Annopol with the same forces and those which have so far crossed the river.
(5) The Armies of Southern Poland had to defend the Vistula from Annopol to the Dunajec.
General Fabrycy, with the 11th and 24th infantry divisions and the 38th reserve division, as well as the mountain brigades
and General Spiechowicz's group, remained south of the Vistula, while the northern group of General Szyling crossed the Vistula.
(6) The Pomorze and Poznan Armies, commanded by General Kutrzeba, had to attack Lodz
and Radom in order to break through to the other side of the Vistula.
The above brief outline of the order, known only from personal records, indicates that High Command was already contemplating
the continuation of defence from south-eastern Poland, in accordance with the basic plan of the campaign. It also shows how
inadequate was the information possessed by G.H.Q. about the situation in Malopolska (southern Poland).
At 10:00 P.M. an officer brought by aeroplane General Kutrzeba's own plan of attack, which was approved. After midnight
the Chief of Staff and his officers, who had been in Warsaw until that time, arrived at Brzesc.
In the meantime events on the sectors of the fighting armies determined most of the points included in the order.
The Narew Group detected by land and aerial reconnaissance an enemy advance on Ostrow Mazowiecka and ordered
the Podlasie brigade to attack in that direction. Most of the forces of the 18th infantry division moved south of Lomza, continuing
to hold the Narew on the remaining sector. In accordance with the order of the High Command, preliminary instructions for
a night withdrawl were issued and it was planned to concentrate the 18th infantry division in the region of Czerwony Bor,
and the two cavalry brigades in the south, for the purpose of holding the direction Zambrow-Wyszkow. There was some uneasiness
on account of the order to evacuate Ossowiec by sending one regiment of its garrison to Bialystok, leaving only the fortress
The Army of General Przedzymirski (Modlin). The reserve divisions were on the left bank of the Bug. The Wyszkow
area was held by the 41st reserve division and that of Lochow by the 33rd reserve division. They ordered their rear and prepared
the defence of the river, guarded from Liwiec to Brok by insurance units dispatched there. The 33rd reserve division could
not establish contact with the cavalry brigades, which were supposed to be stationed farther east. The 1st infantry division
was attacked by enemy in the evening west of Liwiec in the Wyszkow region. The attack was repulsed. The remaining sector had
no contact with the enemy.
The Army of General Rommel detected only patrols on the sector of the Bug reaching as far as Modlin. Warsaw
was being prepared for the defence. General Czuma, appointed military govenor of Warsaw, issued his first order of the day.
An attempted raid of armoured forces on the suburb of Okencie was easily disposed of, with the enthusiastic help of the population.
The Army of General Kutrzeba (Poznan and Pomorze) had its Pomorze forces in the region of Wloclawek (the group
of General Boltuc: the 4th and 16th infantry divisions); in the north it was withdrawing southwards from the Torun forests
and Radziejow, with only a slight contact with the enemy (the 27th infantry division, the cavalry brigade, and the 15th infantry
division - in the Aleksandrow-Ciechocinek region, and the 26th infantry division in the Radziejow region). The Poznan forces
(the 25th, 17th, and 14th infantry divisions forming General Knoll's group) passed to the Kutno-Lenczyca region, from whence
an attack was planned in the direction of Lodz and Radom. The cavalry was covering the direction of Poznan and Kalisz.
The Group of General Thomme held its positions until the late afternoon. Advance guards and an armoured unit
attacked from Rawa Mazowiecka. The 2nd and 28th infantry divisions withdrew towards Lyszkowice and the 30th infantry division
to Miazga. The Wolyn cavalry brigade went through Jezow, and Marianska forest, and afterwards passed in the course of the
9th and 10th of September to the region of Jablonna, going via Kazun and Modlin. At 10 P.M. a withdrawl through Mszczonow
to Gora Kalwarja was ordered.
The Reserve Army reached with some of its elements the Vistula crossing of Maciejowice. The group of General
Skwarczynski reached in the course of the morning the Ilza area, losing contact with the 36th reserve division. About midday
there came reports about the appearance of enemy patrols in the east and later in the day there was an enemy attack from the
west, while a column of Polish infantry was sighted in the north. The enemy was repulsed, but the friendly infantry column
left in a northerly direction without establishing contact. Orders were issued for a night attack of the 3rd infantry division
through Ilza and of the 12th infantry division east of Ilza in the general direction of Solec. The attack of the 3rd infantry
division met with resistance, while that of the 12th was partly unsuccessful and partly brought back to its starting-point
owing to an error of direction. It was decided to break through on the following morning.
The Cracow Army. General Sadowski's group had discovered already on the evening of the preceding day, in the
course of its fighting, that enemy units were approaching from the north and from the east in the region of Staszow. It was
decided to cover the Nida with the 55th reserve division and to strike eastwards with the 23rd infantry division. Stopnica
and Pacanow were taken by attack and the enemy was thrown back on Szydlow and Staszow. The general situation was unknown,
but the group continued to carry out its duty by holding the Nida.
The southern group of General Spiechowicz was carrying out a withdrawl to the line of the San.
The Carpathian Army was unable to hold the enemy on the line of the Wislok owing to the fact that enemy armoured
units had penetrated to Jawornik Polski.
The 2nd armoured division broke down by a frontal attack the defence of Krosno. All the units were retreating behind
the San, which they reached on 10th September. Two Slovak infantry divisions were attacking Sanok from the south. The motorised
brigade was ordered to assume the defence of the river-crossing in the region Radymno-Jaroslaw. All the units, with the exception
of the 11th infantry division, had sustained heavy losses and were in need of reorganisation. The enemy forces attacking the
army were found to consist of two armoured-motorised groups of two divisions, each acting on the flanks of 3 German corps
totalling 7 infantry divisions and 2 Slovak divisions. The second line of the enemy consisted of 3 infantry divisions.
The garrison of Westerplatte received from the Polish High Command the order to surrender.
The frontal line of defence at Gdynia was broken and the enemy reached the foreground of Gdynia and Oksywie.
The Polish air force made four bombing raids: (1) in the Narew region - on armoured columns; (2) in the Nosow-Frampol
region - on an armoured group; (3) on the Rozan-Ostrow road - on armoured columns; (4) a repetition of the last raid.
On 9th September a strengthening of the northern German armies became apparent, as most of the armoured-motorised units
were concentrated on the eastern flank of that front. Infantry divisions were were brought by motorised transport to occupied
areas, the forces destined for the encirclement of the Polish armies within the bend of the Vistula were reinforced and reorganised.
The motorised columns replaced entirely the old method of railway transport.
The 3rd Army was covered from Modlin in the Plonsk region by one reserve division and attacked in the Serock
region (one infantry division) while it directed most of its infantry to the Wyszkow region for the purpose of forcing the
Bug (the 1st, 11th, and 12th infantry divisions).
The action on Ostrow Mazowiecka (S.S., 2nd light division, and cavalry brigade) widened the attacks on Brok and Malkinia
and thereby covered them from the east in the direction of Zambrow. The main drive was on Wyszkow. A new armoured group (the
10th and 3rd armoured divisions) attacked from Ostrolenka on Lomza and Wizna, while a Landwehr division was being moved to
Ossowiec and Augustow (Landwehr Biala-Lyck and the 80th reserve division).
The 4th Army reached with one infantry division the region north of Wloclawek, while a reconnaissance unit of
another division penetrated east of Plock. On the remaining length of the front it maintained a continued contact with the
The 8th Army reached with its left wing the river Bzura in the Ozorkow region. Its right wing attacked in the
Lowicz direction in collaboration with the neighbouring motorised division advancing from Mszczonow to Skierniewice. The army
was reinforced by infantry divisions brought up in lorries to its right wing. In the Poznan province the eastward movement
The 10th Army concentrated in front of Warsaw in the region Nadarzyn-Tarczyn two armoured divisions (the 1st
and 4th), to which was added the 28th reserve infantry division. They were followed through Grojec to Gora Kalwarja by a motorised
division (the 13th) which left in that region a part of its force and continued to advance in a southern direction, where
it was ordered to impede the crossing oif the Vistula by Polish armies in the Ryczywol-Maciejowice area. A group of light
divisions which occupied Radom (the 3rd light division) reconnoitred in a northern direction towards Kozienice, where it came
into contact with Polish cavalry. Then it took Zwolen and turned southwards in order to cut through the retreat of the forces
reported to be present in the Ilza region. The second unit took Staszow and left a small force there, while its major portion
reached Sandomierz and then, covering itself against Polish action, proceeded northwards along the Vistula towards Annopol
in order to take part in the fighting at Ilza. The infantry divisions brought up to the line attacked on the Nida. They fought
a successful encounter at Busk, endeavouring to cut off the Polish forces.
Thus the 10th Army reached the Vistula from Warsaw to Sandomierz, for the purpose of carrying out its task of destroying
the Polish armies within the bend of the river.
The 14th Army reached Jawornik Polski, fighting covering actions in the direction of Lancut and Przeworsk.
Infantry divisions crossed the Wislok. The southern armoured group, accompanied by a mountain division, marched on Sanok,
in pursuit of the Polish units which had mostly withdrawn in a northerly direction.
There were air raids: on the environs of Bialystok, Ossowiec, Lomza, Wyszkow, the east and south of Warsaw, Siedlce and
its environs, Brzesc, Deblin, Lublin and its surroundings, the region south of Sandomierz along the San (Tarnobrzeg, Nisko,
Jaroslaw, Przemysl, Sanok), and line of the road Sanok-Rudki-Lwow, the Lwow airfield and the Stanislawow station, as well
as the areas immediately in front of the German armies in the field.
The operational boundary was moved to the political frontier of the Reich. The eastern part of Upper Silesia was to take
up again its industrial and mining activity.
The German communique reported that the French reconnaissance units crossed for the first time on 9th September the western
frontier of Germany. As to Poland, it reported that the Polish Government had left Lublin, proceeding to Lwow. The dispatches
mentioned the presence of the German Commander-in-Chief on the northern front.
It was stated that 57 infantry and 17 armoured-motorised divisions were active on Polish territory.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
According to the communique of the Polish High Command of 9th September the enemy drive was directed mainly on the line
of the Bug, on southern Poland, and on Warsaw. In the direction of Augustow, Suwalki, and Ossowiec there was calm, with the
exception of reconnaissance activity in the region of Raczki and in front of Ossowiec. The enemy forces on the front from
Lomza to Wyszogrod were estimated at 9 infantry divisions, 1 cavalry brigade, and 4 armoured-motorised divisions. The advanced
enemy elements had reached the western bank of the Vistula, but they did not cross it on the sector Pilica-Zawichost. There
were 3 armoured-motorised divisions and 1 infantry division near Warsaw. There was no news from southern Poland. The enemy
infantry had reached the line of the Nida with motorised elements in the Stopnica-Busko area.
The actual disposition of forces presented a far more serious situation.
The Narew Group decided to solve the problem of the contradiction, which it believed to see in the defence of
the Narew coupled with the covering of the direction of Brzesc along an axis towards Bielsk, by attacking with the concentration
which it had formed (Lomza, Czerwony Bor as far as Malkinia): with the 18th infantry division on Ostrolenka and with the two
cavalry brigades on Rozan and Ostrow Mazowiecka. The consent to this suggestion was requested of the High Command and obtained
in the afternoon, with the permission to maintain the full garrison of Ossowiec. The designed units went into attack, but
they encountered a very strong resistance. On the Narew front there was still a heavy pressure on Wizna and Lomza. This fact
was not fully appreciated. The enemy had actually taken Wizna in the evening.
General Przedzymirski's Army. The enemy crossed the Bug in the morning by surprise and took Wyszkow. The
counter-attack of the 1st infantry division and one of the infantry regiments of the 33rd reserve division stopped his attack.
At the same time there came alarming reports from Brok, where the 2nd infantry regiment of the 33rd reserve division was coming
up to hold the Bug. The counter-action on Wyszkow was being organized for the evening. According to some reports, however,
an officer brought from the G.H.Q. an order of withdrawl to Kaluszyn, while certain reports state that the order came from
Thus on the northern front the Narew Group attacked, the army of General Przedzymirski started retreat, while the enemy,
concentrating large forces on that sector, was opening new offensive operations.
There seems to have been one oversight common to the three commanders of the infantry in the Wyszkow region. If retreat
was ordered, it was all the more necessary to drive the enemy to the other side of the Bug, even with smaller forces than
those actually detailed for attack, in order to secure one's own withdrawl.
It is apparent from the Commander-in-Chief's orders that far-reaching decisions as to the further conduct of the war
had already been taken. What purpose could then be served by the attack of the Narew Group? If it was a matter of relieving
Wyszkow, this could be achieved by a shallow, concentrated offensive. The relation between the forces of the group and those
of the enemy was known: would it not had been more suitable to make a regrouping effort and forbid attack, in order to pass
quickly to the direction of Bielsk, as the depth of the movement of General Przedzymirski's army backwards and to the flank
General Rommel's Army fought a battle on the foreground of Warsaw. The enemy attempted unsuccessfully a crossing
of the Bug at Benjaminowo. On that account a regrouping of the defence of Modlin was ordered by moving the 21st infantry
regiment to the region of Zegrze, as no enemy pressure was felt at Modlin.
General Kutrzeba's Army. The Pomorze units undertook the defence of Wloclawek along the rivers Zglowiczanka
and Vistula (the 27th and 9th infantry divisions). The 15th infantry division came to the region of Brzesc Kujawski and the
26th infantry division to Izbica. The 4th and 16th infantry were marching to Lowicz. The crossings near Plock were held by
the 19th infantry regiment with an artillery group. The cavalry brigade of Nowogrodek took up a position near Wyszogrod. The
presence of the enemy was detected in Plock and Wloclawek, while his infantry was moving along the western bank of the Vistula
and there was a German motorised column in the region east of Inowroclaw (the 20th motorised division).
The Poznan forces of General Knoll carried out in the course of the night between 9th and 10th September a final regrouping
on the line Lenczyca-Piontek-Bielawa (the 25th, 17th, and 14th infantry divisions and the Wielkopolska cavalry brigade). The
Podole cavalry brigade and the Poznan National Defence brigade were covering the west in the direction Pleszew-Wrzesnia.
General Thomme's Group was marching on Mszczonow. It was attacked by armoured forces from the south and the
east in the region of Lyszkowice and Makow. The attack was liquidated in the Slupia region by the 30th infantry division.
In consequence the whole group was established by the evening on the line Wincentow-Karolinowo (north-east of Skierniewice).
The Reserve Army. Some sections of the northern group had crossed the Vistula. Belated units were fighting at
the rear of enemy armoured forces. The Germans shot prisoners, especially officers, as a reprisal for the heavy losses in
tanks which they had suffered in several encounters. After the unsuccessful night attack General Skwarczynski's group made
another attempt at a break-through in the course of the day. The heavy concentrated fire of enemy artillery, present in superior
strength, destroyed the Polish batteries and prevented infantry movements. Only some isolated companies and the 9th infantry
regiment got through. In the evening the commander ordered breaking-through in groups; this order was carried out with some
success until 11th September.
The Crakow Army. General Sadowski's group was surrounded by the evening from the west and the north, as the
22nd infantry division was forced to abandon Busk. It was decided to pass to Olesnica and Polaniec, abandoning most of the
supply units. The group of General Spiechowicz reported from Ulanow (on the eastern bank of the San) that they planned crossing
The Carpathian Army was retreating to the line Lancut-Barycz-Dynow and along the San. The enemy was pursuing
it from Krosno to Brzozow. His armoured units passed between Lancut and Barycz, reaching Radymno through Jawornik Polski.
During the 10th and 11th of September there was a reorganisation, as a result of which the Sanok brigade was incorporated
with the 24th Infantry Division and the Nowy Sacz brigade was transformed into an infantry regiment. The motorised brigade
was moved to the San, where it undertook the defence of crossings in the region of Jaroslaw. The 38th reserve division, grouped
in the region of Mosciska, east of the San, was completing its mobilisation.
The Polish High Command ordered on 9th September the corps and army commanders to carry out an energetic reorganisation
of the rear line, to assemble in suitable points evacuated or lost units, and to weld together formations which were unable
to complete their mobilisation owing to enemy action, or had no time to concentrate at the appointed stations. The Chief Civil
Commissioner received similar orders, aiming at the formation of a cordon of civil and military police and the summary prevention
of any attempts at subversive activity behind the front line.
In viewing the general situation, one has to admit that the strong German action on the northern and southern flanks
was its principal feature.
Within the bend of the Vistula all the commanders were so much dominated by the idea of surrounding the Polish forces
that they summoned for that purpose armoured and motorised units from the north and the south, bringing up to the line numerous
infantry divisions. The speed of the motorised units somewhat slackened, and the thoroughness with which the enemy was carrying
out the surrounding of the Poznan and Pomorze Armies gave to the Polish Command a delay of about three days, 8th-11th September.
This would permit a regrouping in depth of at least 100 km., using only night marches.
This fact was further stressed by the relative void in the Vistula-Narew region, which was known to the Polish Command.
After 10th September it is apparent from orders issued by the High Command that its general ideas moved along different lines.
If it was not decided until 7th September to use the Poznan and Pomorze Armies for defensive action, but only to withdraw
them, why was such a decision made on 8th September? It is true that the order provided for one central command for the whole
action between the Vistula and the Bzura, placing it in the hands of General Kutrzeba, but was such a move sufficient to deal
with the situation in the wider area between Kutno, Lowicz, Skierniewice, Warsaw and Modlin?
The breaking-down of every possiblity of rail transport of troops, the destruction of means of communication between
units, and the air mastery of the enemy rendered impossible a centralised control of battles. The evacuation of G.H.Q. and
the abandoning of Warsaw as centre of communications (especially since the Chief of Staff and his officers had left the capital)
indicated the necessity of organising separate fronts. Even the communiques of the Intelligence Department mention that during
that period the northern, central, and southern fronts.
The Polish air force bombed enemy armoured columns in the region of Malkinia. It also carried out reconnaissance coupled
with air fighting in the regions of Lowicz, Rawa, Radom and Kielce, along the Vistula and in the regions of Jaroslaw and Przeworsk.
The German communique claimed the destruction of 14 Polish aircraft in combat and of 8 destroyed on the ground by bombing.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
On 10th September the actions of the German army were concentrated at four points:
In the north the Germans were forcing their passage across the Bug and breaking through in order
to encircle the Polish army along the Bug.
In the Kutno region they were surrounding the Poznan and Pomorze armies.
In the Radom region armoured and motorised forces were fighting isolated Polish units.
Between the Carpathians and the San armoured groups broke through the San line in the general
direction of Lwow and the Polish rear positions between Wieprz and the Bug.
The 3rd Army forced the Bug in the morning near Wyszkow. It directed the group from Ostrow Mazowiecka along
the northern bank of the Bug towards Wysokie Mazowieckie. After forcing the Narew at Wizna and Nowogrod, the northern armoured
group was preparing an attack on Zambrow and farther east.
The 4th Army brought up its forces from the direction of Bydgoszcz. It maintained contact with the Polish armies
along the line Wloclawek-Plock, bringing up reinforcements by motor transport.
The 8th Army, after reaching the Bzura, was attacked in the region of Lenczyca. The German communique described
this action as an attempt of the surrounded Polish armies to break out from the line Skierniewice-Sochaczew-Kutno.
The 10th Army surrounded the Polish forces near Radom and in the bend of the Vistula near Lysa Gora (the Swietokrzyski
mountains). The armoured and motorised units engaged in that action then took up positions in the foreground of Warsaw and
advanced towards Skierniewice. Infantry was brought up both in lorries and on foot.
The 14th Army was fighting near Jaroslaw and Radymno, where it summoned its motorised forces. The infantry divisions
passed the Wislok, marching on Przemysl. The southern armoured group took Sanok and advanced towards Chyrow.
In the Lublin region the Germans claimed the destruction of 8 Polish bombers. The German air raids covered Lwow, Chelm,
Lublin, Demblin, the eastern part of Warsaw and its environs, and the roads in the region of Kutno, Wloclawek, and Lowicz.
On the sea-coast Wejherowo was taken and the Gdynia defence line broken down.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The Narew Group after a local success near Brok (the action of the 5th uhlan regiment), and the local advance
from the Lomza region to Ostrow Mazowiecka, retreated to its old positions near Czerwony Bor. On the morning of 10th September
the group was attacked at 8:00 A.M. from the north on the Narew and from the west from Ostrow Mazowiecka, although the 18th
infantry division had moved in the course of the preceding night to Zambrow and the two cavalry brigades went south, as a
result of the occupation of Wizna and Nowogrod. In the night of 10th to 11th September the group made a jump back: the 18th
infantry division moved in the direction of Sokoly and Lapy, the Suwalki cavalry brigade went towards Bielsk (the region of
Topczewo-Pietkowo), the Podlasie cavalry brigade moved to Briansk (the region of Mien-Pietruszki). It was, nevertheless, under
a constant pressure of the enemy armoured forces. Some cavalry units and the 18th infantry division were surrounded south
of Wysokie Mazowieckie, but they broke through the enemy ring.
The group continued its retreat in an eastern direction, uncovering, in accordance with the orders of the High Command,
the axis Bielsk-Wysokie Litewskie-Brzesc.
General Przedzymirski's Army was carrying out a withdrawl march to the line Siedlce, Kaluszyn, Minsk Mazowiecki.
It established contact with the fortress of Brzesc and the defence forces of Warsaw. The pursuit pressure of the enemy in
the southern direction had weakened. There was, however, a westward movement towards the Vistula.
General Rommel's Army carried out a regrouping of forces for the defence of Warsaw and brought cavalry to the
In consequence, the Nowogrodek cavalry brigade left the Warsaw defence group and joined the Kresy and Wolyn cavalry brigades.
The defence from the west was assured by the mobilised units of the 44th reserve division, battalions from the Warsaw garrison
and units withdrawn from the foreground, as well as numerous volunteers. The total strength was about 15,000 rifles, but there
was a shortage of artillery, especially of heavy guns and of automatic weapons. There were three defence sectors, each of
which had an improvised command. There were in Warsaw considerable numbers of German prisoners.
General Kutrzeba's Army. Covered by the Pomorze divisions in the region Wloclawek-Brzesc Kujawski-Izbica-Klodawa
(27th, 9th infantry divisions, cavalry brigade, Pomorze and Poznan National Defence battalions, and Podole cavalry brigade)
General Kutrzeba opened the battle, informing G.H.Q. by wire.
The 25th, 17th, and 14th infantry divisions attacked in the evening from the Bzura in the direction of Lodz, on a front
between Lenczyca and Piontek, covered in the region of Bielawa by the offensive of the Wielkopolska cavalry brigade. Thus
General Kutrzeba was carrying out his first plan, conceived on 8th September, of a break-through to Demblin. The 4th, 16th,
and 26th infantry divisions of the Pomorze Army did not take part in the fighting, but were moved eastwards to the region
The Group of General Thomme attempted again to pass to Mszczonow, but it was pushed back from the east and attacked
from the south. It moved into the region of the Zyrardow forests.
The Cracow Army reached in the morning the region Polaniec-Puklerz on the Czarna. After an ordering of the units
it was decided to attack Osiek and reach the Vistula crossing at Baranow.
The Carpathian Army. The motorised brigade was defending Jaroslaw. The other units were holding the San. The
group of General Lukowski from the south reported the fall of Sanok. Reconnaissance detected the advance of 5 enemy divisions
on the San (45th, 44th, 7th infantry, 3rd and 2nd mountain divisions).
It was also reported that two armoured-motorised divisions (the 4th light and 5th armoured divisions) were moving towards
Radymno, while two large units were approaching from the south (2nd armoured and 1st mountain divisions).
The Polish air force carried out reconnaissance flights and changed the stations of some squadrons.
The account of events makes it clear to what extent the enemy air force dominated the sky and the armoured units the
land. The enemy made any form of manoeuvre impossible.
The army commanders received every day instructions inspired by the plan of future operations maturing in the minds of
the High Command. This, however, caused in some cases the issue of random local orders, which might have been ahead of actual
development of events along the front.
On 10th September the High Command issued the operational order, No. 10/15/III op., and the instructions for concentration
in the south, No. 11/15/III op., outlining the method of continuation of the campaign. It was decided to wind up the front
Grodno-Ossowiec and to retreat southwards through Brzesc, preparing the defence of Polesie by the IX Corps under General F.
Kleeberg (Map No. 6).
For that purpose it was necessary to hold as long as possible the middle Vistula and the San. The attack of the Poznan
and Pomorze Armies would relieve the enemy pressure on Warsaw, but it would enhance the importance of the two Polish flanks.
Such was the leading idea of the plan.
It was decided that: (a) the northern front east of the Vistula was to be taken over by General Dab-Biernacki,
who arrived at Brzesc on 9th September and reported the complete destruction of his army; (b) the central section
from Warsaw to Sandomierz was to be commanded by General Piskor; (c) the southern flank, from Sandomierz (exclusive
of the town) to the Carpathians, was entrusted to General Sosnkowski.
First of all it was decided to reorganise the northern front on the Wieprz-Kock line towards Brzesc and hold Polesie,
leaving behind the isolated defence of Modlin and Warsaw. As the retreat proceeded the Vistula front was bent along the Wieprz
towards Kock. The greatest effort of endurance was imposed on the southern wing, which was reinforced with the only available
relief: the 35th reserve division and the garrisons from the Grodno Corps District (7 battalions, 2 cavalry squadrons, and
3 batteries), which were to be transported by a roundabout route to Lwow.
The detailed tasks:
The Northern Front:
(a) General Przedzymirksi's army, composed of the 1st infantry division, the 41st and
33rd reserve divisions, and the Mazowsze cavalry brigade, to carry out a retarding action along the Kaluszyn-Siedlce-Parczew
axis. To retreat under pressure, in order to protect Warsaw as long as possible from the north-east. The axis of liaison:
Kaluszyn-Siedlce-Lukow-Parczew. The centres of liaison: Siedlce and Radzyn.
(b) The Narew Group to break away at the height of General Przedzymirski's army, along
the axis Wysokie Mazowieckie-Bielsk-Briansk-Wysokie Litewskie-Brzesc. The axis of liaison: Wysokie Mazowieckie-Briansk-Bielsk-Czeremcha-Wysokie
Litewskie-Brzesc. The centres of liaison: Briansk-Kleszczele.
The two groups collected on the way various units and supply centres, which they incorporated with their own forces.
They supported each other on their flanks.
The task of General Rommel, as under the order No. 9/9/I/13/III op., consisted of holding Warsaw, Modlin, and Zegrze.
As the northern front was being wound up, he had to withdraw units to Modlin and Warsaw. The cavalry and the troops holding
the Vistula from Warsaw to the Pilica were to be transferred to General Piskor's army. The forces of General Thomme were to
be used for the defence. Finally Warsaw-Modlin were to become an isolated centre of resistance.
In the centre, General Piskor's army was to hold the Vistula from Sandomierz to the Pilica, bending the wing towards
the Wieprz as far as Kock, forming a branch of defence. It was additionally ordered to maintain contact with the armies west
of the Vistula. The units crossing the Vistula were to be either absorbed or sent to Rowne.
In view of the development of events along the front, the instructions for concentration in the south, No. 11/15/III
op., contain some additional details. The High Command realised the danger of encirclement from the north across the Bug and
from the south by fast motorised divisions, which might make the breaking-away from the Vistula difficult and threaten disorganisation.
Therefore it was planned to withdraw to south-eastern Poland, towards the Rumanian frontier, with its railway and other communications.
(1) The instructions for General Sosnkowski requested him to hold south-eastern Poland in the
zone Sandomierz-Rawa and maintain contact with Rumania. General Sosnkowski's group was composed of the armies of General Fabrycy
and General Szyling, as well as troops brought up to the line and the garrisons and reserve units of south-eastern Poland.
(2) The previous order to General Piskor was completed by the instruction to take the direction
of Tomaszow Lubelski after the bending of the wing and to keep it in that region. He was to stay on the Vistula until General
Kutrzeba's forces would have broken through to Radom and Krasnik. For that purpose he had to prepare materials for crossing
the river. As the enemy had left the Vistula, he had to maintain contact with General Skwarczynski, who was in the region
Wierbnik-Kamienna-Radom, and bring his army across the Vistula. The cavalry from the Otwock region was to be sent to the Parczew
region to the group of General Przedzymirski.
(3) General Dab-Biernacki sent at first General Przedzymirski's army and then also the group
of General Mlot-Fijalkowski to Kock-Brzesc, proceeding to the region Hrubieszow-Wlodzimierz in the general direction of Hrubieszow.
In Parczew he took over the cavalry (the Kresy and Nowogrodek brigades, as well as other units).
(4) General Rommel and the commander of the IXth Army Corps District were charged with organising
the centres of resistance of Warsaw, Modlin, and Brzesc. Anti-tank defences were built in Brzesc and Pinsk.
(5) General Kutrzeba attacked the enemy in the region of Lodz, breaking through to Radom-Krasnik.
These orders settled the problems of command and of the duties of each army, but on some sectors they may have affected
the strength of resistance and the fighting power by indicating fairly distant objects of manoeuvre. Since the time problem
was left to the discretion of the army commanders, they had excessive latitude in the execution of their orders. In view of
the poor conditions of liaison the commanders of the fronts had little hope of exerting a strong control over the movements
of the troops. On both the wings of the Polish forces there was a need for co-ordination of decision by a plan of manoeuvre
with time limits and definite areas for breaking-away from every line.
On 13th September General Sosnkowski received special instructions concerning the action in south-eastern Poland (No.
13/2/III op.). The aim was the securing of bridgeheads on the Dniester and the Stryj, as well as the maintaining of communication
with Rumania. The order covered the following points:
(1) The bridgeheads on the Dniester and Stryj to be held by garrisons.
(2) The infantry divisions from the region of Mosciska and Sadowa Wisznia to be directed to
the south-east to the bridgehead, while a part of them would be detailed to the defence of Lwow.
(3) An immediate withdrawl to be carried out irrespective of the enemy activities in south-eastern
(4) To leave garrisons for the defence of Lwow and Przemysl, in order to cover the retreat of
(5) To leave General Szyling's army in its present region, where it protects from the south
General Piskor's army. The army to pass under General Piskor's command. The motorised brigade to be used according to his
(6) To assemble munitions and food supplies.
(7) The headquarters of the group to be in Kalusz.
The above orders and instructions have been collected because they contain the general directives guiding the movements
of the Polish armies during the period which followed.
The High Command left Brzesc and reached on 15th September Kolomyja, going through Wlodzimierz and Mlynow. During the
transit it had only occasional liaison with the armies and could not exert a direct influence on the development of operations.
It was not until 15th September that the High Command took over organisation of the bridgeheads on the Dniester and Stryj,
issuing further orders relative to the development of the previously outlined plan of action.
On 11th September the German armies were fighting the battle for the encirclement of the Polish forces (Map
The 3rd Army took Lomza and Nowogrod, carrying out in the morning an armoured-group attack from the
Narew, smashing near Wysokie Mazowieckie the rear columns of the 18th infantry division and the Suwalki cavalry brigade. Some
of the brigade was cut off on the Narew near Mien and Olszewo. The general direction of the attacking armoured units was towards
Siemiatycze and Bielsk Podlaski. The infantry divisions advanced from Wyszkow, across the Bug, towards Warsaw and Minsk Mazowiecki.
The flank group left in the eastern direction the 2nd motorised divsion, while the cavalry brigade and S.S. division of Brok
and Malkinia attacked Kaluszyn and Siedlce.
The 4th Army moved one infantry division from Plonsk to the action at Modlin and occupied permanently
the bank of the Vistula from Plock to Wloclawek, where an artillery duel with the Polish forces was going on. West of the
Vistula there was an attack on Wloclawek, while in the south a motorised division advanced to Kowal-Kruszyn, encountering
little resistance. Reinforcements were brought up to the battle line.
The 8th Army suffered heavy losses from the Polish attack from Lenczyca to Bielawa, especially as
far as the 30th infantry division, supported by the 6th motorised machine-gun battalion, was concerned (the commander was
killed, 5 or 6 battalions destroyed, and several guns lost). The 221st landwehr division was brought in from Poddembica to
this sector, as well as the 17th and 10th infantry divisions from Ozorkow and Lodz. Two infantry divisions (the 18th and 19th)
from the Skierniewice region were directed to Bielawy and Lowicz.
The 10th Army left in the foreground of Warsaw one armoured division and the 28th reserve division,
while two other divisions were active on the flanks in the region Zyrardow-Skierniewice. In the evening a battle started west
of Zydarow. In the region of Radom the fighting against the surrounded Polish forces was approaching its conclusion. The German
communique claimed the capture of 24,000 prisoners, including three generals from the 3rd, 17th, and 19th infantry divisions.
The 14th Army crossed the San in the region of Radymno and reached Krakowiec. The infantry divisions
along the Vistula, south of Staszow, were fighting, and others established contact with the enemy west of Przemysl. From Sanok
there was an advance on Chyrow, which was taken.
On the sea-coast the ring around Oksywie was closed. The Germans entered Puck and took Wielka Wies-Hallerowo,
closing the outlet of the Hel peninsula.
The air force attacked with particular ferocity the roads in the region Kutno-Gostynin-Lowicz. There were
raids on the region of Lwow (the eastern railway station was destroyed), the roads running south of the Dniester, Lublin,
the environs of Chelm, the region east of Demblin, Warsaw, and especially its eastern outlets, Lukow, Brzesc, Czeremcha, and
In connection with the regrouping of its armies, the Polish High Command moved its headquarters at 10 P.M.
to Wlodzimierz. This decision was also influenced by the fact that the leading German armoured units had reached Siemiatycze.
From that moment the liaison with the units became occasionally erratic or was altogether broken.
The Narew Group, attacked by armoured forces and aircraft, was retreating towards the Bialowieza
forest. The 18th infantry division was proceeding there separately through Bialystok and the cavalry through Suraz, breaking
away from the enemy. In spite of heavy losses, and the isolation from headquarters, the remaining cavalry units joined the
defence of Polesie, going through Nowa Wies and Pruzany. A volunteer guerilla squadron was left in the region of Bielsk Podlaski,
where it was active until 5th October, when it joined the group of General Fr. Kleeberg.
General Przedzymirski's Army in the course of retreat fought on its right flank armoured reconnaissance
units of the enemy. The 41st reserve division fought at Wengrow a battle against an armoured unit advancing on Kaluszyn and
changed the direction of its retreat towards the east, on Biala Podlaska. Thus there appeared a gap, which the enemy entered,
occupying on 12th September the town of Siedlce, burnt down by their action, and Kaluszyn, thus cutting off the retreat of
the remaining Polish forces. A night attack of the 1st infantry division cleared the way to Kaluszyn, smashing one of the
regiments of the 21st German division and destroying a large number of armoured vehicles (80 tanks) in an S.S. division.
The Army of General Rommel, aware of the retreat from the Bug of the Polish forces, sent covering
detachments to the east: the units of the Modlin garrison were used to hold the direction of Radzymin; the cavalry group of
General Anders (the cavalry brigades of Nowogrodek, Wolyn, and Kresy) from the Otwock region secured the direction of Minsk
Mazowiecki and along the Swider. West of Warsaw the enemy withdrew to more distant positions. There were strong forces in
the region of Nadarzyn and Piaseczno. The garrison of Modlin was composed of the 8th infantry division. The 20th infantry
division was fighting in the direction of Zegrze. The liaison with General Kutrzeba's army was assured by air, while the communication
with Modlin was quite normal.
General Kutrzeba's Army. The western covering force had been pushed in the morning towards the Kruszyn
region, and farther south as far as Klodawa there was little contact with the enemy. Reconnaissance revealed a march of motorised
and infantry columns from Piotrkow Kujawski and Radziejow. It was also known that the forces of General Thomme were in the
south of the Kampinoska forest. In the early hours the attack in the direction of Lodz was co-ordinated and the 25th, 17th,
and 14th infantry divisions were preparing the next blow for 11 P.M. The Wielkopolska cavalry brigade had been stopped by
enemy action in a forest on the southern bank of the Bzura. The 4th and 16th infantry divisions drove away patrols of two
enemy divisions (the 18th and 24th) and reached the Bzura on both sides of Lowicz. In Sochaczew there were some National Defence
General Kutrzeba completed his dispositions. He entrusted the covering of the western flank to General Tokarzewski:
the direction along the Vistula near Wloclawek-Kowal was to be held by the 27th, 9th, and 15th infantry divisions; the western
direction as far as the region of Klodawa-Przedecz by the National Defence brigade and the Podole and Pomorze cavalry brigades.
The region of Plock was defended by the 19th infantry regiment with an artillery group. The offensive was widened by General
Knoll (the 25th, 17th, and 14th infantry divisions), who was active farther south, and by General Bortnowski (the 4th and
16th divisions, the Wielkopolska cavalry brigade, and the 26th infantry division directed from Osiek to Sochaczew), who was
to attack Skierniewice.
The Group of General Thomme undertook a further eastward movement, but now turned in the direction
of Warsaw. The 30th infantry division, in accordance with the order, was to pass to Radziejowice. It encountered everywhere
armoured troops, and before carrying into effect its plan of a night attack it was directed from the Radziwill forests to
Zyrardow, which it reached on 12th September at dawn, immediately engaging the enemy. The 28th and 2nd infantry divisions
were advancing through Zyrardow and Grodzisk. They dislodged the enemy from Brwinow, but on the Pruszkow they encountered
a strong resistance which they could not overcome. Fighting continued until midnight of the following day.
The Army of the Middle Vistula, commanded by General Piskor, was in contact with the enemy in the
Gora Kalwarja region, where it frustrated an attempted crossing of the river, and in the regions of Maciejowice, Demblin,
Pulawy, Solec, Annopol, and Sandomierz.
The Army of General Szyling formed, after taking Osiek, a bridgehead in the region of Baranow, using
it for a crossing to the other side of the Vistula. The attempted attacks of the enemy were thrown back by the 55th reserve
division, supported by the army's artillery. After building a pontoon bridge, under enemy air raids, the whole group crossed
in the morning of 12th September to the right bank of the Vistula (General Sadowski's group).
The southern Group of General Spiechowicz crossed the San at Rudnik with its 6th Infantry Division
and at Lezajsk with its 21st infantry division. The army passed under the orders of General Piskor and was directed to Tarnogrod-Bilgoraj.
The Carpathian Army, in view of the enemy penetration at Radymno, sent the motorised brigade to his
flank in the region of Krakowiec; the 11th and 24th divisions were ordered to retreat to Przemysl.
The Polish air force bombed the river-crossings near Radymno and the region south of Jaroslaw.
A study of the moves made by the armies of General Kutrzeba, General Rommel, and the group of General Thomme
proves how great was the need for co-ordination. There was a common aim in the operations, but each army made efforts along
lines which did not entirely harmonise with those of the other groups. It is true that there were considerable distances between
the groups and that there was no other means of manoeuvre than infantry march, but a certain concentration of endeavour was
not entirely beyond the bounds of possibility. Considering the problem from the point of view of a break-through, the way
out, with bases in Lowicz, Sochaczew, and the Kampinoska forest, was in Polish hands. The liaison and mutual understanding
between commanders were insufficient for that purpose.
Mobilisation was proclaimed in Soviet Russia (it had been actually carried out ever since 7th September).
The Soviet Government explained that it was designed to safeguard the frontiers against the influx of Polish refugees.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The German communique of 12th September reported the surrender of Polish troops in the region of Zwolen, Radom,
and Lysa Gora. The Germans claimed capture of 60,000 prisoners, including several generals, of 38 tanks, 143 guns, and some
The 3rd Army reached the foreground of Ossowiec, fighting in the eastern direction against the 18th
infantry division, a part of which was surrounded. Armoured divisions reached Wysokie Litewskie and Siematycze, attaining
a point 40 km. from Brzesc in the Siematycze region. At Kaluszyn the army fought an unsuccessful action against the 1st Polish
The movement encircling Warsaw in the direction of Siedlce was continued and the railway line Warsaw-Bialystok
was crossed in that direction.
Two divisions of the 4th Army reached a point south of Modlin and closed at Wyszogrod, on the right
bank of the Vistula, the ring surrounding the region of Kutno. Reconnaissance was preparing a thrust in the direction of Wloclawek.
The 8th Army was fighting along the Bzura against a Polish attack, bringing up reinforcements. It
took Lowicz, after chasing from the other side of the Bzura some advanced outposts.
The 10th Army attacked Polish forces on the sector Zyrardow-Pruszkow. A whole day's fighting yielded
no result. In front of Warsaw the artillery was active. Along the Vistula there was contact with Polish forces. At Annopol
the infantry units of a light division crossed the Vistula.
The 14th Army took Sambor. The advanced elements of an armoured division reached Lwow. Jaworow was
reached from Krakowiec and a light division moved from there towards Rawa Ruska. Fighting continued west of Przemysl in the
region of Bircza.
Massed dive-bombers attacked throughout the day the forces defending the hills of Oksywie and destroyed the
remaining anti-aircraft artillery. The air force continued attacks on troops and other objectives. The stations of Bialystok,
Kowel, and Wlodzimierz were destroyed.
The Polish armies, carrying out their orders, reached the following positions:
The Narew Group, surrounded at a Narew crossing, was resisting there, together with its staff. Only
some units broke through to Bialystok.
General Przedzymirski's Army came to the region of Biala Podlaska (the 41st reserve division), Miedzyrzec
(33rd reserve division), and Parysow (1st legions division), where it rested during the 13th and 14th of September. It received
supplies from the fortress of Brzesc. In the course of the march it had fought some encounters with enemy armoured reconnaissance
General Rommel's Army received information about the enemy's march from Kaluszyn to Siennica. Before
carrying out the order of sending away the three cavalry brigades under General Anders it was decided to use them for a brief
attack on Minsk-Kaluszyn on the side of Otwock, supported by two battalions of riflemen from Rembertow. Reconnaissance revealed
the presence of the enemy along the line Tluszcz-Minsk-Siennica. On the left bank of the Vistula the enemy was not particulary
active, so that it was possible to organise the defence of Warsaw.
The Group of General Thomme was attacked. The 30th infantry division fought throughout the day in
defence of Zyrardow. The 28th and 2nd infantry divisions were unable to break the enemy resistance at Pruszkow and they were
encircled from the north. It was decided to pass into the Kampinoska forest. The 30th infantry division forced its way through
and reached Kampinos via Szymanow. The 28th and 2nd infantry divisions, after a regroupment at Biskupice, reached Zaborow
in the morning of the 13th. Thus General Thomme's group reached Modlin by the evening and took part in its defence from the
14th of September.
This decision left in the hands of the enemy the control over the sector Warsaw-Sochaczew, uncovering General
Kutrzeba's flank.The German communique described it as the final closing of the ring around Kutno.
General Kutrzeba's Army, attacking from Lenczyca, achieved a further advance, reaching Wola Monkolicka
and Ozorkow. The attack of the Wielkopolska cavalry brigade did not achieve its object because of the appearance at Glowno
of enemy armoured forces. The night attack of the 4th and 16th infantry divisions improved the situation, achieving the capture
of Lowicz and the destruction of two infantry regiments from the German 24th division. The 26th infantry divsion reached Wiejsce.
The covering force fought some local actions in the west.
General Piskor's Army maintained contact with the enemy along the Vistula. A new motorised enemy
division was traced at Solec (the 29th motorised division). In view of the crossing carried out by the enemy and his occupation
of Annopol, the Warsaw motorised brigade counter-attacked in the direction of the Ksienzomierz forests. Attempted crossings
near Solec and Kazimierz were thrown back.
General Szyling's Army was located in the triangle between the Rivers San and Vistula. An attempt
at forcing the Vistula near Tarnobrzeg was foiled. In accordance with received orders, the army crossed the San at Rozwadow
and Nisko, in the night of 12th-13th September. It was necessary for that purpose to take Nisko by attack and secure from
the south the crossing of the 23rd division.
The group of General Spiechowicz reached the region of Tarnogrod.
General Sosnkowski's Army. After arriving at Przemysl and taking over the front, the new commander
discovered that the situation was generally more serious and quite different in the south than the High Command had believed.
In the course of its retreat on Przemysl the 11th infantry division was attacked from the north and the west (45th and
7th infantry divisions), but it made a night break-through to Letowice and reached Przemysl. The 24th infantry division, after
fighting at Olszanice, reached Zasanie near Przemysl. It was known that General Szyling's army was behind the San, but it
maintained only an occasional contact with the commander of the front. The enemy's advance was very serious. Lwow was menaced,
armoured divisions had penetrated in the north as far as Rawa Ruska, while there was a direct frontal pressure of heavy enemy
The strength of General Sosnkowski's forces was not great: the 11th infantry division had about 1800 men,
the 24th infantry division after its reorganisation had about 1200, and the 38th reserve division in Mosciska about 5,000.
The strength of General Szyling's units was also reduced to about 20 or 30 per cent. of the normal complement.
There was no liaison with the High Command and information could be obtained only about the situation in the
immediate foreground of the army. The following decisions were made:
(a) General Szyling's army to attack in the direction of Jaworow-Rawa Ruska.
(b) The 11th and 24th infantry divisions, with the 38th reserve division,
to attack from Przemysl towards Sadowa Wisznia. The aim of the manoeuvre was the relief of Lwow.
The Polish air force bombed the region north of Brzeziny, Rawa Ruska, and the region of Jaroslaw.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
On 13th September the German High Command announced that it had finally liquidated the resistance near Radom and cut
off near Kutno five infantry divisions and two cavalry brigades. A concentric encirclement of Warsaw from the east and the
south was being carried out.
The 3rd Army was fighting for Ossowiec. It took 6000 prisoners, including the Staff of the 18th infantry division.
Most of the forces of the army were directed towards Lukow, across the Warsaw-Brzesc railway line.
The 4th Army surrounded Modlin and reached the Vistula north and east of Warsaw.
The 8th Army was resisting the Polish attack and organising a counter-action of infantry and armoured divisions.
The 10th Army was now free to move. It sent the 3rd light division across the Vistula at Annopol and formed
a bridgehead. The 2nd light division attempted successfully a crossing south of Demblin. Pulawy was occupied and in the course
of an eastward movement Krasnik was also taken.
The 14th Army, in pursuit of the Polish forces in the Vistula-San triangle, organised the crossing of the river
by infantry at Tarnobrzeg and was marching to Rozwadow. A light division passed through Jaworow and marched on Niemirow-Rawa
Ruska. The infantry was left on the San north of Przemysl. It was known that the Polish troops had withdrawn to Przemysl,
so that the direction of Jaroslaw had to be covered in order to permit the eastward movement of the army. The armoured division
which was already near Lwow was reinforced by another, and infantry was also brought up to assist them (the 5th armoured
and 1st mountain divisions).
The German air force set on fire Krystynopol, Biala Podlaska, and Siedlce. It bombed Luck, Dubno, Wlodzimierz, the region
in which the Polish armies were surrounded near Kutno and communication lines between the Vistula and the Bug, as well
as in Wolyn.
The Polish High Command arrived on 13th September at Mlynow. It possessed only general information about the situation
of the Polish armies. It was known of the northern front that the Narew Group had abandoned Lomza and was east of Czerwony
Bor, and that General Przedzymirski had fought a successful battle at Kaluszyn and was reaching the line indicated to him.
On the Vistula sectors near Warsaw and Modlin the enemy engaged the Polish forces, by directing the armies of the left bank
of the Vistula against the armies of General Kutrzeba and General Thomme. There was, however, a shortage of detailed information
about this sector of the front. It was known indirectly that General Thomme had reached Modlin. General Szyling crossed the
Vistula and was on the San. In Malopolska (southern Poland) two enemy divisions had broken through in two directions: on Jaworow
and on Sambor-Lubien. Two Slovak divisions were advancing in the direction Drohobycz-Stryj. The enemy air force lost thirty
bombers in the course of its attacks against General Kutrzeba's army. The general instructions for action in south-eastern
Poland (13/2/III op.) sent by air to General Sosnkowski were inspired by the knowledge of those facts.
In view of the further conduct of war a plan establishing a basis for the continuation of fighting was worked out
It was decided to create three centres of action:
(1) Near Warsaw on both banks of the Vistula for the united Poznan and Pomorze Armies with the
garrisons of Modlin and Warsaw;
(2) In Polesie, under the direction of General Kleeberg;
(3) At the Rumanian bridgehead, which was bound to become the principal battleground of continued
war: it was to include the area south of the Dniester, with Halicz, Zydaczow, Stryj, and Skole, east of the Stryj.
The following advanced outposts were proposed:
(a) The hills of Gologora and the Zloczow region;
(b) The region of Lwow and the forests near Bobrka;
(c) The region of Drohobycz-Boryslaw.
In the reckoning of forces it was assumed that General Sosnkowski, who had under his orders the Carpathian brigades,
the 24th, 11th, and 38th reserve divisions, and the motorised brigade, would reach the country west of Lwow and the region
The retreating Lublin Army, the cavalry under General Anders, and the army of General Przedzymirksi were in a region
south-east of Lwow, leaving the formerly designated line Zamosc-Tomaszow-Hrubieszow-Sokal. They sent to Brody and Zloczow
the 39th reserve division, the 1st legions infantry division, and the 33rd reserve division. There was no accurate information
about the strength of General Szyling's army. It was believed that he was in the region of the Bilgoraj forests, while the
enemy was reported to be present in the Tarnobrzeg region on the San. It was expected that the army of General Szyling would
join General Piskor with a strength of two or three infantry divisions.
The Narew Group was to be left as the nucleus of the defence of Polesie.
It was decided to summon the cavalry immediately to the region of Pokucie (the eastern Carpathians). The forces of the
Grodno Group, estimated at 2 infantry regiments of the Frontier Defence Corps, about 10 march battalions, and the 35th reserve
division, which were in transit, were destined for the defence of the Lwow region. It was decided to use the reserve formations
of Wolyn and south-eastern Poland for the defence of the Pokucie bridgehead. These units were fairly strong, for they served
as reserve bases for units from the north and west of Poland.
Some assistance in the realisation of this plan was expected from the autonomous isolated defence centres which were
to be formed in Lwow, Przemysl, Brzesc, Wlodzimierz, Tarnopol, and Sokal.
A conservative estimate put the total available force at 10-12 divisions and a tank battalion recently formed in Luck.
The above plan was sent out in the form of an order from Kolomyja, where the High Command arrived on 15th September.
The immediate organisation of the defence of the Dniester was entrusted to General Kamski, and that of the Stryj-Drohobycz
region to General Dembinski. There were many reserve formations at hand, but there was a severe shortage of armament. Everywhere
there were reservists and whole units of dispersed divisions, but there was nothing to arm them with.
The estimate of forces was probably accurate, for 17 infantry divisions were retreating in order and the whereabouts
of 3 divisions were unknown.
The period between 11th and 15th September, used for the transfer of G.H.Q. and the troops to new positions, provided
the fast divisions of the enemy with so much time that the situation was radically changed. In fact it was hardly possible
to appreciate it, for the only liaison was assured by airmen carrying dispatches, and that only on the orders of the High
Nevertheless the Polish armies, although reduced in numbers after the long marches and many battles, were continuing
to carry out the previously outlined plan. It is to be concluded that another plan could also have been carried out. It was
difficult, however, to foresee the surprises occasioned by the speed of the enemy motorised divisions.
The actual disposition of troops was different from that which had been taken into account by the authors of the plan
at the time they were working it out.
There were no more troops north of Polesie, except reserve depots and the last withdrawing units of the Narew Group.
The enemy therefore, sending ahead reconnaissance groups and using his air force, occupied the territory, without particular
difficulty, to the desired depth. The preparations for the defence of Brzesc and Polesie were well advanced. For the time
being, the available forces were quite small (up to 6 battalions and 2 batteries).
General Przedzymirski's Army reached the line of the Krzna. The 1st infantry division was intercepted by the
enemy during its march and suffered heavy losses. Some units were dispersed.
General Anders' cavalry fought a hard battle, involving especially the Wolyn cavalry brigade, at Demby Wielkie, and then
withdrew to Garwolin, proceeding through Lysoboki, Michow, and Lubartow.
General Dab-Biernacki joined the army headquarters as commander of the front. In the course of retreat the reduced complements
of the fighting regiments were to some extent made up with Reserve formations, organising rapidly their battalions. The Wilno
cavalry brigade reported for service in the region of Radzyn and the 39th reserve division in the region of Michow.
The northern wing of General Piskor's Army left towards the Wieprz. Some of the Reserve formations were used
for making up losses and some were organised as new groups in the region of Chelm and in Wolyn. Thus the 10th infantry division
of General Ankowicz was re-formed and the groups of Colonel Szalewicz (13th infantry division), Colonel Tatar (3rd infantry
division), Colonel Korkozowicz (19th infantry division), and others were created. The High Command was believed to be contemplating
the formation of new divisions from those embryonic units.
The 39th reserve division was opposing the enemy crossing of the Vistula at Deblin. The Warsaw motorised brigade tried
to stop at Annopol (Ksienzomierz) the progress of a motorised enemy unit. Neither of the two actions was successful.
The decision was made to withdraw the southern wing to Zamosc-Tomaszow and the northern one beyond the Wieprz and to
Lublin. In consequence the motorised enemy forces moving on Krasnik-Krasnystaw halved the army, with the result that the northern
part joined General Dab-Biernacki's northern front and lost contact with the other half. General Piskor took over the
command of General Szyling's army.
General Rommel's Army. The forces of General Thomme joined the defence of Modlin (the 8th, 28th, 30th, and 2nd
infantry divisions). The defence of the suburb of Praga on the right bank was undertaken by General Zulauf, who formed two
sectors. The main structure of the defence consisted of the 21st infantry regiment of the 8th division, the 26th regiment
of the 5th division, and the 79th regiment of the 20th division, completed by volunteer divisions. On the left bank of the
Vistula there was contact with the enemy, whose artillery was active. A direct communication with Modlin was still maintained.
The Army of General Kutrzeba. The 26th infantry division reached the region of Sochaczew in the evening of the
13th. In the course of the night it formed the Sochaczew bridgehead and established a contact with the attacking 16th division.
On General Bortnowki's sector, in the direction of Lowicz (the 16th and 4th infantry divisions and the Wielkopolska cavalry
brigade) the enemy started a counter-attack, using tanks and freshly brought up heavy artillery. The attack was repulsed.
A similar situation had arisen in General Knoll's group (the 14th, 17th, and 25th infantry divisions). The enemy brought fresh
troops into action at the meeting-point of the 17th and 14th infantry divisions, which were the most advanced and were slowly
but steadily moving towards Lodz, having attained the region Monkolice-Sokolniki. The pressure on the western covering group
had increased. Three new enemy columns had appeared in the region Klodawa-Przedecz-Kowale. A counter-attack arrested their
progress, but there was a heavy superiority of enemy forces. The attempt of the enemy to effect a crossing of the Vistula
near Plock was also foiled. Patrols sent towards Sochaczew reported only enemy reconnaissance, but an aeroplane reported the
presence of a large enemy armoured group in the region of Blonie; artillery, motor transport, and infantry in the Skierniewice
region, and an armoured group in the region of Zgierz. The passage of General Thomme to the Modlin fortress was also known.
Faced with such a situation, General Kutrzeba decided:
(a) To interrupt the battle for Lodz;
(b) To use the western group for a cover in the region of Kutno and Gostynin, and farther
along the Vistula;
(c) To withdraw General Bortnowski's army behind the Bzura in order to hold the sector
between Bielawa and Sochaczew, where the 26th infantry division was to form a bridgehead;
(d) To withdraw the group of General Knoll from the battle and move it to the Bzura
north of Sochaczew, for the purpose of using it in the first line of a break-through to the Kampinoska forest.
It was a decision of continuing the battle, but in the direction of Warsaw.
General Szyling's Army undertook an action at the rear of enemy motorised troops. The two divisions (the 6th
and 21st) situated on the Tanew in the region south of Tarnogrod reconnoitred the roads to Cieszanow and Lubaczow. The northern
group placed its infantry along a line west of Frampol and Bilgoraj, continuing to fight in the forest region west of that
General Piskor reported from the southern wing that the enemy had taken Janow Lubelski. The Warsaw motorised
brigade and the group of Colonel Gorczynski retreated on Frampol and Turobin. It was reported that Rawa Ruska was occupied
by the enemy, who was advancing towards Tomaszow. Two enemy corps were pressing from the west. An eastward movement of infantry
columns was reported from the direction of Jaroslaw.
The Przemysl group of General Sosnkowski's Army marched to Sadowa Wisznia, covered from the west by the 24th
infantry division in Mosciska. A few hundred men were left in Przemysl. There was no liaison with the High Command and contact
was lost with General Szyling's forces, which were no longer under the Army's orders, in accordance with instructions issued
by the High Command in Wlodzimierz.
The Polish air force bombed the region of Rawa Ruska. Most of the squadrons were moving to new stations in Eastern
Malopolska (south-eastern Poland).
The German High Command was endeavouring to paralyse the Polish activity in the Kutno region and seize the initiative
in its own hands by bringing up by bringing up heavy reinforcements. Armoured and motorised divisions, although they endeavoured
to move faster, were encountering some local obstacles in their attempt to carry out a wider flanking manoeuvre. On the northern
wing (General Kuchler's army) they were overtaken by the middle group, while on the southern flank they were far ahead of
infantry units (General List's army).
The Polish forces established mutual contact and were concentrating in a southward movement. The presence of ground obstacles
caused the High Command of the enemy to move mainly infantry divisions to the areas which they had reached. Possessing the
mastery of the air, the Germans bombed and machine-gunned everything that moves and lives on earth. Their air force used small
formations, or even single raiders.
The 3rd Army moved from Ossowiec to Bialystok on 14th September. An armoured group reconnoitred twoards Pruzan
and reached Brzesc, but the citadel was holding out. As the attack on Siennica east of Warsaw was repulsed, there was a movement
of troops to the south along the Vistula and an encounter with rearguards in the direction of Lukow.
The 4th Army fought near Modlin and in the Praga suburb of Warsaw, holding the whole northern bank of the Vistula
and slowly moving towards the Kutno region in pursuit of the retreating Polish forces.
The left wing of the 8th Army attacked the suburbs of Lenczyca, while on the right wing new forces had already
been assembled for an action on Lowicz, where the enemy was particularly active. The German communique claimed that the Polish
attempt at breaking out from Kutno had been frustrated.
The 10th Army was carrying on an artillery battle near Warsaw and joined the 8th Army along the axis Blonie-Sochaczew.
On the middle Vistula a light motorised division attempted a movement from Pulawy to Lublin, but had to stop in the field
when it ran out of fuel. The march from Krasnik to the line of the Wieprz was faster; the enemy reached Krasnystaw. The infantry
was marching from the San to Tanew and from the Vistula to Janow Lubelski.
The 14th Army surrounded Lwow from the south and the west. The eastward movement was stopped after the occupation
of Sambor and a covering against Przemysl was posted in the south. A light division crossed the road Lwow-Lublin, occupying
Rawa Ruska and Tomaszow.
On the sea-coast the action did not progress owing to bad weather conditions.
The German air force continued the bombardment and machine-gunning of the roads along which the Poles were retreating.
By destroying railway stations and tracks, it paralysed transports as far as the Russian frontier.
The German Press reported that on 14th September the Rumanian Court Minister, Siguriu, assured the German Government,
on King Carol's behalf, of the most definite and complete neutrality of Rumania in the war.
The Polish army had reached the following positions:
The defence of Polesie was in the course of organisation. Centres of resistance were being established in the
region Kobryn-Pinsk-Luniniec, along the Jasiolda. The available forces amounted to about 8 battalions, 3 batteries, and 2
General Przedzymirski's Army left its infantry on the line Biala-Miedzyrzec-Radzyn. The cavalry was reorganised
into Colonel Zakrzewski's brigade in the region of Lubartow (Wilno and other units).
General Anders' cavalry came up to Zelechow through Laskarzew and Michow. The 39th reserve division was on the Wieprz.
It was decided to undertake further retreat to the Hrubieszow region.
General Piskor's Army consisted of its own units and those of General Szyling. It occupied the line Turobin-Frampol-Bilgoraj-Tarnogrod.
The last forces of the Sandomierz defence (Lieut.-Colonel Sikorski) joined them at Janow. The battle of the Bilgoraj forests
lasted throughout the day. In the evening the army retreated to Zwierzyniec-Aleksandrow-Tarnogrod.
General Sosnkowski's Army, after carrying out a reconnaissance from Sadowa Wisznia, moved to the north to the
forests, in order to base on the loop of the Wereszczyca an attack on the enemy in Jaworow. In the night the 11th infantry
division was to attack Nowosiolki, Muzylowice, and Mogilki, while the 38th reserve division was to advance on Czarnokonce.
The 24th infantry division in the rearguard held Mosciska, fighting against enemy patrols; in the night it moved to Sadowa
The aproach of the enemy armoured-motorised units to Lwow found its defence in the early stages of organisation (1 battalion
and 16 guns) so that advanced elements reached St. Elisabeth's Church. They were destroyed in street fighting. The strength
of the defence was increasing: it was reinforced by the 3rd regiment of the Frontier Defence Corps and then the 35th reserve
division arrived in irregular transports. Until the arrival of the enemy infantry, the defence of the town, organised in four
sectors on the out-skirts of the city, was sufficiently strong to offer a serious resistance. Apart from the local attempted
attacks, the enemy kept in the background, shelling the town from a distance and scattering from aeroplanes leaflets suggesting
surrender, which was proposed by representatives sent for a parley.
Following an enemy motorised unit, a Polish motorised brigade reached the Zolkiew region along the Krakowiec-Jaworow
road on 13th September and took over the defence of the town from the north. In the course of the 14th and 15th the enemy
paralysed its action on that sector. There were considerable forces in front of the town and some were active north of Rawa
General Kutrzeba's Army moved the group of General Knoll for its planned break-through to Warsaw. On the Bzura
one infantry regiment and one artillery group out of each division were left in the region of Leczyca to cover the sector.
The march was carried out at night and partly during the day, under enemy bombardment and in difficult conditions in view
of the crosswise movement of the retreating rearguards of General Bortnowski's division. On 15th September at midday the following
points were reached: the 25th infantry division - Adamowa Gora, the 17th infantry division - Rybno, the 14th infantry division
- Zlakow-Borowy, the cavalry - the region of Brochow.
General Bortnowski's Army also broke away and passed to the other side of the Bzura. The retreat was carried
out at night in very difficult conditions, for the enemy (18th, 19th, and 24th divisions) was advancing immediately behind
the retreating lines. The following positions were taken up: the National Defence of Colonel Switalski on the Bzura north
of Sochaczewo; the 26th infantry division was forming a bridgehead in Sochaczew (the 18th infantry regiment); the remaining
forces held the Bzura as far as Kozlow Szlachecki: the 16th division as far as Lowicz, and the 4th division as far as the
The western covering (General Tokarzewski) remained stationary after repulsing the attack near Wloclawek (Kruszyn). South
of Kutno the defence was strengthened by the 70th infantry regiment of the 25th division.
General Rommel's Army organised the defence of Warsaw with regiments and battalions of the 8th, 5th, and 29th
The western bank of the Vistula around the suburbs of Warsaw was divided into three sectors: Mokotow in the south, Wola
in the middle, and Bielany in the north. Volunteer formations made up the losses of the regular units and provided reinforcements
as well as reserves. In Modlin the western bank, in the region Kazun-Cybulice, was held by the 30th infantry division; the
eastern bank, from the Vistula to the Bug-Narew, was held by the 28th infantry division, strengthened in the Zakroczym region
by the 2nd division; south of the Bug-Narew to the Vistula there were the 8th infantry division and the National Defence battalions
of Warsaw. The enemy air raids continued with daily regularity. The shelling, especially by heavy guns, increased in intensity.
Short raids by armoured units were attempted against Warsaw.
The Polish air force bombed the region of Rawa Ruska and the road Tomaszow-Rawa. Most of the squadrons continued the
transfer to new emergency airfields, acting in accordance with the general plan of the High Command.
On 14th September 59 German infantry divisions and 16 armoured and motorised divisions were identified in action on the
The action of the German forces was directed with the utmost energy towards the final encirclement and destruction
of the Polish troops between the Bzura and the Vistula. A mass attack of infantry and armoured divisions was to achieve this
object. The German High Command was also endeavouring to carry out a wider flanking movement east of the Bug. This task was
entrusted to the 14th Army from Lwow, the 10th Army advancing from the Vistula, and the 3rd Army coming from Brzesc. The armoured
and motorised divisions had irrevocably lost in the previous actions about 25 per cent. of their fighting equipment and they
had strained their engines by making daily cross-country journeys over distances amounting to about 40 kilometres a day in
a straight line - that is far more in actual fighting conditions. In spite of favourable weather conditions, the roads were
deteriorating, and the bringing up of troops by motor transport for the purpose of engaging the Polish forces became more
difficult. The destruction of the stations, the tracks, and the bridges made the use of railway transport impossible. The
lines of supply of petrol and other necessities were growing longer. That is why the original speed of advance had slowed
down to some extent. The activity of many motorised divisions was confined to holding the occupied regions. Combined groups
built up from parts of motorised divisions were improvised for the purpose of carrying out the encircling movement. The air
force continued harassing attacks in small groups.
On the Polish side the control over the situation and its knowledge were becoming quite inadequate. The army
commanders received only general instructions. Their execution was not co-ordinated either in time or in space. There
was a liaison with the High Command through Lwow and by means of unarmed aeroplanes. A glance at the map and a study of the
actions fought on the days of the 12th, 13th and 14th of September in the Warsaw region prove that there were several autonomous
centres of fighting, engaging large enemy forces. That system of self-contained centres of battle was extended to other armies
and thus Polesie, the front between the Bug and the Wieprz, the Lublin Army, and the southern front in Eastern Malopolska
began to act independently. The Rumanian bridgehead had been organised independently since 15th September.
After the 15th, when the High Command settled down in its new quarters, there was a return to a central control
and direction of operations, but it did not last very long (Map No. 8).
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
15th September - The 3rd Army occupied Bialystok, and reconnoitred east of Brzesc, while the citadel
was still resisting. Most of the forces in the latitude of Brzesc-Siedlce moved towards Lukow and Deblin.
The 4th Army reported a battle in Praga, where a Polish attack was repulsed and 8000 prisoners were
taken. The remaining forces were stationed at Modlin and along the Vistula, as far as Plock.
The 8th Army attacked unsuccessfully in the region of Wloclawek and moved south of Kutno. The attacks
near Lowicz and Sochaczew were fruitless.
The 10th Army carried on patrol activity from the Bzura to the Vistula and endeavoured to cut the
roads between Warsaw and Modlin, on the western bank of the Vistula. Heavy artillery fire and air raids were continued against
Warsaw. Armoured and motorised divisions crossed the Wieprz, approached Lublin, and fought for Bilgoraj.
The 14th Army was fighting along the Tanew. In the region of Lwow it fought some actions on its foreground.
The motorised elements from the line Rawa Ruska-Tomaszow-Zamosc moved eastwards and occupied Wlodzimierz, taking also Chelm
in the north.
On the Baltic coast the town of Gdynia was taken. Oksywie, with the strongly built naval barracks and the
naval base, was still resisting attacks, as well as the garrison of Hel.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The forces covering Polesie had increased to 10 battalions and 8 batteries, with 3 cavalry squadrons.
Most of them were defending the line of the River Muchawiec in the direction of Brzesc and the line of the Royal Canal (Kobryn-Pinsk-Luniniec).
General Przedzymirski's Army had marched southwards to the line Slawatycze-Parczew-Kock-Lubartow.
In the evening reports were received about a battle near Lublin and an enemy advance from Lukow. The divisions formed a covering
from the north and from the west.
General Piskor's Army carried out the planned retreat with its northern group composed of General
Sadowski's forces and the units from the Vistula line. The southern group, reinforced by a regiment of heavy artillery and
a cavalry brigade, moved through forests to the region of Oleszyce (the 21st infantry division) and Cieszanow (6th infantry
division) in order to take Lubaczow and cut off communications at the rear of the enemy motorised units.
In the evening the 21st division attacked and took Oleszyce. The 6th infantry division postponed its march
and its attack encountered an enemy resistance on the Tanew, north of Cieszanow. The cavalry brigade, which had undertaken
the covering of the south and west, had to fight a battle for Tarnogrod, and detected the approach of the VIIIth and XVIIth
enemy corps (a dispatch found on the body of a killed officer). The action on Lubaczow was subdivided into a cavalry covering,
fighting at Cieszanow, and a separate attack of the 21st infantry division on Oleszyce. In view of the freedom of movement
enjoyed by the enemy this resulted in the cutting off of that division at 4 P.M. south of the Tanew.
The advanced elements of the army held by the evening the line Zwierzyniec-Krasnobrod. The western coovering
had to push back attacks from Tarnogrod and in the forests Bilgoraj-Aleksandrow.
General Sosnkowski's Army obtained full success in a night attack. A bayonet attack secured 20 guns,
80 tanks, and about 100 transport vehicles (Gemischtes Panzerkorps). This booty was destroyed and a further march was undertaken
to Janow, where it was decided to carry out a regrouping before continuing the attack toward Lwow.
The defence of Lwow consolidated its positions on the outskirts of the town and fought local actions. The
motorised brigade in the region of Zboiska was covering the north, faced by the units of the 1st mountain division.
General Kutrzeba's Army prepared the development on the Bzura for the attack of General Knoll's group.
Fighting for the Sochaczew bridgehead went on until the evening (26th infantry division) and the enemy attack on Lowicz was
continued, eventually extending to the whole southern front. Participants in the battle reported that the Polish civilian
population was driven in front of the attacking German troops. The whole army of General Bortnowski was to take part from
the morning of the 16th in an attack in the general direction of Skierniewice. In the course of the day Sochaczew changed
hands several times. An aeroplane reported the presence of an armoured column 15 kilometres long (with its head at Paprotnia)
on the road near Blonie, and of another column 10 kilometres long on the road Leszno-Lazy. In Leszno and Blonie there were
motor-transport parks. General Bortnowski decided to abandon the plan of attack and pass to defence along the Bzura. During
the night enemy forces forced the Bzura north of Sochaczew.
The western covering group (General Tokarzewski's) was fighting on the line Gostynin-Kutno-river Ochotnica.
In the second half of the day the enemy bombed repeatedly the area between the Bzura and the Vistula.
The Warsaw defence organised an excursion from Praga along the Vistula dyke. There was artillery
fire throughout the day and the air raids continued with unabated violence.
The Polish air force carried out its last bombing attack on armoured columns in the region of Hrubieszow.
The enemy bombed the railway stations of Wilno and Baranowicze. The roads of the provinces of Lublin, Wolyn,
and the Eastern Malopolska (south-eastern Poland) were continuously bombed by scattered enemy aircraft.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The whole development of operations proves that the 16th of September was the last day of the effective movement
of armoured and motorised divisions. Even the movement of combined groups had stopped and they remained in previously reached
The 3rd Army grouped its forces on the line Bialystok-Brzesc. The Landwehr from East Prussia was
stationed on the Biebrza and then moved to the southern edge of the forest of Augustow. The fortress of Brzesc was surrounded.
On the front west of Brzesc the Germans reached Biala and Lukow. A division marching from Minsk-Mazowiecki-Siennica occupied
Demblin. The German communique claimed the repulse of a Polish attack near Siedlce.
The 4th Army maintained contact with the Polish troops and fought an action west of Gostynin.
The 8th Army took Kutno on its western wing and some of its forces attained the northern bank of
the Bzura. An attack on Lowicz was pushed back. In the evening Sochaczew was taken and advanced elements crossed the river
north of the town.
The 10th Army took Bilgoraj and continued fighting for Lublin.
The 14th Army held Sambor with its southern wing and surrounded Przemysl. It fought an unsuccessful
battle near Lwow in the region of Zboiska. Motorised units had taken Zamosc, Tomaszow, and Rawa, while infantry divisions
were brought up to that region. A motorised detachment advancing from Brzesc met at Wlodawa troops marching from Silesia.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The group of the defence of Polesie maintained contact with enemy patrols.
General Przedzymirski's Army, between the Wieprz and the Bug, continued its southward march. In view
of the reported fall of Lublin it had moved the cavalry brigade to the region Milejow-Piaski Luterskie-Travniki on the Wieprz.
Reconnaissance revealed, however, that some battalions were still defending Lublin. The presence of the Germans was reported
from the region of Krasnystaw-Zamosc-Tomaszow, but Lwow was still defended by General Langner and a part of General Sosnkowski's
army. The cavalry brigades of General Anders had reached the region of Kock and Lubartow.
The forces of the northern front were composed of the 1st infantry division, the 33rd, 41st, and 39th reserve
divisions, and the 10th infantry division (4 to 6 battalions each), the infantry division of General Wolkowicki (the groups
of Colonels Szalewicz, Tatar, and Korkozowicz) with 8 battalions and the cavalry brigade of Colonel Zakrzewski (the Wilno
cavalry brigade together with the 8th and the Warsaw uhlan regiments). The complements of infantry were inadequate. The artillery
had only small reserves of ammunition.
General Piskor's Army. On the southern wing the 21st infantry division was surrounded by the enemy
and General Kustron was killed in a bayonet attack; two regiments were destroyed. The cavalry brigade and the 3rd infantry
regiment of the 21st division were unable to hold the Tanew, which was forced by the enemy north of Tarnogrod. The 6th infantry
division was pushed to the region of Jozefow. The remaining forces reached the region Krasnobrod-Zielona-Rudki. The presence
of the enemy was reported from all directions, so that the army had to form a hedgehog cover.
General Sosnkowski's Army threw back the enemy at Janow with a vigorous attack and concentrated its
forces in the direction of Lwow, aiming at an attack through Brzuchowice: (a) the 11th infantry division was to attack
from Lelechowka, (b) the 24th infantry division on Rzensna Polska, (c) the 38th reserve division, used as
a relay force and rear-covering, was located on the edge of the Janow forests and near Dobrostany.
The strength of the 11th infantry division was about 1200 men, of the 24th, 800-1000 men, and of the 38th
reserve division about 3000 men.
The defence of Lwow was subjected to slight pressure. The motorised brigade received from the High Command
orders to move to the Kolomyja bridgehead. It reached Halicz, by-passing Lwow in the east, via Jaryczow.
General Kutrzeba's Army. The group of General Knoll postponed its attack, which was carried out after
dawn. The forests of Emiljanow and Gongolin were taken. Although General Bortnowski had abandoned the idea of an attack on
Skierniewice, the 26th, 16th, and 14th infantry divisions, in accordance with General Kutrzeba's decision, began an attack
in the direction of Miedniewice (26th infantry division) and Skierniewice (4th and 16th infantry divisions). About midday
the enemy infantry counter-attacked. A wave of heavy tanks attacked under cover of a smoke screen, with a strong artillery
support. It went through the 55th and 57th infantry regiments, the artillery of the 14th division, by-passed the forest and
attacked northwards. The 17th Infantry Division attacked and reached the Bzura, but its artillery was also destroyed by the
tanks. The 25th infantry division and the Poznan cavalry brigade reached the Bzura under enemy bombardment from the air and
forced a crossing by an attack on Witkowice and Brochow, attaining the edge of the Kampinos forest. Both those units arrived
at Lomianki, in spite of the heavy fighting in which they had participated, quite fit for further action. The group of General
Tokarzewski retreated, fighting, to the region of Gombin (27th infantry division) and Zychlin (15th infantry division and
National Defence). The infantry losses were so severe that the strength of the regiments was reduced to about 1000 men with
three or five professional officers each. In such a situation the wing of the 26th infantry division was bent towards Gongolin.
The attack on Skierniewice was cancelled. The army commander, General Bortnowski, was cut off from his headquarters by enemy
tanks (he was with the 16th infantry division). It was finally decided to break away from the enemy on the Bzura and take
up the line Osmolin-Kiernozia-Gongolin. The 17th and 14th divisions were to assemble in the region of Ilow and Kolonja Ilow.
General Tokarzewski's group was still covering the region of Gombin, while the Vistula crossing near Wyszogrod was defended
by Colonel Maleszewski's forces (National Defence and the 19th infantry regiment).
Waves of enemy bombers attacked the troops in the field and the roads throughout the day.
The defence of Warsaw continued its fire duel with the enemy. The enemy air force bombed the city,
while excursions were carried out by the garrisons of Warsaw and Modlin.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
At 4 A.M. C.E.T. in the night of 16th-17th September the Polish ambassador in Moscow, M. Grzybowski, received a note
informing him of the active intervention of Soviet Russia against Poland. The step was motivated by the alleged need of protection
of the national minorities. The representatives of other Powers were also informed by special notes in the early hours. Great
Britain and France lodged a protest on 20th September.
This fact coincided rather strangely with the military situation which German forces were facing at the time. The 3rd,
4th, and 8th Armies, and a part of the 10th, were immobilised in the north (Warsaw, Modlin, and the Kutno area). A part of
the 10th Army was fighting. The 14th Army was mostly deployed along the Tanew and in the region Tomaszow-Zamosc-Lodz. Only
single infantry columns were advancing on Miedzyrzec-Lukow and had reached Demblin. Thus the planned encirclement on the Bug
was still quite far from its execution, although the German communique claimed that there were motorised divisions in the
rear of the Polish armies, some 100-120 kilometres beyond the main centre of battle.
The German Press reported the shipment from Constanza to England of the Polish gold reserves and the arrival of General
Haller at Bucharest. The Press also reported that Rumania was ready to receive Polish refugees. Finally, the Germans accused
the Poles, without any foundation, of using poison gas (Yellow Cross).
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The German activity of 17th September was mainly confined to the area between the Bzura and the Vistula.
The 3rd Army reported the fall of the fortress of Brzesc and an attempted Polish break-through near Siedlce,
as a result of which 12,000 prisoners, 6 tanks, and 11 motor-vehicles were captured.
The 4th Army surrounded Modlin and Warsaw, while still fighting on its western wing near the point at which
the Bzura joins the Vistula.
The 8th Army took Kutno and advanced, fighting, along the northern bank of the Bzura.
The 10th Army took Lublin and occupied Krasnystaw, moving eastwards from Bilgoraj and Tarnogrod.
The 14th Army took Przemysl and continued fighting along the Tanew. Lwow was encircled on three sides. It was
reported that the Polish armies were retreating from Przemysl to the south and from the San to the east.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The Polish armies continued their movements according to orders, but they were not informed about the decision to form
a bridgehead on the Dniester.
The defence of Polesie had nothing to report.
The Army of General Przedzymirski started a southward march in the directions of Wlodawa and Chelm. As the presence
of the enemy in the region of Wlodawa was reported, the 33rd reserve division attacked in that direction and pushed back the
enemy forces to the Bug, reaching Scibor before night. The 41st reserve division fought in the region of Sawin a successful
action against motorised forces which were attempting to cover the road to Chelm. The news about the Soviet invasion came
through. The commander of the front decided to carry out an attack on Zamosc, in order to reach Grodek Jagiellonski, near
Lwow, and join there General Sosnkowski.
General Piskor's Army received by wireless the news about the Soviet invasion. All the forces were concentrated
in the same district. The enemy armoured units attacked from Jozefow, but they were driven back. A raid of the motorised brigade
to Tomaszow revealed that the town was held by strong enemy forces. It was decided to attack Tomaszow and Belz in order to
General Sosnkowski's Army received by air the order of the High Command of 14th September requesting the formation
of a bridgehead on the Dniester. The decision was not changed. The bases for action were secured in a brief attack and then
the army reached the region Brzuchowice-Rzensna Polska. A concentration of forces was carried out for the purpose of attacking
The defence of Lwow was strengthened by the arrival of heavy field artillery. The enemy attempted several attacks.
It was known that General Sosnkowski was fighting in the forests near Brzuchowice.
The Army of General Kutrzeba was fighting armoured forces south of the line Osmolin-Kiernozia-Gongolin (the
16th and 26th infantry divisions). The 15th infantry division covered the west. The 4th, 14th, and 27th infantry divisions
were concentrated in the region of Ilow and attacked in the evening on Witkowice-Brochow, aiming at a crossing of the Bzura
in the direction of Warsaw. The enemy dive-bombers continued their attacks throughout the day. The attack on the Bzura was
successful. Thus on 16th September the cavalry brigade reached Sierakow, the 25th and 17th, as well as a part of the 27th,
infantry divisions the region of Palmiry, the 4th and parts of the 14th and 27th divisions the region of Kazun-Cybulice. In
the evening enemy infantry approached from the west the positions of the 16th, 26th, and 15th divisions on the line Kiernozia-Osmolin-Gombin.
The order was given to destroy supplies and cars, reach Ilowo, and cross the Bzura. The enemy, however, had occupied again
during the night the fords of the Bzura and placed defensive positions on the roads and clearings of the Kampinoska forest.
The defence of Modlin. The 84th Regiment of the 30th Division carried out a raid in the direction of Gorka and
reached a point near Leszno, inflicting heavy losses on the 31st German division and thus assisting the passage of forces
on the Bzura.
The defence of Warsaw received the wireless message of the gunboat Chodkiewicz from Polesie, reporting the crossing
of the frontier by the Bolsheviks. Inspite of enemy interference, radio communication was established with Hel and with
General Dab-Biernacki's army through the intermediary of the Lwow transmitter. The artillery bombardment and the air raids
continued with undiminished intensity.
On the 17th September the Soviet armies crossed at dawn the Polish frontier along its whole length from the Dniester
to the Dzwina, encountering only individual resistance of a few detachments of the Frontier Defence Corps, some local garrisons,
and the police.
The German communique reported that the Polish Government had crossed the Rumanian frontier at 7:30 P.M., that Lwow had
been completely surrounded (?), that a quarter of the whole Polish army was surrounded between the Bzura and the Vistula,
and that Warsaw twice proposed a parley. (It was actually a matter of obtaining the consent of the Germans to the departure
from the town of the remaining members of the diplomatic corps and other neutrals.)
Fighting still continued along the front. Although the fortress of Brzesc had fallen, Polesie was continuing its resistance.
The alleged wide encirclement was hardly a fact: there were German forces in Bialystok, near Czeremcha, in Brzesc, in Wlodawa,
and in Wlodzimierz, but in a relatively insignificant strength, since the 33rd reserve division pushed them off easily towards
the Bug when it was marching by Wlodawa, and the 41st reserve division did the same thing at Chelm. The advanced German forces
in the north reached no farther than Biala, Miendrzyrzec, Lukow, and Demblin. In the west they were generally located along
the line of the Wieprz, Lublin, Janow, Bilgoraj, along the Tanew river, as far as Rawa Ruska, Tomaszow, Zamosc, and the beseiged
Lwow. The advance force in the direction of Stryj and Boryslaw was still in Sambor and only a few detachments were gradually
The Rumanian bridgehead was formed and the concentric movement of the Polish forces between the Bug and the Wieprz
was carried out. The independent centres of defence (Warsaw, Modlin, Lublin, Lwow, Polesie, Oksywie, and Hel) were carrying
out their task of engaging enemy forces.
The Polish army found itself in a strange situation. It had no High Command. The information about the general situation,
which so far had been scarce, was no longer available at all. The armies acted on previous orders and in accordance with the
instructions of 15th September which had reached them by an indirect route. Their actions were not co-ordinated, the knowledge
of the general situation was based only on meagre reports coming through Lwow, and the fighting was continued individually.
The commander whose orders were expected by the others, General Sosnkowski, the senior commanding officer of the Polish
army, was busy breaking through to Lwow, fighting at Rzesna Polska and Holosko.
The Polish High Command, on receiving the news about the Soviet invasion and the occupation by the Bolsheviks of Molodeczno,
Baranowicze, Tarnopol, and the approach of their forces to Horodenka, left Kolomyja on 17th September, proceeding to Kosow.
On 18th September at 4 A.M. it crossed the Rumanian frontier. The last orders stated that the tasks of Warsaw, Modlin and
Polesie remained unchanged, while the other forces were expected to break through to Hungary and Rumania. Some reports state
that orders were issued to open negotiations with the Russians for obtaining their consent to the passage of full Polish formations
to those neutral countries.
On 16th September the last communique was issued. It contained general information and the identification of enemy units
on the southern front east of the Vistula and in Malopolska (southern Poland). The data were concerned mainly with
the position of the enemy on 14th September. This proves what considerable difficulties were encountered by G.H.Q. in maintaining
liaison with the armies.
After crossing the frontier, the Commander-in-Chief issued an order, which, however, did not reach a large proportion
of the troops. He stated that the Soviet invasion rendered a regrouping in south-eastern Poland impossible, but that the shots
fired by the Frontier Defence Corps symbolised the fact that not an inch of Polish territory was yielded voluntarily. The
Commander-in-Chief added that it was his intention to withdraw to Rumania and Hungary a large part of the army in order to
take it to France and organise there a new Polish army, which would fight until the final victory was won. He also warned
the soldiers against giving way to downheartedness and the subversive suggestions of enemy agents.
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
The absence of a central command resulted in the gradual termination of resistance (Map No. 9).
The forces assembled in the area of the planned bridgehead between the Dniester and the Stryj crossed the Rumanian and
Hungarian frontiers on various dates.
On 18th September the Germans took the defence line of the Oksywie hills, but the naval barracks and the naval base fought
until the final exhaustion of ammunition and did not surrender until 21st September. The Hel peninsula offered resistance
until 2nd October.
Although the Germans claim that the Wehrmacht finished fighting on 20th September, and withdrew to the demarcation-line
fixed by the German and Russian High Commands (the rivers Pissa, Vistula, and San), the truth is that it had several battles
to fight after that date.
General Kutrzeba's Army opened its way by a concentrated attack of the 4th, 14th, 27th, and 15th infantry divisions,
carried out on the night of 17th-18th September. There were by then battalions instead of regiments. The artillery and other
equipment which could not be taken were destroyed. Another battle had to be fought at Mlociny before the army joined the defence
of Warsaw, where it was reorganised. A part of the army strengthened the garrison of Modlin. The remaining detachments of
the 26th and 16th infantry divisions, and the parts of the 4th and 14th divisions and of the Pomorze cavalry brigade which
had been left behind, spent the whole day of 18th September assembling in the region of the Bialagora forest, under heavy
artillery fire. Practically all the remaining Polish artillery had been destroyed. The severe air raids continued throughout
the day inflicted very heavy losses. The attempted night crossing at Witkowice was frustrated by heavy fire and a strong defence,
so that only isolated groups crossed the river. The remaining forces moved northwards and on 10th September crossed the Bzura
near its junction with the Vistula, pushed aside the barrier of enemy forces on the edge of the Kampinoska forest, and reached
Warsaw after three days of forest fighting. Some officers with small groups of soldiers crossed the enemy line in a southward
direction and broke out after hiding in forests for some time, already after the capitulation of Warsaw. The German communique
claimed on 18th September the occupation of Lowicz, Ilow, and the mouth of the Bzura. It also stated that 50,000 prisoners
had been taken and the figure was increased on 20th September to 105,000. The development of the battle makes it clear what
kind of prisoners the Germans could have captured. They were mostly wounded or dead, with a few men who had lost their units.
Officers and men displayed boundless courage and determination in the fighting on the Bzura. Senior commanders gave the
example by joining the first line of attack. In defence of Sochaczew the last commander was a private. Most of the officers
of the fighting divisions were killed, including Generals Boltuc, Skotnicki, and Wlad.
General Sosnkowski's Army, after reaching Brzuchowice and Rzensna Polska, undertook on 19th September a further
attack on Lwow. After heavy fighting against armoured forces it was stopped at the height of Holosko. During the night it
was decided to by-pass the enemy in order to reach Lwow from the east. Dublany was reached by the road through Grzybowice.
On 20th September the army was left without ammunition and had to surrender to the Bolsheviks, who had approached from the
east. Some officers and men managed to break through to Hungary.
The Army of General Piskor moved in the morning of the 18th to the starting position for an attack on Tomaszow.
The motorised brigade and the cavalry brigade were to attack north of Tomaszow, the 23rd infantry division on Tomaszow, the
55th reserve division on Belzec, and the 6th infantry division with the remaining forces of the 21st infantry division were
directed to Narol. Fighting continued until late at night. The attacks of the Poles in the direction of Tomaszow were thrown
back several times. In the evening the 28th German infantry division attacked the rear of the 6th infantry division and a
hand-to-hand battle went on throughout the 19th of September, with the result that the major part of the Polish force was
captured by the enemy. In the course of the night, under heavy artillery fire, an improvised council of the officers of the
northern group decided to surrender. The German communique claims the capture on 21st September at Narol of 20,000 prisoners.
The northern front and General Przedzymirski's Army were moving southwards along two axes: (a) the
group of General Kruszewski through Rejowiec on Krasnystaw (the Mazowsze cavalry brigade, Colonel Zakrzewski's cavalry brigade,
and the infantry under Colonel Bratro); (b) the group from Wlodawa, commanded by General Przedzymirski, and composed
of the 1st infantry division and the 41st reserve division of General Piekarski (the combined 33rd and 41st reserve divisions),
with the infantry division of General Wolkowicki, along the axis Chelm-Hrubieszow. General Anders' cavalry joined them on
21st September in the region of Grabowiec.
In the course of the march there was an encounter with the enemy on the road Krasnystaw-Hrubieszow. During the fighting
of 19th September many German light tanks were destroyed and the enemy withdrew southwards. A part of the message of the Polish
High Command ordering the breaking-through to Hungary was received. Reconnaissance revealed the presence of garrisons in Zamosc
and other towns in the southern direction. On 21st September the front from Zamosc to Tomaszow was reached, facing everywhere
strong enemy positions. The 27th and 7th infantry divisions were identified in the region of Zamosc, the 8th and 28th infantry
divisions in the region of Tomaszow, the 44th and 45th infantry divisions and the 4th light division west of Rawa Ruska, while
large groups of armoured units were seen on the road from Krasnystaw to Zamosc and Tomaszow.
General Dab-Biernacki decided to direct his main attack on Tomaszow. The evening attack of 21st September on Tomaszow
was thrown back. In the morning of 21st September orders were issued for the battle of the 22nd: (a) the group of
Colonel Bratro to attack Zamosc from the region of Czesnik, (b) General Kruszewski (the 39th reserve division and
the infantry division of General Ankowicz) to attack south of Czesnik on Labunie, (c) the cavalry commanded by General
Anders to attack from the Komorow region to Majdan, (d) the 1st infantry division from the Rachanie region to Tarnawatka,
(e) the 41st reserve division and the infantry division of General Wolkowicki on Tomaszow. The reserves were
grouped in the region Dub-Przewale. Satisfactory results were obtained in the direction of Majdany and Labunie, where the
Suchowala forest was reached and the cavalry moved farther to Krasnobrod. There was an attack of enemy armoured forces from
the direction of Zamosc - it pushed the Polish troops southwards and opened the front. In the evening it was reported that
the Bolsheviks had reached the Bug. On 23rd September fighting was resumed in groups, but no success was achieved, so that
surrender was eventually decided upon. Isolated detachments continued breaking through. On 27th September parts of the 41st
and 39th reserve divisions and the 7th infantry division were captured by the enemy. In the region south of Bilgoraj a mixed
detachment of about 2000 men was captured on the San on 26th September. Another detachment of about the same size, commanded
by Colonel Zieleniewski, surrendered near Nisko on 2nd October. The cavalry of General Anders reached on 27th September the
region Dobromil-Husakow, south of Przemysl, where it was attacked by Soviet armoured forces and partly dispersed, while some
detachments crossed the Hungarian frontier.
Various smaller units continued fighting for a long time and later many of them crossed the Hungarian frontier.
In all, 32,000 soldiers and 228 aeroplanes crossed the Rumanian frontier, about 35,000 men the Hungarian frontier, and
some 12,000 men from the Grodno group and the north-eastern garrisons the Lithuanian frontier.
It is difficult to settle on the ground of the Tomaszow battle alone the problem of whether the plan of the High Command
could be realised. It is to be stated, however, that apart from the forces defending Warsaw, Modlin, and Polesie three armies
reached the region indicated in the order. They were opposed by units of the 14th and a part of the 10th Army, both distant
from their supply bases and totalling a strength of about 12 to 16 infantry divisions and two or three armoured-motorised
divisions - that is 150,000-200,000 men - of whom a considerable part was tied up at Lwow. The fatigue of the armoured and
motorised equipment should also be taken into account.
According to German sources, the Wehrmacht eventually took in that region 90,000 prisoners and the Soviet army 60,000.
Adding the 50,000 or more interned in Hungary and Rumania, we arrive at a total of 200,000 Polish troops.
The realisation of a bridgehead between the Dniester and the Stryj was therefore a practical possibility. There is no
means of knowing what would have been the outcome of the Tomaszow battle if the Soviet army had not intervened.
It is to be noted that the supplies for the continuation of the war were at that time already secured.
The defence of Warsaw continued until 28th September. The siege consisted of continuous air raids and shelling
by heavy guns. German leaflets threatened the use of poison gas. Finally, the air bombardment carried out during the whole
of the 23rd of September destroyed the waterworks and then the enemy started numerous fires with incendiary bombs. On the
26th September there were 137 important fires. At the same time attacks were pursued against Praga and Mokotow, resulting
in the occupation on the 25th of the earth fortifications of Mokotow. The following ruse of the Germans proves how anxious
they were to finish the siege as soon as possible: a number of Polish officers and N.C.O.s were brought to Grodzisk from the
prisoners' camp in Jaroslaw and the German Staff officers "explained" to them there the hopelessness of the position of Warsaw.
Then they were sent across the lines on 23rd September in order to persuade the defenders that any further resistance would
be useless. Naturally they joined the Warsaw garrison instead of carrying out their mission.
In spite of the destruction of food stores, of the water-supply system, and of the hospitals, Warsaw continued its resistance.
Negotiations for a capitulation were opened on 28th September, and it was not until 30th September that the Germans entered
the city. German sources claim the capture of 150,000 prisoners in Warsaw.
Modlin surrendered on 30th September. The Germans claimed to have taken there 219 officers and 5000 men, as well as 58
guns and 183 machine-guns.
The garrison of Hel surrendered on 2nd October. It consisted of 52 officers, including Rear-Admiral Unrug, about 4000
soldiers and ratings, and nearly as many German prisoners.
Until 18th September Lwow was surrounded on three sides by the Germans, who made a number of rather half-hearted attacks
and endeavoured to obtain a capitulation. On 18th September the Soviet forces approached from the east, from Winniki, and
also proposed capitulation. There was a peculiar form of rivalry, for the headquarters of the defence refused at first to reply
to either of the proposals. Then the Germans sent an ultimatum, demanding surrender by 10 A.M. of 20th September and threatening
air reprisals in case of refusal. The resistance continued, and it was on 22nd September that a capitulation in favour of
the Russians was signed on honourable terms (which were not kept by the Soviet Army). The enemy took about 10,000 prisoners.
The command of the defence of Polesie decide on 19th September to concentrate its forces in the region Kamien
Koszyrski-Datyn-Krymno-Wyz, from which they were to proceed to Warsaw, crossing the Bug at Wlodawa. The strength of the units
was as follows: (a) Col. Brzezinski (80th and 79th infantry reserve regiments) - 4 battalions, (b) Colonel
Epler - 4 battalions, (c) Colonel Gorzkowski - 2 battalions, (d) Commodore Zajaczkowski - 2 battalions
of marines, (e) the Suwalki and Podlasie cavalry brigades (the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 10th uhlan regiments, the 9th mounted
rifles, the 3rd chevau-legers, and the cavalry squadron of the Frontier Defence Corps of Niewirkow).
The artillery consisted of 6 batteries (20 guns). The total summed up to 11,000 men.
At the same time the command of the Frontier Defence Corps was concentrating its units for 23rd September in the region
Mroczno-Serniki-Kuchocka Wola-Rafalowka. The command was in the hands of General Ruekemann, the vice-commander of the K.O.P.
(Frontier Defence Corps). The units were 3 battalions from the Polesie brigade of the K.O.P. and the 135th Infantry Reserve
Regiment, which was going by train from Ossowiec to eastern Malopolska (south-eastern Poland), but was unloaded in the Sarny
region and took part in fighting against the Bolsheviks. There were about 4000 men and 6 guns.
General Fr. Kleeberg ordered action for 23rd September, reckoning with the fact that the Bolsheviks had reached already
on the 20th Brzesc in the north and Kowel in the south. The K.O.P. which had behind it 170-250 kilometres of march, could
not reach the region of Kamien Koszyrski before 25th September, and that is why the two groups never joined their forces.
They had to fight separately.
Weak German forces retreated before the Polesie group and General Fr. Kleeberg, rolling up Soviet units in the north
and south, crossed the Bug without encountering very serious resistance and reached on 2nd October the region of Radzyn. In
consequence of that movement the K.O.P. forces had to fight already during their march for Ratno and Szack on 24th September
and for Mielniki on the 27th. They forced the Bug on 29th September at Wlodawa and Grabow, reaching on 30th September the
region Hansk-Wytyczne. There they were surrounded, and according to orders, endeavoured to break out in individual groups.
Some of them escaped and the rest were captured. The Bolsheviks claimed the capture of 8000 prisoners.
The German divisions from Lwow-Garwolin-Debin barred the way of the Polesie forces. A battle was fought, and in spite
of the great superiority of the enemy's artillery of about 100 guns it lasted until 5th October. When Soviet armoured divisions
approached from Miendzyrzecz and Parczew, the remaining Polish force had to surrender.
The German communique claimed the capture of 1234 officers, 15,600 men, 2 divisional staffs, 20 guns, 180 heavy machine-guns,
and 5000 horses.
It was the last battle of the Polish army, against 75 German divisions, 30 Soviet infantry divisions, 12 motorised brigades,
and 10 cavalry divisions which were operating on 27th September on the territory of Poland.
Guerrilla warfare continued well into the winter months. The Polish campaign is not yet over. It is waged on one side
by the population of Poland and the army reconstituted on French and then British soil, and on the other by the German and
Soviet invaders, who try to break down the spirit of national resistance by means of cruel reprisals against the defenceless
people of Poland.
The Losses of Both Sides and the New Partition of Poland
The Germans claimed the exaggerated figure of 700,000 prisoners and 1200 guns. The actual number of prisoners
taken by the Germans was probably 420,000 - a figure in proportion to the total strength of the army moboilised by Poland
before and during the campaign (800,000).
On 6th October the Wehrmacht published its list of casualties, which included 10,572 killed, 30,392 wounded,
and 3409 missing. The neutral Press reported on 12th October that according to confidential data collected by the German War
Office on 24th September the casualties amounted to 91,278 killed, 63,417 seriously injured, and 34,938 slightly injured.
According to the same German source, the Germans had lost 198 tanks and 361 were put out of action; 89 fighters, 216 light
and 107 heavy bombers, as well as 9 reconnaissance aircraft, were brought down.
The actual figure of German losses will not be known before the end of the war, for the Berlin Government
prohibited even the publication of private obituaries. In any case the casualties and loss of equipment were certainly several
times greater than those admitted by the German Staff. It is known that in many divisions there were only 60 men left in each
company and sometimes even as few as 20. 127 aeroplanes are positively known to have been shot down over the city of Warsaw
alone. An approximate estimate of the losses of the German air force until 14th September is 1000 machines shot down, to say
nothing of the normal wear and tear, which was very severe, as every aeroplane had done at least 10,000 kilometres flying,
mostly from bad or indifferent airfields.
There are in Polish hands intercepted reports of German commanding officers, who stated that up to 5th September
some armoured divisions lost as much as 28 per cent. of their armoured equipment. An estimate based on the results of the
twenty-four Polish bombing attacks on armoured and motorised columns, and the number of destroyed tanks counted immediately
after successful battles, brings the total to 700 tanks. By halving the number of tanks destroyed, according to Polish reports
received up to 16th September we arrive at the total of 1400 tanks. It is known from other sources that over 2600 tanks had
to be thoroughly overhauled or sent back to the foundries as scrap-iron.
The consumption of fuel, the most precious material of the modern war, was in excess of one-half of the German
The Polish losses were immense. A fine and brave army was destroyed. It could have gone on fighting for a
long time if it had not been treacherously stabbed in the back from the east.
The casualties among the civilian population, both during the campaign and afterwards, under the cruel oppression
of the invaders, was very severe, and considerably more numerous than in the army. The struggle against the Nazi and Red imperialisms
will cost Poland the lives of several million of her citizens, and it has cost her already the loss of everything that twenty
years of peace-work have achieved.
Poland suffered a new partition. The Germans took the part of the country west of the Pissa, the Bug, and
the San (129,400 square kilometres and 22,638,000 inhabitants). The rest (200,280 sq.km., with 13,377,500 inhabitants) was
the price claimed by Russia for its assistance. The Reich annexed nearly 90,000 sq.km., with a population of 10,250,000, while
the remainder of the German-occupied part of the country is known as the General Government. In both cases the German rule
is entirely illegal. In all the territories held by Germany only 9.8 per cent. of the population of towns and 4.2 per cent.
of the rural population declared themselves to be German-speaking, although various inducements were offered to all who did
so. There were in the whole of Poland, according to data of 1938, no more than 31.1 per cent. of national minorities.
1. General Observations
In estimating the military results of the campaign, it is generally stressed that the Polish army carried
out an important task by engaging the major part of the German forces and thus allowing the Western Allies of Poland ample
time for a leisurely mobilisation and preparations.
Apart from that somewhat passive task and the inflicting of heavy losses on the enemy, the resistance of Poland
achieved another important object by revealing the operational methods of the German High Command and the fighting value of
the different branches of the German forces.
Most of the views which have been so far expressed on the subject of the Polish defence plan and general development
of forces contain a criticism of the weakness of flanks, of the insufficiency of reserves, and of the choice of a defence
line (it is stated that it should have been placed behind the Narew, the Bug, the Vistula, and the San).
The consideration of the topography of the country, of the military possibilities, and of the plans and preparations
of the Polish High Command throws some light on the subject and permits a sound estimate of the facts.
The German High Command worked out a plan and carried it out ruthlessly, disregarding voluntarily undertaken
obligations of international law, every kind of human feeling towards the defenceless population, and even its own losses
in lives and material. It used the traditional method of outflanking, and whenever the opportunity occurred - even when it
was unexpected - it endeavoured encirclement.
The new instruments of warfare were used to the full, together with weapons of propaganda and treachery, but
fear was made the principal means of action. The Germans expected to break down the moral resistance of the nation by destroying
the country and murdering thousands of innocent victims with their bombs and bullets.
The German plan provided for three simultaneous blows, aimed at the centre and the two flanks. The first stage
of the campaign was to consist in the cutting off of Pomorze and the preparation for the surrounding of the Polish western
armies within the loop of the Vistula. In the second stage it was planned to carry out a wider encirclement beyond the Bug
and the San.
Poland decided to resist and yield ground fighting; after taking up positions behind the defence line it was
expected that the well-known and undisputable superiority of the enemy forces would be counteracted.
Such were the leading principles of the operations. Germany had a great ease of manoeuvre thanks to her mastery
of the air. The original surprise attack gave her the initiative, which she could keep in her hands throughout the campaign
owing to the superior speed of her armoured and motorised divisions, as well as to the mastery of the air possessed by the
Poland could not carry any planned manoeuvre to its conclusion, owing to the slow rate of movement due to
the inferiority of her technical resources, which weighed heavily on every attempt at concentration or counter-action.
The sources which are accessible to-day provide a clear picture of the actual development of events, but they
give little ground for a critical appreciation of the operations.
The first "Blitzkrieg" on a major scale provided, however, a great wealth of experience and data, permitting
a valuation of the part played by new weapons and the method of their tactical use. The one-month campaign fought by the Polish
army deserves to be studied especially from that point of view.
The ancient elements of warfare, such as leadership, morale, physical superiority, surprise, etc., have remained
unchanged. In the sphere of manoeuvre, however, the present war brought about a complete revision of the relative importance
of different means of transport. Motor transport leapt to the first place, together with the aeroplane, leaving the railways
Infantry marches can be used as a means of manoeuvre only within a limited tactical scope and on small distances.
The increased speed of action and speed of movement emphasises the element of foresight, planning, and efficient
organisation of the disposable means on a certain territory. The calculation of time has to be set now to quite different
limits than those of yesterday.
The principle of a most careful selection of the technical executors of the commanders' orders has been confirmed
again by the Polish campaign. A still greater amount of experience and knowledge is to be expected of a staff officer.
2. New Weapons
The First World War brought new tactical methods, resulting from the use of fire concentrations both in defence
and offence (the fire manoeuvre). The fire power, provided by guns, was limited in range and destructive effect, owing to
In the present war fire concentrations became more destructive and their range was increased to several hundred
kilometres thanks to the use of waves of bombers following each other.
The last war gave only the first inkling of the power of the new weapons: the aeroplane and the tank. Their
apptitude for mass grouping, their speed, and their range suggested new possibilities of breaking-through and of destruction.
The subsequent period of peace was used by engineers for improving the performance of both aeroplanes and
tanks, while military experts worked out new methods for their use.
Thanks to careful observation, theoretical conceptions were confirmed and new practical data were collected
in the course of various minor wars, especially during the last five years.
Germany, actively rebuilding her military power, was leading in all the fields, either openly or in secrecy.
Examples are provided by the period of collaboration with Russia after Rapallo or the participation in the Spanish civil war.
After 1933 no expense was spared on tests and experiments (some of them unsuccessful) carried out in the course of manoeuvres
and training. Bloodless campaigns (the occupation of Austria, of the Sudeten, and of Czechoslovakia), although they were not
free from failings, served to formulate definite principles, which were embodied in military publications and provisory regulations,
known as "Merkblatter."
In Poland, as well as in some other countries, it was usual first to wait for the results of promising disarmament
conversations and then to recoil from the spending of fantastic sums involved in the introduction of new weapons or defences
But the price which we paid for the experience of 1939 was infinitely greater than any possible expense.
Although the Soviet intervention was directly responsible for the conclusion of the campaign, its issue was
actually decided by air power and armoured divisions. This is a basic truth which should be ever present in the minds
of those responsible for the security of any country.
Observations on the activity of those two fighting services form the centre of interest, as the others played
only a subsidiary part; that is why I have dispensed in the present work with a study of the purely tactical aspect of the
campaign and the conclusions to which it might lead. The available data and facts remain a subject for a separate study undertaken
from a tactical point of view.
3. The Air Force and its Use
The air force acted as a separate arm, carrying out its own individual tasks, which included mastery of the
air and the destruction of the whole country. Those two aims were achieved thanks to the inadequate strength of the Polish
air force and anti-aircraft defences, as well as the small depth of the Polish territory. In view of the encirclement of Poland
from the north and the south by territories under German control, no air operations had to be undertaken within a greater
range than 400 kilometres.
The autonomous activity of the Luftwaffe suggests the following conclusions:
(1) The air attacks were carried out by surprise. In consequence everything that
was not ready for action on the first day was immediately disorganised and thrown out of gear.
(2) The mass of bombers used by the enemy was so great as to cover the whole front
and the whole country at the same time. The destruction was too widespread to make repairs possible and many services could
not be restored.
(3) The continuity and the uninterrupted character of action caused the exhaustion
of the resources of the defence and made even temporary reconstruction impossible.
(4) The long duration of certain actions, even if they were not particularly effective,
tied up the defence and gave the impression that the attacking force was stronger than was actually the case.
(5) The mastery of the air was used for effecting landings, in order to promote sabotage
and treachery behind the front lines, to spread panic or to carry out definite actions. In some cases larger detachments landed
from the air attacked army headquarters or security units behind the front.
Every action was carried out by at least one squadron, generally flying at medium altitude. After 12th September
there were also actions by smaller groups, probably designed to cover simultaneously the largest possible area. There is documentary
evidence of over 420 group flights carried out by the enemy; 862 localities bombed, while Warsaw suffered 26 air attacks.
These figures take no account of actions against troops, even when they involved the bombing of inhabited areas and towns.
The number of air raids on non-military objectives gives the measure of the Luftwaffe in Poland.
As far as Poland was concerned, this action had the following results:
(1) It confused and postponed mobilisation, although it failed to prevent it completely.
(2) It paralysed the transports already on the third day, making it impossible to
complete the concentration. It also rendered impossible any manoeuvre or re-grouping on a large operational scale.
(3) It threw out of gear the administrative machinery - as a consequence most orders
either reached their destination too late or could not be carried out.
(4) It destroyed means of liaison and thus either diminished or supressed facilities
(5) It made any movement of troops extremely difficult, reducing it to night
The air force also collaborated with the army in respect of reconnaissance and directing of fire.
It was notable that the aerial reconnaissance was used almost exclusively in favour of armoured formations,
or for the purpose of tracking the Polish air force.
Reconnaissance was generally carried out not as a separate task, but in the course of bombing or ground strafing
flights. Advanced aircraft of a fighting formation sought out targets and informed about them their ground headquarters.
The collaboration with the army was aimed at superseding artillery, mainly heavy and long-range artillery.
Such attacks were directed at first at the rear positions, gun positions and stores of the enemy, then turning towards the
front line. Sometimes both the rear and the front were attacked simultaneously by two waves of bombers.
It is known, however, that the destruction of permanent buildings was thorough and effective. The losses suffered
by trained, disciplined, and properly disposed troops on march were relatively slight. At any rate ground strafing caused
more casualties than bombing.
The proportion of non-exploded bombs was fairly high - 30-50 per cent.
The moral effect and the confusion produced by the explosions of a large number of bombs were always so strong
that some time was needed to restore the men to normal. The same moral effect was noted in the course of night fighting, when
tracer, flare, and incendiary missiles were used. The sound effects used by the enemy (screaming bombs, powerful sirens with
a high-pitched shriek, etc.) also required a certain nervous effort of self-control on the part of the soldiers.
The inadequate Polish anti-aircraft artillery helped to keep the enemy aircraft at a certain altitude, but
it was not particularly effective when attacks on large targets were concerned.
The fighters proved to be a really effective and reliable means of defence, inflicting heavy losses on the
enemy, dispersing the bomber formations, and sometimes even forcing them to abandon their mission. But the fighters could
be effective only if they were available in large numbers and kept in constant technical and fighting readiness. In Poland,
where neither of those conditions were realised, the German bombers and dive-bombers generally carried out their attacks without
the protection of ther own fighters.
Generally speaking, the Luftwaffe, secure in its mastery of the air and impunity in view of the inadequate
ground defence, carried out in its actions against the army and the whole country the task which is generally imposed on the
air force by the modern theory of war. It paralysed the work of the country, immobilised or destroyed material, and foiled
the efforts of the defence.
4. The Armoured-Motorised Formations as an Instrument of Lightning War
Armoured-motorised units were used on a big scale for the realisation of the operational plans of the High
Command. They were its principle instrument of action, responsible for the execution of the whole plan.
Every armoured-motorised unit was composed of several elements charged with three tactical duties respectively:
reconnaissance; the capture of certain objectives; and the preparation of advance by overtaking.
An analysis of the battles reveals that most of the mobile fighting was done with the fire of armoured machine-guns
or artillery. Wherever there was some stabilisation of the front, or a technically prepared territory was encountered, the
enemy reverted to the old tactical methods, consisting of reconnoitring a position, preparing an attack with fire and then
attempting a break-through, eventually followed by a deeper consolidation of the advantage thus obtained.
The operational use of armoured forces was based on the typical features of that arm: the concentration action
of armoured fire and the speed of the tanks.
A few general principles may be formulated:
(1) A division advanced some light elements in order to seek out the enemy front,
establish contact, and form flanks. If there was no possibility of an encircling action through the point of least resistance,
a frontal attack was carried out and then the speed of the armoured forces was used for penetrating as far as possible and
thus preparing the way for the next wave.
(2) A complete armoured-motorised division was used in each of the proposed directions
of attack. If the task in hand required it, they were coupled with other fast divisions, making use of the gaps which might
be discovered, or of the breach made by the tanks.
(3) After a successful break-through the front line, the motorised divisions penetrated
very deep behind the front, in order to escape the counter-action and prevent the re-organisation of defence on the same line.
If they encountered serious resistance, reinforcements of light motorised forces, or infantry brought in lorries, were immediately
(4) In the main direction of action, in the group of General Reichenau (the 10th
Army), a group of six armoured-motorised divisions was specially formed. Their action consisted of the following stages: first,
the resistance of the front line positions was broken and a deep penetration into the defence system was effected, while the
next wave of attack was endeavouring to engage the flanks of the breach. In the next stage, an attempt was made to roll up
the wings of the defence by a vigorous action, while a further movement was effected at the maximum depth of penetration in
the main direction of advance by means of reconnaissance and the capturing of certain points in the region concerned. In the
third stage, light fast divisions were inserted into the breach and they spread fanwise into the country, while the continued
pressure on the flanks of the original front on both sides of the breach caused a concentration of Polish forces at those
points, where they were engaged by infantry.
Such was the general outline of the operation north of Czestochowa, designed for a break-through towards the
Vistula, Warsaw and Sandomierz. At the same time the flanks of the Lodz Army were engaged, the resistance of the reserve army
was broken down with a side movement, and the positions of the Kielce group were passed by after the destruction of the 7th
infantry division. The same method was used by the action of the concentrated two armoured divisions south of the line Chojnice-Tuchola-Swiecie,
with a by-passing of the defence at Czersk. A similar action was carried out from Jordanow towards Rzeszow-Lwow and from Krosno
through Chyrow towards Lwow, and after the break-through at Wizna towards Brzesc and Kaluszyn. In the last two cases the development
of the battle was somewhat different, as there was a counter-action of the Polish troops and they did carry out a centrifugal
In the course of all those actions there was a close collaboration with bombers and attack squadrons of the
Luftwaffe. They attacked the country far beyond the front line, destroying railway and road junctions, all means of transport
and larger towns, and reporting at the same time the disposition of the defences, as well as carrying out the functions of
The break-through battles were fought in strict accordance with the regulations and instructions. The armoured
forces accompanying infantry established contact, and after making an attempt at breaking through with their sheer weight,
which generally failed, they formed a curtain of fire in front of the Polish defence lines. Lighter elements moved in search
of the flanks. The remaining forces of the column launched immediately a frontal attack, using all their available weapons,
unless a flank or weak point was previously discovered by the light elements. Each of the successive stages of the battle
followed by short intervals of about two or three hours, during which the tanks, the infantry, and the artillery carried on
their concerted action. The attacking troops were often brought up to the line by motorised transport within sight of the
It is to be observed that there was not a single action of advanced elements which was not supported by artillery
fire. Combined groups were always used: motor-cycles with machine-guns, light tanks and motorised artillery on caterpillars.
Every attack was prepared by artillery fire concentrated on the point selected for a break-through and repeated
after a few hours`interval in case of failure.
Such a method of action of armoured divisions completely changed the character of mobile fighting. It also
changed the method of using the reserves at the disposal of the senior commander. In both cases it was a matter of first overtaking
the speed of motorised weapons and then breaking the armour. The local defence had to anticipate the blow and the counter-attack.
An excellent example is provided by the action of the 58th infantry regiment at Emiljanow, where a wave of tanks surprised
the attack of the 14th infantry division in the course of its preparation and was arrested by the defence on the positions
of the reserve regiment.
The Polish idea of organising motorised anti-armour units for every division was therefore correct. They consisted
of a battery of anti-tank guns with machine-guns for their protection. They were organised in autonomous motorised brigades,
known as O.M., designed to use their speed for forming a barrier behind the front of the army, or on its flank.
The use of divisional reserves, or reserve armies, for the purpose of protection by traditional counter-attack,
proved entirely ineffective, for it is necessary to stop the wave of tanks before engaging in a battle in which their armour
may be destroyed.
A decision of retreat at the moment of a break-through by armoured forces tended to favour the plans of the
enemy. On the contrary, an army should stay on and endeavour to cut off the armoured divisions which penetrate behind its
front, for the purpose of subsequently destroying them.
As the financial limitations imposed on the Polish army did not permit the establishment of sufficiently strong
armoured forces, the cheaper solution was adopted in the form of providing the troops with effective anti-tank weapons. The
gradation of the means of defence and their organisation depended on the tasks imposed on each type of command. The means
used by a smaller unit are bound to be different from those reserved for an army. No unit, however, should be without anti-tank
The arrangement of reserves in depth was not sufficient if they were not provided with mobile anti-tank weapons.
It was also not sufficient for an army front to have several successive lines of defence, with anti-tank obstacles and human
reserves, if it had no means for overtaking the fast enemy units, piercing their armour, and cutting off their fuel supply.
It is to be observed that the German regulations ordered every division to carry four days' supply and that it provided for
ten hours of action per day. Those facts indicate the possible lines for counter-action.
The Polish army was equipped with anti-tank ammunition, grenades, and land mines, but their supply was small
and calculated for short actions. There were special anti-tank rifles in every infantry platoon and anti-tank guns in battalions.
They were very effective in action, but insufficient in numbers. Unfortunately the regiments and divisions were without special
anti-tank units, while the 75 mm. field guns could be used for that purpose only to a limited extent, since they had to carry
out other important duties. Besides, there were too few of them to go around. In consequence, every action was more or less
confined to resistance on the line, as it was impossible to produce a barrage of anti-armour fire deeper than 800 metres,
which could have dealt with mass and wave attacks. There were too few motorised brigades to be used operationally as movable
barriers (the value of such units was well illustrated by the activity of the motorised brigade in the Cracow Army during
its sixteen days of fighting).
The method of night attacks against the headquarters and parks of armoured divisions, used on several occasions
by Polish infantry, gave excellent results. The enemy was compelled to provide his tanks and armoured cars with powerful searchlights,
which blinded the attacking force and, when used in accordance with a definite plan, assisted defence fire at night. Finally
the method of bombing motorised columns on march, and especially at their stopping-places, proved effective in delaying their
progress. Several captured enemy reports confirm the fact that serious losses were inflicted by the Polish bombers. The method
of cutting off motorised divisions from their fuel supply and thus paralysing their movements was not tried out. It could
have become a practical plan only after 10th September as a consequence of the depth of the enemy penetration up to that date,
and of the fact that the enemy was operating on territory previously ravaged by his own bombers.
The enemy tactics consisted of the use of 100-150 tanks on a front of one kilometre.
There were three waves, each with its own definite task: (1) Engaging with fire and destroying the sources
of defence fire, especially of anti-armour weapons; (2) Penetrating deep into the defences, for the purpose of overpowering
the artillery and reserves; (3) Consolidating the gain.
It was possible to include in the principles of defence outlined by the Polish Regulations of 1939 some instructions
for dealing with such attacks and to state the complement of anti-armour weapons and units required by a division. The defence
principles were, however, not fully applied.
5. The Equipment of Commands
The activity of the fast armoured-motorised divisions and of the air force increased the depth of the battle
zone to such an extent that it covered practically the whole country. This fact rendered necessary a revision of the equipment
and organisation of the higher commands. There were in Poland many cases of a disruption of liaison between higher commands,
resulting in individual fighting on various sectors, which favoured the enemy. The wire communications failed frequently.
There were not enough underground-cable connections for war purposes. The car proved to be too slow as a means of liaison,
while the use of aeroplanes was difficult in view of the mastery of the air possessed by the enemy. Landing difficulties made
aerial communication available only for the higher commands.
6. The Other Arms
The other arms served as the auxiliaries of the armoured and air forces which brought vitory to the Reich
in its lightning war.
Artillery. - Germany devoted considerable attention to artillery, providing it liberally to divisions,
though not nearly in quantities usual in the war of 1914-1918. There was a predominance of heavy, powerful weapons, mostly
howitzers. The tactics of fire were based on concentrated hammerings and rapid support in action. Those were the points emphasised
in the training and the instructions about the collaboration of different arms.
Infantry. - The role of infantry was reduced to defence, taking over captured ground and fighting
in collaboration with armoured units. There were a few battles of the old type, but they were generally concluded by bringing
up the tanks and the air force. Up to that moment, however, they developed in a manner similar to that observed in previous
wars. The intensity of machine-gun fire was carried to its highest pitch, in order to be used as an unfailing method of pinning
the enemy down to the ground and paralysing his movements. The present organisation of infantry requires large quantities
of special equipment, adapted to different conditions of the ground, various offensive weapons and methods of warfare. As
this equipment has to be made reasonably secure against fire of normal intensity, it is to be feared that infantry must lose
much of its former mobility. It is threatened with becoming simply an auxiliary service of various specialised arms. The Polish
infantry frequently carried out bayonet attacks, displaying a moral and physical resistance and marching ability superior
to that of the German infantry. Those assets should not be disregarded, and it is to be expected that infantry may be reorganised
and adapted to the purposes of position warfare on the one hand, and of mobile fighting on the other. This would involve a
different organisation of divisions.
Cavalry. - Although the Polish cavalry upheld its splendid tradition, and carried out faithfully
its orders, it proved to be an expensive army, disappointing some of the hopes which were placed in its fighting value. Its
speed sometimes proved very useful, but it was still too slow, and its fire power was inadequate for the carrying out of the
duties which used to fall to its share under the old conditions. When technical equipment is insufficient, it still remains
the fast arm.
Supplies and Transport. - The Polish campaign proved again what huge quantities of material have
to be carried over large distances in a relatively short time under modern war conditions. Horse traction is out of the question
under such circumstances. The numerous examples of the paralysing of the movement of divisions in the course of concentration
and the technical difficulties occasioned by the handling of immensely long columns of traffic rule out the horse as a means
of transport from the regiment upwards. The destruction of railway lines and the dangerous positions of junctions limit to
some extent the efficiency of railway transport.
The present war requires motor transport capable of dealing with work under normal cross-country conditions.
Like every war, the German-Polish war had its aims. As far as the German war aims are concerned, there is
no doubt that they were fully achieved. But territorial conquest and the overpowering of neighbours are seldom final results.
That is why the discussion on the subject of peace aims is still continuing.
The method af analogy or of improving on the Versailles Treaty cannot be adequate for dealing with problems
of the future. Any critical revision of the by now old principle of self-determination, or of methods of obtaining military
security, or of economic systems would not be a sufficient guarantee of a permanent peace. The present war is affecting too
deeply the basic features of international and political life to permit any return to the old idols. There is a general revision
of values and new conceptions supersede those of the nineteenth century. The war effort also brings with it various processes
which no one will be able to turn back. History taeches us that now is the time for seeking a solution of post-War convulsions.
Neither passive observation nor an attitude of negation are likely to achieve anything.
The last twenty years taught us a valuable lesson. There is one element of major importance which should not
be overlooked - even though the temptation to seek half-measures or solutions of immediate expediency, usually excused by
the pressure of events, will be as strong as ever. There will be a strong tendency towards easy, popular solutions and many
prefer to put off indefinitely thorny but essential problems. The element of capital importance, which dominates the international
situation, is the pact between Germany and Russia. It would be an error to give way to easy optimism inspired by the fact
that the political and economic collaboration provided for by the pact has not become a practical reality.
It was no accident that the pact permitted a new partition of Poland and a delimitation of spheres of influence
in the Baltic, and to some extent in the Balkans.
The collaboration between Germany and Russia is not the outcome of the present conflict. The reality of things,
hardly concealed by the maze of treaties, interests, etc., is very simple: so long as Russia plays a part in the life of western
Europe, there will never be permanent peace; so long as Germany can play the card of Russian friendship, no nation in Europe
can be safe.
The Third Reich and Soviet Russia have a similar outlook and identical methods. Although they started each
from different points, they reached the same conclusions in political, legal, and economic practice. Even their views on culture
and morals have a great similarity, as well as those on the decadence of certain nations and the doom of western Europe. They
both use the same methods of treatment of their own nationals and of conquered peoples.
The brown and red imperialisms rank equal as barriers to human progress. That is why the present War, far
from being a struggle between two nations, is a conflict between two different ways of life, each favoured by a whole group
There can be no permanent peace and no progress inspired by Christian ideals unless both these imperialisms
are checked. Human freedom can be secure only when the practice of the Nazi and Bolshevik methods, whether openly or in secret,
is definitely stopped.
A military victory of the Democracies will save civilisation from an immediate disaster. But work should start
already to-day if we are to achieve more - a permanent and creative peace. Some definite proclamation of a policy based on
Christianity and Democracy, which would provide a basis of international and national life, seems very necessary. In fact,
we need Peace Aims.
The nations of central and eastern Europe can take an active and creative part in the work of Christian civilisation
only if they are set free from the constant menace of violence under which they are held by the two imperialisms.
To guarantee such security to the nations of central and eastern Europe there should be a strong State which
would be bound by close cultural and spiritual ties to the civilisation of western Europe. Poland fulfils those conditions
and a free Polish State could carry out this task.
The great battle in which Poland was first to take up arms initiated a new period in the history of mankind
and a new stage in the search for new forms of international life.
The initial outcome has been painful for Poland and every one of her citizens: it meant for them loss of freedom,
of livelihood, and of human rights. Every class in Poland has now to carry an intolerable burden.
Nevertheless Poland chose the right way when she took up the challenge and made the sacrifice. The Polish
nation saved its honour and proved its right to a place in the world.
In spite of military defeat, the Polish State was preserved in the persons of the President and of a new Government,
while the international position of Poland was maintained.
Very few material assets could be saved, but the navy was preserved and the army re-formed. The moral capital,
however, remained intact, and was even strengthened by continuous resistance in face of adversity.
A glance at the data concerning the preparation of the War proves how immense was the numerical and technical
superiority of the enemy over Poland.
But even now we can discern moments in which the risk of war on two fronts, undertaken by Germany, opened
up possibilities of counter-attack, in spite of the superiority of armament possessed by the enemy.
While the organisation and equipment on the Allied side were not perfect in the first stage of the War, when
all plans were dominated by the idea of defence, further development proved that only offensive action and superiority of
armament obtained by a creative effort of free nations can bring a decision.
History has always shown that moral strength and superior aims are bound to conquer in the end mere brutal
The rapid sequence of events in the last months confirmed to the fullest extent the anticipations based on
a knowledge of the military and political methods of the Third Reich.
In the political domain Germany is steadily carrying out the plan outlined in Mein Kampf. The order
of the different moves may have been revised, but the general pattern remains the same.
The ruthless determination with which the programme is being carried out is due not only to the fanatical
character of Nazi-ism and the need for achievement felt by every dictatorship, but also to the fact that the vast military
machine of Germany cannot be stopped once it gathered sufficient momentum.
Before the War the German ambitions had for their object mostly the neighbouring countries. It was argued
that the "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer" require more "Lebensraum" than they possessed, and it was added that they could
secure it by recovering the lands lost as a result of the previous war, followed by an "unfair" peace. After achieving most
of her territorial ambitions with respect to neighbours, Germany is now turning towards the realisation of the second stage
of the plan for world domination, overstepping the boundaries of Europe.
Up to a time the Germans claimed equality of rights and a fair sharing of world resources, built up by the
labour of other nations through ages, scarcely mentioning any further demands. Now they profess the theory of the hegemony
of the German Total State, completely disregarding the rights of the other nations. It is a revival of the old "Herrenvolk"
myth, used as a means for acquiring the wealth of the whole world and turning the wealth, work, trade, and culture of others
to the use of Germany, through violence and blackmail.
The same principle, entirely overlooking the natural rights of nations and men, the habit of honouring pledges
and the elementary laws of international relations, is applied by Germany even to the neutrals.
Behind the Nazi totalism there lurks the menace of Soviet Russia, the vulture of the present war, spreading
westwards and southwards into Europe for the purpose of organising a world revolution in the interests of the Bolshevik variety
The two dictatorships have not yet realised their plans. They certainly intend to continue their work of destruction.
Shortsighted observers and wishful thinkers would do well to understand that there can be no permanent peace and no progress
of civilisation unless all the totalitarian Powers using violence and treachery for the furthering of their selfish aims are
definitely checked in their ambitions.
. . .
. . .
The military machine of Germany staged three new campaigns after the invasion of Poland: the attack on Denmark
and Norway, the conquest of the Low Countries, and the invasion of France.
In each case they applied the operational principles and tactical methods used previously in Poland. They
were adapted to the local conditions, but in each case Germany used a combination of diplomacy, propaganda, treachery, and
The occupation of defenceless Denmark, contrary to the solemn pledges of Germany, became after the occupation
of Copenhagen a simple march of motorised divisions.
The attack on Norway was a combination of aerial and naval landings on selected points with a carefully prepared
Fifth Column action within the country itself. It was assisted by the presence of numerous German "tourists" and the knowledge
of the country and language acquired by many young Germans during the last war, when the Norwegians extended their hospitality
to German children to save them from starvation. Similar methods had been used before in Danzig and in Poland.
The attack on Holland was a combination of aerial landings and Fifth Column action against strategic points
at the rear of the army which was defending the country against the direct invasion. A frontal attack was assisted by the
encircling movement of armoured-motorised troops in the north.
In Belgium there were fewer landings, but the work of propaganda and espionage succeeded in securing the capitulation
of the king and ruined the morale of the army. The front was broken north of Liege and in the Ardennes, north of Mezieres.
The further development of the campaign was similar to the war in Poland. Simultaneously with frontal fighting,
the enemy made full use of the break-throughs in the direction of Amiens and Abbeville, towards the Somme, and exerted strong
pressure on the northern flank towards the Channel and on the southern flank on Laons-Reims. In consequence the French formed
a temporary defence front along the Aisne and Somme, while the enemy endeavoured vigorously to surround and destroy the British
and French armies in Flanders.
The armoured-motorised divisions were used in this case in the same way as in the break-through to the Vistula
and the action for the surrounding of the two Polish armies between the rivers Vistula and Bzura.
The "Battle of France," which really started on 5th June, was a conflict between two different doctrines of
On the one hand there was the principle of solid fronts, successful in the last war, and of a systematically
organised defence on successive lines, which General Weygand improved by a disposition in depth of anti-tank weapons (75'
mm. guns). On the other there was the principle of the free choice of direction of attack, which was driven home by a collaboration
between armoured forces and aircraft, permitting rapid break-through, with a fast and deep penetration, paralysing the defence.
On the one hand there was a policy of patient expectation, of avoiding losses and maintaining the traditional
continuity of the front, of shrinking from counter-attack for fear of the effective barrages of 1914-1918 and leaving the
initiative in the hands of the opponent. On the other the concentration of attacking power, rapid manoeuvre, disregard for
loss of life and material in an endeavour for breaking through and crossing the zone of defence.
The doctrine of passive defence had also some influence on the attitude of the individual soldier, who avoided
hand-to-hand fighting and was not trained to confront armour. The Polish soldier had quite a different disposition and he
was eager for a bayonet charge, while his power of endurance and ability to deal with tanks at close quarters were remarkable.
The collaboration between armoured forces and air-craft was similar in all the campaigns fought by Germany,
beginning with the one of September 1939. The collaboration between the other arms also followed the lines established during
the Polish campaign. The Luftwaffe, however, was not used to such a large extent as in Poland for the destruction of the whole
country behind the front, and its efforts were concentrated mostly on assisting the attacking German forces, especially the
armoured divisions. Waves of bombers carried out the former function of artillery by concentrating a heavy barrage of destructive
fire on any point of resistance in the way of the advancing armoured troops.
During the first stage of the battle, from the 10th of May until the 5th of June, the daily rate of advance
was generally speaking the same as it had been in Poland. Then, until 17th June, the speed of the armoured divisions increased
considerably, in spite of the fact that they had lost contact with their own bases. This acceleration was due to the excellent
road conditions, the ready supply of fuel at all points along the route of advance, and the weakening of resistance deeper
within the country. No attempt was made to use river crossings, towns, and villages as points of anti-armour defence, and
there was no mobile element capable of counteracting from within the thrusts of the enemy armoured divisions. The lesson of
the Polish campaign had not been learnt.
Moreover, the enemy, who had the initiative in his hands, played a series of strokes of varying strength and
direction, seeking out weaker points. When he realised that both the physical means of defence and the morale of the nation
had broken down, he launched a number of smaller waves of armoured-motorised forces, in order to invade different parts of
the country according to preconceived plan.
The use of modern weapons, with their great speed and power of destruction, permitted the outmanoeuvring of
the French troops even out of such an extensive system of fortifications as the Maginot Line.
It seems that the wars of continuous fronts are definitely a thing of the past. The old principle of stabilised
fronts has been superseded by the new method of warfare with less numerous armies, equipped with armour and anti-armour weapons.
Such anti-armour formations, disposed in depth, should be organised and prepared for a rapid counter-action, designed to break
up the armoured wave into small parts and then to separate the penetration of armoured divisions within the country from the
infantry following them, by holding up the rapid progress of the tanks and preventing the occupation and holding of the ground
by the infantry.
No such action was undertaken, either in France or in Poland, by any reserve forces or specially organised
mobile defence units. The usefulness of such special formations was demonstrated, however, by the Polish O.M. - the only motorised
brigade in the army.
Nevertheless the organisation of separate centres of resistance and the stubborn defence permitted the Polish
army to hold since 10th September two-thirds of the German army (in the Vistula-Bzura triangle, at Modlin, Warsaw, and Lwow).
. . .
. . .
The actions of the recent months gave particular prominence to psychological methods of warfare, calculated
to produce panic behind the lines. They used the influence of fear and aimed at the moral disarmament of the enemy, brought
about by undermining his confidence in his own strength and his faith in his own ideals, emphasising at the same time the
power of the aggressor.
The German method of operation consisted of - surprise attacks; successive thrusts in changing directions,
carried out by armoured forces and aircraft, with the help of infantry for the crossing of rivers and the occupation of territory;
the full exploitation of every break-through or local success.
Thus the Germans achieved a parcellation of the front and of the French armies, a dispersal of the effort
of the commanders endeavouring to counteract the speed of the armoured thrusts, and a general confusion of the defence.
The withdrawl of the French forces to successive secondary lines of defence amounted to playing the game of
the fast enemy armoured units.
In Poland there was a clash between two morally armed nations, though unequal in technical equipment. In France
the moral disarmament of the defenders played an important part. The nation had been lulled for twenty years by the illusory
permanence of the Versailles Treaty and then led to minimise the importance of maintaining the advantages obtained under that
It was another demonstration of the fact that a nation sheltered by some kind of "Great Wall" is liable to
grow soft and lose its national dynamism.
Assuming negotiations on equal terms with the victorious Nazis to be possible, France had to pay the price
of her capitulation, besides the concessions involved by the armistice terms themselves. Hitler postponed the armistice, in
order to penetrate deep within France and get hold of the coast. Then he organised a thorough exploitation of the country
and its resources. It was designed both to secure the maximum profit and to break down the conquered nation, thus nipping
in the bud any attempt at future resistance or revenge.
In Poland the Germans applied the method of graduated violence and extortion, in accordance with Mein
Kampf, in order not to cause an early reaction in a nation still capable of resistance and to achieve gradually what
could not be done through immediate action. The reports received from Poland prove that the Germans failed in their attempt
and that the Polish nation is still opposing a vigorous though subterranean resistance to the enemy. A convincing proof of
that fact is to be found in the armed rising organised in Poland in April 1940.
I am convinced that the method of gradation of demands and of progressive extortion will call forth a reaction
in France and will assist the revival of forces of revenge.
. . .
. . .
Recent months have established the true proportions of the contribution of Poland in the struggle of Democracy
and Freedom against the Totalitarian dictatorships.
Comparison brought out the real value of the effort and sacrifice of the Polish army and the moral strength
of a nation which remained true to its honour and its pledge of alliance.
Although defeated in September 1939, it did not surrender, and continues to fight together with Great Britain,
confident in ultimate victory.
The Polish soldiers find strength in their faith in the revival of a free Poland, as a creative member of
the European family of civilised nations.