Monday, August 31, 2020

Komarow 1920-2020

Salvete Omnes,
 exactly 100 year ago the brave and intrepid Polish uhlans and horse artillery cannoneers battled the Russian 1st Konarmia at Komarow and Wola Sniatycka near Zamosc.

Polish Cavalry Division commanded by colonel, later general, Juliusz Rómmel consisting of 2 cavalry brigades fought and defeated the two divisions of the 1st Konarmia. It was the last large cavalry battle of the Polish-Russian War of 1919-20, perhaps the last large cavalry battle in world history.

There are surviving memoirs and recollections written by the battle participants, one of those is a published memoir written by the 8th Uhlan Regiment commander rotmistrz (rittmeister)   Kornel Krzeczunowicz , Ostatnia Kampania Konna (The Last Horse Cavalry Campaign).
 General Rómmel wrote his recollections - Moje Walki z Budionnym, (My War against Budionny) Lwow 1932, but I have not read them.
This very year, during the  weekend of Aug. 29-30,  various Polish cavalry reenactment associations (and a detachment of fine  Bavarian Uhlan reenactors) brought horses, reconstructed horse tack, and reconstructed uniforms and arms and etc in order to take part in a large, festive commemoration of the battle: the gathering included the reenactment of the battle itself, more than 400 cavalrymen and women, a logistics feat and achievement.
The festivities, on the eve of the battle anniversary, were official  with Polish national and local government participation; especially with the participation of the Polish Armed Forces.
And with some participation of the public spectators - due to the current limitations on public gatherings etc.
There is this article by Nowy Kurier Zamoyski on the battled reenactment - plenty of photos.

I am pretty sure that shortly  the net - especially many the Facebook pages similar to these I linked already - will be full of great and fine photos from this event in Poland; the words is that many fine photographers went over there in order to document this historic event and make some glorious art.

                                             ***
There is is issue of the monument.
In 1936 in Poland this competition was called for creation of the cavalry monument commemorating the battle, and talented Polish architect Borys Zinserling won the first prize for his project titled 'pomnik Chwały Kawalerii i Artylerii Konnej' ( Glory of Cavalry and Horse Artillery monument). Once completed the monument would have been erected in Wola Sniatycka, hill 255, where on August 31 the most decisive and bitter combat between the Polish and Russian horsemen took place.
World War II and subsequent Soviet rule in Poland until 1989 delayed the construction of the monument, and even the newly restored independence did not hasten this project at first.
Fast forward then to 2007 when the idea of building the monument was resurrected among Polish historical groups and cavalry associations, and during the next 10 years the design had been worked out and improved, but the artists were working along the lines of the original project from 1936, i.e, the magnificent winged hussars0style  eagle wings overlooking the battlefield.
In 2018 various organizations and many good willed people came together to finally start sculpting and to build the monument along the newly redesigned project.
Today is the 100th anniversary,   the moment is very close when the monument will be erected in its rightful place.
It is going to be glorious (and very tall) once finished as evidenced by the images below, and many other images on this page:



 

Valete

Polish cavalry 1918-20

Salvete Omnes,


Polish cavalry (and mounted artillery) as a branch of Polish armed forces was reborn during the fighting on the Eastern Front of the World War I and various cavalry squadrons, dyons and  regiments sprung into action with the rebirth of the Polish Republic (sadly not as  Kingdom of Poland, eh, all those socialists at the helm back then and now - :) ).

Polish cavalrymen came from mainly three varied cavalry traditions - Austro-Hungarian, Imperial Russian and Imperial German. There was also French (the Haller army) influence but it was not very noticeable due to the size of those cavalry units.

The War Ministry created a separate staff body - the Generalny Inspektorat Jazdy or GIJ (the Inspectorate General of Horse) on January 22, 1919, while at the same time they maintained another staff office called Sekcja Jazdy (Horse Section of War Department). And both administrative bodies overlapped and conflicted a bit with one another.
First General Karnicki was the head of the GIJ, but he left for the front and general Kawecki became the Inspector General of Horse in August 1919.
So the regulations and manuals and actual practices on schooling and training of the cavalry in training seemed to reflect the above mentioned mix of traditions. The IGh and his staff favored the Austro-Hungarian and Imperial German traditions hence they published directives etc in that spirit of good manege riding and preparation, while the majority of the field officers of Polish cavalry had been trained and experienced in the Imperial Russian field practices.  For example the first cavalry regulations were adopted after the Imperial Wehrmacht one published in Berlin in 1917, and the first 'temporary' regulations were published in May of 1920  (Jerzy Grobicki, Organizacja Kawalerji Polskiej w latach 1918-21. Przeglad Kawaleryjski Nr 3 (77) p.215).
Thus the squadron and regimental replacements coming to the front had to be retrained in the field cavalry practices, and varied from regiment or even squadron to squadron.
But this was the time of war, where practice was tested with blood and mortality.

The GIJ 'failed' to promulgate and enforce the uniform system for all regiments in terms of arms, training and uniforms - but then the lack of equipment, arms and horse tack forced the government to purchase available on the the world market military surpluses - be it American, French etc.
One of the interesting aspects of the Polish military of that period it the very fact that  many landowners and wealthy peasant farmer and other citizens provided their own arms, uniforms, horses and horse tack throughout the duration of this war.

Things came to change for the cavalry regiment  in 1921 and again in 1924, but that is another story.

Grobicki's drawing of cavalry regiment organization


 I will add the English translation for this diagram in the future.

to be continued


Valete

ps
Polish cavalry of that war is beautifully described in a book by a Polish scholar and novelist Bohdan Królikowski titled  '' Ułańskie lato (The Uhlan Summer)'' (and it does need to be translated into English).
I am not going to talk about the Osprey Military Publishing attempt at the subject..

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Janina Lada-Walicka - ulan wojny 1920roku

Salvete Omnes,
[in Polish]
Hej! Hej! Ulani!
Malowane dzieci!
Niejedno serduszko
Za wami poleci!

    ... krotki wypis z linkiem do pracy pani kapral Janiny Łady-Walickiej, jej wspomnień z walk w obronie Lwowa i Polski latem 1920 roku, kiedy Lwow wystawił Małopolska Armię Ochotniczą, w skład której wchodziła Ochotnicza Jazda.

Kapral Walicka była weteranem walk  lwowskich, w obronie  Lwowa i Ojczyzny już od czasu rozpoczęcia wojny polsko-ukraińskiej. Walczyła pod komendą majora Romana Abrahama w obronie Lwowa 1918-19 roku, a od lipca 1920 stanęła w szeregi Detachement'u (oddziału lotnego Armii Ochotniczej) tegoż majora Romana Abrahama, w II Szwadronie zwanym 'Szwadronem Śmierci'.

II Szwadronem dowodził rotmistrz Ryszard Dittrich, a cala jazda Detachement'u czyli III Dyonem Jazdy rotmistrz Tadeusz Korab-Krynicki.

Zachowało się zdjęcie kapral Lady-Walickiej w grupie ze sztandarem szwadronu.

Na zdjęciu stoi, na lewo od chorążego ze sztandarem,  znanym we Lwowie pisarz  i krytyk literacki oraz wtedy jeszcze kapral (choć nazywa go kapral Walicka plutonowym)  Artur Schroeder (wkrótce bohater spod Zadwórza, naszych Polskich Termopil, które cudownie przeżył ale ciężką raną),
 

Kurier Lwowski z 20 sierpnia donosił o ranach Schroeder'a i niewoli dowódcy karabinów maszynowych porucznika Nittmana. (kapral Walicka opisuje okoliczności popadnięcia w  niewole bolszewicką porucznika)
 



Kapral Walicka pozostawiła zbiór wspomnień of owym lecie 1920r  pt  ''Ułani, Ułani Malowane Dzieci (Przyczynek do dziejów Armii Ochotniczej)'', Lwow 1921; kiedy obrońcy Lwowa wyszli do walki z 1sza Konarmia Budionnego.


My możemy żyć wesoło,
Bo nie wiemy, gdzie nasz grób:
Jedna kulka świśnie w czoło,
I na ziemie runie trup!
Taki los wypadł nam,
Dzisiaj tu, a jutro tam!

   Nota bene weterynarzem szwadronu była dr Maternowska.

Kura ze wsi wyskakuje
Gdy Żołnierza we wsi czuje,

Baba idzie do rotmistrza,
Kura z garnka łeb wytrzeszcza!

Autorka, pisząc w rok po wydarzeniach, zaznaczyła tylko parę faktów z bitwy pod Zadworzem, min sprawę wysłania do piechoty Detachement'u czyli batalionu kapitana Zajączkowskiego w Zadworzu plutonu III Szwadronu pod dowództwem podchorążego Zbroji.

a z ciekawostek to można się tam dowiedzieć, ze w czasie organizacji III dyonu Jazdy Ochotniczej 30 koni z rynsztunkiem  podarował II szwadronowi hrabia Włodzimierz Dzieduszycki, a ponad dwudziestu chłopom, którzy się zgłosili na ochotnika do wojska podarował po trzy morgi pola. Prowadzący konie urzędnicy z dóbr hrabiego Dzieduszyckiego pozostali w szwadronie - Horoszkiewicz, Krzysztofowicz i Biłycz.
Valete!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Zadworze heroes funeral photos 18.09.1920

Salvete Omnes,
in the wake of the battle of Zadworze, with the fighting far away,  the city of Lwow  officials organized the much celebrated  funeral of the 7 heroes fallen at Zadworze (see names in my previous post) - September 18, 1920.

There are surviving photos by the local photographer Marek Munz (1872-1937) -
These images not only show the 'pompa funebris' of the official state funerary celebration, but also the equipment, uniforms, horses , horse tack with the American McClellan saddles etc as they were used by the Polish soldiers during the war of 1919-20. McClelland saddles appear to have been modified by the Poles, with saddle skirts extending below the bars of the saddletrees. apparently no saddlebags, as there was no need for them in this funerary arrangement.

Perhaps you may find them interesting, especially since they are very detailed and of good quality






 
there is a note about the creation of the Zadworze kurgan - it was not an easy task to build this monument
-


 Nota bene for her citizens's  stance during the war and Bolshevik invasion  the city of Lwow was awarded the Virtuti Militari Silver Cross and the title Semper Fidelis in November 1920.

Valete

Polish Thermopylae - battle of Zadworze 17.08.1920

Salvete Omnes.
yesterday  there was the  100th anniversary of the battle of Zadworze (nowadays in Ukraine) known as the Polish Thermopylae.
 
Captain Roman Abraham, already very well known and capable soldier, organized and commanded the so called Abraham 'detachement'(detachment) in July 1920.
Abraham's unit, part of the Little-Poland Voluntary Army, was a special troop of very brave boys (Lwow Eaglets) and men and one woman (uhlan Janina Lada-Walicka in the photo below with her companions in arms as a part of the 2nd squadron also  called the Death Squadron) from Lwow, fresh from fighting during the Polish-Ukrainian war 1918-19.

The Abraham's Detachment, organized in July,   included only volunteers:
- battalion of infantry, (3 companies), commanded by captain Boleslaw Zajaczkowski,
- machine guns divizion under 1st lieutenant Dawidowicz
-machine guns squadron under 1st lieutenant and poet Tadeusz Nittman/later Krzywda Bogucki
-3 squadrons of cavalry under captain Tadeusz Korab-Krynicki,
-1 machine guns squadron -major Swiecki
-1 artillery battery under 1st lieutenant Karpowicz
- medical unit under second lieutenant Jaklinski
-logistisc and wagon-kitchen unit etc 1st lieutenant Wojcicki*
*according to the volunteer chronicler Pogonowski, Boj of Lwow, 1921.
In total 1300 soldiers and 34 officers.

They went into action in the end of July in the defense of Lwow against the 1st Budionny Konarmia, According to prof. Lech Wyszczelski, Kampania Ukrainska 1920, the Abraham Detachment along with the 54th infantry regiment were withdrawing towards Winniki and Nowosiolki, to achieve the northern defense line of Lwow. Colonel Szemiot, the commander of this part of the Polish front, ordered Zajaczkowski's battalion to command the 222 hill in Zadworze while the 54th regiment moved away towards Winniki. Detachment's cavalry continued screening the front, but left their infantry withdrawing along the railway line in the morning of 17th August.
Masses of enemy cavalry from the 1st Konarmia 6th Cavalry Division etc - perhaps as many as 5000 strong -   had to circle back and retake Zadworze railway line and station.
Pogonowski, based on his contemporaries, stated that the infantry battalion was moving along the railway line in Zadworze towards Lwow, having successfully fought with their Detachment cavalry against the Bolsheviks in Nowosiolki, and was only about 2 km from the protective Barszczowicki forest where defense would have been easier against the cavalry, but during the fighting march along the Zadworze railway  Bolsheviks destroyed the munition wagons of the battalion,  and Polish soldiers faced the inevitable cavalry action along their wings and the final encirclement. 

So on August 17, 1920 for about 11 hours the 330 men strong battalion with their machine guns under overall command of captain Zajaczkowski fought  thousands of Bolshevik cavalrymen.
Eventually inspire of the heroic fighting and wonders of martial feats the 318 Polish infantrymen perished in this last stand fight.
In the rage that overtook many Bolsheviks upon the end of fighting they quartered with sabres the bodies of the Polish soldiers, and this barbaric act made their identification difficult by the loved ones. 
Some of the accounts of this battle were given by the railway's guard who was inside the Zadworze railway guard shack and some of the survivors who were fortunately rescued by the armored Polish train, this powerful armored train was too late to help the fallen heroes.
 
Historians do not know how many Bolsheviks died this day.
The stubborn defense by this volunteer unit, and other volunteer units around Lwow, must have led to the abandonment by 1st Konarmia plans to capture and loot Lwow.
They marched north and soon met their Nemesis near Komarow - there will be another post about this battle, I hope

..
so in post-1920 Polish Republic this heroic battle of Zadworze became celebrated as Polish Thermopyle - and it was the Communist authorities in post-1945 Poland that suppressed and erased the memory of Zadworze in Polish collective memory. Perhaps the horrors of the Nazi and Soviet occupation of Poland helped to forget the glories of Polish Nation military victories and sacrifices of 1918-20.
Nowadays, the battle of Zadworze is very little known, but the tradition of celebrating the place - where a tall kurgan stands.


Nota bene on September 18, 1920 the City of Lwow buried, with much somber celebration aka pompa funebris, the bodies of 7 heroes of Zadworze:
Zajaczkowski, Obertynski, Demetr, Hanak, Marynowski, Gromnicki,Szarek, and their remains were buried in holly ground of  the famous Lwow Lyczakowski cemetery.

Salvete Omnes,

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Polish cavalry regiments - 1919-20 war

Salvete omnes,

since we are living during the 100th anniversary year of the great Polish-Bolshevik Russia war, then over the next months I am going to spend a number of posts on these Polish cavalry regiments.

I do not really have much on the Bolshevik Russia side, apart from some Russian very general material, so my entries will have to be generalized and rather more or less prejudiced in favor of my Polish horsemen.
 
The war of 1919-20 abounded in cavalry actions on both sides - note, there have been also Belarusian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Cossack, White Russian cavalry regiments and smaller units.
The Polish et al., troops on war footing  were very colorful when comes to uniforms, horses, equipment and arms.

For example the Polish government had been buying American equipment left in Western Europe, but any equipment that they could get their hands on was purchased from near and farther removed allies and former allies.

One thing is certain that the Polish cavalry regiments of this war used lances and used them often in countless charges and raids they did during the period.
Saddles and other horse tack was as varied as the uniforms, from German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian to American (often called Mexican in Poland) types.
Welcome to the cavalry war after the Great War.
...


ad rem,
I will start with a number of art plates painted by by friend Krzysztof Komaniecki.
 Krzysztof, living in Szczecin the WestPomeranian capital since 1945, has been painting, reconstructing and reenacting Polish cavalry (12th Podolian Uhlan cavalry regiment)  from the period of 1914-139.

Krzysztof recently created a comics book retelling one of the many cavalry charges of the period - Rokitna-
They actually published first a black and white version and later on there color version of the comics has been released.

You can easily inquire about Krzysztof's art, perhaps come to acquire his original plate or a printed copy of one, and/or  exchange ideas about the Polish cavalry of the period etc via his Facebook page: Komaniecki Art.

 
Valete

ps
at the present Belarus has been  in upheaval, that is why in the sign of solidarity I am starting my posts with the badge worn by the soldiers of the 1st Lithuanian-Belarusian Division of the Polish army.  

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Feast of Assumption & Polish Army Day 15.08.2020

Salvete Omnes,
 
 
 from Marcin Bielski Polish Chronicle circa 1540


 
Today, on this fine day of  the Feast of Assumption in the Third Polish Republic (Respublica Poloniae, Rzeczpospolita Polska)  the  Polish Armed Forces celebrate their holiday, commemorating more than 1000 years of Polish warriors, knights and soldiers service in the defense of the Polish people, tradition and culture.





  Jan Matejko pinxit

    so naturally I am cheering the 1000 years of Polish Soldiers history and service, and pray to Our Holy Mather, Queen of Poland, for another 1000 years of Polish Army proud and victorious service to the Polish people, hopefully in the brotherly alliance with the United States and US Armed Forces..
vivat!

...
2007 Parade with President Lech Kaczynski, killed in the Smolensk airplain crassh April10, 2010, presiding


 
Due to the 'covidpandemia' and many fears and loathing within the Polish government's decision makers, there will be no Polish Army parade this year,  but today the current Polish President, escorted by the elements of the Polish Army Guard Regiment,
 
accompanied by the US Secretary of State  Mike Pompeo ( and other foreign and domestic officials) paid homage at the famous Unknown Soldier Tomb in Warsaw, where traditionally there will be very festive change of military guard that day and night stands at the Tomb.

...
Today in Poland they celebrate the 100 years of the so called battle of Warsaw - or the Warsaw operation as there was no single battle but a number of engagements fought  from the north  near Torun to the south near Dubienka & Chelm .
see the maps by general Sikorski

 

 
The Polish Nation is the true hero of this victory over the Bolsheviks, and some of the forgotten leaders of the conflict are:

prime minister and peasant leader Wincenty Witos
 
General Tadeusz Jordan-Rozwadowski - the mastermind of the victory , here with the generals Zagorski and Sikorski.
 
General Wladyslaw Sikorski - eg his 1928 work on the war available 'libre' from the Wielkopolska Digital Library. - his 5th army delivered the victory at the Battle of Warsaw

and countless others, including the American pilot Merian C. Cooper
 
and other Americans (of the 7th Kosciuszko Squadron) commanded by colonel Cedric Erald Fauntleroy  who in the photo below is about to received his Virtuti Miltiari Cross.
 
and many, many other known and unknown soldiers who fought bravely in furtherance of the Polish victory under the overall command of Jozef Pilsudski.

Hail their memory - Ave!

Salvete

ps
Belarus has been in upheaval since the last Sunday elections -  we are witnessing our brothers and sisters, including our Belarusian Polonia,  in more or less open defiance and resistance to their current almost three decades-long leadership - may they achieve what is best for them - Buona Fortuna!