The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

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Andreas
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The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby Andreas » 16 Mar 2008 12:55

I am interested in any information available on the actions of the Polish Brigade during the siege of Tobruk and the Crusader battle. In particular its actions after the siege was lifted.

I know the brigade was shipped in on warships to replace an Australian brigade, and that it served in a quieter sector of the siege front, and was not involved in the breakout. I also know that the Polish Officer Legion (a battalion strength formation) was supposed to be shipped in, but held back, which was the reason the Australian 2/13 Battalion stayed in Tobruk. I seem to recall the Poles after the lifting of the siege went to the Bardia/Sollum front, but I am not sure if all of them went.

German intelligence has them close to Agedabia in mid-January 1942, which I think is wrong.

Any further information would be most welcome. Many thanks in advance!

All the best

Andreas

Slavomir
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Re: The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby Slavomir » 16 Mar 2008 15:25

Hello,

Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade (Samodzielna Brygada Strzelcow Karpackich) composed of 3 infantry battalions, Artillery regiment, AT battalion, HMG Coy, Carpathian Lancers Regiment, Engineer Coy and services. The Officer Legion (Legia Officerska) was not a part of the Brigade.

Brigade was transferred to Tobruk 18 - 25.08.41. Between August and October Brigade defended the easier southern sector but since the end of October it took over the western sector opposite to Ras el-Medauar and White Knoll. During that time the Czechoslovak and Autralian battalions were attached to Brigade.

During the night on 09/10 December the Brigade assaulted and seized Ras El-Medauar, White Knoll and Twin Pimples positions. The same day in the afternoon Poles reached Acroma.

Between 15 and 17 December Brigade fought as a part of XIII Corps (gen. Austin) in breaching Ghazala Line in northern sector (Carmuset er Regem).

Between 25 - 27 December the Carpathian Artillery Regiment moved to Bardia when was subordinated to 2nd SA Inf Div. Polish guns supported the assault on the Bardia fortress on December 31st.

The main bulk of the Brigade was in reserve between Derna and Barce and D'Annunzio. 1st battalion in Luigi Razza, 2nd in Cirene, 3rd in Derna, HQ and artillery in Giovanni Berta. On January 25 1942 Brigade was ordered to move to El Mekhili. In the evening of Jan 26 the Brigade reached positions and started preparations for defense. Some of the withdrawing units joined defenses (7th SA Arty Rgt, 274th AA Rgt, parts of 27th and 73rd Arty Rgts). On Jan 29 the Free French Brigade arrived to El Mekhili. MG de Larminat took overall command (higher rank than Polish BG Kopanski).

When it occured that Rommel is advancing along Via Balba opposite his advance in 1941, the Free French and Polish Brigades were ordered to withdraw on February 2 towards Ghazala line. The withdrawal started on February 3. The Ghazala position was reached the next day.

On Ghazala line Carpathian Brigade took the Carmused er Regem position with 1st SA Brigade to the north (Bir Chesceua) and 150th British Brigade to the south. The Brigade was releaseds by 2nd SA Brigade on March 17 and transferred via Tobruk, Capuzzo to El Amirya. In April Brigade was transfered to Palestine where was expanded into 3rd Carpathian Rifles Division.

Best regards

Slawek

Andreas
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Re: The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby Andreas » 16 Mar 2008 18:41

Many thanks Slawek, that is excellent information.

All the best

Andreas

Slavomir
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Re: The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby Slavomir » 16 Mar 2008 20:58

You're welcome!

Digging into the stroy of the Carpathian Brigade I have found very interesting info about Artillery Regiment. The personnel of the regiment was one of the first units arriving to Tobruk. On August 19 they took over the equippment of the 51st RA Rgt. In total there were 21 guns (16 x 25pdr and 5 x 18pdr) to cover 15 kilometers wide sector.

Very soon Poles adapted every piece of arty they could find in the fortress. As it occured there were vast ammounts of ammo for Italian guns seized by Australians during the operation Compass.

Very soon regiment expanded into four battalions plus 3 heavy detachments:
1st and 2nd battalions - two 25pdr batteries and one battery with Italian 75mm guns;
3rd battalion - two 25pdr batteries, one battery with 100mm Italian howitzers,
4th battalion - two 4,5 inch batteries and one battery with Italian 75mm guns;
2 heavy detachments with Italian 149mm howitzers and one with 105mm Italian guns

In total the regiment strenghtened from 21 up to 52 guns.

Also the AT battalion was expanded and composed of 10 x 2pdr guns, 10 x 47mm Breda guns, 4 x 37mm and 3 x 75mm guns.

Best regards

Slawek

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The Edge
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Re: The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby The Edge » 17 Mar 2008 11:12

Slavomir wrote:...one battery with 100mm Italian howitzers.


This unit must be the least home-sicked of them all. :) (Lot of "Obice da 100/22" howitzers were Polish-made)

(Btw, this day we got one "extremly urgent" mail from Bydgoszcz - Kolejowe Zakłady Nawierzchniowe :wink: )

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Re: The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby Andreas » 17 Mar 2008 14:23

Hi Slawek

Many thanks again. I take it this information is all from the unit history? Do you have the title of it?

Many thanks!

There is some good info, and a lot of very interesting photos, here:

http://www.kki.com.pl/piojar/brygad/bry ... ruk_e.html

All the best

Andreas

Slavomir
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Re: The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby Slavomir » 20 Mar 2008 22:52

I have taken the info from the following sources:
Stanislaw Ozimek "W Pustyni i w Tobruku"
Witold Bieganski "Regularne Jednostki Wojska Polskiego na Zachodzie"
Stanislaw Gliwicz "Tobruk" - accounts of the commander of the Carpathian Artillery Regiment, published in "Wojskowy Przeglad Historyczny" 2-1957.

This unit must be the least home-sicked of them all. (Lot of "Obice da 100/22" howitzers were Polish-made)


Wow... I didn't know that. Thank you, Edge for pointing that out. However it wouldn't be the first time when Poles found equipment produced in Poland and exported before the outbreak of the war. I have read accounts saying that soldiers of Podhalan Rifles Brigade in 1940 found British AA unit equipped with Polish made 40mm Bofors guns around Narvik. Also Ozimek says about 37mm Polish made Bofors found in Tobruk.

Best regards

Slawek
Last edited by Slavomir on 21 Mar 2008 17:02, edited 1 time in total.

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The Edge
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Re: The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby The Edge » 21 Mar 2008 13:32

Of course, these "100mm Lt. howitzers" could be also earlier "Obice da 100/17" model (Skoda M14). :roll:

Polland also used "second hand" Austrian Skoda M14 lt. howitzers, but after obtaining the license for improved Skoda M.14/19 model, these were modified into "Wz. 14/19 P" model by Polish industry. Both newly made Wz.14/19"A"s & upgraded "P" models were later sold by Germany to Italy (1939 captured guns, of course) because they were late with introduction of their own lt. howitzer model (105/25) and needed modern artillery urgently. Along similar Czech-made Skoda vz. 14/19 howitzers (also supplied by Germany), lot of them were used in North Africa.

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David W
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Re: The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby David W » 17 Jun 2012 12:10

They were almost certainly the "Obice da 100/17" model (Skoda M14)

A supplementary question if I may, regarding the Carpathian Lancers.
Were they Infantry or cavalry?
With what weaponry were they equipped between August 1941 & March 1942?

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Musashi
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Re: The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby Musashi » 23 Jun 2012 13:54

David W wrote:A supplementary question if I may, regarding the Carpathian Lancers.

Everything, that was related either to lancers or mounted rifles or light horse was cavalry but it does not mean these units were using horses. Likewise, many units of Polish 1st Armoured Division, that fought in the Falaise Gap, had cavalry names. Usually, cavalry names meant, these units were using either armoured cars or tanks.
We still have tradition of naming more elite armoured units with cavalry names. Presently, we have an air cavalry brigade, that is not armoured but its units have cavalry names, as well.

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David W
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Re: The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby David W » 23 Jun 2012 23:59

Thanks Musashi.

OK, so the Carpathian Lancers were cavalry, but with what were they armed in the winter of 1941/42?

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Re: The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby Tom from Cornwall » 21 Feb 2014 22:31

I've come across a reference in a British war diary that suggests that the Poles in Tobruk had some captured German tanks "on charge" in November 1941, does anyone know anything about this?

Regards

Tom

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David W
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Re: The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby David W » 21 Feb 2014 23:28

Was it the 3x PzKpfw III Ausf H that have been photographed in Egypt in1942?

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby Tom from Cornwall » 22 Feb 2014 21:06

Hi David,

That seems sensible, but I'll keep looking to see if we can confirm what they were.

Cheers

Tom

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Re: The Polish Brigade in Tobruk and NA, winter 41/42

Postby trekker » 22 Jul 2015 09:52

I hope it's all right to extend the topic down to the Winter 40/41 to get a short information.

Background:
End of 1940 / beginning of 1941 Italian soldiers of Slovene nationality were interned in the POW camp Agami near Alexandria. After the WWII they remembered that in that time the guards duty was done by the Polish soldiers with whom they established good relation. Later, Polish soldiers were relieved by Czech soldiers.

Past research:
As I have found out the Czechoslovak 11th Infantry Battalion – East took over guarding the port of Alexandria, the Dagheila airport and the Agami POW camp end of February 1942. In the event of German airborne attack they were to cooperate with the Polish infantry brigade which protected the Suez Canal.

Questions:
Did Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade quard the Agami POW camp till the end February 1942?
Did it move to the Suez Canal then?
When did it arrive to he Agami POW camp?


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