The day and night-long battle of Hartfeld was the first battle of Polish 97. Reserve Infantry Regiment from 38. Reserve ID since the beginning of war - a completely inexperienced Polish reserve infantry won the battle thanks to the bravery of exhausted by withdrawal marches and hungry soldiers, but suffered huge casualties - mainly due to the German terrific artillery fire, huge firepower superiority and Luftwaffe bombings:Richard Hargreaves wrote:Hartfeld and Dobrostany
Before Dobrostany, to the north of Grodek.
Saturday September 16th, in the afternoon.
Behind us, where we’ve come from, farmers toiled in the field – as in the depths of peacetime.
Suddenly shots crash.
Pfui, pfui, pfui whistling over us. The telephone wire along the road begins to swing wildly. Several wires are shot and fall down.
Enemy machine-guns bark in a lively fashion. We leap from the truck and jump into ditches which offer some protection. Gun and machine-gun fire seems to be coming from both sides, the shells of anti-tank guns landing are clearly visible. For several moments the vehicles remain on the road, abandoned; some receive hits. The situation seems to be completely chaotic; the protection of the forest offers good cover for the enemy. Under a hail of bullets, the machine-guns are offloaded, mortars and infantry guns are assembled and brought up. After a short time the first shots crash, we wait instinctively for them to land on the enemy’s side. Shot after shot leaves the barrel, our machine-guns begin to fire with their rapid tack – tack – tack, but the enemy also shoots continually.
Our open ground on the other hand offers bloody awful cover compared with the enemy’s well-camouflaged position. So we go over to the attack, making use of any cover in leaps and bounds. There’s the satisfying rattle of our machine-guns, and the shells hurtling over our heads seem to bring us some relief. As darkness sets in the shooting seems to relax.
Dig in! A potato field is perfect, and ditches and foxholes are quickly dug. We lie next to each other at intervals. We pull our tent cloth over us. The cool of night makes itself felt. The glow of a burning farm very close lights up no man’s land. So we lie in our burrows, the broad heavens arching above us. There’s hardly any thought of sleeping.
“Hurrah – hurrah!” As if a thousand throats are screaming, the cries roar towards us from behind. The noise gets louder, machine-guns bark, for a moment the connection between the two is unclear. Enemy in our rear? Thoughts race through our minds at lightning speed. We can clearly make out: “German soldiers, give yourselves up! Offensive!” Who’s saying that? Orders arrive: The enemy is trying to storm the village to our rear. There’s crashing on all sounds, on all sides bitter fighting. In a flash, the village goes up in bright flames, thick clouds of smoke drift across the entire field. This hellish dance seems to last forever; my watch already shows that it’s 2am. [VII Armeekorps, Wir zogen gegen Polen, Berlin, 1940]
"[...] Soldiers were exhausted and in terrible moods. Around midday [on 15.09.1939] during a strong German air bombing, a briefing of high commanders took place in Sadowa Wisznia.
Account of lieutenant colonel T. Walich concerning the AA defence of Sadowa Wisznia in period 14.09.1939 - 15.09.1939 [it was defended by one Reserve AA MG company]:
"during bombings, when enemy planes were going down even up to 30 metres above the ground, any MG staff did not leave its post, fireing to the end. Commander of this company as well as its soldiers, deserve the greatest recognition"
During the briefing general Kazimierz Sosnkowski discussed the situation and variants of further operations. Reports from 38. Reserve ID and 11. ID said, that along the Wereszyca river, near Grodek Jagiellonski and Kamienobrod, a powerful German barrier was detected, with strong bridgeheads on the western bank of the river along the line from the south to the north across Bratkowice, Burgthal, Haliczanow, Hartfeld, hill 317 "Turecka Mogila" and a little bit weaker garrisons along the line: Tuczapy, Czarnokonce, Muzylowice, Ozomla, Rogozno, Jaworow.
Possibility of being encircled by the enemy seemed to be the lowest from the southern side.
Three variants of operations were considered:
- crossing the Wereszyca river and march along the shortest road towards Lwow
- march to the north towards Jaworow for the purpose of connecting with Army "Cracow" under command of general Antoni Szylling
- march to the south across Komarno and later behind the Dniestr river, to the Romanian Bridgehead
The decision was made to march to the north-east and to break through the Janowskie Forests to Lwow.
Divisions received the following orders:
- 11. ID under command of colonel Bronisław Prugar-Ketling will assault in north-eastern direction and will seize the Janowskie Forests in the area of localities Szklo and Moloszkowice, where it will take the defensive positions facing the western and south-western directions. 11. Heavy Artillery Unit [Polish: Dywizjon] under command of major Zygmunt Dobrowolski, which was advancing with 38. Division so far, is attached to the division.
- 38. Reserve ID will conquer Dobrostany and Kamieniobrod, where it will prepare the defence from the west and from the south.
- 24. ID under command of colonel Bolesław Schwarzenberg-Czerny will advance in the second stage, behind 11. ID.
At 16:45 [on 15.09.1939] 1st battalion of 97 IR under command of mjr. Jozef Trzesinski supported by 1/5 Heavy AR attacked Rodatycze, which were captured after the combat which lasted until the dusk. The enemy withdrew to the main defensive positions, covering himself with patrols. Behind Rodatycze near the manor-house 3rd battalion under command of major Franciszek Wrona took the lead and 1st battalion was advancing behind it. Around 23:00 III/97 was heavily fired at by artillery and machine gun fire from the locality Hartfeld, which was occupied by German Kampfgruppe "Ernst", supported by III/AR.79 under command of Oberstleutnant Bialonzig and from the hill 317 "Turecka Mogila", by Kampfgruppe "Zimmer".
In such situation major Franciszek Wrona immediately prepared his companies to the assault and after heavy combat he captured Hartfeld and Rzerzyczany, breaking through to the north-east. Especcialy fierce combats took place in the heavily filled by German soldiers cemetery located south of Hartfeld, where among numerous KIA was the commander of German III/AR.79 Oberstleutnant Bialonzig, who had got his command post there.
Also I/97 under command of mjr. Jozef Trzesinski which was advancing in the second stage joined to the assault, and also managed to break through the German barrier, but under heavy casualties.
Due to the darkness and strong fire (soldiers of the regiment for the first time were under direct fire) battalions and companies mixed, and command became much hampered.
During the battle of Hartfeld the commander of 1st MG company of 97 IR, captain Władysław Chełchowski, and around 200 riflemen [from 97. Reserve Infantry Regiment] were killed.
Commander of 2nd company was heavilly wounded, commander of 3rd company was slightly wounded, colonel St. Zielke was contused. Major J. Trzesinski, commander of 1st company of 97 IR, captain Kazimierz Zbaorszczyk, wounded commander of 3rd company and six other officers plus around 200 riflemen (mainly wounded) were captured. German casualties were also heavy, but any exact numbers are unknown."
And further combats:
"Around 4:00 on 16.09.1939 II/97 advancing on the right wing captured Bratkowice and the hill 296 located north of Bratkowice with use of its 4 company under command of captain Alfred Szmidt. Polish losses were 2 KIA, 2 heavilly and 4 slightly wounded. German casualties: 5 KIA and several wounded. 9 German soldiers were captured. On the left in the direction towards Burgthal 6 company of 97 IR under command of captain Władysław Ullman was attacking. The assault was supported by 2 MG company. But Luftwaffe bombing, heavy MG, mortar and artillery fire of German Kampfgruppe "Friedmann", supported by I/79 Geb. AR under command of Oberstleutnant Winkler and 12. heavy battery of 79. Geb. AR, made the Polish breakout in this direction impossible.
Commander of II/97 IR - who wanted to rouse his soldiers into fight with his own example - was heavilly wounded and later died. 4 company of 97 IR and 6 company of 97 IR suffered 40% casualties. Captain Alfred Szmidt was seriously wounded. In the evening on 16.09.1939 German strengthened 179. Infanterie-Regiment from 57. Infanterie-Division attacked rears of Polish II./97 IR, which was already involved in combats - as the result of this attack major part of the Polish battalion was destroyed. Only 5. company, part of 2. MG company and small group of soldiers from 6. company managed to leap aside to the north, where they joined the group commanded by colonel J. Pecka. Polish artillery, disorganized by heavy whole day-long Luftwaffe bombings, lost communication with advancing forward infantry, and did not support it at all during that combat.
Attached to 96 Reserve IR, I battalion of 98 Reserve IR attacked Czarnokonce from the locality Laszki after 23:00 on 15.09.1939. Czarnokonce were defended by units from motorized regiment SS "Germania". After around one hour of fierce combats, Czarnokonce were captured and inside the village over 60 motorycles with MG trailes, three artillery batteries, 12 AT guns, a dozen or so armoured vehicles and several dozens cars & trucks were captured. The enemy lost 50 KIA or WIA; 2 officers and 13 soldiers were captured. Polish casualties were 2 officers and 30 NCOs and soldiers KIA or WIA, including seriously wounded (later died) commander of 3 company of 98 IR lieutenant Pluta, wounded sub-lieutenant Mazurkiewicz and slightly wounded major St. Marek. Heavy Polish losses were caused by friendly fire of own MGs and mortars of 1. MG company from 98 IR under command of lieutenant Kunicki, which were fireing at Czarnokonce, and didn't know that the 3rd company had already captured this village. This fire was stopped not until the intervention of the battalion commander. After clearing the locality, the battalion marched towards Muzylowice, which were already captured by 49 infantry regiment from 11. ID. General Kazimierz Sosnkowski who was in Muzylowice, after receiving major St. Marek's report about the result of the combat, ordered him to destroy the German equipment captured in Czarnokonce. Then I/98 marched further towards Lesniowka and in the afternoon reached on 16.09.1939 reached the southern edge of the Janowskie Forests near Kertyna and Wola Dobrostanska. According to the orders it took defensive positions there with two companies (the third company in reserve) at the edge of the forest crosswise, the road from Dobrostany, closing the direction to locality Jaryna. [...]"
From Ryszard Dalecki's publication.
Destroyed German armoured vehicle from SS "Germania" (maybe somewhere near / in Czarnokonce):
Czarnokonce (or Rogozno) after the battle - destroyed German equipment:
Picture by Jan Gundlach - soldier from Polish 11. ID, he fought in Muzylowice - "Night battle in Muzylowice against the Waffen SS Standarte Germania":Domen121 wrote:After clearing the locality, the battalion marched towards Muzylowice, which were already captured by 49 infantry regiment from 11. ID.
On 18.09.1939 Germans introduced a Panzer force against the Polish Operational Group "Southern" under command of general Kazimierz Sosnkowski - Panzer-Regiment 15. from 5. Panzer-Division attacked Polish forces - mainly in the area of Rzęsna Ruska:Richard Hargreaves wrote:Ruins of the Polish Southern Army
Grodek-Jagiellonski, September 18th, 11am
The glow of fires flaring up and the rumble of battle during the night informed us of the bitter battle involving our troops and the Polish divisions which were stubbornly trying to force a breakthrough to Lemberg. This morning we drove there. The road had already been secured; the Kampfgruppen Pemsel, Utz and Kress are clearing out the forest at Dobrostany, ten kilometres north of Grodek, as far as Janow, from where the Munich division is advancing on Lemberg...
We see signs of the hasty retreat on the road to Grodek. A field kitchen has been knocked into a ditch by a shell, abandoned buses stand by the road, Polish caps and sacks lie about in huge numbers. We pass through Ukrainian villages; life continues its course there as if nothing has happened. The farmer drags his plough across the wide field to prepare to sow his grain for the winter; black and white speckled cattle graze in the meadows and maids raise water buckets from wells, herds of geese cry. A refreshing breeze greets us from the forest - the sun toys with the breaking day. A wonderful land appears before us; its fertility is so blatantly contrasted by the poverty of its people. [Leixner, Leo, Von Lemberg bis Bordeaux: Fronterlebnisse eines Kriegsberichters, Franz Eher Verlag, Munich, 1941]
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 8&start=15
Picture by Jan Gundlach from Polish 11. Infantry Division:7. Battles west and south-west of Lemberg;
a) Combats of 15. Panzer-Regiment near Rzesna Ruska, Hołosko and Brzuchowice - 18.09.1939 - 20.09.1939;
From the thread "Poland 1939: KIA German officers":
Bialoncig Josef, 14.09.1892, Obstlt., [Kdr. III. Abt./Geb. A. R. 79], [1. Geb. Div.], 15.09.1939 (Hartfeld b. Lemberg), VB, Kaltenegger, Die Deutsche Gebirgstruppe, S. 115