Fall Weiss - A Few Questions

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Artur Szulc
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Re: Fall Weiss - A Few Questions

Post by Artur Szulc » 15 Nov 2009 23:24

On the polish cavalry myth.

I can not state that it never happened during the September campaign. But then again I can not swear that I will never wake up in a room full av money one day... :)

If one considers the sources and put them in the proper context of the Polish-German war, then the conclusion must be that the Polish cavalry did not charge German Panzer with sabers and lances to destroy them.

During the Inter-War era the Polish cavalry trained mostly to fight like infantry. Thus, they took the horse to the battle field but fought dismounted. If one take a look at the Polish cavalry handbook from 1922 only fourteen pages describe mounted warfare, and 53 pages describe tactics on foot. The Polish cavalry was equipped with anti-tank guns, anti-tank rifles and light and heavy MG´s. Sure, the cavalry trained with lances beacuse it was traditional, but mostly the lance was used in ceremonies. It was never intended to be used in warfare.

At the beginning of the war in september 1939 the Polish cavalry had a total of 9 000 lances. Now, the Polish cavalry consisted of what, 70 000 men, which means that every seventh Polish cavalrymen could be equipped with a lance. But that was not the case. As Michal Gutowski, retired brigadiergeneral, put it, the Polish cavalry left the lances behind and took only the sabres along with anti-tank guns, MG´s, with them into battle. The saber could be very useful in charges against German infantry, and this was true, which the Polish cavalry demonstrated.

No sane Polish cavalrymen ever thought that they could destroy a German Panzer with a lance, if they had one with them. And the Poles where reckless, but they where not stupid.

Best regards,
Chili

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Piotr Kapuscinski
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Re: Fall Weiss - A Few Questions

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 15 Nov 2009 23:41

Well, I noticed that German sources often see cavalry everywhere where they see horses. Sometimes they see cavalry where there was only infantry. We should remember that Polish infantry divisions were entirely horse-drawn.

If it comes to rumours about charges - here such an example - they saw few dead horses and cavalrymen and their imagination changed it into a cavalry charge (that they didn't even see on their own, as the battle was already over when they entered this village - Moszczenica - which was defended by Polish cavalry but in a conventional way):

Check here:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 5#p1379797

Btw - for example German 1. Gebirgs-Division lost 650 killed horses during the Polish Campaign - probably from this fact we should conclude that soldiers of 1. Geb.Div. conducted several dozens of charges during the campaign? :wink:

/ Domen

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Tim Smith
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Re: Fall Weiss - A Few Questions

Post by Tim Smith » 23 Nov 2009 16:13

It must be remembered that in September 1939 most German troops were green as grass. To green Allied troops in Normandy, every German tank was a Tiger. So to green German troops in Poland, every group of Polish horses were part of a cavalry unit.

Stuff like this indicates that eye-witness reports from green troops are very frequently unreliable. Even when they're German.

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Piotr Kapuscinski
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Re: Fall Weiss - A Few Questions

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 27 Nov 2009 14:49

It must be remembered that in September 1939 most German troops were green as grass.
Most of them were without real combat experiences but vast majority of them underwent proper military training, so they were not so green. Allied soldiers in Normandy were also not so green because for example American soldiers completed intensive military training in military training bases (like e.g. Camp Toccoa) before the invasion.
Even when they're German.
Why "even"? :D Btw - also experienced German pilots reported kills of Polish P-24 fighters, while in fact Polish Air Force didn't use any P-24 fighters because they were being produced only for export. And the reason why they reported shooting down P-24s is that they were wrongly taught types of Polish aircraft, not because they were green.

The reason why German soldiers reported cavalry everywhere was probably pre-war Nazi propaganda about Polish army and Poland. The only source of information about Poland for majority of German troops was Nazi propaganda.

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Piotr Kapuscinski
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Re: Fall Weiss - A Few Questions

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 11 Jan 2010 17:02

Polish aircrafts numbered ca1000, inamongst were their 400 figters and 300 bombers.
On 01.09.1939 Polish Air Force numbered 404 aircrafts in combat units, including:

158 fighters (108 x PZL P-11c; 20 x PZL P-11a; 30 x PZL P-7)
114 light bombers - reconnaissance (114 x PZL P-23 "Karas")
36 medium bombers (36 x PZL P-37 "Los")
84 observation - communication (49 x Lublin R-XIII; 35 x RWD-14 "Czapla")
12 seaplanes

Here you can find more info:

http://www.samoloty.ow.pl/str080.htm
These units could then be divided roughly into 43 infantry divisions, 3 mountain brigades, 11 cavalry brigades, 2 mechanized brigades and 14 national guard brigades.
In fact there were 37 divisions (some of them never fully concentrated), 3 weak mountain brigades with almost no artillery, 11 cavalry brigades, 2 motorized brigades (one of them was still being formed on 01.09.1939).

National Defense numbered some 50,000 men in total. There were no any national defense brigades in 1939 - it was in 1935. Later these brigades were used to form other units - for example 55. reserve Infantry Division was formed from National Defense units. Also mountain brigades and Coastline Defense (LOW) consisted of both National Defense and regular units. The remaining battalions were attached to brigades, divisions or fought as independent units.

Germany used 61 divisions and 6 brigades in the Polish Campaign, including 42 infantry divisions, 3 mountain divisions, 7 Panzer divisions, 4 Light [armoured] divisions, 4 motorized infantry divisions, one Flieger division.

Among German brigades there were 4 infantry brigades, 1 cavalry brigade and 1 SA brigade.
My number comes from a postcampaign German inventory and the exact number, according to the book, is 3,214.
Well according to the report by OKH GenStdH GenQu from 05.10.1939 they only captured 1,596 field guns.

According to Manstein's "Lost Victories" his own Army Group "South" captured 1,401 field guns.

Poland in total had got around 3,400 field guns of them about 2,500 were deployed against Germany.

Some were captured by the USSR (Ukrainian Front reported 606 and Belarusian Front allegedly 134 however I doubt if Belarusian Front was able to capture so many guns as there were virtually no any artillery units there - maybe they found them in some magazines or capture them from railway transports enroute to the Romanian Bridgehead).

Most probably these figures include also guns which were damaged in combat and then captured.

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Qvist
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Re: Fall Weiss - A Few Questions

Post by Qvist » 22 Jan 2010 14:31

That - "idiot's site" you're referring to is John Mosier's The Blitzkrieg Myth, and it's a book.
Well, he should amend that to "idiot's book" then. Mosier's "Blitzkrieg Myth" is without doubt one of the most clueless books about the second world war I have ever had the misfortune to read.

cheers

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Piotr Kapuscinski
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Re: Fall Weiss - A Few Questions

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 12 Dec 2010 12:09

Note that Polish mobilization (excluding improvised units, which were not planned) ended on 14.09.1939. But of course in fact it never ended as planned, because it was interrupted by German air and ground military actions.

Here a very interesting table taken from the article by Rafał Białkowski (pages 10 - 27):

http://www.martola.com.pl/biuletyn-dws-2010-07_HQ.pdf

It shows planned strength of the Polish army* after mobilization and its real strength on 01.09.1939. As can be seen the Polish army had roughly 70% of the planned post-mobilization strength mobilized on 01.09.1939:

Two of the 3 planned reserve groups ("Kutno" and "Tarnow") were in fact non-existant when war started:
(apart from that Army "Prusy" was a reserve army, while all other armies were along the frontier)
Podział sił2.jpg
Note that the number of AFVs includes all armoured vehicles - both tanks and armoured cars.

One cavalry regiment = 5 squadrons. Apart from regiments also non-regimental squadrons are included. Of course one cavalry squadron was more or less of 1/2 infantry company size and one regiment - of infantry battalion size.

*This table includes everything on the anti-German and anti-Slovakian front except for forces in the Coastline (which included among other units further 12 infantry battalions). It also doesn't include forces which yet on 01.09.1939 (and according to the mobilization plan) weren't on the western front, but along the Polish-Soviet border (this includes apart from other units 24 infantry battalions of KOP, Border Protection Corps - 22 rifle battalions and 2 fortress battalions) and in eastern Poland (apart from other units 10 infantry battalions - all of them National Defence).

And here planned dislocation of Polish forces along main directions of German attack:

A - from East Prussia towards Warsaw and Brest (A "Modlin", odwód "Wyszków" and SGO "Narew")
B - from West Pomerania and East Prussia towards Torun and Poznan (A "Pomorze" and A "Poznań")
C - from Silesia towards Warsaw (odwód "Kutno", A "Łódź", A "Prusy" and A "Kraków" in Czestochowa gap)
D - from Upper Silesia and Czechoslovakia (rest of A "Kraków", A "Karpaty" and odwód "Tarnów")
dispositional units of the CiC (still being formed Warsaw Armored-Motorized Brigade and other units)

battalions / squadrons / HMGs / light arty / heavy arty / AA arty / AT arty / AVFs (as in the previous table):
Planowane rozmieszczenie.jpg
Those 455 planned infantry battalions (of which 316 actually mobilized on 01.09.1939) included:

39 infantry divisions with 353 battalions (including 24 KOP and 12 ON)
56 ON (National Defence) usually weak battalions (including 14 in 3 mountain brigades and 42 attached to individual armies and operational groups)
14 KOP (Border Protection Corps) battalions - 5 regiments (12) and 2 independent battalions
10 rifle battalions
7 HMG and support weapons battalions
9 fortress battalions (including one company of in fact battalion strength)
3 battalions of 1st Podhale Rifle Regiment (2nd Mountain Brigade)
3 improvised battalions in Army "Pomorze" (battalion ON "Grudziadz", improvised IV./67 Inf.Rgt. and improvised "assault battalion" of 16th Infantry Division)
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Piotr Kapuscinski
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Re: Fall Weiss - A Few Questions

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 02 Apr 2011 00:59

Domen121 wrote:
Polish aircrafts numbered ca1000, inamongst were their 400 figters and 300 bombers.
On 01.09.1939 Polish Air Force numbered 404 aircrafts in combat units, including:

158 fighters (108 x PZL P-11c; 20 x PZL P-11a; 30 x PZL P-7)
114 light bombers - reconnaissance (114 x PZL P-23 "Karas")
36 medium bombers (36 x PZL P-37 "Los")
84 observation - communication (49 x Lublin R-XIII; 35 x RWD-14 "Czapla")
12 seaplanes

Here you can find more info:

http://www.samoloty.ow.pl/str080.htm
If including replacements, in total there were 165 fighters (158 + 7 replacements).

Of course by the time of replacements arriving, casualties reduced the number of original 158:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 0#p1574479

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 7#p1573957

This doesn't yet include improvised units which had between 8 and up to a dozen - ca. 15 - aircrafts - but they were in vast majority obsolete and worn out pieces of lumber, usually without complete armament & other stuff.

Polish fighters destroyed 97 German aircrafts (including 1 by improvised units) and 3 Soviet.

Irrecoverable casualties of improvised units amounted to 1 fighter lost.

As for casualties of Polish "regular" fighter units see the links above.

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