Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

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Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by henryk » 28 Aug 2011 19:43

OKRĘTY WOJENNE
Dwumiesięcznik Vol. XVIII, Nr 3/2011 (107) ISSN-1231-014X, Indeks 386138

Andrzej S. Bartelski

Udział Polskiej Marynarki Wojennej w Wojnie Zimowej
The Role of the Polish Navy in the Winter War

This article discussed a number of uses of the Polish Navy against the USSR in the Winter War, as proposed by the UK and France. The following is a proposal to use Polish troops.
(My translation)
=9. Jako ciekawostkę można dodać, że według marszałka von Mannerheima generał Sikorski złożył Finom propozycję utworzenia polskiego korpusu pomocniczego złożonego z internowanych na Litwie i Łotwie polskich żołnierzy (ocenianych na około 20 tysięcy żołnierzy). Oba kraje wstępnie zgodziły się na zwolnienie części żołnierzy i wysłanie ich do Szwecji (bezpośredni transport do Finlandii jako kraju bezpośrednio zaangażowanego w działania wojenne nie był możliwy). Projekt jednak upadł, ponieważ Szwecja odmówiła tranzytu polskich żołnierzy.
= 9 It is interesting to add that, according to Marshal von Mannerheim, General Sikorski submitted to the Finns a proposal to create a supporting Polish Corps, composed of Polish soldiers interned in Lithuania and Latvia (estimated at about 20 thousand soldiers). Both countries initially agreed to release the soldiers and send them to Sweden (direct transport to Finland was not possible as it was a country directly involved in hostilities). The project collapsed, however, because Sweden refused the transit of the Polish soldiers.

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Re: Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by Marcus » 28 Aug 2011 20:08

Interesting but would not the USSR that was largely in control of the Baltic states at the time had some other ideas?

/Marcus

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Re: Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by John T » 28 Aug 2011 22:07

The subject has been researched by Jukka Nevakivi in his book "the Appeal that was never made"
page 180ff

Did the artice in OKRĘTY WOJENNE in any way tried to explain
- how the Poles would have been equipped?
- Why Sweden would invite and arm an occupation army ?
As the primary goal of the Western allies where to stop Iron ore shipments to Germany.


Actually
At least 300 Poles where sent from the Baltic states to Sweden and of these aproximate 80 where pilots.
But RAF prefered to get those to England rather than equiping them with aircrafts and sending them to Finland.

Cheers
/John

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Re: Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by eppanzer » 29 Aug 2011 11:35

Marcus Wendel wrote:Interesting but would not the USSR that was largely in control of the Baltic states at the time had some other ideas?
Although the Red Army had strong garissons in the Baltic states, the USSR did not control the Government until June 1940.
henryk wrote:
General Sikorski submitted to the Finns a proposal to create a supporting Polish Corps, composed of Polish soldiers interned in Lithuania and Latvia (estimated at about 20 thousand soldiers). Both countries initially agreed to release the soldiers and send them to Sweden (direct transport to Finland was not possible as it was a country directly involved in hostilities). The project collapsed, however, because Sweden refused the transit of the Polish soldiers.
Well, I don't think the Governments of the Lithuania and Latvia agreed to sent internees to Sweden, because it would be a violation of the Haga convention, and two small countries could not make so risky agreements having so determined Germany and USSR in the close neighborhood. AFAIK France and UK planned the expeditionary force to go throw Norvegia and Sweden but both Scandinavic countries did not agree to let them go throw. I believe this was only proposition and no Lithuanian or Latvian agreements were made, So, the proposition of use of the Polish Army (internees in the Baltic states) in the Winter War was naive and unrealistic.

According to Polish military attache to Lithuania Leon Mitkiewicz, he had got an instruction from general Mieczyslaw Norvid-Neugebauer on 23rd September, 1939, to send big parties of the internees to France by...railroad. L.Mitkiewitcz wrote the instruction was naive and he had some doubts about the geografical knowledg of the authors of the instruction. So, the process began long time before the Winter War started.
From September 10th to Octboer 15th only about 400 internees got French and British visas, but only about 150 left Lithuania. The Sweden Governemet was very reluctant to give visas, even transite.
Later a lot of internees escaped with a silent agreement of the Lithuania Government. For example, almost everybody could get a passport and other documents as the civilian refugee in the UK embassy in Kaunas, Lithuania. Officers from Military Hospital could leave and go straigt to the UK, French or Sweden embassy. The Germany made few hot protests, Lithuania tried to creat a police posts near embassys, but after hot protests of the UK, French or Sweden embassies police posts were refused. Some captured escaped internees (very few) were covicted for 4 months.
Some "escaped" internees went to the Bornholm (Sweden?), on the Lithuanian fishermen boats, few fishermen were even convicted.

The internees:
360 released as the citizens of the Lithuania
1100 released as unsuitable for military service
1718 voluntary left to USSR
1613 voluntary left to Germany
182 released as a medical personnel
136 released by guarantee of the Lithuanian citizens (guaranteed by landlords of the Polish nationality, mostly)
800 released recognited as civilians
2500 escaped (439 from 1st to 10th July, 1940)
4373 taken by USSR after occupation.

I would like to note Polish internees were disposed to Lithuania very unfriendly. The internees had a lot internal controversy too: Ukrainians against Poles, solders against officers and etc.
Last edited by eppanzer on 30 Aug 2011 07:24, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by henryk » 29 Aug 2011 19:34

John T wrote:The subject has been researched by Jukka Nevakivi in his book "the Appeal that was never made"
page 180ff

Did the artice in OKRĘTY WOJENNE in any way tried to explain
- how the Poles would have been equipped?
- Why Sweden would invite and arm an occupation army ?
As the primary goal of the Western allies where to stop Iron ore shipments to Germany.
/John
The extract I posted was only a footnote, and there are no more details. However the article does go into detail on the various naval options investigated, which include British and French support, and in some cases British and French naval participation. Stopping iron ore shipments was a primary goal.

Thank you, Mischa, for providing me the issue of OKRĘTY WOJENNE which contains the article.

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Re: Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by henryk » 30 Aug 2011 19:09

The other proposed Polish Army operation described in the article:
OKRĘTY WOJENNE
Dwumiesięcznik Vol. XVIII, Nr 3/2011 (107) ISSN-1231-014X, Indeks 386138
Warships Bimonthly

Andrzej S. Bartelski
Udział Polskiej Marynarki Wojennej w Wojnie Zimowej
The Role of the Polish Navy in the Winter War
Wobec ostatecznego zarzucenia pomysłu wykorzystania jednostek Polskiej Marynarki Wojennej przez Najwyższą Radę Wojenną Sprzymierzonych alianccy wojskowi rozpoczęli planowanie operacji na pełną skalę z wykorzystaniem wojsk zarówno francuskich, jak i brytyjskich, realizując tym samym drugą z propozycji admirała Darlana. Plan zakładał zerwanie stosunków dyplomatycznych z ZSRS oraz jednocześnie przeprowadzenie rajdu i wysadzenie desantu wojsk sprzymierzonych w fińskim porcie Petsamo, którego celem miało być zdobycie Murmańska.

Przewidywano wysłanie około 12 000 żołnierzy, około 50 dział przeciwpancernych oraz kilkunastu czołgów pod dowództwem podpułkownika Marie Béthouarta w trzech rzutach. Pierwszy składający się z brytyjskiej brygady piechoty, francuskiej półbrygady alpejskiej oraz pododdziałów wsparcia (łącznie około 4 tys. żołnierzy), miał za zadanie zdobycie Petsamo wraz częścią Półwyspu Rybackiego, tak by zapewnić bezpieczeństwo alianckim konwojom z zaopatrzeniem.

W drugiej fali w Petsamo miała wylądować kolejna francuska półbrygada alpejska, dywizjon dział przeciwpancernych, kompania czołgów oraz pododdziały zmotoryzowane wraz z kompanią transportową (łącznie około 4,5 tys. żołnierzy) mające za zadanie wykonanie szybkiego uderzenia w kierunku Salla (miało być ono połączone z jednoczesnym rajdem sił fińskich z południa) oraz przygotowanie pozycji natarcia na Kandałakszę.

Jako ostatnie miały wejść do walki 4 bataliony Samodzielnej Brygady Strzelców Podhalańskich wspierając natarcie francuskich oddziałów na Kandałakszę i Murmańsk. Ostatecznie również i ten plan został odrzucony, głównie z powodu sprzeciwu Brytyjczyków, którzy zdecydowanie bardziej byli zainteresowani złożami rudy żelaza w Kiruna oraz Gälliväre.
Following a final abandonment of the idea by the Allied Supreme War Council to use units of the Polish Navy, the Military Allies began the planning a full-scale operation which would use both French and British troops, thus implementing the second of the proposals of Admiral Darlan. The plan was to break diplomatic relations with the USSR, and simultaneously carry out an Allied landing in the Finnish port of Petsamo, with the objective of capturing Murmansk.

It was planned to send, in three waves, about 12 000 soldiers, about 50 guns and a number of tanks, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Marie Bethouart. The first, which would comprise a brigade of British infantry, a half-brigade of French Alpine and sub-units of support (altogether about 4 thousand. soldiers), had the task of taking Petsamo, along with part of the Fisheries Peninsula, thus ensurng the security of allied supply convoys.

In the second wave at Petsamo, there would be another half-brigade of French Alpine, an antitank gun division , a company of tanks, and motorized units of a transport company (altogether about 4.5 thousand. soldiers), with the assigned objective of a quick strike in the direction of Salla (it was intended to be combined with a simultaneous raid by the Finnish forces in the south) and the preparation of offensive positions in Kandalaksha.

The second wave included four battalions of the Podhale Rifles Brigade for support of French troops attacking Murmansk and Kandalaksha. Ultimately, this plan was also rejected, mainly because of opposition of the British, who were far more interested in deposits of iron ore in Kiruna and Gälliväre

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Re: Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by Juha Tompuri » 30 Aug 2011 20:37

John T wrote:Did the artice in OKRĘTY WOJENNE in any way tried to explain
- how the Poles would have been equipped?
- Why Sweden would invite and arm an occupation army ?
As the primary goal of the Western allies where to stop Iron ore shipments to Germany.

-AFAIK the polish soldiers were not totally "bare handed" when they escaped to Latvia and Lithuania - but sure would have needed proper winter clothes
-"Occupation army" ??? what did/did have they occupied ? Western Poland ???
-"Invite" ... AFAIK the plan was about troop transit.

JT wrote:At least 300 Poles where sent from the Baltic states to Sweden and of these aproximate 80 where pilots.
But RAF prefered to get those to England rather than equiping them with aircrafts and sending them to Finland.
IIRC a certain number of Polish pilots yes escaped to West - at least to France, where they (IIRC 80 pilots) were about to be sent with French planes to Finland, but the Winter War ended "too soon" at this case.

An old post slightly topic related:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 3#p1370833

Regards, Juha

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Re: Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by John T » 30 Aug 2011 21:33

Juha Tompuri wrote:
John T wrote:Did the artice in OKRĘTY WOJENNE in any way tried to explain
- how the Poles would have been equipped?
- Why Sweden would invite and arm an occupation army ?
As the primary goal of the Western allies where to stop Iron ore shipments to Germany.

-AFAIK the polish soldiers were not totally "bare handed" when they escaped to Latvia and Lithuania - but sure would have needed proper winter clothes
I don't think Latvia could have gotten away with releasing an armed force, previously interned, to fight USSR.
And even if Uncle Joe forgave the Lavians would Adolf?
I can't see a way they could have goten out of Latvia or Lithuania armed.
So the Poles would have needed arms after crossing the Baltic.
Juha Tompuri wrote: -"Occupation army" ??? what did/did have they occupied ? Western Poland ???
-"Invite" ... AFAIK the plan was about troop transit.

An old post slightly topic related:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 3#p1370833

Regards, Juha
There where a great chance the Allied intervention troops would take control of Northen Sweden rather than fighting Russians.

As youself wrote in the link above
The British side finally didn't approve the idea, as they were more intrested in landing more south (= also taking the Swedish iron ore fields in to control)
And the Swedes knew two things
1. Germany would not allow allied troops in Sweden, that was explicitly regarded as causus belli from German side.
2- British interest in stopping the Flow of Iron ore to Germany.
And thus, whatever good intentions on the Polish side, Sweden would hardly allow a Polish force to set up on Swedish soil.
Possibly smal groups of civilian volunteers but not thousands at a time.

Cheers
/John

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Re: Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by eppanzer » 31 Aug 2011 07:24

John T wrote:And even if Uncle Joe forgave the Lavians would Adolf?
I can't see a way they could have goten out of Latvia or Lithuania armed.
So the Poles would have needed arms after crossing the Baltic.
Uncle Joe could not forgive Latvia and Lithuania. No way. The soviet Baltic Fleet could easily lock the Baltic States from the sea side, the only one way out for internees. There were no required transport (ships, planes) to transport 10000 or even 20000 internees to the Sweden.
One more thing - according to the order of the Rydz-Smygly The Polish Army did not fight against the Red Army, the fight could be provide when soviets atack Polish units only. Perhaps, some Poles fought against Red Army just not looking to the order.
Interned Poles were in poor spirit and had no motivation to fight for Finland. Remember, a lot of them left families in the Soviet occupied area.
Poles, organized under French Army in France were in absolutely different position. They were a part of the armed forces of the France, the ally, so they had high spirit and motivation.

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Re: Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by CF Geust » 31 Aug 2011 09:04

Concerning the proposed use of the Polish AF in the Winter war, I attach an extract of my paper from 2005:
---
International Assistance to Finnish Air Force during the Winter War 1939-1940

Paper presented at the International Scientific Conference
“The International Crisis 1939-1941: from the Soviet-German Treaties of 1939 to the German Attack Against the USSR, Moscow 2-3 February 2005”.
...
France (Poland)
After the Allied (Anglo-French) plans to actively assist Finland, formulated 19 December 1939, Gen. Sikorski (Prime Minister of the Polish Government in exile) assumed that a possible participation of Polish soldiers on the Finnish side could influence the Finns and their recognition of the Polish exile-government.

The question of Polish aid turned out to be convenient to the French. After a meeting between Gen. Denain (Chief of the French Military Mission at the Polish Government) and Gen. Zajac (Chief of Aviation Command, in March 1940 Commander Polish AF) 22 January 1940, it was decided to set up a volunteer Polish squadron (commanded by Maj. Kepinski) to be sent to Finland.

In early 1940 no less than 7.000 Polish air force personnel had arrived in France, 1.427 officers, 259 cadet-officers and 5.285 of other ranks (totalling some 650 skilled pilots). The appeal for volunteers to the “Finnish squadron” resulted in much bigger interest than expected (some 150 applications were received). On 12 February 1940 the Polish military attaché in Stockholm was instructed to arrange an agreement with the Finnish authorities on conditions of using Polish Air Force units on Finnish territory. This “Finnish squadron” was to include 30 pilots and 30 technical specialists.

A total 80 Caudron C.714 monoplane fighters were promised to Finland (partly apparently intended for the Polish volunteer squadron, and partly to be delivered directly to the Finnish Air Force).

During the training period in Lyon, France information of the peace agreement 12/13 March 1940 was received, and all further plans to assist Finland were cancelled. At this moment six Caudron fighters were already in transit for Finland, another ten in the port of Le Havre, and three more in transit from Paris to Le Havre.

Only six Caudron fighters arrived in Finland in crates at the end of May 1940. The Caudron fighter turned out to be entirely unsuitable (weak armament, long take-off and landing run) for Finnish conditions. Already in September 1940 all Caudron fighters were grounded. It is thus very questionable whether the “Finnish squadron” of Polish Air Force really would have been of any use during the Winter War. The “Finnish squadron” of Polish AF was subsequently renamed CG 1/145 in the French Air Force.
---
Carl-Fredrik Geust
Board Member, Finnish Association of MIlitary History

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Re: Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by Juha Tompuri » 31 Aug 2011 18:22

John T wrote:
Juha Tompuri wrote:
John T wrote:Did the artice in OKRĘTY WOJENNE in any way tried to explain
- how the Poles would have been equipped?
- Why Sweden would invite and arm an occupation army ?
As the primary goal of the Western allies where to stop Iron ore shipments to Germany.

-AFAIK the polish soldiers were not totally "bare handed" when they escaped to Latvia and Lithuania - but sure would have needed proper winter clothes
I don't think Latvia could have gotten away with releasing an armed force, previously interned, to fight USSR.
And even if Uncle Joe forgave the Lavians would Adolf?
I can't see a way they could have goten out of Latvia or Lithuania armed.
So the Poles would have needed arms after crossing the Baltic.
Well, the transit of the troops at single armed batch would have been problematic, but perhaps that was not the plan as:
John T wrote:Actually
At least 300 Poles where sent from the Baltic states to Sweden and of these aproximate 80 where pilots.
But RAF prefered to get those to England rather than equiping them with aircrafts and sending them to Finland.
From where could we read more about this ex-internees transit via Sweden ?
And what were the reactions of Uncle Joe and Adolf towards Latvia, Lithuania and/or Sweden ?

John T wrote:
Juha Tompuri wrote: -"Occupation army" ??? what did/did have they occupied ? Western Poland ???
-"Invite" ... AFAIK the plan was about troop transit.

An old post slightly topic related:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 3#p1370833

Regards, Juha
There where a great chance the Allied intervention troops would take control of Northen Sweden rather than fighting Russians.
I still find borh the terminology "occupation army" and "allied intervention troops" a bit (or more) wrong at this case of troop transit of the ex-internees.

John T wrote:And the Swedes knew two things
1. Germany would not allow allied troops in Sweden, that was explicitly regarded as causus belli from German side.
As above.

John T wrote:2- British interest in stopping the Flow of Iron ore to Germany.
And thus, whatever good intentions on the Polish side, Sweden would hardly allow a Polish force to set up on Swedish soil.
Possibly smal groups of civilian volunteers but not thousands at a time.
During Winter War some volunteer groups arrived in Finland (via Sweden) several hundreds strong.

Also, IIRC the Swedish neutrality during WWII was quite flexible, and foreign troop transits and foreign armed soldiers (armed by Swedes) (in thousands) was not a major problem for Sweden.

Regards, Juha

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Re: Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by Juha Tompuri » 31 Aug 2011 18:43

Thank you very much for the information, Carl-Fredrik
CF Geust wrote:In early 1940 no less than 7.000 Polish air force personnel had arrived in France
Via Romania?
CF Geust wrote:On 12 February 1940 the Polish military attaché in Stockholm was instructed to arrange an agreement with the Finnish authorities on conditions of using Polish Air Force units on Finnish territory. This “Finnish squadron” was to include 30 pilots and 30 technical specialists.

A total 80 Caudron C.714 monoplane fighters were promised to Finland (partly apparently intended for the Polish volunteer squadron, and partly to be delivered directly to the Finnish Air Force).

During the training period in Lyon, France information of the peace agreement 12/13 March 1940 was received, and all further plans to assist Finland were cancelled. At this moment six Caudron fighters were already in transit for Finland, another ten in the port of Le Havre, and three more in transit from Paris to Le Havre.

Only six Caudron fighters arrived in Finland in crates at the end of May 1940. The Caudron fighter turned out to be entirely unsuitable (weak armament, long take-off and landing run) for Finnish conditions. Already in September 1940 all Caudron fighters were grounded. It is thus very questionable whether the “Finnish squadron” of Polish Air Force really would have been of any use during the Winter War. The “Finnish squadron” of Polish AF was subsequently renamed CG 1/145 in the French Air Force.
Do you know where the proposed/promised Koolhoven F.K. 58 and Potez 63/631 planned to deliver to Finland by flown or by sea in crates ?
If flown to Finland, by French or by Polish pilots ?

Regards, Juha

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Re: Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by CF Geust » 31 Aug 2011 19:18

The information about the Koolhoven FK.58 is rather vague, but the Potez 633 were already being FLOWN towards Finland, after take-off from France on 11 March 1940. A further extract from my paper:
---
Potez 633 (two-engine dive bomber).
On 12 March 1940 a volunteer aviation unit Groupe aérien de volontaires francais en Finlande (GAVFF) was formed in France. This unit was to consist of 12 Potez 633 bombers, three Bloch fighters and one Dewoitine 338 transport aircraft. The bombers and crews were to come from GBA 54 of the French AF. Later also separate fighter units (equipped with Morane 406 and Koolhoven FK.58 fighters) were to be formed.

Already the day before (11 March 1940) ten Potez 633 and the Dewoitine 338 transport had taken off to Tangmere, England bound for Finland. The further transit route was planned via Droitwich, Crewe, Carslisle, Grange Mouth and Perth in England, Stavanger in Norway and Västerås in Sweden to Finland. After the peace agreement the first batch of Potez aircraft returned from England to France, and all further operations were cancelled.

Koolhoven FK.58 (fighter)
46 Dutch-made Koolhoven FK.58 fighters of French AF were also earmarked for Finland for possible expansion of GAVFF.
---
Carl

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Re: Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by Juha Tompuri » 31 Aug 2011 19:28

Carl, thank you very much again

Regards, Juha

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Re: Proposed Use of The Polish Army in the Winter War

Post by Slon-76 » 31 Aug 2011 20:27

henryk wrote:
Following a final abandonment of the idea by the Allied Supreme War Council to use units of the Polish Navy, the Military Allies began the planning a full-scale operation which would use both French and British troops, thus implementing the second of the proposals of Admiral Darlan. The plan was to break diplomatic relations with the USSR, and simultaneously carry out an Allied landing in the Finnish port of Petsamo, with the objective of capturing Murmansk.

It was planned to send, in three waves, about 12 000 soldiers, about 50 guns and a number of tanks, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Marie Bethouart. The first, which would comprise a brigade of British infantry, a half-brigade of French Alpine and sub-units of support (altogether about 4 thousand. soldiers), had the task of taking Petsamo, along with part of the Fisheries Peninsula, thus ensurng the security of allied supply convoys.

In the second wave at Petsamo, there would be another half-brigade of French Alpine, an antitank gun division , a company of tanks, and motorized units of a transport company (altogether about 4.5 thousand. soldiers), with the assigned objective of a quick strike in the direction of Salla (it was intended to be combined with a simultaneous raid by the Finnish forces in the south) and the preparation of offensive positions in Kandalaksha.

The second wave included four battalions of the Podhale Rifles Brigade for support of French troops attacking Murmansk and Kandalaksha. Ultimately, this plan was also rejected, mainly because of opposition of the British, who were far more interested in deposits of iron ore in Kiruna and Gälliväre
The adventurism of the command of allies always astonished! To plan the crushing defeat of the 14th army (~57000 men, 200+ guns) by the forces of four battalions (or even 12 thousand with 50 guns) - this is magnificent!

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