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Battle of Kock (1939)

From Academic Kids

Template:Battlebox The Battle of Kock was the final battle of the Polish September Campaign at the beginning of World War II. It took place from October 2nd through October 5th, 1939, near the town of Kock, Poland.

The Polish Independent Operational Group Polesie, led by General Franciszek Kleeberg, fought the German 14th Motorised Corp, led by General Gustav von Wiedesheim.

Contents

Before the battle

The Polish battle plan was disorganized, with no planned combat formations. The Wehrmacht destroyed the Polish reserve army (nicknamed "Prusy" or "Polesie") and forced them to withdraw. With heavy losses, the Polish armies retreated to Kraków and the Vistula river. From there, they took the route from Warsaw to Sandomierz. From Sandomierz, they were able to move on to the Lublin area.

The eastern edge of Vistula was defended by Lublin's weak army. The Polish forces camped only in the areas where they could cross the river easily, in case of an attack. Other German forces advanced on Vistula and went on towards Zamość and Włodzimierz Wołyński.

The Polish Army at Kraków and Małopolska suffered heavy losses, and did not have the chance to reach the San river front. Therefore, they were unable to organize defences. Field Marshal Rydz Śmigły was appointed to organize the defence of southern Poland. The commander of army area IX Brześć, General Franciszek Kleeberg, was appointed to organize the defence of the line from Pińsk to Brześć.

Group organisation

On September 8th, General Franciszek Kleeberg received orders from Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły to organize a division of infantry from the depot division (a depot was where reserve soldiers and recruits were trained). Kleeberg was also ordered to organize a defence line between Brześć to Pińsk. While his forces were well-trained, they were lacking all the heavy equipment that had previously been dispatched to the front-line divisions.

Unit Polish name Commander Remarks
  Independent Operational Group Polesie - gen. Franciszek Kleeberg
60th Infantry Division 60 Dywizja Piechoty „Kobryń Colonel Adam Epler 7 battalions of infantry, artillery unit, anti-tank battery
Drohiczyn Poleski Group Grupa Drohiczyn Poleski Lt. Colonel Kazimierz Gorzkowski 3 battalions of infantry, anti-tank unit
Jasiołda Group Grupa Jasiołda infantry battalion, machine-gun battalion, anti-tank company, unarmed labour battalion
Brześć Fortress Group Grupa Forteczna Brześć General Konstanty Plisowski 3 infantry battalions, engineering battalion, 2 FT-17 tank companies, 2 armoured trains, artillery group
Pińsk River Flotilla Flotylla Rzeczna Several dozen small river motor boats, monitors and artillery ships
8 anti-aircraft batteries.

Battle of Brześć and Kobryń

After breaking through the Polish lines in the Battle of Wizna, the German XIX Panzer Corps under Heinz Guderian started its fast advance southwards. The corps, composed of the 3rd Panzer Division, 10th Panzer Division, the 20th Motorised Infantry Division and the reserve 2nd Motorised Division, was ordered to capture the old fortress in Brześć Litewski and then strike further southwards towards Kowel and Galicia. The purpose of this attack was to cut Poland in two and paralise the organisation of defence east of the Bug River.

Initially the forces of Guderian advanced southwards almost unopposed. However, on September 14 they were stopped in the area of Brześć Fortress and Kobryń by a four-battalions strong improvised forces under general Konstanty Plisowski. In a three days long battle for the fortress that became known as the Battle of Brześć, both sides suffered significant casualties. Although the Poles finally withdrew from the area on September 17, the Germans did not start a pursuit soon enough to rout the fleeing Poles. Also, the simultaneous attack on Kobryń, which is sometimes referred to as the Battle of Kobryń was unconcluded, with Polish improvised "Kobryń" Infantry Division under colonel Adam Epler withdrawing unopposed.

Both the Polish units from Kobryń and Brześć were soon joined by the Podlaska Cavalry Brigade. The unit, commanded by general Ludwik Kmicic-Skrzyński, successfully withdrew through Białowieża Forest and evaded encirclement. General Kmicic-Skrzyński with his chief of staff major Julian Szychiewicz went to Wołkowysk where he made phone contact with General Franciszek Kleeberg. The two agreed to join their forces and advance further southwards, towards the Romanian Bridgehead.


18 September

Supplied 16th Motorised Infantry Regiment with the help of artillery and Luftwaffe began attack on position of 83rd Polish Infantry Regiment. They captured some Polish positions.

The Polish counter attack began at 17.00 hours and some positions were recaptured.

After getting order from commander of army Warsaw general Rommel, Kleeberg begun with his forces withdrawal to Romania and Hungary.

19 September - 20 September Polish forces are ordered to concentrate north of Kowel. While on the march, a formation of the Polesie group was attacked by fifth column and enemy air forces, but loose groups of Polish soldier join the Polesie group.

22 September

After a battle with Red Army forces general Kleeberg decided to march to the relief of Warsaw. He planned first to capture crossing places on the Bug River. Place of concentration would be area near Włodawa. Formations of group fought only with Germans. They could fight with Red Army but only if formations of Red Army tried to attack group.

22-25 September Formations of group Polesie during march to Włodawa was attacked by German air forces. 25 September General Kleeberg got information that Włodawa is captured by unknown Polish formations. This formation were organized by Colonel Brzoza-Brzezina Most of soldiers are soldiers from destroyed Polish formations who weren't caught by Germans and were looking for commanders and formations which fought. Forces 5 battalions of infantry, two howitzer battery 75 mm, tabor, field hospital. scout squadron- 1 plane PSW two RWD-8. His forces began organising defence of bridgehead in Włodawa.

17-26 September Formations of Group Polesie crossed Bug river and entered area near Włodawa. 27 IX After getting information about surrender of Warsaw, General Kleeberg asked his commanders about their opinion. On first point he told about political and military situation, he asked General Podhorski commander of cavalry division "Zaza"- two brigade of cavalry "Plis", "Edward", two infantry battalions "Olek" and "Wilk", division artillery- that he shall join his division to his forces. Podhorski agreed, after that they decided that at first they went to Stawy near Dęblin- in these place were situated main arsenal of Polish army- then went to Holy Cross Mountains and moved to guerilla war.

Reorganization of independent group Polesie. One of the decisions of Kleeberg was new organisation of his group. He ordered that division Kobryń would get little supplies with people and weapons and would be named as 60th Infantry Division. After joining groups "Brzoza" and "Drohiczyn" colonel Brzoza-Brzezina would organize 50th Infantry Division.

60th Infantry Division- commander Colonel Adam Epler, forces- three infantry regiments, division of artillery, motorised company of anti-tank artillery 37 mm, seven independent under formations.

50th Infantry Division- commander Colonel Ottokar Brzoza-Brzezina, forces- three infantry regiments, division of artillery.

Under his command general Klebeerg had 4 tactical formation and some independent formations - 18,000 soldiers.

28 September Beginning of march Polish divisions on south to line Parczew- Wojcieszków. Division of cavalry Zaza has to secure this march. 1 Uhlans regiment from cavalry brigade "Edward" successfully crossed Wieprz river and captured Spiczyn, another cavalry regiments from division Zaza captured after fighting Jawidz and Wymysłów. Germans received heavy losses.

29 September Fighting between Division Zaza and Germans near Spiczyn. On evening division broke contact with Germans and went to forest near Czeremniki. German under formation of infantry supported by two tanks attacked without success 1st Battalion 182nd Infantry Regiment- part of 60th Infantry Division.

30 September Polish forces are situated between rivers Tyśmienica and Wieprz.

1 October Forces of Independent group Polesie settled pass Świderki colony Bystrzyca, Wola Osowińska, Bełcząc, colony Ostrówek.

Division of cavalry Zaza settled in forests near Tyśmianka river. One squadron of 2nd Uhlans Regiment who defended near road destroyed German scout patrol. Command of 5th Uhlans Regiment, battalions' infantry "Olek" and "Wilk" attacked Germans under formation in Kock and captured town.

Battle of Kock

On 30 September staff of 10th Army were ordered to destroy a large Polish force stationed between the Bug and Vistula rivers northwest of Kock. Commander of 10th Army Walter Reichenau ordered this task commander of XIV Motorised Corps. XIV- 29th and 13th Motorised Infantry Division and some independent formations. Each German motorised division had a paper strength 16445 soldiers, 2676 trucks and staff cars, 1944 motorcycles, and 18 armoured cars.

October 2nd

The German commander of XIV Corp knew that Polish forces were situated in forests northwest from the town of Kock. He thought that the commander of Polish forces didn't know about capitulation of Warsaw.

In opinion of commander of 13th Motorised Infantry Division General Paul Otto, the Polish forces had become so demoralized that they were incapable of combat, and that a German unit of one battalion would be enough to disarm the Poles and take them to a Prisoner of War camp.

Otto sent a force consisting of 3rd Battalion, 93rd Motorised Infantry Regiment supported by 8th Battery from 13th Regiment of Light Artillery. The battalion commander decided to divide his forces into two groups which were sent to Serokomla and Kock. He could count on help from 93rd Motorised Infantry Regiment with some support forces which followed him.

Kock

At 8:30 In the morning, a column of half-tracks and trucks with infantry was stopped by firing from a guard platoon of No.2 company of Battalion Wilk. After a long fight the German troops withdrew. The 179th Infantry Regiment was alerted and moved to a defensive position near Kock and in town. At about 11:00 the German lead elements attacked the Polish positions, which were now 2 battalions strong. In spite of supporting artillery fire the attack failed.

About dusk German motorcyclists appeared near the church in Kock and begun firing, but subsequently withdrew under counter-fire.

Serokomla

A company of motorised infantry entered the village of Serokomla. This led to the beginning of a chaotic fight between the Germans and Polish Uhlans from Cavalry Brigade 'Plis' (commander Colonel Plisowski) supported by an artillery crew from the brigade of Plis. One side (which??) was forced to withdraw south of Serokomla.

Losses

German losses were 300-400 killed and wounded. 5 officers, 180 NCOs and privates were captured by the Polish. Components of Cavalry Brigade 'Plis' lost about 200 soldiers which were killed or wounded.

October 3rd

The stiff Polish resistance forced General Otto to use all his forces for an assault. He was going to divide Polish forces into two parts and destroy them. He decided that 33rd Motorised Infantry Regiment supported with a part of division artillery would attack on Annopol, Pieńki and Talczyn. This group was tasked to destroy 50 Polish Infantry Division. 93rd Motorised Infantry Regiment was ordered to capture Serokomla then Hordzież and to destroy a defensive formation of cavalry division "Zaza". 66th Motorised Infantry Regiment entered the field of battle in the afternoon.

General Kleeberg thought that main German advance would go on position of division of cavalry "Zaza" at Serokomla Hordzież. He decided that part of the cavalry would fend off the German attack. The rest would join a counterattack alongside 50th Infantry Division on the right wing and rear of the 13th German Motorized Infantry Division. 60th Infantry Division and Cavalry Brigade 'Podlaska' brigade would close off potential German attack routes. If counter-attack would finish with success German division would be forced to withdraw behind river Wieprz.

7:50-9:30 Attack by two regiments of 50th Infantry Division (180th and 178th less its 2nd battalion) attacked supported with fire of a howitzer battery. The attack was under the command of Undercolonel Gorzkowski on German formations. After some success Polish counter-attack stopped. All Polish groups from 50th Infantry Division were forced on the defensive. The cavalry attack by Uhlans was stopped and were forced to withdraw on west from Wola Gułowska

10:30 German artillery begun fire on Polish cavalry position. 93rd Motorized Infantry Regiment begun attack on position of battalion "Wilk", inflicting heavy losses. 33rd Infantry Regiment began a gradual attack on the position of 50th Infantry Division.

After heavy fight German advance was stopped. Otto decided to support 33rd Motorised Infantry Regiment with 2nd Battalion from 66th Motorised Infantry Regiment. German formations captured Wola Gułowska, but in the evening they were forced to retreat from the eastern part of the area.

October 4th

Because the 13th Motorised Infantry Division had been unsuccessful, the commander of XIV Corp. was forced to use the 29th Motorised Infantry Division. General Otto ordered the 93rdInfantry Regiment to move from the Wieprz river to Dęblin. The 66th Motorised Infantry Regiment would attack Adamów i Wola Gułowska, and the 33rd Infantry Regiment would clear the area to the north of Kock.

General Kleberg suspected that the main combined attack of the 13th Motorised Division and the 29thMotorised Division would be on Adamów and Krzywda. He thought there was a chance to destroy the 13thMotorised Division as they had already sustained heavy casualties with soldiers and materiel loss. The cavalry division "Zaza" and 50thInfantry Division would defend positions and the 60thInfantry Division would attack the 13th Motorised Division. The Podlaska Cavalry Brigade would oppose the 29thMotorised Infantry Division.

In the morning, the main elements of 13thDivision attacked the cavalry division Zaza and the 50thInfantry division. By 12:00 part of 66thInfantry Regiment captured Zakępie and advanced on Adamów where they were stopped by 1st Battalion of 180th Infantry Regiment.

About 11 hours apart, first from the west and then the east, forces from the 66th Regiment attacked the battalions Olek and Wilk defending Czarna. The defenders sustained heavy casualties from artillery fire and Wilk was forced to withdraw to the eastern edge of the Adamów forest whereas Olek, after first retreating to Adamów later deployed to Gułów. Between 10:00 and 11:00 formations of 66th Regiment attacked formations of cavalry from the 5th Uhlans Regiment who then withdrew from Wola Gułowska to the south east and Adamów.

About 12:00 the 66ththen attacked the 2ndSquadron of the 2ndUhlans Regiment in Zarzecze who also withdrew with heavy casualties. The commander of the regiment moved the 4thSquadron south from Helenowka to try to assist the 2nd Squadron while the 3rdSquadron held the enemy to the west of Wola Gułowska. Then the 3rd and 4th Squadrons with elements of the 10th Uhlans Regiment fought near the cemetery of the village of Turzyca B and the church in Wola Gułowska. Ground was lost and regained repeatedly until an attack of 2ndBattalion 184thInfantry Regiment and the Uhlans Squadron enabled the Polish to dig in.

October 5th

The commander of XIVth Motorized Corp. decided that he would use two of his divisions. They would circle and destroyed Polish forces. The 13th Motorized Division made advance on Bystrzyca and Adamów then Wróblina and Stanin; the 29th Motorised Division made advance on Radyryż Kościelny and Wróblina where they met troops from 13th Division.

General Kleeberg decided to destroy 13th Motorised Infantry Division by using forces of 50th, 60th infantry division and Cavalry division Zaza. Podlaska Brigade of Cavalry had to defend position under Radoryż Kościelny and Wróblina.

Fighting in Wojcieszków, Adamów and Gułów.

5:30 Artillery of 13th Division began to fire on the position of 180th Infantry Regiment battalion in Adamów and Battalion "Olek" in grange Gułów.

8:00 Beginning of advance of the 66th Infantry Regiment.

10:00 After a short fight, the Germans captured Adamów, then they attacked the Polish position on hill 170 and Gułów, which they captured after heavy combat. The 66th Motorised Infantry Regiment took heavy losses. Then they took position on the eastern edge of the forest at Adamów. General Podhorski sent the cavalry brigade "Plis" which had to support fighting Polish formations. The brigade had to take position on the eastern edge of the forest at Adamów. After getting contact with enemy brigade, they began an attack on the Germans' position in the forest. They captured the forest because they couldn't move so they established a position there.

After the capture of Adamów and grange Gułów by the 66th Infantry Regiment, the 33rd Motorised Infantry Regiment began to advance, and they captured Wojcieszkowoe and Glinne. Polish formation 178th Infantry regiment withdrew. The commander of 178th Infantry Regiment ordered his force to recapture Wojcieszkowo and Glinne. Polish battalions recaptured them, but they withdrew after taking heavy losses. The advance of 180th Infantry Regiment on Adamów failed. Colonel Brzoza-Brzezina sent to fight 178 regiment infantry under command of ensing Dec. Advance of Polish regiment met with German advance. Polish battalions II and II get heavy losses and withdrew to Burzec. From 1 battalion in advance took a part company of sappers. Meanwhile attack of Polish 184 infantry regiment with support of battalion of 179 infantry regiment recapture church and cementry in Wola Gułowska. Advance 182 infantry regiment with a help of three 100 mm hovitzer cannons broke german defence in Helenów. 16:00 last German advance from Adamów on positions 10 uhlans regiment in forest Krzywda 182 regiment in Helenów and 184 regiment in Wola Gułowska. 10 uhlans regiment after hard fight withdrew to forest. Most forces of division Brzoza succesfully defence their position in Burzec. 182 infantry regiment kept their position. 184 regiment has to withdraw because there was a lack of ammo in artillery which support him. During this time begin two Polish key advances. II battalion of 183 infantry regiment with a support of artillery begin assault on bajonetts Germans who attack south wing of cavallery Brigade Plis. Assault gets succes German began escapet, they were chased by infantry and cavallry. Rear of south wing of 13th motorised division was attacked by brigade of Cavellry "Edward" which capture village Poznań with german artillery battery which has to be destroyed but was forced to withdraw under fire of others German artillery battery. Formations of 13 th motorised division began withdrawal. Attack of 29 motorised division on position of Podlaska Cavallry Brigade and rear formation of division Brzoza. During 5 October positions of Podlaska Cavallry Brigade was attacked by 29 motorised infantry division. After defence under Radoryż formations of Podlaska Brigade Cavallery and rear formation of division Brzoza withdrew south of place Krzywda. 6 October at 10 am Independent Group Polesie surrended. In his last order general Kleeberg wrote that reason for his decision about capitulation was that group is surrounded and ammo and food is on depletion.

Bibliography

  • Jan Wróblewski "Samodzielna grupa operacyjna "Polesie" 1939", Wojskowy Instytut Historyczny, Warsaw 1989
  • Marian Porwit "Komentarze do historii polskich działań obronnych 1939", Volume 3 "Czytelnik", Warsaw 1973

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