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Battle of Krojanty

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The Battle of Krojanty was part of the Polish September Campaign of the Second World War. The battle took place near the village of Krojanty in Pomerania (7 kilometres from the town of Chojnice) on September 1, 1939. It was one of the first battles of the war. Elements of Polish 18th Uhlans Regiment successfully attacked a German infantry battalion and delayed the German attack thus completing their mission. After the attack the cavalry got under machine gun fire of German Armoured personnel carriers stationed nearby and was forced to retreat.

Contents

Before the battle

Polish units were engaged in battle from around 5 o'clock in the morning against elements of German 76th Infantry Regiment of 20th Motorised Division under Lt.Gen. Mauritz von Wiktorin, which operated on the left (northern) flank of XIX Panzer Corps under Gen. Heinz Guderian). Early in the battle Polish cavalry had intercepted German infantry moving towards Gdansk and successfully stopped their progress.

Around 8 o'clock the Germans broke through Polish Border Guard units south of the Polish cavalry, which forced the Polish units in the area to start a retreat towards a secondary defence line at the Brda river. 18th Pomeranian Uhlans Regiment (18. Pułk Ułanów Pomorskich) was ordered to cover the retreat.

The battle of Krojanty

During the action the Polish cavalry units met a large group of German infantry resting in a woods near the village of Krojanty. Colonel Mastalerz decided to take the enemy by surprise and immediately ordered a cavalry charge, a tactics the Polish cavalry did not use as their main weapon.

The charge was successful and the German infantry unit was dispersed and the Poles occupied the woods. Moreover, the German advance was stopped for enough time to allow the withdrawal of Polish 1st Rifle battalion and National Defence battalion Czersk from the area of Chojnice. However, the sounds of the battle notified the crews of the APCs stationed nearby and soon the Polish unit got under heavy machine gun fire.

According to Heinz Guderian's memoirs, the Polish cavalry charge impressed the Germans and caused a widespread panic among the soldiers and the staff of German 20th Motorised Infantry Division, which delayed their offensive and forced them to consider a tactical retreat. This was however prevented by personal intervention of Gen. Guderian.

Aftermath and the myth

The Polish cavalry charge stopped the German pursuit and the units of Czersk Operational Group were able to withdraw southwards unopposed. Also, it took the enemy several hours to reorganise and continue the advance. On September 2, 1939, the 18th Pomeranian Uhlans Regiment was decorated by Gen. Grzmot-Skotnicki, the commander of the Operational Group, with his own Virtuti Militari medal for valour shown in this combat.

The same day the German war correspondents were brought to the battlefield together with two journalists from Italy. They were shown the battlefield, the corpses of Polish cavalrymen and their horses, as well as German tanks that arrived to the place after the battle. One of the Italian correspondents sent home an article, in which he described the bravery and heroism of Polish soldiers, who charged German tanks with sabres and lances. Although such a charge did not happen and there were no tanks used during the combat, the myth was used by German propaganda during the war. After the end of World War II it was still used by Soviet propaganda as an example of stupidity of Polish commanders, who allegedly did not prepare their country for the war and instead wasted the blood of their soldiers.

"Contrary to German and Italian propaganda, Polish cavalry brigades never charged tanks with their sabres or lances as they were equipped with anti-tank weapons such as 37mm Bofors wz.36 (exported to UK as Ordnance Q.F. 37mm Mk I) anti-tank guns, that could penetrate 26mm armour at 600m at 30 degrees. The cavalry brigades were in the process of being reorganized into motorized brigades". Another weapon was anti-tank rifle model 1935 (karabin przeciwpancerny wz. 35). Its calibre was 7.92 mm and it could penetrate 15mm armour at 300m at 30 degrees.

Opposing forces

Missing image
Kazimierz_Mastalerz.jpg
Kazimierz Mastalerz


Polish Army
Armia Pomorze
Bortnowski
Chojnice Operational Group
Majewski
Pomeranian Cavalry Brigade
Grzmot-Skotnicki
18th Pomeranian Uhlans Regiment: 1st, 2nd squadrons, 1 platoon from 3rd and 4th squadrons
Mastalerz
Wehrmacht
3rd Army
von Kuechler
XIX Panzer Corps
Guderian
20th Motorised Division
von Wiktorin
76th Infantry Regiment


See also

Missing image
Eugeniusz_Swiesciak.jpg
Eugeniusz Świeściak, commander of the 1st squadron

External links

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