Battle of Bzura
In the area of lightning advance of the German army about a hundred kilometers before Warsaw on the river Bzura, there were parts of the army of Poznan, which had so far been spared heavy fighting and represented a strong combat-ready force. To the north of it concentrated the remaining core of the Pomeranian Army, which broke through the siege and, despite heavy losses, still retained its combat capability. During the rapid German advance, gaps appeared in their line-up. The plan of counterattack was defended by General Kutrzeba, not with the Commander - in-Chief, Marshal Rydz-Smygly , but with the Chief of Staff, General Stachiewicz, who was available in Warsaw, unlike the Commander-in-Chief, who had just moved to the new headquarters in Brest. The plan envisaged an attack in the area between the Vistula and Bzura on the side of the 8th German Army on its wing to the 10th Army. The consent of the Chief of Staff entitled him to use the forces of both armies Poznan and Pomerania.
Map showing the attack on Poland
The operational plan provided that General Knoll's operational group, consisting of the 14th, 17th and 25th Infantry Divisions, would attack from the northern bank of the Bzura between Leczyce and Friday in the direction of Stryków. The strike from the west will be covered by the cavalry brigade gen. Scottish , which bypasses the enemy's front through Uniejów. The Wielkopolska Equestrian Brigade will operate from the east in the direction of Glowno. In the advantageous development of the situation, the operational group gen. Knolla will advance southeast outside Lodz, while the Pomeranian Army will advance on Warsaw. In case of difficulties in advancing to the Glowna area, the operational group gen will be deployed on the left wing. Boltuci , composed of the 4th and 16th Infantry Divisions of the Pomeranian Army. As the operational group crosses Bzura and advances from the west, the rest of the Pomeranian army strikes in the direction of Skierniewice.
On the night of the 8th to 9th troops, they began to occupy the starting points for the attack. Other Polish troops were preparing to defend the lower Bug and Narew northeast of Warsaw. Meanwhile, the commander -in- chief, Marshal Rydz-Smygly, ordered most troops to retreat to the southeastern regions of Poland, where the Polish army was to continue its defense. After receiving news of a planned counterattack along the Bzura, he revoked his order, so that the original order to defend the line of the Narew, Bug, Vistula and San rivers remained in force. The fluctuations in the orders of the Polish command caused confusion, which facilitated the enemy's intention to liquidate Polish troops west of the Vistula and then encircle the Polish reserves behind the Vistula in the Lublin area.
On September 9, at five o'clock in the afternoon, General Knoll's troops of three divisions launched an attack from the starting point on the north bank of Bzura. 25th Infantry Division Gen. Altera , reinforced by the 69th Infantry Regiment and the 3rd Division of the 17th Light Artillery Regiment and the 7th Heavy Artillery Regiment ( without one division ), attacked Leczyce. Her left neighbor, 17th Infantry Division, Col. Mozdyniewicz ( without one infantry regiment and artillery division ) with one division of the 7th Heavy Artillery Regiment from the Romartow area advanced through Orszewice to Mount St. Malgorzaty, while 14.infantry division gen. Wlada attacked via Which, Mlogoszyn on Friday. The right wing of the attack formation according to the plan was provided by the Podolsk Cavalry Brigade Col. Strzelecký in the area of the settlement Dabie in the direction of Unijów. The same task was performed on the left wing Wielkopolska cavalry brigade gen. Abraham , attacking Glowno from the area of the Sabbath settlement via Bielawy. The Poznan army was successful. On the night of 9 to 10 September, the 69th Infantry Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division under the command of Col. Dworzyka conquered Leczyci and the 17th Infantry Division broke through the enemy defenses and conquered Mount St. Malgorzaty and Bryski. The success was completed by the 14th Infantry Division on September 10, when it captured Friday around one o'clock in the afternoon. The German 30th Infantry Division suffered heavy losses. The Poles received 1,500 prisoners, 30 guns and lots of weapons and war material.
In the afternoon, the 14th and 17th Infantry Divisions went on to pursue the confused enemy. Units of the 17th Division encountered columns of the German 17th Infantry Division, marching from Zgierz to the north. In the settlement of Malacowice, a fierce battle broke out, in which the Poles gained the upper hand. The Germans were forced to retreat.
The commander of the 8th German Army, General Blaskowitz, was cut off due to a Polish attack from contact with the headquarters of Army Group South. He ordered the immediate cessation of the advance of 8th Army units on Warsaw, intensified reconnaissance and combat security, maintaining the highest combat readiness to repel the penetrating Polish troops. Units of the 8th Army, with only the highest effort and at the cost of losses, held their stretched and disparate positions.
At the same time, the Polish counterattack eased the pressure on the Łód , army, which, using this circumstance, broke through to the Vistula and reached the area east of Warsaw.
The operational group gen was deployed on the left wing. Boltuci , composed of the 4th Infantry Division, Col. Rawitcze-Myslowski, attacking through the Orlów-Sobota courtyard into the forest between Bielaw and Glown. And the 16th Infantry Regiment, Col. Szyszka-Bohusze in the direction of Lowitz and Skierniewice.
The Army of Pomerania ( without Gen. Boltuci's operational group ) was at that time, from 9 to 11 September, the superiority of the German III. The corps pushed in the area of Wloclawek-Brest Kujawski-Kolo to the west and northwest. However, the Poznan army continued to attack. General Skotnický's cavalry, along with units of the 25th Infantry Division, fought fiercely with the incoming German 221st Infantry Division west of Leczyce, while units of the Polish 17th Infantry Division pushed the German 17th Infantry Division out of Grabiszew, Balachowice and the Sokolnika court.
In the evening, the 14th Division occupied the settlements of Makolice and Kožle in battle with the remnants of the German 30th Infantry Division. The 4th Infantry Division conquered Bilawy and the forest between them and Glown, freeing the Wielkopolska Cavalry Brigade, which was surrounded here. On the night of September 12, the 16th Infantry Division captured Lowitz in a bloody battle, crushing two enemy infantry battalions.
On September 12, the 8th German Army counterattacked. The Polish divisions fought heavy defensive battles throughout the day, which required considerable losses on both sides. The German attack was repulsed. At the same time, the 17th Infantry Division with the 56th Infantry Regiment developed its previous success and with another attack conquered the villages of Modlna, Sokolniky and the dominant height of Czechów and the area east of Ozorków.
The relative success of the Polish counterattack on Bzura could no longer avert the general disintegration of the Polish army. The German commander-in-chief, General Brauchitsch, did not attach any special importance to the Polish counterattack on Bzura. As such, he ordered the Army Group North to continue to pursue the enemy in a southeasterly direction and with the right wing to advance on Kowel. Army Group South was part of the 10th Army's forces to continue pursuing the enemy through Krásnik to Lublin, while its 14th Army, which was attacking through San, was ordered to prevent Polish troops from retreating to Romania. The 8th Army was required to complete the fighting at Kutna.
At that time, the Polish strike force on Bzura continued to attack Stryków. However, the Germans strengthened their position in this direction, so that General Kutrzeba was forced to transfer the main effort further northeast. On the Polish side, after heavy fighting, the fatigue of General Knoll's operational group began to show fatigue, which for a total of four days led continuous battles with the enemy, whose strength continued to grow by adding more and more new units. The Germans gradually brought here seven motorized heavy artillery divisions from the divisions operating in the Kielce area and five heavy artillery divisions of the 8th Army, as well as the XV . Corps from the Radom area in the strength of three light divisions and one division of the motorized infantry. From Warsaw, the enemy withdrew four tank divisions and the SS Liebstandarte Regiment Adolf Hitler to the area north of Sochaczew. U Plocka German 3 . the infantry division moved to the southern bank of the Vistula. Changes in the balance of power forced General Kutrzeba on September 12 to change his current plans. The Pomeranian Army ( 4th, 16th and 26th Infantry Divisions with the Wielkopolska Cavalry Brigade ) was to strike across the Lowitz to Skierniewice on the night of September 13-14 and take a firm foothold in Sochaczew and the Kampinos Forest. General Knoll 's task force was tasked with interrupting the attack on Stryków on the evening of September 12, retreating behind Bzura at night, and resting on September 13, the next night marching on the ferry across Zychlin-Kiernozia-Rybno to open the way through the Kampinos Forest to Warsaw. To ensure these operations from the west and north, the general formed two operational groups. Gen Tokarzewski's group ( 15th and 27th Infantry Divisions and 19th Infantry Regiment with one division of the 5th Light Artillery Regiment ) was tasked with covering the ongoing operations from the northwest and retreating the enemy to Gostynin and Strzelce under pressure. The operating group gen. Grzmoty- Skotnicki (70th Infantry Regiment with a single partition 17th Light Artillery Regiment, 17th Infantry Division, Greater National Defense Brigade, 3rd Battalion 58th Infantry Regiment and 9th 14th Battery Light Artillery Regiment, 8th Battalion shooters and 5 . battalion of heavy machine guns, Podolsk Cavalry Brigade and the remnants of the Pomeranian Cavalry Brigade ) imposed combat combat operations from the southwest. On the evening of September 12, General Kutrzeba issued orders, and at night the rear of parts of the Poznań army took place.The next day before noon, all the troops managed to move to the northern bank of the Bzura, without the Germans trying to prevent them.
Army of Pomerania under the command of Gen. Bortnowski took the starting point on the north bank of the Bzura to the Orlów court after Sochaczew. On the morning of September 14, she launched an attack. The 4th Infantry Division on the right wing attacked from Orlów to Lowicz, the 16th Infantry Division in the middle from Lowicz to the Rybno-Nieborów road, and further east, the Poznań Army formation attacked. Boltuci's operational group was reinforced by the 7th Heavy Artillery Regiment. The German front at the junction of the 8th and 10th armies was shaken and destroyed in places. German troops retreated. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, General Rundstedt personally took command of operations on Bzura and ordered reinforcements from Kielce and Warsaw to be added to Bzura.
Meanwhile, the Polish 26th Infantry Division broke strong enemy resistance, crossed Bzura and slowly penetrated forward. The 16th Infantry Division, which also crossed Bzura and fought hard for Lowicz. The best was the 4th Infantry Division, which penetrated the gap between the German 18th . and 24 . infantry division and without resistance advanced rapidly to the Lowicz-Glowno road on the section between Lowicz and Krepa. Around ten o'clock in the morning gen. Ortnowksi received an air reconnaissance report that columns of tanks were advancing east of Sochaczew on the roads between Blonie and Sochaczew. They were part of the German 4 . tank division, which moved from the Warsaw area to Sochaczew. The strike group moved in two streams. The one that moved to the left of the road connecting Blonie and Sochaczew consisted of the 5th Tank Brigade, the 2nd Tank Battalion, the 1st Battalion of the Liebstandarte Regiment Adolf Hitler, two artillery battalions and an engineer battalion. The group on the right wing, moving along the road leading from Leszno to Brochowskie, consisted of the 36th Tank Regiment, Liebstandarte Regiment Adolf Hitler ( without the first battalion ), one artillery and one anti-tank battalion and an anti-aircraft artillery division.
The threat to the rear of the troops attacking Skierniewice was obvious, and therefore the 26th Infantry Division was ordered to suspend the attack and create a strong anti-tank defense node in the area of artillery positions. The division found itself in a difficult situation in carrying out this order. The front units, which had already crossed the river, suddenly found themselves in a fierce battle with enemy tanks, while the reserve and artillery remained on the north bank. The division commander ordered the fighting units to disengage from the enemy and retreat back across the river. The retreat during the day in open terrain, which allowed the enemy effective fire, the Poles paid with huge losses in the range of four infantry battalions.
The left wing of the neighboring 16th Infantry Division also retreated. General Boltuci also issued an order to his operational group reinforced by the 7th Heavy Artillery Regiment to retreat to Bzura. For the next two days, on September 15 and 16, the army of Pomerania defended itself on the northern shore of Bzura. On the morning of September 16, the enemy wedged into its defensive position in the area of the settlement of Sobota. The breakthrough also threatened from the northeast in the area of Plock, where the Berlin 3rd Infantry Division was heading, which transported across the Vistula on the night of September 13 and turned the retreat of the 19th Infantry Regiment towards Lack. Two infantry regiments from the Polish 15th Division were hastily sent to the endangered section in the Gabin area, but their planting failed. Both were thrown back with heavy losses. The entire 15th Infantry Division will then be in the afternoon of the 19th.September she withdrew to the line Sannika-Buda Old Witkowice, where the Podolsk Cavalry Brigade arrived.
On September 15, the commander of the German 8th Army, General Blaskowitz, issued an order to move into a decisive attack with the aim of liquidating Polish forces. The attack began on September 16 at six o'clock in the morning. At that time, Gen Bortnowski's alliances defended the enemy's concentrated attacks. The 26th and 16th Divisions with the north bank of Bzura in the Lowicz area and the 4th Infantry Division on the Sludwa River. Group gen. Skotnický was defended by a position between Kutno and Zychlin, the 27th Infantry Division in Gabina.
Poznan's army divisions were in a different situation. At noon, they were the starting point for an attack on Bzura in the Sochaczew region. The 14th Division occupied the area of Jeziorko-Szwarocin-les Emilianów. The 17th Division ( without the 70th Infantry Regiment ) marched from Rybno to Sochaczew. The 15th Division was concentrated in the area of Mlodzieszyn-Adamowa Góra-Ruszki Court. The Wielkopolska Equestrian Brigade crossed Bzura with Witkowice and then moved to the Kampinos Forest.
At that time, the German 8th Army was already under attack. The 1st Panzer Division of the 16th Corps, withdrawn from under the Kalwaria Mountain near Warsaw, transported through the Bzura in Kozlow Schlachecký at half past ten and attacked the 57th Infantry Regiment of the 14th Division in Swarocina and the 1st Battalion of the 70th Infantry Regiment in Rybna with massive air support. .
4 . the tank division, which was transported across the Bzura between Sochaczew and Brochow, launched an attack in a southwesterly direction. Adolf Hitler's Liebstandarte units advanced in the front line . These caused heavy losses to the 25th Infantry Division in the area of the village of Adamova Góra. Around noon, they captured the Ruszki court, where the staff of the 25th Division had its headquarters. The further advance of German tanks was stopped by the precise firing of the 6th Battery of the 17th Light Artillery Regiment, Capt. Ludwig Glowacki. By destroying 22 tanks and 31 motorcycles, it forced units of 4 . tank divisions to retreat.
The Battle of Bzura has entered its final phase. The Germans destroyed the 14th Infantry Division and their tanks rammed their wedges into the Polish formation. Due to this, General Kutrzeba ordered his troops to stop the fight and retreat to Bzura.
On the night of September 16-17, the troops began to regroup. The 15th Infantry Division and the Podolsk Cavalry Brigade crossed Bzura pod Witkowicemi and the headquarters of the 25th Infantry Division with the 20th and 60th Infantry Regiments and the 1st Light Artillery Division of the 25th Artillery Regiment below Brochow. The 17th Infantry Division moved to the ferry to Rochowa and the 14th Infantry Division gathered in Lazisky. The Pomeranian Army moved to the Osmilin-Krienozia-Osiek area. Group gen. Scottish moved to the area of Lusina west of Kiernozia and the 27th Infantry Division retreated from Gabin to Ilów.
At six o'clock in the morning on September 17, the Germans went on the offensive again. The main blow was directed along both banks of the Bzura to the north. To the east of the river from the area of Sochaczew attacked Bróchow 4 . tank division. At the same time, the German 19 attacked from the Rybna area. Infantry Division with the 1st Tank Division along the left bank across the Ruszki Court to Mlodzieszyn and the 18th . the infantry division advanced from the Lowicz area to the Kompino Forest. There was a turning point in the development of the fight, the whole attacks were no longer responded to the German attacks by hard counterattacks by the entire division, but only by regiments or battalions in order to allow Warsaw to break through.
The 8th German Army reversed the direction of its attack to the east.More than three hundred bombing and dive fighters were deployed to support it - the bombing of Poznan and Pomeranian army units lasted continuously from 9 am until dark. The bombing caused the Poles terrible losses of liters and material. Only the 15th and 25th Infantry Divisions and both cavalry brigades escaped, which were saved in the forest areas of the Kampinos Forest.
The battle of Bzura did not end until September 20. Part of the forces, led by General Kutrzeba, broke through from the Kampinos Forest to Warsaw under the most difficult conditions, where they strengthened the ranks of defenders. Some, including wounded General Bortnowski, were captured. Generals Boltuci , Wlad and Grzmot- Skotnicki fell. During the final clashes, Polish soldiers left heavy equipment and launched counterattacks with infantry. During one particularly furious counterattack, they managed to wedge between units 4 . tank division on the right wing. They advanced towards the firing positions of the artillery batteries to prevent them from firing. As the Poles got ahead, dozens of artillery guns destroyed them by dozens. However, two others followed each fallen. In this confused battle they went into the fray and also officers from the Polish side led one of the groups and the general Grzmot- Skotnicki with a gun in his hand. He then fell alone during this counterattack. Both banks of the Bzura were densely littered with the bodies of fallen soldiers. Also on the southern bank of the Vistula lay many dead Polish soldiers, who did not notice during the crossing of the river that, on the other hand, German II troops controlled this territory . choir.
The role of the Air Force in this battle was very significant. General Kutrzeba opposed the order to liquidate his air regiment and kept the aircraft. Thanks to the pilots of the reconnaissance air force, he kept an overview of the weak points of the enemy at the beginning of the battle and was thus able to hold the initiative in his hands and direct his blows appropriately. Based on information from pilots about the unprotected wing of the 8th German Army, he drew up his operational plan.
The German air force has been massively deployed since September 11, when it was diverted from previous attacks against the railway network and industrial targets east of the Vistula and raids on Warsaw by several bombing squadrons to raids in the area of Kutna. The mass deployment of Stuk, fighters and bombers also had a significant effect on stopping the Poles' attack. During the mass bombing of the Poznan and Pomeranian armies, more than 120 aircraft stand idly east of the Vistula, including many fighters. Among them are those that were taken away from the Pomeranian Army a few days ago for assignment to both air brigades. Due to the failure of the intelligence connection in Brest-Lithuania, they have no idea about the beginning of the disaster on Bzura. In the words of General Kutrzeba : " Strong air attacks on crossings over the Bzura are unparalleled in terms of the number of aircraft deployed and the fury of air raids and the almost acrobatic ability of pilots. Every move of ours, every grouping of troops, every marching path enters a bombing. The bridges were destroyed, the fords were blocked and the convoys with cargo that got into the traffic jam were demolished… "
17.September marks the end of the Polish Air Force, when the USSR entered the war affected mainly airfields located in the east - especially near Kowel, April and Lutsk, where Soviet air raids destroy the remnants of the bombing and fighter brigade and operational air force of the Carpathian Army. Although Polish pilots shoot down two SB-2 bombers and five I-16 fighters. The Soviets report the shooting down of seven Polish fighters and three bombers on the same day. In the evening of the same day, the command of the Polish Air Force arranges to evacuate all aircraft to Romania - which deprived the fighting armies of Poznan and Pomerania of the last hope for air support against death from heaven brought the total air supremacy of the German Luftwaffe.
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