August 30, 2011

Warsaw Uprising 1944: August 30 - Polish attempt to break German Lines

Polish Insurgents Warsaw Uprising
Colonel Wachnowski has submitted a plan to General Bor recommending that AK units should attempt to break through German positions between the Old Town and City Centre. The plan was approved and during the night, AK units began the offensive. While one insurgent unit pushed through German positions from Old Town to the Centre City sector, the insurgents from Centre City sector began to push in the direction of Old Town. This was supposed to allow the two groups to hammer through German positions and reach the centre of Warsaw. 

The Polish attempt to connect the Old Town with City Centre failed. A German attack from Bielanska Street has caused heavy casualties of 150 insurgents and civilians.  Since morning German troops have renewed attacks on the Old Town.  Enemy fire was too great and has prevented the insurgents from getting through to Centre City. 

German artillery fire on Old Town
During the night Polnoc Group had entered the sewers and evacuated from Old Town to City Centre and Zoliborz. On recommendation of General Monter, the only means of saving the soldiers of Old Town is through evacuation through the sewers to Srodmiescie and Zoliborz. General Bor agreed. According to Monter only those people with weapons and ammunition should be allowed to evacuate because they would be needed for further fighting in addition to the lightly wounded.  The decision to leave behind the civilians and the severel
wounded was an extremely difficult one to make, but necessary. Evacuation is tomorrow at 1:00 a.m.

Polish Insurgent Emerging from Sewer

Polish soldiers after having marched through the sewers

Lt. John Ward
Lt. John Ward, a British soldier, and member of the AK has dispatched a message today describing the horrific battle raging in the Old Town. This is what he wrote:

The Old Town in the city of Warsaw is the scene of a terrific battle. All day long the German aircraft are flying over it at roof-top height and dropping their bombs. Fires are raging day and night without any hope of putting them out. Thousands of people have already been killed and the wounded are mostly dying owing to the lack of water, and the sanitary conditions. Practically every wound turns septic in 24-23 hours. Apart from air bombing there is a continual bombardment going on from mine-throwers.

Church of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary
In the evening insurgent troops were redeployed and are preparing to break through from Bielanska Street towards the Hale Mirowskie Market and Zelazna Brama Square. Designed to support the offensive is a simultaneous attack of Srodmiescie troops from Grzybowska and Krolewska Streets. The operation is intended to establish a “corridor” facilitating the complete evacuation of the wounded and civilians to Srodmiescie. The insurgents  have recaptured the lost positions in Teatralny Square – Blank’s Palace and the front part of the City Hall - as well as the Church of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary in the New Town. Heavy struggle goes on for Bielanska Street.

Meanwhile, the AL  High Command has also given the order to evacuate its men to the Zoliborz sector. They had informed the AK who firmly refused to accept the decision. Most of the AL staff had been killed during the bombings. In August there were 500 AL soldiers (Armia Ludowa) in the Old Town (in comparison to a total of 1,500 to 2,000 in Warsaw) and another 500 soldiers in reserve and other services. The AL was defending two barricades while the AK defended forty-three.

Medics from Nalecz Battalion help wounded insurgent on 55 Chmielna Street.. Sources unclear. Identity may be Henryk Mirowski "Dab" or Ryszard Gluchowski "Jaworzak". L-R: Tadeusz Blazynski "Swida", Andrzej Razniewski "Krzycki" commander of 3rd platoon. Kneeling: Piotr Osinski "Kaczanowski"; Henryk Lyżwinski "Czarny", Adam Bobr "Jaxa", Jerzy Bogdanowicz "Hercun", medic Krystyna Kamal "Szafranska", medic Maria Jezierska "Bogdanska",
leaning over a bag Elzbieta Skrzynska "Zabska".

German troops are shelling Srodmiescie from the ground and air. The bombing is particularly strong in the area of Ceglana and Zelazna Streets and Grzybowski Square, and also in Powisle. Also bombed was Sadyba, in particular Okrezna Street.

In Mokotow German attacks have started numerous fires on Raclawicka, Olkuska, Baluckiego and Kazimierzowska Streets. In the afternoon enemy planes bombed an overcrowded hospital building at 19 Chelmska Street.  It was shelled with flare missiles and immediately burst into flames. Many of the wounded and sick were killed in the attack.  Polish units spent many hours attempting rescue missions and suffered severe casualties.

U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull speaking with British Foreign
  Minister Anthony Eden

After a month of fighting, the AK has finally been recognized by the British and American governments as part of the Allied forces, officially at least. In a House of Commons address Anthony Eden declared that the members of the AK would be conferred the status of Allies and recognized as an integral part of the Polish Armed Forces in exile, with the protection afforded by the Geneva Convention. The Americans have made a similar statement.

The  BBC reported the news that His Majesty’s Government has granted war veteran rights to Warsaw AK units however added a warning that the allies will treat Wehrmacht soldiers the same way as insurgents that are taken hostage by the Germans in Warsaw. The Soviet Union however, persistently refuses to give recognition to the AK. 

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