September 29, 2011

Warsaw Uprising 1944: September 29 Germans Defeat Famous Kampinos

Since early morning, German troops positioned from the south and the west have been launching massive, general attacks on the district of Zoliborz. Insurgent positions are being hit hard by the German troops of the 19th infantry armored division, supported by strong firepower from several dozen tanks and artillery guns.

Mieczyslaw Niedzielsi
For an entire week a group of AK soliders (Armia Krajowa) in Zoliborz Sector, under the command of Colonel Mieczyslaw Niedzielsi "Zywicel" have been holding off attacks from the 19th Panzer Division and other German units. They have been stranded, hemmed in on all four sides by enemy fire. General Berling had offered to provide assistance to the AK unit in crossing the Vistula to the eastern shore. However, Colonel Niedzielsi refused to evacuate the area or surrender until he finally received orders to do so by General Monter.

After a fierce battle, Polish units of the “Zniwiarz” group have retreated from the “Opel” factory and a covered market on Slowackiego Street. Units of the “Zyrafa” group have left the ruins of the Sisters of the Order of the Resurrection convent on Krasinskiego Street.

German attacks from the Citadel and Gdanski Railway Station have forced insurgents of the “Zaglowiec” group to retreat towards Inwalidow Square. Meanwhile in the sector of Marymont defense, insurgents from the “Zubr” group have been able to hold all their positions.  And to the east, the “Zbik” group is maintaining control of Bohomolca Street. City Centre Sector remains under Polish control. In Srodmiescie, upon German request, a local truce started around 1:00 p.m. in the area of BGK Bank.

The Kampinos Group was defeated in battle near Jaktorow. Massive German assault troops managed to encircle the Polish units killing over 170 partisan fighters and taking about 150 prisoners.  But casualties are much higher as the SS and Gestapo executed many of the prisoners on the spot. 

The Polish fighters didn't have a chance. German Command had been organizing the Sternschnuppe campaign (Star Operation) for a week,with the objective of driving the Kampinos Group out of the forest. Over the past two days heavy enemy artillery, and dive bombers has virtually obliterated partisan camps in the area of the villages of Wiersze, Brzozowska, Truskawka and Janowek.

Kampinos Group - Map - September 27-29, 1944 Warsaw Uprising

Under cover of night partisan detachments began heading in the direction of Marianska Forest in an attempt to break out of the German encirclement but to no avail. Enemy fire has destroyed nearby villages. Despite overwhelming German firepower, the partisans managed to inflict severe casualties on the enemy's camp. Several German tanks were destroyed and one plane shot down. One of the battalions succeeded in killing German troops and destroying their trucks. However further resistance appears futile. Polish troops are suffering from complete exhaustion, lack of sleep and no food yet they continue to battle the enemy.

The partisan groups emerged from the forest in the area of Wiejca and Kampinos with the enemy in close pursuit. After having passed Baranow, Polish troops stopped in Budy Zosine, not far from Jaktorow but instead of crossing the nearby rails, the commanding officer "Okon' ordered the troops to stop. It was a fatal decision. It was not until daybreak that the partisans finally resumed their march and crossed the rails. But by then it was too late. Though they managed to fight off German attacks, a German armoured train arrived in the area - followed by another one.

The armored train launched a torrent of artillery fire at the partisana; tanks were closing in from the other side, and infantry attacking from the flanks. The situation was hopeless but the partisans fought on. They formed themselves into the shape of a quadrangle in preparation for the worst yet to come. Fighting went on, until ammunition eventually ran out.

The partisans were encircled, yet they were still able to fight off repeated attacks, even without ammunition. The men of the Kampinos Groups showed the most astounding example of courage and nerves of steel.  As SS detachments started to make their approach, and just as they came closer, Polish units charged towards them with bayonets. The SS - elite German detachments were completely unnerved by the attack and fled, dropping their weapons.

Kampinos Group-September 1944

Over 1000 partisans succeeded in breaking out from the encirclement but were not able to
re-establish communication links with each other. Many of them continued to fight in other regions of the country, while some returned to the forests, such as Swietokrzyskie (Holy Cross) mountain.

Kampinos Group on September 27, 1944 leaving forest
for the march towards Holy Cross Mountains

The partisan group, under the command of Lt. Adolf Pilch, numbered over 2,600 soldiers strong, and had been based in forests in and around Kampinos. Their reputation as fierce fighters preceded them and their stronghold was nicknamed by the Germans as "the Independent Republic of Kampinos." The Kampinos Group had joined the Uprising in the "W" hour on August 1st, 1944 and 1,000 men were later dispatched to join the fighting in Warsaw upon General Bors' orders.

Kampinos Group during Mass - September 1944 Adolf Pilch is # 3

The Germans lost about 1000 soldiers and about 500 soldiers were wounded in the battles with the Kampinos Group.

Since September 13th, Soviet Command had been providing assistance to the insurgents by artillery fire, though it was sporadic and Soviet fighters were spotted over the Warsaw engaged in dogfights with German planes. Insurgents received supplies from Polish Air Force, which was attached to the First Polish Army and also from Soviet Air Force planes. A total of 589 planes participated and flew 2,243 sorties (accounting for 2,501 flight hours over Warsaw).

Despite Soviet assistance, General Tadeusz Komorowski "Bor" has reported a disturbing trend emerging from a series of radiograms that he has been receiving from Polish Underground sectors in the eastern territories of Poland. The Soviet Red Army has been arresting members of the Armia Krajowa (AK). Moreover, the Soviet government is actively setting up numerous "Committees" as a precursor to seizing political power in Poland.

NKVD prison yard filled with corpses of murdered Polish prisoners July 1941

The situation for the insurgents has reached a crisis point. All reserves of ammunition and food have run out.  Some insurgents and civilians are dying from exhaustion and starvation. General Bor has sent a radiogram to the Polish Commander in Chief in London informing him that the remaining food would last for only three more days. He also informed Marshal Rokossovsky of this and asked him again for assistance. General Bor's message was blunt - if he does not receive substantial help by then, he will be compelled to capitulate. But he added that he would resume fighting "in the case of attack by the Red Army within the next few days."

Lt. John Ward
Lt. John Ward is a British soldier, and member of the Armia Krajowa.  Since the start of the Uprising he has been dispatching secret coded messages to London informing them of developments in Warsaw, and making urgent requests for shipments of ammunition and weapons.  His pleas have fallen on deaf ears. 

The Home Army Staff announced this afternoon that the southern group fighting in Warsaw had been forced to capitulate. This leaves only two Polish islands of resistance in the city, one in the north, the other in the centre. The food situation is most critical and even front line soldiers get next to nothing to eat.  

(Received in London on 1st October, 1944.)

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