September 12, 2018




Battle of Vienna and Polish Winged Hussars:    The Battle of Vienna was fought on September 12, 1683 between the Habsburg Monarchy, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Holy Roman Empire under the command of Jan Sobieski III, Kind of Poland, against the Ottoman marauders.  The battle marked a turning point in history which saved the Christian world from the Ottoman scourge. Moreover it was the first time that the Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire joined military forces and cooperated in the battle against the enemy.  The Ottoman armies faced a devastating defeat, suffering heavy casualties;  they lost about 15,000 men just to Sobieski's forces.   A few days after the battle, Sobieski described the battle in a letter to his wife, in vivid detail:  (here is an excerpt)  ".....Ours are treasures unheard of . . . tents, sheep, cattle and no small number of camels . . . it is victory as nobody ever knew before, the enemy now completely ruined, everything lost for them. They must run for their sheer lives . . . General Starhemberg hugged and kissed me and called me his saviour......"  The Polish Hussars were a heavily armoured shock cavalry of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and had earned the reputation for being a fearsome, invincible military force. In tight formation they charged  at their enemies piercing through them with lances, and used other weapons such as sabres, arquebus, warhammers and axes. The Polish Hussars were the supreme warriors of the battlefield in Europe for over 200 years.


Polish King Elected Second Time:  Stanisław I Leszczyński was the King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Duke of Lorraine and a count of the Holy Roman Empire. His second reign resumed on September 12, 1733, after Augustus II died. Stanislaw was elected King by an overwhelming majority of the Sejm. However, Russia and Austria invaded Poland in an effort to prevent Poland from joining a Swedish-French alliance, which resulted in Stanislaw being deposed a second time.  Stanislaw retreated to Danzig with the expectation of French assistance, though it never materialized. He escaped Danzig before the Russians had conquered it, and made his way to Kongisberg, Prussia to join the guerillas in the fight against the new king Frederick Augustus II and his Russian supporters.  The Peace of Vienna of 1738 officially granted recognition to the new king, though they allowed Stanisław to keep his royal titles, granting him the provinces of Lorraine and Bar for life.


Polish Pilot Janusz Żurakowski (dob).  When the Germans attacked Poland in September 1939, Zurokowski entered into combat flying the PZL P.7 trainer plane against a squadron of seven German Dornier 17s.  He managed to damage one of them, but when his guns jammed, he was forced to return to base. When Poland was defeated, he joined the other pilots who evacuated to France to continue the fight there, but with the Fall of France, they evacuated again to Britain. Zurakowski flew numerous sorties during the Battle of Britain. He flew the famous Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1 against the Luftwaffe, shooting down a Messerschmitt Bf-110.  A few days later he was shot down, but he quickly returned to duty shooting down two Messerschmitt Bf-109E, and another probable. In 1942 he rose to Flying Officer in the 325 Squadron. Zurakowski became Squadron Leader of the 316 Polish Fighter Squadron and deputy wing leader of Polish No 1 Fighter Wing, at RAF Northolt.  On May 17, 1943, he scored a probable over a Messerschmitt Bf 109G, while in the capacity of Wing Gunnery Officer. Zurakowski was decorated with the Virtuti Militari, and the Polish Cross of Valor, and Bar (1941) and Second Bar (1943).


The Anglo-French Supreme War Council.  The Council was created to deliberate over allied military strategy in the early phase of World War II, a period which was aptly called, the Phoney War.  Its first council meeting was convened on September 12, 1939 at Abbeville, followed shortly thereafter by another meeting at Hove on September 22, 1939. The British delegation was attended by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Lord Halifax (Foreign Secretary) Sir Alexander Cadogan (Permanent Under-Secretary of the Foreign Office), and Edward Bridges (Cabinet Secretary). while the French delegation was headed by the Prime Minister Édouard Daladier, General Maurice Gamelin, Admiral Francois Darlan, Raoul Dautry (Minister of Munitions), and Jean Monnet (Chairman of the Frano-British Economic Coordination Committee). Discussions at both meetings focused on Italy, and whether the allies should deploy military forces at Salonika or Istanbul without provoking Benito Mussolini.  There was also discussion about the production of munitions, and providing reinforcements in French airspace as well as AA defences.  Chamberlain stated that the Allies could not prevent a German intervention into Yugoslavia.  During this meeting and the two subsequent meetings in 1939, the French delegation rejected the  British plan to bomb German industrial targets in the Ruhr as it was considered risky and liable to provoke retaliation by the Germans. The final three sessions were held in France (Paris, Briare and Tours) during the German Blitzkrieg of May and June 1940.

The Battle of Lwów began. German motorised units advanced towards the city of Lwow, after having captured the city of Sambor (which was 66 kilometers away).  Col Schorner, the German commander ordered his troops to capture the city, anticipating that he could easily break through the numerically weaker Polish forces.  The German assault force, consisting of two motorised infantry companies and a battery of 150 mm guns, outflanked the Polish fighters and quickly reached the outskirts of the city. But the "so-called weaker " Polish troops viciously counterattacked resulting in a bloody German retreat.  The Polish forces consisted of only three infantry platoons with two 75 mm guns, but soon received reinforcements allowing them to maintain their positions until dawn. The next day, the German troops attacked again, and the Poles succeeded in driving the enemy back again. The Battle ended on September 22, 1939 in a joint German-Soviet victory.  The city of Lwow (today, Liviv, Ukraine) was of great cultural significance in Poland's history, a center of music, literature, arts, theatre, and academia.

The Battle of Kałuszyn ended in a Polish Victory. The objective of the Polish forces was to recapture Kaluszyn and break through the German encirclement.  The Polish forces launched their attack on the night of September 12, 1939 on the villages surrounding the town and succeeded in breaking through enemy lines which were unexpectedly disorganized and unprepared for the Polish assault. The Germans had underestimated Polish military strength of units still present in the region.  The commander of the Polish 6th Legion's Infantry Regiment ordered the 4th squadron of the Polish 11th Uhlans Regiment to commence the advance to Kaluszy, but it turned into a full-scale cavalry charge instead.  The unit rushed towards enemy positions with rifles and sabres, successfully breaking through into the town. The military action was carried out in error, and though it was successful, the Polish troops suffered casualties. Of the 85 Uhlans who took part in the attack, 33 were killed in action.  By the early morning, the Poles had liberated the town and German forces retreated.  German casualties were estimated at 120 KIA, 200 WIA, and 84 MIA.

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