36th Infantry Regiment (Poland)
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|36th Infantry Regiment|
The 36th Infantry Regiment of the Academic Legion (Polish 36 pułk piechoty Legii Akademickiej, 36pp) was a Polish military unit. Initially made up of students from the universities of Warsaw, it fought with distinction in the Polish-Bolshevik War, the Polish Defensive War and in the Warsaw Uprising.
The regiment was an all-volunteer force made up of students from Warsaw-based universities on November 11, 1918, that is the day Poland regained her independence. Initially the unit was simply named Infantry Regiment of the Academic Legion and took part in disarming the Austro-Hungarian and German soldiers remaining on Polish territory. Accepted formally into the Polish Army on December 3, it was renamed the 36th Infantry Regiment and on April 5, 1919, it was allowed to retain its former name as an honorary title.
The regiment were sworn on December 13 and on January 4, 1919 it left Warsaw for Lwów, which was then under siege by the forces of the West Ukrainian People's Republic. Attached to the relief force under Gen. Jan Romer, it was initially made up of two battalions and a small NCO school. The regiment suffered heavy losses and both battalions were eventually merged. However, the unit managed to break through to the besieged city through Żółkiew, Kulików and Homulec. After that on September 7 the unit was reinforced with additional battalions formed in Warsaw and Modlin.
During the Polish-Bolshevik War the unit was dispatched to the front on May 14, 1920, and took part in heavy fighting during the Polish retreat westwards. On June 3 it took part in the victorious battle of Duniłowicze. After the war this date became the Regiment's feast day. On August 13 and the following days, the regiment again took part in the Battle of Ossów (heavy fighting for the town of Osowiec and the village of Leśniakowizna during the battle of Warsaw). In a series of withdrawals and counter-attacks, and despite heavy losses, the regiment withstood the Bolshevik assault on Warsaw thus permitting Józef Piłsudski's main assault group to outflank and destroy the enemy. Among the fallen was the regiment's chaplain, Rev. Ignacy Skorupka and the commander of 2nd Battalion, Stanisław Matarewicz. During the fighting heavy losses were replaced with a battalion of an improvised 236th Infantry Regiment formed mostly of students and Scouts of the Warsaw borough of Praga. After the battle the regiment continued to pursue the retreating Russian forces in the Ukraine and on September 24, 1920, took part in the liberation of an important railway hub in the town of Szepietówka.
During the interbellum, the regiment was attached to the Polish 28th Infantry Division and formed a part of the Warsaw garrison. It took part in the May Coup d'État of 1926 fighting in the ranks of the supporters of Piłsudski. On August 23, 1939 it was mobilized and attached to the Łódź Army.
In September 1939, Commanded by Col. Karol Ziemski, the Regiment was dispatched to Greater Poland, where the regiment took part in the Polish retreat through Łask, Pabianice and Brwinów, and managed to reach the Modlin Fortress. The March Battalion of the 36th Regiment was left in Warsaw and served as a core of the Polish 336th Infantry Regiment that took part in the defence of Warsaw. Split onto two separate regiments, the 1st and 2nd Defenders of Praga Infantry Regiments under Stanislaw Milian and Stefan Kotowski, the unit held out until the final capitulation of Warsaw.
During the German occupation, veterans of the 36th Regiment were joined in the VI Home Army Area. During Operation Tempest the Regiment was recreated and took part in the Warsaw Uprising. The soldiers of the regiment fought in the failed uprising in Praga, but also in heavy fights for the boroughs of Żoliborz, Mokotów and Czerniaków. It was officially recreated by order of Tadeusz Bór-Komorowski out of three previously-existing partisan battalions. Led by Maj. Stanisław Błaszczak (nom de guerre Róg), it was composed of the Krybar (Cyprian Odorkiewicz), Dowgierd (Stanisław Taczanowski) and Żmudzin (Bolesław Kontrym) battalions, each named after their commanders' noms de guerre. After the capitulation of the Uprising, the soldiers shared the fate of the rest of the Armia Krajowa. The Regiment was not recreated after the war and its banner, founded in 1921 by the universities of Warsaw, is currently in the Museum of the Polish Army in Warsaw.
In 1966 the regiment was awarded the Virtuti Militari, the highest Polish military decoration, by Władysław Anders and the Polish Government in exile. On December 12, 1992, the historical heritage of the 36th Regiment was accepted by modern Trzebiatów-based Polish 36th Mechanized Regiment, in 1994 reformed into the Polish 36th Mechanized Brigade. In 1991 the last president of Poland in exile, Ryszard Kaczorowski, returned the pre-war insignia to the newly elected Polish president Lech Wałęsa. Among them was the original Virtuti Militari awarded to the unit in 1966. Initially attached to the regimental banner in the Museum of the Polish Army, on June 3, 2000, it was given to the 36th Mechanized Brigade and attached to its modern banner. In 2008 brigade was solved.