Battle of Pszczyna
Battle of Pszczyna (Polish: Bitwa Pszczyńska) refers to the series of battles between 1 and 4 September 1939 near the town of Pszczyna during the Invasion of Poland. Battle of Pszczyna formed part of the battle of the border.
The battle can be divided into four phases:
- 1 September: successful Polish defense of the outer positions near the Brzeźce and Wisła Wielka villages.
- 2 September, morning: Polish defense of the main positions near Pszczyna.
- 2 September, afternoon: battles near Ćwiklice.
- 3 September - 4 September: Polish successful separation and withdrawal, however they paid dearly (Polish withdrawal was successful mainly thanks to a diversionary counterattack on Ćwiklice made by two battalions from the 16th infantry regiment which gave time for other units to regroup and withdraw).
During the first two days Polish forces suffered a defeat and were forced to retreat.
The main reason of the Polish defeat (apart from huge German material and numerical superiority) was that the Polish commanders incorrectly predicted the direction of the main German attack on 2 September.
As the result, the whole Polish plan of defense failed, because then it became impossible to activate a huge trap, which was prepared for German tanks, called the "big bag" trap, which was weak in front, but strong on its sides - with strong artillery assisting in attacking targets which entered the 'bag'.
Also overmuch certainty after great successes of the previous day (espeially fierce, few hours-long combat - with use of the "big bag" trap - near Brzeźce village) contributed to Polish defeat.
Because of their certainty, Polish commanders decided to make "the big bag trap" more shallow - which meant that it was less flexible, and Polish positions would be easier to crush if the defense was not successful (as it happened) - but on the other hand - if the defense was successful (which didn't happen since the unexpected direction and strength of the German main attack were deadly), the shallow "bag" would be more effective because the German attack would be stopped faster and with greater casualties for the enemy due to a greater concentration of firepower.
The defeat suffered at Pszczyna (which also caused a loss of a significant percent of divisional artillery) forced the Polish High Command to pull back the entire frontline, and cede the territory of Upper Silesia to the Germans.
- German equipment losses and Polish equipment losses and casualties (list may be incomplete):
On 1 September:
|Place||German casualties||Polish casualties||Polish dead|
|Rybnik||7 tanks||7+ cars||16+ dead|
|Mszana||7 armoured cars||none||none|
|Brzeźce||13 - 14 tanks and 1 tank surrendered to the Poles (with 2 soldiers) and was destroyed||1 AT gun||1 - 2 dead|
|Równie||4 tanks (including 1 Pz-IV)||1 75mm cannon||unknown|
|Żory||4 tanks||none||11 dead|
|Boża Góra/Jastrzębie||2 tanks and 4 - 6 armoured cars||none||3 dead|
|Kryry||3 tanks and 2 more tanks stuck in the swamps (1 later pulled out)||none||none|
|Wisła Wielka||4 tanks||1 75mm cannon||15 dead|
|Strumień||1 light tank (by Polish tankettes TK), 1 Luftwaffe recon plane shot down over Strumień||none||2 dead|
|Unknown place||unknown||unknown||3 dead|
|Total 1 September:||45 - 47+ tanks & 11 - 13+ armoured cars, 1 recon plane||2 cannons, 1 AT gun, 7 cars+||65 - 66+ dead|
Between 2nd and 4 September:
|Place||German casualties||Polish casualties||Polish dead|
|Łąka||none||unknown (all are included in summary for the day)||27 dead|
|Pszczyna||5 tanks||unknown||10 dead|
|Ćwiklice||17 - 18+ tanks (including at least 1 Pz-IV) and 3 more got stuck in the mud (1 later pulled out, 2 captured by Poles)||unknown, but very high - including 6 batteries of light artillery & at least 3 AT guns (all included in summary for the day)||226 or 251 dead and estimated 300 - 350 wounded|
|Stara Wieś||3 - 8 tanks (3 for sure by mines, up to 5 by AT gun but this is doubtful)||unknown||9 - 13 dead|
|Góra||1 tank||unknown||3 dead|
|Total 2 September:||30 - 36+ tanks||23 - 24 75mm cannons, 4 105mm cannons, 4 AT guns||282 - 311+ dead|
|Jankowice||none||1 AT gun||2 dead|
|Total 3 September:||7 - 8+ tanks||1 AT gun||3+ dead|
|Rajsko - 4 IX||5+ tanks||5 AT guns, 4 75mm cannons||80 - 83 dead + 11 drown in the river Soła|
|Unknown place 4 IX||unknown||2 tankettes - non-combat losses (one was left without seeing combat because of a technical failure during withdrawal, the second was lost in the canal along with its crew)||unknown|
|Grand Total Battle of Pszczyna:||87 - 96+ tanks & 11 - 13+ armoured cars, 1 Luftwaffe recon plane||2 tankettes, 29 - 30 75mm cannons, 4 105mm cannons, 11 AT guns||441 - 474+ dead|
Casualty list according to: the latest book about the battle: "Bitwa Pszczyńska 1939" ("Battle of Pszczyna 1939") by Janusz Ryt
After the long and bloody combat of Ćwiklice on 2 September, German war correspondent K. Frowein - after seeing one of the Polish heavily wounded - wrote:
War correspondent K. Frowein – 2 IX 1939:
"This was the first Polish soldier I have ever seen. Bloody piece of human suffering. Legs pulled up to his chest because of pain, face – greenish-pale.
From his thin lips almost inaudible scream was getting out – "Water! Water!". We unbuttoned his uniform jacket – smeared with blood and entrails. German orderly gave him canteen with water. For the last time a smile appeared on his face, when he whispered: "Danke". A few minutes later he died. Now he rests in peace where he fell, under a straight, wooden cross, decorated with Polish helmet and a plate with inscription: "Six Polish soldiers".
This Polish infantryman died like a real soldier. Until the end he was defending his post, completing his orders. When deadly bullets reached him, his munition holds were empty, and in the magazine of his rifle there were only 2 bullets."
K. Frowein's account according to the book: "Polen Feldzug. Hitler und Stalin zerschlagen die Polnische Republik".
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of 1 April 2006 of the equivalent article on the Polish Wikipedia.
- "Battle of Pszczyna 1939" by Janusz Ryt, published by infopres, Pszczyna 2007