4th Infantry Division (Poland)

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4th Infantry Division
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2nd incarnation, 1940
Active 1919 - 1939 (1st incarnation)
1940 - 1947 (2nd incarnation)
1944 - 1998 (3rd incarnation)
Country Poland
Allegiance In west: prewar Polish government
In east: Polish communists
Branch Land forces
Type Infantry, then Mechanized
Size Varied by historical period
Garrison/HQ Krosno Odrzańskie (postwar)
Engagements Battle of the Bzura 1939
Battle of France 1940
Vistula-Oder Offensive 1945
Battle of Kolberg 1945
Battle of Berlin 1945
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Maj. Gen. Stanisław Franciszek Sosabowski

The Polish 4th Infantry Division (Polish: 4. Dywizja Piechoty) was created following Polish independence after the end of World War I. The division participated in the Polish-Ukrainian War in 1919. During World War II, the division existed as three wholly separate organizations, the original incarnation of the division as part of the prewar Polish Army, the second incarnation armed and equipped by the western Allies, and the final incarnation armed and equipped by the Soviet Union. The second and third incarnations of this division existed simultaneously from 1944 until 1947.

Service to 1939[edit]

Prior to the start of World War II, the 4th Infantry Division was initially commanded by Colonel Tadeusz Lubicz-Niezabitowski, and its peacetime headquarters was located in Toruń, with additional units stationed in Włocławek and Brodnica. After September 4, 1939 it was commanded by Colonel Mieczysław Rawicz-Mysłowski, and then after September 12 it was commanded by Colonel Józef Werobej. The 4th Division was originally part of the Pomorze Army and stationed northeast of Toruń, near the border of East Prussia. From September 9, the division fought against the Wehrmacht in the Battle of the Bzura, a Polish counterattack west of Warsaw in the area of the Bzura River.

4th Division organized by the western Allies[edit]

Following the Polish defeat in 1939, the 4th Infantry Division was reconstituted in France, under the command of Stanisław Franciszek Sosabowski. The 4th was assigned to a training camp in Parthenay, in western France. The French high command was reluctant to give the 4th Infantry Division weapons sorely need at the front, so the 4th was forced to train with pre-World War I weapons. By the time of the German invasion of France, only around 3,500 men, out of 11,000, of the 4th Division had been armed. When the impending French defeat became apparent, Sosabowski ordered his forces to retreat to the Atlantic coast. 6,000 Polish soldiers were evacuated from La Pallice, a harbor near La Rochelle, France.[1] In June they were evacuated for England, and the 4th Infantry Division was again reconstituted in Scotland, under the Polish I Corps, along with the Polish 1st Armored Division, the 1st Independent Parachute Brigade, and the 16th Independent Armored Brigade. The 4th Division was charged with coastal defense of eastern Scotland, against the threat of a German invasion from Norway. This western incarnation of the 4th Division saw no combat after the defeat of France in 1940, and was inactivated in 1947.

4th Division organized by the Soviet Union[edit]

In 1944, the Soviet Union also stood up a Polish 4th Infantry Division within the Polish First Army, part of the 1st Belorussian Front. The division consisted primarily of Poles deported to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics after the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, although many of the officers and commissars were from the USSR. As part of the First Army, this eastern incarnation of the 4th Division fought in Poland near Warsaw, at Kolberg, and north of Berlin in Germany during 1944-45.

Following the end of the war, the Soviet-organized 4th Division was incorporated into the army of the People's Republic of Poland. By a Resolution of the Provisional Government of May 26, 1945 the division's personnel and equipment (with the exception of artillery and the sanitary battalion) served as a nucleus to form the staff and some branches of the Internal Security Corps (KBW). The division commander became the first commander of the Internal Security Corps.

Following reformation from two reserve infantry regiments, the division was stationed in the town of Krosno Odrzańskie as part of the Silesian Military District. During the Cold War, the division became mechanized on the organizational lines of Soviet motor rifle divisions.

The 4th Division also participated in the suppression of protests in Poznań in 1956.

The 4th Mechanized Division was inactivated in 1998.

See also[edit]

List of Polish divisions in World War II

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Stanislaw Sosabowski, Polish General WW2". Retrieved May 25, 2007.