Polish First Army

Polish First Army

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=Polish First Army ("Pierwsza Armia")

caption= Officers of Polish First Army on parade in Moscow, 1945
dates=July 1944 - August 1945
allegiance=Ludowe Wojsko Polskie
type=Field Army
battles=Dęblin 1944
Puławy 1944
Warszawa 1944-45
Kolberg 1945
Berlin 1945
notable_commanders=Zygmunt Berling
The Polish First Army ( _pl. Pierwsza Armia Wojska Polskiego, 1 AWP for short) was a Polish Army unit formed in the Soviet Union in 1944, from previously existing Polish I Corps as part of the Ludowe Wojsko Polskie.

Operational history

It operated under the auspices of the Red Army. It first entered combat in the summer of 1944 as part of the 1st Belorussian Front on the right wing of the Lvov-Sandomierz Operation, fighting in the battles during the Soviet crossing of the river Vistula around Dęblin and Puławy "Polish Army, 1939-1945" by Steven J Zaloga, page viewable via [http://books.google.com/books?ie=UTF-8&hl=en&id=AAdYFeW2fnoC&pg=PA27&lpg=PA27&dq=first+polish+army&prev=http://books.google.com/books?q=first+polish+army&sig=aZ59AbPvyOHZy82pSfJ3DrcRtiM Google Book search] ] . In September 1944 it was involved in fighting around Warsaw in an attempt to support the Warsaw Uprising. However, those efforts received minimal Soviet support and ended in failure. In January 1945 it took place in the liberation of Warsaw, afterwards it moved towards Bydgoszcz. The Polish First Army then fought in Pomerania, breaking through the Pomeranian Wall ("Pommernstellung") fortified line and capturing Festung Kolberg (Fortress Kołobrzeg), a heavily fortified city, in March. Its units advanced nortwest as far as Danzig and Kępa Oksywska. In the Spring of 1945 the army, now numbering 78,556 soldiers, was shifted to the front on the river Oder in preparation for the final Soviet offensive of the war in Europe. The Polish Second Army also entered the line of battle at this time, and together the two armies contributed about 10% of the total forces involved in the operation. During the offensive it crossed the river on April 16 and joined the Battle of Berlin. In it, among other actions, the Polish units of the 1st army crossed the Hohenzollern Canal and advanced on Kremmen, Flatow, Paaren and Nauen. They ended their campaign by participating in the battle of Berlin. The troops of the 1st Infantry Division supported by the 2nd Brigade of Howitzer Artillery and the 1st Independent Mortar Brigade, fought in the central sector of Berlin's defences, seizing the Technical University, the Tiergarten underground station and the Tiergarten park (near the Zoo), entering the rear areas of the Reichstag and the Reich Chancellery. [http://www.wspolnota-polska.org.pl/index.php?id=epb17]

The army was disbanded after the war, on 22 August, 1945. Its constituent units went on to serve in the armed forces of the newly created Polish People's Republic.


The lower ranks primarily consisted of Poles who were deported deep into the USSR after its takeover of Eastern Poland following the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. Almost 40% of officers and technical specialists were Soviets"Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej 06-7 – "Żołnierze, Oficerowie, Generałowie", 2001] , while for command staff and training officers the proportion reached 70 to 85%. This was inevitable, as the natural cadre of Polish officers that could have fulfilled these roles had been eliminated in the Katyn Massacre in 1940 or joined Władysław Anders. In Polish public opinion they were viewed as simply Russians who wore Polish uniforms. Even at the time of formation of those units Soviets arrested hundreds of Polish soldiers for singing "improper" patriotic songs, or talking about "enemy propaganda". Special political officers made completely out of Soviets had overseen Polish soldiers, as Poles weren't trusted.


The 1st Polish Army was very similar in organisation to other standard general purpose armies making up the bulk of Red Army's order of battle. It had a good mix of infantry units and artillery together with other support arms. Its armor capability was considerably weaker, and consisted of only one organic tank brigade. In manpower it was broadly equivalent to an American infantry corps. At the end of the war in 1945, it consisted of the following large units (honorific names given in brackets)
*1st Infantry Division ("Tadeusz Kościuszko")
*2nd Infantry Division ("Jan Henryk Dąbrowski")
*3rd Infantry Division ("Romuald Traugutt")
*4th Infantry Division ("Jan Kiliński")
*6th Infantry Division
*1st armored brigade ("Heroes of Westerplatte") - often detached and operating independently
*1st cavalry brigade
*1st cannon artillery brigade ("Józef Bem")
*2nd howitzer artillery brigade
*3rd howitzer artillery brigade
*5th heavy artillery brigade
*1st anti-aircraft artillery division
*1st engineer brigade
*1st mortar brigade (attached from High Command Reserve)


ee also

*Polish Armed Forces in the East

External links

* [http://www.wspolnota-polska.org.pl/index.php?id=epb17 Polish Army in the East 1943-1945]

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