- 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
Ludowe Wojsko Polskie
anniversaries=The Polish First Army ( _pl. Pierwsza Armia Wojska Polskiego, 1 AWP for short) was a
Polish Armyunit formed in the Soviet Union in 1944, from previously existing Polish I Corps as part of the Ludowe Wojsko Polskie.
It operated under the auspices of the
Red Army. It first entered combat in the summer of 1944 as part of the 1st Belorussian Fronton the right wing of the Lvov-Sandomierz Operation, fighting in the battles during the Soviet crossing of the river Vistulaaround Dęblinand 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 Warsawin 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 Danzigand Kępa Oksywska. In the Spring of 1945 the army, now numbering 78,556 soldiers, was shifted to the front on the river Oderin preparation for the final Soviet offensive of the war in Europe. The Polish Second Armyalso 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 Canaland advanced on Kremmen, Flatow, Paarenand 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 Tiergartenunderground 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 Massacrein 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
infantryunits and artillerytogether 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 ( honorificnames given in brackets)
*1st Infantry Division ("
*2nd Infantry Division ("
Jan Henryk Dąbrowski")
*3rd Infantry Division ("
*4th Infantry Division ("
*6th Infantry Division
*1st armored brigade ("Heroes of
Westerplatte") - often detached and operating independently
*1st cavalry brigade
*1st cannon 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)
Polish Armed Forces in the East
* [http://www.wspolnota-polska.org.pl/index.php?id=epb17 Polish Army in the East 1943-1945]
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