- Polish Second Army
Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=Polish 2nd Army ("Druga Armia")
caption=Soldiers of the Polish Second Army in the area of
Nysa ŁuzyckaRiver after forcing it in April 1945.
Aug 1944- Aug 1945
Ludowe Wojsko Polskie
Karol Świerczewski Stanislav Poplavsky
The Polish Second Army (Polish: "Druga Armia Wojska Polskiego", 2. AWP for short) was a
Polish Armyunit formed in the Soviet Unionin 1944as part of the Ludowe Wojsko Polskie. The organization begun in August under the command of generals Karol Świerczewskiand Stanislav Poplavsky, and the formation under command of general Świerczewski entered active duty in January 1945. The Second Army suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Bautzen during April 22-26, 1945. Subsequently, the Second Army was part of the final great Soviet offensive of World War IIin Europe, the drive on Prague. In August 1945 most of the formation was used to create the Poznań Military District.
Formation (8 August - 31 December 1944)
In 1944, with the
Sovietadvance now enveloping increasing number of territories of the Second Polish Republic, occupied by Nazi Germany for the past several years, the Soviet high commandsaw the opportunity to recruit more Polesinto the Soviet-controlled Ludowe Wojsko Polskie. The first plans called for formation of Polish Second Army and Polish Third Army, which were to be joined with the Polish First Armyinto a Polish Front(at that time the Polish forces were part of the 1st Belorussian Front). The early plans called for the Second Army to be ready for combat by the end of September.
However soon it became apparent that this plan was flawed, as there were not enough recruits to fill the ranks of officers. A significant number of pre-war Polish NCOs and officers either:
* were held in the Germans officer POW camps
* already joined the
Polish First Army
Polish Army in the West
* were part of the
Armia KrajowaPolish resistance, loyal to the Polish government in exileand seen by Soviets as enemies (the 2nd Army military tribunal and police were actually actively engaged in actions against the AK elements, arresting thousands of people and sentencing hundreds to death)
* or had been executed by the Soviets following their Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 in massacres such as the infamous
Katyn massacre, when the Soviets were more concerned with breaking the Polish intelligentsiathen forming Polish allied forcesThus while the recruits to the pro-Soviet Polish Committee of National Liberationwere able to fill most private and NCOs slots, the army had only about half of the needed number of officers; 33% of them young (under 25 years) and about 50% with no formal training (only secondary education). Although the Soviets always tried to control such allied formations by transferring a significant numbers of Soviet officers to those units, they found themselves having to fill about 50% of the officer positions in the Second Army (for several months in 1944, the commander of the Army was in the hands of the Soviet general, Stanislav Poplavsky). The situation of the Third Army was even more dire, which eventually led to the cancellation of plans for both the creation of the Third Army and the Polish Front.
The Second Army reached operational level in the beginning of January 1945.
Combat (January-May 1945)
While some formations of the Second Army were engaged in combat as parts of the 1st Belarusian Front in January, most of the Army was regrouped in early February near
Kutno, Łódź, Łaskand Piotrków Trybunalski. Near the end of February the Army moved towards Piła, Krzyż Wielkopolskiand Czarnkówto counter possible threat of German counterattack from the Poznańarea. In the first half of March the army acted as a reinforcement for the 1st Belarusian Front, and was regrouped in the area of Gorzów Wielkopolski- Barlinek- Pełczyce- Chłopowo- Klasztorne- Słonów. In the second half of March the Army was transferred to the 1st Ukrainian Front, and regrouped north of Wrocław. With the preparations to the battle of Berlin, the Army took positions near the Lusatian Neisse(Nysa Łuzycka) on 10-11 April.
The Army was given the task to advance towards
Dresdenand Bautzenon 16 April. Although the Army managed to advance, it had insufficient reinforcements of its own and the planned Soviet reinforcements were delayed, which made it vulnerable to the German counterattak. The Second Army suffered very heavy losses at the Battle of Bautzen during April 22-26, with 18 232 dead or missing (22% of total combat personnel), and over 50% of armor. The battle was one of the most costly in terms of lives in the history of Polish military.
Subsequently, in May, the Second Army was part of the final great Soviet offensive of
World War IIin Europe, the drive on Prague. By the time most Germans units have begun to surrender, the Army units have reached the town of Mělník.
Post war (May-August 1945)
End of World War II in Europe, the Second Army was regrouped in the vicinity of Wrocław. On the 17 May it was transferred from the 1st Ukrainian Frontto the High Commandof Ludowe Wojsko Polskie. Until August 1945 the Army was tasked with guarding the Recovered Territoriesand the new Polish-German frontier on the Oder-Neisse line. It was disbanded in August; most of the formation was used to create the Poznań Military District.
Order of Battle on May 1, 1945
Second Army Headquarters
* 5th Infantry Division
* 7th Infantry Division
* 8th Infantry Division
* 9th Infantry Division
* 10th Infantry Division
* 2nd Artillery Division
** 6th Light Artillery Brigade
** 7th Howitzer Artillery Brigade
** 8th Heavy Artillery Brigade
* 3rd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Division
* 9th Antitank Brigade
* 14th Antitank Brigade
* 3rd Mortar Regiment
* 1st Tank Corps
* 16th Tank Brigade
* 5th Heavy Tank Regiment (IS-II)
* 28th Armoured Artillery Regiment (self-propelled guns)
* 4th Sapper Brigade
Karol Świerczewskifrom 8 August 1944 to 24 September 1944 and from 26 December 1944 onward
Stanisław Popławski(Stanislav Poplavsky) from 25 September 1944 to 25 December 1944
Major campaign credits
* Berlin Operation
Apr 4 1945- May 9 1945
Prague Operation May 7 1945- May 10 1945
Polish First Army
* [http://www.wspolnota-polska.org.pl/index.php?id=epb17 Polish Army in the East 1943-1945]
*Polish|2 Armia WP|10 February 2007
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