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Minor Nation Navies

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I could also mention another example, although it's more down to interservice lack of communications.

 

I found out we Italians are rather infamous (at least, a lot of people bring that up) for the instance in which, after the Battle off Calabria, our bombers duly bombed the enemy... but also our ships (although with no effect on the latter, although two aircrafts were shot down).

 

Yet, I found out that the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe were involved in something similar, although there were no Allied ships.

The Kriegsmarine launched Operation Wikinger, a sortie of a six-strong destroyer flotilla; the Luftwaffe spotted the ships, and each assumed the other was hostile. Bombing runs were initiated, and when they ended, Z1 Leberecht Maass and Z3 Max Schultz were sunk, with the majority of the crews (578 sailors dead).

 

The latter incident seems to be more serious and with deadlier results than the latter, isn't it?

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While it is true that they were bombed by a lone He-111, It was a mistake due to a failure of communication between the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine. It is also highly likely that due to the area they were in, one or both of the destroyers hit mines laid by the British destroyers Ivanhoe and Intrepid. So even though it's confirmed that Z1 was hit by a bomb, Z3 was sunk by the mines, and it's likely that Z1 also struck a mine which finished her off after the bomb hit. The idea that both were hit by the Heinkel is something that was thought by a court of inquiry from the german high command, which was found to be erroneous postwar.

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While it is true that they were bombed by a lone He-111, It was a mistake due to a failure of communication between the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine. It is also highly likely that due to the area they were in, one or both of the destroyers hit mines laid by the British destroyers Ivanhoe and Intrepid. So even though it's confirmed that Z1 was hit by a bomb, Z3 was sunk by the mines, and it's likely that Z1 also struck a mine which finished her off after the bomb hit. The idea that both were hit by the Heinkel is something that was thought by a court of inquiry from the german high command, which was found to be erroneous postwar.

 

I found this: http://www.german-navy.de/kriegsmarine/articles/feature4.html

 

While it says that the Max Schultz was in no way hit by bombers (and I did miss that), it says that however the He.111's attacks were successful and it did score hits, and those caused all that mayhem, while concluding that it's not possible to determine how much the mines ended up doing.

 

I may be wrong, since I cannot read the actual logs, but from what it says about the end of the Maass, it looks to me that its final fate was sealed by a bomb. A mine detonation should have been noticed as different than a bomb impact, I believe, by the Friedrich Eckoldt.

 

In any case, the point stands that, when still in a friendly area (they were still inside their minefields), German ships were bombed by friendly aircrafts. Had it been a lone minor ship, that had strayed from its course, it could've happened, but it was a named operation that involved six destroyers; the fact that somehow the message had not gotten through to the Luftwaffe was really serious. I'm surprised nobody got the boot for it.

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Interesting. That source is pretty thorough, and confirms that Maas was almost certainly sunk by the bomber. I must give credit to the bomb crew, though. It's very difficult for level bombers to hit ships, although most of the time ships take evasive maneuvers. We also must note that both the aircraft and ships could not identify each other, and that the Kriegsmarine was also not notified of the Luftwaffe operating anti-ship patrols in the area. The bomber only made a bomb run once the German destroyers began firing on them. This incident does remind me of another fortunately disappointing friendly fire event. You'll see why I think it's fortunate that the event was disappointing. I'm going to quote directly from Tin Can Sailor by C. Raymond Calhoun:

 

 

"At midmorning on 12th November Admiral Turner sent a message to the entire force about a flight of twelve friendly DC3 transport planes due to arrive at noon. He noted that they would come in from the north and warned everyone not to mistake them for enemy aircraft. Captain Coward used our public address system to pass along to the Sterett's crew the gist of the admiral's message. At about 1130, anticipating the customary Japanese raid, we went to general quarters. No attack materialized, but a few minutes before noon our DC3s appeared over Florida Island, right on schedule. As soon as Shelton spotted them, I reminded all of our gun captains over the sound-powered telephone circuit that these were the friendly aircraft we had been cautioned about and again warned them not to fire. I had just finished when I heard the first gunshot from some unidentified ship, and almost immediately a veritable chorus of fire rang out from the entire formation. Simultaneously, we heard the task force commander shout over the TBS, 'Cease firing! Cease firing!' It did no good.
The shooting continued until the planes passed overhead. Then an angry Admiral Turner came on the radio and asked those ships that had not fired to identify themselves. Only Jess Coward responded. It was incredible, in light of the special warning the admiral had sent, that all of the other ships had broken their fire discipline. And more disturbing perhaps was the fact that not a single aircraft had been shot down; it was a damn good thing they were not enemy planes."

 

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A small war between sailors from the destroyer ORP Błyskawica on a portable gramophone.

 

 

To raise the morale of the beginning of the war during the long cruises convoy and prevent the possibility that general fatigue on ships. Speakers marine broadcast crew for the music from the radio and portable gramophone.

 

Thanks to the rich collection of records on gramophone airs various pieces of both Polish top songs, but also foreign music hits. During stops in sea bases was also letting go of the music through the speakers. However, the most among the crew had to take a portable gramophone which drove to the numerous disputes about who now has gramophone in that part of the ship. Gramophone belonged to the officer in charge for educational improvement in the morale of the crew and explain political issues. To borrow the crew to be able to take the pressure away in his spare time.

 

But what is happened late nobody expected that the gramophone will lead to disputes and brawls between sailors about who will have it for the day. Sometimes people who borrowed gramophone specially played one and the same song 24h. Like they wanted to torture others or it was popular.

 

One spring day when in port, the crew was free mission convoy of two sailors decided to borrow gramophone on its part of the unit from the officer. This led to quarrel that escalated into a fist fight because both of them wanted to have a gramophone on the evening to while away playing cards on other parts of the ship. Owner reserved if see another fight on the gramophone smash it on the floor. And that's how it happened. At the sight of sailors in front of the officer's cabin. The officer broke gramophone and gramophone records on the floor so that there was nothing to collect and repair was impossible.

 

And so to the end of the war the crew listened to music from the speakers by radio , and the officer had peace and quiet and there was no fighting between the crew of the destroyer Błyskawica on the gramophone.

 

Based on the book "Granatowa Załoga" Author: Wacław Cygan. Memories sailor from destroyers ORP "Błyskawica", ORP "Piorun" and the cruiser ORP "Dragon".

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Poles on the ships of the Royal Navy during World War II. Forgotten Polish sailors from the battleship HMS "Hood" and anecdote about how Poles from HMS "Rodney" wanted to boarding at the German battleship "Bismarck".

 

 

After the defeat in 1939 Polish Navy she started to rebuild in France and England. From around the world began to stay many volunteers to serve ships Navy. Over time, powerful noted deficiencies in the officer corps and specialists. This was due, that many of them were captured by the Germans or Soviet Russia in 1939. (Many of them have been found in mass graves The Katyn massacre or released from the gulag in 1941)

 

To increase the number of trained professionals in the Navy. Polish authorities and the command of the Polish Navy asked about the possibility of training Polish sailors on British ships. For answer I do not have to wait long, and from 1940 to 1945, could be met Polish sailors on destroyers, cruisers, battleships and... aircraft carriers.

 

Generally known entities under which they served Polish sailors HMS "Broke", "Campbell", "Glowworm" (As part of the the internship before taking the destroyer of the same type "G". Disembarked just before the final voyage), HMCS "Restigouche", "Berwick", "Anson", "Howe", "Belfast", "London", "Hood", "Rodney", "King George V", "Suffolk", "Norfolk", "Queen Elizabeth" and "Formidable".

 

Such a curiosity so happened that the action against the "Bismarck" Polish cadets were on HMS "Hood", " Rodney, " King George V "and" Suffolk "and" Norfolk".

 

 

The Poles, who went to the bottom of the sea along with the battleship HMS 'Hood "23 May 1941

Warrant Officer Kazimierz Żurek

Warrant Officer Leon Trzebiatowski-Zmuda

Warrant Officer Kazimierz Szymalski

Warrant Officer Stanisław Czerny

 

Cześć ich pamięci!

 

 

Anecdote about how Poles from HMS "Rodney" wanted to boarding at the German battleship "Bismarck"

 

The historian Iain Ballantyne while searching for the book about the sinking of the battleship "Bismrack" in talks with surviving sailors who sank the German battleship and their families found a story that repeated only sailors from HMS 'Rodney' and their families on the Polish sailor being on the battleship .

 

When it is clear that the German battleship no longer escape pursuit and was heavily bombarded. Polish sailors who viewed agonies "Bismarck" descended from the bridge of the ship and disappeared somewhere. Officers and sailors from HMS "Rodney" began to look for them. One of the officers checking the ship's kitchens. What he saw caused a small shock. Armed to the teeth with guns Polish sailors sharpening knives and meat choppers in the kitchen.

 

When the officer asked them what their guns and knives kuchen. They answered that they want to ask for "Rodney" came as close to the German battleship then made by boarding at the "Bismarck". Because they did not like bombardment already defeated the enemy, and they wanted to take revenge for Polish sailors from HMS 'Hood' and 1939 in the Baltic Sea and want to talk to the captain. Captain of HMS 'Rodney' rejected the request of the Polish warrant, but he was proud of their attitude.

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Polish navy in the war with Soviet Russia 17.09 - 05.10.1939. Forgotten fleet. Crime in the town of Mokrany - Polish Sailor Katyn

 

 

 

According to the operational plan of the "East" River Flotilla Polish Navy in Pińsk should have played an important role in suppressing possible Soviet aggression in the eastern provinces of the Second Republic of Poland. However, in 1939 the plans changed. Polish navy flotilla was the second largest river flotilla in Europe after the Soviet Union.

 

 

The beginning of the legendary flotilla

 

 

The Polish River Flotilla was founded on 19 April 1919. At that time, the command of the Polish Army organized three naval patrol boats on Pripyat. He participated in battles with the Bolshevik fleet at Horodisk in July 1919. Later, the Polish Army units with the participation of the battleships made a successful landing, which forced the Reds to withdraw from Łunińc. In March 1920, the fleets took part in the fighting at Mozyr and in the Kiev offensive, where Chernobyl successfully attacked the Red Army subdivisions and won the naval battle (Yes. Under this Chernobyl, where in 1986 there was a nuclear power plant crash). However, after the Bolsheviks started an offensive to the West and occupied the inter-region of the Pripyat, Polish sailors were forced to sink their ships and retreat.

 

The rebirth of the Pinsk Flotilla started after the signing of the Riga Treaty. In 1922 Pinsk became the main base of the flotilla. In the city was built War Port Command, barracks, warehouses and hangars.

 

 

Defend eastern voivodeships

 

The Polish General Staff planned that in the event of a war with the eastern neighbor the river flotilla should participate in a maneuver defense organization. In this case, Polish ships would have to not only resist the Soviet Flotilla Dnieper, but also to cover their infantry by providing artillery support and to land troops in the most vulnerable areas of the breach.

 

It was also the responsibility of the Pinsk flotilla to protect crossings and the protection of river ships. However, the Polish strategists did not take into account the fact that with the adversary in the air (in September 1939 Soviet aviation completely dominated the sky over the north-eastern provinces) the effectiveness of the Polish fleet fell significantly.

 

It was assumed that, in the case of the war, Poles in present-day Western Belarus will have about 50 combat ships and 2200 personnel in the state of Western Poland, comparable to the reinforced infantry regiment or medium armored unit. According to the "East" operational plan, 1st squadron reinforced by gunboats should occupy the most remote sections of the border. The 2nd squadron, together with the landing and technical subdivisions, occupied positions at the mouth of the Łan, Horyn and Prypec rivers. 3rd squadron remained in reserve. The flotilla staff was in Pinsk.

 

In the 1930s, the main force of the Polish Navy Flotilla was 6 monitors armed with 100 mm guns and 75 mm guns, 3 cannon boats, 2 anti-aircraft guns and 2 patrol boats. In addition, 7 trawlers should have had minefields. Since 1927, commander of the Pińsk Flotilla was Commander, graduate of the Maritime Corps in St. Petersburg Witold Zajączkowski. Thanks to this outstanding officer has successfully upgraded the "Pinsk fleet".

 

 

Preparing for the war

 

The spring of 1939 was warm and wet. All this contributed to the increase in morbidity among sailors and officers of the Flotilla River in Pinsk. As a result, the Polish military authorities dispatched airplanes that sprayed insecticides against Malaria into the marshy areas. On March 24, 1939 200 new reservists arrived in the port of Pinsk. By virtue of the decision of the Polish Navy, all personal leave was canceled, and the sailors were ordered to take personal belongings to the ships. Constant combat readiness was introduced on all mine and chemical warships, in two liaison battalions and all port services. The ships were supplemented with drinking water supplies, provisions and combat equipment.

 

On March 25, 1939 some of the ships (armored cutters and trawlers) were sent to the border with the USSR near the Pripyat River. Soon, however, the order was canceled. Poland was preparing for the war in the West, and the north-eastern provinces, among others. Poleskie, it was considered as backwards. At the same time, in April 1939, two groups of flotilla ships were shipped by rail (from Pinsk to Modlin) and by waterway (through the Royal Canal, Bug and Narew Canal) over the Vistula River. Later, some of the experienced naval artillerymen and armaments were also deployed to Gdynia and Helina. What caused shortages in the armaments and munitions of soldiers during the war for reservists.

 

Several months before the outbreak of World War II, the Flotilla's command in Pińsk tried to improve its anti-aircraft defense, but due to the lack of necessary funds the plan was unsuccessful. On June 12-13, 1939 all three squadrons of the Pińsk Flotilla took part in exercises during which Polish sailors perfected the shooting for the purposes of the riverside.

 

Before August 1939 this formation of the Polish Navy Flotilla's had 40 battleships and 50 auxiliary ships. Following the general mobilization, the Polish military authorities additionally requisitioned 10 civilian vessels. Polish armament consisted of 9 guns 100 mm, 14 guns 75 mm, 18 guns 37 mm guns, 6 - 13.2 mm machine guns, and about 90 - 7.92 mm machine guns. In addition, two 40 mm anti-aircraft guns Bofors, two high-caliber machine guns and six manual machine guns had an independent platoon who was supposed to protect the port of Pińsk.

 

The 1st Squadron under the command of Captain Mieczysław Sierkuczewski was joined by the anti-aircraft gun ship ORP "General Sikorski", 2 monitors ORP "Kraków" and "Wilno", 3 gunboats, 5 armored cutters and 2 barges. The second squadron commanded by Lieutenant Stefan Kaminski was the anti-aircraft gun ship ORP "Hetman Chodkiewicz", 2 monitors ORP "Horodyszcze" and "Warszawa", 4 armored cutters, 1 barge. Commander of the 3rd Squadron was Captain Bronislaw Bończak. The group consisted of the commanding officer of ORP "General Szeptycki", 2 monitors ORP "Pińsk" and "Toruń" , 4 armored cutters, 2 switchgears barge. The mines and gas divisions under command of Captain Narcissus Maluszyński counted 1 ship and 7 trawlers. The fleet command had the ORP "Admiral Sierpinek" and the ORP "Generał Sosnkowski" sanitary ship.

 

Reservists who came to the garrison's dislocation at the end of August 1939, took an accelerated course and moved on to the ships. In addition, the squadron was formed by the Marine Corps (2 battalions), which were intended to be used to divert ships from ships. On August 28, 1939, some of the ships near the Wolanskie Bridges moved closer to Pińsk. In the port began to create positions of anti-aircraft defense and dig trenches.

 

 

The Second World War

 

 

In the rear areas, the overwhelming part of Pinsk River Flotilla was unable to take part in the initial phase of the September campaign. Consequently, the main task of the sailor was to defend the eastern rim of the Second Polish Republic. In the case of the aggression of the Soviet Union (according to the earlier plan) Polish ships were to "close" the rivers and shield their artillery with the Polish infantry on land. For the implementation of this plan a fleet was formed in the fleet, whose primary task was to block the Pripyat estuary (with mines and artillery fire). In addition, the sailors were ordered to contact Polish soldiers from the battalions of the Korpusu Ochrony Pogranicza (KOP) "Dawidgródek" and "Sienkiewicz" Border Patrol Corps to stop the activities of Soviet diversion troops on bridges and crossings.

 

On September 1, 1939, Germans attacked Poland. Polish sailors on duty on the eastern border were surprised when they saw that in the border area the Soviet authorities had flagged the white flag as a sign that the USSR was neutral (On the same day she started out in Soviet Russia mobilization Red Army}. However, a few days later, the flags disappeared and the border again became uneasy. In addition to the scheduled on-call duty, the Pinsk flotilla made maneuvers on Poleskie rivers. At the same time, the commanders of the ships were ordered to observe radio silence. On September 3, 1939, Witold Zajączkowski ordered the ships to report to the "Wolanskie Bridges" and Pińska. On September 8, the Luftwaffe aircraft attacked Polish ships for the first time. In response the sailors of the ship ORP "Hetman Chodkiewicz" shot down three enemy bombers.

 

On 10 September, the commander of the KOP "Polesie" Brigade, Tadeusz Różycki-Kolodziejczyk, asked Zajączkowski to postpone the flotilla ships further from the Polish-Soviet border in order to avoid provocation. The tension in the eastern borders of the Second Republic of Poland grew and the border guards felt it. On the same day the Polish ships retreated about 5 km west of the border. On September 13, 1939, the sailors were given orders to take positions on Pina and the Royal Channel and to organize defense there. After two days General Francis Kleeberg took command of the flotilla.

 

Defend the "Janów" subdivision (railway bridge over Pina) had two armored cutters armed with 40 mm guns. The "Horodyszcze" subway (near the bridge over Jasiołda) was planned to be protected with the ORP "Wilno" monitor, two cannon boats and two armored boats. On the duty on the Osobowicze directed a monitor ORP "Kraków", 1 gunboat and 2 armored cutters. The Wolski Bridges should have been defending the ORP"Warsaw" and "Horodyszcze " monitors, the ORP "Genrał Sikorski" anti-aircraft defense ship and the General Sosnkowski sanitary ship.

 

The protection of the Łachwa-Dawidgródek route was entrusted to the ORP "Pińsk" and "Toruń" monitors. The "Sytnica" have an ORP "Admiral Sierpinek" and several motor boats. Two infantry battalions were preparing to defend west of Pinsk, artillery support was provided by ORP "General Szeptycki". Works on this ship, they shot the road berry. Motorboats of border patrols were also taken from the Polish-Soviet frontier.

 

Due to the flow of the river, the monitor ORP "Wilno" was unable to reach the "Horodyszcze" river, and the two gunboats that followed him were diverted over the river to provide protection for the departure of the Polish units from Pinsk. To Polish warship "Osobowicze" reached late, but in full composition. There was no ORP "Warsaw" monitor. He hit the shallow and later sunk. Other ships from this group reached their designated destination and started protecting the crossing of rivers.

 

 

War from the East

 

 

On September 17, 1939, the Red Army crossed the Polish border. Polish military units located in the eastern territories of the Second Polish Republic were disoriented by the command of the Chief Commander, Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły "... with the Soviets do not fight." The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, divested their subordinates and killed Polish soldiers at the slightest attempt to resist.

 

With the infantry, tanks and planes, the Polish-Soviet border was also crossed by the Red Army's Dnieper Army Red Army (6 river monitors, 8 cannon boats and armored trawlers, trawlers and supply ships). Information about the Soviet aggression reached Pins only at 11:00. The Pińsk Flotilla's staff tried to communicate with all of their ships immediately, but it was too late for the maneuver. In the absence of Marshal Rydz-Śmigała, General Kleeberg ordered Polish sailors to sink the ships and go ashore.

 

Sailors who had been infantry at one point should have been concentrating south of the Wolanskie Bridges and being subordinated to the KOP" Polesie" Brigade Commander Colonel Tadeusz Różycki-Kolodziejczyk. They were given the uniform of the Polish Army infantry, which was in stock, while they were allowed to leave some elements of the uniform and the Navy emblems. On the same day, Pińsk's authorities began to requisition all the vehicles and horses that were in town. At 13:00 on September 17, 1939, Pinsk attacked planes with red stars on their wings. As a result, several residential houses on Brzeska Street were destroyed. Among the local population were killed and wounded. Several bombs exploded near the train station. Interestingly, a German bomber appeared a few hours ahead of the city, which, after the attack of Polish sailors, flew in the opposite direction.

 

 

End of the ships

 

 

 

Near the village of Nyrcza sunk the ORP "Pińsk" monitor, which previously settled there on the aground. In the evening on the same day went to ORP "Torun". His crew took two armored boats, but soon the ships were attacked by Soviet planes. Polish sailors with machine gun fire stopped this attack. Near the village of Stachowo both boats were sunk, and the sailors went to Kamienia Koszyrskiego. Upon receiving the order "... with the Soviets not to fight", the ORP "Admiral Sierpinek" sank. On September 18, 1939, near the village of Osobowice, the crew monitor ORP "Wilno"blew up.

 

A part of Polish cannons should have moved closer to Pińsk and shielded the departure of Polish units. However, in the direction of the estuary of the Jasiołda river, the Polish ships sank in aground. One by one, all the ships of the Pińsk flotilla on the "Janów", "Wolanskie" bridges and others. Have been sunk. As the last one went down the monitor ORP "Krakow". On September 19, 1939, the ship headed for the Royal Canal in order to break through to Brześć, but due to the fact that the riverbed was blocking a blasted bridge, on September 21 the ship's commander decided to sink.

 

 

From the fleet to the infantry

 

 

 

On September 18, 1939, two naval battalions moved from Pinsk to the village of Moroczna Wielka. During the march, other salior joined the squad. On September 20, 1939, Pińsk left the command of the Pińsk Harbor and the personnel of the supply base. Polish units retreated to the "Wolanskie Bridges" subdivision. There were soldiers from the KOP battalions "Kleck", "Ludwikowo", "Sienkiewicz", in addition to the sailors of the Pińsk flotilla. On September 19, 1939, a battle broke out between the Red Army subdivisions, whose task was to obtain bridges, and Polish armored cruisers defending the crossing. At the end of September 20, 1939 tanks of the 29th Armored Brigade of the Red Army under the command of Siemiona Kriwoszeina broke into Pinsk. Polish sailors blew up the bridge over Pinsk along with Soviet armored cars and tanks, which attempted to chase the receding divisions of the Polish Army. City dwellers recalled that the damaged vehicles were still lying on the river for a long time. In the River Strumien near the village of Stytyczewo, the last cannon boats of the Pinsk Flotilla were sunk, and their crews moved towards Moroczna Wielka.

 

By September 22, 1939, the main place of concentration of the flotilla was the Kamień Koszyrski. According to various data, 41 officers and 1422 non-commissioned officers and sailors were present. They were armed with 16 manual machine guns, 20 large caliber machine guns, 1431 rifles. General Kleeberg, who took command of all Polish units, allowed people from the eastern territories to return home. Only 50 soldiers took advantage of this opportunity. The other sailors and other units of the Polish Army went west to help the besieged Warsaw.

 

Columns of Polish soldiers were attacked by Soviet aircraft all the time. Some raids lasted over an hour. September 23, after a few fights with Soviet saboteurs, sailors from Pinsk entered the village of Kaczyn in Volhynia. Here the sailors were paid for two months, and the remaining money (almost 820 000 PLN) was buried in a nearby forest. On September 25, about 300 reservists from subdivisions formed at the beginning of World War II joined the squadron of the Flotilla of Pinsk. On September 27, 1939 Punching pushed Bug. During the crossing they were attacked by tanks of the Soviet 29th Armored Brigade. As a result, 55 Polish sailors were killed. In Włodawa all the subdivisions of the Pilsen Flotilla were merged into the 3rd Battalion (Second Lieutenant Commander Stefan Kamiński) of the 182th Infantry Reserve Division of the 60th Infantry Division.

 

 

Crime in the town of Mokrany

 

 

In order to connect with the basic units of the Flotilla, a battalion of Marines (crew of 2nd and 3rd Squadrons) under the command of Captain Bronisław Bończak was also heading towards Włodawa. On September 23, the saliors and KOP soldiers walked towards Kamienia Koszyrskiego . Border guards marched ahead of the seamen by four kilometers and dusk arrived before dark, and decided to organize a stopover in one of the forests. On 25 September, the division split into two parts - one under Captain Bończak led to Brest, the other to Kowel.

 

The next day in the village of Tur the first of the above. The groups were ambushed by the 2nd Battalion of the 32nd Armored Brigade of the Red Army. Captain Bończak tried to persuade the Soviet officers to let Polish sailors out of the Bug, but all these attempts failed. Surrounded by tanks Т-26 Polish soldiers decided to surrender. In the Małorycie officers and seafarers were separated - local Ukrainian nationalists with red sleeves on their sleeves persuaded officers to Mokran. On September 28, 1939, local activists shot here 18 officers and non-commissioned officers of the Flotilla River in Pinsk and the KOP.

 

 

Last fight

 

 

 

The naval infantry battalion in the vicinity of Puchowa Gora and Jabłona was set up in Włodawa to fight bloody Red Army units trying to encircle the Independent Operations Group "Polesie". As a result of the successful attack, the Pińsk seamen captured a considerable number of trophies and prisoners. On September 30, they participated in a fatal clash with the Soviet cavalry near Milan. 60 Red Army soldiers were taken captive, also captured 11 machineguns and one anti-tank gun. Between October 2 and 5, 1939, the sailors fought with German troops under Wolu Gułowska and Kock. After these battles, the formation of the Polish Army under the command of General Francis Kleeberg, and with it the infantry battalion, due to the lack of ammunition and weapons, was forced to surrender. This was the end of the September odyssey of the Polish Navy Flotilla in Pińsk.

 

In spite of the difficult situation in which the sailors from Pińsk were located, in most cases they performed their duties with dignity. This tab for the history of the September 1939 campaign is also close to Belarus. Among the soldiers and sailors fighting under the command of Francis Kleeberg were many Belarussians, Ukrainians and white Russians.

 

 

Postscript

 

 

 

From 1944 to 1989, speech and writing about Polish Navy Flotilla in Pinsk was an element of taboos in Poland. Families of seafarers did not know what happened, with their relatives in the east and their families. Communist power in Poland tried to erase from the history of the events of September 17, 1939, for good relations, that the Soviet Union.

A large part of Polish commanders, officers and sailors of the Pińsk fleet died at Katyn massacre. Families of sailor and sailor were transported to the gulags of the Soviet Union. Not many people added to 1941 and 1945.

Jerzy Peterk, a specialist in the Polish fleet and author of numerous books. Polish writer-seaman, journalist and publicist. For nearly 5 years censorship did not allow the release of almost 100 pages book of Pińks sailors. The book was released in 1981 and was the first publication of this fleet. However, the censorship of all crimes and fights was prescribed to the Germans.

 

It was only in 1990 that a monument was erected on the supposed grave site of the murdered Mokran in Belarus. To this day, the Russians deny themselves, helping Mokran's crimes.

 

River flotillas documents were destroyed by Polish sailors before soviets so that they would not reach them in their hands. To this day, many of the matters and events of the Pinsky Fleet have not been resolved because there are no documents.

Many of the Polish Navy's ships were raised from the bottom by the Russians and incorporated into the river fleet of the Soviet Union and fought on June 22, 1941.

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How "Błyskawica" saved the English city

 

 

Smoke over the city

 

It was spring of 1942. The ORP "Błyskawica" destroyer was at the home of the Cowes shipyard on the Isle of Wight. Local experts removed the damage that had been caused during the storm when the convoy escorted through the Atlantic. On the night of May 4-5, German bombers arrived over the city. The "Błyskawica" sailors first saw the threat and started the defense. The planes fired guns from the deck guns, and over the city they spread smoke curtains. Although 160 airplanes were involved in the raid!, the losses were relatively small. 70 inhabitants died. Germans failed to destroy the shipyard or to break the production of the Walrus Mk.II seaplanes. Already after the raid, Polish sailors took part in firefighting, evacuation of wounded and ordering of the city.

 

The inhabitants of Cowes of those events still remember today. The ORP "Blyskawica" Friends Association operates in the city, and one of its squares is named Kmdr. See Wojciech Francki, who commanded the ship in May 1942. The towns of Cowes and East Cowes share the Medina River, which runs the ferry. At present, the city is waiting for a new unit that was recently built and ready for use. East Cowes Councilor collects signatures under the petition to call a ferry to commemorate a Polish ship.

The history of the ship in large part was devoted to the city museum Cowes. You can watch books, films about ORP "Błyskawica" from World War II, photographs, newspaper clippings, plans to build units. Commemorative souvenirs are located in the local government office of the Royal Yacht Club.

 

The ORP "Błyskawica" destroyer will be celebrating this year's the 80th anniversary of the flag raising and the 75th anniversary of the Cowes defense. Events will be held both in Poland and in the UK.

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After a long thinking , I decided that I would not be posting any posts about the history and events of the Polish navy at Minor Nation Navies. I took a place where you could talk about other fleets that you should also mention, for example, the navy of Romania, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Greece. I hope we will start these topics again in Minor Nation Navies.

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Was the danish navy mentioned yet? It's not a very great tale, but has one interesting anecdote.

Before the invasion, Denmarks navy was kind of forgotten by it's own government. When prussia had attacked in 1864 to kickstart the german unification the danish fleet outnumbered and defeated a german/austrian fleet near helgoland (seems like a bad place for naval battles if you're german). But in the years following nothing happened. The danish had to give away their caribbean islands during WWI to the USA, because they could only dispatch one single ship to secure it, and were too weak to even try and hold iceland. Which got independent because of it.

This weak navy status was only acted on via a fleet building program in 1937 in a very late reaction to british and german navy arms race at sea.

During the invasion of Denmark the fleet played no role. It stayed in the harbours and did nothing. But it remained danish. The danish folded to the german attack on April 9th 1940, which had started at 4:15, at 06:00 altough it took some units until 8:00 to receive it. (The invasion resulted in around 50-300 casualties in total, depending on the source) The condition of the fast surrender was inner autonomy, which included the danish navy ships, staying danish with a few small exceptions. The danish tried to cooperate as little as possible. Only removing minefields that hindered danish-german seatraffic and only turning over small navy vessels. They did however monitor the Öresund from 1941 onwards and were forced to turn over 6 torpedoboats (which they disarmed before turning them over). Over time the situation soured for both sides. The danish were more and more unwilling to cooperate and the germans became more demanding. For that reason all danish vessels were equipped with bombs for selfdestruction and orders were issued to either try and reach swedish harbours or scuttle themselves.

The anticipated seizure attempt happened on 27th of August 1943, when the german occupation commander for denmark demanded, among other things, to put the danish fleet under german command or to hand over all ships. The order for self-scuttling was issued on 28th of August along with an order to ready all preparable ships for the braekout attempt to sweden. The ships were to be manned and ready to await the respective order. On 29th of August in the morning the germans came to seize the ships. 32 ships scuttled themselves. 14 escaped to sweden. But not the flagship Niels Juel.

It was in a harbour at inner danish waters at the time and in a bad position for a breaktrough attempt to sweden, but the captain refused to scuttle the flagship and pride of the danish navy (a 1923 build coastal defense ship of 3.400t). His attempt was spotted by german aircraft and he was confronted at the Isefjordmound. The Niels Juel was attacked by german ships and aircraft. Long story short: It resulted in the only death of a danish navy soldier I know of. The commander finally scuttled the damaged ship, but only grounded it. German boarding parties took over the ship at the 30th. (And germany took over the country.)

Some ships were raised by the germans, including the Niels Juel. Niels Juel was again scuttled in May 1945 this time by the germans. As were the remaining danish ships in german service. So the danish navy is probably the only navy who got self-scuttled twice in one war. The escaped ships formed the "danish flottilla" in sweden in late 1944 but did not see any action as far as I know, but returned to denmark to liberate the country from the already surrendering germans on May 5th 1945 (Operation Safari, three danish dead in Copenhagen because some german snipers obviously didn't get the memo about the surrender).

 

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