1 September 1939 of
On Friday, 1 of September, 1939 of the year is equal to 4 hours of 45 minutes, the German battleship Schleswig-Goldstein, who was in the Polish territorial waters with a “goodwill visit,” opened fire on the barracks of the Polish garrison on the Westerplatte peninsula, and one hour later the German troops crossed the Polish land frontier. True, at the beginning it was planned to start fighting a little earlier, namely, 26 August 1939 of the year, but on 8.00 25 August, Hitler postponed the attack on 31 August to 4.00. However, this period could not be sustained for a number of reasons, so the Second World War began on September 1 with a provocative attack by SS men dressed in Polish uniforms on a radio station in the German border town of Gleiwitz.
Poland no longer exists and it does not need a border!
Pre-Hitler agreed on the division of Polish territory with the Soviet leadership in the person of I.V. Stalin, so that only England and France, who, fulfilling their allied obligations to Poland, on September 3 declared war on Germany could oppose him. Declared, but ... did not fight as it should, because of what the fighting on the Western Front from the autumn of 1939 to the spring of 1940 of the year were called "strange war". Generally speaking, Poland had quite a bit of strength. The Polish army numbered about one million soldiers in 50 infantry divisions, 1 motobrigade, and 9 cavalry brigades that could be supported by 4 300 fire on the ground and 400 combat aircraft in the air. As for the "main striking force of ground troops" - tanks, then in 1 September 1939 years in the Polish armored forces (Bron Pancerna) there 219 tankettes TC-3, 13 TKF, 169 TKS, 120 7TR tanks, 45 R35 and FT French tanks -17, 34 English tanks "Vikkers-6 T", 8 armored vehicles WZ.29 and WZ.34. In addition, a number of different types of armored vehicles were located in training units and in enterprises. The 32 of the FT 17 tank was also included in the states of armored trains and could be used as armored vehicles, i.e. in total, there were about 800 combat vehicles. German troops, invading Poland simultaneously from the north, west and south, numbered 1 850 000 soldiers, 10 000 artillery guns and 2 085 combat aircraft. The attack involved seven tank and four light divisions, in reserve which had two tank battalions, along with 144 tanks.
1939 G. "Friendship, sealed with blood."
The number of tanks in the divisions (TD) ranged from 308 to 375 units each, although in 10 No. (TD) and the Kempf tank group were 154 and 150, respectively. In light divisions, the number of vehicles ranged from 74 to 156 tanks. In general, the number of tanks abandoned by Poland reached 2 586, although not all of them were first-line tanks, that is, combat ones, as 215 of them belonged to commander vehicles. Heinz Guderian wrote about 2 800 tanks, but in both cases the numbers are far incommensurable. As for the distribution by type, it was as follows: light tanks Pz. 1 - 1 145, Pz.2 - 1 223, Pz.35 (t) - 76; medium Pz.3 - 98 and Pz.lY- 211; 215 commander tanks, three flamethrower and five self-propelled guns, which at that time were just beginning to enter the German tank forces.
"And we have inside like this!"
Their main opponent was the Polish tank 7ТР, created in the same way as the Soviet T-26, on the basis of the British tank “Vickers - 6 t”, but equipped with a diesel engine (by the way, for the first time in stories tank building!) and produced in two versions: machine gun and cannon. Machine guns, like the T - 26 of the first editions, were copied by British tanks and had two towers with machine guns, while the gun version had one tower by the Swedish company Bofors and the 37 mm gun of the same company arr. 1936 Tank had good performance, but the maximum thickness of armor on it did not exceed 17 mm, which in 1939 was completely inadequate. It turned out that these machines could successfully fight against the German light tanks Pz.lA and Pz.lB with their machine gun weapons and armor 13 mm thick, as well as Pz.2, 20 mm gun and mm armor XMUMX, but already against the Czech Pz.14 (t) and Pz.35 (t) were quite difficult for them to act, since Pz.III and Pz.lY exceeded them in almost all indicators. But even these machines from the Poles, there were only 38, since the production of tanks in Poland in the 120-ies was extremely small.
Thus, the main force of the Polish armor were tankettes, armed with machine guns and impotent against the German armor. However, just before the war, the machine gun on the 24 machines was replaced with an 20-mm automatic cannon, which, at a distance of 500 - 600 m, penetrated armor with a thickness of up to 25 - 25 mm, and, therefore, could destroy tanks Pz.l and Pz.II, but there were so few of them that they couldn’t play any significant role. Quite actively used in the battles and Polish armored vehicles, who had both machine gun and cannon weapons. However, there were only about 100, while the German forces involved 308 heavy and 718 light BA, as well as 68 armored personnel carriers. However, the Poles accepted the battle and fought with the courage of the doomed. Under favorable conditions, their tanks achieved individual successes, but on the whole it could not affect the outcome of the collision.
“And why are they standing together on the dais?”
The Polish army turned out to be the army of “yesterday” and was captured by the positional tactical installations of the past war. It completely lacked anti-tank artillery and automatic weapons, and the military equipment that was developed at the beginning of the 30-s, by September 1939 had already become obsolete. That of the fact that even 5 September, one of the 7TRs during a counterblow of Polish troops near Piotrków - Tribunalski knocked down five German Pz.l tanks at once, and that even Polish armored vehicles WZ.29, armed with short-barreled French guns, were able to destroy several tanks of this type. And let the Polish tankettes with 20-mm 14 September tools 1939, supporting the attack on Brokhov, were also able to hit several German cars.
Oh, that's why ... They are watching the passage of troops.
It is important that the Poles lost their war even before the first shots hit it! After all, the Polish army tried to cover its border on the front from Lithuania to the Carpathians for the length of 1500 km, which was an absolutely impossible task for it and simply could not end in defeat. The Germans, concentrating on the tip of the main attacks of the 5 tank, 6 motorized, 48 infantry divisions, and having complete air superiority, managed to very quickly achieve superiority on the ground. The Poles attacked with small groups of tanks, while the Germans used them massively. Therefore, even achieving success, the Poles were forced to constantly retreat, fearing an adversary's bypass movement and strikes in the flank and rear. But even in this case, Poland could well have resisted somewhat longer if, on Sunday 17 September 1939, the Soviet Red Army had not entered its territory from the east.
"What are these powerful Russian BA!"
All this was explained by the need to “protect and liberate the western regions of Ukraine and Belarus,” but for the Poles it meant only that they now had to deal with two enemies at once instead of one! The Soviet forces in the Ukrainian and Belorussian fronts numbered 1 500 000 soldiers, 6 191 tanks, 1 800 combat aircraft and 9 140 artillery guns. Therefore, 18 of September, they took Vilna, then Grodno, 22 of September, Lviv, and 23 took it to the Bug River, for which, by agreement between Hitler and Stalin, there was already a “zone of responsibility” of Nazi Germany. According to our domestic sources, the Red Army in this campaign lost the 42 tank and the BA, and 52 was killed and the 81 tankman was wounded. However, Polish authors believe that the losses of the Soviet armored vehicles from artillery fire and infantry hand grenades amounted to about 200 combat vehicles of various types. German losses in the Polish company were 10 000 killed and 30 000 injured. The Poles, respectively, lost 66 000 and 133 000 people, and 420 000 were captured!
Polish prisoners of war and a representative of the Red Cross.
Around 1 000 combat vehicles were disabled. According to German sources, the number of tanks that could not be restored was as follows: Pz.l - 89, Pz.II - 83, Pz.III - 26, Pz.lY - 19, Pz. 38 (t) - 7 and Pz.35 (t).
Smoke, comrade, smoke! Don't be so gloomy. 22 June 41 is far away!
Thus, the Polish campaign was rather expensive for Germany. Therefore, about any further offensive to the East, as Molotov and Stalin repeatedly stated later, was out of the question at this time. Moreover, in this case, France and England remained in the rear of Germany, and the Poles themselves, despite the surrender announced on 28 on September, still resisted in a number of places and finally capitulated only on October 6!
Wedge TKS and dead tankman. 1939
By the way, the Germans used the trophy Polish armored vehicles quite actively. In particular, in the 5-th tank division it was captured tankettes TC and TKS, and in the 11-th several tanks 7ТР. On the 7TR tank in Polish camouflage, but with German crosses on the tower and the 400 number, the commander of the 4 company of the 1 tank regiment, Lieutenant Fritz Kramer, fought on the Polish car after his own tank was hit. The victory parade 5 October in Warsaw was also attended trophy 7TR (approximately 18), which were then transferred to 203-in tank battalion and one 7TR with frontal armor, pierced 20-mm projectile, even exhibited in 1940 year at the international fair in Leipzig. By the way, it was then that the mass media of Germany and Italy laid the foundation for the popular myth that Polish Lancers allegedly attacked Hitler’s tanks with bare sabers and picks at the ready.
The fact that this myth was tenacious is evidenced by the fact that it was again cited as an example in the January issue of the Vokrug Sveta magazine in 2003, although in reality there was nothing like this. In addition, the Polish cavalry did not need to rush at the German tanks with swords naked, as they had 37-mm anti-tank guns of the company "Bofors" (mod. 1936 g.). At the same time, the charter directly instructed them to fight with tanks in dismounted order, while the horses were to be in hiding. But the stupid courage of the defeated always takes revenge on the vanity of the winner. Therefore, the "duck" was launched and can be considered a very good example of information warfare, often even more effective than the most successful direct confrontation with enemy tanks.
Pz.III - workhorse Pancervaffe.
Immediately after the Polish campaign, taking advantage of the fact that the “strange war” was still continuing, Hitler now decided to launch an offensive in the West, but his generals still managed to convince him of the need to replenish the army with manpower and equipment. An invasion plan was developed in France, the main condition for the realization of which was the throw of Hitler’s tanks through the Ardennes, bypassing the Maginot line fortifications built on the border. Heinz Guderian assured the command that such a breakthrough was quite feasible and thereby determined the fate of France for the whole five years: May 9, the Wehrmacht 1940 again went on the offensive, now on the Western front. As expected, the German tanks quickly broke through to the intended targets, the resistance of the French troops was broken, while the British expeditionary force was surrounded by German troops in the Dunkirk area.
Destroyed Polish FT-17. 1939
Already May 22, Guderian’s tanks reached the Atlantic Ocean and captured Boulogne, after which it would be most logical to continue the attack on Dunkirk in order to capture the British forces there. But for some reason Hitler banned it, historians continue to argue about the reasons for this decision. Many are inclined to Churchill's opinion that Hitler thus sought to incline the British to peace and bring England out of the war. Anyway, this solution cannot be called reasonable in any way, since the most compliant adversary is an adversary that has been completely defeated! All this time in the Soviet press did not stop praising military assistance to Hitler from the USSR. Therefore, Hitler was convinced that he would have enough forces to wage this war, as well as Soviet fuel. As a result, 22 June 1940, the French government capitulated to Hitler, which for the second time proved the superiority of the German doctrine to the whole world, because this time there was no talk of technical superiority in tanks. The fact is that for the capture of France, the Germans prepared only 2 500 machines, of which Pz.III was 329, and Pz.lY- 280. All the others were used simply because there was nothing to replace them and, consequently, the truly modern tanks from the Nazis, there were only ... 600 units!
Czech tanks, German crosses ...
As for the French, from their side, the Germans opposed the 416 new 20-ton tanks "Soma" S-35 and 384 32-ton B-1 and B-1-BIS, all 800 machines. They were replenished with Renault tanks D1 and D2, which even though they were slightly inferior, still belonged to the medium class, as well as around 2 300 light tanks R-35 / R-40, H-35 / H-39 and FCM36, constructed in the middle of the 30-ies, and approximately 2 000 upgraded Renault FT-17 second tier. Organized by the French tanks were reduced in the division of armored vehicles (Divisions Tegeres Mecanigues-DLM), which were supposed to operate as part of the cavalry corps and counted on the 174 machine. Tanks “Hotchkiss” H-35 were part of the light cavalry divisions, which also included armored cars and motorized infantry.
(To be continued)