Monday, 22 February 2016

Flames of War: Polish Pioneer Platoon

Throughout the 1930's Poland kept an active interest in the development of arms and munitions by its aggressive neighbours Germany and the Soviet Union.

One area that was observed with some concern was the area of flame throwers.

On April 1st 1938 the Deputy Minister of Military Affairs approved the development of Sapper/ Pioneer battalions that were trained in the use of Flame Throwers and two viable options were developed. Both man portable, one with a single tank and one with a double tank.

The organisational structure for this asset was complete by May 1st 1938 and within a couple of months Poland had 348 flame throwers to be worked with. Of these 60 were allocated to the Silesian fortress zone, and after deductions for central reserves for emergency use in wartime there were 264 remaining flame throwers for inclusion into the Army Groups Pioneer battalions.

Evidence of the actual use of the flame throwers by Poland in the September campaign seems to be somewhat sketchy at best.

There is a rumour of one being used on the battles for the Hel peninsular, although I personally write this one off as the only photographic evidence of this I don't believe is even a Polish soldier. There are also reports of Pioneer actions at the defence of Ilsa and also by the Warsaw Armoured Motorised Brigade.

It is this last one that I believe to be most credible. When the WPMD was assembled it was done so in Warsaw close to the central armaments depots in the Modlin Fortress  where the reserves of Flamethrowers were held, and in its final battles where the WPMD was annihilated at Tomaszow Lubelski I don't believe that Major Rowecki (commander of WPMD) would have allowed an asset that powerful to lay unused.

A full Polish Piechoty Pioneer Platoon of two sections, command element and Pioneer Wagon
The modelling of the Polish Pioneers also proved a challenge as there are, as Im sure will come as no surprise to Polish 15mm lovers out there, no suppliers of Polish troops armed with Flame Throwers.

As with my Engineers I once again retreated to the Peter Pig US Infantry packs festooned with flamethrowers (and for good measure I also included the figures with satchel charges again as well)

Whilst the Engineers only needed a little bit of helmet clipping, the Flamethrower armed Pioneers would need a little bit more work. The Peter Pig US army figs all have three tank flamethrowers so slicing off the third tank from the flame thrower became necessary. The contours of the remaining two tanks then needed to be smoothed out.

The one area that I would have to leave unfixed, due to the difficulties of working with metal hands at this scale was the fact that US flame throwers had two pistol grips whereas the Polish flamethrowers were held like broom handles. Still, I believe the figures, after adjustment are passable... and of course it gives me another asset to sweep the Reds and Blacks from the Faherland!

A Pioneer Wagon
To give your Pioneers value for money in wartime Poland you should look no further than your average horse drawn cart!

A Pioneer stand showing the figures used to portray the different types of troops

So there we have it. The final blog post for my Polish Piechoty! I have plenty more Polish to work on. I have a complete Cavalry company, all of the Polish blockhouses from the Silesian and/or Modlin defensive areas and I have the start of my Polish Black Brigade and Warsaw Armoured Motorised Brigade, but these troop types require more space for storage, sculpting of actual vehicles which nobody else does to the standard required and perhaps most importantly.. I need a break from the Poles. Living with a Pole, watching Polish TV and painting Poles morning, noon and night can get a bit much.

I think Im going to dive into some French Indochina stuff for a while....


  1. Great looking army, the splendid Pioneer Wagon!

    1. Thanks Phil. I think its actually a German army wagon from Battlefront. The Polish wagons (if they even had a standardised one) had higher railed sides... cant find any of them although I do have something niggling away at the back of my mind that I saw a player with one on one of the blogs or forums. Damned if I can remember who though...

  2. These look great, Lee. Mind you, all your stuff does.