|The 2nd Podhale Rifles marching through Sanok on parade in 1936|
Now, other than my deep rooted obsession with Poland's military forces of 1939 I also have another reason for having a particular interest in the Polish mountain troops... and that is my girlfriend! When one visits Poland and talks to people (about history) you very VERY quickly realise that there are no families in Poland that the war didn't touch.
Pan (Mr) Kozina was a career soldier. If we cast a quick glance across his uniform we can determine some things about his career based on the insignia shown.
|Podhale Regimental Orchestra taken in Sanok in 1936|
|Mountain Rifles Orchestra on parade|
Looking at his chest we can see that other than the Podhale Rifles regimental decoration he has two medals proper. He has been awarded the Russo Polish War medal (a conflict that occurred between 1918 - 1921) and also the 10 Years of Independence Medal which was only awarded to combatants that had fought for Poland in conflicts aimed towards independence but not including the Russo-Polish War. My suspicion is that he was engaged fighting Ukrainian Nationalists of Stepan Bandera's ilk (he was a bit later on though). So, we know he fought about the time of the First World War and he was still in Uniform in 1939. What happened then?
|Lance Sergeant Kosina with his son Zbigniew from his first pre-war marriage|
We don't know too much about Lance Sergeant Wladyslaw Kosina except for the fact that he spent a lot of September running for his life, eventually fleeing from the Soviets and heading for the Hungarian border. We also know that he had to hide his medals. The Soviets were already known for executing any Pole they found who had evidence of having fought the Reds before.
|Wladyslaw and Zbigniew again|
He survived the war, returning to Poland soon after the surrender and living in hiding until wars end. He became a music tutor, running a local band and he joined that most militaristic of industries; the railways.
|Pre-war photo of the family men!|
The uniform of the Polish Mountain troops took a lot of inspiration from local custom outfits of the Gorale highlanders and you can see the sensibilities of this sub culture when you compare the clan wear and the regimental uniforms.
|Traditional Gorale taking part in a parade in the '30's|
|Gorale highlanders in their rather more militaristic uniforms... |
we can see where they got their hat ideas from though right?
Well, they were ostensibly organised along normal infantry regimental lines with each regiment comprising 3 brigades of 3 companies of 3 platoons of 3 sections each, with a variety of Machine Gun companies and Light and heavy artillery, engineers, bicycles, Cavalry, Anti aircraft and on occasion anti tank assets being held under divisional command.
Each battalion would also field a separate support weapons company with HMG's and mortars in as well.
|A TO&E of a mobilised Polish Infantry Division of 1939. The mountain infantry would follow this structure although there is a record of 3 artillery batteries being equipped with WWI vintage 65mm Howitzers|
The main grouping of the mountain trained troops was in the Karpaty army which positioned along the Slovakian and Southern German border areas.
Karpaty Army's main assets were based around the 2nd and 3rd Mountain Brigades, The Carpathian National Defence Half Brigade and the 2nd Regiment of the Border Defence Corps (KOP) from around the Wilno area and a motley collection of National Defence Brigades.
|Mountain Rifles marching with a wreathe in their independence celebrations.|
The 22nd Mountain Division was not fully mobilised at the start of the war, and despite initially being considered a part of the Karpaty army ended up fighting with Armi Prusy (the General Reserve army) and was comprised of the 2nd, 5th and 6th Mountain Infantry Regiments (Podhale Rifles). The 22nd Light Artillery Regiment, the 22nd Heavy Artillery Battalion. The 22nd Battalion of Engineers, the 22nd Motorised AA Artillery Battery, a squadron of organic cavalry and of course a motley collection of smaller units such as a taczanka HMG company, a signals company and a bicycle company as well as HQ units.
|The situation in the south over the 3rd and 4th of September|
New Legend Entries
pUl - Cavalry Regiment (Uhlans)
GO - Operational Group
BG - Mountain Brigade
psk - Mounted Rifle Regiment
Now, I was intending to do a full on analysis of all of the fighting that these organisations went through but frankly there is just far too much for me to do without intending to publish a book suffice it to say that the mountain troops were excellent at laying ambushes until finally the German ability to move at speed overtook them precipitating their final collapse and their flight to Lwow or the Hungarian border...