Sochaczew, due to its strategic location, has been always very important defence guard on the Bzura River. It was stratgic point in all known war coflicts, especially during The Battle of The Bzura River in September 1939.
In first days of September Campaign two Polish armies – the Poznan Army and the Pomeranian Army, which were withdrawing from the Pomerania and the Wielkopolska Region, had been overreached on their retreat way by fast german units approaching Warsaw – the capital city of Poland.
The biggest battle in 1939 war
Tadeusz Kutrzeba, the commander of the Poznan Army wanted his army to have some movement space needed for any futher military operations. That’s why he asked the Polish HQ for permission to surprise attack of his divisions on German 8th Army. On the 8th of September 1939, the Polish HQ allowed the Poznan Army to attack on the 8th Army left flank. It had begun great, almost 2 weeks lasting battle along the Bzura River, from Leczyca City to river’s estuary to the Vistula River, including the north outer fields of Warsaw.
At Germans’ side there were: the 8th and the 10th Armies from “The South” Army Group, units from “The North” Army Group and air forces from the 1st and the 4th Air Fleet. In critical moment of the battle there were almost 1/3 of Germans’ whole forces engaged in those fightings.
The fight in Sochaczew was the decisive one because of town’s strategic and important river-crossing. The 2nd battalion of the 18th Infantry Regiment, supported by the 2nd Squadron of the 26th Field Artillery Regiment from the Poznan Army were ordered to defend the town.
Sochaczew Battle day by day:
The 12th of September 1939
- in the evening departure of the 2nd battalion of the 18 Infantry Regiment by truck transport from Zychlin area
The 13th of Septmeber 1939
- in the morning the 2nd battalion of the 18 Infantry Regiment and the II dywizjon of the 26 Field Artillery Regiment reaches Sochaczew
- taking defence positions by 4th, 5th and 6th company of the 2/18 IR
- town under heavy fire of German 19th Infantry Division’s artillery
- attack of Germans’ 19th ID and 4th Panzer Division supported by SS-Leibstandarte “Adolf Hitler” regiment on 4th, 5th and 6th companies
- at midnight strong attack overbalancing enemy units forces Polish battalion to withdraw on the west bank of Bzura river
The 14th of September 1939
- the battalion turned back form Katy village by colonel Tadeusz Parafinski and ordered to counterattack on Sochaczew
- the 2nd battalion reaches west town borders in continous enemy machine guns’s fire
- fight for Sochaczew and taking back last occupied posisions supported by the 5th battery of the II/26 FAR commanded by leutanant Andrzej Doroszewski
- Germans engage into the fight their decisive forces of infantry, tanks, artillery of the 4 PzD and the SS-Leibstandarte “Adolf Hitler” regiment
- Polish forces pushed into burning town center
- Poles counterattack and retake most of their last positions
- remains of the 2nd/18IR defend in burning ruins of Sochaczew
The 15 of September 1939
- at dawn another strong German attack on 4th and 5th company
- leutanant Marian Himmel, commander of the 4th company, killed in action
- following an order of 2nd battalion commander major Feliks Kozubowski, scattered emnants of Sochaczew defenders withdraw on west bank of the river
- fierce fight for the Bzura river line and going across it under enormus fire of german artillery and heavy machine guns
- the 5th battery of the II/26 FAR stops enemy attack with their precise cannons’ fire
- death of the battalion commander major Feliks Kozubowski while directing retreat of his units on destroyed pontoon bridge
- in the afternoon Germans take over Sochaczew
the 16th of September 1939
- until 4.00 p.m. the 5th battery of II/26 FAR with multiple fire of its cannons doesn’t allow Germans to reach the west bank of the Bzura river
From the 13th to the 16th of Septmeber 1939, the 2nd battalion of the 18 Infantry Regiment lost over 80% of its initial strength. The number of killed, wounded in action and missing soldiers of this unit and II/26 FAR hasn’t been possible to count. The fights in Sochaczew lasted almost 4 days. It was the longest battle of one city (ignoring Warsaw, Hel or Westerplatte) during the whole campaign of 1939 year.
Owing to bravery and determination of Sochaczew’s defenders, especially to the 5th battery, that didn’t allow Germans to cross the Bzura river quickly, part of “Poznan” Army was able to reach fighing Warsaw through The Kampinos Forest.
Unique movie showing German forces crossing Bzura river in Sochaczew in September 1939:
Sochaczewwrzesień 1939 r….( Bitwa nad Bzurą) unikatowy film pokazujący przeprawiające się wojska Niemieckie przez Bzurę w Sochaczewie. W tle wysadzony most.polecam obejrzec w HD.(zródło- AKH archive )
Posted by Mazowsze na dawnej fotografii on 10 listopada 2015