PIBWL presents:

Polish Motorised Brigades of 1939

Motorised brigade - general order of battle

The 10th Cavalry Brigade (motorised) - 10.BK.

The Warsaw Armoured-Motorised Brigade - WBP-M

Polish armoured units on 1 September 1939 - map

The Motorised Brigade - Ordre de Bataille

This is a general order of battle of Polish 1939 motorised brigade, on the example of the 10th Cavalry Brigade. The organization of the WBP-M brigade was very similar, but it varied in numbers of equipment - the main differencies are described in WBP-M section.

In the future (late 2003) I'm going to enhance this page, showing exact organization of the WBP-M as well.

Motorised brigade

(Brygada Zmotoryzowana)

- Brigade HQ

- 2 Motorised Regiments

4 Motorised Rifle Squadrons 3 platoons and a HMG platoon in each
HMG Squadron 12 x wz.30 HMGs and 2 x 81mm mortars
AT Platoon 3 x 37mm wz.36 Bofors AT-guns

- Reconnaissance Battalion

Recce Tank Squadron 13 x TK or TKS tankettes (4 of them - with 20mm gun)
Motorised Rifle Squadron
HMG Platoon 6 x wz.30 HMGs
AT Platoon 3 x 37mm wz.36 Bofors AT-guns

- Anti Tank Battalion

2 AT Companies 9 x 37mm wz.36 Bofors AT-guns in each

- Motorised Artillery Battalion
(Dywizjon Artylerii Motorowej)

Howitzer Battery 4 x 100mm wz.14/19P Skoda howitzers
Field Gun Battery 4 x 75mm wz.97 Schneider field guns

- Sapper Battalion

- 2 Sapper Companies

- Light Tank Company
Company HQ 1 Vickers E type B tank (47mm gun)
3 Platoons 5 Vickers E tanks in each
(3 tanks with 47mm gun (type B) and 2 with 2 MGs (type A)

- Recce Tank Company

Company HQ 1 TK / TKS tankette
2 Platoons 6 TK / TKS tankettes
(2 tanks- with 20mm gun; 4 - with 7.92mm TMG)

- AA Battery

4 x 40mm wz.36 Bofors AA-guns

Vickers Mk.E light tanks (10 with 47mm gun, single turret (type B) and 6 twin-turret with 2 x 7.92 MGs (type A)
TK or TKS recce tanks (8 of them with 20mm guns, the rest with one 7.92mm wz.25 TMG)
37mm wz.36 Bofors AT-guns (3 per regiment and Recce Bttn, and 18 in AT Bttn)
40mm wz.36 Bofors AA-guns
100mm wz.14/19P Skoda howitzers (with rubber tyres)
75mm wz.97 Schneider field guns (with rubber tyres - in some sources designated as: 97/37)
81mm Stockes-Brandt mortars (2 per regiment)
7.92mm wz.30 (Colt-Browning) heavy machine guns (20 per regiment, 6 in Recce Bttn)

- plus liaison, traffic regulation and other services (workshops, transport columns etc)
- the personnel: 175 officers and about 4000 soldiers
- all units motorised - at least 550 cars, trucks and tractors, and about 300 motorcycles.

The standard truck was 2.5t Polski FIAT PF-621 L (4x2) (made by Italian licence). Numerous were also trucks: 2t Praga RV (6x4), 1.2t PF-618 and (in the WBP-M) 3t Chevrolet 157 (4x2).
The standard "jeeps" were 4x2 "Łazik": PF-508/III and bigger PF-518.

Staff and utility cars: different versions of PF-508/III (passenger, van, pickup, radio car e.o.) and PF-508/518.
Motorcycles: CWS M-111 (Sokol 1000) with a sidecar and Sokol 600 with/without sidecar.
Tractors: wheeled PZInz-302 (PF-508/518) 4x2 (for AT-guns), tracked C-2P (AA-guns), half-tracked C-4P (artillery).

This composition is a model one - in fact, there were some differencies. However, as for cars, these numbers were even exceeded. For example, after fifteen-day fighting, the 10.BK still had ...1264(!) vehicles and motorcycles (some from requisitions).


In 1939 Poland had only two motorised brigades:

The 10th Cavalry Brigade

(10. Brygada Kawalerii - 10. BK)

It was firstly an experimental unit, formed upon a base of a cavalry brigade. Despite being motorized, the official brigade name was still "the 10th Cavalry Brigade". In some sources it is called: 10.BKZmot, 10.BKMot or 10.BK(mot) (for: the 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade), however.

The commander was Colonel Stanislaw Maczek (later commander of the 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade in France in 1940, and finally of Polish 1st Armoured Division, fighting from Falaise to Wilhelmshaven in 1944-45. The armoured brigade of the 1st Armoured Division was named: the 10th Armoured Brigade.)

The units of 10th Cavalry Brigade (motorized) were:

The Brigade was assigned to "Cracow" Army. It came into action on the1st September in Beskid Mountains, near Jordanow and Myslenice. For the next 13 days, the Brigade was constantly in contact with a predominant enemy. The Brigade task was initially to delay enemy and cover Army's main forces' withdrawal; later - still acting in delay...
During the campaign, the Brigade was fighting against German XXII Corps: with two Panzer Divisions (the 2nd and the 4th Leichte Division) and the 3rd Mountain Division alternately. In the few initial days, the daily gain of the enemy was no better than 10km! ...Not only the Brigade managed to escape from destruction - but did it painfully biting the enemy.

On the 14th September the 10th Brigade found itself near Lvov, and started few-day fierce fighting for Zboiska village with German 1st Mountain Div., but finally was ordered to draw back and cover Polish retreat track to Romania. On the 19th September the Brigade was ordered to cross the Hungarian border itself, being still a compact unit. (Though it had lost few units on the retreat ways, but it had also joined few others...).

The 10th Cavalry Bde was probably the most effective Polish unit - and its combat career showed clearly, that a well-trained motorised unit (and with a good commander) is able to achieve much more than an infantry division or cavalry brigade, especially in a favour terrain and in defence. The Brigade, being only a motorized cavalry unit, with few "real" tanks, could not be crushed by the German armoured divisions. The Germans nick-named it: "Schwarze Brigade" - The Black Brigade, due to black leather armoured forces coats, worn by the troops.
Despite that the tanks were too few, somewhat obsolete and worn; the tankettes were generally too lightly armed and armored, while the trucks had no off-road capabilities; the brigade was highly mobile unit - comparing to other Polish units.
It was also rich in AT-guns and HMGs. The second thing is that many tanks had to be left because of fuel lack!.

(the map)

But, unfortunately, the reluctance of conservatist officers (especially of cavalry), and lack of money caused, that another motorised brigade was created not earlier than in 1939. And it was:

Warsaw Armoured-Motorised Brigade

(Warszawska Brygada Pancerno-Motorowa - WBP-M)

The commander was Colonel Stefan Rowecki. (Later, with a pseudonym: "Grot" (the spearhead) he was the first commander of Polish Armia Krajowa (Home Army - all-country resistance), killed by Germans.)

The WBP-M units were:

When the war broke out, the Brigade was still forming, being in Polish C-in-C reserve. On 5 September it was assigned to newly created Army "Lublin" and was protecting Vistula line near Lublin and Krasnik. On the 8th it came into the first contact with an enemy. On the next days the Brigade had to delay enemy and cover Polish retreat. It also absorbed the remains of few other armoured units (e.g. the 1st Tank Bttn. with 7-TP tanks and the 11th Arm. Bttn.), and became the core of Polish concentration there.
On September the 18th, Polish units tried to break through towards Lvov in Tomaszow Lubelski. After two days of fierce attacks on the city kept by the Germans, when all Polish tanks were destroyed, the Polish concentration surrendered or got dispersed, but after causing an enemy heavy losses.

The WBM-P was nearly an improvised unit, and it wasn't trained enough. After all, it had to play as an assault unit - while the 10.BK could show the best acting in delay. Both brigades also were too weak on armoured forces.

(the map)

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