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|| I Polish Corps
I Polish Corps
I Polish Corps was meant to be a higher tactical unit, organized with three rifle divisions, three brigades of artillery, cavalry regiments, an engineer regiment, and related auxiliary sub-units and establishments, a formation dedicated exclusively to actions against the armies of Germany and Austro-Hungaria. The organizational structure was to be based on the Russian model, and on matters concerning the internal conditions should be used the principles laid down by Naczpol, who functioned as a substitute for political power. General Dowbor-Musnicki personally participated in choosing the staff of high-ranking officers. To fill the ranks should only be enlisted voluntaries, including Poles already serving in the Russian army. To help out with the recruiting had, as already mentioned, the supreme commander of the Russian army, General Kornilov, agreed.
The biggest obstacle in forming the I Polish Corps was the attitude of the Poles in the Russian army. They succumbed to the still growing stronger revolutionary mood or showed a more persistent desire just to return to the homeland. The influx of volunteers was so slow that even in November, the Corps, still being in the early stages of formation, had yet not reached more than 15.000 men. Indeed also an important role played the events that led to the overthrow of the Russian Provisional Government. A quite active role also played the counter revolutionary agrarian movement in Belarus after the victory of the October Revolution.
I Polish Corps - Organization
Commander: Lieutenant-General Joseph Dowbor-Musnicki
Deputy Commander: Lieutenant General Alexander Karnicki
Chief of Staff: Major General Vladimir Agapiejew (Russian)
Quartermaster: Colonel Zygmunt Rymkiewicz
Intendant: Colonel Blinow (Russian?)
Chief Engineer: Lieutenant Colonel Boleslaw Jaźwiński
Chief Sanitary and Chief Surgeon: General-Major Stanislaw Gurbski
Chief Medical - Sanitary Inspector:
Dr. Alexander Bernatowicz General (1917-1918)
Dr. Bronislaw Malewski (1918)
1st Polish Rifle Division: General Gustav Ostapowicz
Commander: Major-General: Gustav Ostapowicz
Chaplain: Father Tadeusz Jachimowski
Major-General: General Vincent Odyniec
Colonel Daniel Konarzewski
1st Polish Rifle Regiment
2nd Polish Rifle Regiment
3rd Polish Rifle Regiment
4th Polish Rifle Regiment
I Artillery Brigade
1st Park Batallion (dywizjon)
Train Units (dywizyjny)
Wound Dressing Stations
In December 1917 the full etat of the Division should be 371 (397) officers, 36 (21) physicians, 52 (35) officials, 16.927 (5.049) combattants, 2.308 (2.002) non-combattants about 4,500 horses (about 2.400). (In brackets the actual number of men in the Divison, December 1917.)
2nd Polish Rifle Division: General Józef Szamota
Commander: Major-General Józef Szamota
5th Rifle Regiment
6th Rifle Regiment - Colonel Kuryłło, then Colonel Bilewicz
7th Rifle Regiment - Colonel Dunin-Marcinkiewicz, Colonel Bolesław Frej
8th Rifle Regiment - Colonel Bokszyszczanin
II Artillery Brigade
2nd Park Batallion (dywizyjny)
Train Units (dywizyjny)
Wound Dressing Stations
In December 1917 the 2nd Division had 372 officers, 13 physicians, 17 officials, 3.494 combattants, 863 non-combattants and about 530 horses. Se figures for a full divison etat above.
3 Polish Rifle Division: General Albert Iwaszkiewicz
Commander: Major-General Joseph Lesniewski
Commander: Major-General Albert Iwaszkiewicz-Rudoszański
9th Polish Rifle Regiment
10th Polish Rifle Regiment
11th Polish Rifle Regiment
12th Polish Rifle Regiment
III Artillery Brigade
3rd Park Batallion (dywizyjny)
Train Units (dywizyjny)
Wound Dressing Station
In December 1917 the 3rd division had 329 officers, 10 physicians, 22 officials, 2.264 front-line troops, 1.151 soldiers niefrontowych and about 1.590 horses. Se figures for a full divison etat above.
1st Cavalry Division: Colonel Zygmunt Lempicki '
Cavalry Division Command
Commander: Colonel Zygmunt Lempicki
Chief of Staff - Marian Przewlocki
1st Ulan Regiment (1): Colonel Muszynski, then Rotmistr (Captain): Dziewicki
2nd Ulan Regiment: Rotmistr (Captain) Adolf Waraksiewicz
3rd Ulan Regiment: Rotmistr (Captain) Stefan Strzemieński
Horse Artillery Battalion (2) - Colonel Władysław head-Woszczatyński
Sqaudron of Horse Sappers
1. Pulawi Ulans > 1 Pułk Ułanów > 1 Pułk Ułanów Krechowieckich.
2. > 3rd Dywizjon Artylerii Konnej - 3 DAK – 3rd Horse Artillery Battery.
Reserve Brigade: General Joseph Pawlowski
Command - General Pavlovsky, then Colonel Kuryłło
1st Reserve Regiment: Colonel Szyszko, then Kubiak
2nd Reserve Regiment: Colonel Zaleski, then Staff-Captain Oczesalski
Reserve Engineer Company
Reserve Artillery Battery
Etat: 75 (216) officers, nine (4) doctors, 18 (10) officials, 1819 (670) cobattants and about 380 (85) horses. (In brackets the actual number of men in the Divison, December 1917.)
1st Artillery Brigade: Colonel Kazimierz Plawski
2nd Artillery Brigade: Colonel Tadeusz Jastrzebski.
Mortar Batallion: Lieutenant-Colonel Bolesław Bohusz-Siestrzeńcewicz
Train Battallion (dywizjon)
1st Engineer Regiment
Commander: Colonel Boleslaw Jaźwiński
Deputy Commander: Captain Jan Skoryna
Engineers Commander: Captain Jerzy Salecki
Adjutant: Second Lieutenant Nowakowski
Two companies of sappers
Bridge Company: Stanislav Arczynski
Technical Battalion: Second-Captain de Lippe Lipowski
Two telegraph companies
Administrative Company - law enforcement and administrative matters
School for non-commissioned officers
School for illiterate soldiers
Knights Legion (Legia Rycerska - http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legia_Rycerska )
December 1917 it was decided from the supernumerary officers to create a Knights' Legions with officers, who temporaly there were of no postsfor in the ranks.
The Knights Legion were formed in Minsk, Lithuania, and had approximately 300 officers.
1st Legion Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Belinsky,
2nd Legion Infantry, commanded by Colonel Konarzewski,
3rd Legion Artillery and Special Weapons, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Habich. (The Artillery Legion did not have guns, but were armed with machine- guns. However, the officers did artillery courses. Admitted to the Legion were also engineers, pilots and radio operators.)
In battle, the Legions fought as separate units.
Inspector General for the legions was initially General.Lieutenant Suryn and later Lieutenant-Colonel Habich.
Their uniforms did not differ from the uniforms of the officers of same weapon branches - except from some badges, which can be seen on the plate No. 7 in „Album Mundurow”. The officers initially lived and ate in separate accommodations.
January 9, 1918 the legions were renamed and assigned to the following units:
1st Legion Infantry to 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Polish Rifle Division,
2rd Legion Artillery to 2nd Polish Rifle Division,
Legion Cavalry to 3rd Ulan Regiment.
Uniforms I Corps and Pulawi Legion
The officers corps of the I Corps had a definite advantage in its many reserve officers. As it is clear from a survey, conducted autumn 1917 in some unspecified units, the reservists accounted for 94% of the officers. By profession they were mostly teachers, technicians, traders, officials and landowners claiming to be farmers. The officers were mostly young of age. In terms of education the largest group (54.8%) were secondary school graduates. There was not many ideological officers wishing to fight for the independence of the homeland, but the group was dominated by officers, who by joining I Corps hoped for a faster and arranged return to Poland or at least to a calmer existence than by serving in the Russian revolutionary units.
The officers of the gentry and intelligentsia did not favour the origin of the soldiers, they were dealing with. Many officers, also the corps commander himself, behaved with almost haughty manners like a squire to their soldiers. This encouraged the progress of the revolutionary propaganda in the Corps.
Already in autumn 1917 could in the ranks be identified a group of officers ideologically linked to the Polish Legions. At the forefront were: Captain Ignacy Matuszewski, Dr. Stefan Hubicki, Lieutenant Tadeusz Lechnický, Lieutenant Stanislaw Małagowski, Captain Bronislaw Romer, Ensign Henryk Baginski and volunteer private Melchior Wańkowicz from Minsk. In December 1917 they founded an organization, meant to be coordinator of the ideological work in the Corps, in accordance with the Association of Arms (Związku Broni).
As a result of organizational endeavours made during the reign of the bourgeois Provisional Government, the Polish military formations developed as part of the Russian army. This was to change after the victory of the October Revolution. The organizers say the Polish formations began to pursue the creation of such troops, which had to act formally neutral to the Russian army, but to the Western powers act as an allied armed force. The realization of this idea was made without the consent of the Soviet authorities.
The Polish army formed in Russia on the new basis, had three higher tactical units, namely: the I Polish Corps of Genenral Dowbor-Musnicki in Belarus, the II Polish Corps of General John Stankiewicz in Bessarabia and the III Polish Corps of General Eugene de Henning-Michaelis in Ukraine.
In late November and early December 1917 preparations for the II and III Polish Corps were started. It was a very complicated situation, caused by the revolutionary developments and the power struggle hitting the ranks on the South-West Front, which formed the recruiting base for the III Polish Corps, while formations on the Romanian Front were treated as a source to complement the II Polish Corps.
To get volunteers to join was very difficult and was a very limited success.
Most progress was made in the formation of the I Polish Corps. In mid-January 1918, ie during the peak of its development, it reached about 29.000 men, almost half of its reglemented battle strength, which was 67.790 men.
In this period the commanders of the I Corps were:
1st Rifle Division commanded by General Gustav Ostapowicz,
2nd Rifle Division commanded by General Joseph Szamoty,
3rd Rifle Division commanded by General Joseph Lesniewski,
1st Krechowiecki Lancer Regiment commanded by Colonel Boleslaw Moscicki,
2nd Lancer Regiment commanded by Colonel. Stefan Suszyński,
3rd Lancer Regiment commanded by Colonel. Zygmunt Lempicki,
I Artillery Brigade commanded by Colonel Casimir Pławski,
II Artillery Brigade commanded by Colonel Thaddeus Jastrzebski,
Heavy Artillery commanded by Colonel Edward Malevich,
Mortar Battalion commanded by Colonel Eugene Rodziewicz,
1st Engineer Regiment commanded by Lt.-Colonel Boleslaw Jazwinski,
Brigade Reserves commanded by General Pawlowski and to that came dozens of support and rear area units.
In the third week of January 1918 the expansion of I Polish Corps stalled, as it found itself in conflict with the armed forces of Soviet Russia. The problems started, when General Dowbor-Musnicki refused to recognize the Soviet government, having defended Polish estates in Belarus and Polish formations were disarmed during their journey to Bobrujsk. Against the armed forces of Soviet Russia the I Polish Corps was in a hopeless situation. To get out of the predicament, which put the Corps in the path of the advancing German troops, who on Feb. 18, 1918, had resumed their offensive operations on the Eastern Front, the Command of I Corps established contact with the German 10th Army. An agreement was made, under which the I Corps could stay in areas, where the zones were controlled by the German Army. The consequence of this agreement was in reality that the I Corps, originally organized to fight the Germans, now was going to coexist with the German troops.
Coexistence of the I Polish Corps with the German army was arranged in the agreement of 26 February 1918 and in accordance with its provisions, the I Corps got at its disposal six districts in Belarus - in which areas it had occupying powers. After the conclusion of the peace treaty between the Central Powers and Soviet Russia, which took place in Brest, March 3, 1918, the Polish I Corps no longer was needed by the Germans, which led to its disarmament. Demobilisation of the Corps was by agreement, dictated by May 21, 1918 to General Dowbor-Musnicki. The German Army, keeping strictly to the terms, came into the possession of all arms and equipment of Corps. Most of the demobilized Polish soldiers were transferred to another country, from where they were released back home. Some of the soldiers did not come to terms with the demobilization and went in disguise to Murmansk, the Volga Federal District or the Kuban area to look for opportunities to serve in some other, newly formed Polish unit.
Uniforms and distinctions for I Corps and the Pulawi Legion
Plate XIV with cavalry uniforms for the Puławi Legion and I Polish Corps.
Source: O KAWALERII POLSKIEJ XX WIEKU, Cezary Leżeński/Lesław Kukawski, Wrocłow, Warsawa, Kraków, 1991.
Fig. 1. Russian cockade (bączek) with imposed Polish eagle.
Fig. 2. Cap badge from the I Polish Corps.
Fig. 1. Cavalry cap.
Fig. 2. 1st Ulan Regiment.
Fig. 3. 2nd Ulan Regiment.
Fig. 4. 3rd Ulan Regiment.
Fig. 5. Cap worn by all in I Corps, if not serving in one of the mounted regiments.
Fig. 6. Horse artillery cap (Rogatywka)
Fig. 1. Pulawi Legion, cavalry parade jacket.
Fig. 2. Pulawi Legion, field blouse. Amaranth shoulder straps borderes with the Russian piping for volunteers. The chifres "1 LP" on the shoulder strap stands for 1st Polish Legion.
Fig. 3. I Corps. Jacket for an ulan scout, before pennants in regimental colours on the collar became introduced.
Fig. 4. I Corps. Jacket (kurtka) for a Lieutenant, on the collar regimental pennants.
Sig. 5. I Corps. Cavalry over-coat before the pennants were introduced on the collar.
5th Cavalry Coat from the period before the pennants on the uniforms.
Rank distinctions introduced in I Polish corps in Russia, December 1917:
1. Private.first class - Szeregowiec.
2. Corporal - Kapral.
3. Junior NCO - Młodszy podoficer.
4. Senior NCO - Starszy podoficer.
5. Over Sergeant in the cavalry - Wachmistrz.
6. Senior NCO and officer cadet - Starszy podoficer podchorąży.
8. Second-Lieutenant - Podporucznik.
9. Lieutenant - Porucznik.
10. Second-Captain - Podrotmistrz.
11. Captain - Rotmistrz.
12. Lieutenant Colonel - Podpułkownik.
13. Colonel - Pułkownik.
December 1919 the booklet "Album Mundurów 1 Polskiego Korpusu" (Album showing the Uniforms of the 1st Polish Corps) was released in Warsaw by General Jozef Dowbor-Musnicki.
A reprint was published in 2005 with further information about the history of the Corps and added orders specifying the appearance of the uniforms of officers and privates.
Foreword by General Jozef Dowbor-Musnicki
The 1st Polish Corps, which was formed within the Russian state, originally used uniforms very little different from the those of the Russian army. The essential differences was the blue maciejówka (the little Polish round cap with eyeshade) with amaranth cap band and a Polish eagle badge, a single two-centimeter wide, magenta stripe/galon on the trousers and one-centimeter wide amaranth edgings/pipings on the sleeve cuffs and shoulder straps for the men. Officers of all branches wore silver shoulder epaulettes, Russian pogonis, with magenta edgings and smooth, silver buttons. (the maciejówka caps were only worn in the battle and front lines.). This uniform was adopted, as there was no money for uniforms with national characteristics. It was necessary to use the Russian uniforms, obtained from the government and to introduce some badges, which only demanded the little money. After the Bolsheviks took power in Minsk, the commander on that front, a certain Russian Lieutenant-Colonel, a fellow from Kamień (Pomerania ) Kamieńszczy, proposed abolishing the distictions of officers and soldiers as insulting to democratic principles, and at a meeting of the workers and soldiers committé on this question a Jew - a delegate of the committé, suggested he cut off his own, whereas he cut them off, threw them on the ground and began to trample and spit on them. The whole meeting rewarded the entire show and applauded the "revolutionary act."
Thus was acted on the decree on the abolition of all the distictions throughout the army. After this, a band of soldiers went around in the city, ripping distinctions off the officers and soldiers. Instead, the Bolsheviks introduced red armbands, showing the ranks on their sleeves. These ribbons were carried in the pocket and was applied when on duty.
As Poles we have a rather different view on military distinctions and in any case, we could not commit such an act as that Kamien fellow had done. We wore distinctions, because our ancestors wore them during the figtings for Polish independence, being sure that after returning to the Poland, The Constituent Assembly would take up the question of a Polish military uniforms. At the moment, trying to protect the Poles from the military excesses of the Bolshevik rabble, in whose heads was not the slightest respect for national distinctions and maintaing military badges and distinctions have a deeper ideolocal meaning than their own designed sleeve markings. The Bolsheviks were very unhappy, but did not dare to tackle us.
After the fighting with the Bolsheviks, I dealt with the question of reforming our uniforms. I had a very difficult task to resolve it caused by the lack of material, (cloth of amarant color was completely exhausted), the prices and the lack of cash, and finally - to keep the innate sense of beauty of our nation, to achieve true satisfaction on the above-mentioned conditions - was almost impossible.
The Russian uniforms provided were used as service jackets with a cut in the English fashion, and to distinguish between the regiments was adopted four basic colors used by the armies of the Congress: magenta - the first regiments, white - the second regiments, yellow - the third regiments, and blue - the fourth regiments. Attached units, which also differed in colors, but the pipings (instead of the white color, brown was used here because the white embroideries/sewn on patches on the sleeves of the soldiers were too little different from the silver braid, denoting rank, on the sleeves of the officers). In order to distinguish the gala uniform from the field uniform, was introduced to the first colored lapels.
Some of the auxiliary troops and the artillery had their own uniforms.
In this way we created a uniform simple, cheap and effective. In order to familiarize the Polish nation three of us have done this album on the uniforms, which I present here.
Uniforms of I Corps
in the initial period hardly differed from the Russian. A characteristic feature was an eagle in metal worn on the shirt pocket and a large amount amaranth pipings. In August 1917 a model for the eagle was officially endorsed by General Dowbor-Musnicki, by requiring that it should wear the crown. Autumn 1917 was for the lancers introduced navy-blue trousers with amaranth lampasanis (Lampasses - galons on trousers) and pipings, ulan etyszkiety (white shoulder-cords with tassels) and an English model cap with an eagle. 7 December 1918 was changed the way distinctions were worn by officers. Instead of soft shoulder straps (pogonis) made without any kind of rank signs, distinctions in the form of braids were introduced on the sleeves of the jackets and overcoats. Badges of weapons, services and the regimental numbers were transferred to the collars of the jackets, from which the cavalry took off the tabs (patki) and replaced them with collar pennons (proporczykami) in the colors of the regiment. The appearance of the soldiers was affected, when in the beginning of March 1918 the French helmets M.1915 were issued. On the helmets were placed a metal eagle or painted on in white paint. Around the helmet was painted a 1 cm magenta stripe. Together with the helmets were still in use Russian and English caps, the maciejówka with or without cap band and the Russian papacha fur cap. On April 19 and 9 May 1918 were issued orders regulating all uniform matters in the corps and introduced lapels to make the galla uniforms a little more colorful. It was ordered the Russian field cap in khaki (Russian field green) should be worn order with a simple shirt and an eagle 4 cm high (on the breast?).
French helmets with a white eagle 2 cm high and a magenta band 1 cm
Cut of jackets: jacket in the English fashion French or Russian blouse with pockets
Trousers in field colour (Russian greenish), trousers for the cavalry, artillery, staff and radio telegraphists, engineering corps and the field police (gendarmery) dark blue. The trousers for auto-mobile detachments and auto drivers black.
Shoulder straps on all uniforms in Russian green:
White pipings (on the shoulder straps) for all the clerks, general staff officers and administration.
Yellow pipings on the shoulder straps for officers of the Field Gendarmery.
Shoulder cords with tassels:
Foot artillery – white,
Field Gendarmery - yellow double aiguilettes,
Cavalry - white with amarant.
Magenta for 1st, 5th and 9th Regiment Riflemen, 1st Reserve Regiment, the Engineer Regiment and radio telegraphists.
White for 2nd, 6th and 10th Regiment Riflemen.
Yellow for 3rd, 7th and 11th Regiment Riflemen,
Blue for 4th, 8th and 12th Regiment Riflemen and health service;
Black for foot artillery,
Orange for the field post and telegraphy,
Red – staffs, apart from the general staffs
Blue - all other foot soldiers.
Pipings on the lapels and rank distinctions on the sleeves:
1st Infantry Division soldiers, artillery, field post and telegraph - magenta,
2nd Infantry Division - bronze,
3rd Infantry Division and the radio - yellow,
1st and 2nd of the Reserve Regiment - blue;
Engineer Regiment -- black;
Medical and staff - white.
Stripes on the trousers for:
Infantry officers, staff, medical services, post service, the judiciary and artillery on foot - a single magenta stripe with a width of 2 cm.;
Engineer Regiment and Engineer Corps - a double black with a magenta stripe in between,
Radio Service and Field Gendarmery – a double magenta with yellow in between,
Cavalry – a double magenta for the 1st Regiment Lancers, white for 2nd Regiment Lancers and yellow for the 3rd Regiment Lancers.
Tabs on the collar with regimental number or badge: colour Russian green with the following edging:
magenta - for 1st Division Riflemen, postal and telegraph services,
bronze - for 2nd Division Riflemen,
yellow - for 3rd Division Riflemen and Radio Service,
blue - for the Reserve Brigade and health service,
black - for the Engineer Regiment,
white - Auto Corps,
black with magenta edging – artillery,
black velvet collar with magenta edging (piping), magenta tab with 2 crossed axes in silver – Engineer Corps,
ulan pennons in amaranth and yellow with silver eagles - Field Gendarmery, violet with a silver button - judicial corps,
for mounted personnel in general - pennons on collar like ulans in amaranth-blue,
the infantry in general - Russian green with blue edging.
Generals and horse artillery wear rogatywka caps.
The coloured "rabaty" (lapels) were only to be used with the gala uniform.
Not all the whole content of the orders was implemented, so did never the coloured "rabaty" come into use, caused by the ongoing disarmament and demobilization of the I Corps shortly after the release of the above orders.
Compiled by Jacek Skalski, Warsawa 2003.
ALBUM MUNDUROW 1 POLSKIEGO KORPUSU. Warszawa 2005.
|| I Polish Corps
Escort for the Commander of I Polish Corps.
Lancers from I Corps.
Cadets or perhaps scouts from I Corps.
General Dowbor-Musnicki with staff officers.
Ulan 1917 from 1st Regiment.
Ulan of the Pulawi Legion in parade uniform 1915.
I Corps, 1st Ulan Regiment, lieutenant Datkiewicz.
1st squadron of the Pulawi Ulan Regiment in field uniform, 1915.
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