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|| Henryk Wielecki: Uniforms of the Polish Army 1918-1921
The text is translated from Henryk Wielecki: Polski Mundur Wojskowy 1918-1939, Wydawnictwo Bellona, Warszawa 1995, but only up to 1921.
More contemporary photos will follow as illustrations.
Uniforms showing the military hierarchy are a necessity in war. Polish history is rich on examples of taking up arms and fighting without uniforms - and even without weapons. We can show more instances of military undertakings by Poles without uniforms than in reglemented military uniforms. But as always in such situations, attention returned to the uniforms of the last regular army, which existence had once more been destroyed through dramatic disasters. Such patterns can be seen in the improvised insurgent uniforms. From generation to generation were passed down the memory of the Polish "rogatywca" (the well known, four-cornered cap), the colours of the old uniforms, flags, banners and the most important emblem symbol of the fighting insurgents - the eagle or the national white-red bows, which were fastened to any cap, when the people were called up.
Military Uniforms in Poland, as probably in any other country, have played an important role in integrating factor, when building the ranks of the armed forces and the regular army, and this often was done in a hurry, on an ad hoc basis, in the shadow of overwhelming enemy.
History of the Polish military uniform starts with the attempt of the Great Sejm (The long-lasting Parliament convened by Stanisław August in 1788 is known as the Great Sejm) to fulfil its dream of a 100.000 man strong army. The same Sejm decided to create a uniform in same cut for all - from Private to Hetman - based on the uniforms already tried and tested in the national cavalry.
National cavalry 1791-1794. Illustration by Leszek Rościszewski in "Wielkopolanie pod brona 1768-1721", Poznan 2011
It was designed in 1789-1791, and as early as in 1792 it was used on the battlefields of Zielence and Dubienka, two years later it was less in use in the last battles of the Republic: Raclawice , Szczekociny and Szańcach Warsawa (the Redoubts of Warsaw), the Wielkopolska Insurrection, in Lithuania and at Maciejowice. The first uniforms of the National Army, which was to be a shield to protect Poland from the ultimate disaster, existed only for a few years. The first uniforms of the National Army, which was supposed to be a shield to protect Poland from the ultimate disaster, were shortlived, just a few years. The tragedy of the third partition ended the life of the National Armed Forces, but the memory of the national symbols, the Poles took with them into exile, those who did not accept defeat.
Dabrowski in Poznan 27.8.1806
One of these ardent patriots was General Jan Henryk Dąbrowski, who was striving for the creation of Polish Legions in Italy. When he was not allowed to fly the flags with the white eagle over his men, he insisted them at least to fight in Polish uniforms, which he remembered from the Kosciuszko Insurrection: "I prefer to lead my soldiers naked, rather than let them wear foreign uniforms! " In such uniforms Dąbrowski wanted to lead his soldiers "from Italy home to Poland". The story ended on San Domingo! Later came the glittering hope in the light of the Napoleonic sun rays. The scenery with the beautiful uniforms of lancers, light horse, mounted chasseurs, hussars, the huge chapkas with the eagle for the brave infantry, and finally the years of noble regiments under the proud flags with eagles holding in their grip the tablets with the inscription “Wojsko Polskie” (“Polish Army”).Waiting for the Grand Duchy of Warsaw to become the new, independent state of Poland. But once more Polish uniforms ended in tatters on the route of the tragic retreat from Moscow to Leipzig 1812-1813.
The following years under Russian supremacy gave a little stabilization to the Polish Kingdom. Special Polish army uniforms were promised, but were to be fashioned in the same style as used by the Tsar's victorious army. However, General Jozeph Wielhorski managed to save many of the Polish traditions through the careful work on military uniforms done by Alexander Orlowski, a prominent artist and former fighter from the Kosciuszko Insurrection. The army was supposed to be a beautiful toy in the hands of Grand Duke Constantine, pedantically uniformed, perfected in drill and parades. On the battlefields of Stoczek, Olszynki Grochow, Wawer, Ostrolenka and Igan it proved, it was equally well able to fight, as its former supreme commander in admiration put it, as he was able to see for himself at Grochow, when "their" regiments were fighting with unusual ferocity. In the face of an overwhelming enemy fell the last redoubt of Warsaw. In the autumn of 1831, after only a few decades, the Polish Army and its uniforms ceased to exist.
Later on the insurgent traditions are found in several of the successive uprisings for Polish independence and also in foreign countries showing the presence of Poles, taking part wherever the battle for freedom was fought. "For your and our freedom".
Now came1914 and so also revived hopes for independence. The Poles did not passively wait for it. Young volunteers would fill the ranks of those armies, which gave the right to have the eagle on their caps and their flags.
In November, 1918 Poland regained its independence after over 120 years of slavery. Immediately the Polish Army was revived as a guarantor for an independent existence.
In the first year of independence the soldiers had to wear uniforms just inherited from the invaders, but with the Polish emblems, signs and colour additions "to give them national character."
Almost immediately was started work to create a new national uniform, a Polish military uniform. Soon a representative from the Ministry of Military Affairs at the Royal Castle in Warsaw was appointed to the Commission Ubiorczej (Uniform Commission) with the task of creating a national uniform for the reborn army in order to submit a proposal for approval by the Sejm, about 130 years had gone since the resolution of the Great Sejm to introduce the first national Polish uniform.
Regaining independence in 1918 a second uniform was born in our history for the national "Siły Zbrojnej" (The Armed Forces), as the Polish Army since the Duchy of Warsaw had been known as.
Determining the basis for such a garment and its further development, evaluation of its functionality on the battlefield, keeping track of the links to traditions, the uniform's importance to the inner life in the army and to the people, are the main themes for such a work. The specifications for a uniform destined for military service and combat tend to bring to the forefront factors influenced by the functional criterias for military uniforms.
The first to be included in the functions of military uniforms is the protection of the body from the influence of weather and mechanical damage, together with comfort, freedom of action in various conditions of service and tactical tasks in the field, weight, water resistance, easy to keep clean, resistance to poison gasses and a proper field uniform in style and to apply the most appropriate field colour. In the sphere of information and distinctive tasks have to be taken into consideration: distinguishing it from the enemy, easy recognizing of military ranks, weapons, services or formations and also representative considerations.
The second group of factors affecting the shape and general appearance of the uniforms should include economic considerations such as: costs and ease of implementation, quality of materials, their durability and lifespan.
The third group of factors strongly influencing the decisions on uniforms are in the emotional sphere, resulting from the appeal to tradition and the need to show it as a Polish uniform, giving it distinct national characteristics. Also important are the aesthetics, approval or disapproval by public outcry to certain elements in the uniform was expressed by the initiatives in the ranks and pressures from users, often on the style and "fashion" advocated by some formations and regionalism was shown guiding the military towards certain civilian characteristics from the regional folk dresses.
Questions on the soldiers uniforms are not only important for the troops, but also for the society as a whole and therefore must be taken into account national traditions and the current mood of the countrys inhabitants.
A group of factors, which undoubtedly also impact the overall global trends in the field of uniforms and equipment, is foreign influence, fashion and the civilian-military organizational changes.
These four groups of factors are in relatively close relationship with each other, but depending on the use of military uniform, some of them play a greater or lesser role. The most important factor for the Polish field uniform was its functionality, but when it came to the garrison uniforms the pressure from emotional factors tried to create a uniform, which proudly and with full approval from the society would be highlighting military service. Hence, the garrison uniform shows a greater influence of national traditions, attention to aesthetics, style, quality of materials and workmanship.
An eminent scholar of history Polish uniforms, Bronislaw Gembarzewski claimed that uniformed troops of all nations reflects their character: "The German uniforms highlight the aesthetics of well-designed machines. The silhouette of a German soldier is a clear outline with sharp, dry, cold and harsh colours. French uniforms were characterized by freedom and elegance. British conservatism is shown in the gala uniforms and the care for maximum comfort in their field uniforms. The dominant feature of Russian uniforms are the free peasant dress. Against the background of the uniforms of other armies the Polish military uniform preferably distinguished itself by combining the tradition of recognized national values with aesthetics and practicality.
The military uniforms of the Second Republic, apart from considerations of practicality, underline such traits as humility, seriousness, respect for traditions, a logical system of rank distinctions, whose meaning was known to the soldiers and they understood. Anyone, who wear a military uniform, knows that he is a soldier in a reality with great moral importance and psychological changes; particularly for young people, the deepening commitment to a military community and its individuals, enhances solidarity and strengthens discipline. For centuries this "magical" power of a uniform has existed, as General Jakub Lewiński, Deputy Chief of Staff to the insurgent army in 1831, drew attention to: "As soon as a peasant puts on the uniform, that is just all needed to develop the military qualities: giving courage, ease of military drilling and discipline."
For the first time the spiritual meaning of military uniforms was formulated concisely by Napoleon Bonaparte: "When the soldier loves his profession, it gives him passion and honour. This is why beautiful uniforms are so useful. Often for a trifle, these people hold out bravely in fire, people who without it, would not survive."
Of interest to military uniforms, inter alia, provides the experiments, which before World War II was conducted by the Swiss army. Two companies consisting of recruits on the same level were trained for a period - one in civilian clothes, the other in military uniforms. Despite careful selection of staff and excellent conditions for the training, the first company remained far behind in terms of training and discipline.
Since the eighteenth century the positive features of a national uniform were understood and appreciated in Poland, both in regular formations, as well as in partisan and insurgent units, especially where efforts were made to equip the fighters with clothings having the characteristics of a military uniform. The existence of a uniform, with national characteristics and aesthetic values, undoubtedly interact on the mental health and discipline of those men, who wear it, being important educationally and is a factor in shaping an esprit de corps.
|| Henryk Wielecki: Uniforms of the Polish Army 1918-1921
Works on Polish uniforms
The problem of Polish army uniforms of the Second Republic has never undergone a broader study. Yet, before the outbreak of the WWII appeared two studies: Richard Saxl, Umundurowanie Wojska Polskiego, Warsawa 1928 (Polish Army Uniforms) and Mieczyslaw Pęczkowski, Umundurowanie wojska, marynarki wojennej i przysposobienia wojskowego w Polsce, Warsawa 1935 (Uniforms for Army, Navy and Military Training in Poland), but both are just codifications of regulations. The first study contains a textual overview on uniforms and distinctions (omitting equipment), and black-and-white drawings of the individual pieces of uniforms and details of dress, and the second gives colour drawings with details of soldiers uniforms and equipment (unfortunately not free from errors) without any descriptive text. These two studies are now sources of large iconographic value.
After World War II studies on the military garb in the period 1918-1939 was undertaken piecemeal by a few authors. Uniforms of the Wielkopolska Forces in 1919 are extensively described by Marek Rezler. Writings on the subject has been done in the London publication „Broni i Barwie" (Arms and Uniforms) by Stefan Pajączkowski, Bohdan Mincer and Ignatius Matuszczak. On the uniforms of the Polish Army 1918-1922, is written in the London publication „Broni i Barwie" by B. Mincer. These articles contain valuable information through the use of personal memories, which unfortunately are not free of errors, especially on the individual dates on details concerning the changes in uniforms.
On the uniforms and equipment of the cavalry of the Second Republic are devoted two modest volumes by Leslaw Kukawski: "Broń i barwa kawalerii polskiej XX wieku" (Arms and the Uniforms of the Polish Cavalry in the Twentieth Century) and "Kawaleria polska. 1914-1947" (Polish cavalry. 1914-1947). In „Studiach do dziejów dawnego uzbrojenia i ubioru wojskowego" (Historical Studies on Ancient Weapons and Military Uniforms) was published by Roman Medwicz in Polski mundur wojskowy w przededniu II wojny światowej (About Polish military uniforms on the eve of World War II), which is a collection of excerpts from a single source, which is the „Dziennik Rozkazów" (Daily Orders) from the Ministry of Military Affairs 1928-1939 and supported by illustrations drawn from these sources. It focuses on the development in the technical description of the various uniforms, from headdress to footwear, as well as on the characteristics of different types of uniforms, colours and distinctions in the years preceding the outbreak of the WWII. It is not free from simplifications and mistakes.
In previous studies on uniforms too much attention is spent on explaining the development of different forms of military dress in Poland in various periods of its existence and operations, limited to the description of an uniform appearance and content by citing the relevant regulations. We know, the past and more recent military uniform regulations are usually formulated in dry, official directives, which does not explain the guiding motives behind a document determining the outer appearance of the army and its distinctions.
The causes for difficulties in explaining the development of the military uniform should be ascribed to lack of source material, that might shed some more light on the above issue, and in difficulties finding the wanted sources in different combinations of archival sources, if at all relevant records were then collected and survived the turmoil of war.
Fortunately documents are preserved from several institutions of the Ministry of Military Affairs for the years 1919-1936, collected and stored in the Centralne Archiwum Wojskowe (Central Military Archives), and are a major source for the history of the birth and development of modern Polish military uniforms.
Combining what is published in the „Dziennik Rozkazów” from the Ministry of Military Affairs (can be found on http://www.sbc.org.pl/publication/13481) with comparisons to original objects collected in museums, as well as the rich iconography and the relationship to used uniforms, it is possible to attempt a comprehensive presentation of this important segment in the history of military uniforms. During the 1919-20 War was the same work method used for the emerging regular military formations. Surviving in a number of details it brings the old traditions of the Polish uniforms to our days. As a basic assumption, adopted in the design and illustrations in this book on the development, are used not only the uniforms designed for military use in the different branches of the military, but also all those items, which are organic linked to the soldier's overall appearance and outfit. It is worth noting that already in the eighteenth century, when Poland first got a military uniform, ie a special uniform cut and colour, it was called variously: moderunek, uniform, umoderowanie, umundurunek, these terms include not only the military clothing, but also the soldiers equipment. Therefore this approach, referring to the designs of the past, is to replace the definitions: clothing, weapons and equipment, with a single term - uniform or in short - "mundur polski" - „Polish outfit”. The intent is to present a wide panorama of military attire in the years 1918-1939, both as to style, colour, distinction systems, the regulations for wearing, practicality, the production possibilities and organizational measures made to ensure the most appropriate conditions for the Polish uniforms. Here is also tried to answer the question: how did it pass the exam of war on the battlefield in 1939 and what will survive into the traditional uniform in our day.
|| Henryk Wielecki: Uniforms of the Polish Army 1918-1921
Early Military Uniforms in the Independent Poland (1918-1919)
The Polish Army was resurrected by uniting the ranks from the existing and hastily formed armed formations - each with different organization, weapons, uniforms and equipment. Young and still developing, it had, as an independent state in November 1918, only three infantry regiments formed 1918 in the Polskiej Siły Zbrojnej, the so-called Polnische Wehrmacht, organized under the patronage of the Germans in the former Kingdom and hurriedly reformed by the Polish Liquidation Commission in October 1918 together with some armed formations in the earlier Austrian part of the country. Since early 1919, under the auspices of the political leadership by the Supreme People's Council, were in the former Prussian part of Poland being intensely organized new regiments of infantry, lancers, and artillery, a force popularly known as Wojsko Wielkopolska, the Army of Greater Poland.
In April and May 1919 arrived in Poland the Polish Army, raised and organized in France from 1917.
Each of these formations were uniformed in different ways, dictated by the various political and material possibilities. Common features of the uniform types came from the former Russian and Austrian parts of Poland, while the Wielkopolska Forces were to rely on the uniforms of the Germans. The Polish Army in France used French uniforms with addition of some Polish national details.
The Polskiej Siły Zbrojnej, also known the Polnische Wehrmacht
see also http://siberia-miniatures.ru/forum/showthread.php?fid=22&tid=345 for the full 1917 Regulations with all the colour plates.
16. Private in field uniform.
17. Officer in service 1918-1919.
At the time of independence only a small number of military formations in the country were properly uniformed, armed and trained like the Polski Siły Zbrojnej, which was intended more to be like the Legions and formed in April 1917, but it gave through the Regulations of 1917 („Przepisy i instrukcje. Umundurowanie polowe Wojska Polskiego", Warszawa 1917) the fundamental guidelines for uniformation in the former Kingdom and Galicia areas.
1. Officers cap M. 1917, type Maciejówka. Chinstrap silver.
The design of the uniform had been developed by the High Command of the German Army (Wehrmacht) in 1916, and after taking into account the amendments by the so-called Polish Uniforms Commission, it became the uniform for Polish soldiers for several years. The Commission, which was offered by the Germans to ”Polonize” the Polnische Wehrmacht uniforms, consisted of Colonel Andrzej Gallica from 3rd Infantry Regiment, Major Marcel Sniadowski (member only in the 1st period of the Commission), Major Adam Nieniewski, Captain Wojciech Kossak art.mal. (military painter), Lieutenant.Wladyslaw Dunin-Wasow from 2nd Regiment and the designer of the legionaries uniform, Captain Czeslaw Jarnuszkiew. In giving opinions also the so-called Council of Legion Colonels with Colonel Zygmunt Zielinski, Colonel Joseph Haller, Colonel Marian Januszajti, Colonel Bolesław Roj, Lt-Col. Leon Berbecki, Lt-Col. Mieczyslaw Norwid-Neugebauer, Lt-Col. Michael Żymierski and Lt-Col. Wojciech Rogalski participated actively.
The new uniform was based on supplies from the Germans and retained many features coming down from the former uniforms of the legionaries.
2. Field cap for the the Polish Armed Forces (Polskiej Siły Zbrojnej), 1917-1918. Badge red with white eagle and edge.
The Commission made some "horse dealings" trying to get the little round maciejówka cap, instead of a big, shapeless rogatywka (the typical Polish cap with four-cornered top) proposed by the Germans.
2The officers cap became a legionnaire type decorated with an eagle on a shield, an officers metal rosette and a silver cord/chinstrap.
1. Officers cap M. 1917, type Maciejówka. Chinstrap silver.
4. Officers rosette M. 1917 in white metal, placed on the cap band.
German jackets were ”polonized” by adding visible buttons with an imprinted eagle and further pockets with flaps were introduced.
10. Officer's kurtka M. 1917.
9. Private's kurtka M.1917.
15. Soldier's greatcoat M. 1917.
All the soldiers, who had served in the Legion prior to April 10, 1917, received the privilege of wearing a special distinction in form of a silver wężyke (snake braid) on the collar - with different widths for generals, officers, non-commissioned officers and privates. Characteristic for the new uniform were the officers distinctions in form of shoulder straps shaped as treffles (trefoils) of interwoven silver cords with five-pointed gold stars and the number of the regiment. A completely new solution was found for the distinctions on General's uniforms.
5. Generals crimson collar-patch M. 1917.
6. Officers collar-patch with silver wezyke M. 1917.
7. Privates collar-patch with silver or white wezyke M. 1917.
General's shoulder straps were made of triple interwoven silver cords, on which were placed a golden miniature of the King Casimir the Great's crown and gold stars. Greatcoats were single-rowed for privates and NCOs, while those of the officers had two rows of buttons.
3. Eagle cap-emblem M. 1917. On the shield was put the regimental number or a symbol of the technical service.
14. Uniform button M. 1917.
It was sought to differentiate the new uniforms as much as possible from the Germans by introducing a lot of coloured pipings on the caps, greatcoats (only for officers) and the jackets - along the lining, around the collar, lapels, pockets, sleeves and the shoulder straps. In addition to field trousers officers were granted the right to wear, as garrison uniform, long black pants with a crimson stripe, the generals and officers of the General Staff had lampasses (double stripes) in carmosin/amarant for generals and crimson for officers in the General Staff.
11. Ułanka (jacket used by cavalry and horse artillery) M. 1917.
The cavalry got the characteristic ułanka (lancer jacket) in a greenish colour and sewn in the old Polish fashion with two rows of buttons, no breast pockets and a standing collar. Lancer officers could, when not at the front, wear crimson lapels, high caps (of rogatywka type), silver etyszkietami (shoulder cords with tassels) and silver (white metallic) belts.
12. Cavalry shoulder-cords, the so-called etyszkiety.
The uniform, introduced in April 1917, was partly modified in 1919 and survived until 1922, some of its elements right up to 1924. Many of the details used in the uniforms of the Polskiej Siły Zbrojnej got a permanent form in the first national uniform M.1919, such as numbers, special signs and badges for certain military branches and services, shoulder cords for generals and officers of the General Staff, wężyki (collar snakes) on the collar, buttons with the national eagle, military badges, the regimental numbering on the shoulder straps and cap badges with shields and eagles, coloured lapels and seams.
13. Czapka used by the participants in an Officer's Course with 1 Lancer Regiment 1917.
Uniform resources left in the Polish Kingdom by the Germans and Austrians were small. Slightly better was the situation in the Austrian part, where in the end of October 1918 was no resistance from the disarmed forces of the Hapsburg monarchy, and so the old hands of the Legion began to play. When the Austrian troops left, there existed over a dozen production plants, but in the rear areas were left no rich magazines with uniform material.
8. Shoulder distinctions for the Polskiej Siły Zbrojnej (The Polish Armed Forces) M. 1917.
1 starszy żołnierz, starszy ułan, bombardier, (Lance Corporal - Senior Soldier, Senior Lancer, Bombardier)
2 kapral, żandarm (Corporal, Military Policeman)
3 plutonowy, starszy żandarm (Platoon Leader, Senior Military Policeman)
4 sierżant, ogniomistrz, wachmistrz (Sergeant, Artillery Sergeant, Cavalry Sergeant)
5 starszy sierżant, starszy ogniomistrz, starszy wachmistrz (Sergeant Major, Artillery Sergeant Major, Cavalry Sergeant Major)
6 chorąży, kapelmistrz, mechanik samochodowy (Ensign and Warrant officer, Bandmaster, Car Mechanic)
7 podporucznik (Second Lieutenant)
8 porucznik (Lieutenant)
9 kapitan, rotmistrz (Captain, Cavalry Captain)
10 major (Major)
11 podpułkownik (Lieutenant Colonel)
12 pułkownik (Colonel)
13 generał major (Major General)
Into the ranks of the Polish Army came thousands of former soldiers from the Austrian-Hungarian Army, who after being released from their former army still possessed all of their uniforms and equipment and now became part of the newly created Polish units. Into the ranks of the army also came soldiers from the former tsarist army and from the five corps formed in the East (Korpusów Wschodnich - The Eastern Corps, formations raised in Russia since 1917, see http://siberia-miniatures.ru/forum/showthread.php?fid=12&tid=185 ), who brought with them the traditions of cavalry lampasses, colourful cap bands on their so-called English type caps and lance pennons on their collars.
VI. Uniform of a Lieutenant-Colonel with the Horse Artillery 1918-1920.
VII. Uniform of lieutenant, ADC with the 2 Air Force Regiment in Krakow 1919.
VIII. Uniform of a rotmistrz (Captain) with 2 Lancers, about 1922.
|| Henryk Wielecki: Uniforms of the Polish Army 1918-1921
The Army of Wielkopolska
A slightly different track followed the development of the uniforms for the Polish troops in the former Prussian part, i.e. in the Army of Wielkopolska. There had been several successful, quite consistently made moves, to use the fairly substantial stocks of German uniforms, but into the ranks now came the soldiers from the former Imperial German Army, who returned to their families in their previously worn uniforms and now wanted to express their hatred of the “feldgrau” (field-grey), uniforms, M.1910 and M.1915 through polonization of same.
In December 1918, during the Wielkopolska Uprising, appeared distinguishing symbols of national character on the German uniforms of the demobilized soldiers and the civilian clothing of the insurgents. They were shown in different shaped cockades, arm bands and rosettes in white and red and individually produced cap eagles.
The newly formed insurgent troops were armed and equipped from the stocks of weapons, ammunition and uniforms, which were found in warehouses of Poznan and in the provinces. The Polish emblems spontaneously put on the uniforms gave the right to citizenship according to the order given by the commander of the rebellion, Major Stanislaus Taczak Already on the 8th January 1919, it was ordered to wear a silver eagle of any pattern in the size of 3.5 x 3, 5 cm on all the caps, red and white cockades and red and white vertical stripes, a centimetre wide, on the collars of German jackets and greatcoats. Rank distinctions for NCOs and officers were to be dealt with later, when further orders in accordance with the regulations came into force for the entire Polish Army.
Although already in April 1917 orders were issued for the uniforms of the Polish Army, many elements in the Wielkopolska uniform stood apart.
On 11 January 1919, caused by the raising of many new armed formations, the People's Commissariat of the Supreme Council formulated a protocol ”for international political reasons", among its demands were: interim autonomy demanded uniforms for the Revolutionary Armed Forces in the former Prussian part of Poland.
The question of wearing special uniforms and equipment was taken up in the protocol of 11 January 1919, in which the Supreme Council of the People's Commissariat wrote: "For international political reasons" it reserved its right to make a temporary separation (among other on the uniforms) between its forces and the independent Sił Zbrojnych in the former Prussian part of Poland. Approval of projects for the uniforms for the regiments being formed of infantry, lancers, artillery and other services lay in the hands of the Supreme People's Council (NRL - Naczelnej Rady Ludowej), who was the main political factor behind forming the army.
19. Wielkopolska eagle cap-emblem M. 1919.
In the initial period, when these of units were being raised, the variety of uniforms and ornaments was so great that the new commander from 16 January 1919 of the armed forces in Wielkopolska, General Joseph Dowbor-Muśnicki, ordered to stop "this masquerade", announcing the imminent establishing of NRL designs for the uniforms. However, this did not prevent him to merit and start work on developing a special uniform pattern for the Wielkopolska Army: "To fight in civilian dress is not possible, because it makes us franctireurs, ie people outlawed in war. Therefore it did not take long deliberations to decide on uniforms. I did not take as model for the military uniforms the ideas from the Kingdoms Council, because its "odor of Muscovites" and so at the present it was not fitting. I ended with a slightly modified German "litewka" (”kurtka”, half-long jacket), adopted by the insurgents, leaving the two-colour ribbon at the collar. As head dress was chosen the rogatywka, not maciejówka, because this in itself has no Polish characteristics (footnote: Pozanians mock that uniform part – meaning, it was considered a workman's cap, a socialist symbol.).
18. Wielkopolska rogatywka M. 1919.
After determining on the design, I invited representatives of the Polish crafts and asked them to help ensuring that the army was dressed most neatly. Within a few weeks 50 thousand men were uniformed". The basis for the uniforms of the Wielkopolska Army was determined in his Daily Order No. 17 of 21. January 1919 from the Central Command of the Armed Forces in the former Prussian partition.
In fact, there were two basic uniforms: a basic uniform for all formations, and another for the mounted troops, the clergy and the uhlans.
The main military uniform included:
- a czapka rogata (four-cornered cap) with a soft cornered top, regimental coloured pipings and an eagle-badge without a shield,
- a grey-green officer's jacket with visible buttons, four pockets with pipings in regimental or branch colour on: pocket flaps, collar and edge of the jacket. For privates visible buttons and only two pockets at the bottom on the jacket,
20a. Wielkopolska infantry collar with regimental number and the national red-white bars.
- long trousers with shoes or leggings, for officers with coloured side stripes on their trousers,
- a single rowed greatcoat for privates, double rowed with pipings in regimental or branch colour for officers,
- short boots or shoes with leggings.
A characteristic feature of the Wielkopolska Army is the infantry jacket with sewn on white-red vertical stripes on the collar and the regimental number next to the regimental or service emblem, also the regiments wore the Pommeranian griffin or eagle, old heraldic animals for Pommerania and the Prussian Kingdom.
The uniform for the lancers included:
- a czapka rogata with coloured band, for the 1st Regiment crimson, but caused by lack of cloth in that colour, red cloth was used. For the 2nd Regiment white, for the 3rd Regiment yellow and for the 4th Regiment blue. In addition the lancer caps were decorated with coloured pipings. The 1st, 3rd and 4th had white, the 2nd scarlet pipings;
- the lancer jacket had two rows of buttons and a standing collar, coloured piping around the collar, along the lapels/front, around shoulder straps, pocket flaps, along the side and rear facings and seams on the sleeves and the bottom edge of the ułanka (lancer jacket).
20b. Wielkopolska cavalry collar with regimental pennant mark.
- on the collar were regimental coloured pennants like the cavalry of the I Polish Eastern Corps had worn it in Russia,
- long pants with lampasses in regimental colour,
- high boots with spurs,
- cavalrymen had single-row cavalry greatcoats, officers had double-rowed greatcoats with pipings in the regimental colours. The parade uniforms were adorned with uhlan cords with tassels, the so-called “etyszkiety”, worn fastened around the neck and slung over the back of the jacket and fastened under the left shoulder strap.
III. Uniform, Lt. General Joseph Dowbor Musnicki, Commander of the Wielkopolskie Army from 1919
IV. Uniform of a Captain in the Wielkopolska Balloon Corps 1919-1920.
V. Uniform for a Corporal of 1 Wielkopolska Lancers with the NCO distinctions on the shoulder coming into use in the Polish Army since November 1, 1919.
The Wielkopolska Army wore rank distinctions on their caps in form of a grey treffle (trefoil) with a different number of red bands across showing the common ranks, junior officers had bands of white silk, while the bands for officers and generals were in silver and gold.
21. Wielkopolska rank distinctions for officers and men, used on both jackets and greatcoats.
1 — szeregowiec,
2 — st. szeregowiec,
3 — kapral,
4 — podoficer (plutonowy w armii krajowej),
5 — plutonowy (sierżant w armii krajowej),
6 — sierżant sztabowy, wachmistrz sztabowy,
7 — podporucznik,
8 — porucznik,
9 — kapitan, rotmistrz,
10 — major,
11 — podpułkownik,
12 — pułkownik,
13 — generał major,
14 — generał porucznik,
15 — generał broni
On the sleeves of the non-commissioned officers were rank distinctions of grey lace, while officers and generals had silver pipings and silver laces. Both the cap distinctions and those on the shoulder-straps for army officers were created by the central authorities of the reborn Republic. Like in the regulations of „Przepisów instrukcji umundurowania polowego Wojsk Polskich z 1917 r." ( "Regulations for the Field Uniforms of the Polish Army in 1917" ) were in the regulations of 21 February 1919 introduced white, plaited shoulder cords (akselbanty), a single cord for regimental aides, double for aides with larger units.
In September 1919 were in a rather pedantic way defined the uniforms, colours, and badges of the 70.000 man Army of Wielkopolska - infantry, cavalry, artillery, technical (including sappers, telegraphers, radio operators and motor drivers), armoured trains, air force, military aero-nautical (balloon troops), train service, gendarmery and field police, health care, chaplains, military schools and military administration.
22. WP Officer in field uniform.
23. WP Private in field uniform.
24. WP Ulan in field uniform - after K. Cichoński.
The uniformity of the uniforms of the Wielkopolska Army was no doubt greater than in other Polish formations, but it was impossible to maintain full compliance with the orders in practical everyday life. Not all the orders on uniforms were introduced, especially not in the units fighting on the Eastern Front and in the South.
One of the main reasons for the differences was the lack in the market of adequate quantities of coloured cloth for the cap bands, pipings and trouser stripes, forcing the units to substitute with similar colours. Also was felt the lack of various types of materials, as laces, silver braids, cords, etc.
When in mid-1919, the amalgamation of the different military formations took speed, the Commander of the Army of Wielkopolska sent a memorandum to Jozef Pilsudski, noting the urgent need to develop a single uniform to re-establish the national Polish Army in order to avoid the confusion arising among the soldiers and even officers in the different formations.
The subordination of the Wielkopolska Army to the military authorities in Warsaw gradually changed their rank distinctions, their cap shape and the emblems on their collars following the order of 1917 for the Polish Army. The development of the new single army uniform M. 1919 included the field experiences of the Wielkopolska soldiers together with certain details on the uniforms, such as rogatywka caps, colours and some unit emblems.
In various ways also returned to Poland the units formed in the vastness of Russia, in Siberia, Odessa and Murmansk all in various uniforms - Russian, English (polar expedition uniforms), French and even Japanese.
|| Henryk Wielecki: Uniforms of the Polish Army 1918-1921
Haller´s “Blue Corps”
In spring 1919 arrived from France a Polish Army in French uniforms. For over a year this army's uniform issues were settled by the Regulation Orders made by the French Minister of War, dated 30th September and 18th November 1917 and supplemented by executive orders of 7th June and 2nd August 1918. Herein was determined the cut, the colour of their uniforms and the type of distinctions to be worn. As basic uniform the Polish volunteers received the French light blue M.1915, with coloured pipings and patches distinct for the each weapon branch: riflemen and other branches dark green, artillery red, engineers black and cavalry blue.
I. Uniform Gen. Jozef Haller, commander of the Polish Army in France and the Polish branches abroad in the years 1918-1920
II. Infantry uniform from the Polish Army in France in the years 1918-1919.
Headgear used by the Polish Army in France, 1917-1919.
25a Blue Army - Private's czapka.
25b Blue Army - Staff officer's czapka.
25c Blue Army - Cap used by 1 Tank Regiment.
25d Blue Army - French helmet M. 1917.
25e Blue Army - Officer's field cap.
The Polish troops underlined their Polishness by wearing rogatywka (the four cornered cap) without visor in the infantry, while those worn by the cavalry and artillery had shades - if available resources of the leather could be found. When the officers wore rogatywka caps, these also often had the weapon branch badge/emblem in metal with regimental number and the initials ”WP” on, and when wearing the cap without shade, it was decorated with a red oval patch on which was embroidered a stylized Polish Jagiellonian eagle referring to the heritage of the Jagiellonian State.
Cap emblems and infantry collar marking used by the Polish Army in France:
26-1 Blue Army - eagle used by staff officers.
26-2 Blue Army - embroidered eagle used on both shoulder straps and caps.
26-3 Blue Army - riflemen horn-emblem, used together with regimental number on collar.
26-4 Blue Army - helmet plate with embossed eagle.
This emblem was worn by all soldiers on the shoulder-straps on jackets and greatcoats, embroidered in white, while those of the officers were embroidered in silver. The riflemen (chasseurs) wore, instead of the above mentioned emblem, as distinction on their caps a light infantry horn, made in green cloth. As a result of strenuous efforts by the Polish officers, the French authorities agreed on 22 February 1918 that all officers in the Corps, both Polish and French, could as officers wear a distinction of a white eagle on a diamond shaped pad, placed on the upper right breast pocket. Rank distinctions for officers consisted of gallons/laces of silver or gold placed on caps and sleeves. Despite the fairly detailed rules for uniforms chaos reigned caused by the large variety in supplies and also because the officers had their uniforms privately made on their own expense.
27a Blue Army - Private's jacket.
27b Blue Army - Officer's jacket
28 Blue Army - Private's greatcoat (capote).
After taking command of the Polish Army in France on September the 1st 1918, General Joseph Haller called for a special commission to make a draft for codification of the uniforms, weapons and equipment. The result of the committee's work was the „Polowe umundurowanie Wojsk Polskich" ("Field Uniforms and Equipment of the Polish Army”), which came into force in early 1919.
Blue Army - Rank distinctions on the sleeves and caps.
1 — żołnierz,
2 — st. żołnierz (żołnierz I klasy),
3 — kapral,
4 — plutonowy,
5 — sierżant,
6 — aspirant oficer,
7 — adiunkt (st. sierżant podchorąży),
8 — podporucznik,
9 — porucznik,
10 — kapitan,
11 — major,
12 — podpułkownik,
13 — pułkownik,
14 — generał brygady,
15 — generał dywizji
For the Polish Army in France was adopted the existing French light blue uniform, while the subordinate commanders located in Russia chose grey-green for their uniforms.
As a result of the modifications to the earlier regulations made by the French, it was allowed to use a rogatywka cap with a leather strengthened, flat top and with a metal eagle badge for all soldiers. Added were coloured patches in the colours of the weapon branches on their collars, cuffs and trousers, scarlet pipings on the cuffs and an equally special braid on the caps of generals. The weapon emblems, worn on the arms, were, as in the French army, made from cloth. To the traditional silver wężyke and the officer's stars were established rank distinctions for generals and on the collar patches for the officers with the general staff. In addition, staff officers, like in other Polish formations, were distinguished by long, double shoulder cords.
Blue Army - Seldom used special emblems for the collar.
I — strzelcy,
2 — piechota,
3 — artyleria,
4 — kawaleria,
5 — saperzy,
6 — telegrafiści,
7 — czołgi,
8 — samochody,
9 — audytoriat,
10 — mechanicy,
II — lotnicy,
12 — lekarze,
13 — aptekarze,
14 — dentyści,
15 — weterynarze,
16 — tłumacze,
17 — administracja,
18 — kanceliści,
19 — intendentura,
20 — straż polowa (żandarmeria)
31a Blue Army - Army button.
The Polish Army in France returned back home with armoured units, whose uniforms were characteristic with their black berets and the dragon emblem on the sleeve of the jacket. The Polish Army in France transferred to the independent Poland, was the first military unit in uniforms with a square topped cap, wężyke on the generals' cuffs, having the custom of wearing emblems of branches and services on the sleeves, berets for the tankers, and - briefly – rank distinctions for officers on the sleeves.
31a Blue Army - Army button.
31b Blue Army - Artillery button.
32. Blue Army - Rifleman in field uniform, winter.
33. Blue Army - Officer (captain) in field uniform.
34. Blue Army - Light cavalry - dragoon - officer in field uniform.
The French uniforms survived only briefly in the Polish Army, up to the end of 1920. It was one of the first uniforms to be replaced during the war by the new Polish uniform approved of in the end of 1919. (Caused not least from the the poor fabrics the French uniforms being made from, but also caused by internal political reasons. ts)
|| Henryk Wielecki: Uniforms of the Polish Army 1918-1921
Before the M.1919 uniform
The re-use of special elements in the Polish uniform in the absence of specific state regulations was caused by several factors supporting the formation of Polish volunteer troops, mainly through the will of the leaders and their personal interests. In this regard undoubtedly the effectiveness of the leaders efforts, procedures, initiatives and sometimes foolery played an important role. None of the described uniforms could free themselves from the influence of the armies of the German and Austrian armies or allies, in which the men had served, everything was created on that basis. Looking at suitability of the uniforms, in which the Polish soldier came to fight, they had been tested on the battlefields of World War I and corresponded to the generally accepted assumptions about style and colour. Nevertheless the Polish units in a sense were supplied outside the normal supply channels for a national army in a warring country and were condemned to have continuing deficiencies in equipment, which Poland attempted to solve itself. Also in improvised manners were produced most other details used to express the Polish nationality such as eagles, rank distinctions, cords, wężykes, collar patches, etc.
The experiences with the uniforms in various formations during the war years were largely used during the work on the new M.1919 uniform for the Polish Army.
The mosaic of reviving an military uniform did not miss out on the uniforms of the former legions, whose men came out from the internment camps, and neither were forgotten the uniforms worn by the several Polish Corps in Russia.
Caps worn by Polish troops in Russia, 1917-1919.
35-1 Polish troops in Russia, 1917-1919 - Maciejówka type cap
35-2 Polish troops in Russia, 1917-1919 - winter headdress for Polish troops in Siberia with rank distinction of a type like the Polish army in France
35-3 Polish troops in Russia, 1917-1919 - rogatywka worn by artillery officer in I Corps
Emblems worn on the cap and on the breast by Polish troops in Russia.
36-1 Polish troops in Russia - eagle 1 Lancers.
36-2 Polish troops in Russia - eagle staff officer IV Division I Polish Corps
36-3 Polish troops in Russia - eagle II Polish Corps
37 Polish troops in Russia - Lancer officer in service uniform, 1918.
38 Polish troops in Russia - 1 Rifle Regiment, I Polish Corps, 1918.
39. Polish troops in Russia - Sleeve distinctions for the Polish Armed Forces in Russia, 1917-1918.
I — kapral,
2 — kapral nieliniowy,
3 — młodszy podoficer,
4 — młodszy podoficer nieliniowy,
5 — plutonowy,
6 — sierżant (oznaki 1—6 z kolorowej taśmy odpowiadającej barwą rodzajowi wojsk),
7 — chorąży,
10 — kapitan,
II — major,
12 — podpułkownik,
14 —generał podporucznik,
15 — generał porucznik,
16 — generał broni (od 7 do 11 taśma srebrna, od 12 do 16 złota)
40. Polish troops in Russia - Air Force sleeve emblem M. 1917, also worn in Poland until 1919
The Legion uniforms were the most easily adapted to the existing order from 1917 caused by their cut, colour and distinctions
The uniforms of the I Polish Corps in Russia with the round “English” cap with a large flat top, shade and coloured band, lance pennants on the collar and the blue trousers with stripes, were given - or rather taken, when the lancer regiments were formed, being infectiously colourful and so clearly influenced the uniforms of the mounted troops for a transitional period and even later, after the introduction of the regulations defining the new Polish uniform in the mid 1919.
As so often in Polish history the soldiers, especially in the provincial units, launched their own uniform "fashion". Efforts were made, where possible, to bring the provincial colours from the eighteenth century into the received German style uniforms. For example the squadrons from the province of Mazovia had collars with yellow pipings, pennants were blue-yellow, blue cuffs with yellow pipings and maciejówka with a blue band piped yellow. These were the traditional colours of Mazovia. Thus in the first years of its existence the Polish Army was characterized by an extraordinary diversity in terms of military training, customs, command, and uniforms, which in the long run could not be tolerated in any army organisation.
Polish industry and supplies
Efforts to bring such diverse elements into a single army were accompanied by the enormous difficulties associated with having to use the army to deal with the ad hoc situations of the newly formed state, uprisings in Wielkopolska and Silesia, conflicts on the borders and massive forces stationed on the eastern borders during the war. As then said - "instead of borders came new fronts”. Destroyed by war and occupation, the country was faced with enormous deficiencies in armament, equipment and uniforms. One could not count on the speedy production from the domestic, ruined textile and leather industry.
Meanwhile the army grew very rapidly reaching a total of over a million men in 1920. The febrile raising of troops to create an army was accompanied by an almost complete lack of material resources to replace the rapidly consumed uniforms and footwear. The country had been devastated by the war and was almost completely stripped of all stocks of raw materials. Particularly the German wasting, plundering and requisitioning in 1916 finished the textiles, dyes, cotton and all the brass parts of the weaving machines. A lot of raw materials and finished products from abroad were extremely difficult to get hold of caused by the hostile position of almost all of Poland's neighbours. At the same time the population needed food and clothes, which was a quite large and formidable obstacle to compete against for the military administration. Prices of cloth rose, which entailed buying uniforms and parts of such from returned soldiers.
The central army administration responsible for supplying the troops with uniforms and equipment was the Economic Department of the Ministry of Military Affairs (Departamentu Gospodarczego MS Wojsk), set up in November 1918. The first activity of this department focused on securing stocks left by the former occupying forces and the following distribution among the units. The biggest and the best resources were left in the warehouses and workshops of the Poznan Administration and in the uniform magazines in Pommerania. In the former Kingdom of Poland and Malopolska (Lesser Poland) were in the warehouses of Lublin, Deblin, Zamosc, Krakow, Białej, Przemysl and Tarnow secured used materials, repaired and of low quality.
In addition to minor quantities of raw textile materials and hides, which were taken from the stocks of 1918-1925, the stocks included:
These stocks were a drop in the ocean and exhausted too quickly. In this situation, the necessary steps were to buy finished items and raw materials and organize subcontracts for production with private companies together with manufacturing in the Army's own-run workshops in Krakow, Warsaw, Poznan and later in Lwow. In haste the highest state authorities issued a series of legislative acts: The “Receivership of Hides and Tanned Goods” of 7 February 1919, the “Act of Requisitioning and Benefits” from 11 April 1919 and a law on “Tax in Form of Uniforms” from 25 August 1920. Searched for were all stocks of leather shoes, cloth, leather, belts, cartridge pouches, backpacks, canteens, thread, wool waste, etc.
Through the national collections were only received 108.084 pairs of trousers and 124.709 pairs of shoes and boots. They were mostly items of small value for military use or not at all suitable to wear. Woven fabrics and cloth manufactured by different vendors and individual suppliers according to designs did not represent a single type in terms of colour, external appearance or the raw material being used. The quality was very low, both in materials, for items made to specifications and in final uniformity.
The uniforms made by the national producers were of such a wretched material (especially from the factories in Bialystok), that after a few days of exercises, they were ljust shreds.
Constantly new demands poured in from the troops together with rapid reports on fatal health effects and lowered moral as result of the absence of uniforms. The Ministry of Military Affairs was even forced to give temporarily leave to recruits from three districts on absence of uniforms.
Simultaneously were placed major contract overseas for greatcoats, field caps, uniforms, footwear, equipment and cloth. However, the implementation of the purchases went reluctantly caused by difficulties with finance, transportation and politics. The situation still deteriorated, when it came to supplying the troops with combat gear and organizing the production through the Central Office of the Army Supplies (GUZA - Głównego Urzędu Zaopatrzenia Armii), established by the Law of 11 April 1919. Slow and bureaucratic, its work led to a catastrophic lack of uniforms despite the arrival of the first deliveries from abroad. At the same time Minister of the Military Affairs gave the single army commanders permission to purchase and to organize production on their own. To make it short, caused by the ongoing activities of the GUZA, ie, in May 1920, the confusion and disorganization continued in the supply of the military.
In the absence of uniforms coming from government sources, most commanders and even soldiers in the newly formed units had to take care of their own clothing. Uniforms were fabricated by private enterprise and by single craftsmen, often financed with funds coming from public contributions. Particular care and inventiveness to "fashion" in their uniforms showed the cavalry, horse artillery, the Cadet School in Warsaw and the military police (żandarmerii) forces. And then the great chaos in uniforms was even intensified through the individualism and fantasy of the Polish soldiers, tailor errors, lack of appropriate resources, a wish to adorn the uniforms, add chicness and distinction with unregulated details and trimmings resulting in many unregulated inventions and details. The varieties in uniforms were so great that soldiers often did not salute, explaining ignorance of the exhibited uniform and its rank distinctions. In Wielkopolska was published a special plate with the badges and rank distinctions worn in the Kingdom and Galicia to teach the soldiers to distinguish among them. The scale of domestic uniform production in the years 1918-1919 is indicated by the following numbers:
1919-1922 fairly similar and large purchases were made abroad. Due to the financial difficulties used uniforms were imported from the American surplus left in storage in France and from English, French, Italian and Austrian miliatry surplus to complement the shortcomings of Polish military uniforms.
The first transport from France, sent by the Military Purchasing Mission in Paris, consisted of 32 wagons with uniforms and shoes and came to Warsaw on 1 May 1919. It contained used uniforms in different colours and repaired shoes, which by the way were much too small for Polish soldiers. Total value of imported French uniforms was 46.727.000 francs. It was reluctantly used caused by the blue colour, low quality and not very comfortable style. These uniforms were used mainly to fill the uniform gaps in the so-called Blue Army. From the US surplus depots were imported 187.000 jerseys/sweatshirts, 100 000 pairs of trousers, 112.000 greatcoats, 375.000 shoes, 575.000 leggings, 60.000 yards (54.600 m) of cloth for caps and 200.000 forage caps (side caps). For these supplies were paid $ 18.806.000. The cavalry regiments especially sought to import Austrian cavalry outfits from Vienna, especially sought was hussar equipment, jackets made with sheep skin and brown cavalry greatcoats.
Through foreign purchases were 1919-1920 imported:
Foreign expenditures to purchase uniforms were only second to the expenses for equipment and weapons.
Foreign uniforms and equipment
U.S. army surplus was widely used for quite a long time - after appropriate alterations - khaki coloured uniforms in bright mustard shades, mainly woollen jackets, shirts of wool used instead of the jackets and stuck into the trousers with the belt over, trousers were worn with leggings or long boots, puttees (Owijacze), canvas gaiters, shoes, forage caps (used up to 1935), greatcoats and underwear. In the Polish army was also used American equipment such as back packs, haversacks, field flasks and field webbing together with various horse furniture, for example the so-called “Mexican” saddle.
For many years used items were purchased from England, especially riding trousers, shoes, jackets and thick warm coats.
Of Italian uniforms parts were mainly used the thick green-grey woollen greatcoats with hood. In 1921 was purchased rucksacks, haversacks, cartridge pouches, belts, shoes and leggings/puttees from private companies in Vienna. Austrian broken cartridge pouches were purchased by weight. In the mosaic of the Polish Army uniforms are also to be found quite a few different assorted items from the Russian army, uniforms in field-colour, sand-grey with an olive shade, but most often used was the long, Russian greatcoats, warm and almost waterproof, the Russian officer´s field jacket in “French” cut, blue trousers with lampasses and the round “English” cap (introduced by the Polish troops from Russia) with flat top, being very good items, practical and - as reported in later studies - many of them had excellent masking properties in the Polish terrain.
|| Henryk Wielecki: Uniforms of the Polish Army 1918-1921
The Uniform Commission of 1918
Shown above is the wealth of uniform variations from which the emerging Polish Army had to decide on cut, determine on a rank distinction system, the shape of emblems and colours so as to improve the conditions in a progressive way. Remember, the considerations were of both military and political nature. All commanders like to lead uniformly armed and dressed units. Also the high command was interested in getting same uniform for all Poles. The last months of 1919 were to bring the final terms for the organization and amalgamation of all the different military formations.
In addition it was necessary to reckon with the fact that during the period of occupation had in the Polish society arisen some reluctance to armed forces. The same reluctance still also had parts of the Polish people to the National Army, being mostly dressed in uniforms of the recent occupiers.
Several months after independence everything was chaos, as there were no regulations governing uniformity for the whole army. Although one of the first orders issued in December 1918 ordered the whole army to respect the current "Przepisy i instrukcje. Umundurowanie polowe Wojska Polskiego, Warszawa 1917" ("Orders and Instructions. Field Equipment and Uniforms of the Polish Army”) from April 1917, published in Warsaw for the Polish Armed Forces by the Military Department of the Provisional State Council. However, strict enforcement of this order in the contemporary situation was not possible. The first step towards giving a Polish appearance to the thousands of soldiers returned home from the World War I, was to request photos of their old uniforms showing the varieties and peculiarities in the foreign armies, in which they earlier had served. Foreign caps, side arms, clasps, belts, adjutant cords and all the decorations presented by the Russian, German and Austrian authorities. At the same time, in December 1918, the head of MS Wojsk (the Ministry of Military Affairs), Colonel Jan Wroczyński, established the Uniforms Commission (the Komisję Uniformową, later named the Ubiorczą), placing at its head, responsible for the external appearance of the army, the head of the Department for Mobilization Organisation.
As far as possible the Department made major efforts to tidy up the appearance of the troops. In this respect it was met with many obstacles, especially from the inventiveness of the newly formed cavalry and horse artillery regiments on regimental colours, the shape of caps, trousers etc., lampasses were largely modelled on those used by the cavalry of the I Corps.
During 1919 were issued new regulations on uniforms, complementing the Regulation of 1917, especially the uniforms for the army were created from scratch, as were also were the uniforms for the navy and air force. Already 11 January 1919, on the basis of the Regulations of 1917, were set (until a final Polish design could be decided on) the uniforms for all officers plus the air force, navy and artillery, and it was agreed to accept the spontaneously chosen regimental colours by the first five lancer regiments and for the Cavalry School.
42. Shoulderstrap for the Infantry Cadet School (Szkoły Podchorążych Piechoty), worn 1918-1919.
43. Shoulder emblem for Officers School 1919.
Air Force Uniforms
Officers in the Air Force got a temporary navy blue uniform with dark yellow pipings on jacket, trousers, greatcoat and cap. The collar of the kurtka (jacket) and the cap band were made in dark blue velvet and a grey greatcoat was worn with a blue velvet patch on the collar with yellow edging and button. Other ranks in the Air Force wore navy blue jackets with dark yellow pipings on shoulder-straps and on the cap.
41. Air Force eagle 1919.
On the left kurtka sleeve officers wore the badge of the Air Force (a flying bird), embroidered in silver thread on a yellow background, other ranks and privates had the badge embroidered with white thread or painted on a yellow background with oil colour.
The first temporary uniform for navy officers came into use on 28 November 1918, and was the grey M. 1917 uniform with light blue pipings on the cap, white pipings on the collar and with light blue piping on the cuffs and the band on the officers' caps. The emblem of the navy was a yellow, metal anchor on blue background, worn on the shoulder straps. On the cap was an eagle in metal on a blue shield and with a yellow metal anchor. Both the officers and sailors wore long grey trousers with shoes (officers had trousers with a light blue galon). The headdress was the round sailor cap, without visor, dark blue and with a black ribbon. Given the difficulties with such short time to supply the new uniforms, the use of old, foreign uniforms and sailor caps was permitted, here can be found evidence of removal of foreign braids, etc. and instead then adding eagles, stars and shoulderstraps.
In 1918 the six cavalry regiments of I Polish Corps returned to Poland and spontaneously used their former regimental uniform details - pennants on the collars, coloured, flat “English” caps with shade and lampasses on the blue trousers. The January order accepted the status quo and approved, until a new uniform was ready, of the coloured pipings, pennants and the cap colours referring to the old uniforms of the lancer regiments used in the Polish Kingdom and during the November Uprising.
In the cavalry regiments could be worn grey riding trousers with coloured galons and darkblue Cossack pants (when not in service) with lampasses on trousers and pipings in the regimental colour, mostly brought home from Russia after the demobilization of the I Corps or sewn on the trousers back in Poland.
44. Cavalry officers cap 1919.
These examples became contagious, and all the new regiments later formed also demanded to be granted pennants on the collar, coloured cap bands, pipings and lampasses to decorate their uniforms. From that period started the long years of ”horse trading” with demands for colours in the cavalry regiments. Representatives of the cavalry regiments used to argument with establishing the traditions of the old ulan colours, the need for regimental affection and pride of the soldiers in their regimental colours, stressed the national character of these ornaments and cited tradition. It is worth noting that these colourful uniforms of the individual regiments were usually worn by those officers and men, who let their uniforms make on their own expense.
45. Cavalry officer in walking-out uniform 1919, p. 29.
The attempts by the military authorities and the Uniform Commission to fight against the making of faits accomplis in the matter of "bright colours" and "lampasomania" finally ended in failure caused by the strong resistance from the mounted regiments. Hereafter the lancer regiments, the light cavalry and the Tatars formed in 1919-1920 each chose their own colours in same way as the already existing regiments.
46. Ulan in service uniform.
The newly restored horse artillery wore a grey uniform of the ulan type with black pipings, on the collar of the kurtka and greatcoat were the pennons of the cavalry in the traditional colours of the artillery - black and crimson. Further round lancer caps of the English type with a black band and crimson pipings around the top as well as on the riding trousers. The efforts of the Cavalry Inspectorate to get special uniforms for the new divisional cavalry, ie the dragoons (strzelców konnych - mounted rifles), using elements from the uniforms of the lancers and that of the former hussars, were not accepted by the Uniform Commission, as the divisional cavalry should work together with the infantry, why it could not vary from the infantry in colour and cut. So the disappointed mounted infantry still would have to wear normal army uniforms with dark olive pipings and rectangular collar patches with a sewn on uniform button.
Already before the new uniform regulations had been approved, the four Wielkopolska cavalry regiments together with the cavalry regiments no. 1-6, 8-11 and 14, the mounted rifles and the horse artillery had got accepted their regimental colours. And fourteen lancer regiments, two regiments of mounted rifles, the horse artillery, the Tatar regiment and the Life Guard Squadron of the Commander in Chief, from 1922 the President of the Republic, all had got approved the colour of their lampasses. Great diversity and freedom was also shown in the uniforms of the other lancer regiments, squadrons of the airforce, partisans and mounted volunteer regiments, which made their pipings and collar pennants in the colours of their provinces.
So before the new army uniforms were decided on, the mounted units were uniformed in their own garb: cavalry and artillery wore a round cap, the so-called English cap with a metal-edged rim, a grey kurtka, coloured pipings and regimental pennants on the collars, dark blue trousers with coloured lampasses (only on off duty), or grey with coloured piping and grey greatcoats with pennants on the collar (the greatcoats of the officers had coloured pipings).
The Mountain Infantry (strzelców podhalańskich)
Until the new uniform regulations came through, a major uniform issue was the initiative in 1919 by Colonel Andrzej Galica, who introduced the Tatra hats (kapelusz podhalańskich) and the swastika symbol with the Podhale rifle regiments (mountain infantry), which were endorsed by the military authorities on June 21, 1919. This headdress, of a highland type, but in field colour (brown khaki), should be worn instead of caps. For the officers with a double cord of oxidized silver around, for the men in grey wool. On the left side of the cord should be stuck a dark feather from either an eagle or a hawk, fastened by a badge in the shape of a swastika. On the front was an oxidized silver eagle and the rank distinction stars of the officers. On both collar flaps should be the swastika sign with a sprig of fir - for then men in white metal, for the officers embroidered in white thread (the badge was called "the secret cross with a sprig of fir"). The introduction of stars as officers rank distinctions on the hat, this was the first time such a solution had been chosen in the history of Polish military headgear, later it was continued on the new caps according to the order of November 1919. The characteristic Podhale hats gained a permanent place in the Podhale Rifle regiments until the thirties.
A new uniform for the Cadet Corps was established on October 12, 1919 and survived with only minor modifications up to the Second World War.
Among all the different uniforms this uniform closely linked colour and cut to the traditional old uniforms of the Cadet Corps of the Duchy of Warsaw and the Polish Kingdom. It consisted of a new navy-blue, four cornered cap with a shade with yellow edge, a white metal plate in the shape of the half-sun (półsłońca) instead of the National Emblem (from 1922 the national emblem, the eagle, was put on the half-sun. The kurtka was made of dark blue cloth, with five buttons with the letter "K", a standing collar edged with a white metal galon, piped yellow. Also the cuffs were piped with yellow. To the jackets were worn grey trousers with puttees. The greatcoat had a belt made of same cloth and fastened with a button. The uniform of the Cadet Corps started the introduction of the rogatywka in the newborn Polish Army. About this headgear the Uniform Commission specifically had asked the head of Section IV in the Science Department, a prominent military historian, Colonel, Professor Waclaw Tokarz. Cadet School students in Warsaw wore on their daily uniforms a silver galon with a red stripe on the cuffs to distinguish them from the common soldiers' uniforms and the school initials "SP" beneath the crown on the shoulder straps. The kurtka collar had red pipings. It is worth to draw attention to a detail, which has no direct connection with these uniforms, but there are very strong links to the Air Force uniforms and this has survived unchanged to this day. They were created in February 1919 and are shown together with the beautiful drawings of the pilot and observer badges.
In 1918 and 1919 all the legionaries (nine infantry regiments, two cavalry regiments (later becoming mounted rifles), a regiment of field artillery, a battalion (dywizjon) of howitzers and one or two companies of sappers) wore as a special sign of their "nobility" in the „Polskiej Siły Zbrojnej" (Polish Armed Forces) a silver or white wężyke on the front and top of the collar, while all other units had the wężyke along the front and bottom of the collar.
In May 1919, when the unification and integration of the army was launched, the Chief of State personally extended the right to wear the distinctive legionary sign to all officers and soldiers in the Polish Army: "to indicate the unity and externally expressing the will of the whole army to erase any differences." Since then the wężyke has been a special ornament for the Polish Army. Yes, so the kurtka collars of the new formations added another element to the already introduced colour patch and pennons to beautify the uniform. That the kurtka collars were so very different from jackets all over the world, created much confusion, on how the wężyke was to be made and worn. That problem lasted only until July 10, 1919, when a new order regulated that.
Rich iconographic material in the archives of the Army Museum lends to the claim that most of the regulations announced in 1919 remained empty postures. The troops had to use the uniforms available, at hand and so of very various origins. The only common feature for all was the Polish eagle on their caps, later came buttons with the same state emblem.
In a situation with so much diversity among the uniforms, very little help can be arranged by "a strict adherence to the rules and instructions to the cut and ornaments of the uniforms."
47. Private cap M. 1919.
48. Privates kurtka M.1919.
49. Brigadier General M. 1919.
50. Furażerka (side-cap) M.1919.
51. Cap eagle M.1919.
The picture painted above on the uniforms of 1919 leads us to reflect on the desirability of many solutions.
In general, many of the shortcomings of the uniforms, experienced at that time, could have been avoided, if the sums spent on colourful uniforms had been used in a more purposeful way. Not all the ornaments on the uniforms, like lampasses on the dark-blue riding breeches could be justified with compliance to traditions. They had nothing in common with the trousers worn by any former Polish Army, but were more similar to Cossack pants.
With great gusto the lancers wore bright coloured cap bands on the battlefield - among these white and yellow bands - with an ostentatious disregard for the principles of field uniforms.
Colonel Wladyslaw Dunin-Wasowicz, member of the Uniform Commission, gave a very convincing argument, when he on 30. January 1919 voted against the coloured cap-bands: During the fightings against the Ukrainians at Lwov, the 3rd Ulans, who wore a yellow cap band, took 46% of their casualties from gunshots to the head. In 1919 a dozen regiments had coloured cap bands, of these nine cavalry regiments with colours like white, yellow and pink. The overloaded uniforms of the cavalry and horse artillery with coloured pipings, collar pennons and coloured cap bands had very little to do with a battle dress and was consistently fought against by the Uniform Commission working on the new uniform. Against gaudiness and unnecessary ornaments spoke any experienced commander.
|| Henryk Wielecki: Uniforms of the Polish Army 1918-1921
The Birth of the Modern Polish Khaki Uniform
As mentioned, the changes and additions for uniforming the army were done by the Mobilization Department in the Ministry of Military Affairs in consultation with the Uniform Commission established December 1918. However, the main task put up by the Ministry of Military Affairs to the Uniform Commission was quickly to prepare a draft on a new Polish uniform. At a preliminary conference in the Ministry of Military Affairs were invited representatives from the General Staff, the Chief of the Mobilization Department, responsible for the work of the committee and Lieutenant Nicholas Wisznicki – an artist, who among other works had made the drawings depicting the uniforms of the I Polish Corps (the illustrations can be seen on siberia-miniatures.ru/forum/showthread.php?fid=12&tid=177), the distinguished historian of arms and uniforms, Director of the National Museum, Bronislaw Gembarzewski, the Captain and well-known painter Wojciech Kossak, the art historian, Professor Eligiusz Niewiadomski and Professor Casimir Slowinski from the Warsaw University of Technology. The meeting was chaired by the Head of the Ministry of Military Affairs, Colonel Jan Wroczyñski. He emphasized the urgent need to create an unique, national Polish uniform, taking into account national capabilities and submit a proposal to the Sejm for approval in January 1919.
The suggested design should take into account national traditions and current needs, trying to harmonize the uniforms without discrimination of any kind between weapon branches and seek to erase the differences between the uniforms of officers and soldiers. Considerations should also be taken on the economic situation of the country, so the new uniform should be as cheap as possible. During the following discussions it was found necessary to set up a special work-group to address the uniform design. At the same time, in order to keep the uniforms standardized and also be usable for the coming additions to the army and the introduction of badges for these weapon branches, which not yet had been formed, a temporary committee was set up composed of Second-Lieutenant Nicholas Wisznicki and the military official Bienkowski.
The first working meeting of the Uniform Commission was held on 16 December 1918 at the headoffice of the Mobilization Department at the Castle of Warsaw under the chairmanship of the Head of the Department, Colonel Casimir Czerwiñski. In addition to those participating in the meeting previous mentioned, as member of the commission was appointed as Secretary, Remigiusz Kwiatkowski, head of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Military Affairs and as deputy chairman was selected by Bronislaw Gembarzewski.
The first stage of the work in the committee, until May 1919, clearly showed the dominant role of the most eminent expert io the former Polish military uniforms and equipment, B. Gembarzewski, both as to style, methods and directions of the work. He began to get the members acquainted with the French Uniforms Commission of 1812, the Russian era of Nicholas I and the history of Polish uniforms. Gembarzewski's motto for the work on a new uniform was: "An uniform expresses the spirit of the army."
The Commission adopted as main directions for research and development:
1) to set out the basic types of uniforms,
2) to determine the colour and style of the uniform,
3) to develop rules and ways to distinguish the different arms and services,
4) to develop a system and forms for military insignias,
5) to develop transitional regulations.
During the discussions it appeared that the established work program was very extensive, aroused much controversy and the job could not be achieved within the scheduled two months. Differences of opinions on issues of substance and the form of the committee's work resulted in an impasse on several occasions, which ultimately lasted until the end of October 1919. Throughout all the work in the commission was the fundamental issue: how best to bridge the broken line to nearly 90 years old uniform traditions, while widely taking into consideration the experiences from the battlefields of WWI.
In determining the types of uniforms clashed different approaches, the proposed more luxury development of three distinct types - a field, a peacetime (garrison) and a great or gala uniform. The concept, which eventually won was an uniform in universal field colour, which by adding some ornaments could be converted into a garrison uniform. The gala dress proposals stranded decisively on the negative position from the top brass in the Ministry of Military Affairs and the Economic Department. Despite developments had been made on different versions of the uniform, the issue was postponed to the future.
In the discussion on the future uniform colour, it was agreed unanimously on the now mostly worn military uniform was not acceptable, as the colour was German, even though the factories in Poland produced cloth in feldgrau colour for the army and it had good, reliable field properties. Before deciding on a colour it was decided in February 1919 to gather uniform regulations, items of uniforms, personal equipment and information about the distinctions for officers and NCOs in various foreign armies. For this purpose, two platoons from 32nd Infantry Regiment were dressed up in German, American and Swiss uniforms, French, Russian, Japanese and English greatcoats and Italian blouses. A test area was chosen around the train station in Wawer, time: day hours 15-17.00, background - a sparse pine forest, lighting - sun from the side, distance of observation - 100-400 m. The demonstration showed that in gray and rusty-red-brown surroundings, which are the most common in the Polish landscape, the American uniforms were to prefer for a field uniform. In second place came the Russian coat (gray greatcoats), and as third – the British khaki colour, which, in turn proved to be very good on the background of fresh greenage. The Commission considered that the most versatile camouflage colour, satisfying for a field uniform, was the British khaki, which also adapted well to the background of gray and rust colour and quite satisfactory against the natures green. Attention was paid to the fact that the British greatcoats in khaki colour was of a more gray-brown tone, which well adapted to the colours in the autumn and winter. After further tests it turned out that the colour khaki was best in the test - both on the background of natures green and on the background of fawn, dark brown, withered grass, soil and foliage at changing distances and lighting conditions. Against the background of high forest trees (gray and gray tones) it was second only to the German colour. Against the background of especially the horizon and at large distances, it was worse than the French. These tests were followed closely by the public. The Commission received from a Dr. Francis Æsernaka a suggestion to adopt a colour identified as "szaraczek Polish", ie the colour of iron. The chosen colour for the field uniform is in the final recipe called “gray-brown - with no green”.
In parallel with the work in the committee on a new uniform was made a thorough analysis of the currently used uniforms, collecting critical comments on the coloured capbands, pipings, lampasses and other ornaments.
Rogatywka or maciejówka?
For many months was discussed and argued about the cut of the uniform, especially the headdress. Currently the army wore a little round cap, the maciejówka (mainly used by the foot soldiers), a round English type cap with coloured cap band and shade with a white metal edge (cavalry and horse artillery) and the rogatywka cap (used by the Wielkopolska Army and the Polish “Blue” Army arrived from France). The maciejówka was the youngest tradition associated with the Legions and enjoyed a reputation in the German society as a cap for students or as a popular, non-military headgear. Some pressure was exerted for the rogatywka by members of the French military mission in Poland, quering when the Poles finally would replace the "casquette Boche", unpleasant to them, with a Polish cap. The maciejówka had its staunchest defenders among influential, former officers of the First Legion Brigade. In 1916 the cap became almost the symbol for the anti-Austrian revolt in the Legion, a sign of solidarity with the First Brigade on their demands to the oath-declaration from the Polish troops in the other brigades, who then stripped off their Austrian military distinctions, rejected the rogatywka and imposed the maciejówka.
By the end of the Committee's work on the new champion for a uniform, soliciting the round cap was also the Economics Department of the Ministry of Military Affairs. Its representative expressed the view strongly, responding to the arguments of the rogatywka supporters that "the nationality of an army is in the spirit of it, and not in the outer form of a uniform. Looking at the spirit in foreign armies neither a soldier nor an officer would purchase a rogatywka just for wearing national characteristics." The grey maciejówka in the opinion of the Department was already the national cap, the symbol of the liberation, the struggle for independence, and generally already served as the headdress for half of the male population in the country. Supporters of the maciejówka or another military, round and higher English cap type brought up an argument about the advisability of the form: if the head is round, also its cover should be round, which is better arranged and fitting to the head.
The rogatywka in turn had a very strong argument in ancient and recent traditions. It was considered the national cap of the eighteenth century, the most characteristic part of the national cavalry uniform, worn by the soldiers of Kosciuszko, Dabrowski, Poniatowski and in the national uprisings in the nineteenth century. Cared for over the centuries by tradition comes a new rogatywka, as recently as during World War I. The rogatywka was worn in all Polish military formations in the Great War. They came in different shapes, from the high historic caps used by the 1st Lancer Regiment in the Legion to the different varieties of low, soft rogatywka caps without shade, like those worn by the soldiers in the Polish Army in France.
At the time when the Committee debated the choice of the basic military headgear, the rogatywka was worn with pride by the Wielkopolska Army and the soldiers of the Polish Army in France. Finally, September 21, 1919, the Committee voted in favour of the introduction of the rogatywka as a type of headgear being specifically Polish, giving the field uniform a clear national character "so strangers around the world will recognize the Poles”.
For reintroducing the military rogatywka considerable merit can be attributed to the Chairman of the Uniform Committee after its reorganization in May 1919, the well-known military historian, Colonel in the General Staff, Dr. Marian Kukielow, who seconded the cap model developer, Bronislaw Gembarzewski. According to their intentions the rogatywka with its roots in historical traditions had become the external symbol of the unity of the national army serving the Republic, as successor and heir to the former Polish army.
So it became a cap in field colour with a little brim, modest, without coloured bands and pipings, the same for the whole army. On the front was the emblem provided for military, a ready eagle like the eagles worn by the soldiers in the Duchy of Warsaw and the Polish Kingdom, with outstretched wings ready to fly, and also ready claws. An Amazone shield, reminiscent of the old knight's gorget, on which was to be imprented the number of battalions and service badges. A completely new solution was the system of rank distinctions on the cap, using stars on the band, silver galons along the edges and the top and on the upper edge of the band. Opponents of the rogatywka have maliciously seen in this solution a recall of symbols from the Teutonic Knights. On a special request from the Head of State, Jozef Pilsudski, the cap tops had to be stiffened. In practice, it went different and often only the privates wore rigid caps, until 1922 when all the tops became soft up to 1935.
A special set of problems related to style to the jackets for soldiers and officers. It was decided on the type of officer-type service jackets similar in style to the French and English, apart from various projects for grand gala officer jackets, which were not realized. Designed was fastening with five eagle buttons, standing folding collar fastened with two hooks, four external pockets without any pipings along the edges and seams.
54. Officer kurtka M. 1919.
In choosing a jacket for the men of all arms and services was also used the French model.
Thoroughly considered was the matter of outside pockets on the jacket. Speaking for the pockets was the argument that they are capable of taking a larger content, in addition the non-commissioned officers would be able to hide his notepad, maps, etc.
53. Private kurtka M. 1919.
Against the upper pockets was put forward, they would cause trouble, especially the flap buttons, when crawling, would be exposed to continuous detachment, hinder the belt buckle of the back-pack and finally the costs. The opinion of the Infantry Inspector General eventually prevailed, who was opposed to the upper pockets for rankers.
Finally was decided on a jacket that would be easily adjusted to the figure of a soldier, fastened with five eagle buttons with a diameter of 2 cm, a standing folding collar, shoulderstraps made of cloth and two lower, slanted pockets, possible to use even when wearing the personal equipment.
For the officers and generals were designed two types of trousers in the same colour as the jacket.
A type of breeches to be used with boots and long trousers with straps without any pipings to be used with shoes and for the generals pants with lampasses. From the tone and the course of discussions among the Uniform Commission's opinion and central institutions responsible for the shape and colour of the future uniforms can be seen a thorough critique of the current military dress and especially of the mounted troops for their fondness of colourful pipings, cap bands, pennants and lampasses. It was decided not to prolong the life of the dark blue pants with coloured stripes worn earlier and revived and used by the former cavalry formations from the eastern ulan regiments, as they did not harmonize with the new gray-brown-green (earlier is said with no green in the colour mix?) jacket.
It was decided to eliminate the stripes, pipings and lampasses commonly worn by the cavalry, horse artillery and officers of the General Staff as having no Polish tradition and being too expensive.
Coloured lampasses and pipings on dark blue trousers were provided only for the generals as a distinction of rank. Pants for all rankers were to be of same type, the so-called short length (krótkie), and then having from the knee down either leggings or long boots.
55. Privates pants M. 1919, to be used with shoes and puttees.
The cut of the greatcoat was made after French design. It was of the same colour as the uniform (as suggested by the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Military Affairs, General Kazimierz Sosnkowski), fastened with six eagle buttons, the collar in a slightly darker hue, a standing and folding collar, shoulderstraps and cuffs, and with a slit at the back with four small buttons.
57. Great-coat M. 1919 used by all
Also it was decided not to re-introduce the existing coloured pipings on the greatcoats, but only to put coloured pipings in the weapon and service colours on the collar. The greatcoats were spacious enough to wear a a sheepskin jacket beneath and the collar large enough to turn up and so cover the ears. The pockets were made open to allow for delving into the pant-pockets without having to raise a flap.
The shoes did not have a major impact on the future shaping of the uniform, so the Committee did not devote much attention on that subject. The primary type of footwear was broad, low-heeled, ankle high leather shoes, laced and with an elastic leather flap with folds to protect against penetration of water into the shoe. With a number of half-boots were worn leggings made of cloth, the officers usually used blackened leather gaiters and boots. When accepting leggings was taken into account that they were used in almost all armies in the world. Their advantage, according to contemporary views, was keeping the feet flexable by holding the shin and calf muscle together. On mounted duty all wore long boots with spurs or leather gaiters (stylpy). Due to the difficulty getting raw materials and the devastation of the tanning industry, the maximum use was expected of the footwear, which the military already possessed. Also in favor of shoes for the infantry were argumented by the military: the largest number of such type shoes were left by the invading armies, lesser production costs, raw material problems and the reluctance to boots, as such were worn by Russian and German soldiers. Also, more practical considerations mitigated for shoes. They were lighter, more flexible, breathhable, faster drying after becoming wet during crawling and did not get stuck in muddy ground.
Distinctions and badges
It caused much trouble in the Uniform Commission to develop a rational and cost-effective, yet distinctive system of weapon badges for the different units and services, especially as since September 1919 it had been fully clear, which troops should be classified as weapons and which as services. At the same time it had to be made without loss of colour, but sparingly to avoid lots of colours and so minimize the foreign exchange costs purchasing coloured cloth abroad. The Commission took the view, seeking to unify the uniforms, first of all should be eliminated the pennants on the collars of jackets and greatcoats in the mounted weapons and instead introduced colour patches with coloured piping (eg, infantry - dark blue patch with yellow piping), the same decoration for all of weapons , including those who existed at that time: infantry, cavalry artillery, technical troops (engineers, bridge and technical battalions, communications, train and automobiles, armored cars, tanks, armoured trains and railway units), air force, the Border Guard, gendarmery, army train and military doctors.
On the greatcoat collars were repeated the colours of the patches and pipings in bi-colour stripes, the upper in the patch colour, the lower in the piping colour. The services, which did not get special colour patches, included: veterinarians, judicial corps, topographers and surveyors, intendantura, provianturê, accounting officers, clerical officers and clergy, these only got a patch in the uniform colour with coloured piping and special emblems on the collar. Later this resulted in, after the release of the regulation, that many of the "victims" sent in their colourful designs for a patch, asking for approval.
When deciding on the colour of the patches and pipings, efforts were made to ensure, wherever possible, that the traditions of the military uniforms from previous eras were upheld. Crimson piping on dark blue patch for generals and officers of the General Staff referred to the colour of the old uniforms from the periods of the Great Sejm, the Duchy of Warsaw and the Polish Kingdom.
61. Collar patch for officers M. 1919, p. 38.
62. Collar patch for privates M. 1919, p. 38.
Blue patch with yellow piping for the infantry captured the old colours, symbolicing the infantry uniforms with yellow lapels. Similarly, the lancers crimson patch, crimson with a dark green piping for the mounted rifles, the dark green patch with black piping the artillery and the black with crimson piping the engineers, all referred to the old uniforms, which these formations had worn from the eighteenth century to 1831. The patches in the whole army, regardless of rank, were adorned by a silver ribbon of varying the width, the wê¿yke, the traditional wavy line. The wê¿yke was introduced personally by the Head of State on May 23, 1919, as a sign of unity in the new born army, it was - next to the rogatywka caps - one of the most characteristic details of the Polish uniform.
The patch and pointed collars on the greatcoats of generals and officers of the General Staff were adorned with the a silver eagle without shield, according to the amendments and the order by the Deputy Minister of the Ministry for Military Affairs on September 21, 1919.
59. Collar patch for Marshall M. 1920, p. 38.
60. Collar patch for Generals M. 1919, p. 38.
The symbols showing the soldier being part of a special service or regiment were to be regimental numbers on the eagle shield on the cap and on the shoulderstraps should be the initial "C" for the heavy artillery, "K" for the horse artillery, "M" for the technical battalions (batalionach maszynowych) and the "MS" (batalionach mostowych) for the bridge battalions. Officers and men in special units were granted the right to wear specialist signs on the left sleeve.
63. Initials on the shoulder straps M. 1919, p. 39
1 - Heavy Artillery,
2 - Horse Artillery,
3 - Engineer battalion,
4 - Bridge Layer Battalion
|| Henryk Wielecki: Uniforms of the Polish Army 1918-1921
Before designing the rank distinctions were meticulously studied the distinction systems in foreign armies and the Polish Army formed in France. Until September 1919, it was meant only to place the rank distinctions on the shoulderstraps and the sleeves of jackets and greatcoats. Probably under the influence from discussions in the Warsaw press, August 1919, and the following flood of comments to the Commission from both the army and the civilian population, in September 1919 it was decided to put rank distinctions also on the cap. Among the other comments mentioned above was one sent by Dr. F. Ćsernak, who wrote: "When the soldier recognizes a charge, he shall look simply and boldly into the face of the superior, and not towards the ground, which is alien to the spirit of Polish traditions".
There was no lack of quite original proposals. For example, a Bachtówka villager from the Lublin area, Jan Mierzwa, suggested distinctions, which are not to be found in any army, namely designed as chamomile flowers in silver filaments. At the same time he sent ideas for "3 caps with shades, all totally inspired by foreign troops." After long hesitation, it was decided on a crimson ribbon system for non-commissioned officers and senior privates only to be worn on the shoulderstraps and sleeves of the jackets and greatcoats.
In the Regulations of 1919 (the „Przepisie" 1919 can be found on the internet at http://chomikuj.pl/Bedouin/Militaria/Regulaminy/Przepis+ubioru+polowego+Wojska+Polskiego+1919+r,1776519475.pdf ) it was not intended for non-commissioned officers to have rank distinctions on their caps, but this was soon changed. From February 11, 1920 non-commissioned officers were given the right to have rank distinctions of crimson ribbons also on their cap bands. The distinction for officer cadets/ensigns (podchorążych) was a whitemetal tape, warrant officers/lieutenants (chorążych) like the sergeants had a crimson tape but with one officer´s star. Distinction for the junior officers was to be a five pointed, convex star on the shoulder straps, sleeves and on the front on the caps and silver gallons along the top of the cap band and silver pipings on the garrison caps. For senior officers, there were two silver pipings and stars on the shoulderstraps, double gallon on the the cap band and gallons and two silver stars on the wyłogach, a short tape on the sleeves. (For senior officers, there were two silver stripes and stars on the epaulettes, double gallon on the cap bands and two silver tapes with stars on the sleeves.)
Characteristic for a General's dinstinctions were the silver wezyke and the stars on the cap band, shoulder straps and the sleeve tapes. This excess was dictated by the desire for refinement to ensure that the soldiers quickly could recognize his military rank. Rank distinctions on the sleeves was undoubtedly also a nod to the formations of the Wielkopolska and the “Blue Army”, which previously wore a similar type of distinctions. The new rank distinctions for officers were made of oxidized silver and white metal, more fitting to the spirit of a field uniform and far less expensive than the previously worn so-called trzepaczek (treffle), woven from silver cords and having gold stars. The new rank system was introduced in 1919 and with minor changes and additions, it has survived to the present day.
67. Distinctions on shoulderstraps. 1919-1938.
I — szeregowy,
2 — st. (starszy) szeregowy,
3 — kapral,
4 — plutonowy,
5 — sierżant,
6 — st. sierżant,
7 — chorąży,
8 — podporucznik,
9 — porucznik,
10 — kapitan,
II — major,
12 — podpułkownik,
13 — pułkownik,
14 — generał brygady,
15 — generał dywizji,
16 — generał broni,
17 — marszałek Polski
The Uniform Commission did not deal with the design of personal equipment and underwear. Work on the design of equipment items like: knapsack, ammunition pouches, haversack, canteen, mess tin and such first started 1922-1935. For several years the military had equipment enough left by the occupants, acquired or bought abroad.
On September 21, 1919, the head and deputies of the Ministry of Military Affairs agreed on, as "supplement to the uniform" for the men in the field to implement a belt with a width of 5.5 cm, with a metal buckle with two spikes.
65. Officer's belt M. 1919 - Sam Browne type - with sabre frog
The officers adopted the English-type Sam Browne belt with a belt over the right shoulder and a so-called “koalicyjką”, with sabre-frog and leather strap for carrying the sword under the jacket.
66. Sabre belt to be worn with kurtka M. 1919.
The pride of generals and officers of the General Staff and staff aides were their double shoulder-cords (akselbanty) in white metal, worn on the right shoulder, for staff aides the ornament was only with single cords.
146. Shoulder cords for Army and Air Force:
1 - generals and officers, who perform qualified staff service, aides to the President and the General Inspector of the Armed Forces and assigned officers, officer aides to the Ministry of War, 2 - officer aides to the Army Inspectors, to the Deputy War Minister, to District Corps Commanders and lower-level officer aides, 3 - Gendarmery officers (silver) and gendarmes (yellow).
Gendarmery - Military Police
Also gendarmery officers wore a single cord on the left shoulder and gendarmes wore same, but made of light yellow wool. An indication of the military police was also a tin-gorget with the embossed national eagle, worn in service around the neck right up into the 1930ies.
218. Gendarmery gorget M.1919
Since 1919, the gendarmes wore infantry uniforms, differing only in colour of the collar patches (purple with yellow piping) and as official distinction wearing a metal gorget with an eagle, worn at the neck until 1930. In addition, officers and NCOs wore shoulder white cords of oxidised metal, while the gendarmes wore cords of light yellow wool or cotton. The cords of the gendarmerie had a different pattern from those of the adjudants and were worn on the left shoulder.
Collar distinctions and colour patches
The Uniform Commission, which repeatedly changed its members and many times extended its deadlines on completion, in September 1919 found their sugestions on uniforms and distinctions suitable to present to the Supreme Commander. In the opinion of Joseph Pilsudski one should limit the variety of colour patches for technical units and draw attention to the need of extending the period using old uniforms for economic reasons and take into consideration the financial capacity of the state.
134 collar patches. Some are for units formed after 1921 and also some colours can have changed since 1921.
1 — generałowie, 2 — piechota i strzelcy podhalańscy, 3 — bataliony strzelców, 4 — batalion morski, 5 — artyleria lekka i motorowa, 6 — artyleria ciężka, 7 — artyleria najcięższa, 8 — artyleria przeciwlotnicza, 9 — pomiary artyleryjskie, 10 — lotnictwo (do 1936 r.), 11 — baony saperów, mostowe i elektrotechniczne, 12 — baony mostów kolejowych i silnikowe, 13 — łączność, 14 — żandarmeria, 15 — służba uzbrojenia, 16 — służba intendentury (oficerowie), 17 — administracja i szeregowi intendentury, 18 — lekarze, 19 — farmaceuci, 20 — dentyści, 21 — weterynarze, 22 — oficerowie sanitarni i podlekarze, 23 — szeregowi służby zdrowia, 24 — służba sprawiedliwości, 25 — oficerowie geografowie, 26 — korpus kontrolerów, 27 — kapelmistrze, 28 — kapelani, 29 — podchorążowie piechoty, 30 — podchorążowie artylerii, 31 —podchorążowie lotnictwa (do 1936 r.), 32 — podchorążowie saperów, 33 — podchorążowie łączności, 34 — podchorążowie służby zdrowia, 35 — szkoły podoficerskie piechoty, 36 — szkoły podoficerskie artylerii, 37 — Korpus Ochrony Pogranicza.
135. Jacket and greatcoat collar pennants used by the mounted units.Some of these are for later than 1921, alsosome units can have changed colours since 1921?
1—3 — 1—3 p. szwoleżerów, 4 — 1 puł, 5 — 2 pul, 6 — 3 puł, 7 — 4 pul, 8 —5 puł, 9 —6 puł, 10 — 7 puł, 11—8 puł, 12 — 9 puł, 13 — 10 puł, 14 — U puł, 15 — 12 puł, 16 — 13 puł., 17— 14 puł, 18 — 15 puł, 19 — 16 puł, 20—17 puł, 21 — 18 puł, 22 — 19 puł, 23 — 20 puł, 24 — 21 puł, 25 — 22 puł, 26 — 23 puł, 27 — 24 puł, 28 — 25 puł, 29 — 26 puł, 30 — 27 puł, 31 — 1 psk, 32 — 2 psk, 33 — 3 psk, 34 — 4 psk, 35 — 5 psk, 36 — 6 psk, 37 — 7 psk, 38 — 8 psk, 39 — 9 psk, 40 — 10 psk, 41 — szwadrony pionierów, 42 — dywizjony artylerii konnej, 43 — bataliony i dywizjony pancerne, 44 — tabory, 45 — szkoły kawalerii, 46 — szwadrony samochodów pancernych (do 1930 r.), 47 — kawaleria Korpusu Ochrony Pogranicza, 48 — szwadrony łączności, 49 — szwadrony krakusów, 50 — dywizjon rozpoznawczy 10 brygady kawalerii zmotoryzowanej, 51 — dywizjon przeciwpancerny 10 brygady kawalerii zmotoryzowanej.
60. Collar patch for Generals M. 1919.
61. Collar patch for officers M. 1919.
62. Collar patch for privates M. 1919.
63. Initials on the shoulder straps M. 1919.
1 - Heavy Artillery,
2 - Horse Artillery,
3 - Engineer battalion,
4 - Bridge Layer Battalion
52. Collar distinctions for military chaplains
58. Chaplains Czamara M. 1919.
on chaplains se further:
The Ministry of Military Affairs made several changes to the proposed patch colours, it drew attention to the need for work on a jacket pattern and introduction of forage caps for all soldiers and airmen using helmets in the service. Forage caps with a metal eagle were finally permitted to be worn doing any kind of work in the stables, workshops, etc. and to use as pad under the helmets.
|| Henryk Wielecki: Uniforms of the Polish Army 1918-1921
The Commission completed their work by formulating regulations for the uniforms to be worn in combat, garrison, service, salon and for daily use.
Field uniform for officers included: jacket, pants, laced ankle boots/shoes with leggings or
leather gaiters (stylpy), or boots, eventually with spurs. Officers in the field wore the “Sam Browne” officer's belt, with a belt over his shoulder, with a frog to carry a sidearm, either a sword or a bayonet with an officers sabre knot, revolver or pistol and binoculars in case, field shoulder-bag, whistle, cap or helmet, field cap (furażerkę), brown gloves, greatcoat and raincoat.
68. Officer in field uniform, winter, M. 1919.
Garrison uniform was identical - except for raincoat. Garrison uniform was without pistol, binoculars, field bags, shoulder belt, forage cap, helmet or raincoat.
69. Officer in the garrison uniform, winter, with sabre worn beneath his greatcoat M. 1919.
70. Officer in mess uniform M. 1919.
The main belt alone was not only worn with jackets, but also it could be worn, when troops were in full uniform on parade, review, inspections, etc..
Mess uniform included: field jacket, long trousers with straps, boots, spurs, sword-strap under the jacket, sword, cap, leather gloves. White jackets were permitted for evening dances.
Daily uniform was like the service uniform, except it was allowed to wear long trousers.
Field uniform for others consisted of jackets, trousers, shoes with leggings or laced half-boots and long boots for the mounted troops, cap or helmet, field cap (on the march and when resting), greatcoat, belt and field equipment (backpack, knapsack, cartridge pouches, field spade, sabre belt or bayonet frog.).
71. Private in field uniform M. 1919, p. 40.
73. Private in service uniform M. 1919.
Garrison uniform as above, but without the backpack and haversack.
72. NCO (sergeant) in walking-out uniform M. 1919.
With the official and everyday uniform was not worn helmets, field caps or field equipment. The uniform was like that for daily service, except it was allowed to wear long trousers.
72. NCO (sergeant) in walking-out uniform M. 1919.
With duty and daily uniforms were worn neither helmets or forage caps nor field equipment.
With the Regulation of 1919 was made a schedule for a gradual implementation of the new national uniform, assuming its completion within eighteen months, ie 1 July 1921. The first step towards the unification was supposed to be the introduction from 1 March 1920 of the new rank distinctions and caps for all officers, regardless of the currently type of uniform worn. By 1 July 1920, every officer was to have accuqired a complete new outfit with the exception of the greatcoat.
"The Regulations for the Field Uniforms of the Polish Army" („Przepis ubioru polowego Wojska Polskiego") was approved with the Decree of 1 September 1919 by the Commander in Chief, Jozef Pilsudski, and published in the "Official Military Orders" („Dzienniku Rozkazów Wojskowych") November 15, 1919.
At the end of 1920, the regulations were amended and supplemented by the Ministry of Military Affairs from January to May 1920 and these amandments were published as a booklet in the series of Military Guide Books, Warsaw (Główna Księgarnia Wojskowa w Warszawie). The first stage of the Uniform Commission's work had come to an end by creating a new national uniform after almost 90 years without a regular Polish Army.
The “Regulations", published 15 November 1919, were not made with enough care and precision. There were no specific dimensions on the individual items and it did not contain details on buttons and emblems, nor on personal field equipment (except for the belt and sword frog), inaccurate drawings or lack thereof resulted in many items were individually made to the order and taste of individual officers.
The Uniform Commission and also the military authorities were inundated with questions regarding uniform details and requests to change or introduce ideas developed in the regiments.When the new uniform began to come into use from May 1920, several changes and additions had to be made. The most important were:
1) Introduction of distinctions for Ensigns, 2nd Lieutenants and Warrant Officers (chorążego), wearing officer jackets, but with shoulderstraps like Staff Sergeants with the addition of stars, crimson tapes on the cap and a star on the cap band.
2) Cancellation for economic reasons of the tape distinctions on the sleeves of jackets and greatcoats.
3) The introduction of rank distinctions on the caps of non-commissioned officers.
4) Arranging distinctions for the presidential guard squadron and the Adjutant of same squadron on the new field uniform.
5) Arranging distinctions and uniforms for non-Catholic and non-Christian army chaplains.
6) Granting the right to podchorążych (ensigns/warrant officers/2. Lieutenants) to wear officer jackets.
7) changing the colour pipings on the collar patches of intendanture officers and administrative (gospodarczych) officers and judicialofficers.
8) The introduction of the distinctions for a Polish Marshal, an eagle with two crossed maces embroidered on the the collar patches, crossed maces on the shoulder straps and on the cap band.
59. Collar patch for Marshall M. 1920
9) Introduction of distinctions for the Mountain School in Zakopane and the mountain patrols.
The new field uniform introduced over the years almost put an end to the great variety of uniforms and launched a new phase in the development of the Polish uniforms for the next decade. To achieve full unity one had to wait several more years. During that period were still used, until they were worn out, various old uniform parts.
In terms of continuing the old traditions it would be anachronistic to return to the style and colours of uniforms dating back over 100 years. Adopted was a different solution. All soldiers were given the Polish cap, the rogatywka with an eagle, the emblem of the forces formed in the Principality of Warsaw and well-established in the era of the Polish Kingdom. The colour patch tried to establish the colours of the old army uniforms by decorating with the silver wężyk ornament, former a general's rank distinction and adapted on the collars of uniforms by the legion in 1914, it became the next link to one of the most characteristic elements of the military uniform of the Second Republic.
The national character was also highlighted by the use of buttons with the national eagle on, as well as the silver cords for Generals, General Staff officers and ADCs.
Returned to was also the tradition of five pointed silver stars for officers and the double lampasses on general´s trousers. The cut of the Polish uniform M.1919 was based on the uniforms of the English, the French M.15 and too had some traits from the German M.16. It was in fact already slightly outdated, yet it was made in the late nineteenth century fashion as a so-called “sports uniform”, short trousers (narrowing from the knee down), with puttees and laced shoes, as it was quite widely used in the various paramilitary organizations, like the scouting organizations, Sokol and Rifle Associations, in which such clothing was useful for exercises and activities in the field.
The Polish Army used the same kind of trousers as were worn in almost all other armies of the period, trousers which were tight-fitting on knee and calf and with those wore puttees.
Also, the colour of the uniform had its origin in the English khaki field-colour. The distinction system with tapes on the sleeves, which soon was abandoned, was an imitation of same kind of system used in the French, Italian, British and American armies, and rather unconsciously, almost exactly like the Spanish distinctions. The sleeve distinctions were withdrawn after the Economic Department in the Ministry of Military Affairs commented their introduction with the following comments: the designs were too large, expensive (silver embroidery), unstable, stars made in metal could destroy the lining of the greatcoats and braek off. It was calculated the expenditures for such distinctions for all officers would be 4-6 million Marks a year and half that sum would be in foreign currency.
The most useful, clear and harmonizing with the new field uniform was to be the rank distinction system on the shoulderstraps and caps. The viability of this system is shown by the fact that it has withstood the test of time and survived to this day. It combines an aesthetic value and at the same time gives a fast-read system of military ranks. The new uniform was intended to be a unifier, similar in style and colour for all types of troops and services of all ranks.
Differences in the style of the officer's jacket (the “Sam Browne” belt, four pockets and the broad silver wężyke wide on the collar), gallons and stars on his cap, high boots or stylpy (leather gaiters), the compulsory wearing of swords - in fact, clearly distinguished the officers from the privates in the service. In combat, when the troops wore garrison cap or helmet, these differences were not so evident, unless it was ordered to wear uniforms with those elements.
In the years between the wars, a steady advocate on having unifying military uniforms was the then director of the National Museum, and from 1920 of the Army Museum, Colonel Bronislaw Gembarzewski, a member of many uniform committees. In his view, the development of the uniform should be based on the uniform of the private soldier, and those of the non-commissioned officer and officer were to be an emanation and further development of the first. A main and common uniform, regardless of differences in details, to unite the army. Gembarzewski correctly noted that "the antagonism between officers and soldiers, that is, between the "privileged” and "underprivileged ", was compounded by many things, not least the difference in uniforms, and in particular in the field, the difference of food."
At that time the need for unification of uniforms - regardless of rank - had not yet been perceived as strongly, as it was dictated by the requirements on the battlefields, despite the experiences from the Russo-Japanese War, 1904 and the First World War. During the introduction of the new uniform and the several varieties of the uniform, gradually it all got the appearance of an army uniform. Although, it had some shortcomings in details, it showed a trend in the military garb together with its national characteristics, which lasted for decades. It was adapted with a field colour, in a certain cut and defined rank distinctions, which identified it as the army. It could not necessarily be completely perfect for all the functions of an uniform intended as a garment fitting all circumstances, from combat to the salon or parade. The new, single uniform undoubtedly played an important role as one of the most important factors, which united the army. The coming years were to bring an answer to the functionality of the new uniform for both garrison duty and in the field.
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