The history of the 1st Podhale Rifles Regiment AK (1PSP-AK) (1 Pułk Strzelców Podhalańskich Armii Krajowej ) has been officially documented in the August 20, 1944 report of General Bruno Olbrycht "Olza" C/O of "Slask Cieszynski Operation Group".
As discussed below in the Historical Background section, the 1 Pułk Strzelców Podhalańskich Armii Krajowej (1 PSP AK) was actually formed in the autumn of 1918.
Up until September of 1944 the 1 PSP AK had been around in various states of existance. As documented in the Historical Background sidepiece below, during the war years a number of different commanders were at the regiment's helm.
Following the death on September 4, 1944 of ppłk Stanisław Mirecki "Butrym", "Wit", "Pociej" after being wounded during a chase, arrested at Kisielowka near Tymbark, taken to Nowy Sacz where he died in a hospital; Mjr. Adam Stabrawa ps "Borowy" would assume the leadership position of the Regiment.
"Borowy" then assimulated a
large number of the then independant partisan guerilla groups (such as Wilk, Wilk II, Topór, OP "Sobel", oddziału "Mszyca", OP "Świerk", OP "Żbik", OP "Cios", OP "Miecz" and so forth)
into one cohesive unit under the central command banner 1 Pułk Strzelców Podhalańskich Armii Krajowej (1 PSP AK).
At that time, early September 1944, the Regiment was principally concentrated in the area Turbacz in Gorce.
As an aside, the AK had divided Poland up into in a number of districts or "Inspektorats". (See map at right.)
The Regiment 1 PSP AK operated in a region of southern Poland between Biecz and Jordanow within four administrative units "Powiaty" or Counties of Gorlice, Limanowa, Nowy Sacz and, Nowy Targ.
On 22 September 1944 at Skalka (near Turbacz) in Gorce Mountains, "Borowy" formalized the Regiment
1 Pułk Strzelców Podhalańskich (1 PSP AK ) (1st Regiment of Riflemen AK).
The Inspectorate would be headquartered in Nowy Sacz, codenamed "NIWA" and would include the four counties of: Nowy Sącz, Limanowa, Gorlice and Nowy Targ absorbing a number of partisan groups into one unified Regiment command structure encompasing approximately 1,285 soldiers.
On September 24, 1944, the date of concentration and swearing in of the Regiment, the priest ks. Jana Czuja gave a mass celebrating the formation of the Inspectorate and where an oath was administered to the attendees.
On this date, the 1 PSP - AK became the overarching umbrella command for a large number of the then independent partisan resistance groups such as Wilk and Topor etc and as a unit within the Armii Krajowej.
After swearing in all sections were restructured into battalions and companies.
Some would say, this was when the partisan resistance movement turned into a partisan army.
1 PSP AK showed during its existence very lively combat activities in the Polish Highlands operating primarily in the Podhale to Gorce region. As a result, the Nazis had to position nearly 50,000 soldiers and police in this area - critically pulling these forces from the front lines. During WW II, the Nazis gave the area the name "Partizan Republic" due to the strong resistance activity and the partisans were labelled bandits with signs most everywhere warning : Achtung! Banditen! Banditendorf! Banditengefahr! (Attention! Bandits! Bandits village! Bandits risk!) etc.
The weapons stockpile in the Inspectorate circa October 1944 consisted of: 2 PIAT grenades, 9 heavy machine guns, 37 machine guns, 85 machine guns, 188 pistols, 401 hand grenades, and 568 rifles.
Further, guerrilla activities continued to be significantly hampered by the lack of weapons and ammunition. It was very difficult to carry out any major action without the necessary firepower. Borowy was constantly scheming to address this issue. Assaults on the Precinct border guards were conducted mid October 1944 near Czarna Woda and near Szczawa to obtain weapons.
During the time of his command Borowy- Major Stabrawa - had the added onerous task of constantly trying to maintain good relations with other guerrilla groups that operated in the same area; including the Batalionami Chłopskimi, the Armią Ludową, and the Soviet partisans under Ivan Zołotar.
The 1 PSP AK regiment would fight until January 1945 with the last battle fought with the Germans on 13-14 January 1945 in the area of Szczawa. According to the order of the commander of the Krakow District Army Regiment the 1 PSP AK was dissolved on January 19, and the troops demobilized.
As previously mentioned, in late September of 1944, John and I were transfered from Wilk to the HEADQUARTERS COMMAND of 1 PSP AK under Maj. Adam Stabrawa "Borowy". Here we were given a number of different special assignments working within different Company Battalions in the months to come right up until the end of the war January of 1945.
In southern Poland the HEADQUARTERS of 1 PSP AK was with the Inspektorat AK Nowy Sącz ps. "NIWA".
(Adam had taken over from the first Regiment commander of the 1 PSP AK Lt. Col. Stanisław Mirecki (aka "Pociej")
who was wounded then captured August 27, 1944 and died in German prison in Nowy Sącz)
From Nowy Sącz as of September 22, 1944 (Borowy) divided the southern region into 4 parts or battalions
called Komenda Obwodu (Obwód) ie Inspectorates.
It should be noted that despite belonging to distinct battalions, and companies and groups within a battalion, most often the individual mark of the group commander came to the forefront and became "the name" that the group was known as. If there was a military action, it was said that this is the work of group "Adam" or group "Lampart", or "Lasa", etc.
In the Gorce region for example it was mainly the battalions I (under Feliks Perekładowski ps. “Przyjaciel”) and IV (under who was to became arguably the most famous commander Julian Zapała ps. "Lampart") which operated.
Editor's NOTE on the HISTORICAL BACKGROUND for the 1 Pułk Strzelców Podhalańskich (1 PSP AK):
The 1 Pułk Strzelców Podhalańskich (1 PSP AK) was formed in the autumn of 1918.
In January 1919 the regiment received a "headquarters" garrison in the Podhale town of Nowy Sącz.
In September 1939, the 1 PSP AK fought the German army near Janow and was defeated in very heavy fighting. The partisan survivors of the battle that were captured were sent to POW camps, whereas those that survived quietly returned to their homes to wait to fight another day.
In late 1939 Maj. Vaclav SZYĆKO ps. VICTOR, Deputy inspectorate Nowosądeckie, along with John Cieslak ps. MACIEJ re-organized the 1 PSP in the Podhale area covering the four counties: Nowy Sącz, Limanowa, Gorlice and Nowy Targ.
mjr. Franciszek ŻAK ps. FRANEK served as overall commander of the inspectorates Nowosądeckie at this time.
The organizational framework was set in place for officers, NCOs and other ranks taping into former PSP soldiers as well as other partisan resistance fighters in the area.
Prior to September 1944 the 1 PSP AK had existed but more in a formative localized state - with partisan resistance groups such as Wilk, Topor, Aphid and so forth spanned the area of Podhale to Gorce and the regions of Nowy Sącz, Nowy Targ, Limanowa and Gorlice, that would eventually form the foundation for the 4 Batallions that would make up the 1 PSP AK .
Between 1939 and September 1944 a number of different commanders assumed control of the unit.
Inspektorat Nowy Sącz: "Strumień", "Niwa", "VII", "Lipiec", "Sosna", "D", "O/10", "9", "18"
mjr Franciszek Żak "Franek": 1939 - spring 1941
kpt. Wacław Szyćko "Wiktor": spring 1941 - ??
mjr Franciszek Galica."RYŚ": 1941 - 26 August 1942
ppłk Stanisław Mirecki "Butrym", "Pociej", "Wit": 1943 - 27 August 1944 (shot in action by the Germans and died in hospital).
p.o. por. Jan Wojciech Lipczewski "Andrzej", "Jacek", "Wierzyca": August 28 - September 22, 1944
mjr Adam Stabrawa "Borowy": 22 September 1944 - January 1945 - see SECTION 3.8
por. Jan Wojciech Lipczewski "Andrzej", "Jacek", "Wierzyca": February 1943 - 22 September 1944
por. Jan Cieślak "Maciej", "Michał": 22 September 1944 - January 1945
Nowy Sącz "Chwast", "2/VII", "4", "8", "Swisłosz"
Stanisław Wideł "Kruk": ?? - ??
rtm. Lucjan Sławik "Ratułd": ?? - ??
por. Stanisław Leszko "Emil", "Werwa", "Olcha": ?? - 1944
kpt. Jan Wojciecha Lipczewskiego "Andrzej” and “Wierzyca”: Sept 22, 1944 - January 1945
Obwód Nowy Targ "Paproć", "Tyśmienica"
por. Krystyn Więckowski "Zawisza": spring 1941 - summer 1943
mjr. Adam Stabrawa "Borowy": July 1943 - 22 September 1944
ppor. Jan Kabłak-Ziembicki "Halny", "Halny - Klin": September 1944 - ??
mjr. Julian Zapała "Lampart" ?? - January 1945
kpt. Wacław Szyćko "Wiktor": 1939 - 17 May 1942
por. Władysław Szczypka "Lech": May 1942 - spring 1943
por. Stanisław Leszko "Emil", "Werwa", "Olcha": spring - autumn 1943
kpt. Julian Krzewicki "Filip": autumn 1943 - 1945
Gorlice "Gawron", "Gnida", "Gil", "Gniła Lipa", "Kłos", "6/VII", "8/16", "81", "9/III"
por. rez. inź. Rościsław Piątkiewicz "Roźek": 1939
rtm. Marian Waldeck "Kątski", "Werner", "Wilk": May 1940 - July 1941
kpt. sł. art. Władysław Bandrowski "Zbych": September 1942
kpt. Julian Krzewicki "Kruk".: October 1942 - ??
pchor. Wincenty Horodyński "Wąź": October 1943
por./mjr. Mieczysław Przybylski "Bartłomiej", "Sporysz", "Michał": October 1943 - 1945
Inspektorat ZWZ-AK Podhale (Nowy Targ): "Tort".|
(This unit existed until the autumn of 1942, then it was merged with the Inspectorate of Nowy Sacz. After the liquidation of the Inspectorate of Nowy Targ and turned into the Inspectorate of Nowy Sacz, the areas: Nowy Targ, Zakopane and Rabka combined into one area of AK Nowy Targ).)
mjr Franciszek Galica "Ryś": October 1939 - 26 August 1942 (arrested).
kpt. Aleksander Wojciech Mikuła "Karol", "Miłosz", "Orion", "Robert": 1942
por. N.N. "Czaja"
ppor. Mieczysław Bełtowski "Antoni Wilga": ?? - ??
por. Krystyn Więckowski "Zawisza": spring 1941 - ??
por. rez. inź. Marian Moniczewski "Marian": summer 1941
por. Michał Brzoza "Tulipan": January 1942 - ??
LEADING UP TO OPERATION “BURZA”
To this point in time, the Polish underground had been somewhat restrained in its direct attacks on German positions as a result of horrific German retribution on innocent civilians in near by villages.
Far too often the price for any transgression against the Germans was blood and burnt out villages.
Starting roughly in November of 1944 we started to ramp the frequency and intensity of our ambushes, attacks and destruction of German equipment, transport and communication lines to co-ordinate with the Allies war effort.
The general plan was to engage in a number of sabotage attacks, and then activated by a code signal on the normal B.B.C. radio transmission have a co-ordinated major all out partisan attack across Poland in concert with the Russian move to significantly disrupt German re-supply and reinforcement efforts. Co-ordinated TIMING would obviously result in maximum damage to the enemy.
The B.B.C. radio transmission for the major activation was to be a morning broadcast occuring after the news bulletin and before the eventual music on record, denoted by the announcement "W" followed by the code message in Polish repeated 3 times.
When a communication or transportation line (be it rail or motor road) was attacked or cut, the objective was to cut it in several places such that it was disrupted for a substantial period of time. A single disruption would typically be repaired by the Germans in 36 to 48 hours.
Our plan entailed identifying alternative sites for demolition in the event that the primary site was secured by German forces or for some reason not actionable.
While we waited for the radio transmission message for the major Russian move and/or our co-ordinated partisan attack, there were a number of important activities that our partisan units were attending to.
OPERATION “BURZA” (aka “Tempest”) - The General Rising in Occupied Poland Against the Nazis
It was clear that the war effort was about to heat up, the Soviet's were massing for an all out attack on the eastern border, General Sosnkowski from the London based Polish Government-In-Exile was ramping up the rhetoric for a General Rising (against the Germans). Our partisan leadership was told to start to plan in earnest for Operation “Burza” (“Tempest”) which entailed attacking and disrupting German forces to facilitate the expected Soviet advance.
To this end, a series of regional and local partisan Commander's Meetings were held to discuss strategy and tactics.
ACTIVITIES with the 4th Battalion 1 psp AK Soldiers
Each local Pelikany radio communications unit would transmit (at least) monthly reports to the Polish-Government-In-Exile detailing activities for the month. These reports, for the most part, were then translated and forwarded to the British (SOE) for co-ordination of intelligence and the war effort.
The images below provide some EXAMPLES of Monthly Activity Reports from some of our units.
One of the KEY intelligence gathering activities that the various regional partisan groups was now more actively involved with was the close monitoring of German men and material transportation activities. London wanted to know where the Germans were going and what they were up to. Most important was the transport capacities of these lines. For example, very often when the Germans wanted to send troops North to South, rather than use the "poorer lines" that run direct they would send their troops / materials back to the rear on the main lines - sometimes even right back to Germany, and then round by the main southern line CRACOW - LWOW. The Germans had great difficulties in sending supplies and reinforcements to the south-eastern sectors on the front.
The IMAGES below provide some EXAMPLES of reports to London from the Polish underground.
The Polish underground had always had INFORMANTS who had secured trusted jobs with the Germans or with organizations that the German war machine relied on. Now, with a major offensive looming, the role of these partisan informants became even more important from an intelligence standpoint and they were asked to be even more vigilant then in the past.
The IMAGES below provide some EXAMPLES of intelligence derived from some partisan informant sources.
Somewhat related to the above, the underground was quick to debrief any escaping POWs who had been conscripted to work for the German war effort and forward these reports to London.
Finally, separate from the monthly reports on active ambushes and attacks, London requested regular reports from the underground on the situational "status-on-the-ground".
The IMAGES below provide some examples of the types of reports generated.
In concert with the above, the Allies picked up the pace with regard to their bombardment of key facilties that supported the German war effort. As well increased supply drops to the partisans to support Operation Burza were initiated. Supply drops to support the Warsaw uprising were also initiated.
As a result of the increased Allied Air activity, a number of planes were shot down and some of the allied air crews reached the partisans. So in addition to the uptick in partisan activities as outlined above, we now had the additional task of sheltering and protecting various allied air crews. Although this required a significant amount of attention, these allied air crews were viewed as heroes and everything within reason was done to ensure their safety.
The CHAPTER on the next page provides an overview of "foreigners" (both downed allied air crew and POW escapees) who became evaders some of whom I came in contact with in my area of operation.
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The Life and Times of Hubert Brooks M.C. C.D.