Saturday, January 22, 2022

Remnants of an Army

Polish TK-3
(Source)
Bartek Pomorski nudged his driver, Cibor Borucki, who had his head in the engine compartment. Borucki looked at his sergeant in exasperation, he was nearly done tightening a loose belt, "What?"

Pomorski nodded down the road. Borucki looked, it was a group of Polish infantry, armed with a miscellany of weapons, Polish and German. The men in the other TK-3 were still asleep, Pomorski saw no need to wake them up just yet.

The two Polish tankettes had been separated from their parent unit two days before when they had been caught in the open by a German air strike. They had managed to survive that and had stayed alive since then by staying off the roads in daylight. Currently they were pulled off the road in a small woodlot.

It was close to sunset, Pomorski planned to continue to the east after dark, having infantry along would be nice. He wondered who these men were. As they got closer he called out to them, "What unit are you guys with?"


Jan Kołodziej nearly had heart failure when somebody called out to him in Polish. Looking up, he saw the two tankettes back under the trees. Perhaps they were close to their lines now?

"Kołodziej, 20th Land of Kraków, who are you guys?" Jan was dead on his feet, they'd marched quite a distance today, cross country of course, the Niemcy were everywhere else.

"10th Motorized Cavalry, well part of it anyway, out of Rzeszów. Getting ready to head east, you guys want to tag along?"

"Sure, you plan on heading out straight away?"

"In an hour or so, soon as it's full dark."

"Good, my guys need to get a bit of sleep before we move out."


Von Lüttwitz was still shaken by what he had seen by the side of this lonely Polish road. Sure, he knew the background, he had tried to read Mein Kampf but had set it aside as far too turgid and dark. He knew the Nazis' position on the Jews and the Slavs, but he had always assumed it was simply rhetoric, something to rile up the lower classes and get them to vote for Hitler and his cohorts.

At that night's bivouac, Hartmann had taken him aside, "Trust me Jürgen, I doubt the Führer knows that this is being done, I'm thinking this is more up Himmler's and Heydrich's alley."

"I'm not so sure Uffz, I mean from day one the SS were the Führer's select elite. Those guys back there were SS, weren't they?" von Lüttwitz was getting angry. Hartmann tried to calm him.

"Listen Junge, keep these things to yourself. I'm not sure if those guys were SS, I didn't see any runes on their collar patches. I saw Death's Heads¹, some of the officers had no insignia where the runes would be."

"That's worse Uffz, that's those Sicherheitsdienst bastards, they wear a blank patch on the right collar, they're worse than the Gestapo." von Lüttwitz's voice started to get louder."

Hartmann placed a hand on von Lüttwitz's shoulder, "Careful lad, you could get us both shot."


The small band of Poles moved out well after dark. Pomorski had seen how exhausted the infantrymen were, so he let them sleep for three hours. Jan had been worried about losing most of the night, but Pomorski had pointed out that tired men don't move very far, and they make mistakes. Mistakes which could get them all killed.

"Still Plutonowy, we are losing time, the Niemcy are everywhere." Jan had protested.

"No, they're pursuing the army and trying to get to Warszawa. They have security units in the bigger towns, but unless we get unlucky, we should be safe out here in the countryside. Only during the day am I worried. The Niemcy air force is indeed everywhere. Now, we need to move, I would offer you a ride ..." Pomorski gestured at the tiny TK-3.

Jan chuckled, "Yes, it's barely got room for you and your driver. I suggest that me and some of my boys lead the way, maybe a hundred meters in advance, to scout things out. I'll leave, say, six men with your tankettes as close-in protection. How does that sound?"

Pomorski was impressed, "How is it that you're not an officer Jan Kołodziej?"

"I am terrible with paperwork, just ask my philosophy professor."

Pomorski laughed out loud, "All right college boy, let's get going."




¹ The SS (Schutz Staffel - protection squad) were a complex organization. The Totenkopfverbände, the concentration camp guards, wore the Death's Head (Totenkopf) on their right collar patch, the Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst) had a blank patch. The SS ranks below general officer equivalent wore the SS runes on the right collar patch. They looked like twin lightning bolts. All three branches wore a similar uniform other than the patches.

32 comments:

  1. Ah, the 10th Motorised Cavalry... They went on fighting retreat all the way to Hungarian border, and then mostly slipped quietly to France with Hungarians turning the "Nelsons blind eye", because they were not completely subdued by Germans into joining Axis yet. They eventually formed the core of the 1st Armored Div. in UK, and got their revenge on Germans at Falaise and Breda...

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    1. I thought you'd like the fellows from the 10th. I do!

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    2. Is First Armoured Kowalski's unit, five years hence?

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  2. Sarge, were the tankettes known to be effective at all (other than their cuteness factor)?

    I like the logical thinking of Pomorski - the Germans are around (air), but really are not interested in us right now. That is the sort of logical thinking that serves a man in good stead.

    Von Luttwitz has had the realization that many have had when they discover that in some way, shape, or form they have made a deal with evil and are suddenly confronted with the reality of it.

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    1. The tankettes were fairly effective when properly employed and given the right circumstances. Look up Edmund Roman Orlik, he has an interesting story, some of which has been questioned. But the bottom line is that 3 Polish tankettes, at least one armed with a 20 mm cannon, destroyed 2 German Pzkw 35(t)s and one Pzkw IVC. All much larger and better armed than the tankettes.

      History is replete with stories of people who got involved with something only to discover the evil of it in time, sometimes far too late.

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    2. Thanks Sarge. Did a little catching up. Another piece of history I knew nothing about.

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    3. I didn't know that story either until I began researching this book.

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  3. Both of my thoughts; stay positive and cool, live to fight another day and yes, Jurgen and his nation have been blinded to what their government is up to.
    the latter has some parallels with present-day Aussies and Canadians, methinks.
    Boat Guy

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  4. I know very little of this part of the story/history. Good story!

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    1. Very few in the west know the full story of the Polish campaign. Perhaps because as part of the Warsaw Pact after WWII many considered the Poles "bad guys." Those who know their history knew that the Poles were simply biding their time. The first successful crack in the Iron Curtain? Solidarność and a fellow named Lech Wałęsa. Eventually the Soviet Union collapsed, the Poles helped lead the way to freedom in Eastern Europe.

      They stand ready to preserve it today.

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  5. Runes or Death heads, just line your sights up a little to the left and a little up.

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    1. Both were exceedingly worthwhile targets!

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    2. Aim for the patch, tear out the larynx, trachea, and all the major blood vessels, leaving the SS member to know he is dying. I may feel pity for the loss if their souls, but I won't show mercy on the SS.

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    3. Nobody said Badgers were nice, just that we are cuddly.

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    4. I'll take your word for that.

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    5. (Don McCollor)...Similar to a large python "he just wants to cuddle up with you"...

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  6. Off topic:
    about 17 years later it could have been these same guys who were involved in the Poznan protests at the end of June that ignited the Hungarians at the end of October that almost, but for some careful handling by the Soviets, might have ended their domination of Eastern Europe by 1957.

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    1. Soviets would turn to nukes then. CONUS would be relatively safe with few Soviet bombers capable of reaching it and US air defences in place, but IRBMs would turn Europe into nuclear wasteland. it took Soviet leader genuinely interested in retreat to bring fall of the Berlin wall, and remember Khrushchev was the one who actually built it!

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  7. When the Soviets claim their half of Poland, will the characters in the story hear about it? Or will they be too busy trying to survive what is in front of them?

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  8. Did you know that The Diplomad is back?

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  9. Maybe I ought to not read these stories, it stokes my hatred of the German Empire. A nation of cultural arts and sciences perpetrated one of the worst crimes in modern history.

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    1. I understand that, but stick around to see the resistance to the evil that is Nazism.

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  10. TKS highlights.
    Inside the Chieftans hatch: https://youtu.be/LNLxDP0omKs

    Mark Felton Productions
    https://youtu.be/Ez9pw9BJPsE

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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