Insurgent Troops

The Air Forces of the Greater Poland Armies in the year 1919

Marek Rezler

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Initially, during the first days after the seizure of the air base in Ławica, the Polish air forces in Poznań comprised 5 pilots, 2 observers and 32 air mechanics. But as early as in February, there were 21 pilots, 19 student-pilots, 1 observer and 20 aircraft gunners. The establishment of the air forces was approved on 31 January 1919. Initially the organisation resembled the structure of the land forces. The commandant of the base (with the status of a battalion) was Sergeant Wiktor Pniewski. The Air Force (as this was the official name adopted in the structure of the Greater Poland Army) consisted of four companies: The 1st Air Company was commanded by Sergeant-Pilot Józef Mańczak, the 2nd Workshop Company (Franciszek Gruszkiewicz), the 3rd Guard Company (Józef Szyfter) and the 4th Recruit Company. With time, the 1st Company took over the function of aviation school, preparing both pilots and observers. In August 1919 in Ławica, the Higher School of Pilots was established; from February 1919, an Observers School began to operate too. The Workshop School was established separately; it was subsequently transformed into the Air Personnel School. Poznań, at that time was one of the most important training centres for military pilots in Poland. In total, the established units were as follows: the 1st Greater Poland Field Squadron, the 2nd and 3rd Air Squadrons and the 4th Greater Poland Combat Squadron. The 1st Greater Poland Field Squadron was established on 12 February 1919, and its commander was Second Lieutenant Pilot Wiktor Pniewski. From 14 March, the squadron was subordinated to the commander of the Greater Poland Group which operated at that time in the area of Przemyśl. After various changes in assignment, it became part of the II Air Force Group and on 13 April 1920 it was renamed as the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron.

The 1st Air Squadron (subsequently the 1st Field Squadron, the 1st Greater Poland Squadron) consisted of almost two hundred people, the technical support personnel consisted of 3 officers, 25 non-commissioned officers and 115 privates. Workshops, four cars and a motorcycle for the liaison officer were at its disposal. Flights took place with the following aeroplanes: Albatross C V, Albatross C VII, D.F.W and AEG. From March till June 1919, the Squadron operated close to the area of Przemyśl. Then it was stationed on the Wojnowice airstrip near Buk, and its pilots carried out reconnaissance in the area of Chodzież, Piła and Babimost.

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