Fighting on Insurgent Fronts


Marek Rezler

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The sharp deterioration in the situation on the Northern Front after the defeat in the first battle of Szubin on 8 January 1919 and the clear German wedge in the area of Żnin and Łabiszyn meant that the Polish command had to prepare a counter-offensive in the north-eastern region of Greater Poland. The author of the plan of the offensive was the head of staff of the Northern Front, Second Lieutenant Mieczysław Paluch, and the plan was approved by Lieutenant Colonel Grudzielski and by Central Command. On 10 January, a briefing of the commanders of those units which were to take part in the offensive in the direction of Żnin, Szubin and Łabiszyn took place in Gniezno.

Though the goal set for the planned operation was quite broad in scope, it consisted of several separate ventures. Above all, the goal to be accomplished included the seizure of Żnin, Szubin, Łabiszyn and Złotniki Kujawskie, which would then eliminate the wedge that posed a threat for Wągrowiec, Gniezno and Inoworcław and had become a danger for the uprising. The most spectacular action involved the seizure of Żnin, which would at the same time be the starting point for further action. It was hoped that the Germans would send some of their forces stationed in Szubin and Łabiszyn to defend this southernmost section, and this, in turn would relieve the insurgent units which were entrusted with the task of seizing these towns. The following units were designated to fight for Żnin:

a. the Eastern Group (commander: Marceli Cieślicki) composed of:

– the Żnin-Gniezno unit (commander: Marceli Cieślicki),

– the Mogilno unit (commander: Stanisław Roloff),

– a cavalry unit from Gniezno (commander Mazurek - his first name is unknown),

In total: 332 soldiers

Area of concentration of this group: Podgórzyn, a town situated south-east of Żnin.

b. the Western Group (commander: Jan Tomaszewski) composed of:

–  a unit from Poznań (commander: Józef Bogacki),

– a unit from Juncewo (commander: Stefan Kubiak),

– two units of volunteers from the Żnin region (commanders: Stefan Adamski and Wojciech Anioła).

In total: 737 soldiers.

Area of concentration of this group: Sarbinowo, west of Żnin.

The Germans had 300 soldiers at their disposal. They were armed with 6 light and 6 heavy machine guns, 2 mine launchers (grenade launchers, mortars) and one cannon. Commander: Second Lieutenant Eckert.

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