The Battle of Tuchola Forest (German: Schlacht in der Tucheler Heide, Polish: Bitwa w Borach Tucholskich) refers to one of the first battles of the Second World War during the Invasion of Poland, 1939. The battle started on 1 September and ended on 5 September with a major German victory. Due to lack of coordination and poor command of forces on the Polish side and German numerical and tactical superiority, the Germans managed to cripple the Polish Army of Pomerania and connect mainland Germany with East Prussia, breaking through the Polish Corridor.
Before the battleEdit
Tuchola Forest (Polish: Bory Tucholskie, German: Tucheler Heide) in Westprussia, since 1920 Treaty of Versailles in the Polish Corridor, is a large forest territory. Because of its difficult terrain it was viewed by the Poles as good defensive terrain. The German troops, on the other hand, had their Truppenübungsplatz Gruppe exercise area there until 1919, and were familiar with it, like Heinz Guderian, who had been born in nearby Kulm.
Polish forces in the theater were composed of elements of the Pomeranian Army: 9th Infantry Division under colonel Józef Werobej, the 27th Infantry Division under general Juliusz Drapella, and Operational Group Czersk under gen. Stanisław Grzmot-Skotnicki.
German forces in the theater were composed of elements of the 4th German Army under general Günther von Kluge, specifically 19th Panzer Corps (commanded by general Heinz Guderian), and 2nd Army Corps under general Adolf Strauß. Those units were based in Western Pomerania (west of the corridor).
19th Panzer Corps consisted of the 2nd Motorized Division under general Paul Bader, the 20th Motorized Division under general Mauritz von Wiktorin and the 3rd Panzer Division under general Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg. 2nd Army Corps was composed of two infantry divisions: the 3rd Infantry Division under general Walter Lichel and 32nd Infantry Division under general Franz Böhme.
Despite several tactical Polish victories, including the Skirmish of Krojanty on 1 September, a famous Polish cavalry charge, and the destruction of a German armored train near Chojnice, German forces were able to advance quickly.
Not all Polish forces were in position by 1 September and the German advance managed to generate confusion in the Polish forces. In addition, communications problems meant that the Polish forces did not act cohesively. The Poles were forced to abandon plans for a counterattack and retreated, pursued by more mobile German motorized and armored troops. The German forces had a significant amount of armor support, including over 300 tanks commanded by the famous panzer expert, General Heinz Guderian.
Most of the Polish forces were surrounded by 3 September. Some were destroyed, while others managed to break through towards Bydgoszcz.
Most of the Polish forces were destroyed by 5 September. The Germans were able to break through the Polish Corridor. Some German forces were ordered to erase pockets of Polish resistance in fortified areas on the Baltic Coast, while others continued their push south-east, deeper into Polish territory.
- ^ Christer Jörgensen, Chris Mann, Strategy and Tactics: Tank Warfare, Zenith Imprint, 2001, ISBN 0-7603-1016-5, p.35 Google Print
- ^ 1896 Map of West-East Prussia with Tucheler Heide south of Danziger Bucht Bay
- ^ Heinz Guderian: Erinnerungen eines Soldaten, "Ich hatte am 3.9 ... meinen Sohn Kurt wiedergesehen und mich dabei an den Türmen von Kulm, meiner Geburtsstadt, erfreut, die vom Ostufer der Weichsel herüberwinkten. Am 4.9 ... bei ihren Waldgefechten und endete auf dem alten deutschen Truppenübungsplatz Gruppe westlich Graudenz.", 1951,
- ^ Martin Gilbert, The Second World War: A Complete History, Owl Books, 2004, ISBN 0-8050-7623-9 Google Print, p.6
- (Polish) Bitwa w Borach Tucholskich