Sunday, April 12, 2015

VIII - Name, Rank and Serial Number ?

Look at these primitive monster cannons. Note bullet ridden shield below picture
No wonder his hearing was shot

Again I find the multiple language translations causing a bit of confusion, at least for me, being a non-military person to understand his rank or position during his service. There are many common threads. This is what I have gleaned from the different records:

  • Gunman2 Air Division A.P.L.
  • 2 Air Division
  • 2 Air Platoon
  • 2 Flieger
  • 2e Regt. artillerie
  • Grade - Appointe
  • Gefreiter - loosely translated as acting corporal by the UK but Private First Class in Polish
  • In a post war (1952) document rank described as: Bomb. L/Cpl,
 Initially I found no information on a 2 Air Division, Platoon or A.P.L. in the Polish military.
**Update 10-20-15**  2 Dywizjon Artylerii Przeciwiotniczej (2 Squadron Anti-aircraft Artillery) 2nd Anti-aircraft Artillery Battalion), an Army unit mobilized in Grodno, A.P.L is likely Artyleria PrzeciwLotnicza also known as Anti-aircraft "Flak" Artillery

Thanks to information from Polish Forums website and others.

So I can conclude Dad was in The Polish Army of the 2nd Republic, 29th Infantry Division, 29th Light Artillery Regiment- Grodno, 2nd Anti-aircraft Artillery Battalion. In September 1939, this was part of the Prusy Army under General Stefan Dab-Biernak of the Northern group mobilizing under secret plan  "Plan West".

From the school interview papers, with Shannon came an important clue; he told that her that he fired 75 mm cannons at aircraft. So he was a gunman in the 2nd air division artillery manning 75 mm anti-aircraft guns. That is clear.
It appears his rank rose from Gunman to acting Corporal due to Polish manpower and leadership being decimated defending 2 fronts and attrition. 

Wow, googling 75 mm anti-aircraft cannon came up with some scary, primitive looking weapons.
In fact the record shows  the 75mm were old, poorly maintained, ran out of ammuntion frequently causing retreat into the forests.

At  this point, I am going to make a best guess to where dad may have been stationed when captured. There is no doubt it was in the East as explained above "Plan West". Just as his military conscription was extended due to looming invasion crisis, his unit was placed as needed along the 1500 km Eastern border in late 1939. He likely had supported Eastern border defense, the civilian militia, rag-tag volunteers, and quite possibly defending access to the Romanian Bridgehead for the retreating survivors

This explains fully why a military serviceman from Grodno, in the territory of Belorussia, ended up captured in Lipica Dolna in Eastern Galacia September 19,1939

These are the verified circumstances that put him at Lipica Dolna, 12 km from Berezhany. The Russian record card was the "smoking gun" I have been looking for. This closes a hole in my quest for understanding.

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