1st AL Brigade "Imienia Ziemi Lubelskiej"

Polish Designation: 1 Brygada AL im. Ziemi Lubelskiej

Organization from February until the middle of May of 1944

Brigade Commanders:

Kapitan Wladyslaw Skrzypek ("Grzybowski") - treacherously killed on 1 IV 1944 at Potok Wielki (Powiat of Janow Lubelski), in an ambush staged by the collaborationist NSZ, while he and three of his partisans were on the way to a meeting during which an armstice agreement was to have been negotiated with the NSZ; three of the attackers were also killed.

Porucznik Feliks Kozyra ("Blyskawica") - killed on 14 IV 1944 at Weglin (Powiat of Krasnik), at the hands of two NSZ detachments, commanded by Leon Cybulski "Znicz" and Waclaw Piotrowski "Cichy" respectively, when they attacked the villages of Weglinek and Wola Trzydnicka where an AL field hospital was based; several wounded present there were killed, and on the way two boys who came from nearby villages sympathetic to the AL were also murdered. A relief force of seven AL partisans led by Kozyra came to the rescue, but in a very uneven struggle against around 100 NSZ gangsters they were all killed.

Kapitan Andrzej Flis ("Maksym") - wounded on 12 V 1944 at Momoty (Powiat of Janow Lubelski); remained at the headquarters until the night of 17-18 VII 1944 when he was flown on a plane across the front-line to a hospital in U.S.S.R.

Deputy Commander: Podporucznik Mieczyslaw Olszewski ("Mietas")

Educational Officers:

Podporucznik Waclaw Rozga ("Stefan")

Leon Mitkiewicz ("Leon") - killed on 22 IV 1944 at Marynopol (Powiat of Krasnik), in combat against the two detachments of the collaborationist NSZ of "Znicz" and "Cichy"; six other AL soldiers were killed while an additional three were wounded. Nine attackers were also killed, and in spite of the attack being carried-out by surprise, all the AL forces present at Marynopol - the partisan detachments of B. Kowalski, E. Gronczewski, and the surviving partisans of F. Kozyra - managed to extract themselves out of the encirclement.

Chiefs of Staff:

Kapitan Andrzej Flis ("Maksym") - until the middle of April of 1944.

Michal Iskra ("Los") - since the end of May of 1944; he organized the crossing of the Vistula near Swieciechow (Powiat of Krasnik).

Order of Battle:

1st Battalion
(commander: Porucznik Ignacy Borkowski "Wicek")
This battalion operated in the area of Bilgoraj.

2nd Battalion
(commander: Porucznik Aleksander Szymanski "Bogdan" - killed in Puszcza Solska)

3rd Battalion
(commander: Podporucznik Edward Gronczewski "Przepiorka")

Organization from the middle of May until 27 VII 1944

Brigade Commander: Kapitan I. Borkowski ("Wicek")

Deputy Commander: Porucznik Ludwik Paszkowski ("Lutek") - was also commander of the 1st Company.

Propaganda Officer: Podporucznik Waclaw Rozga ("Stefan")

Order of Battle:

1st Company
(commander: Porucznik Ludwik Paszkowski "Lutek")

2nd Company
(commanders: Podporucznik Jan Fijol "Rys II" - went missing on 16 VI 1944, Kapral Franciszek Ziemba "Januszek" - killed on 22 VI 1944 in Puszcza Solska)
The company was disbanded at the end of June of 1944.

3rd Company "Straz Chlopska"
(commanders: Porucznik Franciszek Bielak "Dobry", Porucznik Julian Kaczmarczyk "Lipa" - killed on 11 VI 1944 near Jarocin in the Powiat of Nisko; deputy commander: Podporucznik Wladyslaw Rekas "Sep" - killed on 11 VI 1944 near Jarocin in the Powiat of Nisko)

4th Company
(commander: Podporucznik Zbigniew Pietrzyk "Zbyszek" - since late June served at the brigade headquarters, later joined the Milicja Obywatelska and was killed in the line of duty at the Warsaw District of Praga in October of 1944; deputy commanders: Podporucznik Ryszard Plowas "Maly Rysiek", Sierzant Czeslaw Olszewski "Zajac")
At the end of June of 1944, the company was transformed into two independent partisan detachments; one commanded by Ryszard Plowas ("Maly Rysek"), and the other by Czeslaw Olszewski ("Zajac").

5th Company
(commander: Porucznik E. Gronczewski "Przepiorka"; deputy commanders: Podporucznik Mieczyslaw Olszewski "Mietas", Podporucznik Kazimierz Zabor "Tygrys")
- 1st Platoon (commander: Adam Skora "Adas")
- 2nd Platoon (commander: Edward Strzelecki "Pajak")
- 3rd Platoon (commander: Aleksander Szmecht)
This company was especially numerous; just before liberation, together with partisan units subordinated to it, it numbered around 400 partisans.

6th Company
(commander: Porucznik Boleslaw Kowalski "Cien")

7th Company
(commander: Porucznik Andrzej Pajdo)

8th Company
(commander: Podporucznik P. Niewinny "Bartosz")

9th Company (Headquarters Company)
(commanders: Porucznik Aleksander Szymanski "Bogdan" - killed on 22 VI 1944 near Gorecko Koscielne in the Powiat of Bilgoraj , A. Kudar)
- 1st Platoon (commander: Sierzant Ludwik Bujnowicz "Gajowy" - since 22 VI company commander)
- 2nd Platoon (commander: Sierzant Jan Owczarz "Marynarz" - since the end of June commander of an independent detachment)
- 3rd Platoon (commander: Sierzant Wladyslaw Bownik "Kret")

Special Detachment of the Obwod
(commander: Porucznik Gustaw Alef-Bolkowiak "Bolek")

Security Detachment
(commander: Starszy Sierzant K. Mroz "Krzysiek")

Diversional Detachment
(commander: Dowodca Plutonu J. Kielbasinski "Pralat")

Partisan Detachment "Armata"
(commander: Porucznik Aleksander Ligieza "Armata")

Partisan Detachment "Maly Rysiek"
(commander: Porucznik A. Plowas "Maly Rysiek")

Partisan Detachment "Heniek"
(commander: Porucznik H. Szymanski "Heniek")

Partisan Detachment "Marek"
(commander: Jozef Malysz "Marek" - after the liberation he became the first commander of the Milicja Obywatelska in Zamosc)
This partisan detachment operated independently from the rest of the brigade in Zamojszczyzna, albeit it was still operationally subordinated to it. It had the distinction of being the very first AL field partisan unit to enter the liberated Zamosc, when it did so on 26 VII 1944 after arriving there from the Skierbieszow area.

History: The brigade was formed in February of 1944 in southern Lubelszczyzna and Zamojszczyzna (on the basis of an order issued by the commander of the AL's Obwod II from 20 February of 1944). Its creation was achieved by a merger of a few already existing partisan detachments. It has the distinction of having been the first partisan brigade to be created by the AL (Armia Ludowa - People's Army).

The brigade carried-out operational tasks in the rear areas of the German armies by controlling and attacking specific segments of the railways, roads, and bridges. That this effort was not inconsiderable and not without impact on the German war effort can be demonstrated by that even the most conservative estimates show that in 1944 alone the forces of the AL's Obwod II collectively delayed the Germans' crucial railway traffic to the East by at least 45 days; while that was surely not entirely due to the efforts of the 1st AL Brigade "Imienia Ziemi Lubelskiej", it certainly made a contribution in this field as well. That things were really becoming impossible for the Germans' railway traffic in Lubelszczyzna can be even deduced from the reports and remarks of high-ranking German government officials.

One of the earlier actions undertaken by the brigade's elements was the attack made on 27 February of 1944 by an AL partisan detachment led by E. Gronczewski ("Przepiorka") on a palace in Laziska, Powiat of Opole Lubelskie, where 36 German soldiers tasked with the protection of the local industrial devices were quartered. The attempt to catch the Germans by surprise at night failed as the AL partisans were noticed by a sentry. Nevertheless, the attack was continued and, under heavy cover fire, the Poles managed to capture the palace's first floor after some intense fighting. The Germans became hold-up on the floor above and continued their resistance. As the rays of daylight started to shine, it was only a matter of time before the Germans would have received relief; therefore, the partisans decided to withdrew. During this action two German soldiers were killed, while a few more were wounded. The partisans did not suffer any losses.

A much bigger and more successful engagement was fought by this very same AL partisan detachment, along with the Soviet partisan detachments of Captain Vasilenko, Captain Niedielin, and Lieutenant Sankov - altogether around 400 Soviet and Polish partisans - with a German anti-partisan expedition. The battle had a following course: the joint Soviet-Polish partisan grouping stopped for a rest in the village of Majdan Sitaniecki, Powiat of Zamosc, after having fought just the previous day (on 02 April of 1944) the Germans conducting an anti-partisan operation in the area of Kukawka. Just before noon the partisans stopped a horse-drawn peasant cart, which moved from the direction of Kalinowka. Its driver admitted to that the Germans send him on purpose in order to find out the partisans' resting place. All partisan forces were immediately placed on alert, and preparations to repulse the Germans were initiated. Soon Luftwaffe planes showed up over the village and began to bomb it; thus, setting it aflames. This forced the grouping to move to a nearby forest where defensive preparations were at once started. Not long after, from a separate forest to the west, a line of advancing German troops emerged. The partisans refrained from firing at them, until they came to within 100 meters from their positions; then the Germans were welcomed with a tornado of fire. The Germans retreated, but they renewed their attempts to capture the partisans' forest a few more times. Each time they were forced to turn back, leaving many killed and wounded on the battlefield. Eventually, they gave up. The partisans managed to hold-on to their forest and during the whole battle they did not suffer a single casualty.

The brigade's units also participated in actions of a more offensive nature. For example on 19 April of 1944, the AL company led by Aleksander Szymanski ("Bogdan"), together with a Soviet partisan detachment of Sergiush Sankov, captured a police station of the German-controlled Polish Police in the town of Modliborzyce, Powiat of Janow Lubelski. Three policemen were killed, while seven others were captured and disarmed. During the course of the same action a German sub-district government office was also destroyed. The occupiers' transportation was attacked as well; for instance, on 15 April of 1944 the partisans of the brigade's 6th Company under the command of Boleslaw Kowalski ("Cien") derailed a German supplies train near the Pulankowice Railway Station (Powiat of Krasnik).

Another interesting engagement was fought by two of the brigade's detachments commanded by Ignacy Borkowski ("Wicek") and Julian Kaczmarczyk ("Lipa") with a German communications unit. On 07 May of 1944 a Wehrmacht communications unit of 30 soldiers in addition to some security troops, arrived at the town of Zdziary, Powiat of Nisko, and began to repair a telephone line, previously destroyed by the partisans, that run along the Janow-Nisko Highway. At the same time the two AL units were marching on this very road. Noticing this, the Germans organized an ambush; a sudden engagement resulted, but unexpectedly a Soviet partisan detachment was marching un-noticed nearby, and it was these Soviet partisans who made a surprise attack on the ambushing Germans from the back. Realising that now the tide has turned into the partisans' favour, following a brief resistance the Germans started to escape, but pursued by the partisans they were almost completely wiped-out. Among the Poles four partisans were killed and three were wounded.

By late May of 1944, the brigade drastically increased in size from three to six battalions (to around 1 000 partisans); in June, due to a prior reorganization, it consisted of nine companies and several special detachments.

Part of the brigade participated in the Battle of Lasy Janowskie, Lipskie, and Puszcza Solska (aside from the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, the largest partisan battle fought on the Polish soil), that took place in the forests of south-eastern Poland between 09 and 25 June of 1944. In this battle about 30 000 German troops were tasked with encircling and destroying a grouping of about 3 000 Soviet and Polish partisans (Operation Sturmwind), and later an additional Polish-Soviet grouping of 5 000 partisans, which included the 3 000 partisans from the first grouping (Operation Sturmwind II) - the first attempt ended in complete failure, while the second one was largely a failure as well.

On 11 June the brigade's 5th Company, under the command of Porucznik E. Gronczewski ("Przepiorka"), fought several engagements against the encircling German forces in the Lasy Lipskie forest complex. At the same time, just several kilometers to the south-east, the 3rd Company, under the command of Porucznik J. Kaczmarczyk ("Lipa"), also fought several engagements against the Germans in vicinity of the village of Jarocin. During one of these engagements Porucznik Kaczmarczyk with just 16 soldiers from his company was attacked by a much larger unit from Dr. Doll's Kalmuck Cavalry Corps. The Kalmucks confident in their greater numbers attacked the 17 AL partisans in a chaotic manner; consequently, they were beaten-off and suffered heavy losses. Kaczmarczyk's men launched a counter-attack which pushed the Kalmucks out of the forest. Nevertheless, the Germans had by then brought-in reinforcements; the partisans again assumed defensive positions, albeit now in a much less advantagous position then before. The uneven struggle lasted for three hours, and Kaczmarczyk along with 12 of his men were killed.

On 12 June at night the partisans moved out of the Lasy Lipskie into the Lasy Janowskie forest complex, located just to the east. On 14 June part of the 1st AL Brigade "Imienia Ziemi Lubelskiej", along with the Polish partisans from the Partisan Brigade "Imienia Wandy Wasilewskiej" (commander: Kapitan Stanislaw Szelest), the Soviet partisans of I. Yakovlev's partisan detachment, and a mixed Polish-Soviet partisan detachment of M. Kunicki ("Mucha"), fought a defensive battle at a hill named Porytowe Wzgorze. During the course of the day the Hitlerites launched over a dozen attacks preceded by artillery barrages and aerial bombardments, but not until the afternoon did they managed to achieve any gains on the ground. During this battle the 5th and 9th Company, together with part of Lavrov's Soviet partisan company, launched several counter-attacks that pushed the Germans back. On many sectors hand-to-hand combat took place. During one of the counter-attacks the partisans captured two cannons and five mortars with ammunition, which they turned on their previous owners. After a brief use the cannons were destroyed together with some accompanying accessories, but the mortars were kept for further use. At 22:00 the Hitlerites ceased attacks. During their attempts to capture the Porytowe Wzgorze, the Germans launched their heaviest attacks on the sector defended by the 1st AL Brigade "Imienia Ziemi Lubelskiej".

The total casualties of the joint AL-Soviet forces in the defence of the Porytowe Wzgorze area amounted to around 100 killed and 70 wounded. Among the partisans killed were two prominent members of the PPR (Polska Partia Robotnicza - Polish Workers' Party), a commander of a Soviet partisan detachment, and a commander of an AL platoon. The losses suffered by the Germans at Porytowe Wzgorze amounted to 500 killed and wounded.

In the end the united partisan forces managed to fight their way out of the encirclement, and left the Porytowe Wzgorze intact. Meanwhile, on the previous day, the remainder of the 1st AL Brigade "Imienia Ziemi Lubelskiej", together with Polish partisans from other AL units, an AK (Armia Krajowa - Army of the Land) partisan detachment, and a few Soviet partisan detachments succeeded in ambushing and inflicting heavy losses on the enemy near the villages of Szklarnia and Momoty.

The partisans, together with all their wounded and equipment, pierced the encirclement ring at night of 15 June. On the same day the Germans attacked the abandoned positions, which by now were empty. The partisans moved toward the Puszcza Solska forest complex, located just to the south-east, and fought many engagements along the way; among other places near the town of Ciosmy, and at Szeliga where the brigade's elements under the command of Kapitan Ignacy Borkowski together with the Soviet partisan detachment of Captain Sergiush Sankov completely destroyed one of the cavalry squadrons of the Kalmuck Cavalry Corps of the German Army (at least 140 cavalry horses were captured along with lots of weapons and other equipment). Also, the brigade's 5th Company fought a battle against the pursuing German forces near and in the village of Budziarze, Powiat of Bilgoraj, forcing the enemy to flee after a successful counter-attack (led by the company's commander E. Gronczewski "Przepiorka") succeeded in retaking the village; thus, saving itself and the AL-Soviet partisan grouping from a dangerous situation. In the evening of 16 June the partisans reached their destination of Puszcza Solska.

When the Germans resumed their anti-partisan drive on 20 June (Operation Sturmwind II), there were as many as around 5 000 Polish and Soviet partisans based at Puszcza Solska. On that day the first engagements tooks place against the German forces that were combing the area. The AL forces, under the leadership of Kapitan Borkowski, decided to break-out of the encirclement in the north. AL partisans assumed defensive positions in the area of Forest Ranger Post "Za Oknem", and for several hours repelled the German assaults. When AL forces moved their defensive positions beyond the Sokoliska Shwamp, they suffered serious losses (among the killed was an AL company commander - Porucznik A. Szymanski "Bogdan"). On 23 June at about midnight the AL detachments pierced the encirclement ring in several locations and extracted themselves, along with the Polish Partisan Brigade "Imienia Wandy Wasilewskiej", out of it. Subsequently, they made a return march to Lasy Janowskie, while the Germans failed to pursue.

In July the brigade's sub-units participated alongside the Red Army in operations to liberate Lubelszczyzna. For example on 21 July of 1944 the brigade's Partisan Detachment of "Zajac" was alarmed by the AK and BCh (Bataliony Chlopskie - Peasant Battalions) soldiers from the village of Dzierzkowice-Wola, Powiat of Krasnik, who informed the company about an attack on their village made by about 50 Ukrainian nationalists who started to set it on fire. A BCh relief group from Ludmilow and Ksiezomierz under the command of Wojciech Zaremba soon arrived at the scene, but these forces were insufficient to repell the attackers. The alarmed AL soldiers of the Partisan Detachment of "Zajac" also went to give help, unfortunetly on their way they encountered the guard elements of the German forces that were retreating under the blows of the Soviet Army. During the ensuing fight a few German soldiers were killed and a Wehrmacht armoured car was destroyed. The AL partisans suffered five fatalities; among them Podporucznik Czeslaw Olszewski ("Zajac"). A few AL and BCh soldiers were also wounded.

In the last weeks before the liberation the units and sub-units of the brigade fought many engagements against the Axis, and it is just impossible to mention them all. The brigade's combat history ended on 27 July of 1944.

Armament: As of the beginning of May of 1944, when the its numerical strength stood at 395 partisans, the brigade had at its disposal the following armaments: six (6) hand machine-guns, 28 machine-pistols, and 155 rifles. Most of this equipment, like it was the case in vast majority of AL's units, was captured on the Germans. At that time the brigade experienced a serious shortage of weapons, as about 25% of its personnel was unarmed. Later, during the Summer, this shortage was dealt with, when deliveries of weapons from the Polish Partisan Headquarters and the Soviets took place, what facilitated the capture of even more weapons from the enemy.


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Zbigniew Ziembikiewicz, W Partyzantce u "Rysia"; Wspomnienia Zolnierza I Batalionu Oddzialow Hrubieszowskich BCh, Ludowa Spoldzielnia Wydawnicza, Warszawa, 1978.

Encyklopedia Drugiej Wojny Swiatowej, Wydawnictwo MON, Warszawa, 1975.

Witold Hryniewiecki, My z Zamojszczyzny..., Instytut Wydawniczy Pax, Warszawa, 1970.

Boleslaw Dolata & Tadeusz Jurga, Walki Zbrojne na Ziemiach Polskich, 1939-1945; Wybrane Miejsca Bitew, Walk i Akcji Bojowych, Wydawnictwo MON, Warszawa, 1970.

Okupacja i Ruch Oporu w Dzienniku Hansa Franka, 1939-1945, Vol. 2, Ksiazka i Wiedza, Warszawa, 1970.

Stanislaw Okecki, Ruch Partyzancki w Polsce, 1939-1945, Panstwowe Zaklady Wydawnictw Szkolnych, Warszawa, 1968.

Other AL Brigades:

AL Brigade "Synowie Ziemi Mazowieckiej"

1st AL Brigade "Imienia Ziemi Kieleckiej"


AL - People's Army

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