Battle of Schoenfeld

The Battle of Schoenfeld (Polish: Szarża pod Borujskiem) took place on 1 March 1945 during World War II and was the scene of the last mounted charge in the history of the Polish cavalry and the last confirmed successful cavalry charge in world history.[notes 1] The Polish charge overran German defensive positions and forced a German retreat from the village of Schoenfeld (today known as Żeńsko, formerly known in Polish as Borujsko In March 1945, the First Army of the Polish People's Army was advancing into Pomerania as part of an overall push by Soviet forces to reach the Baltic Sea and the area of Stettin (some 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Schoenfeld). Schoenfeld was part of the third line of fortifications built by the Germans to shelter Pomerania from attack.

Battle of Schoenfeld
Part of the East Pomeranian Offensive in the Eastern Front of World War II
1 brygada kawalerii LWP 1.jpg
Polish 1st Cavalry Brigade, March 1945
DateMarch 1, 1945
Location53°24′38″N 16°04′40″E / 53.41056°N 16.07778°E / 53.41056; 16.07778
Result Polish victory
Belligerents
 Poland  Germany
Commanders and leaders
Jan Rotkiewicz (2nd ID)
Konstanty Gryżawski (1st Cavalry Brig)
Karl Rübel (163. ID)
Units involved
2nd Infantry Division
1st "Warsaw" Independent Cavalry Brigade
163rd Infantry Division
Casualties and losses
Polish forces:
147 killed
German forces:
500 killed

An initial Polish attack on Schoenfeld with tanks and infantry of the 2nd Infantry Division floundered in the low, open wetlands that were dominated by the fire of infantry and antitank guns from Schoenfeld, which sat at a slightly higher elevation on a small hill (Hill 157). German troops defending the village were part of the 163rd Infantry Division.[1]

Battle of Schoenfeld is located in Poland
Battle of Schoenfeld
Battle of Schoenfeld
Location of the Battle of Schoenfeld

The 1st "Warsaw" Independent Cavalry Brigade was then employed against the German position. Two squadrons (companies[2]) of cavalry supported by the elements of the horse--artillery company, having used a ravine to cover their approach to their infantry and tanker brothers-in-arms, charged through the smoke of burning tanks,[3] and achieved tactical surprise with a swift mounted assault that overran the German antitank gun positions[4] on the forward slope of Hill 157. This success was followed by an attack into the village itself by the cavalry, who by this time had been joined by the infantry and tanks.[5] In the face of this development, the surviving German defenders withdrew, allowing the Poles to consolidate their gains in and around the village at 1700.[6] 7 Polish cavalry men, 124 Polish infantry, and 16 tank men were dead for circa 500 dead Germans.

Today, a plaque mounted on a stone near the edge of Żeńsko commemorates the cavalry charge.[citation needed]

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ Boje Polskie, p. 55
  2. ^ outside of the English--speaking world, squadrons meant companies up to 1947
  3. ^ Piekalkiewicz, p. 234
  4. ^ Zaloga, p. 27
  5. ^ Boje Polskie, p. 56
  6. ^ Boje Polskie, p. 56

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The website www.historycy.org notes the assertion by Polish author Cezar Leżeński (in Ostatnia szarża) that further cavalry charges were made on April 21, 1945, at Heckelberg and Grunthal (six kilometers east of Heckelberg); as well as mentioning a mounted charge by Polish frontier security forces (Wojska Ochrony Pogranicza) against UPA insurgents in 1947.

SourcesEdit

  • Krzysztof Komorowski, Boje Polskie 1939–1945, Warszawa: Bellona, 2009.
  • Janusz Piekalkiewicz, The Cavalry of World War II, New York: Stein and Day, 1980.
  • Steven J. Zaloga, The Polish Army 1939–45, Oxford: Osprey, 1998.
  • www.polskaniezwykla.pl