Polish Legions in World War I

Polish Legions in World War I

Polish Legions (Polish "Legiony Polskie") was the name of Polish armed forces created in August 1914 in Galicia. Thanks to the efforts of KSSN and the Polish members of the Austrian parliament, the unit became an independent formation of the Austro-Hungarian Army. They were composed mostly of former members of various scouting organisations, including Drużyny Strzeleckie and Związek Strzelecki, as well as volunteers from all around the empire.

Józef Piłsudski in his order of 22 August declared formations of the Legions, but Austrian government officially agreed to it only on 27 August.

Initially the Polish Legions were composed of two legions: the Eastern and the Western, both formed on 27 August. After Russian victory in the Battle of Galicia Eastern Polish legion refused to fight against Russia and was disbanded on 21 September. On 19 December Western legion was transformed into three brigades.
* I Brigade of the Polish Legions under Józef Piłsudski
* II Brigade of the Polish Legions under Józef Haller de Hallenburg
* III Brigade of the Polish Legions under Zygmunt Zieliński and later Bolesław Roja, formed on 8 May 1915
* Artillery Regiment
* other units

The commanders of the Legions were:
# Gen. Karol Trzaska-Durski (September 1914 – February 1916)
# Gen. Stanisław Puchalski (until November 1916)
# Col. Stanisław Szeptycki (until April 1917)
# Col. Zygmunt Zieliński (until August 1917)

The Legions took part in many battles against the forces of Imperial Russia, both in Galicia and in the Carpathian Mountains. Initially both the number of troops and the composition of units were changing rapidly. This changed after Piłsudski resigned his post in September 1916 and the Polish Legions were renamed to Polish Auxiliary Corps ("Polski Korpus Posilkowy"). In June 1916 the unit had approximately 25 000 soldiers.

After the Act of November 5 and the creation of puppet Kingdom of Poland, the Polish Legions were transferred under German command. However, most of the members of legionists denied to swear allegiance to the emperor and were interned in Beniaminów and Szczypiorno ("Oath crisis"). Approximately 3 000 of them were drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army or the German Polnische Wehrmacht and sent to the Italian Front, while approximately 7 500 stayed in the Austrian Polish Auxiliary Corps.

After the war the officers of the Polish Legions became the backbone of the Polish Army.


* Battle of Nowy Korczyn (23-24 September 1914)
* Battle of Anielin-Laski (October 21October 26 1914)
* Battle of Mołotkowo (October 29, 1914)
* Battle of Krzywopłoty (17-18 November 1914)
* Battle of Marcinkowice (5-6 December 1914)
* Battle of Łowczówek (December 22December 25, 1914)
* Battle of Pustki (2 May 1915)
* Battle of Konary (May 16May 25, 1915)
* Battles of Rafajłowa, Kirlibaba and Rarańcza (June 13, 1915)
* Battle of Rokitna (15 June 1915)
* Battle of Jastków (July 29July 31, 1915)
* Battle of Kostiuchnówka (July 4–July 6, 1916)
* Battle of Krechowce (24 July 1917)
* Battle of Rarańcza (15-16 February 1918)

See also

* Blue Army
* First Cadre Company
* My Pierwsza Brygada
* Polish Legions
* Polish 1st Legions Infantry Division

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