1 Intelligence Squadron. 1918-1925.

1st Intelligence Squadron

December 21, 1918 - February 28, 1925

Albatross C.I. Such planes were used by the 1st Intelligence Squadron. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
Albatross C.I. Such planes were used by the 1st Intelligence Squadron. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Tadeusz Władysław Grochowalski.

Before we recall the history of the 1st Intelligence Squadron, it is necessary to introduce the figure of Colonel Pilot Tadeusz Władysław Grochowalski.

Tadeusz Władysław Grochowalski was born in 1887. He was a professional officer in the army of the Russian Empire. As a cavalryman, he began flight training. After the outbreak of the Great World War, he fought at the front as a pilot. From December 1917, he was one of the organizers of the Polish Aviation Department (2nd Polish Aviation Department 1917-1918) at II. Polish Corps in Russia. On May 11, 1918, he took part in the famous Battle of Kaniv, after which he was taken prisoner by the Germans. He was sent to the POW camp in Biała Podlaska, and then to the fortress in Brześć, "Graf Berg". He was released at the beginning of November 1918. He joined the Polish Aviation and on December 21, 1918 was appointed commander of the 1st Intelligence (Aviation) Squadron in Warsaw. After the outbreak of the Greater Poland Uprising, with the consent of his superiors, he went to Poznań and helped to establish the Polish Aviation in Ławica. He organized and commanded the 2nd Wielkopolska Air Squadron. On March 6, 1919, he formed the 3rd Wielkopolska Polna Aviation Squadron. He was its commander until April 19, 1919, when he became the head of a larger combat union; I. Wielkopolska Aviation Group. On May 23, 1919, at the request of General Józef Dowbor-Muśnicki, he was appointed major of the air force. Tadeusz Grochowalski died unexpectedly on December 31, 1919, while on leave, at the age of only 33.

1st Intelligence Squadron.

Tadeusz Grochowalski was an excellent pilot and organizer. Determined and firm in action. He was not discouraged by the difficulties. On December 21, 1918, as a pilot captain, he began to form the 1st Intelligence Squadron, the first combat squadron in Warsaw. Earlier, the Squadron in Krakow was established. Due to the lack of efficient airplanes and properly prepared flying and ground personnel, the formation of the 1st Intelligence Squadron was delayed until February 1919. The commander of the 1st Intelligence Squadron was already then Lieutenant Pilot Henryk Skoczdopole.

The squadron was then equipped with a few post-German planes, especially the Albatros.

On March 20, 1919, the 1st Intelligence Squadron was sent to the front as part of the 1st Aviation Group. It operated for the benefit of the Lithuanian-Belarusian Division.

During this time, she had six aircraft in stock: three Albatros C.III, two Albatros C.X and one Hannover Roland CL.II. One Anatra Anasal plane, of Russian production, was captured by Polish infantry on April 19, 1919, capturing the echelon at the Vilnius railway station. The plane was transferred to the 1st Intelligence Squadron. It was used in combat on the Lithuanian-Belarusian front from May to July 1919.

In March 1919, the 1st Intelligence Squadron was assigned to the Lithuanian-Belarusian Division and moved to the Krywlany Airport (Dojlidy) near Białystok.

Reconnaissance and assault flights were performed. The barracks in Lida and Baranowicze were bombed. Then, from April 16, 1919, the Squadron and the entire 1st Aviation Group took part in the "Vilnius" operation. After the capture of Vilnius, the 1st Squadron was transferred to Porubanek Airport on May 20, 1919.

In the period June 1919 - November 1919 - the 1st Intelligence Squadron cooperated with the 1st Army on the North-Eastern Front, operating from Porubanek Airport.

The 582nd Salmson Squadron arrived from France to Poland in June 1919. The squadron was equipped with Salmson A2 reconnaissance aircraft. On September 20, 1919, the 582nd Salmson Squadron was included in the 1st Aviation Group, and at the end of September 1919 it was incorporated into the 1st Intelligence Squadron. It was then that the Squadron had for the first time planes more suitable for the tasks performed.

In November 1919, the Squadron was assigned to operate with the 1st Infantry Division. In the winter of 1919/1920, the Squadron operated from the Nowo-Święciany Airport as a reserve of the Chief of Aviation of the Supreme Command. In February 1920, the squadron was transferred to the airport near Dźwińsk at the disposal of the General Edward Rydz-Śmigły Operational Group. In the spring of 1920, the Squadron was transferred to the Zahaccie Airport and activities for the 4th Volunteer Group of the White Army. In 1920, the personnel and equipment of the 11th Intelligence Squadron were transferred to the 1st Intelligence Squadron.

Reconnaissance and bombing flights against the Bolsheviks continued, especially over Połock and Vitebsk. Due to the Bolshevik offensive, the Squadron retreated successively: Zahaccie, Dokszyce, Mołodeczko, Duśmieowice, Vilnius, Lida, Parafianowo. Zahaccie is a town near Mogilev in Belarus, 10 km from Minsk Lithuania. The 4th Squadron, the 11th Squadron and the 18th Squadron were also based nearby.

At that time, the flying equipment was supplemented with French Salmson and Nieuport airplanes. Some staff members were also transferred. The commander of the 1st Squadron was Lieutenant Pilot Domes.

As a result of the actions of the Bolsheviks, the 1st Squadron retreated together with the Polish Army. She changed the place of stationing many times. The trains did not keep up, and therefore the 1st Squadron suffered heavy losses in flying equipment. As a result, at the beginning of August 1920, the Squadron was already in Warsaw, at the Mokotów Airport.

After the personnel and equipment were replenished, the fight resumed. At that time, it was rearmed with 10 new English Bristol F.2B Fighter planes. The Hannower CL II planes were supplemented. The squadron entered the Battle of Warsaw on new planes. It made combat and reconnaissance flights. The squadron was active for the 5th Army. Chasing the Bolsheviks, it moved successively to the airport in Siedlce, and then to Krywlany (Dojlidy near Białystok.

In September 1920, she was already stationed in Grodno. There were fights in the area of ​​the river Nemunas. From September 5, 1920, the Squadron was in Lida, acting for the benefit of the 2nd Army. The truce found Squadron at Lida Airport. A few weeks later, the Squadron was transferred to Białystok, Krywlany Airport (Dojlidy).

During the fights for the freedom of the Republic of Poland, the 1st Intelligence Squadron performed 203 combat flights and spent 474 hours over the enemy territory. Volunteers from France and Belgium served in the ranks of the 1st Intelligence Squadron.

After the fighting ceased, the Squadron was used for quick communication with Riga and Tallin.

By order of January 18, 1921, the 1st Squadron was combined with the 2nd Squadron to form the 1st Intelligence Squadron. In August 1921, the 1st Squadron was moved to Ławica and included in the 3rd Aviation Regiment in Poznań.

From January 1922, the commander of the 1st Squadron was Captain Pilot Czesław Aleksandrowicz, who held this position until April 1924. At that time, Captain Tadeusz Antonowicz became the new commander.

During another reorganization, on February 28, 1925, the 1st Intelligence Squadron was renamed the 35th Air Squadron.

Written by Karol Placha Hetman