2 Polish Aviation Department. 1917-1918.

2 Polish Aviation Department in Russia

December 21, 1917 - May 11, 1918

Nieuport 17. Photo of LAC
Nieuport 17. Photo of LAC

Such planes were used in the 2nd Polish Aviation Department.

In Chapter "1 Polish Aviation Unit in Russia" we presented a short history of the 1st Polish Corps in Russia, at which the 1st Polish Aviation Unit was formed. In turn, the 2nd Polish Aviation Unit was established at the side of the 2nd Polish Corps. Therefore, a short history of the Polish II Corps should also be presented.

The discussed one, the 2nd Polish Corps in Russia should not be confused with the 2nd Polish Corps - the Polish Armed Forces fighting during the Second World War on the Western Front.

The basis for the formation of the 2nd Polish Corps was identical to the basis for the formation of the 1st Polish Corps. The branch was established on December 21, 1917 in Soroki in Bessarabia. Bessarabia is a historical land that now belongs to Moldova and Ukraine. The first commander of the Polish II Corps was General Sylwester Stankiewicz, then General Władysław Glass (only three days), and then Colonel Józef Haller. The corps consisted of Polish soldiers from the partitioning armies, fighting on the Romanian and South-Western Front (Volhynia and Podolia). Generally speaking, the officers and generals of the Russian army were favorable to the creation of the Polish Corps.

The first Polish infantry division was created in Suceava by General Dmitri Shcherbachev and was equipped mainly with Russian weapons, after the broken troops. The new Corps also included the 2nd Legion Brigade with about 1,500 soldiers, under the command of Colonel Józef Haller, who crossed the front with his army and joined the Polish II Corps on February 15, 1918.

On March 8, 1918, the Polish II Corps consisted of about 7,000 soldiers, which was a small number for a corps. The Polish II Corps consisted of: two rifle divisions, two lancer regiments, one artillery brigade, an engineering regiment and the 2nd Polish Aviation Division.

The political and military situation was very complicated. In April 1918, General Józef Haller decided to move part of the Polish II Corps to the east. Not all commanders supported Józef Haller's actions. The Germans demanded the disarmament of the Corps. There was the Battle of Kaniów, in which the Germanic soldiers lost about 1,000 soldiers. The battle was not of military importance, but it was a clear contribution of the Polish soldier in the fight against the invaders. May 11, 1918 is considered the end of the Polish II Corps. Many soldiers were captured, but many escaped to France, including General Józef Haller. Their path led through Moscow and Murmansk.

2 Polish Aviation Department.

2 The Polish Aviation Department began its history in Warsaw in 1915. This year, the Russians formed the 19th Fighter Squadron in Pole Mokotowskie. It was dominated by Polish soldiers. The squadron in stock had about 7 airplanes. After being ready to fight, she was sent to the front. After combat losses and various reorganisations, most of the Polish pilots were in the 14th Awiator. When the II Polish Corps was formed, most of the Polish airmen were in Suszawa, near Kamień Podolski, now in Ukraine. They were commanded successively by Captain Szumski, Captain Nieżewski, Lieutenant Narkiewicz.

In the early spring of 1918, the 2nd Polish Aviation Division had French planes in stock: Nieuport 23C1, SPAD S-VII, Farman F-30. This unit was known for a group flight of five planes (two Nieuport 23C1, two SPAD S-VII, one Farman F-30) from Kamieniec Podolski to Kaniów. There was a plan to fly to Bobruisk to the 1st Polish Aviation Division. However, the flight did not take place, because on April 15, 1918, in the town of Leszczynówka, the rolling stock of the Polish air department was captured by the German soldiers, who were following in the footsteps of the 2nd Polish Corps in Russia. The airmen and planes of the 2nd Polish Aviation Division remained without support. The planes had to be abandoned.   Written by Karol Placha Hetman