Air Squadron of the 4th Rifle Division of general Lucjan Żeligowski.
10th Intelligence Squadron.
October 15, 1918 - September 1939
In the years 1917-1919, the political and military situation was extremely complicated. England and France fought on the side of the Tsar, and then White Russia. In turn, the Germanists supported the Bolsheviks financially and militarily. The Germans and Austrians still produced huge amounts of weapons and could wage the war for many years to come. In addition, non-existent countries had their armed units: Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, the Czech Republic and, of course, Poland. Romania relatively quickly made peace with the Central Powers and withdrew from the Great World War. Almost all of Russia was covered by fights, which also included the peasants.
Poles managed to form the 1st and 2nd Polish Corps, which, however, were liquidated; be defeated in battle, or in the face of an overwhelming enemy force, disbanded. Many Polish soldiers managed to get to Kuban, where they joined the Russian Officers' Legion. Kuban is a historical and geographical region located in the basin of the Kuban River by the Black Sea.
One should also mention the attempt to establish a Polish aviation unit in Odessa at the end of 1917. It must be remembered that Odessa was a large concentration of the Polish community. On October 23, 1917, on the initiative of the standard-bearer pilot Stanisław Jakubowski, efforts were made to create the Polish Aviation Division. However, these activities were interrupted by the Austrians in April 1918. At that time, there were 9 planes and 16 cars in stock. Polish soldiers then got to the Kuban to the Division of General Lucjan Żeligowski.
As for second lieutenant pilot Stanisław Jakubowski, in 1919 he took part in the battles for Lviv, and in 1920 he was the head of the higher pilot course at the Aviation School in Krakow.
In Kuban, in the riverside hostel Paszkowska, a Polish Aviation Department was established. Its commander was Lieutenant Pilot Waldemar Narkiewicz, known from the 2nd Polish Aviation Division at the 2nd Polish Corps. The order to form was issued on October 15, 1918.
The Polish Aviation Department had literally nothing. There were no planes and facilities. The conditions were very difficult, but training was conducted. General Lucjan Żeligowski borrowed half a million rubles from General Grishin-Almazov, who commanded the Volunteer Army (Russian Officer's Legion). In time, France felt obliged to arm Polish soldiers and other allies.
At that time, the "Wild Division" of general Lucjan Żeligowski returned to the name of the 4th Rifle Division, and the air squadron was officially named the Air Squadron of the 4th Rifle Division. The detachment initially had only one plane.
Another airplane was brought by Lieutenant Ludomil Rayski, who flew to Odessa straight from Turkey, after being released from their army.
A little later, the branch received another 8-10 aircraft.
On October 28, 1918, the unit was named the 1st Aviation Division of the Polish Army. More volunteers were admitted to the unit. In January 1919, the 4th Rifle Division and the 1st Aviation Division of the Polish Army numbered 722 officers and 2,116 soldiers. So these numbers were not impressive.
On December 1, 1918, the 4th Rifle Division and the 1st Aviation Division of the Polish Army were in Novorossiysk, on the Black Sea, embarked on the ship "Saratov" and sailed to Odessa. Here they took part in the war against the Bolsheviks. Mainly reconnaissance and liaison flights were performed.
Road to Poland.
On February 25, 1919, the unit was renamed the Air Squadron of the 4th Polish Rifle Division. After the squadron was moved to Braiła, the personnel was uniformed in accordance with the convention used in the army of General Józef Haller. Braille is a city in Romania on the right bank of the Danube. In the nearby town of Gałacz, lieutenant pilot Ludomił Rajski picked up a new Breguet XIV B2 plane from the French. In this plane, Ludomił Rajski transported General Lucjan Żeligowski to Lviv. The Breguet XIV B2 plane with the pilot Ludomił Rajski in Lviv made 12 sorties.
At that time, the rest of the Squadron was loaded in Brajła into Echelon and transported to Chernivtsi, 450 km away. Czerniowice is now part of Ukraine. This change in dislocation was caused by a threat as much as for the reborn Republic of Poland. From Czerniowice the squadron was moved another 130 km to Stanisławów, and from there it began fighting against the Ukrainians, from June 14, 1919. Stanisławów is a former Polish City and is now called Ivanovo-Frankivsk in Ukraine.
The Aviation Squadron of the 4th Polish Rifle Division was the only Polish air unit established in the East that managed to arrive in Poland.
10th Intelligence Squadron.
At the end of July 1919, the Squadron was renamed to the 10th Intelligence Squadron. In August 1919, the 10th Intelligence Squadron was transferred to Brest-on-the-Bug. Here it was reorganized and its equipment was supplemented.
In October 1919, the 10th Intelligence Squadron was transferred to the Ławica Airport near Poznań. She was involved in activities for the Wielkopolska Front. She made reconnaissance and propaganda flights.
Due to the approach of the Bolsheviks, in the spring of April 24, 1920, the 10th Intelligence Squadron was moved east to the area of Mazyr on Pripyat (now Belarus, halfway between Kiev and Minsk Lithuania), to Kozienki Airport. The squadron operated for the 9th Infantry Division, performing reconnaissance and assault flights against the enemy.
The squadron made a statement in May 1920, attacking the Bolshevik-controlled towns of Żłobin and Gomel, and also making it difficult for them to cross the Dnieper.
In June 1920, the Squadron acted for the Operational Group of General Władysław Sikorski. At that time, it operated from the airports in Kozienki, Łuniniec, Kożangródek and Wroniec near Biała Podlaska. Then there were: Brześć nad Bugiem, Pińsk, Biała Podlaska, Lwów and Warsaw.
On August 5, 1920, the 10th Intelligence Squadron was forwarded to Warsaw at the Mokotów Airport. It was then rearmed with 10 Bristol F.2B Fighter planes. During the Battle of Warsaw, she supported the activities of the 4th Army.
In August 1920, the squadron took part in a combat action, bombing Bolshevik columns on the Ostrów Mazowiecki - Wyszków - Pułtusk roads. The squadron was stationed successively at the airports in Klikawa near Puławy (left bank of the Vistula), Dęblin, Mińsk Mazowiecki, Biel near Małkinia.
In September 1920, the Squadron was stationed in Biała Podlaska, Brześć nad Bugiem, Słonim and Baranowicze. At that time, it was already making reconnaissance and communication flights, because the enemy was quickly retreating.
The truce with the Bolsheviks found the Squadron in Baranowicze, from where it was forwarded to Białystok.
Under the order of January 18, 1921, the unit was merged with the 9th Intelligence Squadron and at the same time the new unit received the old name of the 10th Intelligence Squadron.
In August 1921, the unit was included in the 7th Intelligence Squadron of the 3rd Aviation Regiment in Poznań. The transfer to the Ławica Airport took place in September 1921.
On June 2, 1925, the 10th Intelligence Squadron was renamed the 32nd Air Squadron.
In 1929, the 32nd Air Squadron was renamed the 32nd Airline Squadron.
In August 1939, during the emergency mobilization, the unit was renamed the 32nd Reconnaissance Squadron.
Written by Karol Placha Hetman