Operation Battle of Jordanów

The 'Battle of Jordanów' was an early German and Polish clash in the former’s 'Weiss' (i) invasion of Poland (1/3 September 1939).

The battle was fought between the German forces of the XVIII Corps of General Eugen Beyer and the Polish 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade of Pułkownik Stanisław Maczek.

On 1 September, the XVIII Corps, which was part of the Generaloberst Wilhelm List’s 14th Army within Generaloberst Gerd von Rundstedt’s Heeresgruppe 'Süd' on the southern wing of the German invasion, crossed the border from Slovakia into south-western Poland. In an attempt to outflank the positions of Generał dywizji Antoni Szylling’s 'Kraków' Armia defending Silesia and the western portion of Lesser Poland, the Germans crossed via the passes of the Tatra mountains and assaulted the towns of Chabówka and Nowy Targ. The corps' orders were to seize the town of Myślenice not later than 3 September, and thus encircle the entirety of the Polish forces committed in the area.

The area assaulted by the XVIII Corps was only lightly defended by a single infantry regiment of the Border Defence Corps (KOP) under Podpułkownik Jan Wójcik. Hard pressed by a combined force of Generalmajor Eduard Dietl’s 3rd Gebirgsdivision, Generalmajor Rudolf Veiel’s 2nd Panzerdivision and Generalmajor Alfred Ritter von Hubicki’s 4th leichte Division, the Border Defence Corps, aided by the local volunteers and units of the National Defence, withstood the attack but only at the expense of heavy losses. Despite being checked in the area of Nowy Targ, the Germans took the town and the very real threat of a German breakthrough of the Polish lines became apparent.

To counter this threat, Szylling ordered the 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade, until then held in reserve in a position to the south-west of Kraków, to move southward to the threatened area and block the area of Jordanów and Rabka. Overnight the brigade was transported to the area and Maczek established his headquarters in the village of Krzeczów. The various elements of the Polish unit entered combat almost instantly. Particularly heavy fights occurred in the hills to the south of Jordanów, and around the mountain of Wysoka where Pułkownik Kazimierz Dworzak’s 24th Motorised Regiment aided by KOP and anti-tank artillery units defended the area against the 2nd Panzerdivision. A heavy artillery barrage started at 05.00, and soon after this the whole of the German division launched an all-out assault of the Polish positions. Despite suffering heavy losses, the Poles managed to stop the German assault, and by 12.00 the Germans withdrew after losing about 30 tanks. However, the German forces' numerical and technical superiority was ultimately decisive, and after three failed assaults, late in the evening the Germans finally seized Wysoka mountain and the village at base. The Poles withdrew under cover of an armoured train. The village of Wysoka became a centre for German service units and also the site of a munitions depot. However, during the night the civilian inhabitants set fire to a pair of oil tanks, whose explosion destroyed a number of previously damaged tanks of the 2nd Panzerdivision and killed a number of the 3rd Gebirgsdivision's resting men.

Altogether, in the 'Battle of Jordanów' the Germans lost approximately 50 tanks and a number of other armoured fighting vehicles. The Polish losses were also significant, most especially so in the ill-equipped volunteer units.

Having undertaken a reconnaissance of the German units in the area, Szylling ordered the 10th Mechanised Cavalry Brigade to pull back slowly along the Beskid mountains and undertake delaying actions along the rivers and hills. Despite being badly outnumbered, on the following day the Polish unit organised an ambush near Lubień and Sucha Beskidzka, in which the German armour suffered additional losses. The same day the 24th Reconnaissance Squadron, comprising six PZL P.23 Karaś single-engined light bombers, destroyed a number of tanks around Jordanów and the village of Podwilko. The 31st Reconnaissance Squadron, forming part of the organic aviation of Generał dywizji Kazimierz Fabrycy’s 'Karpaty' Armia successfully bombed the tanks of the 4th leichte Division on the road between Nowy Targ and Chabówka.

After these ctions, the Poles withdrew once more, this time to the area of Kasina Wielka, where two ambushes were organised on 4 September. On the following day the Poles moved toward Myślenice, where yet another ambush was organised. This tactic proved to be a good weapon against the German 'Blitzkrieg' as the aggressors in the area could advance no faster than mere 6.25 to 12.5 miles (10 to 20 km) per day and suffered heavy losses in men and equipment. Because of its success, the 10th Motorised Cavalry Brigade remained fully operational until 19 September, when it was ordered to cross the border into Hungary.