Operation Battle of Krasnobród

The 'Battle of Krasnobród' was fought near Krasnobród between German and Polish forces during the German 'Weiss' (i) invasion of Poland (23 September 1939).

This was one of the last battles in the history of European warfare in which cavalry was used by each side.

At about 07.00 on 23 September, a group of cavalry of the Poiish Nowogródek Cavalry Brigade left the forested area mid-way between Zamość and Tomaszów Lubelski. The 25th Greater Poland Uhlan Regiment under the command of Pułkownik Bogdan Stachlewski formed the force’s vanguard and was entrusted with recapturing the pivotal town of Krasnobród. Generalleutnant Rudolf Koch-Erpach’s 8th Division, a formation of the 14th Army's VIII Corps within Generaloberst Gerd von Runstedt’s Heeresgruppe 'Süd', had strengthened its position round the town, which is located on a hill, with two lines of trenches. In order to minimise the effect of the German division’s numerical superiority, the Polish commander split his force in two and ordered a cavalry charge in which each of the squadrons was to charge separately on a different sector of the front.

The German force was caught completely by surprise and the first squadron broke through the German positions, while the German infantry started a chaotic retreat toward the centre of the town, followed by the Polish cavalry using sabres and lances. The second squadron, under Porucznik Tadeusz Gerlecki who was killed, joined the charge toward the hill. A organic cavalry unit of the 8th Division countercharged from the hill, but was repelled. The Polish units started a pursuit of the fleeing Germans and entered the town. Although the Poles suffered heavy losses to machine gun fire (Gerlecki’s squadron lost all but 30 men), the town was retaken and the Poles took the German division’s headquarters, together with about 100 German soldiers. Moreover, 40 Polish soldiers earlier taken prisoner by the Germans were freed.