Operation Battle of Radom

The 'Battle of Radom', which is also known as the 'Battle of Iłża', was part of the German 'Weiss' (i) invasion of Poland (8/9 September 1939).

In the extreme south of Poland, which was attacked by Generaloberst Gerd von Rundstedt’s Heeresgruppe 'Süd', Generał brygady Stanisław Skwarczyński’s Armia 'Prusy' defended the city of Iłża and the road linking Sandomierz and Radom. The Poles were not ready to meet the head-on attack of General Hermann Hoth’s XV Corps (mot.), which was altogether superior in strength, and were easily defeated after two days of fighting, and the Armia 'Prusy' ceased to exist, although some of its units survived to join other tactical groupings of the Polish armed forces.

The Armia 'Prusy', which was regarded as the Polish land forces' strategic reserve, remained deep behind the front line, and was not intended to enter the battle before the middle of September. To the surprise of the Polish headquarters, however, after only the first week of fighting, Panzer and motorised formations and units of General Walter von Reichenau’s 10th Army broke through a gap between the Armia 'Krakow' and the Armia 'Lodz' near Czestochowa, and and wheeled to the north to march on Warsaw.

The battle began when the southern wing of the Armia 'Prusy', which comprised just three infantry divisions (3rd Legions, 12th and 36th Divisions), together with the Operational Group 'Kielce', clashed with motorised forces of the 10th Army, which blocked the Poles' lines of retreat toward the Vistula river.

On 8 September, the Polish 7th Regiment of the 3rd Division, supported by two artillery batteries, recaptured Ilza. Its battalions were scattered around the town, while the units of the 12th Division was located in northern parts of the Starachowice forest, next to an armored regiment of the 'Krakow' Cavalry Brigade. The 3rd Division’s first contact with the Germans took place at about 12.00. To the east of Ilza, German motorised units were halted by Polish regiments, and while the Germans regrouped and attacked once again, they failed to break through the Polish lines.

Soon after this, Generalmajor Adolf-Friedrich Kuntzen’s 3rd leichte Division entered the battle, but its advance was also checked near the village of Pilatka. Another German assault was halted near the village of Kotlarka, and the Germans had to fall back to the south as far as the road linking Ilza and Lipsko. At about 15.00, German tanks were repelled near Trebowiec Duzy, and finally, after artillery barrage, the Germans attacked Ilza at 18.00. The Polish 7th Regiment had to retreat, and managed only to keep its positions near the ruins of Ilza castle.

Surrounded by German forces, the 12th Division attempted to break out. Despite an initial success by the 52nd Regiment, which destroyed large quantities of German equipment, the Germans checked the Poles. By the fall of night on 8 September, the 3rd Division was ordered to march toward Czerwona, while the 12th Division, divided into two columns, headed toward Ciecierowka.

On the morning of 9 September, the remnants of the 3rd Division, commanded by Pułkownik Stanislaw Tatar, were located in a forest near Czerwona. Smaller groups of Polish soldiers tried to get into the Kozienice forest, but most failed. At the same time, the 12th Division had encountered problems in reaching the Starachowice forest, as in the night the German forces had been reinforced. The northern column of the 12th Division was stuck near Kotlarka, as its morning attack was checked by the Germans. The southern column, which was to march towards Michalow, had to wait for its 51st Regiment, commanded by Pułkownik Emil August Fieldorf. The regiment was stuck on local roads, and while the column finally set off at 05.00. soon after this it was checked near Stary Rzechow. Under the circumstances, Skwarczynski and Generał brygady Gustaw Paszkiewicz, commander of the 12th Division, gathered their officers in the village of Piotrowe Pole, and decided to break their units into small groups, heading toward the Vistula river. As a result of this decision, the Operational Group 'Skwarczynski' effectively ceased to exist.