Thursday 3 October 2013

BT-7s in Poland

Archive materials on both the Western Ukraine and Belarus campaign and combat use of BT tanks are rare, so when I see a combination of the two, it's a good day.

"Top Secret
To the chief of the Mechanized and Armoured Forces of the Red Army
Hero of the Soviet Union, Corps Commander comrade Pavlov

September 29th, 1939

This is a report on the actions of the 25th Tank Corps in defeating elements of the Polish army between September 17th and 25th, 1939.

On the first day of action, September 17th, the corps crossed three water barriers (rivers Zhvanchik, Zbruch, and Seret, the latter being especially difficult), and performed a 60 km march. At the end of the day, the corps arrived at Chortkuv and Zhidkuv, took Chortkuv with battle, and captured 129 men prisoner, two of them colonels, 4 officers, up to 200 rifles, 20 pistols, up to 50 motorcycles, cars and bicycles, as well as the military warehouses. Up to 30 men of the enemy, one of them a colonel, are killed or wounded.

Second day of action, September 18th. The 25th tank corps marched 70 km, and the 4th light tank brigade 80 km, and took Bugach. The river Strypa was forded at Bugach, as the bridge was destroyed by the enemy. Monasteshiska was taken, where the 54th infantry regiment and the headquarters of the 12th infantry division and the 8th Independent Poznan Motorized Infantry Squad were defeated and captured, in total 5300 men, 172 of them officers. At the end of the day, we reached the Podgaitse-Gorozhanka line, and advance units reached the eastern outskirts of Galich.
The scout battalion of the 5th light tank brigade, pursing the retreating enemy, reached Stanislavuv. The 4th and 5th Cavalry Corps fell behind the 25th Tank Corps. The commander and commissar of the scout battalion entered Stanislavuv.

Third day of action, September 19th. At dawn, elements of the 5th light tank brigade suddenly captured Galich, and crossings of the Dnestr river that the enemy was preparing for demolition. 500 officers and up to 2000 soldiers were captured at Galich. All of them were parts of a mine-anti-tank company with 6 guns and an AA battery with 5 guns, two airfield crews, wartime censorship bureau #56, #6 intelligence, members of the war ministry and Polish army general staff. Additionally, an infantry regiment that was being composed from various units was disarmed west of Galich.
On the same day, 54 officers of the Polish flight school were captured while trying to escape to Romania by car.
The 1st battalion of the 5th light tank brigade captured up to a battalion of infantry in the region of Zavadka (35 km west of Galich) by 16:00. The objectives set by the South Group Army Commander were completed. The 1st Motorized Rifle Brigade, acting to the right, captured Svistelniki and Burshtyn, 500 officers, soldiers, and gendarmiere, up to 60 cars, 4 guns. The corps traveled 65 km that day. Advance elements of the 5th CC only approached Galych by 18:00. Main forces only arrived at 24:00.
The cavalry fell behind on many one day marches. Additionally, we had to quell a large uprising in Galich, with officers, gendarmiere, and Poles, up to 300 people, which the corps soldiers and commanders also disarmed using tanks and armoured cars at 18:00 on September 19th.

On the 4th day, September 20th, having received the Army Commander's orders to take Striy, elements of the 25th Tank Corps approached Striy by 16:00, where they met German forces, and stopped, according to the orders of the People's Commissar of Defense.

On September 21st, according to the Army Commander's orders, the corps marched eastwards and readied at Zhuravno for striking at the Lvov group of the enemy. The corps traveled 30 km.

On the night from September 22nd to September 23rd, the corps marched from Zhuravno to Komarno through Striy, covering 100 km. The corps met the 2nd mountain infantry division of the German army and stopped.

From September 16th to 23rd, the 25th Tank Corps was constantly in motion, without one day's break. In total, it traveled about 450 km. On September 17th, 1939, it was 8 km north-east of the cavalry units of the South Group, and continued to get further away from them every day. Communication with the South Group was done exclusively using the corps' methods.

In total, the corps captured Chortkuv, Buchach, Monastezhiska, Galich, Burshtyn, Bolshovtse. As a result of the battles fought to capture these cities, the corps captured up to 1100 officers, 81 gendarmiere, about 12000 soldiers, up to 10000 rifles, 150 machineguns, 20 guns, 300 cars, and 12 airplanes.

We lost 8 men dead and 24 injured.

The corps traveled 400-450 km from the state border, and an additional 200 km in two night marches up to Yarmolintsy. This march loaded the unit's materiel heavily, not to mention the training performed by the whole corps prior to the march. In total, the vehicles traveled 700-800 km from August 30th to today. Despite the pressure and high speeds of the march, only 30 BT-7 tanks fell behind due to technical problems, part of which required very light repairs.

These numbers, without exaggeration, indicate an honest will of the corps to fulfill the mission set by the party and by the government.

I also find it necessary to report that, in the time of the most serious fighting, we resolved the issues with fuel supply. Over 120 tons of gasoline were captured at the Podshumlyane and Bolshovtse stations, 165 tons at Zhuravno, 25 tons at Stanislavuv, 70 tons at Galich, 380 tons in total.

Only capturing this fuel allowed the unit to complete its mission. The corps was supplied by 5 days worth of supplies from headquarters, and from local sources. 

Currently, the 25th Tank Corps has 1.5 refills of lubricants and fuel, 2 ammunition loadouts, and two days of supplies (except for sugar). 

The unit requires men and materials to increase strength to wartime levels. 80 BT-7s are located at Berdichevo (the 3rd battalion of the 5th light tank brigade is replacing one that left for the Far East, and a part of its tanks were repaired in its own workshops), and just need to be sent to us by rail.
Currently, we have 367 (one brigade minus one battalion) BT-7s."

The rest is fluff about the party and comrade Voroshilov and all that political jazz. 


  1. Thanks for putting this up. It's quite an achievement that they managed to get so much out of the basic BT design considering how unreliable the early BT-2s were.

  2. Polish army got orders to don't fight with red army.