Polish Tank Ace

A TKS armed with a Nkm wz.38 FK 20mm autocannon, the same type commanded by Orlik.

The alleged wreck of Prince Victor von Ratibor’s Panzer IV.

Sketch of the clash at Pociecha made by R. Columbine. 1, II-positions of TK tankettes from km; III, IILA, IlIB with TKS which were armed with 20 mm cannons positions; 1, 2, 3-positions of hit German tanks.

Sketch of the battle for Sieraków also made by R. Columbine. Shown are TKS tankettes with 20 mm cannon, during which they engaged German tanks (marked with numbers from 1 to 7)

Plutonowy podchorąży rez. Roman Edmund Orlik (71. armoured dyon of Wielkopolska Cavalry Brigade) was one of the first tank aces of WW II.

On 18th of September during the combat of Pociecha he eliminated 3 tanks from Panzer-Regiment 11. from 1. Leichte-Division. He also destroyed several motorized vehicles during that combat and took 2 prisoners of war (tank crew). He also tried to rescue the crew of one of those eliminated by him German tanks – which started to burn – but he – unfortunately – didn’t manage to rescue them and all of them died.

Among tanks eliminated by Orlik on 18th of September there was tank of Leutnant (or Oberleutnant ?) Victor IV Albrecht von Ratibor – commander of a platoon. The whole his platoon was eliminated during that combat and Prinz Victor IV Albrecht von Ratibor was heavily WIA and severely burned – and after a few minutes he died. He was born in 1916 and was first son of Victor III August and Elizabeth zu Oettingen-Oettingen und Öttingen-Spilberg.

On 19th of September Orlik eliminated 7 German tanks (from Panzer-Abteilung 65. or from I. battalion of Panzer-Regiment 11.) during the battle of Sieraków. Most of those 7 tanks eliminated (most probably 6 of them) were Pz-35(t) tanks.

His tankette was one of 2 tankettes from 71. armoured dyon of Wielkopolska Cavalry Brigade (both of them were TKS tankettes with 20mm automatic guns) which broke through to Warsaw (during the night from 20th to 21st of September 1939). He was later fighting in Warsaw until 28th of September 1939.

Orlik’s victories (kills) during the battle of Sieraków

German sources say that during the failed German Panzer counterattack on Sieraków, Panzer-Abteilung 65. lost 26 KIA and WIA tank crewmen (including 4 officers, 5 NCOs and 17 soldiers).

The majority of tanks of Panzer-Abteilung 65. which took part in the attack (and most probably the whole Abteilung took part) were eliminated during that battle. Also Bade writes about this. According to Bade (and also according to German daily reports) the remaining German tanks escaped towards Hornówek and Lipków.

German tanks were attacking (according to Bade – but Polish sources confirm it) in two separated groups at the same time (it is possible – but not certain -, that apart from Panzer-Abteilung 65. also I. battalion of Panzer-Regiment 11. took part in that attack – or at least some part of it). Both groups were defeated and dispersed.

From the first group the Poles eliminated 27 tanks – 7 by Orlik, 20 by 7. light artillery dyon (direct fire) and 7. horse rifle regiment (the majority by regimental AT guns). During combats with this group the Poles (7. horse rifle regiment) lost 56 men – 14 KIA and 42 WIA.

From the second group the Poles eliminated 11 tanks – including 2 by direct fire of artillery platoon from 14. light artillery dyon (porucznik F. Orzeszko) and 3 by platoon of AT guns cal. 37mm of podporucznik Wiktor Ziemiński from 14. uhlan regiment (two of them were destroyed by Wiktor Ziemiński himself). The remaining 6 were eliminated by elements of 17. and 14. uhlan regiments and 9. horse rifle regiment.

Before the German counterattack, during the Polish attack on Sieraków (in the morning – the attack started , around 10:00 – so after less than 10 hours – Sieraków was captured), platoon from 15. light artillery regiment eliminated 2 tanks. Few tanks were also eliminated by 6. uhlan regiment – which was fighting north of Sieraków. And also in Sieraków (during the Polish attack) – apart from 34 German trucks (full of equipment and ammo), which were captured and later destroyed there, a few tanks were eliminated. While conquering Sieraków Polish forces also captured 9 machine guns.

Polish forces which took part in the battle of Sieraków – Laski (elements of Wielkopolska and Podolska Cavalry Brigades) were fighting both with tanks of Panzer-Abteilung 65. and tanks of I. battalion of Panzer-Regiment 11. during that day.

During the battle of Sieraków the Poles captured – according to the Polish sources – 70 POWs from II./KSR.4 and inflicted heavy casualties to it.

According to the German sources – both the German daily reports and relation of Bade – II./KSR.4 was dispersed and crushed during that day, and the remaining rests of it gathered on the road from Truskaw to Izabelin, where they established a hedgehog defence.

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