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Czechoslovak military units in the USSR (1942 - 1945)
Czech and Slovak Legion


General facts

From - to: 03.09.1939 1 - 12.02.1942 2
Subordinate to: The Legion was inspected by Polish officers 3
14.09. - Tarnopol command
Commander: Army General Lev Prchala 4
09/1939 - Lieutenant Colonel Ludvík Svoboda
Number: About 900 persons 5
National composition: Most of them were Czechs
Composition: [tba]
Transfers: Krakow [PL] - Bronowice Małe (06.07.39) - rw Przemyśl - rw Lwów - rw Krasne - rw Dubno - rw Zdołbunów - rw Sarny - rw Leśna (01.-12.09.) - rw Sarny - rw Zdołbunów - rw Krasne - rw Zborów - rw Hluboczek Wielki (13.-17.09.) + Tarnopol 6 - Horodyszcze (17.09.) - Rakówiec 7 (18.09.1939) *
Main combat operations: 8 Anti-aircraft defense of Tarnopol (15.-17.09.1939)


Weapons and equipment

All members of the Czech and Slovak Legion wore civilian clothes. The Legion’s command had placed an order for a thousand Polish uniforms (those would have differed from Polish Army uniforms only by the tricolor in the cap), but none were delivered because of the war and attendant chaos. The same thing happened with weapons.

The Legion’s equipment included the following:

 08/1939 909/1939 10
Gas-masks 100
Rifles1050
Heavy machine guns 12


Czechoslovak military group members swearing the unit oath (1939)
Czechoslovak military group members swearing the unit oath (1939)


In capture

* On 18.09.1939, the Czech and Slovak Legion was surrounded and captured 11 at Rakowiec by the Red Army which had invaded Poland from the east. The Legion was moved several times among various internment camps. Because of the poor living conditions in the camps, poor treatment by the Soviet jailers and a keen desire to fight against the Germans, most of the legionnaires left the USSR in 1940 - 1941 for France and the Middle East. The small group that remained in the USSR became the core of the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Field Battalion that was organized in the south Ural city of Buzuluk in February 1942.

Number: 04.01.1940 - 674 persons
25.12.1940 - 615 persons
15.04.1941 - 157 persons
02/1942 - 88 persons
National composition: 04.01.1940 - Czechs 507, Slovaks 63, Jews 104
25.12.1940 - Czechs 502, Slovaks 75, Jews 34
15.04.1941 - Czechs 128, Slovaks 28, Jews 1
Composition: 04.01.1940 - 137 officers, 141 non-commissioned officers, 17 technical-sergeants, 663 soldiers, 25 officer candidates, 17 others
Involuntary transfers: Rakówiec [PL] 7 (18.09.39) - Husiatyn (21.09.) [USSR] - Kamenets Podolsky (23.09.) - Olkhovets [12] (17.10.) - rw Jarmolintsy [12] (06.11.) - rw Shepetovka - rw Oranki 12 (03.04.40) - Suzdal 12 (20.06.40) - Oranki 12 (21.10.41) - Buzuluk (05.02.42)
Internment camps: Jarmolintsy (06.11.1939 - 23.03.1940)
Oranki (03.04.1940 - 18.06.1940)
Suzdal (20.06.1940 - 10/1941)
Oranki (21.10.1941 - 01/1942)


Suzdal monastery, place of internment of Czechoslovak legionnaires [© Jakub Dospiva (2006)]
Suzdal monastery, place of internment of Czechoslovak legionnaires - © Jakub Dospiva (2006)


Notes:
  1. The first Czechoslovak military group abroad was organized in Krakow on 30.04.1939 and became the foundation for the future Czech and Slovak legion.
  2. The founding of the 1st Independent Field Battalion was officially announced.
  3. Colonel Karol Zborowski and Major Henryk Smrotecki.
  4. Left the unit on 03.09. and finally abandoned it on 16.09.1939.
  5. 01.09.1939. Another source indicates that the Legion had 850 members on 12.09.1939.
  6. 24 Legion members were assigned to strengthen antiaircraft defenses of Tarnopol on 15. - 17.09.1939.
  7. Per Soviet sources Raków.
  8. By the end of July 1939, negotiations between the Polish military administration and the Czechoslovak military group resulted in the entrance of 93 pilots into the Polish Army. These pilots later operated from Polish airbases in Dęblin and Pulawa. Other specialists from the Czechoslovak military group who joined the Polish Army included anti-aircraft artillerymen, engineers and telegraph operators. More at: http://www.czechpatriots.com/en/mirror/1939 - Legion Czechosłowacki.htm.
  9. Source: E. Kulka - Jews in Svoboda’s Czechoslovak Army.
  10. Source: http://www.volny.cz/ipro/stripky/clanky/polsko39.htm. According to Kulka, as of September 1939, the Legion had 4 heavy machine guns, 9 light machine guns, 5 400 rounds of ammo, 500 gas-masks, 100 small shovels.
  11. Except for the group which defended Tarnopol.
  12. Soviet internment camps.

Abbreviations:
[tba] = to be added, rw = railway, [PL] = Poland, [USSR] = Soviet Union.


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