Weichsel bei Sandomierz - 1939
Part of The KB41 Collection On This Day Series!
This is part of a small series commemorating the Germano-Soviet Invasion of Poland, and the battles which formed the start of the Second World War. Here at KB41 Collection we are honoured to own this, and other such rare and detailed historical photographs, within our collection. We bring you this detailed series in collaboration with the wider KB41 Team; Tamara Markmann; and Simon.
This post is shared in relation to events that happened in the blowing up of the road bridge at Sandomierz that crossed the River Vistula. This post is shared on the 83rd anniversary of the day it happened, 13th September 1939 at some time approximately after 18:00.
The photograph here shows Heer Soldaten, likely Jnfanterie (Infantry) seen in rubber dinghy boats attempting to cross the River Weichsel (Vistula) near Sandomierz, South East Poland during the Invasion on 13th September 1939. The exact time of the photo suggested some time after the Bridge was blown up at 18:00. The Reverse information of the photograph (seen attached) details the area in which the River crossing is taking place as
The Heer Jnfanterie are seen packed in to the rubber boats as best they can as they are seen crossing the River Vistula. The many Soldaten of the Wehrmacht, like the Heer Jnfanterie find seen here would find themselves in this situation as many bridges across Poland were blown up by the defending Polish forces as a way to slow the German advance. This was carried out not only so it could refine where the attacking German forces could attack from but stop certain areas advancing with tanks and other light reconnaissance vehicles such as the Sd.kfz 222 (as seen featured in another of our postings). Bridges were blown up by the defending Polish forces since the first day of the invasion on the 1st September 1939 to as late this area on the 13th September 1939. Luftwaffe forces attempted to attack the Polish forces attempting to blow up the bridges however many were too late as Polish troops blew bridges across Poland and within the surrounds of the River Vistula (Wisła in Polish). The bridges in the surrounds of the River Vistula were being blown to stop further advances to the capital of Poland, Warsaw.
The Heer Jnfanterie seen in the rubber boats are wearing the same crisp M36 tunics seen in our previous posting on the 8th September, seen by the distinctive bottle green collar. The webbing of the Heer Jinfanterie can be clearly seen as many face away from the photographer. This is seen by the belt order showing the Breadbag with the water bottle and mess tin attached, above to the right seen are tightly rolled and fastened Zeltbahns which lay next to the Gasmask that would be worn over the shoulder and hang across the back with a clip to the belt. In addition to this, shovels used for entrenching and in some cases as a last ditch sidearm and Bayonet can also be seen next to the Breadbag. Unseen due to the Jnfanterie facing away from the camera, the completed belt order would have two ammo pouches at the front. Y-straps were not used in the Poland campaign which is why they cannot be seen in use. A Kark98k can be seen across one of the Soldats back in the closest boat in shot.
Like other photographs in this series we have shared this photograph gives a very close POV (Point Of View) as to what the advance in the Invasion of Poland was like. The photographer in this instance is likely on the shore about to board another boat to join the many others in crossing the River Vistula. This is suggested due to the closest boat being in shallow waters, this seen by two Jnfanterie who are seen standing with rolled up trousers as they push the boat out across the River Vistula. Other boats in the distance can be seen rowing their way across the river, by Jnfanterie with oars in hand. In the distance the shore can be seen to which the Heer wish to reach, trees and bushes line the horizon with the setting sun offset to the West (seen to the left in the photograph). Also seen in the distance can be an explosion on the horizon in the water. This explosion could either be from the attacking German forces or the defending polish forces. It is unknown what is causing this explosion however it is in the far distance and out of harm of any of the Heer Jnfanterie seen photographed. The ripples of the Water reflects the shadow of the boats adding some detail to this hazy in the field photograph.
It is possible that the Jnfanterie seen here are the same as those photographed in the 8th September post, some similarities such as the thin rubber bands on the M35 Stalhelms can be seen, whilst this was a common practice for Soldaten these photographs were acquired together when purchased for the collection. These posted so far a re treated as individual accounts of the Invasion of Poland however it could be linked in some way as further postings show clear connections. The Heer Jnfanterie seen here are crossing the River Vistula at the area of Sandomierz, as the reverse details " Weichsel bei Sandomierz" which simply translates as "Weichsel (Vistula) near Sandomierz". Sandomierz being in South-East of Poland. This in connection with known dates and times as detailed of destruction of Bridges allows us to conclude the events in which Heer Jinfanterie seen here find themselves in. The railway bridge at Sandomierz was blown up by Polish troops 3 days earlier on the 10th of September 1939, this was carried out to stop any further supplies and reinforcements being relayed to the advancing forces.
This is another crisp photograph from many in this Poland series of KB41 Collection has posted and many others are yet to come, the research of known destruction of bridges adds to the reverse information detailed by those who took part in the invasion as they transcribed for future reflection. This crisp in the field photograph serve as another rare example of the Invasion of Poland to which when the River Vistula was crossed, further fighting until the later occupation of the town of Sandomierz would occur.