Schwerer Wehrmachtschlepper (Gepanzerter Ausführung)

Proposed version of the sWS with UHU would have been introduced as the command and observation vehicle of the five-tank Infra-red Panther Platoons. The infra-red equipment fitted to each Panther tank had a range of only 400m. Each UHU with its 60cm Beobachtungs Gerat 1251 and telescope Beobachtungs Gerat 1221 was capable of illuminating and sighting at ranges of 1,500m. The UHU commander then controlled the five Panthers, in their attack of such targets, over the usual FuG5 radio. The main searchlight had a traverse of 360*and could be folded down when not in use.

This vehicle was the only one of the series to enter production. On 27th July 1942 Hitler issued an order for the cancellation of the 5-ton Sd.Kfz.6 vehicle and for the turning over of production facilities for this vehicle to the output of the sWS. The sWS was a new, simplified, low-speed tractor designed primarily for use by infantry units as a supply vehicle in adverse conditions. The parent firm was Bussing NAG of Berlin Oberschönweide, and Ringhöfer-Tatra assisted in production. On 27th July 1942 the OKH presented WaPruf.6 with a requirement for 7,484 of these vehicles to be completed within the next two years. Production was scheduled to begin during the spring of 1943 with a monthly output of 150; but the first vehicles did not enter service until December 1943, when only five were completed. The firms assigned to producing these vehicles were Bussing NAG and Tatra in Czechoslovakia (the latter continuing production for some years after the war for the Czech Army). By September 1944 only 381 sWS had been delivered to the army, and total production by 1945 amounted to 1,000. The Tatra version employed the air-cooled Tatra 111 engine.

The vehicle had a greatly simplified suspension and dry-pin tracks. It was mainly intended as a supply vehicle, although versions existed which had heavy bows for canvas covers and could carry wounded men (four stretchers, six minor casualties and two orderlies). There was also a version with an armoured cab which, apart from its role as a normal tractor, was used as a platform for various weapons. It was originally intended that the sWS should replace the Maultier hybrid semitracks which had been produced as an expedient prior to its introduction; but as production never reached a satisfactory level, the Maultier remained in service for the remainder of the war.

The tractor was normally provided with an open lorry body. The engine was a 6·cylinder Maybach HL42 TRKMS, basically similar to and of the same rating as the engines used in the 1- and 3-ton tractors, and it had dry-sump forced lubrication, using a gear-type pump. The dry double-disc clutch, type PF220K, was the same as that used in the 1- and 3-ton tractors. The main gearbox, type Kb40D , gave four forward speeds and one reverse speed and was of sliding-mesh, non-synchromesh type. The auxiliary gearbox was connected to the main one by a short propeller shaft. Two ratios were provided. The vehicle had a conventional controlled differential. The steering brakes were mounted co-axially with the half-shafts and were pneumatically operated. Here the road brakes were not integral with the driving sprockets. The half-shafts drove the driving sprockets through final reduction gears secured to each of the main chassis members. The suspension consisted of five pairs of double overlapping bogies, there being three widely spaced and two narrowly spaced on each side. The bogies were mounted on taper roller-bearings on hubs carried on radius arms, each separately sprung by means of a torsion-bar. The arrangement of these differed from that on the older semi-tracked vehicles in that the radius arms on the two sides were directed in opposite senses, those on the left pointing forward and those on the right trailing. Further, each torsion·bar was arranged to be co-axial (whereas in the older semi-tracks they were slightly offset) and tracks of the same number of links were used on each side. The driving sprocket consisted of two truncated cones, united at the smaller ends and carrying toothed rings bolted to the two outer rims. The bogies consisted of pairs of identical shallow discs carrying solid rubber tyres at their peripheries and were bolted to the hubs. They were detachable without removing the hubs. The idlers consisted of spoked wheels, rubber blocks being secured round their peripheries by steel clamping rings that also acted as guides for the teeth of the tracks. The idlers were mounted on cranked axles and the usual track-tensioning device was used, comprising a nut and threaded rod device incorporating a shear-bolt. Each track consisted of fifty-five main links, each carrying two spuds and two guide teeth, and an equal number of intermediate links hinged together by track pins. The intermediate I inks were secured on the outer side by a head and on the inner side by a circlip and pin. The guide teeth ran between the widely-spaced bogies but outside the narrowly-spaced ones. The track width was 500mm (19.7in).

The front wheel steering was of the ZF Ross worm and- cam type, and it was connected with a pneumatic valve for operating the track brakes when the steering wheel had been turned through a certain angle. A new feature was a lever on the dashboard that enabled each track to be braked independently, allowing the vehicle to be driven on one track only in the event of one track slipping excessively or when removing tracks.

A winch was optional and would be incorporated only by special request. It was driven from the auxiliary gearbox through a propeller shaft and worm gear. The capacity of the winch was 5 tons.

The version with an armoured cab weighed 10.5-tons unladen and could carry up to 3 1/2 tons. The trailer load capacity was 8 tons. In this version the engine, radiator and driver’s compartment were enclosed in light armour plate. This armour was joined by welding except that of the engine cover, which was bolted on. The armour varied from 15mm on the front to 8mm on the sides and roof. The body of the vehicle consisted of a flatbed covered with steel plates and fitted with hinged sides. A compartment of the same height as the sides extended across the rear of the body. A seat for a gun crew was located at the back of the cab and was protected by an extension of the side armour. A folding canvas top was provided. This armoured version was not fitted with a winch.

Manufacturer: Bussing-NAG, Ringhoffer-Tatra

Chassis Nos.: 150001-

825 produced from December 1943 to March 1945

Crew: 2

Engine: Maybach HL42TRKMS

Gearbox: 2 x 4 forward, 2 x 1 reverse

Weight (tons): 13.5

Length (metres): 6.92

Width (metres): 2.5

Height (metres): 2.07

Speed (km/hr): 28

Range (km): 300

Armour: 6-15mm


The Sinking of the Glorious

In 1929 a German admiral named Wegener published a book entitled The Sea Strategy of the World War (i. e. World War I). In this book he put forward the theory that the British sea blockade and stranglehold over the North Sea could and should have been broken by German seizure of the ports in Norway. He had good reason to pen such ideas, for the German nation had indeed suffered through the British naval blockade which had prevented many imports from reaching Kaiser Wilhelm’s countrymen. In that war, the German Army had not taken over all its neighbouring territories and, unlike in the second great conflict, Germany did not manage to expropriate or import to anything like the same extent. But Admiral Wegener’s book was dismissed by the chief of Germany’s small post-war navy, the Reichsmarine, though it provoked much interest among lesser officers.

Both Norway and Sweden were of great importance to Germany in both wars, the latter because of its vital supply of iron ore, the first owing to its convenient ports, especially Narvik, for in winter the Baltic sea often froze over, which meant that ore trains had to be routed to the northern port in Norway to be shipped down the coast to Germany. Of the ten million tons of ore exported by Sweden to Germany in 1939, only one million tons travelled directly to the German ports. Narvik remained ice-free from January to April and was the best port of transit.

Another obvious fact was that with ports such as Narvik in German hands, the Navy would stand a much better chance of breaking out into the Atlantic, where its surface warships could wreak havoc with Allied convoys. Which is precisely what happened on several occasions in World War II. Although the `pocket’ battleship Graf Spee was eventually lost, it did, with the Scheer and Deutschland (later renamed Lutzow), create some panic at the British Admiralty and sink a worthwhile number of British ships. These were early operations; the Germans had already sent these heavier ships to sea before war came. With Norway occupied, the threat would and did multiply. Risks were taken to interrupt the Germans’ ore supplies – mines were laid in Norwegian waters – and when the German prison ship Altmark anchored in a fjord the destroyer Cossack sailed in to rescue all the British seamen aboard.

British explanations for these breaches were met with strong protests from the Norwegian government and, of course, rage from the German side. This situation enlivened the `Phoney War’ in the early spring of 1940, crisis looming when both the Germans and the British prepared expeditions to occupy at least the port of Narvik. German warships were sighted moving northwards along the Norwegian coast, and the Polish submarine Orzcl sank the German supply and troopship Rio de Janeiro off southern Norway, large numbers of German soldier survivors being rescued by Norwegian fishing boats. The enemy were reported as saying they had been heading for Bergen to help the Norwegians defend them¬ selves against British aggression.

Hitler was sensitive to his northern flank throughout the war; this fear was encouraged by the British, who maintained various fictional threats towards Norway. But the notion that the British and French could seize and hold Narvik in 1940 was a fantasy thought up by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, the future Prime Minister, fond as he was of dreaming up grand expeditions. On the German side, the Kriegsmarinds Grand Admiral Raeder did all he could to promote the scheme of taking over Norway, for he was a `big ship man’ who still believed in the might of the battleship.

As for the Norwegians themselves, they had been at peace for hundreds of years; not since the days of the Vikings had that nation indulged in war. But the Nazis had been pursuing a relentless campaign of unsubtle propaganda designed to thoroughly undermine Norwegian minds and convert them to the idea of a benevolent, protective Reich. As a result, when invasion came the country was quite unprepared. The Nazi theme of `Nordic brotherhood’ had some effect in various quarters. Hitler Youth groups and others made many visits to Norway, bearing gifts and propaganda in an attempt to win over Norwegian opinion to the National Socialist cause. The complete lack of subtlety on the Germans’ part was made clear when, during the evening of 9 April 1940, the German minister in Oslo invited many distinguished guests, including members of the host government, to a special film show at the German legation. If the guests had expected a Hollywood western or musical, then their hopes were rudely shattered; the one long feature film shown was the propagandist record of the subjugation of Poland by the Wehrmacht. Included in this epic was the bombing of Warsaw, the inhabitants, so the grating commentator assured, having only the Allies to thank for it. The guests filed out in a state of shock and bewilderment; the show had obviously been intimidatory, a warning to Norway, despite all the assertions of Nordic neighbourliness. It was clear the Nazis would mete out similar treatment to any who dared oppose them.

Over the following days the drama escalated as both Britain and Germany despatched military expeditions to Norway. Despite the rushed and in some ways bungled nature of the British-French arrangements, some success was achieved: a foothold was made at Narvik and heavy losses were dealt out to the German Navy during several encounters in the fjords and at sea. But lack of experience at that stage in combined operations, and above all the lack of air cover, brought ever-increasing difficulties for the Allied corps as the enemy succeeded in occupying much of Norway, having already invaded Denmark. During these hard weeks, following Prime Minister Chamberlain’s ill-judged assertion that `Herr Hitler’ had `missed the bus’, and no matter how much supremacy the Royal Navy maintained at sea, fuddled thinking and lack of swift decision-making in London enabled the enemy to gradually squeeze the Allied forces into an impossible position. At least so it seemed to the Allies, the British bearing much of the burden since neither the French Navy nor Armee de I’Air did anything to assist. Some success was achieved at the two major Norwegian ports of Trondheim and Narvik, but in the air a handful of obsolete Gladiator biplanes were soon lost, while in the north some Hurricanes ferried over with pilots and ground crews prepared for evacuation from Narvik. In fact, as the Heinkels swept over unopposed to bomb and strafe the Allied troops the decision was made to evacuate all forces from Norway. This, at a time when the German General Died had himself decided his troops were unable to succeed at Narvik, surprised the enemy.

The Allied expeditionary corps had landed at Narvik on 15 April 1940 and had fought valiantly for weeks, well past 10 May, when the Wehrmacht attacked in the west. On 10 June the last Allied troops left Norway. The Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm had inflicted very heavy losses on the Kriegsmarine – the destruction of ten German destroyers practically crippled the enemy’s destroyer fleet – but on 8June the Royal Navy suffered its own grievous loss.

Unknown to the Admiralty, the German Navy’s B-dienstradio listening service had been reading most of the Royal Navy’s signals. The larger German warships carried such personnel aboard, and all British wireless traffic was monitored so that captains could be kept abreast of enemy ship movements. By breaking British naval codes the Germans learnt that on 5 June the battleships Renown and Repulse were being sent north with destroyers and cruisers to intercept two German raiders believed to be trying to break into the Atlantic via the Faroes Passage south of Iceland. The Kriegsmarine also learnt that the carriers Ark Royal and Glorious were at sea off Norway. In view of General Dietl’s belief that he was losing the battle for Narvik, two of the heaviest German Navy units, the battlecruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, plus the cruiser Hipper and four destroyers, were despatched to support Dietl’s men by bombarding the Allied troops battling around Narvik. Died would soon be hailed in Germany as the `hero’ of that battle, which the Germans actually won because of the unexpected Allied withdrawal (a German victory would in all probability have come later had the troops opposing them not been evacuated).

However, the German naval task force was diverted en route to attack British shipping. A tanker and the empty liner Oriana were sunk, 274 of the latter’s crew being rescued; the hospital ship Atlantis was allowed to sail on unharmed. The German fleet commander, Admiral Marschall, then received news from his B-dienst officer that more enemy ships were positioned to the north, these believed to be the cruiser Southampton with the two carriers mentioned. The temptation to intercept the latter prizes was great. Forgetting his primary task for the moment, Admiral Marschall ordered full speed ahead, his intention to sink the two British carriers before going on to support the Germans ashore. But the warships were no longer needed around Narvik, for the Allied forces were busily embarking for home. The only way General Diet! could notify the Navy of this event was by using a Norwegian telephone via Sweden back to Trondheim where `Admiral Norway’ – Captain Theodor Krancke – had installed himself in the Britannia Hotel. Dietl’s report never reached Admiral Marschall, whose small fleet sailed on northwards.

At 16.45 a midshipman in the crow’s nest of Scharnhorst reported ships off the starboard bow. At first he saw only smoke, but gradually, through his powerful rangefinder, he made out a masthead, the range forty-six kilometres. The German crews were already on alert; they were now brought to action stations, everyone aboard the ships aware that if a more powerful British force appeared they would have to turn tail.

Not until 17.10 was the first enemy vessel seen to be an aircraft carrier, wrongly identified as the Ark Royal, a ship Nazi propaganda had claimed was destroyed the previous year. Then came news that the carrier was escorted by only two destroyers. In fact, the carrier was the older-type Glorious, which according to the official line, much disputed since, had been allowed to head straight for home owing to a fuel shortage, 200 miles ahead of the main convoy leaving Narvik. Even Winston Churchill, close as he was to the staff at the Admiralty, found this hard to believe, and obfuscation continues to this day. The Admiralty archivist insists that a signal sent by Glorious to the cruiser Devonshire reporting heavy German units was not received, a vital point flatly contradicted by a surviving telegraphist from the cruiser who swears he delivered such a signal to the bridge staff. This is important, since Devonshire had aboard King Haakon of Norway, and most likely his entourage, probably important archives and perhaps even state funds. At all costs, the British government and Admiralty were anxious this party should reach Britain safely – not that this is meant to imply they used Glorious and its meagre escort as bait or sacrifice. In fact, no reports of German warships moving north had been received by the Admiralty, whose intelligence at this time seems to have been inadequate.

Meanwhile, the heavy British units despatched to intercept `two raiders’ heading for the Atlantic drew a blank. Both Devonshire and Glorious were virtually helpless against the far mightier Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, which carried eleven-inch guns. Even though the cruiser Hipper and the destroyers had turned back, the two German battlecruisers would have had little trouble destroying the British cruiser, but fortunately for this ship and its royal cargo they were beyond danger. Not so Glorious, which came under fire from the enemy as soon as the range closed. Despite the great bulk of the carrier, the first eleven-inch shells fired by Scharnhorst at 17.21 from twenty-six kilometres failed to hit, but by 17.38 both German ships were on target. Gneisenau had also been shooting at the destroyer Ardent, which was soon set ablaze.

Admiral Marschall and his staff, watching the Glorious through their binoculars, believed the British were trying to get their torpedo planes readied on deck, but shellfire soon put paid to this attempt. The German B-dienst team were listening carefully for any distress calls from Glorious, and at 17.52 hrs picked up a rather mangled, oscillating signal which was unreadable. A further, much clearer, message was intercepted at 18.19 hrs and immediately jammed by the German signallers.

German shells wrecked all the Hurricanes and naval aircraft ranged on the carrier’s deck, and fires took hold below among the aviation fuel and other stores. The German battlecruisers had first opened fire at maximum range – 27,000 yards, or fifteen miles – their eleven-inch guns fully elevated, the range closing steadily as the enemy drew closer until a rain of heavy missiles reduced the British carrier to a blazing wreck. By 18.30 Glorious was listing so badly the remains of its aircraft were sliding off the flat top into the sea. One can imagine the chaos and carnage below. Yet the ship struggled to remain afloat for a further half an hour before finally slipping beneath the waves.

The destroyer Ardent was also sunk, but the captain of the other escorting destroyer, Acasta, drove his little ship hard at Scharnhorst, whose lookouts reported three or four torpedoes fired at the battleship from bows-on. Scharnhorst’s Captain Hoffmann altered course drastically while the warship’s great guns blazed away at the impudent attacker. On Acasta, the captain, Commander C. E. Glasford, had broadcast to his crew before turning towards the enemy: `You may think we are running away from the enemy – we are not! Our chummy ship [Ardeni] has sunk, the Glorious is sinking, the least we can do is make a show. Good luck to you all!’ Leading Seaman Carter would be the sole survivor from this unequal and suicidal attack; David would not prevail against Goliath. It was Carter who fired two of the torpedoes, commenting later that he thought the enemy very surprised at the audacity of it all, Acasta emerging very suddenly from its own smoke screen. `They never fired a shot at us!’ Carter recalled. This soon changed as the enemy crew recovered their poise and began shooting at the destroyer with all the weapons that could be brought to bear. According to Carter, Acasta got in close before its missiles were launched, yet according to a German account nine minutes elapsed before one torpedo struck Scharnhorst. Meanwhile, German shells were peppering the destroyer and a big explosion seemed to lift Acasta out of the water. When last seen, the surgeon lieutenant was trying to tend his captain; both men went down with the ship. Some 1,474 Britishers were lost on the carrier and two destroyers (1,515 according to one source). Captain D’Oyly-Hughes of Glorious also went down with his ship, and only thirty-nine men were saved by the Germans; another thirty-six were picked up by a Norwegian ship later and returned to Britain.

The torpedo struck the German battleship’s starboard quarter, tearing a 36 x 12ft hole in its bow. Again, according to German sources the time elapsed (nine minutes) seemed to indicate quite clearly that the British torpedoes had missed, which was why Captain Hoffman had his ship resume its original course – with disastrous results. Forty-eight German sailors lost their lives as sea water and oil from a ruptured fuel tank gushed into the forward compartments of Scharnhorst.

Despite Hitler’s continued doubts, Grand Admiral Raeder sent Gneisenau and Hipper to sea again on 20 June. Close in to the Norwegian cliffs lay the British submarine Clyde (Lt Commander D. C. Ingram), which put one of its torpedoes into the German battlecruiser, the explosion blowing a hole as big as a house in the warship’s bow. The only remaining German battleship serviceable, Gneisenau was put out of action for months. In fact, at the close of the Norwegian campaign the greater part of the Kriegsmarine’s surface fleet was out of action: apart from those sunk, twenty-four ships were in dock for refurbishment, a further fifteen were being serviced, and seven more had had their crews paid off while refitting was carried out, these including the pocket battleship Lutzow (exDeutschland). The Germans had suffered greatly at sea, their small fleet virtually incapacitated, yet in propaganda terms the victory seemed the enemy’s: Norway was lost to Hitler, the Allied corps had withdrawn. The recriminations were muted, overborne perhaps by the far greater disaster in France and Belgium. Hitler secured his ore supplies from Sweden and threw the British off the continent.

All the airmen aboard Glorious were lost. None had been sent aloft to watch out for enemy vessels. Such lessons were hard learned; as was proved against Bismarck, even antiquated biplanes could deliver deadly torpedo attacks. Aircraft carriers should never have been sent across the North Sea without battleship escort.

The Saka Kingdom and Imperial Rome

Roman trade in the subcontinent according to the Periplus Maris Erythraei 1st century CE

Roman ships leaving the Indus region sailed hundreds of miles south to a port in Gujurat called Barygaza. This was a treacherous sailing for the deep-hulled Roman vessels that might run aground on underwater hazards and be torn apart by powerful currents. The Periplus warns that east of the Indus was a bay called Eirinon where ‘there is a succession of shallow eddies reaching out a long way from land. Here, vessels often run aground with the shore nowhere in sight’.

Roman ships might also be drawn by ocean tides into the Gulf of Barake (Kutch). The Periplus warns that ‘vessels blundering into the basin are destroyed, for the waves are very big and oppressive. The sea is choppy and turbid with eddies and violent whirlpools.’ The crews of Roman ships caught by these currents threw down restraining anchors, but the coast had sheer drops and sharp rocky outcrops that sometimes cut their anchor lines. These dangers have been confirmed by the discovery of Roman amphorae fragments and the remains of lead anchors on the seabed near the island of Bet Dwarka. An indication that the ship was close to currents came when the pilots sighted ‘sea-snakes, huge and black, emerging to meet the ship’. Most Roman ships would head out to sea and only re-join the coast when small golden-yellow eels were seen in the waters about their hull. This was a sign that they had reached the Cambay Gulf which led to the city-port of Barygaza.

Barygaza was ruled by a dynasty of Saka kings who came from homelands on the Asian steppe. The Roman Emperor Augustus received envoys from these Sakas in 26 BC, when he was campaigning in Spain. Suetonius explains that these Indo-Scythian ambassadors ‘were from nations previously known to us only through hearsay and they petitioned for the friendship of Augustus and the Roman people’. This was a period when the Sakas still ruled most of the Indus region, but were being threatened by the Parthians. The Sakas were probably looking for a military alliance with Rome in the expectation that Augustus was planning to conquer Persia. This would explain why Orosius links the embassy to eastern conquests and claims that the ambassadors came to ‘praise the Emperor with the glory of Alexander the Great’.

This embassy was probably sent by Azes who was the last Saka king to rule in Indo-Scythia. The Sakas were influenced by Greek culture and Azes issued currency displaying images of the goddess Athena. He also used Greek titles on his coins and referred to himself as ‘The Great King of Kings’. King Azes was probably responsible for a second embassy that reached the Roman Empire in 22 BC. On this occasion the Saka ambassadors sailed to a port on the Persian Gulf and travelled overland to Roman Syria. In Antioch they were received by Roman authorities and taken to the Greek island of Samos where Augustus was holding court and receiving African envoys from Meroe. Strabo reports that only three of the ambassadors survived the journey from India, ‘the rest had died chiefly by consequence of their long trek’.

The ambassadors carried a letter from Azes to the Emperor written in Greek on a vellum scroll. In it Azes explained that he held the allegiance of 600 minor sovereigns in northern India and ‘was anxious for an alliance with Caesar Augustus’. His Indus possessions were about to be conquered by the Parthians and he proposed a military pact similar to the deal agreed between Alexander and the Indian King Porus. Strabo had an acquaintance named Nicolaus who saw the letter from Azes when the ambassadors were being taken to Antioch. He reported that Azes was ‘ready to allow Augustus passage through his country, wherever he wished to proceed and co-operate with him in anything that was honourable’. According to Dio a ‘treaty of friendship’ was agreed between the two rulers, but by this stage Augustus had begun to seek peace terms with the Parthians and these superseded his plans for any further eastern conquests.

This diplomatic contact occurred in the first decade of Indo-Roman trade when the sight of Indian visitors was still a novelty for most subjects of the Empire. Nicolaus describes how the ‘gifts brought to Caesar Augustus were presented by eight naked servants besprinkled with sweet-smelling odours and clad only in loin-cloths’. Roman crowds marvelled at an armless Indian youth sent by Azes who was proclaimed a ‘living Hermes’ because he resembled the pillar-statues erected in Greek cities to honour the god of expeditions and commerce. Dio describes how the boy could ‘use his feet as if they were hands and with them he could pull a bow, shoot missiles, and put a trumpet to his lips’. The traditional symbols of Hermes included the tortoise, the rooster and a staff called the caduceus which was decorated with two intertwined snakes. This is probably why Azes sent Augustus an exotic pheasant, a large tortoise, a brood of colourful Indian snakes and a giant python. The bird was probably a Himalayan Monal Pheasant which displays metallic-coloured plumage ranging from blue-greens to purple and copper-reds. It was probably symbolic of the mythological phoenix that was said to make its nest from cinnamon twigs. Dio claims that the envoys also brought tigers, and ‘this was the first time the Romans and probably the Greeks had seen these animals’. Augustus displayed these exotic wonders to astonished crowds in Athens and Rome. Strabo reports ‘I myself have seen this Hermes – the man born without arms’.

The Saka ambassadors who visited Augustus were accompanied by a Buddhist or Jain missionary who came from the Gujurat city of Barygaza. This holy man was known in India as a shramana (a monk or religious instructor), but the Romans took this title to be his personal name and called him ‘Zarmarus’ and ‘Zarmano-chegas’ (‘Teacher’ or ‘Master of Shramanas’). Zarmarus probably sought patronage from Augustus and may have requested permission to establish a Buddhist or Jain monastery in Rome, Antioch or Alexandria. His request was denied, but Zarmarus remained in the company of the Emperor when he travelled to Athens in 21 BC.

In Athens Augustus was accepted into a secretive and exclusive Greek cult called the Eleusinian Mysteries which promised its followers rewards in the afterlife. Augustus used his influence to have Zarmarus initiated into this cult so that he could witness some of the most ancient and enigmatic practices involved in Greek religion. Zarmarus decided to exhibit his Indian faith and asked to be burned alive in a funeral pyre. His request was granted by the Emperor and Dio indicates the bewilderment of the Greek crowds who gathered for this occasion. He writes, ‘for some reason Zarmarus wanted to die’ and concludes, ‘maybe he wanted to make a display for the benefit of Augustus and the Athenians’. Plutarch pointed out that the event resembled a ritual performed for Alexander the Great, when an Indian sage named Calanus renounced his position as advisor to the king and immolated himself on a funeral pyre in front of the assembled Macedonian army.

Strabo describes the scene witnessed in Athens by the Emperor when Zarmarus ‘anointed his naked body with fragrances and wearing only a loincloth, leaped upon the lighted pyre with a laugh’. Augustus arranged that the cremated remains were placed in a tomb at Athens and the event commemorated with the text, ‘Here lies Zarmanochegas, an Indian from Barygaza, who immolated himself in accordance with his ancestral customs’. When Plutarch wrote his Life of Alexander, he describes the self-immolation of Calanus and mentions how the memorial to Zaramos had become an attraction in Athens. He reports, ‘the same ritual was performed by an Indian who came with Caesar to Athens and they still show you the Indian’s Monument’.

Augustus took great pride in elevating the Roman Empire to a position of world recognition. His memorial testimony is preserved in an inscription that records, ‘to me were sent embassies of kings from India, who had never been seen in the camp of any Roman general’. However, his interest did not go as far as military intervention and by 10 BC the Parthians had conquered most of the Indus Region (Indo-Scythia). The Saka Kingdom was reduced to Gujurat with Barygaza becoming the main port for the diminished regime. During the first century AD Gujurat was ruled by a Saka King named Nahapana known to Roman traders as ‘Manbanos’.


Soviet tank development took another major step forward with the design of the T-62 tank, which was a derivative of the T-55 but armed with a 115mm smooth bore gun that fired arrow-like projectiles instead of the traditional, full calibre projectiles that until then were the standard armour-piercing ammunition of the Soviet tanks. Its projectiles, which came to be known as Armour Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot or APFSDS projectiles, were fired with a muzzle velocity of 1,680m/s, which was higher than that of any other tank gun ammunition in use at the time, and this, together with the slender shape of the projectiles, resulted in greater armour penetration.

Soviet tanks, including the T-34-85, continued to rely on clutch-and-brake steering well into the Second World War, in spite of it being one of their weak points. However, in 1943 a geared steering system with two-speed epicyclic gearboxes was developed for the KV-13 experimental heavy tank that led to the IS or Stalin tanks, and they became the first Soviet tanks to go into service with such a system. 20 After the war a similar system was used on a large scale in T-54, T-55 and T-62 tanks.

Development of the T-62 began in 1958 and was almost concurrent with that of the 90 and 105mm smooth bore guns firing APFSDS projectiles that were being developed in the United States for the T95 tank. But whereas the results obtained in the United States were unsatisfactory and the development of the T95 was terminated in 1961, the T-62 was developed successfully and was accepted for use in that year. It was produced in its original form until 1972 and with modifications until 1983, by which time as many as 20,000 are believed to have been built. Most went to the Soviet Army but a significant number was delivered to the Egyptian and Syrian armies, which first used them in combat during the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. They were also supplied to Iraq and to North Korea, where the T-62 has been developed further.

The T-62 was the first tank to come into use armed with a high-pressure smooth bore gun firing APFSDS, and as such ushered in the worldwide adoption of this type of armament, which superseded almost all other types of tank guns and kinetic energy ammunition during the 1980s and 1990s. In spite of having an advanced gun armament, the fire power of the T-62M was augmented in 1983 by the provision of guided missiles that could be launched from its gun. The missiles were the 9M117 Bastion laser beam-riders, which were the same as those launched from the 100mm gun of the T-55M and significantly increased the range at which both tanks could engage targets. However, the T-55M and T-62M were not the first to be provided with gun launched missiles in addition to conventional ammunition.

The Soviets commenced quantity production of the T-62 in 1962. The major difference was in the introduction of the 115-mm 2A20 Rapira smoothbore gun with a bore evacuator. The can fire HEAT-FS, HE-FRAG and APFSDS rounds at a maximum rate of 4rpm. The flat trajectory of the APFSDS round coupled with the tank’s stadia rangefinder means that a T-62 can effectively engage targets out to 1600 metres.

The APFSDS projectiles fired by the T-62 looked like a scaled down version of the Peenemunde Arrow Projectiles that were being developed in Germany during the Second World War for long range artillery. 14 Their penetrators were only of steel, but they were fired with a muzzle velocity of 1,615m/s and were capable of penetrating 240mm of armour at 1,900m, which made them as good in this respect as the contemporary 105mm APDS projectiles.

Although housed in a larger turret the 115-mm gun leaves little room for the crew so an automatic shell ejection system has to be added, this ejects spent shell cases out of a hatch in the turret rear. The system requires the gun to be elevated slightly during unloading with the power traverse shut off, thus limiting any rapid fire and second round hit capability. Also the ejection system must be perfectly aligned with the ejection port otherwise a spent shell case bounces around the inside of the turret.

The T-62 can create its own smokescreen by injecting diesel fuel into its exhaust system. The tank is equipped with the PAZ radiation detection system and can use KMT-5/6 mine clearing gear.

TheT-62 has seen combat in a number of wars including the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 Lebanon War, the 1980- 88 First Gulf War, the 1990 Invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Second Gulf War. In practically all these instances its combat record has not been exactly brilliant by any standards. Many examples of T-62 have turned up in the West and those captured by the Israelis have been modified to their own requirements as the Tirdan 6.

T-62M Model 1984 – passive horseshoe shaped shields of homogeneous spaced armour fitted around the gun mantlet and turret sides frontal arc plus an optical belly armour package for mine protection. Developed especially for Afghanistan.

T-62M Model 1986 – fitted with the KTD-2 laser range finder, an upgraded diesel engine and the horseshoe armour package. Internally the vehicle is fitted with a ballistic computer fire control system to considerably improve the first round hit probability at 1600 metres range, a full weapon stabilization system, night vision sights for gunner and commander, a laser guidance package for the 4000 m range 115-mm calibre Sheksna anti-tank missile and an improved model infra-red searchlight.

T-62MK – command version of T-62M variants with additional radio and land navigation system. Only 37 rounds 115-mm ammunition carried. T-62MV – the T-62M Model 1986 fitted with Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) boxes.

The Iraqis also modified a number of their T-62 Model 1962, T-62 Model 1967 and T-62K by fitting the loader’s turret position with aDShK cupola ring from a T-55 MET. These vehicles and later T-62M series versions were also provided with sheet metal protective covers for the 800-m range LunaL-2G infra-red/whitelight searchlight that is mounted coaxially to the right of the main gun and the commander’s OU-3G infra-red searchlight mounted at the front of his cupola.

A form of slat or the very similar bar armour was first used in the 1960s by the US Navy on the gun boats that it operated in the Mekong delta during the Vietnam War. 19 It was also used by the Soviet Army in Afghanistan in the 1980s and in Chechnya in 1995 on T-62 tanks, and it was also fitted to the turrets of some Chinese-built Type 69 tanks used by the Iraqi Army in 1991 during the First Gulf War.

The Russians were also the first to develop a much more sophisticated type of protection against anti-tank guided missiles in the form of the Drozd active protection system. This appeared for the first time in 1983 on a T-55AD and consisted of a millimetre wave radar to detect incoming threats and a cluster of four launchers on each side of the turret with 107mm rockets, one of which would be fired at a threat missile at the appropriate moment determined by the system’s computer to shower it with fragments and thereby damage or destroy it. In contrast to other active protection systems developed elsewhere several years later that provided all-round protection, Drozd’s rocket launchers only covered a frontal arc of 80º, but this would have been sufficient for tanks used for frontal assaults. In addition to T-55AD, Drozd was also installed on some T-62D tanks, but its use has been limited, other Soviet tanks continuing to rely on ERA to augment their built-in passive armour protection.

Warsaw 1939 I

On September 8, 1939, one week into the Nazi invasion of Poland, German armoured troops reached the gates of Warsaw. The Polish government and High Command had left the city but a determined garrison awaited the enemy invader and the Poles were able to stave off two consecutive German attempts to take the capital by armoured attack. Thus began a siege that would last for three weeks and subject the Warsaw Army of over 100,000 and the civilian population of over one million to a ruthless campaign of aerial bombardment and heavy artillery shelling, causing thousands of casualties and widespread destruction. It was a hopeless battle that could only end in defeat and on September 27 the Polish garrison capitulated. The photos of the first penetration by tanks and infantry of the 4. Panzer-Division taken on September 9 became standard repertoire of German propaganda publications on the Blitzkrieg in Poland.


On September 8 – eight days after the start of the campaign and after an amazing dash of 80 kilometres in ten hours – lead elements of the 4. Panzer-Division suddenly appeared on the outskirts of Warsaw. Taking advantage of the surprise, the Germans immediately launched an attack into the city, hoping to capture it on the run. The first attack, in the late afternoon of the 8th and by Panzer-Regiment 35 only, was quickly stopped by the fierce Polish resistance in the outer borough of Ochota. The second attempt, by the entire division and on a double axis, on the morning of the 9th penetrated deeper into the city but was again repulsed in heavy fighting in Ochota and Wola. A Propaganda-Kompanie photographer, Bildberichter Otto Lanzinger, accompanied one of the attacking columns into the city and his pictures have become classic images of the 1939 fighting for Warsaw. Here a number of PzKpfw I and IIs roll forward while supporting infantry keep close to the houses.


A PzKpfw II advances past another one. These photographs were taken on Grojecka Street, the main thoroughfare entering Warsaw from the south-east and leading into the borough of Ochota, at its intersection with Siewierska Street. Grojecka was the axis of attack of Panzer-Regiment 35 both on the afternoon of the 8th and again during the morning of the 9th. The long shadows in Lanzinger’s photos show the sun in the east, which proves that they were taken on the 9th.


Some 150 metres back along Grojecka, near its junction with Przemyska Street, Lanzinger pictured a 7.5cm le. IG 18 light infantry gun set up to engage enemy troops defending behind a barricade. The gun has just fired off a round and smoke is still curling from its barrel. Panzer I and IIs are waiting behind. Black smoke rises up from a disabled vehicle in the background.


Back up front, and right in front of where Lanzinger is taking cover, another gun – this one a 3.7cm Pak 36 – has been set up. Across the street is its Krupp Kfz 69 towing vehicle. Two Panzer Is roll forward. The 4. Panzer-Division had begun the campaign with 341 tanks: 183 Panzer I, 130 Panzer II, 12 Panzer IV and 16 Panzerbefehlswagen. However, by the time it reached Warsaw, both tank regiments had suffered losses and all four tank battalions were below strength.

Map of initial ground attacks on Warsaw. Poles-blue, Germans-red.


Warsaw in 1939 was a city of 1.3 million inhabitants. From the very first hours of the campaign, this huge metropolitan area became the target of an unrestricted aerial bombardment campaign by Luftwaffe bombers and dive-bombers, mainly from Kesselring’s Luftflotte 1 supporting Heeresgruppe Nord.

On September 1, a force of some 90 Heinkel He 111 bombers from Kampfgeschwader 27, protected by 36 Me 109 fighters from Jagdgeschwader 21, together with 35 He 111s from II./Lehrgeschwader 1 raided the capital. They hit military targets, such as infantry barracks, the aerodrome and the PZL aircraft factory at Okecie in the south-west and the Warsaw radio station in Fort Mokotow in the south. However, right from the start, they also freely bombed civilian facilities such as waterworks, hospitals, market places and schools, and strafed civilians with machinegun fire. The attacks came as a complete surprise. The streets were crowded and dozens died in the first few minutes. Later that week, in order to disrupt communications, the bombers and dive-bombers attacked the city’s railway stations and the Vistula bridges – the latter without success. On September 3 alone 1,500 civilians were killed. A girls’ school was hit on the 4th.

Warsaw’s air defence depended mostly on the fighters of the Polish Air Force’s Pursuit Brigade (Brygada Poscigowa) under Colonel Stefan Pawlikowski. It comprised two squadrons and was equipped with 54 fighter aircraft, chiefly the PZL P. 7 and PZL P. 11 types. The city’s anti-aircraft artillery under Colonel Kazimierz Baran had 86 AA guns and various detachments of anti-aircraft machine guns.

Initially the air defence of the capital was fairly successful. During the first six days, the Pursuit Brigade managed to shoot down 43 enemy aircraft, while the anti-aircraft artillery destroyed a similar number. In addition, there were nine unconfirmed victories and 20 damaged aircraft. However, the brigade had itself also lost 38 machines, or approximately 70 per cent of its strength. The city’s air defence began to crumble on September 5 when the military authorities ordered 11 of the AA batteries withdrawn from Warsaw towards Lublin, Brest-Litovsk and Lwow. The following day, September 6, the remnants of the Pursuit Brigade were also transferred from the Warsaw sector to Lublin.

With rumours of the rout of the Polish armies reaching the capital, thousands of inhabitants packed their belongings and fled to the east, only to meet up with other refugees heading westwards. At the same time, masses of people entered the city from the west, fleeing before the German invading forces. Stukas swooped down on the long columns of people, strafing and striking terror at leisure.

On September 4, Polish President Ignacy Moscicki and his government evacuated from Warsaw, transferring their seat to Lublin, 150 kilometres to the south-east. Commander-in-Chief Marshal Smigly-Rydz and the Polish General Staff also left the capital, on the night of September 6/7, moving to Brest-Litovsk, also 150 kilometres to the rear. Their departure led to further panic and chaos in the capital.

At one time, it had been the Government’s intention to declare Warsaw an `open city’, but this idea was now abandoned. The capital would be defended at all cost. On September 3, before he left, Smigly-Rydz ordered the creation of an improvised Warsaw Defence Command (Dowodztwo Obrony Warszawy). General Walerian Czuma, the head of the Border Guard (Straz Graniczna), was appointed its commander and Colonel Tadeusz Tomaszewski its Chief-of-Staff.

Initially the forces under command of General Czuma were very limited. Most of the city authorities had withdrawn together with a large part of the police forces, firefighters and military garrison. Warsaw was left with only four battalions of infantry and one battery of artillery. Also, the spokesman of the Warsaw garrison had issued a communiqué in which he ordered all young men to leave the city. To co-ordinate civilian efforts and counter the panic that threatened to engulf the capital, Czuma appointed the President (Lord Mayor) of Warsaw, Stefan Starzynski, as the Civilian Commissar of the capital. Starzynski immediately started to organise the Civil Guard to replace the evacuated police forces and the fire-fighters. He also ordered all members of the city’s administration to return to their posts. In his daily radio broadcasts he asked all civilians to construct barricades and anti-tank barriers at the city outskirts.

Defensive field fortifications were constructed mostly to the west of the city limits. Streets were blocked with barricades and overturned tram cars. Cellars of houses were turned into pillboxes. Gradually, the forces of General Czuma were reinforced with volunteers, as well as rearguard troops and various army units, primarily from the Lodz and Prusy Armies, retreating before the onslaught of German armoured units. One was a stray battalion of the 41st Infantry Regiment `Suwalski’ from the destroyed 29th Division. On September 7, the 40th Infantry Regiment `Children of Lwow’, part of the 5th Division and commanded by LieutenantColonel Jozef Kalandyk, was transiting through Warsaw towards previously assigned positions with the Pomorze Army. The unit was stopped and joined the defence of the capital.

By the 8th General Czuma had gathered some 17 infantry battalions under his command, supported by 64 pieces of artillery and 33 tanks. The latter – 27 light tanks of the Vickers E, 7-TP and R-35 types and six TK-3 and TKS tankettes – were formed into the 1st and 2nd Light Tank Companies.

The last Polish formation defending before Warsaw was the 13th Infantry Division, positioned near Koluszki in central Poland. After bitter fighting with Hoepner’s XVI. Armeekorps on September 6-7, its lines were broken by the 4. Panzer-Division, which captured the town of Tomaszow Mazowiecki, located 115 kilometres southwest of Warsaw, During the night (September 7/8), most of the soldiers of the 13th Division panicked and deserted, enabling the 4. Panzer-Division to carry on to Rawa Mozawiecka, another 35 kilometres closer to the Polish capital.


On the morning of September 8, the 4. Panzer-Division – now well ahead of the rest of the 10. Armee – made a lightning dash towards Warsaw, 80 kilometres away. Moving out at first light from Rawa Mozawiecka, with Panzer-Regiment 35 in the lead, it brushed aside pockets of enemy resistance and reached Radziejowice, 35 kilometres on. With Polish soldiers surrendering by the thousands, the panzers rushed forward another 35 kilometres to Wolica, an outer suburb south-west of Warsaw, hoping to secure crossings over the Utrata river at Raszyn. Attacking at 1.15 p. m., the panzers destroyed two Polish light tanks and pushed back the Polish infantry but they could not prevent the Poles from blowing up two bridges right in front of them. Undaunted, the light panzers forded the brook, while attached engineers from Pionier-Bataillon 79, protected by infantry from SchützenRegiment 12, quickly repaired the crossings. Soon the lead troops were approaching Okecie, the airfield right on the south-western edge of the metropolitan area. Panzer-Regiment 35 had reached the city limits of Warsaw.

Back at the divisional command post at Nadarzyn, ten kilometres to the rear, Generalleutnant Georg-Hans Reinhardt was just receiving a visit from his army and corps commanders, Generals Reichenau and Hoepner. Having heard rumours that the Poles had declared their capital an open city, the three generals did not expect serious resistance and together they worked out exact plans for the seizure of the city. The division was to advance in two columns, with Panzer-Regiment 35 and Schützen-Regiment 12 on the right and Panzer-Regiment 36 and Infanterie-Regiment 33 on the left. However, the latter three units were still moving up and it would take some time for them to reach the start line.

Up front, the commander of Panzer-Regiment 35, Oberst Heinrich Eberbach, thought he could take the city on the run. Conferring with Hoepner and Reinhardt, he recommended that the surprise of the enemy be exploited and that he be allowed to continue the advance without waiting for the rest of the division. Permission was granted. A Storch light aircraft hurriedly flew in a few street maps of Warsaw and a plan of attack was made. Entering from the south-west, the regiment’s II. Abteilung was to advance across Pilsudski Square and then cross the Vistula to the east bank; the I. Abteilung was to remain in the centre of the city. Aerial support for the attack was quickly arranged through Kesselring’s Luftflotte 1 (nominally in support of Heeresgruppe Nord) which sent in 35 Henschel HS 123 biplane divebombers from II./Lehrgeschwader 2.

At 5 p. m. Eberbach’s regiment began the assault, advancing towards the borough of Ochota. A few rounds were fired. Just beyond the Rakowiec settlement the houses momentarily stopped, an open area partly filled with suburban vegetable gardens stretching out before the tankers’ eyes. The tanks moved across a road bridge, the actual outskirts of the city being 400 metres beyond. As they entered the built-up area, the road ahead was blocked by a barricade of overturned streetcars and furniture trucks. Suddenly, a rain of fire fell on the force. From four-storied apartment buildings, ventilation openings in the rooftops, windows and basement openings, Polish soldiers of the 40th `Children of Lwow’ and 41st `Suwalski’ Regiments opened up on the tanks with everything they had. One of the few PzKpfw IV (the whole regiment had just eight of these in its 4. and 8. Kompanie) received a direct hit. It was recovered under fire but the attack was stalling.

By now the sun was setting. Realising that Warsaw was not an open city and that the Poles were strongly defending it, Eberbach called off the attack and withdrew his tanks behind the bridge. For now, all by itself and well ahead of the rest of the division, the regiment needed to secure itself on all sides.

At 7.15 p. m. that evening – a point in time when the panzers were still battling in Ochota – German radio already broadcast the OKW communiqué bringing the headline news that German troops had penetrated into Warsaw.

During the night, the remaining elements of the division caught up with Panzer-Regiment 35: the tanks of Panzer-Regiment 36, the infantry of Schützen-Regiment 12 and Infanterie-Regiment 33 and the divisional artillery. Thinking he was now strong enough to take the city, Generalleutnant Reinhardt ordered the attack to be repeated the following morning with all available forces. PanzerRegiment 35, supported by Schützen-Regiment 12, was to repeat its attack along the main road into Ochota. Panzer-Regiment 36, supported by Infanterie-Regiment 33 and two engineer companies, was to launch an attack from positions further to the north, along the main road leading into the borough of Wola.

At 7 a. m. on September 9, following a tenminute preparatory artillery barrage on the city’s edge, the 4. Panzer-Division again moved into the assault. Dive-bombing support was once more provided by Luftflotte 1, which had dispatched the HS 123s from II./LG2 and 140 Stukas from StG77 and III./StG51.

Leading the attack into Ochota, the I. Abteilung of Panzer-Regiment 35 (Hauptmann Meinrad von Lauchert), with infantry mounted on the tanks, once again rolled across the bridge, followed by more infantry and attached engineers. The first road barricade was eliminated. Despite strong Polish resistance a second bridge was taken and the tanks reached the streets of Warsaw. Once in the built-up area, the German infantry had to take each house and clear it. The Poles resisted fiercely with burst of machine-gun fire, hand-grenades dropped from above and tossed from cellar openings, even with blocks of stones dropped from the roofs. Anti-tank mines buried in the road verges and adjoining fields disabled several panzers. The fiercest fighting in Ochota was at the barricade erected near the junction of Grojecka and Siewierska Streets and defended by the 4th Company of the 40th Regiment.

The panzers attempted to continue by themselves. The lead tank, commanded by Leutnant Georg Claass of the 1. Kompanie, was hit by a well-camouflaged anti-tank gun. The first round failed to knock it out but the second set the vehicle on fire. Claass and his radio operator managed to bail out but both later succumbed to their wounds. The same Polish gun immobilised the vehicle of the regimental adjutant, Oberleutnant Heinz-Günther Guderian (the son of the panzer general). Dismounting and escaping through a courtyard gate, Guderian came across the tank of Leutnant Diergardt and a platoon of infantry. Taking both under his command he continued the attack.

Advancing through courtyards and gardens, Leutnant Wilhelm Esser and two platoons of tanks from the 2. Kompanie were able to advance as far as the railway line, where Polish defences knocked out his radio. Oberfeldwebel Ziegler in his PzKpfw III assumed command of the remaining vehicles and managed to advance as far as the main railway station. All by himself in the middle of the capital, he eventually had to pull back. Leutnant Gerhard Lange worked his way forward to an enemy artillery position and opened fire on the guns with everything he had. The Poles attacked by throwing shaped charges against his tracks, which tore off one of the roadwheels and blocked his turret, and he too had to pull back.

Throughout the battle the Stukas of StG77 and III./StG51 gave support by attacking the Polish main artillery positions which were located in Praga, on the far side of the city and east of the Vistula. In addition to divebombing the gun sites, they swooped down on the city’s main avenues and on the railways in an attempt to obstruct Polish troop movements.

Around 9 a. m. Oberst Eberbach committed the II. Abteilung (Major Wilhelm Hochbaum), which had been held in reserve and was supported by another battalion of Schützen-Regiment 12, to the area one kilometre north of the main road, where the Polish defences appeared less well organised. This force initially made good progress, overrunning Fort Szczesliwice, one of the old fortifications surrounding the capital. However, as they reached the park beyond, the mounted riflemen received rifle and machine-gun fire from the high-rises on the left. Just as they deployed to engage it, Polish artillery fell among them and a few vehicles caught fire. Meanwhile, Polish anti-tank guns stopped the advance of the tanks. Oberleutnant Heinz Morgenroth, the commander of the 8. Kompanie, was fatally wounded. Of the two panzer platoons that advanced into the park, only three tanks came back.

The story was much the same with PanzerRegiment 36, attacking north of the railway line and into Wola. Here too, well-placed Polish 75mm anti-tank guns firing at pointblank range, and the barricades erected on main streets, managed to repel the German assault. The civilian population took an active part in the fighting and the Germans were halted with severe losses.

On several occasions the Poles made up for their lack of armament by ingenuity. Colonel Zdzislaw Pacak-Kuzmirski, commander of the 8th Company of the 40th Regiment, found 100 barrels of turpentine in the Dobrolin Factory and ordered his men to position these in front of the barricade at the intersection of Wolska, Elekcyjna and Redutowa Streets. When the German armour approached, the liquid was ignited and several tanks were destroyed without a single shot being fired.

The TP-7 tanks of the Warsaw Defence Command were actively engaged in the battles. Those of the 1st Light Tank Company joined in the heavy fights around Okecie airport, but they were no match for the German panzers and suffered considerable losses. Those of the 2nd Company took part in the successful defence of Wola.

At 10 a. m., after three hours of fruitless attack, Generalleutnant Reinhardt saw that the fighting could not be prolonged if his division was to remain as an operational unit and ordered his men to retreat to their initial line of departure. Casualties in tanks and infantry had been very heavy. Of the 220 tanks that had taken part in the assault, some 80 had been lost. Panzer-Regiment 35 alone, which had started the assault with 120 tanks, had only 57 left operational, including a single Panzer IV. Even the command tank of Generalleutnant Max von Hartlieb-Walsporn, commander of the 5. Panzer-Brigade

(which controlled the two panzer regiments), was immobilised by anti-tank fire as it made its way back. When the XVI. Armeekorps sent an order to renew the attack immediately, Reinhardt drove back to the corps command post and convinced Hoepner that this was absolutely impossible. All that could be done for now was to lay siege to the capital from the west.

During the night, a large number of the disabled panzers, including some that had run over mines, were recovered by their crews, in some cases from out of the Polish lines. Additional reinforcements arrived in the form of Infanterie-Regiment Leibstandarte-SS `Adolf Hitler’ (mot.), the Führer’s bodyguard unit turned into a motorised infantry unit and commanded by SS-Obergruppenführer Sepp Dietrich.

Warsaw 1939 II


Having warded off two consecutive ground attacks on the city, the defenders of Warsaw were now suddenly given a very welcome respite due to unexpected developments that were unfolding 100 kilometres west of the capital. That evening, September 9, the Poznan Army under Lieutenant-General Tadeusz Kutrzeba and the Pomorze Army under Lieutenant-General Wladyslaw Bortnowski launched a very strong surprise counter-attack against the left flank of the Heeresgruppe Süd forces advancing towards Warsaw.

With the two German pincers moving north and south of him, Kutrzeba’s army had until then been largely unaffected by the fighting and was still completely intact. As it moved back eastwards from Poznan, German army intelligence had somehow lost track of it and mistakenly assumed it had already pulled back behind the Vistula. Joining up with Bortnowski’s Pomorze Army, Kutrzeba saw a chance to strike at the northern flank of the German southern pincer. The Polish High Command initially turned down his proposal, ordering him to continue withdrawing to the Vistula, but early on the 8th he was given the green light. It was a desperate manoeuvre to stall the German advance and buy time for the organisation of Warsaw’s defence.

The attack, by eight infantry divisions and two cavalry brigades, fell on the 30. Infanterie-Division of Blaskowitz’s 8. Armee, which was holding a thin screening line along the Bzura river. The Poles inflicted considerable losses on the Germans, killing 1,500 and capturing 3,000 in the initial push. To avoid a serious reverse, Blaskowitz was compelled to completely suspend his army’s advance on Warsaw and divert all his troops to come to the rescue of the 30. Division. Nonetheless, the Germans were thrown back southwards some 20 kilometres.

Von Rundstedt and his Chief-of-Staff Generalleutnant Erich von Manstein initially underestimated the Polish advance and judged it a problem the 8. Army should solve by itself. However, on 11 September, realising they had a major crisis on their hands, they changed their mind and decided to redirect the main force of the 10. Armee plus army group reserves and most of the aircraft from Luftflotte 4 towards the Bzura. Thus reinforced, the Germans managed to hold the Poles in a vicious battle on a narrow front along the river. Raging for a full ten days, it developed into the largest, longest and single most-important battle of the campaign.

However, as a direct result of this Polish counter-offensive, the 4. Panzer-Division and the Leibstandarte-SS were withdrawn from Warsaw and sent westward to help stave off the threat. Their positions were taken over by the 31. Infanterie-Division (Generalleutnant Rudolf Kämpfe), one of the follow-up divisions of the XVI. Armeekorps, the lead regiment of which – Infanterie-Regiment 82 – arrived in front of Warsaw on the 11th. Its troops were fatigued by long days of marching in hot weather and already weakened by earlier battles, so they were ordered for the time being to refrain from a direct attack on the city and just maintain siege positions. In this sense the attempt to buy time for Warsaw was a success. However, the aerial attacks on the city continued. On September 10, nicknamed `Bloody Sunday’, there were more than 70 German bombers above Warsaw and 17 consecutive bombing raids.

Meanwhile, there had been an organisational change on the Polish side. On September 8, the day of the first German assault, Marshal Smigly-Rydz had ordered the creation of an improvised Warsaw Army (Armia Warszawa) under Lieutenant-General Juliusz Rommel. Until then the commander of the Lodz Army on the border, Rommel had got separated from his operational forces and had just arrived in Warsaw with his staff (some critics say he more or less abandoned his army and defected to the capital). From his headquarters at Brest-Litovsk, Smigly-Rydz sent him a signed order to `defend the city as long as ammunition and food lasts, to hold as many of the enemy forces as possible’.

The newly-created army was composed of the forces defending Warsaw (under General Czuma); the garrison of Modlin Fortress – a 19th-century citadel located at the junction of the Vistula and the Narew rivers some 30 kilometres north of the capital and blocking a main approach to it (under Brigadier-General Wiktor Thommée) – as well as all Polish units defending the Narew and Vistula riverlines north-east and south of Warsaw. General Czuma continued as the commander of the Warsaw Defence Force, which he split into two sectors, one on each side of the Vistula: East (Praga) under LieutenantColonel Julian Janowski and West under Colonel Marian Porwit.

Meanwhile, the defenders of the city were joined by various units of the routed Prusy Army, notably the 44th Infantry Division (Colonel Eugeniusz Zongollowicz), a half-complete reserve formation made up of regiments of the Border Defence Corps (Korpus Ochrony Pogranicza – KOP), which had been dispersed by the 1. Panzer-Division at Belchatow and had been ordered to head to Warsaw.

Other stray units came from the defeated Lodz Army, notably the 4th Battalion of the 30th Infantry Regiment from the 10th Division under Major Bronislaw Kaminski, which arrived on the 10th and took up defensive positions in Plackowka and Mlociny in north-western Warsaw.

In addition, several new units were created in the capital itself out of reserve centres of two Warsaw-based formations. Reservists from the 8th Infantry Division formed the 360th Regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Jakub Chmura. It comprised five battalions which would be deployed at various points in the city’s defensive lines. The rear-echelon battalion of the 36th `Academic Legion’ Infantry Regiment, a unit made up mostly of university students, served as a core of the 336th Regiment. Split onto two separate units, the 1st and 2nd `Defenders of Praga’ Regiments under Colonels Stanislaw Milian and Stefan Kotowski respectively, it helped defend the Praga sector on the east bank of the Vistula.

During all this time, Stefan Starzynski, the Civilian Commissar of Warsaw, was a tower of strength in the besieged city. His daily radio speeches were crucial in keeping the morale of both soldiers and civilians high. Starzynski commanded the distribution of food, water and supplies as well as the firefighting brigades. Assisted by his Deputy, Julian Kulski, he also managed to organise shelter for almost all civilian refugees from other parts of Poland and for people whose houses had been destroyed by German bombing.


Meanwhile a new threat to Warsaw was developing from the north-east, this time coming from Heeresgruppe Nord. On September 10, von Küchler’s 3. Armee had broken through the Polish lines along the Narew river and started its march southwards, aiming to cut off Warsaw from the east. Its I. Armeekorps under Generalleutnant Walter Petzel crossed the Bug at Wyszkow on the 11th and was now rapidly approaching the capital.

As this new menace got near, the city’s garrison again received welcome reinforcements in the form of units from the Modlin Army pushed back by the German advance. The remnants of the 5th Infantry Division under Major-General Juliusz Zulauf reached Warsaw on the 14th, re-uniting with the division’s own 40th `Children of Lwow’ Regiment. With Zulauf’s force came the 21st `Children of Warsaw’ Regiment, commanded by Colonel Stanislaw Sosabowski (of later Battle of Arnhem fame), which had got separated from its parent 8th Division on the third day of the invasion and had fought its way back from the north by itself. The battered remains of the 20th Infantry Division under Colonel Wilhelm Andrzej Lawisz. Liszka arrived from Mlawa on the 15th. All new arrivals were incorporated into the Warsaw Army and assigned to the defence of Praga on the east bank, General Zulauf taking over command of the East sector from Lieutenant-Colonel Janowski.

They had just made it in time for on that same day – September 15 – the 61. Infanterie-Division (Generalleutnant Siegfried Hänicke), leading element of the I. Armeekorps, reached the eastern outskirts of Warsaw. The Germans must have been unaware of the exact Polish positions in this part of the city, for a large column of troops came marching into Grochow, the south-eastern working-class borough of Praga, along Aleja Jerzego Waszyngtona (Washington Avenue), straight at the positions of Sosabowski’s 21st Regiment. His 1st Battalion opened up a hurricane of fire that took the enemy column completely by surprise. Stalled, the Germans tried to deploy into assault formations, bringing direct artillery fire and tanks to bear. Polish anti-tank guns positioned down the avenue knocked out two of the panzers but the Germans nonetheless managed to gain a foothold in eastern Grochow, wiping out a platoon of Polish riflemen that was covering the withdrawal of their company. However, the German advance was held at the next street and by 7 p. m. the attack had been repulsed. Sosabowski’s command tallied a loss of 320 men killed, wounded or missing.

The following day, September 16, another three of Küchler’s infantry divisions arrived at the eastern gates of Warsaw: the 11. Infanterie-Division (Generalleutnant Max Bock), the 32. Infanterie-Division (Generalleutnant Nikolaus von Falkenhorst) and the 217. Infanterie-Division (Generalmajor Richard Baltzer), the latter two both of the II. Armeekorps. Together with the 61. Division, they now formed an unbreakable cordon around Warsaw east of the Vistula. With the 31. Division of the 8. Armee enclosing much of the city on its western side, only a broad strip of land along the Vistula towards the Kampinos Forest in the north-west and the Modlin Fortress in the north now remained in Polish hands. Though not yet completely encircled, Warsaw was effectively under siege.

That morning, Sosabowski’s men were surprised to see an open car flying a large white flag, followed by two tanks with the crews standing up in the open turret, slowly coming down Washington Avenue towards the barricade on Grochow Street. It was a party of truce. The German parliamentaire, Major Kiewitz, commander of the I. Bataillon of Infanterie-Regiment 151 of the 61. Division, handed Sosabowski a letter addressed `to the Officer Commanding Warsaw’ and containing a demand for the surrender of the city. Sosabowski sent the note to General Rommel’s headquarters and within an hour the answer came back that the Army Commander would neither talk with, nor see, the enemy emissary.

Within two hours after Major Kiewitz returned to his lines, a furious artillery bombardment fell on the Polish positions. An hour later, at 5 p. m., the 11. Infanterie-Division launched an assault against Sosabowski’s regiment. Again, the Poles waited until the attackers had approached within 100 metres of their positions before opening a withering fire with rifles, machine guns and mortars. After three hours of bitter fighting, the assault was repulsed with heavy losses to the Germans, the attacking unit – Infanterie-Regiment 23 commanded by Oberst Johann-Georg Richert – being practically annihilated. A similar thing happened when Infanterie-Regiment 96 of the 32. Division attempted to enter Brodno in northern Praga. It was met with intense artillery and mortar fire and thrown back with heavy casualties, losing 150 men.

Meanwhile the battle for Poland was continuing. Well to the east of Warsaw, on Heeresgruppe Nord’s far left wing, von Kluge’s 4. Armee was speedily moving south. Its XIX. Armeekorps, under General der Panzertruppe Heinz Guderian, dashing forward far in advance of the infantry formations, had crossed the Narew at Wizna and, moving on east of the Bug, reached BrestLitovsk on September 14, capturing the citadel on the 16th.

Then, on September 17, Poland received a further shock when the Soviet Red Army, following the secret protocol of the German-Russian non-aggression pact signed in Moscow just three weeks earlier (August 23), entered the country from the east. With the Poles having no forces other than border guard troops to oppose this move, and many of these initially even being uncertain over whether to welcome or fight the new invaders, the Soviets rapidly occupied eastern Poland. Now under attack from all sides by two different countries, Poland was fighting a losing battle. Realising that defence had become impossible, Marshal Smigly-Rydz issued orders for all Polish forces to retreat towards Romania and avoid fighting the Soviet aggressors. The Polish government and High Command crossed into Romania, where they were interned.

On September 18 Guderian’s panzer corps made contact with armoured units of the 14. Armee of Heeresgruppe Süd at Wlodawa on the Bug river, 200 kilometres south-east of Warsaw, thus completing the planned giant pincer movement and the encirclement of virtually all Polish forces. The Germans soon met up with the Soviets, at Brest-Litovsk and elsewhere, beginning an uneasy alliance that would last just 22 months. (To their chagrin, they had to abandon some of the territory already won to the Russians, retiring to the pre-arranged boundary line.) Meanwhile, due west of Warsaw, the battle of attrition on the Bzura had reached its inevitable conclusion. Having halted the Polish attacks, the 8. Armee launched its own attack across the river. With the armoured and motorised troops from the 10. Armee rushing up from the south-east and east, and forces from the 4. Armee from Heeresgruppe Nord closing in from the north and north-west, the Germans soon managed to encircle the very considerable Polish forces in a large pocket around the town of Kutno. The battle of annihilation raged for a week but by September 19 it was all over and an estimated 170,000 Polish troops surrendered.

However, large fragments of the Poznan and Pomorze Armies managed to break through the German encirclement. Desperately fighting their way through the Kampinos Forest, they succeeded in reaching the Warsaw-Modlin perimeter, mostly around September 19 and 20, considerably reinforcing the latter’s defensive strength. From the Poznan Army came the bulk of the 25th Infantry Division (General Franciszek Alter) and two cavalry brigades (the Wielkopolska under Brigadier-General Roman Abraham and the Podolska under Colonel Leon Strzelecki); 431 survivors of the 14th Cavalry Ulan Regiment under Colonel Edward Godlewski, plus smatterings from three more infantry divisions, the 14th, 17th and 26th. The Pomorze Army brought in 1,500 survivors from the 15th Infantry Division (General Zdzislaw Przyjalkowski), the Pomorze Cavalry Brigade (Colonel Adam Bogoria-Zakrewski) and what little remained of the 4th and 16th Divisions. General Kutrzeba of the Poznan Army, who reached Warsaw on the 16th, was made deputy commander of Warsaw under General Rommel. General Bortnowski of the Pomorze Army had been heavily wounded on the Bzura and was captured on the 21st.

Two-thousand men of the 13th Division’s 43rd `Bayonne Legion’ Regiment (Lieutenant-Colonel Franciszek Zbigniew Kubicki), survivors of the rout against the XVI. Armeekorps on September 7, tried to fight their way towards besieged Warsaw, but were stopped by the 11. Infanterie-Division during a night battle in Falenica, a south-eastern suburb of Warsaw, on September 19. As a result, only a few hundred men of the division managed to reach the capital.

With these reinforcements – the last to come in – the Polish forces defending Warsaw had risen to approximately 100,000 soldiers.

Warsaw West (under Colonel Porwit) was divided into three subordinate zones:

In sub-sector North were the 60th Regiment (25th Division), the 4th Battalion of the 30th Regiment (10th Division), the 59th and 61st Regiments (15th Division) and the 1st Battalion of the 144th Infantry (44th Division) defending Bielany, Mlociny, Zoliborz, Powazki and Kolo, with the 3rd Battalion of the 26th Regiment (5th Division) holding an outer position near Wawrzyszew.

In sub-sector West were the 40th Regiment (5th Division) and the 2nd Battalion of the 41st Regiment (29th Division) holding Wola, Ochota and Rakowiec, with the 1st and 5th Battalions of the 360th Regiment and a Volunteer Workers Battalion defending outer positions at Blizne and Gorce Okulicki.

In sub-sector South, charged with the defence of Mokotow, Czernieskow and Sierkierki, were a Volunteer Workers Battalion, remnants of the 4th Battalion of the 21st Regiment, the 1st Hunters Battalion and the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 360th Regiment.

Warsaw East (under General Zulauf) was divided into two zones:

In sub-sector North were the 78th, 79th and 80th Regiments of the 20th Division (Colonel Lawisz-Liszka), with the 1st Battalion of the 43rd Regiment (13th Division) attached, manning positions in Brodno, Pelcowizna and Elsnerow. In sub-sector South (commanded by Colonel Zongollowicz of the 44th Division) were the 26th Regiment (5th Division) defending the easternmost borough of Utrata; Sosabowski’s 21st Regiment (8th Division) guarding Grochow in the south-east, and the two `Defenders of Praga’ Regiments holding Saska Kepa and Goclaw in the south.

In general reserve were the 29th Regiment (25th Division), 56th and 62nd Regiments (15th Division), and the three cavalry brigades (the latter now amalgamated into a Combined Cavalry Brigade under Brigadier-General Graham), plus groups of light artillery and a heavy artillery group.

After the battle of the Bzura had ended, several of the German divisions from that battle rushed eastwards to tighten the ring around the Warsaw-Modlin perimeter. The XI. Armeekorps – with the 18. Infanterie-Division (Generalmajor Friedrich-Carl Cranz), 24. Infanterie-Division (Generalleutnant Friedrich Olbricht) and 19. Infanterie-Division (Generalleutnant Günther Schwantes) – progressively filled the line on the left of the 31. Division. The Leibstandarte-SS returned to take up positions between Warsaw and Modlin, Hitler having ordained that his elite SS force should be present to take its share of the glory of the upcoming final victory.

On the 22nd, the 3. (leichte) Division (Generalmajor Adolf Kuntzen) inserted itself to the right of the 31. Division, along the south side of the perimeter, only to be relieved two days later by two divisions from the XIII. Armeekorps, which had come marching up from the south-west and south: the 10. Infanterie-Division (Generalleutnant Conrad von Cochenhausen) and the 46. Infanterie-Division (Generalleutnant Paul von Hase).

Warsaw 1939 III

Map of the Battle of Warsaw. Germans-red, Poles-blue.


By September 19 1939 – the day Hitler made his triumphal entry into Danzig – the campaign in Poland was essentially over. The war of movement had come to an end and the bulk of the Polish armies had been destroyed. Except for a few isolated pockets of resistance remaining on the Soviet border and on the Baltic coast, only Warsaw and Modlin were still holding out. The perimeter that linked the two strongholds was completely surrounded and – as the German General Staff told Hitler – their fall was now merely a matter of time.

In mid-September, Hitler had personally intervened in the conduct of the campaign, not for military but for political reasons. Knowing the Soviets would soon invade Poland from the east, and that the agreed partition line between German and Soviet territory ran along the Vistula, he wished to make absolutely sure that Warsaw would fall before the Russians reached it, which was planned to happen on October 3. He therefore told his surprised generals that he wanted the city captured by September 30 at the latest. Rather than take it by a direct assault, he now chose to lay siege to the city and blast it into submission. He ordered von Rundstedt to assemble all his army group’s heavy artillery and mortars around the city and instructed Hermann Göring, the C-in-C of the Luftwaffe, to embark on a ruthless and all-out area bombing of the metropolis (Operation `Wasserkante’).

The renewed aerial offensive began on the 13th when 183 Stukas and He 111s from Löhr’s Luftflotte 4 dropped their loads on the north-western part of Warsaw. The Jewish quarters were especially hard hit. The attacks continued on a daily basis, reaching a new crescendo on the 17th. Although the orders instructed the pilots to concentrate on strategic and military targets, such as the city’s water, gas and electricity works, military barracks, ammunition dumps, artillery positions and command centres (specifically the Citadel, the War Ministry and the General Inspectorate of the Army) and traffic hubs, in actuality the bombers and dive-bombers engaged in an indiscriminate area bombing, which by necessity led to massive collateral damage and thousands of civilian casualties.

At the same time, German heavy and medium artillery, drawn up all around Warsaw under overall command of Generalmajor Johannes Zuckertort, began a ceaseless bombardment of the city, which added considerably to the damage and casualties. Every move in the Polish front line brought down a salvo of shells and mortar bombs and every crossroads was subjected to periods of concentrated fire. The heavy artillery included big railway guns, large-calibre siege guns and heavy mortars, one round of which could pulverise entire blocks of buildings. The civilian population lived permanently in a twilight of dust, acrid smoke and gloom of underground shelters.

The atmosphere in the beleaguered city had now turned decidedly bleak. All the shops were closed, with windows barred. No street was without damage. Broken water mains spouted fountains into the air and the smell of bust sewage pipes pervaded every corner. Many buildings had their windows shattered and walls scarred with shrapnel. Rescue workers were digging in smoking ruins, searching for survivors. Most of the inhabitants looked shabby and tired, many of them with blood-soaked bandages and the light of desperation in their eyes. Every cellar, subway, ditch and trench had its civilian occupants. Even in the front line there were women and children who could not be sent away. The troops shared out their food and water but it was a great problem to produce enough for all. Hospitals overflowed with wounded and thousands lay on blankets on stone floors waiting for attention from overworked doctors. Drugs and other medical supplies were getting scarce. With water mains hit so often that it was impossible to get water, fires blazed throughout the night, providing markers for the enemy pilots. Buildings collapsed without warning and burning gas mains lit up the debris-littered streets.

In the late afternoon of the 16th – shortly after General Rommel had refused the German demand for surrender and Colonel Sosabowski had sent back the German parliamentaire to his own lines – 12 Heinkel He 111s from I./KG4 dropped a million leaflets over Warsaw calling upon the civilian population to evacuate the city towards the east within 12 hours `in order to prevent useless bloodshed and the destruction of the city’. Loudspeaker vans, from positions close to the front line, blared out the same message.

The dropping of leaflets was repeated on the 18th, 19th, 22nd and 24th. The only result of the whole action was an agreement that enabled the entire diplomatic corps and all foreign nationals to leave the city. The 178 diplomats and 1,200 other foreigners crossed the lines at Marki, north-east of Warsaw, during a temporary truce on the morning of the 21st – an event that German propaganda exploited to the full to demonstrate Germany’s goodwill.

Meanwhile, there were outbursts of fierce fighting, mostly at night and mainly in the sector on the east bank of the Vistula. During the day, German machine guns sprayed the forward areas; the Polish guns mostly kept silent, unless they were certain of hitting a target, and many of the men slept in order to be fresh for night-fighting. Nearly every night, the Poles launched company-sized sallies against the German lines, or even regiment-sized break-out attempts to the east. On the 20th, the 11. Infanterie-Division repulsed one such attack, taking 100 prisoners.

On September 22 forces of the 18. and 24. Infanterie-Division, attacking eastwards from the Kampinos Forest, reached the Vistula between Warsaw and Modlin, thereby cutting the last remaining lines of communication between the two strongholds and splitting the Polish perimeter into two separate cauldrons. Warsaw was now truly surrounded by a continuous ring of German troops.

September 22 was also notable for a curious combat incident that happened on the German front line at Praga in eastern Warsaw. It involved Generaloberst Werner von Fritsch, the former Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres (Commander-in-Chief of the Army), who was killed by a Polish sniper while openly moving about in the forward areas of the 61. Division. Fritsch had been relieved of his post by Hitler in February 1938, the victim of false accusations of homosexuality levelled against him in the so-called Blom-Fritsch Affair. Though later cleared of all blame, his reputation and honour were irretrievably stained and it is pretty certain that Fritsch chose to inspect the Warsaw front lines, where he had no real business, in order to seek death deliberately.


Meanwhile, everything was being readied for the final German assault on the besieged city. By now the forces surrounding Warsaw numbered eight divisions and some 175,000 soldiers. The plan was for a concentric attack by all divisions, with the main attack to be delivered by those of the XI. and XIII. Armeekorps from the west. On September 24, all German units, including those of the I. and II. Armeekorps of the 3. Armee east of the Vistula, were put under command of Blaskowitz’s 8. Armee, this to ensure good co-ordination in the forthcoming assault. Generalmajor Wolfram von Richthofen, the Fliegerführer z. b. V. in Luftflotte 4 (responsible for co-ordinating Stuka and other close-support operations), was put in overall command of the air formations deployed in the attack.

The final assault began on September 25 – `Black Monday’ as it came to be known by the people of Warsaw. As part of the offensive, the Luftwaffe launched its largest bombing raid to date. Starting at 8 a. m., some 370 aircraft from Luftflotte 1 – 240 Stukas from five different Geschwader (StG 51, 76 and 77, and LG1 and 2), 100 Dornier Do 17 bombers from KG77 and 30 Junkers Ju-52 transport planes from IV./Kampfgeschwader z. b. V. 1 – unloaded an endless stream of bombs and incendiaries on the city. The Stukas and Dorniers could only drop bombs, not incendiaries, and Heinkels 111 were not available, so the Ju 52s were used to drop the phosphor bombs, both from their bomb racks and with dispatchers manually shoving the ordnance out of the open cargo doors. Rotating from their bases, with each crew flying three or four sorties, the 370 aircraft dropped a total of 500 tons of high-explosive bombs and 72 tons of incendiaries on the city. Warsaw became an inferno. The entire centre was badly damaged. In parts it was hardly possible to recognise streets as all the landmarks disappeared under the rubble. Columns of black smoke rose high above the city.

For the Germans the air operation was a mixed success. The few remaining Polish anti-aircraft guns, firing off their last rounds, managed to shoot down two of the slow-moving Junkers. As the day went on, smoke from fires and large clouds of dust obscured targets and greatly reduced accuracy. As a result, a significant number of the bombs landed on German infantry positions in the north-west suburbs, leading to acrimonious discussions between Luftwaffe and Army commanders.

Among those observing the bombing that day was Hitler himself. Ever since September 4, the Führer and his Führerhauptquartier retinue had been touring the Polish battleground, visiting command posts, meeting troops, inspecting destroyed Polish materiel and viewing battered fortifications. On the 22nd he had already observed besieged Warsaw from the balcony of the tower of a race and sports stadium overlooking Praga in the 3. Armee sector, but today his schedule included a visit to the 8. Armee west of the city, timed to coincide with the start of the final assault and the culmination of the aerial and artillery bombardment of the beleaguered city. Using trench binoculars, Hitler and his entourage observed the bombing and shelling, watching the columns of smoke billowing up from the built-up area.

Meanwhile, the German land assault was underway. Starting at dawn, five infantry divisions assailed the western half of the city – anti-clockwise from north to south the 18. and 19. Infanterie-Division (under XI. Armeekorps) and the 31., 10. and 46. Infanterie-Division (under XIII. Armeekorps). The offensive was supported by 70 batteries of field artillery, 80 batteries of heavy artillery and the entire available Stuka and closesupport capability of Luftflotten 1 and 4.

The initial attacks focused on capturing the various 19th-century forts that ringed the city and formed the outer core of the Polish defences. Each was to be tackled by assault teams of infantry and engineers equipped with ladders, pontoons, flame-throwers and explosive charges. In the 18. Division sector, teams from Infanterie-Regiment 51 and Pionier-Bataillon 48 managed to take Fort I (Mlociny) but failed to take Fort II (Wawrzyszew). In the 19. Division zone, Infanterie-Regiment 74 succeeded in taking possession of Fort III (Blizne) but the attack against Fort IIa (Babice) by Infanterie-Regiment 73 was repulsed with heavy casualties. In the 10. Division area, after a two-hour fight, assault teams from Infanterie-Regiment 20 and Pionier-Bataillon 10 seized Fort Mokotow, one of the city’s inner ring of fortifications, taking 269 prisoners. Further to the right, in the 46. Division sector, InfanterieRegiment 42 and Pionier-Bataillon 62, after an initial setback, captured Fort Pilsudski, another of the inner forts.

Although four key forts had now been captured, the Germans were unable to push on across the open ground beyond and nowhere the attacking forces made much headway. By evening all attacks were halted, to be resumed the following morning. During the night, the Polish forces counter-attacked and managed to destroy several German outposts, especially in Mokotow in the south and Praga in the east.

The story was much the same on the 26th. Again three of the forts were taken. The 18. Division in its second attempt managed to capture Fort II and the 19. Division grabbed hold of Fort IIa. In the 46. Division zone, Infanterie-Regiment 72 together with assault engineers of Pionier-Bataillon 88, after a bitter and prolonged fight, took possession of Fort IX (Dabrowskiego) at Czerniakow, taking 475 prisoners. Everywhere, the Polish garrison fought back with great courage and determination, and German progress remained slow, gains being measured in just a few hundred metres. Casualties were heavy on both sides.


Despite having held off and slowed down the first blows of the offensive, the situation for the Polish commanders in Warsaw was now clearly and utterly hopeless. Although the garrison was still sufficiently strong in manpower to defend the city for several more weeks, it was only a question of time before their ammunition, rations and supplies would run out. Worse, the plight of the capital’s civilian population had become completely intolerable. The constant bombardment had resulted in heavy and mounting casualties. The destruction of the waterworks had caused a lack of both drinking water and water with which to extinguish the many fires raging all over the city. There was a lack of food and medical supplies and the hospitals were overtaxed by thousands of wounded soldiers and civilians. Irrespective of all that, strategically, the lack of support from the Western Allies, and the Soviet Union’s entry into the war, had made any further defence of the city completely pointless.

In the late afternoon of the 26th General Rommel called a `council of defence’ to discuss the situation. Among those attending were Mayor Starzynski and Generals Kutrzeba, Czuma, Zulauf, Alter and Abraham. After listening to each participant’s views, Rommel announced his decision to open surrender negotiations with the Germans. All agreed and General Kutrzeba was appointed head of the parliamentary delegation.

Early on the morning of September 27 Kutrzeba and Colonel Aleksander Praglowski, Rommel’s Chief-of-Staff, crossed the German lines to begin the capitulation talks. At 9.30 a. m. they met with General Blaskowitz. Many German units, as soon as news of the surrender talks reached them, immediately stopped their attack operations. At noon a cease-fire agreement was signed and all fighting halted.

The formal capitulation was signed by General Kutrzeba at 1.15 p. m. the following day (September 28) in the 8. Armee’s command bus parked at the Skoda engine works at Rakowiec in south-western Warsaw. The surrender terms stipulated the following:

On September 29 all Polish units were to lay down their arms in specified areas; disarmed units were to gather in indicated areas; barricades, road-blocks and trenches on the main roads were to be destroyed and mines removed; units were to march out of Warsaw along certain routes according to a programme, under their own officers; privates and NCOs were to be released from prisoner of war camps and returned home after a few days; officers were to go to POW camps but to retain their sabres; officers not surrendering would, on capture, be treated as criminals and not accorded rights under the Geneva Convention; and troops were to carry enough food for three days.

Several of the Polish units declined to put down their weapons and stop firing, and their commanding officers had to be visited by Generals Czuma and Rommel personally. Many units chose to hide or destroy their heavy armament rather than surrender it. The few remaining 7-TP tanks were destroyed by their crews. (Some of the hidden war material would later be used during the Warsaw Uprising of August 1944). At 6 p.m. on September 29 the evacuation of Polish forces to German prisoner of war camps started. It continued all day on the 30th. The following day, October 1, German units entered the city. The battle for Warsaw was over.

Lamoral Graaf von Egmont, (1522–1568)

Portrait of Lamoraal, Count of Egmont by Frans Pourbus the Elder

Flemish general, statesman, and Dutch nationalist hero whose execution helped spark the national uprising in the Netherlands against Spanish rule. Lamoral Egmont was born on November 18, 1522, into one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in the Low Countries at the family estate of La Hamaide near Ellezelles in Hainaut. He was the second son of Graaf (Count) John IV of Egmont, who ruled the Duchy of Guelders until 1538. Educated for the military in Spain, Lamoral Egmont succeeded to his father’s countship in 1542. In 1544 Egmont married the Countess Palatine Sabine of Simmern, whose brother became Elector Palatine Frederick III. A close confidant of Holy Roman emperor Charles V, Egmont was regularly entrusted with diplomatic assignments. In 1554 he helped negotiate the marriage of King Philip II of Spain to Queen Mary of England.

Egmont played a major role while leading a light cavalry force in the Spanish victory over the French in the Battle of Saint-Quentin (August 10, 1557). In the Battle of Gravelines (July 13, 1558) near Calais, Egmont with some 12,000 Spanish and imperial troops encountered a French and German mercenary force of some 10,500 men under Marshal Paul des Thermes and, aided by English ships offshore, soundly defeated them. Half the French force were killed, and most of the remainder, including Thermes, were taken prisoner.

A popular and powerful figure in the Netherlands, Egmont in 1559, in recognition of his accomplishments, was made stadtholder of Flanders and Artois and became a member of the Council of Regency under the regent, Margaret of Austria. King Phillip II of Spain, however, was determined to end all special fiscal and political privileges in the Netherlands. Toward this end, he introduced Spanish taxes and sought to crush all heresy. Egmont joined with William of Orange (William the Silent) and Count Phillip de Montmorency of Horn in protesting the introduction in the Netherlands by Cardinal Antoine Perrenot Granvelle, bishop of Arras, of the inquisition, a major part of King Philip II’s effort to bring the Netherlands completely under Spanish control. The unpopular Granvelle departed in 1564, and Egmont traveled to Madrid to meet with Philip II in January 1565 and request a change in his policy toward the Netherlands. Egmont’s mission met rebuff, however. The moderates were removed from the Council of Regency, and Egmont retired to his estates.

Opposition to Spanish rule in the Netherlands continued to increase, but in 1566 Egmont, who was a staunch Catholic, repressed iconoclastic riots in Flanders and remained loyal to Philip II. After Philip II dispatched an army under Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel, the third duke of Alba, to the Netherlands, William of Orange fled Brussels, but Egmont and Horn failed to heed William’s warning and chose to remain. Although Egmont had sworn an oath of loyalty in the spring of 1567, almost immediately upon his arrival at Brussels, on September 9, 1567, Alba ordered Egmont and Horn arrested on charges of treason. They were imprisoned at Ghent but were moved to Brussels after Louis of Nassau invaded the northern Netherlands in the spring of 1568. Pleas to Philip II from many of Europe’s reigning sovereigns, including Holy Roman emperor Maximilian II, for amnesty for the imprisoned nobles met rebuff. The infamous Council of Troubles (better known as the Council of Blood) condemned Egmont and Horn to death, and they were executed with other Netherlands nobles in the Great Square in Brussels the next day, June 5, 1568. Their deaths led to public protests throughout the Netherlands and significantly contributed to Dutch opposition to Spanish rule. The Revolt of the Netherlands (1568–1648), also known as the Eighty Years’ War, is usually dated from this event.

A talented military commander, as stadtholder Egmont was a political moderate. Had he lived, he would no doubt have been drawn into the military struggle against Spain.

Further Reading

Avermaete, J. Lamoral d’Egmont (1523–1568). Brussels: Ch. Dessart, 1943.

Oman, Sir Charles. A History of the Art of War in the Sixteenth Century. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 1999.

Schiller, Friedrich, and Karl Adolf Buccheim. Historische Skizzen: Egmonts Leben und Tod, Belagerung von Antwerpen. Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, 2008.

Prince Maurice of Orange during the Battle of Nieuwpoort, 1600


The Netherlands were an anomaly among Philip’s inherited dominions. Not only did they contain a significant minority of non-Catholics, but their tradition of limited religious tolerance and the gritty independence of their municipal and provincial institutions ran counter to Castilian ideas of royal government. Philip, who knew the country well and had lived there during the 1550s, came to believe that failure to reform church and government in the Netherlands would not only undermine the legitimacy of his rule but expose his soul to mortal peril. By attempting drastic reforms with little regard for local sensibilities, he provoked a general revolt that resulted in the loss of seven northern and eastern provinces and the creation of a new nation, the Republic of the Netherlands. The refusal of Philip and his successors to accept that outcome turned the revolt into a generalized European conflict that lasted, for Spain at least, until 1657. By that time, the Spanish empire had gravely weakened itself financially and militarily. Because Spain’s policy toward the Netherlands bears an important share of responsibility for the empire’s seventeenth-century decline, the conflict must be described in detail.

When Philip became ruler of the Netherlands in 1555, his father’s alliance with the old Burgundian nobility remained strong, and a vigorous, if unpopular, persecution had brought the problem of heresy under temporary control. The cost of the emperor’s wars and widespread discomfort over his religious policies had nevertheless created serious tensions. In the four years between Philip’s succession and his return to Spain in 1559, the government’s position began to erode. In the Estates-Generals of 1556 and 1558, leading nobles had protested the presence of Spanish troops in the Netherlands and tried to limit new assessments for the French wars that resulted in the great victory at St. Quentin in 1559. When Philip appointed a government to represent him in his absence, he resolved to limit the nobles’ influence. His half-sister, Margaret, Duchess of Parma, became regent. The presidency of the Council of State went to Anton Perrenot de Granvelle, Bishop of Arras, whose arrogant manner coupled with relatively humble origins offended the nobility. Viglius, a distinguished jurist of middle-class origins assumed the presidency of the Privy Council, and Charles, Count of Berlaymont, was given the Council of Finance. It soon became obvious that these three would make most of the major decisions for the region as a whole. All were competent, but the only noble among them was both poor and outside the inner circle of grandees who had long been central to Charles V’s system of governance. The nobles, led by William, Prince of Orange and the Count of Egmont, hated Granvelle, looked down on Berlaymont, and regarded Viglius with indifference. Above all, the nobility of the Netherlands feared that their growing exclusion from government would cost them the offices and financial rewards they needed to preserve their status in an age of rising costs and declining rents.

Philip’s religious policies aroused even greater hostility. The ecclesiastical structure of the Netherlands had been created in the early middle ages when the region was still rural and relatively under-populated. There were only four bishoprics, three of which fell under the jurisdiction of Reims in France, and one under the Archbishop of Cologne. Few of the great cities had bishops of their own, and many, even in the Netherlands, regarded the clergy as corrupt and ignorant. The emperor had known that such a church could scarcely provide pastoral care much less cope with the rise of heresy, and had been tinkering with the idea of a complete reorganization since 1551–1552. In 1558 Philip brought his father’s schemes to fruition by asking the pope to create 16 new bishoprics to be grouped into three provinces along linguistic and regional lines. The king would have the right of nomination to all but one of the new prelates, and only candidates of good moral character with degrees in either theology or canon law would be accepted.

The pope responded with unusual speed on May 12, 1559. The bull Super Universalis authorized the proposed changes, and the crown appointed a commission to implement them. The commission resolved the problem of funding 16 new bishops, in part by proposing the transfer of revenues from Spanish dioceses, many of which were poor enough to begin with. The rest of the money would be found by incorporating monastic foundations and their revenues into the new dioceses. The new bishops would displace the abbots and assume their revenues. Bulls of circumscription confirming these arrangements were issued in May and August of 1561. The Bishop of Arras, who guided the process from the start, had already been named Cardinal Granvelle and Archbishop of Mechelen.

The prospect of an effective church organization in the Netherlands terrified both the Protestant minority and those in municipal government who felt that a more effective prosecution of heretics would harm their trade with England and Germany. The nobles were infuriated. Many of them had held the right of nomination to church offices that were an important source of income and patronage as well as a means of providing for younger sons. Few of the latter were noted for their piety or learning and under the new rules would be excluded from church office in any case. The nobles would also lose influence in the powerful Estates of Brabant where three abbots, all from noble families, would be replaced by three bishops appointed by the crown. The reform, in short, was not only an infringement of local autonomy, but struck directly at the wealth and power of the nobility.

In 1564, the leading nobles engineered Granvelle’s dismissal with the help of friends at Phillip’s court. Flushed with new confidence, they dispatched the Count of Egmont to demand a reorganization of the governing councils. Their goal was to restore their authority and halt the executions for heresy. Egmont’s mission, however, reinforced the king’s growing belief that heresy in the Netherlands was becoming uncontrollable. To avoid the appearance of open conflict, Philip showered Egmont with favors and sent him home thinking that his mission was a success. Nothing could have been further than the truth. After the king made his true position known in May, 1565, the nobles launched a series of dramatic protests, the most importance of which was the Compromise des nobles, a document later regarded in the Netherlands as a declaration of independence. After the loyalist Berlaymont referred to the protesters as beggars, the dissidents adopted the epithet as the name of their party and appeared in public wearing beggar’s bowls around their necks. Fearing the worst, Margaret of Parma, issued the so-called Moderation, which effectively permitted the exercise of Protestantism in areas where it was already established. When Philip repudiated this measure as well, the Protestants removed or destroyed images in churches throughout the region with the encouragement of the nobles and some of the city governments.

The Iconoclasm of 1566 outraged Philip. Margaret’s government, supported by Egmont and the Prince of Orange, soon restored order, but the king decided that this would not solve the underlying problem. In 1567 he dispatched the Duke of Alba with an army of veterans to root out those he regarded as rebels and heretics. When Alba had finished his work, the king would come to the Netherlands, dismiss the duke for exceeding his instructions, and issue a general pardon. The scheme, to which Alba was a party, shows Philip II at his most devious. Alba arrived in Brussels in August, 1567, and arrested Egmont and the relatively innocent count of Hornes. Margaret resigned in protest on September 13, and Alba became Governor-General of the Netherlands with what amounted to proconsular authority over foreign and domestic affairs. Acting on decisions already made in Spain, he executed Egmont and Hornes and established a Council of Troubles to enforce the placards against heresy and condemn the signers of the Compromise as traitors. Between 1567 and 1576, the Council of Blood, as it was known in the Netherlands, condemned 8957 individuals, most of whom had long since fled to England or Germany. More than 1000, however, were executed. William of Orange, who had wisely retired to his estates in Germany before Alba’s arrival, raised an army of mercenaries and invaded the southern Netherlands. A second army under his brother, Louis of Nassau, invaded Friesland. Alba defeated both of them, and by Christmas, 1568, the entire country was once again reduced to obedience.

At this point, Philip should have come to the Netherlands as planned, but he did not do so. His son Don Carlos, whose strange behavior had long been a problem, died on July 24, 1568, leaving Spain without an heir. Then, on Christmas Eve of that year, the Moriscos of Granada rose in a bloody revolt that would require two years to suppress. This reminder that the Reconquest was not yet complete required the monarch’s presence, and Alba, already hated for his repressions, remained in the Netherlands for four more years. The duke distrusted his new subjects, and governed through what amounted to a military government of occupation administered by Spaniards and Italians. He imposed a badly needed uniform code of criminal law and installed the bishops who had been appointed in 1561—in some cases at gunpoint—but opposition to what most Netherlanders now saw as an alien regime continued to grow. The breaking point came in 1571–1572 when Philip’s troubles converged in an improbable and nearly catastrophic sequence of events.

Alba’s regime depended upon the support of an expensive, multinational army paid for by Spain. Philip, however, was forced to divert much of his revenue to quelling the Morisco rebellion. By 1570, pacification was largely complete, but in January of that year the North African corsairs recaptured Tunis, and in June, the Turkish fleet attacked Cyprus. Spain, together with most of the Italian states, formed the Holy League to combat the Muslim threat, but the League’s forces failed to relieve the island. In October, 1571, a second and far greater Christian fleet defeated the Turks at Lepanto. Hoping for a final victory over Turkish power in the Mediterranean, the League planned an even more ambitious effort for 1572. Philip’s commitment to war against the Ottomans now came into conflict with his commitment to the Netherlands. The cost of massive operations on two widely separated fronts was more than Spain could bear. Philip ordered Alba to impose new taxes on the Netherlands to, at the very least, pay his own expenses. Spanish contributions to the army in Flanders dropped to almost nothing in 1570–1571 while taxes in the Netherlands rose dramatically. It was not enough. Alba proposed a version of the Castilian alcabala known as the Tenth Penny. The new scheme aroused intense opposition, especially among the rich. When Alba finally imposed it without the approval of the Estates General, popular outrage approached uncontrollable levels.

As opposition to Spanish rule increased, the diplomatic situation in northern Europe began to deteriorate. Elizabeth I of England saw the presence of a large Spanish army in the Netherlands as a potential threat to her rule. In 1568 she seized a Spanish fleet carrying money for Alba’s troops and offered shelter to the Sea Beggars, a ferocious group of Netherlandish exiles who, under letters of marque from William of Orange, attacked shipping in the Channel and raided the smaller coastal towns of Holland and Zeeland. Alba responded by embargoing all trade with England. The Netherlands began to sink into an economic depression. France, too, became a problem when the Huguenots, under their leader Coligny, gained ascendancy over the young king Charles IX, and began to contemplate an attack on the Netherlands in support of their fellow Protestants. To forestall them, Alba dispatched a contingent of Spanish troops to France on his own authority.

In these circumstances, Philip’s involvement in the Ridolfi Plot ranks as one of the more bizarre misjudgments of his career. The king had for a decade tried to preserve the English alliance. Elizabeth’s actions in 1568 made it apparent to him that he had failed, and that England now represented a threat to his interests in the Netherlands. Misled by the Spanish ambassador Roberto Ridolfi and by the English Catholics who had taken refuge at Madrid, he ordered Alba to invade England in 1571 if Ridolfi or the English Catholics made good on their promise to assassinate the queen. Alba, who believed throughout his career that it would be madness to invade England, protested and did nothing. The assassination plot failed, as Alba—and perhaps Philip—knew it would (the king’s reasoning in this case has never been adequately explained), but the damage was done. Elizabeth responded by signing a treaty with France which raised the specter of a joint Anglo-French effort against Spain.

The Revolt of the Netherlands began in earnest when Elizabeth expelled the Sea Beggars from English ports. Ironically, this was neither a hostile act nor a consequence of the Ridolfi Plot, but an attempt to defuse the political situation in northwest Europe. The embargo had caused great distress in England as well as in the Netherlands, and Elizabeth now hoped to reach an accommodation with Alba on trade. The Beggars had in any case worn out their welcome by seizing the ships of neutral powers. Driven from England and with nowhere else to go, the Beggars seized the fishing village of Brill near Rotterdam on April 1 and called for a general revolt in the name of William of Orange. By this time, the harsh winter of 1571–1572 and the refusal of butchers, brewers, and bakers to sell their goods as a protest against the Tenth Penny added greatly to the distress caused by the paralysis of trade. Orange’s adherents had become a majority in several town councils, especially in Holland and Zeeland. In others, council members who were themselves loyal came under intolerable public pressure to declare for the rebels. At the same time, a rebel army under Count van den Bergh successfully invaded the northeastern provinces. Within weeks, much of the country was in revolt.

A more serious threat to Spanish rule came in the south. Orange’s brother, Louis of Nassau, seized Mons on the main road between Paris and Brussels. There, an army of Huguenots was to join forces with Orange and 20,000 Germans for an attack on Brussels. Alba, however, surrounded Mons long before either army arrived, and on July 17 destroyed an advance force of 6000 Huguenots at St. Ghislain, five miles from his lines. Orange, who crossed the border at about the same time, resolved to await a French declaration of war before going further. It never came. Charles IX, already embarrassed by the fiasco at St. Ghislain, became convinced that the English, treaty or no treaty, would do nothing to support a French invasion of the Netherlands. He began to think that he could use the situation to rid himself of Coligny and the Huguenots, and in an astonishing reversal of policy ordered the St. Bartholomew’s day massacre on August 23. Catholic mobs murdered Coligny and several thousand of his followers, abruptly freeing Alba from all fear of a French invasion. When Orange failed to relieve Alba’s siege of Mons, the duke took the city and began to move against the other rebel strongholds, beginning with Mechelen.

Mechelen offered no resistance, but Alba allowed his troops to sack the city because it had been one of the few to accept the Prince of Orange without being pressured to do so by a rebel army. He then sacked Zutphen and Naarden, whose offers to surrender came too late. In each case, these actions were accompanied by the wholesale slaughter of civilians. The duke’s campaign of deliberate frightfulness succeeded in that by Christmas every city outside Holland and Zeeland had returned to its allegiance; it failed in that it convinced many in Holland and Zeeland that they would be killed even if they surrendered. Orange retreated to Holland to make his last stand, and began to create the core of a rebel government based on Holland and Zeeland. Alba’s men besieged Haarlem, a city garrisoned by 4000 professional soldiers but without modern fortifications.

The siege of Haarlem marked a turning point in the revolt. It lasted eight months with both sides committing terrible atrocities. When the city at last surrendered on terms in July, 1573, Alba violated the agreement by executing some 2000 troops and several of the city’s magistrates, imposing a fine of 200,000 florins, and imprisoning a number of the leading towns-people. There could be no further hope of compromise. At one point the citizens of Haarlem had planned to burn the town rather than surrender. Now the people of Leiden claimed that if necessary they would cut off their left arms and eat them (keeping their right arms available to fight), while Alba’s next target, Alkmaar, prepared to open its dykes and drown the countryside rather than surrender. Alba thought that his actions after Haarlem had been overly generous, and, echoing his enemies, told the king that it would be better to flood both Holland and Zeeland than to let the rebels have them.

The growing intransigence on both sides owed much to the strain of war but more to the fact that the conflict was becoming increasingly religious in character. The conflict between Protestants and Catholics may not have been the primary cause of the conflict, but it made its resolution impossible. In forming his government, Orange had relied heavily upon the Calvinist minority whose fervor overwhelmed the counsels of the uncommitted. By the time he himself converted in 1573, the Calvinists had become the driving force of the revolt. Alba and the king knew this. To them, as to their Calvinist adversaries, the struggle had become one against evil incarnate: no negotiation was possible. Unfortunately for the Spanish, this conclusion came at a time when Spain no longer possessed the resources to continue. The naval campaigns of 1570–1573 against the Turks had drained the treasury, and when the siege of Haarlem ended, Alba’s troops had not been paid in 28 months. His refusal to allow them to sack the city, which would have been permitted under contemporary rules of war, provoked the first of a long series of mutinies that would cripple the Spanish army in years to come. On this occasion his own popularity with the troops defused the situation, but when he ordered a second assault against Alkmaar in September, the men refused. Alba lifted the siege on October 8. Three days later, the rebels defeated a royal fleet in battle on the Zuider Zee and captured its commander.

The king had long known that Alba would have to be replaced. He should have done it early in 1569, but waited until 1570 to appoint the duke of Medinaceli as Alba’s successor. He did not, however, recall Alba. Medinaceli stood more or less idly in the wings until January, 1573, when Philip revoked his appointment in favor of Don Luis de Requeséns, a Catalan who had most recently served as governor of Lombardy. The king remained committed to a policy of repression by force, and felt that Medinaceli lacked the toughness and military skill to win. Requeséns arrived in November, 1573, and Alba returned to Spain in December.

The new governor-general tried to continue Alba’s policy without the necessary resources. In January, 1574 the rebels destroyed another royal fleet in the Scheldt, and took Middelburg in the following month. Their grip on Zeeland was now secure. Requeséns managed to annihilate an invading army under Louis of Nassau at the Mook on April 14. Louis was killed, but the Spanish army, which remained unpaid, mutinied once again and held the city of Antwerp to ransom for 1 million florins. Paid at last, they besieged Leiden, but the citizens forced them to withdraw by flooding the surrounding countryside. Then in November, they mutinied again, and abandoned most of the places they had taken in Holland and Zeeland to the Orangists. Meanwhile, in September while the siege of Leiden was collapsing, the Turks retook Tunis and the Spanish fortress of La Goletta that controlled the access to the city’s harbor.

As 1575 began it seemed that all of Philip’s policies had failed. In the Mediterranean, the Turks had not only reversed the verdict of Lepanto, but returned matters to where they had been in 1534. The Spanish army in the Netherlands could no longer be controlled by its commanders, and the king was out of money. He had sent more than 19 million florins to Flanders between 1572 and 1575. Because receipts from the Netherlands had, for obvious reasons, dropped to almost nothing during the same period, it was not enough. Desperate, Philip at last agreed to negotiate, but even at this, one of the lowest points of his reign, he could not accept the rebel’s demand for freedom of worship. Negotiations broke down on July 13. In September, the crown again declared bankruptcy, and in October, William of Orange renounced all allegiance to Spain and declared independence. When Requeséns died in March, 1576, Orange controlled Holland and Zeeland with the exception of Haarlem and Amsterdam. The southern provinces, still nominally loyal, were left without an effective government. Finally, after several months, a group of southern nobles led by the duke of Aerschot seized the discredited Council of State in Brussels, and illegally convoked the States-General which had met only twice since 1559. While the States-General opened negotiations with William of Orange, Requeséns’s replacement, Don Juan de Austria, arrived in Luxemburg.

Don Juan was Philip II’s illegitimate half-brother and the victor at Lepanto, but at this point he had neither troops nor money. The tercios of Spain, together with several of the more important German units, remained in a state of mutiny. In what had by this time become a formal tradition, the soldiers organized themselves into an army under an elected leader (electo), and on the day after Don Juan’s arrival sacked Antwerp, the largest and wealthiest city in the Netherlands. Over 8000 citizens lost their lives in one of the worst atrocities of the sixteenth century. Four days later, while Antwerp still smoldered, the States-General and the Orangists signed the Pacification of Ghent which recognized the unity of “the common fatherland” and demanded the expulsion of the Spanish troops. In the “Perpetual Edict” of February 12, 1577, Don Juan reluctantly accepted the Pacification on condition that Catholicism be maintained throughout the provinces. The States-General paid the mutineers, and the Spanish marched off toward Italy.

At this point, Philip’s luck began to change. In August, 2 million ducats in bullion arrived from Peru, the largest shipment to date. The king renegotiated his loans and convinced his creditors to loan him an additional 10 million florins (about 5 million ducats). Above all, his diplomats concluded a truce with the Turks in the Mediterranean, leaving him free to concentrate on the Netherlands. There, by years’ end, the Pacification of Ghent was beginning to unravel on religious lines. Calvinists, although everywhere a minority, controlled most of the towns in Holland and Zeeland and were a substantial presence in much of Flanders and Brabant. Unrestrained by Orange, they embarked on a vigorous campaign to overthrow the Catholic governments of towns whose councils remained firmly Catholic. The provinces of Hainault and Artois formed the League of Arras to protect the Catholic faith and other Catholic provinces withheld their financial support. By the time Don Juan de Austria died on October 1, 1578, the States-General was without money and its troops had mutinied in imitation of their Spanish enemy.

This time, the king wasted no time in appointing a new governor-general: his nephew Alessandro Farnese, son of Margaret of Parma. It was an inspired choice. Skilled at both war and diplomacy, Farnese lost no time in exploiting the tension between the States-General and the Orangists. Before he arrived, Walloon Flanders joined Hainaut and Artois in the league of Arras, and in January, 1579, Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht responded by forming the League of Utrecht which grew to include the northeastern provinces and the major cities of West Flanders, including Antwerp. On May 17, the Treaty of Arras reunited the Walloon provinces with Spain. Farnese, reinforced by the Spanish veterans who had by now returned from Italy, began a series of brilliant campaigns that within six years restored Spanish control over the provinces south of the three great rivers that bisected the Netherlands: the Rhine, the Maas, and the Waal. Confessional lines hardened further as southern Protestants sought refuge in Holland and Zeeland, while northern Catholics moved south.