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Battle of Lwów
Part of Polish-Bolshevik War
DateJuly–September 1920
Locationnear Lwów, Ukraine
Result Polish victory
Poland  Russian SFSR
Commanders and leaders
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Alexander Ilyich Yegorov
+ 22.000 ??

Polish Voluntary II Death Squad in Lviv 1920

During the Polish-Soviet War of 1920 the city of Lwów (modern Lviv, Ukraine) was attacked by the forces of Alexander Ilyich Yegorov. Since mid-June 1920 the 1st Cavalry Army of Semyon Budyonny was trying to reach the city from the north and east. At the same time Lwów was preparing the defense. The inhabitants raised and fully equipped three regiments of infantry and two regiments of cavalry as well as constructed defensive lines. The city was defended by an equivalent of three Polish divisions aided by one Ukrainian infantry division. Finally after almost a month of heavy fighting on August 16 the Red Army crossed the Southern Bug River and, reinforced by additional 8 divisions of the so-called Red Cossacks, started an assault on the city. The fighting occurred with heavy casualties on both sides, but after three days the assault was halted and the Red Army retreated. With the crushing defeat of main forces of the Red Army in the battle of Warsaw, and the Polish victories at Komarów at Zadwórze, Russian forces were forced to retreat from Lwów.

For the heroic defense with large units of locally raised volunteers the city was awarded with the Virtuti Militari medal on 11 November 1920.

Lwów theatre of operations[]

Commanders and forces[]

Polish commanders included Czesław Mączyński, Domaszewicz (240), Zagórski (240), Tatar-Trześniowski (240), Abraham (cavalry), Krynicki, Śniadowski (artillery), Wit Sulimirski. Rómmel (1st Cavalry Division). Units: 240 Volunteers. Size: volunteers ~12,000. 1st Cavalry Division.

Soviet commanders included Semyon Budyonny, Jakira (cavalry), Kotowski (cavalry). Budionny's insistence (bordering on insubordination) on capturing Lwów has led to weakening Soviet forces near Warsaw and was a factor in their eventual defeat.

The battle[]

Around the time of Battle of Radzymin in mid-August, the Polish line of defense in the upper Bug River region had been breached by the Red Army. Polish units in that region had begun a series of delaying maneuvers (like the battle of Zadwórze) and retreated towards Lwów.

Polish 1st Cavalry Division engaged Soviet units under Budionny near Artasowo and Żółtańce. Soviet units attempted to swing north, but were reached by the news that the main Soviet forces had been defeated near Warsaw.

Related battles[]

Several battles near Lwów were decisive for the outcome of the entire war. They included:

  • Battle of Zadwórze on 17 August ended in the near total destruction of Polish forces, but at the same time halted the Soviet advance preventing the forces of Siemion Budionnyi from either advancing towards unprepared Lwów or breaking off and helping the Soviet forces fighting in the Battle of Warsaw.
  • Battle of Komarów on 31 August 1920, the biggest cavalry battle in the history of warfare since 1813 and the last great battle in which cavalry was used as such and not as mounted infantry. The Battle of Komarów was a complete disaster for the Russian 1st Cavalry Army which sustained heavy casualties and barely avoided being totally surrounded. After that battle, the 1st Cavalry Army morale has collapsed and the army which was one of the most feared of the Soviet troops was no longer considered an effective fighting force.


  1. Jerzy Pogonowski; Gen. Czesław Mączyński (1921) (doc). Bój o Lwów; z walk Armji Ochotniczej z 1920 roku (Struggle for Lwów; the fights of the Volunteer Army in 1920). Gdańsk: Lotos. p. 73. 

See also[]

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