world war 2: warsaw uprising 1944

John Ward

Article reprinted from: The Times, August 30, 1944.

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  Total Warfare in Warsaw

Warsaw to-day is in a state of total warfare. Almost every street in the city has been a field of battle for the past 24 days. The enemy mine-throwers, artillery, and aircraft are taking a heavy toll of human life, and are devastating much property. Nearly the whole population is engaged in some sort of public work. Thousands of people have been mobilized to put out the fires that are raging in many parts by day and night. Thousands more are engaged in clearing debris from the street that are in the hands of the Home Army. Others are acting as couriers, field telephone workers, and in the Red Cross, which is working excellently under the most difficult conditions.

The actual army – that is to say, the Home Army – is a queer mixture. Fighting in it are young boys of 16 years and old men of 70 years. Few have regular weapons to carry. They range from small automatic pistols to rifles. There are also some few heavy machine-guns, but these are only used in emergency, as they need too much ammunition. Former colonels are fighting as simple soldiers under the command of young lieutenants.

Weapons are being improvised. Hand grenades have been made from old gas pipes filled with some explosive mixture. These grenades are lit with an ordinary match before being thrown. Flame-throwers are in use that have been made in small workshops.

Perhaps the most ingenious weapon of all was used two days ago. I personally saw 10 of them explode. In an old German store were found 120 80 lb. Artillery shells. At first it seemed they were useless, until a sapper, since killed, put two detonators in one of the shell and attached a 23-second fuse to each detonator. When the order for action was given the shells were thrown from a second-floor window near to the German positions, and then the company of the Home Army fled to cover. The weapons dropped by the RAF have been of great value, but are inadequate in quantity.

Food is a great problem. Warsaw has been starved by the Germans for nearly five years. The quantity of food in the city at the outbreak of hostilities was small. It has already lasted nearly a month, and at the moment we see no hope of a speedy end to the present state of affairs.

As I write the fighting has continued bitterly during the past 24 hours. The amount of damage being done by the enemy mine-throwers is colossal. Heavy artillery was hear during the night at a distance of about 20 km from the city

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