Gdansk

Westerplatte

A large protective arm smothering Gdańsk's Nowy Port to its south, the peninsula of Westerplatte first sprang to fame as a popular health resort in the middle of the 19th century, although it's as a military zone and the place where the opening shots of WWII were fired that Westerplatte is more notoriously remembered.

On March 14, 1924 Poland was awarded Westerplatte as a location for bringing in military equipment and ammunition from abroad (Polish Military Transit Depot). Inaugurated on November 11, 1925 over the next 14 years Westerplatte grew from a depot with a 88-man attachment into a huge defensive fort, and was considered so strategically important to Hitler that his invasion of Poland effectively started here.


The Polish troops on Westerplatte were in effect a crack unit, by now numbering around 200 troops, whose orders were to hold for 24 hours in the event of an attack to give air, ground and sea forces the opportunity to support them from mainland Poland. The speed and strength of the German attack put paid to that plan almost immediately with the Polish navy caught out in the Bay of Gdansk and the bulk of the air support from Puck destroyed on the ground. Yet the troops on Westerplatte continued to hold out despite coming under intense bombardment by air, sea and 3,500 troops on the ground.

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