By the beginning of the revolutionary upheavals in the eastern part of European Russia, in Siberia and in the Urals, a rather significant number of Poles lived. Numerous refugees from the west of the country, as well as Austrian and German prisoners of war of Polish nationality, joined the voluntary settlers and descendants of the exiled rebels who lived there before the war. After the revolution, the Poles began active political activities in order to support the independence of their new state. Polish self-defense units began to form in the East of Russia. In December, the famous French military mission of General Maurice Janin arrived in the East of Russia 1918. He became the commander of the allied forces in the region. Polish troops began to obey him. In January, 1919 was decided to form a Polish division out of all Polish formations (numbering about 8 at the time).
Organizationally, it was supposed to be part of the Polish Army in France - the so-called "Blue Army" by General Józef Haller. Three divisions of this army were in France, and the fourth division of General Zeligovsky (the future hero of the Polish "hybrid war" for Vilna) - in the Kuban. Thus, the new Siberian division of the Polish Army received the number "five" and the official name - 5-I Polish Rifle Division.
The formation of the division began on 25 on January 1919 of the year. Over 70% of the division’s soldiers were former soldiers of the Austrian army and its Polish legions. But there were local Siberian Poles, many of whom no longer even dreamed of an independent Poland — they simply wanted to continue living in Siberia — but in a Russia free from the Bolsheviks. Sometimes, when the command “Arms - on the shoulder!” Was given, half of the soldiers performed it in the Russian manner, half - in German. At the command - “Around!” Half of the soldiers turned over their right shoulder, half through their left.
The division commander was a veteran of the Russian Imperial Army - Lieutenant Colonel (soon - Colonel) Kazimir Rumsha, chief of staff - a veteran of the Polish Legions of Austria-Hungary and a former prisoner of war, a native of the Austro-Hungarian lands, Colonel Valerian Chum. If Plague sought first of all to return to the young Polish state, the Russian officer Rumsha wanted first of all to take part in the struggle against the Bolsheviks and establish peace and order in Russia.
The division was eventually consolidated from the Tadeusz Kosciuszko 1 Polish Infantry Regiment (as part of which a separate Lithuanian Vitovt the Great Battalion under the command of Captain Linkevichyus was formed under the command of Captain Linkevichus in Siberia in July) , 1919 of the Polish Infantry Regiment named after Henryk Dombrowski, 2 of the Uhlan Regiment, 3 of the Field Artillery Regiment and a number of auxiliary units.
The final formation of the division was completed by May, but already in the winter of the regiment's 1918-1919, which were destined to join the division, they participated in battles with the Bolsheviks. The Kostushko 1 regiment bravely fought in the Bugulminsky direction, near Bayrakami, Konstantinovka and Znamensky. Legionnaires Bolsheviks for courage called "horned devils." General Kappel wrote: “The arrival of your young valiant regiment, led by an energetic and talented commander, Lieutenant Colonel Rumshey, gave us the opportunity to go on the offensive and deliver a powerful blow to our enemy.”
The regiment named Kosciuszko fought on the front lines until the summer of 1919. The remaining forces of the division were mainly engaged in the protection of Transsib from the red partisans. For example, at the beginning of July 1919, in the area of the northern Kainsk-Tatarskaya railway section, a strong Bolshevik detachment was organized, which was aimed at establishing Soviet power, carrying out local mobilization and breaking through the railway communication. The uprising threatened the section of the highway, where the protection was carried by Polish troops. The Polish command 26 July sent two regiments of infantry, a division of the lancers, a platoon of the assault battalion with reinforced machine-gun commands and artillery to suppress the uprising. The Polish task force assigned to them carried out “... highly successfully, passing through swampy and taiga places more than 200 versts north of the railway and encountering strong resistance, including trenches and wire obstacles. It should be noted the skillful leadership of the commanders and the excellent fighting qualities of a Polish soldier who loves his Motherland and understands very well that the struggle for a common Slavic cause is going on ”(the words of the head of the subdivision of the press Oswedrav).
In addition to conducting an armed struggle, the division also engaged in ... cultural activities among the Polish population of Siberia. Conducted lessons on the history of the Polish people and Polish culture. Polish theaters and libraries were organized, the Polish press was published. Even the squads of Khartsari (Khartsari - Polish scouts) of Siberian children and adolescents of Polish nationality were organized.
When Kolchak's troops retreated randomly across Siberia, messages from General Haller and Marshal Pilsudski were received in October 1919, the Polish government officially patronized the division and ensured its departure through the Far East to Poland. Colonel Chuma became the commander of the evacuation, Colonel Rumsha organized rearguard cover. He managed to get 60 trains for the division, as well as form three armored trains for self-defense - "Warsaw", "Krakow" and "Poznan".
Evacuation was very difficult. Polish soldiers rode with their families. Before them, the Czechs and Latvians evacuated, while the Poles carried out the order of General Janin — to guard the rear of both the retreating Entente troops and the Russian whites, to ensure the safety of the Novonikolaevsk-Taiga section. There were huge traffic jams in front of the semaphores. The locomotives froze in a forty-degree frost. There was not enough water (which was replaced by snow) and coal (the locomotives quickly broke down from the firebox with wood). Also, breakouts often broke down, which the Bolshevik saboteurs were reasonably suspected of.
The Lithuanian battalion interrupted the officers and went over to the side of the Reds.
20 December was a hard battle of the division's rearguard with the advancing red. The armored train “Poznan” was destroyed by the fire of red artillery, all the trains that followed it fell into the hands of the red ones. The soldiers in these trains made their way to their own to the East under the fire of the Bolsheviks and in the forty-degree frost. When the 23 of December finally broke through to Taiga station, it turned out that the advanced parts of the division were already fighting for the station. Polish machine guns swept away the waves of the advancing Bolsheviks, but they continued the onslaught and the Poles suffered heavy losses. The situation seemed hopeless, but here suddenly an armored train “Poznan II” approached from the west. It turned out that the crew of the old "Poznan" had captured the Zabiyak armored train abandoned by the deserting Russian White Guards and went on it to help their comrades. The Bolsheviks suffered a heavy defeat, but the Poles also lost four thousand people - half of the division.
December 24 Poles arrived in Krasnoyarsk. The local Socialist-Revolutionary government guaranteed security to the Poles, but they were already doomed. In Krasnoyarsk, the garrison rebelled, and under the stations of Minino and Bulgach several Polish trains stopped. The rest have already gone to the station Cranberry, in 100 kilometers east of Krasnoyarsk. Under Minino and Bulgach, part of the Poles surrendered to red, and some - heroically broke through to Cranberry. To the Cranberry Poles came 7 January 1920 of the year. The roads were blocked by abandoned trains with frozen locomotives. It was already impossible to run away. Typhus and famine mowed down the ranks of the division soldiers and their relatives. Most of the Poles capitulated, Colonel Plague remained with them, however, a part led by Colonel Rumsha bravely broke into Mongolia and then Manchuria. Later they were transported to Gdansk.
The fate of those Poles who believed the Bolsheviks was very tragic. Many of them were killed by the Bolsheviks, many died of hunger and cold. Those who survived the captivity returned to Poland after the conclusion of the Peace of Riga in 1921, together with Valerian Chuma, who was destined to still command the defense of Warsaw in 1939 and survive the German captivity, then emigrate to Britain and die there 1962 year.
As for those who nevertheless reached Poland led by Colonel Rumsha - they even managed to take part in the Polish-Soviet war under the name of the Siberian Brigade. For distinction in the Soviet-Polish War, Rumsha received the Order of “Virtuti Military”. After the Warsaw Battle in the fall of 1920, the Siberian Brigade was reorganized into the 30 th Polesskoye Infantry Division of the Polish Army. Her three regiments became the direct heirs of the three regiments of the 5 division, and the 82 infantry regiment (continuer of the tradition of the 1 regiment named after Kostyushko) received the honorary title "Siberian". The division had to take part in the 1939 war of the year, fighting with the Germans in the Lodz direction. The division was reborn in 1944, as part of the Home Army. Their history ended 15 August 1944, when the heirs of the traditions of "Siberians" were disarmed by the Red Army.