Polish Coin Remembers Centenary of Vilnius Operation

2019-04-22 Mon

Poland is going to release a non-circulating legal tender silver 10-zloty coin to mark the centenary of the Vilnius operation. Designed by Grzegorz Pfeifer, the obverse side features a military commemorative badge that was given to the soldiers involved in this operation. The reverse side depicts a portrait of Belina-Prazmowski along with a cavalry marching towards Vilnius. A Polish inscription translates to Vilnius Expedition 1919. The 14.14 grams .925 fine Proof silver coin has a diameter of 32 millimetres and a mintage limit of 13,000 pieces.

Poland, Ukraine and the Soviet Union wanted to capture territories covering modern-day Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine after World War I. Vilnius operation was planned and executed by Jozef Pitsudski in April 1919 to capture Vilnius from the Soviet Army. However, the Polish and French military staff went not certain that the operation would be successful.

The commander-in-chief anticipated an offensive by the Bolsheviks whose troops were kept engaged across the Neman River to hit the Polish state. Poland attacked Navahrudak, Baranavichy, and Lida to keep the enemy occupied. At the same time, a cavalry brigade and many infantry battalions attacked Vilnius. The cavalry, led by Lt. Col. W?adys?aw Belina-Prazmowski passed the infantry and surprised the strong Bolshevik garrison in Vilnius on 19th April. A portion of the city was seized with the help of local people. This was followed by violent street fighting. A battalion of the 1st Infantry Regiment of the Polish Legions entered Vilnius on a captured train when the cavalry’s ammunition was getting used up. The main forces arrived on 20th April and the city was completely captured on the next day. This was a big loss for Bolsheviks while the Polish rejoiced the victory.

Belina-Prazmowski was a legionnaire and commander of the 1st Uhlan Regiment of the Polish Legions. He organized the 1st Cavalry Brigade in independent Poland and commanded them from 1919 to 1920.

Image Courtesy: Mint of Poland