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Americans at War in Foreign Forces

                                          1914 -1945


The Koscziusko Squadron


From Americans at War in Foreign Forces:
Once the squadron was fully formed in Paris, it was reviewed in the garden of the Ritz Hotel by Ignaz Paderewski, who was by now the premier of Poland. The pianist offered the men $35,000 of his own money to offset their expenses, but the offer was refused. It was then that the squadron received the name of Taddeus Kosciuzko, friend and ally of George Washington.

By 1920, the small Polish air force had added of some of the leftover planes of the European allies. Eventually, the Squadron was composed of 21 American volunteers and saw its first service in the Kiev Offensive of April – June 1920. The Offensive was seen as an attempt to establish an independent Ukraine on Polish terms, and the opening of the Polish-Soviet War. At the war’s outset, the most important Russian advances were made by the 1st Cavalry Army, but they were most effectively counter-acted by the Squadron’s strafing runs at low altitude. The Russian Cossacks seemed ruthless as they cut across the land on powerful horses, but they were no match for hand-dropped bombs from 600 feet followed by strafing at near horse-top level. The American aviators were described by their Polish leaders as exhausted pilots who fought like madmen. “Without their assistance,” said General Antoni Liskowski, famously, “we would have gone to the devil a long time ago.”

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