The Borek short-distance defence armoured fort no. XV, Siedliska
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The Borek short-distance defence armoured fort no. XV

Siedliska

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Along with its attached artillery battery no. XVa, the fort, well-preserved and maintained, has a significant research value as an example of a system of group fortifications and as a representation of a stage in the development of the Przemyśl ring fort. In addition, it has a substantial historical value, having played a significant role during the defence of the Fortress of Przemyśl, and forms a valuable addition to the local landscape. As a crucial part of the system of fortifications which formed the Fortress of Przemyśl, it remains a valuable historical monument of European importance.

History

In 1887, in the light of the threat posed by the possible war against Russia, general Daniel Salis Soglio, the Inspector-General for Engineering, has managed to obtain the authorization for building a structure that would provide further reinforcement for the Fortress of Przemyśl. In the course of the construction works performed, the Werk XV “Borek” provisional artillery fort was established on the Borek-Las hill. This fort served to bridge the gap between the Siedliska Group artillery forts built in years 1883-1887 and the “Hurko” main artillery fort (no. XIV), which featured a double rampart layout. In years 1895-1897, a new armoured fort was build next to the old structure, which was converted into an attached gun battery. The design of the fort was prepared by the Directorate for Engineering in Przemyśl under the leadership of Moritz von Brunner and implemented by Albin Juda, who worked as the director for engineering at the time. The fort underwent modernisation works in both 1903 and in years 1913-1914. The fort no. XV, along with its attached gun battery no. XVa, was intended to provide defence of the main road and railway line between Przemyśl and Lwów, to support the combat operations of the neighbouring defensive works as well as to cover the areas between the forts with artillery fire. The fort’s armament consisted of two Panzerkannone M.94 80mm guns positioned in rotating armoured turrets, two Panzerkannone M.94 casemate guns on mounts designed for small embrasures (the so-called minimalschartenkanonen) in the flanking battery on the left flank as well as two M.75 80mm guns on tall mounts, positioned on an open emplacement on the right flank. The crew of the fort consisted of 92 soldiers. During the first siege of the fortress (18.09-9.10.1914), the fort participated in the efforts to hold off the main Russian attacking forces which stormed the Siedliska Group as well as fort no. XV itself. During the second siege (9.11.1914-22.03.1915), on March 18 the fort’s artillery provided support for the sortie performed by the crew of the fortress towards Medyka. Before the fortress surrendered, the main elements of the fort - the armoured battery, the flanking battery and the caponier in the moat were blown up. During the third siege (30.05-4.06.1915), the fort was overrun by German and Austro-Hungarian forces. During the interwar period, the fort was used by the Polish Armed Forces. During the Soviet occupation, the fort served as a support facility for the construction of the Molotov Line. It was used as a cattle slaughterhouse. A section of the rampart was levelled at that point, with the corresponding section of the moat being filled with earth and debris. After World War II, the local residents have dismantled parts of the fort for construction materials, including, in particular, steel. The fort was also used by the local residents as a landfill. In addition, bomb disposal squads would detonate unexploded munitions inside the fort, which only added to the devastation of the structure. In years 2005-2009, the fort was leased by the Prince Kinsky Third Historical Galician Regiment of Fort Artillery, which, through the voluntary efforts of its members, has managed to perform wide-ranging revalorisation and cleanup works and has partially reconstructed the damaged sections of the fort. In 2010, the Union of Fortress Communes of the Przemyśl Fortress took over the duties of the fort’s caretaker.

Description

The GHW XV “Borek” (Gürtelhauptwerk XV Borek) fort is a main short-distance defence armoured fort designed as a section of a group of fortifications. It is located north-east of Siedliska, on a prominent ridge of hill 231.20, near the national border. It was positioned between the Lagerfort XIV „Hurko” two-rampart artillery fort (demolished in 1975) and the forts of the Siedliska Group.

The surface of the fort measured within the boundaries of its allocated plot of land (excluding the attached gun battery) is approximately 2.75 hectares.

The fort features a redan layout and is surrounded by a dry moat; an additional outer moat with a flattened scarp runs along the front section as well as along both flanks (the entire southern flank and part of the northern flank). The fort features earthen ramparts. An earthen trapezium-shaped bastion is positioned on the gorge of the fort, with a brick gateway in the southern flank. Two-storey barracks with a single-storey central bunker extending towards the front rampart are located in the fort’s centre; they are shielded by an earthen rampart. Casemates which used to house the ammunition dump from which artillery munitions were handed out to the crew as well as a first-aid room are located on the fort’s axis, inside the area circumscribed by the front rampart, and form an extension of the bunker. In the centre, there is an entrance to the now-defunct observation tower which was used to pick targets for the armoured gun battery. Sally ports lead from the bunker to combat positions. The walls of the barracks and the central bunker are solid brick, while the ceilings are made of concrete supported by steel double-t beams. The ruins of the armoured gun battery are located in the spot where the front rampart and the left flank meet. The lower parts of the concrete walls of the gun battery block have survived to this day. Remains of the flanking battery can be seen on the left flank of the fort. There are also partial remains of the concrete exposed wall, the brick side wall and the lower section of the base of one of the gun mounts. A fire control observation post of the flanking battery is located right beside these remains and features a reconstructed steel dome. Remains of the counterscarp caponier (a concrete exposed wall) discovered in 2007 can be seen on the north corner of the moat counterscarp. The outer armour layer and the remains of the M.94 armoured turret, discovered during the revalorisation works, can be seen next to the left-wing gorge rampart. An armoured B.38 observation turret with outer armour section discovered in fort no. IV (“Optyń”) is presented in front of the gate. The existing tree planting, consisting mostly of black locust trees, are the remains of the fort’s camouflage (front and side masking arrangements).

The facade of the barracks is a 15-axis design and is made of brick. It features arched door and window lintels as well as brick window sills. The main entrance to the barracks is positioned on the centre axis. Doors leading to the former emergency shelters for the flanking battery crew and the right-wing gun battery crew are located on the most distant axes of the facade (on the ground floor of the north-western section and on the first floor of the south-western section). A reconstructed, two-winged steel window shutter is installed inside the window opening of the guard house, next to the main entrance. The facade is crowned with a simple, concrete cornice which is also the lower edge of the flat concrete roof. Traces of the inscription stating the name of the fort (GÜRTEL-HAUPTWERK XV BOREK) can be seen in the lower section of the cornice, on the central axis.The fort can be visited all year round. It forms a part of the black tourist trial as well as the tourist cycling path which runs between the various forts that formed the Fortress of Przemyśl.

Compiled by Adam Sapeta, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Rzeszów, 28.08.2014.

Bibliography

  • Bogdanowski J., Sztuka obronna, Kraków 1993.
  • Bogdanowski J.. Architektura obronna w krajobrazie Polski od Biskupina do Westerplatte, Warszawa-Kraków 1996.
  • Brzoskwinia W., Idzikowski T., Środulska-Wielgus J., Wielgus K., Wartości zabytkowej Twierdzy Przemyśl, [in:] Informator regionalny Twierdza Przemyśl, Rzeszów 1999.
  • Idzikowski T., Architectura et Ars Militaris 5. Twierdza Przemyśl. Fort XV „Borek”, Przemyśl 2004.
  • Idzikowski T., Twierdza Przemyśl. Powstanie. Rozwój. Technologie, Przemyśl 2004.
  • Sapeta A., Dzisiejsze zagrożenia Twierdzy Przemyśl - raport, [in:] Informator regionalny Twierdza Przemyśl, Rzeszów 1999.
  • Sapeta A., Zestawienie obiektów Twierdzy Przemyśl, [in:] Informator regionalny Twierdza Przemyśl, Rzeszów 1999.
  • Website: 3 Historyczny Galicyjski Pułk Artylerii Fortecznej Im. Księcia Kinsk’yego. Fort Borek - http://www.festung.vot.pl/borek.php; access 28-08-2014.

General information

  • Type: defensive architecture
  • Chronology: 1887 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Siedliska
  • Location: Voivodeship podkarpackie, district przemyski, commune Medyka
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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