Origins

ppłk Leopold Górka (pierwszy z prawej) ze swoimi podwładnymiThe origins of Military Institute of Technical Engineering date back to the year 1927, when Engineer and Sapper Troops Test Office was founded. At the beginning it functioned as a technical laboratory under the command OF FIRST Maj. Sobiesław ZALESKI and then Capt. Leopold GÓRKA. In 1928 the Test Office was transformed into Sapper Troops Technical Test Office, which between the years 1928 and 1934 constituted a department of Engineering Test Institute. In the period 1934-1939 it became an independent entity. As a central institution, the Office was initially subordinated to the sapper Troops Commander and he, in turn, was subordinated to the Sapper Command of Ministry of Military Affairs.
Until 1934, the organisation and equipment of sapper units were adjusted to a typical definition of an „infantry sapper” from the World War One period. The training resembled that of World War I period and, according to the French doctrine, a sapper was not perceived as a full combat soldier. At that time that view contributed to the central authorities’ poor interest in sapper troops and caused a harmful lack of understanding for their role and requirements. The Office’s scope of work included railway bridge conversion, designing a bar pontoon bridge and carrying out the trials. Changes were introduced into a Birago pontoon bridge which was stored in a large number. The methods of bridge construction were altered through the introduction of new connectors. Trials with carts provided with rubber tyres and springs adjusted to be towed by trucks, were performed. Engineer works in the range of supports construction (pile-drivers), woodworking (bits, saws) etc. were being mechanised. Between 1933 and 1936, the number of works performed by the Office was significantly reduced. Since 1935 a large-scale reorganisation, motorisation and mechanisation of armies in the Poland’s neighbouring countries began. Studies of those armies’ development, together with new “art of war” principles, introduced a change of views at the role of the Polish sapper troops in the upcoming war. Gradually, the German doctrine started to prevail. It stated that first of all a sapper is a combat soldier. This assumption resulted in a need of adjusting sapper activity to modern war tasks, i.e. fighting armoured weapon systems, rapid demolition and reconstruction of communication routes. Modern sappers were to be characterised by good mobility and tasks performed quickly in the fight with armoured units.
In 1936 Sapper Command of the Ministry of Military Affairs initiated a restructuring and armament revision in sapper troops, starting with trials performed and experiments with their equipment. Those works were carried out by the Sapper Troops Technical Test Office, provided with the latest Swiss test machines and a chemical laboratory. Since 1936, a new epoch began under a new command and modern motorised sapper troops were being organised. Strict cooperation between Sapper Troops Technical Test Office and Commission for Sapper Troops Procurement enabled the involvement of an ever-growing number of factories in fulfilment of orders, the proper supervision and the acceptance of the equipment by troops.
Then, in 1940, the Sapper Troops Technical Test Office was founded abroad, namely in Scotland, at first as a part of the Sapper Concentration in the Polish Armed Forces camp in Crafford, and later of the Sapper Training Centre created in 1941 in Dundee (subsequently transferred to Falkirk and then to Irvine). However, the role of the Office was not significant due to conditions at that time. Its work was limited to acquainting themselves with the British sappers’ equipment, making records and drawing conclusions for the future.
Still, one important invention of that period needs to be mentioned here, namely the Polish mine detector, whose invaluable merits helped to save much blood of both the Polish and the allied soldiers.

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