History of P.B.2
Stettin (Szczecin) due to its geographical location historically was always regarded to be a strategic city. Ever since the invasion of the Swedish in the XVII century, the city kept gaining in strength and systematically developing and growing fortifications. After the capture of Stettin by the Prussians in 1713 plans were developed for the expansion of the city, that included building a modern for that time fortress inside of the city. The construction began in 1724 and lasted several years until completion in 1740. The developments significantly changed the medieval character of Stettin to more military. On the north side Stettin was protected by two inter-connected massive five-corner forts:fort Leopold (formerly called Anhalt) and fort Wilhelm. The south side of the city was protected by Fort Preussen, which was located outside of Stettin, in place where the Swedish previously built their former fort. It had six-corners and numerous lunettes, ravelins and tunnels warfare.
The history of the creation of the Pomeranian Pioneers unit was undoubtedly related to the Napoleonic wars and the new military requirements that revealed themselves after the wars. Many cities back then turned into fortresses, built field fortifications, forts, lunettes, redoubts and entrenchments. It was a period that highlighted the importance of Engineer Detachments. Following this new trend Ingenieur- und Pionier Corps, based on the A.K.O (Supreme Cabinet Order), established on the 27 March 1816 a new pioneer unit 2.Pionier Abteilung (2.Pioneer Detachment), which included the following companies:
Pommersche Festung – Pionier – Kompagine (Pomeranian Fortress –Pioneer–Company), represented 1st company (Pontoon Company). The company was created from the Brandenburg and Silesian (Brandenburgisches und Schlesisies) pioneer companies involved in the siege of the fortress Stettin in 1814.
1.Field – Pionier – Kompagine (1. Field–Pioneer–Company), represented 2nd company (Miner Corps). This company was founded in March 1812 for Yorkshire Corps in Graudenz (Yorksche Korps in Graudenz) as the 1.Prusssischen – Pionier – Kompagnie (1st Prussian – Pioneer – Company).
Both these companies together created the 2.Pionier Abteilung (2.Pioneer Detachment) but in reality the pioneer detachment (that later settled for good in Stettin) was only really formed in 1820. The stationing place of the 2.Pionier Abteilung in the first years of its existence often changed: Stettin, Stralsund, Saarlouis. It is worth to mention that the 2.Pionier Abteilung took part in the final Napoleonic campaign and the 1.Field – Pionier – Kompagine in 1818 was a part of the Prussian occupation army in France. Photo on the left presents a Prussian Pioneer from 1814/1815.
Source: Knötel UniformenkundeOriginal Tafeln vom Verlag Max Babenzien, Rathenow ca. 1890
On the 25th of July 1859 A.K.O formed within the 2.Pionier Abteilung (2.Pioneer Detachment) an additional 3rd company (Pontoon, Sapper, Miner) and two years later on the 1st of April 1861 added a 4th company. At that time the entire battalion underwent reorganization. The consequence of that was the creation of pioneer specializations:
1st Company – Pontoon
2nd and 3rd Companies – Sapper
4th Company – Miner
Photo on the right shows pioneers from the 5.Pionier Abteilung in circa 1830.
Source: Knötel Uniformenkunde Preussen Band II No. 50 Orginal Tafeln vom Verlag Max Babenzien, Rathenow ca. 1890
The official name Pommersches Pionier Bataillon Nr.2 (Pomeranian Pioneer Battalion Nr. 2) was approved by A.K.O on the 2nd June 1860. The pioneer battalion functioned under that name from that day onwards, until 1918. The name “Pommersches” (Pomeranian) probably comes from the 1st company – Pommersche Festung – Pionier – Kompagine and the intention behind the name was probably to continue and sustain the traditions of the West Pomerania. Pioneers operated wherever they were required, delivering all kinds of works on fortifications, river crossing, construction and mining. Mainly in fortresses cities like Kolberg, Stettin, Swinemünde, Stralsund and Graudenz.
It was natural that the Pommersches Pionier Bataillon Nr.2 would and did participate in all the conflicts conducted by Prussia in the XIX century.
1864 – Second Schleswig War
1866 – Austro-Prussian War
1870/71 – Franco-Prussian War
Especially during the Franco-Prussian War, Pommersche Pionier Bataillon Nr.2 was famous for taking part in some very significant battles, mainly sieges of French fortresses such as Metz, Thionville, Montmedy, Mezieres, Longwy and Belfort. It significantly contributed to the capture of Paris.
After the Franco-Prussian War in 1873 the final decision was taken to liquidate the Stettin fortress and to develop the city quicker. Three massive forts forming Fortress Stettin were to be demolished and materials derived from the demolition were to be used to build a modern city. At the end of the second half of XIX century Stettin developed very well mainly due to the train connection between Stettin and Berlin. During that period Stettin built complex of modern barracks for all city regiments. Those were mostly allocated on the area of the old fort Preussen.
From 1820 to 1885 the 2.Pionier Abteilung (2.Pioneer Detachment) – the later Pommersche Pionier Bataillon Nr.2 – stationed in Stettin. Unfortunately, the location of the first pioneer barracks is not confirmed (probably fort Preussen) but what is certain is that since 1869 the pioneer barracks were in fort Preussen where the pioneers likely practised their engineering skills.
Photo of the 4th Mining Company of the Pommersches Pionier Batl. Nr.2 in fort Preussen 1883.
1st April 1886, the Pomeranian Pioneers were moved to Thorn (Torun) and in their place the Westpreußisches Pionier Bataillon Nr.17 was moved to Stettin. After 14 years in Thorn, the Pomeranian Pioneers returned to Stettin in October 1900, taking the newly built (around 1898) barracks on the Körnerstraße street.
At the turn of 1900/1901 several volunteers from the Pomeranian Pioneer Battalion Nr. 2 (1 officer and 14 pioneers) took part in the expedition to China, to be a part one of the company of Ostasiatische Pionier Bataillon. It was an International expedition to Tientsin.
Probably it is not well known that at the end of the XIX century, at the time when the Pomeranian Pioneer Battalion Nr.2 stationed in Thorn (Toruń), the Battalion took part in several quite significant and at the same time interesting events that happened in Prussia. Those were events in which army supported the civilians.
- Blasted ice dam on Drewenz in 1888,
- Blasted ice dams on rivers near Stolp in 1891, and a year later in 1892 near Tuchel,
- Help with the flood, that took place in Schneidemühl in 1893,
- Fire fighting in Marienburg in 1899.