The independence fights in the land of Giedraičiai in 1918–1920 

Vytautas Lesčius

During the fights for independence of Lithuania its young still building army had to defend its country from Bolsheviks, Bermontians and Poles. At that time the land of Giedraičiai was threatened by two aggressive enemies–Bolsheviks and Poles. The latter exceeded Lithuanian defence forces, which, nevertheless, managed to strike fatal blows to their enemies in many areas of Lithuania.

Such was the land of Giedraičiai, rich in its historical past and having a strategically important road going from the olden capital city of Vilnius towards the central and northern regions of Lithuania.

The first encounter with the enemy Lithuanian military in the land of Giedraičiai was with the Bolsheviks, which controlled the area from January of 1919 and terrorised local population. The joint Lithuanian and Polish forces chased away them on May 11, 1919. Then happened so that, taking the advantage of the situation when Lithuanian military fought with Bolsheviks in other fronts, the Poles took the control not only of the Giedraičiai land, but also of a large area in the eastern and southern territories of Lithuania from the beginning of July in 1920. 

Only in mid-July of the same year, when Bolsheviks took the initiative in the fights with the Poles, the Lithuanian army recaptured a large part of the Lithuanian area controlled by the Poles. On July 11, the 2nd battalion of the 7th infantry regiment liberated the land of Giedraičiai, where more normal conditions of administration, as well as economic and cultural life were developing.

However, this peaceful period was short. Soon the reinforced Polish army started a counter-offensive, and small Lithuania army suffered several defeats in south Lithuania. On October 7, 1920, the Suvalkai agreement had been signed with the Poles. However, already on the next day, the Poles violated the agreement and began a new venture against Lithuania. Numerous Polish forces occupied Vilnius on October 9, and on October 17 the Polish units lead by general Lucjan Ýeligowski began a big offensive towards the land of Giedraičiai. On October 21, they reached the environs of Giedraičiai, and on October 26 they took the town and its surroundings. The battles were fierce with varying success. The 2nd infantry regiment lead by major J. Petruitis fought against the Ýeligowski units. On November 1, Lithuanians managed to recapture Giedraičiai.

Having concentrated additional military forces, the Poles lead by general Ýeligowski started a large offensive against Lithuanians on November 17. During the severe battles, both sides suffered big losses. Lithuanians were forced to retreat from Giedraičiai, but they concentrated their last units in Ţelva and, on November 20, the 2nd infantry regiment started a new march towards Giedraičiai. After very fierce battles with high losses among officers and soldiers, the 2nd infantry regiment finally liberated Giedraičiai on November 21. The Poles suffered very big losses.

Through the mediation of the League of Nations military Control Commission, on November 29, 1920, Lithuanians and Poles signed a truce protocol in a carriage of the Kaunas railway.