In the beginning of 1939, in the face of increasingly hostile Polish-German relations, the military authorities of Gdynia began preparations to secure the smooth transport of troops and the evacuation of wounded in the anticipated military conflict. The company’s preparation came down to the adaptation of buses by making additional back door.
Prior to the outbreak of war, in the middle of 1939, MTK operated 14 bus lines:
No.1 Kościuszko Square - Oksywie (Naval Harbour)
No. 2 Komisariat Rządu (Commissariat of Government) - Chylonia
No. 3 Kaszubski Square - Orłowo - Sopot
No. 4 Kaszubski Square - Grabówek
No. 5 Kościuszko Square - Pogórze (Slaughterhouse)
No. 6 Railway Station – Maritime Station - Kaszubski Square - Komisariat Rządu (Commissariat of Government) - Railway Station
No. 7 Kaszubski Square – Witomino
No. 8 Komisariat Rządu (Commissariat of Government) – Spa House – Market Hall - Port
No. 9 Komisariat Rządu (Commissariat of Government) - Port
No. 10 Railway Station - Babie Doły
No. 11 Gdynia - Kartuzy
No. 12 Gdynia - Kościerzyna
No. 13 Gdynia - Jastrzębia Góra
No. 14 Jurata – Jastarnia
At that time the fleet consisted of 33 vehicles, including 8 Saurer and 25 GMC buses. The company employed 140 people, many of which were promoted from military service as part of preparation to the more and more probable war.
In the middle of August 1939, a division of sailors was assigned to protect the depot. They were commanded by Cpt. Mieczysław Iwański who, together with the director of MTK engineer Jan Kawecki, was in charge of mobilized vehicles, both private and company’s.
Engineer Jan Kawecki, Director of the MTK (1934 – 1939)
After the outbreak of WW2 in September 1939 the MTK fleet was subordinated operationally to the Land Coastal Command (abbreviated in Polish as LOW). The vehicles operated by the MTK staff were used to transport troops to the endangered sections of the front and took part in a number of actions. To this day a lot of reports can be found from officers and soldiers on the participation of the MTK employees and its fleet in the fights in September 1939, including the statements from commanders such as Col. Zaucha, and above all – words of appreciation from LOW Commander, Col. Stanisław Dąbek, who emphasized the dedication of the 140 MTK employees, their discipline and readiness to serve.
On the night of 12/13 September 1939 the buses were working without breaks transporting the retreating troops and food from the port warehouses to Oksywie, Babie Doły and Pogórze. The MTK buses were the last vehicles driving across the bridge above the port canal on the way to Oksywie, before it was blown up by the Polish army in order to make it impossible for the Germans to follow.
In memory of the MTK crew participation in defensive battles on the outskirts of Gdynia, in September of 1969, the plaque paying tribute to their dedication was placed on the wall of the depot building of Regional Transport Company, the successor of the former Municipal Transport Association (MTK).
After the relatively prompt seizure of Gdynia (renamed to Gotenhafen by the Germans) and adjacent districts, the port was converted into berth and repair place for Kriegsmarine warships and many companies were switched into military-oriented companies. The occupant had to face the problem of providing employees with proper transport to and from work. Also, a reliable connection with the city of Gdańsk had to be established, as many of the Gdynia’s new administrative and party officers lived there. A transport company from Gdańsk called Gdańskie Tramwaje Elektryczne SA (Gdańsk Electric Trams) was made responsible for those tasks. It had to move to Gdynia some of the buses previously operated in the former Free City of Gdańsk as the MTK fleet had been confiscated by the Wehrmacht.
The large buses (Büssing type), some of them with trailers, were brought from Gdańsk, and the regular communication was restored – first from Kaszubski Square to Oksywie and from Gdynia to Gdańsk, and later it was necessary to launch a line between Orłowo and Chylonia.
The site and warehouses of former Gdynia Fairs (ul. Derdowskiego 1) were adapted for the bus depot and repair shops. The MTK bus depot (ul. Gdańska and Sportowa), which had been under construction since 1938, was given for Aviation Plant Kanennberg AG, in which the aircraft repairs were made.
A large part of former MTK employees was hired through Labor Office to operate the workshops and drive the buses. After the start of regular public transport in Gdynia, Gdańskie Tramwaje Elektryczne SA was renamed to Gdańsk–Gdynia Transport Company (Verkehrsbetriebe Danzig – Gotenhafen).
In the face of growing transportation needs and lack of fuel, the company decided to build a trolleybus traction network. At first, only from the city centre to the railway station in Chylonia. Later, it was extended to Orłowo. The first regular line from the City Hall to Chylonia was launched on September 18, 1943. Part of the facility at ul. Derdowskiego 1 was adapted for the trolleybus depot and workshops.
Years of occupation. A bus operating between Kaszubski Square and Chylonia. Taken in 1942.
After the liberation of Gdynia in March 1945 – a trolleybus wreck Henschel 01
Initially the trolleybus lines were serviced by 10 Henschel trolleybuses with the electrical system provided by AEG. Their tops were made by Gdańska Fabryka Wagonów (Gdańsk Car Factory). Those trolleybuses had been originally intended to operate the lines to Siedlce and Orunia in Gdańsk. The vehicles were numbered from 201 to 210 and were designed to tow trailers, also produced by Gdańska Fabryka Wagonów, that the company had already possessed.
The trolleybus network was supplied with electricity by the rebuilt rectifier stations located at the Main Railway Station in Gdynia, in Redłowo and Grabówek, with capacity of 720 KW each. Apart from the aforementioned trolleys Henschel, the company gradually acquired new vehicles brought from other occupied countries. They were JTB2 from Kiev, Alfa-Romeo, Fiat-Breda and Tallero from Milan and Rome – the latter after the surrender of the Italy.
Regardless of those Italian trolleybuses, of which the Fiat-Breda and Tallero were still not operational by the end of the war, public transport in Gdynia was reinforced with trolleybuses Henschel-Siemens model 01, which were used with trailers.
Büssing buses were still in operation and because of fuel problems, were adapted to drive on gas, first from the cylinder and later on illuminating gas, by putting on roofs properly cased large containers.
Trolleybuses ran until the fights for Gdynia became too intense. During the siege of the city by the Soviet and Polish troops in 1945 the vehicles were used for construction of street barricades or as barracks.
When the Soviet and Polish armies liberated Gdynia, public transport was in a state of complete devastation. Damaged and destroyed rectifier stations, traction network broken, damaged fleet – such was the image that remained in the memory of those who were given the task of relaunching public transport.
Maciej Gwiazda, Powstanie i Rozwój Komunikacji Miejskiej W Gdyni, Rocznik Gdyński Nr 4 i 5