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Myroslav Onyshkevych:

Account of the Action on the Town of Hrubeshiv

(Summary)

This is a rough draft of a brochure of by the commander of the UPA 6 Military Region "Sian", M. Onyshkevych, about the joint attack by the UPA and WiN on Hrubeshiv on the night of May 27, 1946. The author considered this operation a very important event and thus decided to write about it himself. He ordered the officers who had participated in the action to describe it in detail and also collected information from other people. The rough draft has been preserved in manuscript form, in the author's hand, with many crossings out and corrections; it consists of six chapters. Basically, this is a compilation of short and longer reports, supplemented by the author's comments. However, there are also entire pages written by the author himself.

In the chapter "Preparation, Planning and Marching Out", the author describes in detail the assembly of UPA units and SB combat groups from the UPA "Danyliv" Military District during the night of May 26 to May 27 in the Terebinka forest. Onyshkevych arrived with the "Halaida 2" unit, commanded by Sgt. Major Vasyl Kral ("Chavs"). After lunch, he met with the "Danyliv" UPA Military District commander, First Lt. Yevhen Shtendera ("Prirva"), SB district leader Lt. Leonid Lapinskyi ("Zenon") and district propaganda officer, Teodor Harasymiak ("Dunaiskyi"). During their conference, they discussed the general plan of the attack on Hrubeshiv. The author states in detail the instructions he gave, including some regarding the celebration of Armament Day. After the conference, Onyshkevych inspected the units. The units moved from the thick forest to a small clearing, where they stood in an open square formation before the graves of buried soldiers from the "Vovky" unit. They author describes the entire ceremony, which ended with him kneeling in front of the graves and singing the prayer "Bozhe vyslukhai blahannia", while all the soldiers sang along. After the ceremony, the author left and the UPA units travelled most of the night to the Oborivtsi wood near Hoshcha, about 6 km west of Hrubeshiv, where they were to meet the WiN units. However, the WiN officers arrived only at lunchtime to discuss the attack plan. They were Captain Stanis aw Ksi ek ("Wyrwa"), Captain Stefan Kwa niewski ("Wiktor"), Lt. Henryk Lewczuk ("Mlot") and Captain Czes aw Hajduk ("Sliepy"). The WiN units arrived before dusk. The author's descriptions of the move to the Hoshcha wood and subsequent events are based on the descriptions provided by T. Harasymiak and L. Lapinskyi.

The chapter "Account of the Action" is based on a number of different reports. Most valuable are the excerpts from the report by Sgt. Major Stepan Prystupa ("Davyd", "Vovky 3" unit) about his unit's south-westerly attack on the NKVD buildings, together with the "Vovky 2" (commanded by Yevhen Yashchuk, "Duda") and "Halaida 2" (commanded by Vasyl Kral, "Chavs") units. The descriptions of events at other locations are based on reports by individuals who did not take part in the attack, but based their reports on information from others or their own observations. "Ostoja", "Wiktor", Teodor Harasymiak and others who observed the action from the wood near of the village of Bohorodytsia were very unnerved by the fact that the action did not commence until 1:30 AM. The descriptions are incomplete and give only a fragmentary picture of the operation. The first to return were the WiN groups commanded by "Hel" and the SB combat groups commanded by "Ostap", which did not take their assigned installations, the MO and deportation commission headquarters. After them arrived the SB combat group commanded by Yevhen Datsiuk ("Bahrianyi"), who were supposed to occupy the Kholm Bridge to the WP barracks. There is a good description of the assault by the subunit commanded by Henryk Lewczuk ("Mlot") on the UBP, the liberation of prisoners and execution of UB members.

The chapter entitled "Retreat" provides information about the withdrawal of the groups which came past the assembly point in the village of Bohorodytsia. The first to arrive were the WiN and SB groups which had withdrawn from their positions before the retreat signals. The WiN groups headed north to their home areas. Arriving second was the "Vovky 1" unit commanded by Petro Lahola ("Hromovyi"). They had had a skirmish with an NKVD and WP reconnoitering party on the Kholm bridge, which was supposed to be guarded by "Bahrianyi's" SB combat group. They immediately headed south-west to the Terebinka forest. Next to arrive were the three UPA units that had conducted the south-westerly attack on NKVD installations. Commanded by Y. Shtendera ("Prirva"), they headed after "Hromovyi". The last to arrive were the WiN unit commanded by Lt. Henryk Lewczuk ("Mlot") and the superraion SB combat group commanded by "Yasen". They had had a skirmish with the NKVD and WP on the Kholm Bridge and among the houses. A few of their men had been killed or wounded and only with difficulty had they managed to fight their way across the Huchva River. The SB were the last to leave Bohorodytsia. When the combat in the Metelyntsi wood forest began, they headed north.

Almost the entire chapter "Action at Terebinka on May 28, 1946" is based on a report by Stepan Prystupa ("Davyd"), which is reprinted in this issue of Litopys UPA. The chapter describes the skirmish in the Metelyntsi wood at 4:20 AM, the five-kilometer retreat through fields, the combat in the Terebinka forest until 6:30 AM and the retreat and manoeuvering by the unit commanded by S. Prystupa on May 28 and 29. The "Halaida 2" unit, commanded by Vasyl Kral ("Chavs"), returned home without incident. The "Vovky 1" unit, commanded by Petro Lahola ("Hromovyi") retreated with the wounded military district commander Y. Shtendera to the Stare Selo forest, about 15 km south of the site of the fighting. The next evening, the unit had supper in Stare Selo and sent the wounded commander "Prirva" to a safe location. In Stare Selo, they met the unit commanded by "Chavs". During the day, the "Vovky 1" unit quartered in the Teliatyn wood. There they were surprised by a WP raiding party. The unit engaged in crossfire with the WP, then manoeuvered through the wood for the entire day. At the end of the day, the WP regimental headquarters decided that the shootout had occurred among their own soldiers, withdrew their security outposts and the regiment moved on. During the night, the "Vovky 1" unit headed home without sustaining any losses.

The chapter entitled "Retreat of the SB Combat Groups" is the longest because it is based on reports by Teodor Harasymiak ("Dunaiskyi") and Vsevolod Pshepiurskyi ("Ikar"), who liked to write in detail. When the fighting in the Metelyntsi wood broke out, they retreated across the Huchva River to the village of Pidhirtsi and spent the day in the Tereshcha forest. With the SB combat groups were some "civilians" who did not take part in the attack and some UPA members - the group led by Sgt. Major H. Rudenko ("Sushko") and the "Danyliv" Military District secretary M. Dumka ("Horyn"), who in Bohorodytsia had missed the retreat of the UPA units. "Zenon" left with four horsemen homeward, to Zamostia county, and handed over command of the SB combat groups to V. Pshepiurskyi and T. Dunaiskyi, who was providing "local expertise". The SB combat groups had supper in Pidhirtsi, then took additional wagons and rode south for about 20 km. Not far from Turkovychi, they abandoned the wagons and went into the Adelinka forest for the day. The description of the supper contains many interesting observations about the moods and attitude of the Polish population and underground towards the Ukrainians. After lunch, the watch spotted the WP and the subunit began to manoeuvre to avoid combat with the WP. Moving from one forest to another, the subunit travelled more than 15 km and arrived in the area of the village of Dibrova. Along the way, they met the "Vovky 2" subunit commanded by Yevhen Yashchuk ("Duda"). When they began to manoeuvre, the WP shot at the SB reconnoitering party and killed two soldiers, including the military district secretary, Mykhailo Dumka ("Horyn"). Near Dibrova, the unit encountered a KBW subunit from Lublin and called out to them, pretending to be WP from Waria . They allowed the enemy to come near, then opened fire with all their weapons, including H. Rudenko's ("Sushko") rocket artillery. The Poles fled, not firing even once. The SB retreated in order to avoid falling into an encirclement. On the southern edge of the forest, near the village of Dibrova, they rested for about two hours. At dusk, they set out across fields to another forest and near the village of Vyshniv encountered the KBW from Gdynia, who the day before had come to Lublin to fight the UPA. Their "meeting" with these Poles was similar to that with the KBW from Lublin. A noncommissioned officer who was coming to talk to them was taken prisoner. After this skirmish, the unit headed to Radostiv and Vasyliv, from where everyone headed home.

The last chapter, "Outcome of the Action", enumerates the losses experienced by both sides in each place of operation. In the attack on Hrubeshiv, the enemy dead included 20 NKVD soldiers, 15 from the UBP and PPR, 3 from the WP (including a WOP major); in addition, five MO soldiers were taken prisoner. The Ukrainian losses included two men killed from the SB combat groups and one wounded - squadron leader "Peremoha" from the "Vovky 1" unit; about 30 prisoners were set free. Mention is also made of material losses and gains. In the action in the Terebinka forest, the enemy killed included 15 NKVD soldiers and six WP soldiers; the number of wounded is not known. The Ukrainian losses included three men killed (one each from the "Vovky 1", "Vovky 2" and "Halaida 2" units) and four wounded (one each from the "Vovky 2", "Vovky 3" and "Halaida 2" units and military district commander "Prirva"). In the skirmishes near Dibrova and Vyshniv, enemy losses included 15 KBW soldiers killed and one taken prisoner. The Ukrainian losses included two killed (from the SB combat group and military district secretary "Horyn"), and one SB soldier wounded, who was taken by the enemy.

WiN losses are not given.

The author ends by emphasizing that the joint UPA and WiN attack was a great moral success. There was much discussion of this joint operation in the Lublin Polish community. Rumours circulated among the population about large UPA forces from beyond the Buh River, great losses sustained by the Reds, the Communists' fear and their defensive measures, the formation of a Polish-Ukrainian alliance and so on.

The author told me that the brochure was not ready because there was need to include WiN information and some other reports. The "Description" reprinted here does not contain these materials and that is why I call it a rough draft. The document is dated August 25, 1946. (Y. Sh.).


Issue 4,    Autumn 2000    Litopys
Published by Forum for the Studies of the History of the UPA
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