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Stepan Prystupa:

Description of the Action at Hrubeshiv


This is the report by the commander of the "Vovky 3" company, which had 30-40 men taking part in the joint UPA and WiN attack on Hrubeshiv on May 27, 1947. At the request of the commander of the 6 Military Region "Sian", Captain M. Onyshkevych, the author wrote a complete report, describing various details and adding his comments. The report sounds like a newspaper account.

The report beings with the conference with Polish officers in the Oborivtsi forest, during which the plan for the attack was discussed. He praises the co-operation between the UPA and WiN. This conference was followed by another among Ukrainian officers, during which the commander of the 28 Kholm Military District, First Lt. Yevhen Shtendera ("Prirva"), distributed and explained the assignments of individual subunits. During a subsequent assembly of the unit, he spoke to the soldiers. Before nightfall, the Polish WiN units arrived. They made a good impression. The soldiers had an opportunity to talk among themselves.

The author's unit was to fire at the NKVD buildings from the south-west. The "Vovky 2" unit, commanded by Yevhen Yashchuk ("Duda"), was on their right and the "Halaida 2" unit, commanded by Vasyl Kral ("Chavs"), was on their left. With the author's unit was also a rocket artillery subunit led by "Volodya". These subunits were to position themselves in the NKVD building garden, which descended to the river and was surrounded by barbed wire. The subunits had difficulty getting to their appointed place and taking up suitable positions. At 1:30 AM the rocket fired and blew up in the NKVD building. The lights went off and pieces of brick and other materials flew in all directions. It was Sgt. Major Hryts Rudenko ("Sushko") firing from the north side of the buildings and it was the signal to start the attack. All the soldiers opened fire at the windows and doors, through which NKVD soldiers were fleeing to the town, while some took up prepared positions in the garden. A few minutes later, "Volodya" also fired a rocket, hitting his target. (He had some difficulty, as the electric detonator did not work, so he used a Bickford rope). After this, two more rocket shells blew up in the building. One blew up the horse stable and the horses ran out into the yard. A small group of NKVD soldiers opened fire at the insurgents with two "Maxim" heavy machine guns and other weapons and even tried to attack. The author provides details about the "positional" combat at short range, which lasted for over one hour. The insurgents repelled the Soviet attack, destroyed one "Maxim" with grenades and at the signal of flares fired by First Lt. Y. Shtendera, they withdrew without any losses.

The author also describes in detail the skirmish with an NKVD reconnoitering party in the Metelyntsi wood, the 5-kilometer retreat through fields and the fight at the northern edge of the Terebinka forest, which lasted from 4:20 to 6:30 AM on May 28, 1946. The author probably overdramatizes the disorganized character of the retreat, emphasizing his own bravery in critical situations, rather than maintaining discipline and acting as a whole unit. The subunits retreated firing all around: on the right wing, the "Vovky 2" unit (commanded by Yevhen Yashchuk), on the left wing, "Halaida 2" (commanded by Vasyl Kral), and in the centre, the author's subunit and the SB combat group (22 soldiers). The real duel began near the forest, where the enemy began a more energetic assault, surrounding the insurgent firing party from the sides. Perhaps the author did not notice that the situation was saved by the "Vovky 1" unit (commanded by Petro Lahola), which had arrived in the forest earlier and at the critical moment smashed the Soviet tankette and stopped the NKVD and WP subunits which were trying to cut off the retreating UPA firing party. The author described many details of this encounter, which resulted in the UPA having three men killed and four wounded. They author retreated last with a group of 60 soldiers, including 22 soldiers from "Khoma's" SB combat group and 20 soldiers from the "Vovky 2" unit. His unit spent the day in a trench, not far from the field of battle, and were not noticed by the enemy forces which were combing the forest. They disarmed two Polish soldiers who came upon them. At night, they left the forest unseen by the surrounding enemy troops and marched to the village of Miake. There they ate then headed in different directions. "Khoma's" combat group and Yevhen Yashchuk's soldiers left for their home territories. The author requisitioned two horses to carry the wounded and quartered in the forest near the village of Bosuky. In the evening of May 29, the author's unit manoeuvered through the enemy units and ended up close to the location where Yevhen Yashchuk had skirmished with the KBW.

Issue 5,    Winter 2000    Litopys
Published by Forum for the Studies of the History of the UPA
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