The main subject of the memoirs of Ivan Harvas ("Soia") is the armed conflict between Commander "Hlukhyi's" company and Soviet NKVD units in Western Ukraine and later, between Commander "Bryl's" company and Polish army units in the Zakerzonnia region (literally, Beyond the Curzon Line), the Ukrainian ethnic area in eastern Poland.
Harvas begins his account "My First Days in UPA Ranks" with a brief description of how, during the summer of 1943, the UPA battalion commanded by "Gonta" quartered for several months in a forest near Lviv. It was there that the author, a youth at the time, volunteered to the UPA. The account then skips to the time of renewed Soviet occupation of Western Ukraine. After the movement of the German-Soviet front in summer 1944, training of new recruits took place daily in the forest. Harvas describes the conditions of insurgent life: how the battalion, consisting of a thousand soldiers, was equipped with weapons, provided with food and made contacts with the civilian population. As a result of reports to the NKVD by secret informer Petro Seletskyi, from the village of Rokytno, one day in summer 1944, the battalion's camp was surrounded by Red Army detachments. While fighting its way out of the encirclement, the battalion had five men killed and two seriously wounded. The wounded were captured alive and taken by the Soviets to Rokytno, where they died under terrible torture. On the Soviet side, many were wounded and over 30 were killed.
"Battalion Liaison Hania - "Zirka" is a brief account about a girl who worked as a liaison. As a result of reports by secret informers, she was arrested by the NKVD and sentenced to 15 years' hard labour in Siberia.
In the account "On the Day of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin", the author describes the unexpected capture by UPA fighters of an NKVD commissar, who revealed NKVD plans to deport 16 families from Rokytno to Siberia. In order to prevent this occurrence, two UPA companies - commanded by "Hlukhyi" and "Volotsiuha" - went to help the villagers. Fierce fighting ensued, lasting several hours, in which four UPA members were killed and several wounded. While retreating, the NKVD set fire to four farms and threw their owners, who were to be deported to Siberia, alive into the flames.
In "Christmas Meeting with the Enemy", Harvas recalls a visit on January 6, 1945, by 10 UPA soldiers and Commander "Hlukhyi" to the house of the Rokytno village priest, in order to sing some Christmas carols. There, unexpectedly, they found five NKVD men. Because of the holiday mood, the unexpected meeting of the two extremely hostile camps proceeded entirely peacefully.
"Fight in the Dominican Forest" is a short account of day-to-day insurgent life which makes mention of many encounters with enemy forces. One event is of particular interest. During an enemy raid and ensuring combat, a sick UPA soldier came out of his bunker, hoping to hide in the thick of the forest unseen by the enemy. Suddenly, a Soviet soldier approached him and ordered him to fall into the snow. Walking past him, the soldier said quietly: "Don't be afraid, brother, I won't kill you. I'm also Ukrainian". The Soviet soldier followed his raiding party into the forest.
In the account "Vorobets in Soviet Captivity", the author briefly mentions the action of "Hlukhyi's" battalion against a Soviet army unit that was conducting a raid on the village of Rokytno. In this action, seventeen Soviets and five UPA soldiers were killed, as well as two civilians: a woman and a boy.
On their return from Rokytno to the town of Zhovkva, this Soviet unit fell victim to a surprise attack and was overcome by "Volotsiuha's" company. During their raid, the Soviets led on a rope a former soldier of "Hlukhyi's" company, "Vorobets", whom they had taken alive during a raid a few days earlier. Familiar with the territory, he guided the Soviets, pointing out appropriate places for a surprise attack on "Hlukhyi's" company. For his "services", the Soviets deported "Vorobets" to Siberia.
"General Raid" describes one episode in the Soviets' massive military operations against the Ukrainian underground. The general raid against the UPA was preceded by a blockade of the territory from Lviv to Sokal, that is, a stretch of about 75 kilometers. According to Harvas, 75,000 Soviet soldiers took part in this raid. When they encountered Commander "Peremoha's" UPA battalion in the Zhovkva forest, they waged a two-day battle, in which the insurgents lost 78 men and had 35 wounded, while three disappeared without trace. According to unverified data, the Soviets lost 700 men (in Homin Ukrainy, this figure was mistakenly given as 7,000). During the raid, Harvas' fellow-soldier "Bereza" fell into a panic and shot himself.
"Pentecost 1945" is an account about the capture by "Chuhaistyr's" company, near the Rokytno village church, of eight NKVD members and the raion chief, who had come to give a speech to the population. The raion chief surprised everyone by speaking in favour of the UPA. Company commander "Chuhaistyr" freed all the Soviets, but on their way back, they were captured again by the detachment commanded by "Karmeliuk", who shot them all as members of the Communist Party. That same day, in the afternoon, the company commanded by "Chuhaistyr"-"Hlukhyi" and "Karmeliuk's" detachment, killed 12 Soviets during an ambush at a crossroad near Lviv. They captured three trucks with food, footwear and ammunition.
"Little Vasylko" illustrates the attitude to the UPA struggle of Ukrainian children, as represented by a ten-year-old boy who helped UPA units by providing them with information to which he had access. At his age, he already knew how to dismantle a rifle and put it back together.
In "Successful Ambush", Harvas describes an ambush organized by the squad led by "Karmeliuk" on a convoy of Soviet trucks at the crossing of the Lviv - Zhovkva highways. On hearing squad leader "Karmeliuk" call out, the trucks stopped and the Soviet soldiers immediately began to fire at the insurgents. A few seconds later, the soldiers were killed by insurgent bullets and the insurgents took the trucks with ammunition, food and footwear to the forest, where the captured goods were given to "Volotsiuha's" company and the trucks were burned.
The account "Secret Informer Olha" is the story of a peasant woman who for a long time worked as an UPA liaison. Her husband, Oleksa, was also in an UPA company, but was arrested by the Soviets in August 1944 and sentenced to hard labour in the Donbas region. Her brother, Roman, was killed by Soviets during a raid. Her father deserted from "Hlukhyi's" company and volunteered to the NKVD. Soon, Olha, too, began to work for the NKVD. For her collaboration with the NKVD, an UPA field court passed a death sentence on her in the presence of two insurgent companies. Her cousin, "Bolko" volunteered to carry out the sentence, and he himself later became a traitor, volunteering to the NKVD.
"Easter in the Lviv Forest" describes a spring 1945 celebration in the forest by Commander "Hlukhyi's" detachment. Blessed Easter foods were provided to the insurgents by village boys and girls. The modest celebration included some Ukrainian customs, but that same day, the commander divided the detachment into three platoons and sent them to disarm groups of Soviet soldiers and anti-insurgent militia in three villages. The task was completed: the platoons disarmed and/or killed 36 NKVD men, disarmed about 35 anti-insurgent militia members and captured 62 firearms.
In the brief account "Destruction of an Enemy Reconnoitering Party", Harvas describes the destruction with mines of the bridge on the Lviv - Ianiv road which the Soviet patrol crossed daily in a tractor. The bridge was blown up while the patrol was crossing and it flew into the air along with the tractor.
"Little Petrus and the NKVD" is a brief account about a 10-year-old boy from the village of Dubrovytsia whom the NKVD tried without success to interrogate about his father, who was in the UPA. While they were in the village, the NKVD members robbed the peasants, and in particular, took away their food.
"Trial of Two Scouts" tells about two insurgents from "Hlukhyi's" company who were surrounded by the NKVD. During crossfire, one was killed and the other was captured alive. The Soviets put the body of the killed insurgent on the lawn beside the Zhornyska village council office, so that the villagers would see and recognize him. The second insurgent, who was taken alive, had a rope tied around his neck and was repeatedly lowered into a well while the Soviets tried to force him to reveal where the company was quartered and had its bunkers. Unable to get any information from him, they beat him with rifle butts until he lost consciousness. They then took the unconscious insurgent by car to Lviv, where, according to available information, he was shot.
In "Death of the Red Broom", Harvas depicts an encounter between "Hlukhyi's" company and a Soviet special task combat group, known as the "Red Broom", which was deployed to destroy the Ukrainian insurgent movement and engaged in torture and robbery of the Ukrainian peasantry. In October 1945, a "Red Broom" group of 117 men was crossing the Maidanskyi forest from the village of Poliany to the village of Dubrovytsia. In Poliany, the Soviets caught two UPA doctors, Georgians by nationality, whom they put at the head of their marching column.
In the forest, the "Red Broom" column fell into an ambush organized by "Hlukhyi's" UPA company. In the ensuing fire, the insurgent killed 112 Soviets, while the remaining five were taken alive. The two doctors marching at the head of the column were killed along with the "Red Broom" soldiers.
Three days later, during a raid, the Soviets captured warrant officer "Dmytro" from "Hlukhyi's" company; in the village of Poliany, they tied him to a tree near the road, beat him and made fun of him. Finally, in the presence of women and children, they shot him.
The account "Russian Deceit" tells about a Russian provocateur, "Grisha", who volunteered to the UPA. After prolonged interrogation, he was accepted into the company as a heavy machine gun operator. He was carefully watched, but turned out to be an excellent soldier, killing several Soviets during combat actions. However, one day, on arriving in the village of Dominikanski Birky with combat group commander "Karmeliuk" and two soldiers, where they were to kill four NKVD members, "Grisha", who was walking behind Commander "Karmeliuk", killed him with two shots from his Nagant revolver. Immediately, warrant officer "Moriak" shot the traitor "Grisha" with a bullet from his "Finka" (machine pistol).
"Lviv Raid" recalls how a group of 22 insurgents from commander "Hlukhyi's" company were ordered to go to Lviv on December 22, 1945. Having reached Lviv safely, the group "cleaned up" the main NKVD building, where only four NKVD members were found, and visited the private dwelling of the oblast NKVD chief, V. Kharkivskyi, who was not at home. On Zhovkva Street, the insurgents caught and killed two Soviet officers. On their way home, in the village of Hrybovychi, they requisitioned weapons, food and footwear. This exercise had enormous propaganda value.
"A Visit to Levandivka" recounts how company commander "Hlukhyi" and six soldiers went to the Lviv suburb of Levandivka, where, in a neighbouring building, Soviet soldiers were quartered. The seven UPA soldiers stayed there unnoticed for five days and five nights. From the tailor shop located in the same building, they obtained three sets of clothing and bought another three sets.
The accounts "Crossing Over to the Zakerzonnia" and "In the Zakerzonnia in 1946" speak of a significant change in Harvas' personal life. Commander "Chuhaistyr" assigned him to commander "Bryl's" company, with which he crossed over from the "Roztochchia" Military District (TV) to the ethnic Ukrainian territory under Poland, known as the "Zakerzonnia" region. While marching to the border through the Ianiv forest, the company encountered an enemy ambush party of seven people in a bunker. During combat, the enemies were killed. The company managed to cross the Soviet-Polish border, which was very closely guarded by the Soviets, without any losses, but immediately afterward, they were shot at by a group of Polish soldiers in a burned village. After opening fire on the insurgents, the Polish soldiers abandoned their positions and fled. The following day, the company engaged in combat with a Polish army unit during which officer "Krys" was wounded in the right arm.
The next week in Poland was quiet for "Bryl's" company, but one evening, a squadron commanded by "Hai" went to the village of Machuhy to collect some requisitioned food. On the way back, with a wagon loaded with supplies, the squadron was ambushed by the Polish army. The brave insurgent "Dubyna" was killed and the squadron lost its wagon of food.
"Surrounded Scouts" recounts how, during a Polish army raid on the forest near the village of Tsytulia, Iaroslav district, Harvas and two other soldiers were surrounded and he was wounded in the side and neck. The three insurgents were saved from death by a sudden, very heavy rain. At the sound of a bugle, the Polish soldiers abandoned their ambush position and headed for their meeting point.
"March on Subcarpathia" describes a raid by "Bryl's" company from the Yaroslav district to Subcarpathia in early November 1946. In Subcarpathia, the company met three other UPA companies, which were commanded by "Baida." After several days, the "Burlaka's" company, together with "Bryl's" company, conducted a successful action on the town of Dyniv (Dynow), Bereziv (Brzozow) county, where, from a pharmacy, they requisitioned medicines and from other establishments, food, materials for clothing and skins to make footwear.
"Action on Tarnohorod" is an account of an action by the UPA companies commanded by "Bryl" and "Tucha" on the town of Tarnohorod, where, as they had done in Dyniv (Dynow), the insurgents requisitioned supplies of food and medications. A notable feature of this action was the fact that members of the local Polish underground organization, the Armija Krajowa, very actively helped the UPA detachments with advice, directions and maintaining order and even organized a friendly champagne reception for the UPA commanders. The next day, a strong Polish army unit attacked "Bryl's" and "Tucha's" companies. During combat, three Polish soldiers were killed and several were wounded before they finally retreated. On the insurgent side, private "Krylachenko" was wounded.
"Escorting First Lt. Mriia to Ukraine" describes the crossing the Polish-Soviet border in late November 1946, when Harvas, accompanied by four other soldiers from "Bryl's" company, escorted First Lt. "Mriia" and platoon leader "Iar" from the Zakerzonnia region into Ukraine. Because of intense Soviet surveillance of the border, the crossing took place under very heavy enemy fire, but without any loss of life. On the Soviet Ukrainian side, the seven UPA soldiers entered a young growth area of the Iavoriv forest. Having obtained information that a group of Soviets were going to cross through the forest, they organized an ambush, during which 18 Soviets were killed by insurgent fire and only three managed to escape. The insurgents captured nine Finnish guns from the Russians, as well as three "Desiatyzariadkas" (semi-automatic rifles) and six rifles. Two days later, the five soldiers forming the escort said goodbye to First Lt. "Mriia" and platoon leader "Iar". The next day, they headed back to the Zakerzonnia. Although carrying a heavy load of food, footwear and underwear, as well as their own weapons, they crossed the border without incident.
"Christmas Eve and Christmas 1947" describes an unfortunate event that occurred during preparations for Christmas celebrations. As Ukrainian villages had been robbed of their supplies by Polish bands and the Polish army, on January 5, a platoon from Commander "Bryl's" company went to the Polish village of Piwoda to requisition food. They collected one wagon, two cows and two pigs, which were killed on the spot, potatoes, flour and other items and transported these goods to the village of Radawa. There, the platoon was attacked by a Polish army detachment and the insurgents were obliged to retreat to the forest. During combat, one soldier from the platoon was killed. Of the Poles, two were killed: one lieutenant and one soldier. The men of Commander "Bryl's" detachment spent Christmas Eve in cold tents, drinking only black coffee made from barley.
In the account "How Commander "Bryl" Was Killed", Harvas describes the circumstances in which "Bryl" met his death. According to Harvas, in late June 1947 (other sources give the date as May 28, 1947) Commander "Bryl" set out with one squad (16 soldiers) to the village of Tsytulia to collect some food for the detachment. During the day, they quartered in the forest, where a Polish army unit organized a raid, probably as a result of a report by an informer. The stronger enemy force pushed the squad into a clearing, where Commander "Bryl", who was wounded, shot himself with a pistol. Warrant Officer "Dzvin", who was also wounded, was taken captive.
The last episode recounted by Harvas, "Bryl's" Company's Raid to the West", describes the break-up of "Bryl's" company into small groups and their march out to Western Europe. Harvas' group, composed of 11 soldiers and led by platoon leader "Sahaidachnyi", set out on July 2, 1947. Owing to their caution, secrecy and avoidance of contacts with the civilian population (except for those which were essential), in September, the group successfully reached the American zone of occupation in Austria.
Harvas' memoirs contain some additional information, including an account, "How Captain "Hlukhyi"-"Chuhaistyr" Was Killed", which provides a description of the death of Commander "Hlukhyi" as told to Harvas by others a few years after the event took place. According to these sources, "Hlukhyi" was killed in a skirmish with Soviets on the streets of Lviv in 1946. His warrant officer "Moriak" was wounded; he was taken alive by the Soviets and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Harvas also informs the reader about methods of location and construction of bunkers in which people hid from enemy repressions. During the UPA struggle, individuals and entire groups of Ukrainian insurgents hid out in these bunkers.
Appended to Harvas' memoirs are lists of the following:
The memoirs of Zynovii Sokoluk ("Zenon Semeniv"), who served as political officer in Commander "Hlukhyi's" company, and later, Commander "Bryl's" company, are reprinted from Ukrainian newspapers in the free world, in which they were published in 1948 - 1957. We reprint these materials with some minor abridgements of non-essential content, such as, for example, descriptions of nature.
In the account, "Goodbye, Friends", the author describes the killing by an UPA platoon of seven Soviet parachutists, including one woman. The Soviets were dropped from a plane in an unspecified location in the "Roztochchia" Military District (TV) before the westward movement of the German-Soviet front from Eastern Ukraine. During intense combat with the parachutists, which lasted for more than half an hour, squad leader "Morozenko", of Commander "Bohdan's" company, and private "Orikh" were killed. A final salute to these two fighters was given by two insurgent companies and the staff officers of the Military Region (VO).
"News" is an account of the first battle of a company of new UPA recruits, who were attacked in the forest near Sudova Vyshnia by 400 Soviets from an armoured train in Sudova Vyshnia. The new recruits successfully repelled several enemy attacks; finally, they broke through the enemy line and successfully came out of the encirclement, having lost one medical orderly and two soldiers. According to intelligence obtained later, the Soviets lost 72 men, including the unit commander, a major.
"On Christmas Eve" begins with a description of the Lviv - Tomashiv plateau region, where the Soviets had begun to organize collective farms in the villages. Ukrainian insurgents burnt and destroyed these farms and returned property back to its owners. In preparation for elections to the USSR Supreme Soviet, which were scheduled for February 10, 1946, the Soviets began to fill the region with special NKVD units as of early December 1945. So by Christmas Eve (January 6), the Ukrainian insurgents were obliged to operate with utmost caution.
"Zenon Semeniv" subsequently describes how he, Commander "Mriia" and private "Sokil" went to "Sokil's" house, where in keeping with Ukrainian custom, they ate a traditional Christmas Eve meal with "Sokil's" family. After supper, with permission from Commander "Mriia", "Sokil" went into the village on a reconnoitering mission. In one house, he was caught by surprise by 30 Soviets. He successfully broke out of the encirclement, but the Soviets burned down the house.
The account "To Their Heroic Death" honours the memory of UPA soldiers who were killed in battle. While marching to a railroad track which they intended to destroy with mines, Commander "Mriia's" detachment stopped at the cemetery in Nova Skvariava, where the fresh grave of Commander "Kobzarenko" was located. The detachment honoured his memory and the memory of all fallen heroes with a common prayer and a short speech by the political officer. They then continued to their desti³nation on the railway line between the Mokrotyn settlement and Matsoshyn, where they destroyed the rail link by mining the track, on which the train from Lviv appeared shortly afterward… During this same time, Commander "Hlukhyi's" detachment, split up into groups, was supposed to blow up the Dobrostany water tower near Ianiv and disrupt the rail connection on the Lviv - Ianiv, Iavoriv - Nemyriv line.
In the account "When Weapons Fall Silent", "Zenon Semeniv" recounts how the platoon commanded by "Sahaidachnyi", while marching on a rainy day that happened to be a religious holiday through muddy fields and roads, entered a church in the village of Zarudtsi while Mass was being said. At that time, Soviets were quartered in all the larger villages of the region. Regardless of the danger, when people came out of the church after Mass, the insurgents asked them to wait. The political officer gave a speech, in which he explained that the hunger in Ukraine was caused by forced collectivization and exposed Moscow's policy of dividing the Ukrainian people, setting children against parents and brother against brother, trampling Ukrainian traditions and destroying people's faith and the church... This meeting with the peasants had great propaganda effect.
"There in Ukraine" is an account of the celebration of Easter by Commander "Hlukhyi's" company in the forest, where Ukrainian Red Cross nurse "Mariika" and two village girls brought them baskets brimming in blessed Easter foods. This feast was arranged in advance by company warrant officer "Tsyk". In addition to food parcels, the girls brought Easter greetings for the insurgents written in awkward script on a piece of paper.
"Christmas Reconnoitering Mission" describes the conditions of insurgent life in winter for Commander "Bryl's" company in the Zakerzonnia region. As the Christmas holidays approached, and days and nights grew cold, some insurgents organized food supplies in the region for the holiday period, while others took turns going into the field to monitor enemy movements, so as to avoid any surprise attack. Not all insurgents returned from these reconnoitering mission: while travelling on assignment to the village of Kopan, privates "Doroha" and "Dubovyi" were ambushed by Polish soldiers and "Doroha" was killed by machine gun fire.
In "One Day among Many", "Zenon Semeniv" depicts the psychological state of three insurgents hiding out in a bunker while a raid was conducted in their immediate area. The three insurgents were the author, Commander "Mriia" and private "Sokil". There was heavy fire all around their hiding place and they prepared themselves for death. As it turned out, the Soviets were shooting at private "Skoryi", who, unaware of the danger, come out of a neighbouring bunker, was pursued by the Soviets and finally killed.
"Last Easter in the Zakerzonnia Region" recounts the tragedy lived by the Ukrainian population of the Zakerzonnia region in 1947. Two weeks after the killing of the Polish General Swierczewski, the Polish Communist government took measures to destroy everything Ukrainian, including a mass forced deportation of Ukrainians from their ancestral lands. Almost all villages, roads and forests were occupied and blocked by Polish army units. The insurgents were left with no base of support and for this reason, the celebration of Easter 1947 was different from those of previous years. There were no blessed eggs and no table laden with festive foods, but the mood among the soldiers of Commander "Bryl's" company was happy and the men believed that truth would rise again, like the resurected Christ.
"Bryl's" company was joined by Military District Commander "Zalizniak" and Commander "Tucha", whose company was quartered nearby. As a practical joke, the soldiers of "Tucha's" company, sent two privates in disguise to visit "Bryl's" company. One of the privates was dressed as a peasant man, the other, as a woman. At first, "Bryl's" men thought they were Polish spies, but when their real identity was revealed, there were peals of laughter, evidence of the joke's success.
"Vasyl V. - "Mriia" is an incomplete biography of Commander "Mriia". Owing to the strict secrecy practiced in the underground, "Zenon Semeniv" was not privy to more detailed information about "Mriia". In the sketch, he recounts some facts that were known to him. "Mriia" was forcibly mobilized to a German auxiliary unit. In Pisky, in Polissia, the Ukrainian unit in which "Mriia" was serving disarmed the Germans and in mid-1943, joined the UPA. During combat on two fronts in the forests of Polissia and Volyn, "Mriia" was wounded in the shoulder, but he recovered from his wound. In spring 1944, he underwent initial training in the officers' school. Once appointed squadron leader, he obtained further training, which he completed with the rank of first lieutenant.
"Zenon Semeniv" characterizes "Mriia" as an individual with a sense of humour, thoughtful, brave and willing to sacrifice himself for others in battle, qualities which won him many friends. In recognition of his uncommon abilities and model performance of his duties, he was given command, in summer 1945, of the "Kholodnoiartsi" detachment, and one year later was assigned by the "Roztochchia" Military District (TV) command to head the special task unit, "Pereiaslavy". Later, he successfully directed non-commissioned officers' training in the Iaroslav area forest in the Zakerzonnia region. In December 1946, "Mriia", accompanied by couriers and a guard of two soldiers, returned to Ukrainian SSR territory. In a house in the Iavoriv region, the group was ambushed by Soviets and "Mriia" was killed.
"Breaking Out of an Encirclement" is a brief memoir by a platoon leader from Commander "Bryl's" company, First Lieu- tenant "Spartak". It recounts how the UPA unit "Pereiaslavy ²" broke out of an encirclement on the edge of the Krakovets forest on June 13, 1946 (in their memoirs published in this volume of Litopys UPA, Antin Katchala and Ivan Laluk, give the date as 1945).
The UPA detachment of 80 soldiers was surrounded on all sides and attacked by three and a half thousand NKVD men, who also placed heavy guards on all roads and other strategic points. But the "Pereiaslavtsi" held fast. After heavy fighting, the insurgents broke out of the encirclement to safety, although they did experience some losses - four men killed and five lightly wounded. On the enemy side, 37 were killed.
Antin Katchala ("Shuhai") recounts certain episodes from his life in the underground starting in the summer of 1943, when he joined the Ukrainian People's Self-defense. The recruits were taught systematically how to use weapons, took part in military exercises, maintained underground communications, built bunkers and stored all types of goods. Once the Soviets arrived, conditions changed.
The author was first assigned to Commander "Dnister's" company, where he underwent brief military training and took part in ambushes on enemy convoys. During one such ambush, the insurgents freed recruits who had been mobilized to the Red Army. Another time, they captured 50 cows and about 200 sheep, as well as mines and ammunition.
In the account "Enemy Counteraction", Katchala briefly describes a Soviet raid in the forest, near the village of Lypovets, in September 1944, against two UPA companies commanded by "Dnister" and "Petrenko". The two companies experienced serious losses, including the death of Commander "Dnister".
In December 1944, a group of insurgents (several squads along with some Local Self-defense detachments) freed 10-12 underground members who were trapped in a bunker during a siege by an unknown number of Soviets. The Soviets were killed and the insurgents also lost four men.
During the first five months of 1945, subunits of Commander "Bryl's" company along with a Security Service combat group and soldiers from Local Self-defense detachments (about 80 men) conducted an action against an NKVD and anti-insurgent militia post in the village of Morantsi, during which they killed 12 NKVD and 4 militia members. At this time, because the territory was saturated with Soviet military units, "Bryl's" company was broken up into smaller groups to allow them more easily to operate in secret. The small groups conducted various actions, organized ambushes and engaged in combat with the Soviets. On the third day of Easter, in the village of Nakonechne, the Soviets ambushed combat group commander "Verhun", his brother, "Lysko" and three soldiers. All five insurgents were killed, but the Soviets also lost three men. In another fight with Soviets in the village of Sannyky, Commander "Bryl's" detachment, together with "Sian's" and "Smyrnyi's" detachments, engaged in combat with the Soviets; after three hours of fighting, the enemy lost six men and had four wounded. The insurgents did not experience any losses.
In June 1945, Commander "Bryl's" detachment conducted punitive actions against NKVD posts in the villages of Rohizno, Morantsi and Porudno, during which several NKVD men were killed and weapons and ammunition were captured. On June 13, the detachment, along with a Local Self-Defense detachment (about 70 men), was surrounded by a larger number of Soviets. The insurgents broke out of the encirclement, with a loss of five soldiers and with five wounded.
In the chapter "In a Security Service (SB) Combat Group", Katchala presents some episodes from his later life as an insurgent, when he was transferred from his company to an SB combat group led by "Troian". With this group, he took part in attacks on NKVD posts, mining actions, arrests of individual NKVD functionaries and ambushes on NKVD members.
In his memoir, "Episodes from the Experiences of an UPA Member", Ivan Laluk ("Kaminnyi") begins by describing how he entered the UPA company commanded by "Dnister" as a new recruit on August 22, 1944. The events of his early days in the UPA were similar to those described by A. Katchala ("Shuhai"), who served in the same company.
Between Laluk's and Katchala's descriptions, there are some differences in interpretations of events and combat actions and the results of these operations and even discrepancies concerning dates of described events. This is probably because the memoirs were written many years after the original events, which makes it difficult to recreate events accurately. For example, for the raid in the Lypovets forest, Laluk gives the date October 19, 1944, while Katchala says it happened on "a September day." Katchala states that both companies experienced losses, while Laluk provides more detail regarding the losses, including that of company commander "Dnister", who was wounded and shot himself. Also killed was battalion commander "Roman", platoon leader "Fedorenko" and two soldiers and during the Soviet pursuit of the companies as they retreated, 10 soldiers were killed in the village of Budomyr. The total number of insurgents killed was 18.
On May 28, 1945, Laluk was subject to a surprise attack by 28 Soviets in his house in the village of Nakonechne. Under heavy fire, he succeeded in breaking out. He also describes engaging in combat and breaking out of a Soviet encirclement on June 13, 1945, near the edge of the Krakovets forest, during which action five soldiers were killed. This event is also mentioned by Katchala and First Lt. "Spartak" in their memoirs published in this volume.
When recalling the period July 15, 1945 to November 1, 1945, Laluk describes the detachment's raids in the area, construction of bunkers, sabotage actions to disrupt elections to the USSR Supreme Soviet, attacks on NKVD posts, the killing of an NKVD chief named Chortov, his secretary and one soldier, attacks by Soviets on his detachment and other typical insurgent activities.
On April 5, 1946, Commander "Bryl's" detachment crossed the Soviet-Polish border for the first time into the Zakerzonnia region, where they immediately disarmed a Polish militia post in the town of Siniava. They went back and forth across the border three times. Their final return to the Zakerzonnia took place on November 1, 1946. During this crossing, commander-trainer "Loboda", squadron leader "Vitrak" and a 5-year-old girl, the daughter of the leader, "Inhul", were killed on the border.
Laluk ends his memoir by telling the reader that Commander "Bryl's" detachment was a special task unit, performing such duties as maintaining communication between the UPA Supreme Command - through Military District (TV) Commander "Uhrynovych" - and Commander "Zalizniak's" battalion in the Zakerzonnia region.
Petro Bizok ("Voin"), squad leader in Commander "Bryl's" company, recounts how, on the order of leaders of the Ukrainian underground in the Iavoriv region, he performed his first assassination even before becoming a member of the underground. In the Iavoriv hospital, he shot with his pistol the former regional underground leader, whose pseudonym was "Shveiko", because the leader had began an obvious collaboration with the NKVD.
"Surprised in a Bunker", by sergeant "Myrnyi", recounts how, on March 1, 1946, a seven-man NKVD force found the entrance to a bunker in a field near the village of Nakonechne, where the author was hiding with three other soldiers, "Chornii", "Baska" and "Shuhai". In the fight near the bunker and during the NKVD pursuit of the insurgents, "Myrnyi" killed six NKVD men with machine gun fire. "Baska" and "Chornii" were wounded. (In the combat activity report for the period 25.II to 10.III.1946, Commander "Bryl" gives as the date of this event 2.III.1946 and says that three Soviets were killed).
In the account "Iron Curtain", an unidentified author describes the crossing, on November 1, 1946, of the Soviet-Polish border by Commander "Bryl's" detachment. This action is also described by Laluk, in his account "Episodes from the Experiences of an UPA Member". The author describes in some detail the Soviet methods of border security and control. He says that it was not easy to cross the Polish-Russian border, which was guarded more intensely than any other border in the world. The enemy closely monitored even the smallest movements in the border zone, especially at night, and took many measures to make the border secure. Just in front of the border were erected listening and observation towers, which were manned by border guards. Between the towers were bunkers, which also had listening devices and telephone communications. In addition, there were electrified barbed wire fences linked to self-firing rockets. If anyone carelessly stepped on a wire, the Soviet rockets would fire automatically. About 100 meters behind the barbed wire fence was a strip of ploughed and harrowed land on which tracks would be visible if anyone crossed.
Another unidentified author recounts how a 13-man group from Commander "Bryl's" former UPA company, commanded by "Dovbush", set out on a raid through Poland, Czechoslovakia and Austria to the British zone of occupation in Austria. While crossing the Lemko region in Poland, private "Budak" was killed, and in a skirmish with the Czech army in Slovakia, private "Chaika" was killed. Two soldiers left the group voluntarily during the night, and four left under other circumstances. Of the original group, only five reached the intended destination. During their travels, the Ukrainian insurgents were favourably received by the Slovak and Austrian people, who provided them with all types of assistance.
I. REPORTS BY COMMANDER "BRYL"
Commander "Bryl's" "Combat Activity Reports" for the "Pereiaslavy 1" subunit, covering the period 10.XI.1945 to 25.VI.1946, are among the documents or rather, fragmentary materials, that were preserved in the Archives of the State Defense Division in Warsaw (Central Archives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Poland). Copies of these materials are found in the Peter J. Potichnyj Collection at the University of Toronto.
These documents came originally from the archive of Commander Myroslav Onyshkevych - "Orest", of the "Sian" Military Region (VO) headquarters, who was arrested by the Polish security service on March 2, 1948 and executed in Warsaw on July 6, 1950. On each of the documents is a handwritten statement, signed by Onyshkevych: "Znaleziono u mnie"("Found in my posession"). Additional information about these documents is provided by Ievhen Misylo in his book Povstanski mohyly (Propamiatna knyha - Povstanski mohyly, vol. I, published by "Ukrainskyi Arkhiv" and "Litopys UPA", Warsaw - Toronto 1995, pp. 9-12).
In his reports, "Bryl" provides detailed chronological information about his detachment, informing the senior command about his company's activities, disciplinary matters, killing of secret informers, combat with Polish storm troopers, attacks and destruction of buildings with NKVD and anti-insurgent garrisons, capture of weapons and ammunitions during fighting and attacks on the Soviets, combat against Soviet troops conducting raids and losses by the company and by the enemy.
From 10.V to 28.V.1946 "Bryl's" detachment was in the Zakerzonnia region, where they underwent training, provided security during funerals of victims of Polish forces in the village of Dibcha and conducted raids in the northern Iaroslav and southern Liubachiv areas.
There is one month (11.I to 9.II.1946) for which no reports are available. In reports covering the period 25.XI.1945 to 10.I.1946, place names are indicated using initials or alphabetical code. Numerical code is used to indicate the numbers of destroyed electric and telephone posts and railroad links.
II. REPORTS BY COMMANDER "HAMALIIA"
Commander "Hamaliia's" "Combat Activity Reports" for the "Pereiaslavy 2" subunit consist of bi-weekly reports for a period of eight months, that is, the period from 10.XI.1945 to 10.VII.1946. Commander "Hamaliia" gives in detail the dates of the break-up of the detachment into smaller groups and reintegration of the groups into the detachment as needed. In these reports, which also were taken from Commander Onyshkevych's archive, Commander "Hamaliia" informs about the detachment's raids in the area, organization of political meetings with the Ukrainian and even Polish populace and acts of sabotage and opposition related to preparations for elections to the USSR Supreme Soviet. The detachment also obtained and stored uniforms, weapons, ammunition and food, killed several informers, prepared premises for the winter, destroyed telephone and railway links, shot at buildings in which Soviets were quartered and mined bridges.
During the period covered by the reports, the detachment had nine men killed and nine wounded. During this same time, the Soviets were known to have lost 20 men and had 11 wounded.
Also published in this volume is a report by Raion leader "Tref" for a period covering one month, 20.4 to 20.5.1946, which focuses on a single event, an armed action on an anti-insurgent militia post in the village of Husakiv. By chance, the insurgents captured the NKVD officer and militia commander (a single person). He was saved by another Soviet, who paid for this with his life. Not having found the anti-insurgent militia members at their post, the Raion combat group, along with Commander "Hamaliia's" machine gunner group, seized 20 rifles, two semi-automatic rifles, 3 grenades and 120 rounds of German ammunition.
Raion leader "Zelenyi" reports on the activities of the local combat group in the Mostyska raion in two bi-weekly reports.
On 13.11.1945 three people, along with local group leader "Karmeliuk", arranged an ambush against the Soviets without knowledge of the enemy's strength. Although the Soviets numbered 12, they fled in panic. Two of them were wounded by the insurgents. Again, at 18:00 on 18.11.1945, "Karmeliuk" and two others broke into a train car at the railroad station and removed 20 rifles. This occurred without a single shot being fired, although the station was guarded by anti-insurgent militia.
In his "Report from the Action near Horaiets", platoon leader "Dovbush" informs that on May 3, 1946, a platoon of insurgents from "Pereiaslavy 1" were surrounded in the forest. After manoeuvring for four hours, they had to break through the Soviet line. Four insurgents were killed, as were four Soviets.
In a report in letter form, dated 2.1.1946, Security Service Raion leader "Troian" informs an unnamed commander about the destruction with mines of an electric power station and the reasons for not destroying the bridge near Krakovets. During this action, two Soviets were killed, one of whom was a lieutenant. The insurgents, who numbered 16, did not have any losses.
Of the documents taken from the archive of Commander Myroslav Onyshkevych ("Orest") of the "Sian" Military Region (VO), we publish here two letters written by Military District (TV) Commander "Uhrynovych". The first letter, dated 25.V.1946, speaks of letters of promotion for UPA officers, non-commissioned officers and senior soldiers of the "Roztochchia" Military District (TV).
The second letter, dated 24.9.1946, thanks Commander "Lemish" for assistance given to the commander M's unit (probably commander "Mriia") and briefly mentions different views regarding the expected duration of the UPA liberation struggle, the importance of preserving a nucleus of an army for the future and a possible visit by commander "Uhrynovych" to Commander "Lemish".
A longer letter from Commander "Roman" to Commander "Bilyi" speaks about the subunit commanded by "Chavs", couriers-communications personnel from the Zakerzonnia region and the transfer to "Bastion" territory (Iaroslav, Liubachiv, Tomashiv regions) of one "Pereiaslavy" subunit. The letter also criticizes Commander "Uhrynovych" for neglecting his duty to maintain contact with commander "Roman" and failing to send him reports. "Roman" also writes that he did not receive suggestions for promotions from "Uhrynovych" and says that during the winter, once there is snow, people (couriers) should not be sent to him.