The Ukraine

On 22 January 1919 the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) united with the West Ukrainian National Republic (ZUNR). This action was effectively an exercise on paper, as each republic retained its own army and government. The western republic, which had proclaimed its independence in October 1918, Immediately clashed with the new, nationalistic Poland. Both claimed the province of Galicia. The western republic's armed forces, the Ukrainian Galician Army

Simon Petliura's Ukrainian arm/ on the march, 1919-1920. By the end of 1918, he had emerged as the leading figure in the Directory Government. In the nightmare of politics that was the Ukraine in those years. Petliura alternately had to fight the Germans, the Poles, the Romanians, Skoro pad sky's Ukrainians, the Bolsheviks, Denikin, and Makhno. Poland eventually recognized him as head of the Ukrainian People's Republic in March 1920. Thereafter. Petliura led two Ukrainian divisions in the Russo-Polish War In October; however, the Poles disarmed his troops, forcing him into exile. A Bolshevik agent assassinated him in the 1920s. (Period art card, Bullock collection)

Ukrainian Polish War

(UHA), which attained a strength of 70,000 in June 1919, included the elite 1st Brigade of the Ukrainian Sich Rifles which had served in the Austro-Hungarian Army in World War One in the hope of liberating their country from imperial liussia. After hard-fought battles during the first half of 1919, Poland succeeded in defeating the UHA in July. The army then retreated to join the Ukrainian National Republic in the east.

In the meantime, the UNii, led by the Directory, had serious problems of its own. Internally, the UNR was split between political elements desiring to enact a socialist agenda first and the more moderate, including Simon Petlyura, who pushed for national liberation as the primary goal.

The UNR was beset on all sides throughout 1919, To the northwest and southwest the Poles and Romanians wished to round out their borders at the expense of the Ukraine, while peasant revolts, including the most dangerous under the Anarchist Nestor Makhno, were endemic. A Bolshevik-sponsored shadow government, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, contested ultimate control, being hacked by the Red Army. In February, Red Guards entered Kiev and had pushed the Directory's forces back to Kamenets-Podolsk in the southwest where the UNR resettled.

In the southeast, Denikin's forces entered the Ukraine in June. Petlyura attempted to form an alliance with the Whites, but failed, Denikin considered Petlyura a socialist and had no interest in espousing the cause of Ukrainian nationalism.

However, the arrival of the West Ukrainians allowed for a combined Directory offensive, consisting of 35,000 combat troops, against the Bolsheviks that summer. The UHA reached Kiev on 30 August, the same day as Denikin, but, unwilling to fight the Whites, whom they did not consider enemies, withdrew. The political orientation of the UHA, in fact, was liberal, while the forces of the Directory were largely socialist. These differences spilled over Into matters of organization and strategy.

Typhus struck in October, decimating the combined army of the Ukrainian National Republic. Lacking any firm base, low on armaments and beset by enemies on all sides, 2,000 of the soldiers remaining in the field under General M. Tarnavsky decided to join Denikin, while Petlyura retreated with another 2,000 to Poland in December.

The offensive for Petrograd

The White Northern Corps formed in Pskov, Russia, in September 1918. The original 6,000 soldiers, of whom one-quarter were officers, were pushed back into Estonia that autumn by the Red 7th Army. Half of this corps transferred to the Russian-Baltic forces of Prince Lieven at Libau, while the other half served as a detached Russian unit In the Estonian Army under General Johannes Laidoncr. The Northern Corps returned to the Pskov Front where they were joined by the mounted Russian partisans of Ma ¡or-General 'Batko' Bulak-Balakovlch In October, Imperial Guards officer General Alexander Rodzlanko arrived in February 1919 and took command.

That spring, the Estonian Army expanded to 40,(KM) and Lai doner succeeded in clearing

Perhaps the only surviving photo of the tank 'White Soldier in Northwestern Army insignia (see top left). The Russian tricolor chevron is atop a white cross and underneath is the name of the tank in white.This tank's British-trained Russian crew (commanded by Naval Warrant Officer Strakhov) was one of six spearheading Yudenich's assault on Petrograd. (Bullock collection)

White Russian Northwest Army CrossEstonian Army Officer Uniform
Estonian troops in national uniform, two with German helmets, 1919. (Bullock collection)

the Bolsheviks out of his country and northern Latvia. Then, Rodzianko and Laidoner went on the offensive against the 7th Army in May. White and Estonian troops took Gdov, Yamburg and Pskov that month, destroying ten regiments. After the defection of thousands of Red prisoners, Rodzianko's strength reached 25,000. Moreover, 3,100 square kilometres of Russian territory had been liberated, as well as half a million Russians. Now possessing a base, the Northern Corps became independent of Estonia.

General Nikolai Yudenich arrived in June, appointed by the White Supreme Ruler, Admiral Kolchak, to assume command of all White armies in the Baltic region. On I July, the Northern Corps became known as the Northwestern Army (NWA).

Yudenich's problems were manifold. The new White territory had been ravaged by war and was in the grips of famine, prompting him to secure economic aid from the American Relief Agency. Militarily, the NWA needed clothes, equipment, munitions and food, and these Yudenich requested from the Allies, particularly from Britain,

Yudenich intended an offensive against Petrograd that autumn and to do so he needed a larger coalition of partners. Several other White armies operated in the Baltic, from 1.¡even's Corps of 3,(XX), to the more numerous Western Army (WA) of 15,000-20,000 commanded by Prince Pavel Bermondt-Avalov. Avalov, however, subordinated his army to the German Iron Division and Freikorps formations under General von der Goltz. Above all, the Whites needed the cooperation of Finland, Estonia and Latvia.

None of these countries, however, were in a position to offer substantial aid. Latvia had its hands full with the Germans, and Finland and Estonia naturally desired full recognition of their independence from the Whites before they would commit troops against the Bolsheviks in an offensive war. Yudenich, after prevarication, was inclined to offer that recognition, but Admiral Kolchak refused, preferring to keep the concept of the former Russian Empire intact.

Then, a new offensive by the 7th Army prompted action. Pskov fell in late July, followed by Yamburg on 5 August. Prince Lieven agreed to join Yudenich with 3,000 men. General Marsh, head of the British Military Mission, forced Yudenich to form a government prior to receiving substantial British military assistance. In response, the Northwestern Government, headed by C. G. Lianozov, came into being on 10 August with a liberal agenda meant to appeal to the wider population. This government recognized Estonian independence at last and Estonia agreed to support Yudenich against Petrograd two days later.

Yudenich announced preparation for a renewed offensive on 15 August. British military aid, including uniforms, rifles, artillery, aircraft and tanks, arrived that month in support. Simultaneously, the Royal Navy under Admiral Cowan began serious attacks on the Red fleet at Kronstadt.

According to Western sources, the NWA had between 14,400 and 17,000 troops on 1 September 1919. According to Russian sources the NWA had about 20,000:

General Prince Pavel Rjfalovich Bermondt-Avalov, commander of the anti-Bolshevik Western Volunteer Army Avalov fashioned an army of approximatefy 20.000 men out of former Russian prisoners of war and various Germanic elements in the Baltics who were looking for employment and adventure. Contemporary British officers attached to military missions in the Baltic states questioned his right to either the title of prince or to his position as general. Less concerned with the merits of Avalov's credentials, the Germans liberally supplied his army with money and munitions. His men wore a colourful combination of German uniforms and Russian shoulder boards and insignia. Avalov participated with General Rudiger von der Goltz's German forces in 1919 and attacked Riga that autumn, thereby provoking a military response from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia at a time when united action was needed against the Red Army Had General Yudenich had the cooperation of the Western Volunteer Army along with his own Northwestern Army and the Estonians.Yucfenich's campaign for Peirograd might well have succeeded. (Bermondt-Avalov, In the Struggle against the Bolsheviks, Hamburg, 1925)

14,098 infantry, 345-700 cavalry, 786 machine gunners, 370 communications personnel, 1,345 artillerists, 130 in the armoured train Naval Landing Detachment, 350 in the Tank Battalion, 1,750 troops in reserve, three air detachments of six RESs, six Mark V tanks, an armoured car detachment under Prince Lieven, four armoured trains and 44-53 pieces of artillery.

These were organized into five divisions with a detached brigade on the right along Lake Pskov (Lake Peipus), The Estonian 2nd Division, the Peipus Flotilla and several armoured trains anchored the far right against the Red 15th Army in the Pskov sector. On the far left, 1,600 Estonian Ingermanlanders intended to attack the fortress of Krasnaia Gorka in conjunction with the Royal Navy. The offensive would be carried out along a 160-kilometre front to a depth of 130-160 kilometres over terrain interspersed with woods, lakes, rivers, streams and sometimes marsh.

Yudenich understood that Kolchak had launched his Tobol Offensive' In Siberia and that Denlkin's forces had reached Kursk on 20 September, heading for Moscow. Speed just might carry the NWA into that cradle of the revolution, I'etrograd itself. The Whites' right flank moved first on 28 September, capturing Luga and severing the railway to Pskov by 5 October. The left flank then pushed from Narva, securing Yamburg on 12 October. The Red 7th Army fell back in disorder. Two days later, the NWA reached Gatchina, 48 kilometres south of Petrograd. Pskov fell to the Estonians on the 15th and by 20 October the NWA took the Pulkovo 1 leights overlooking the city.

Despite this spectacular advance, several ominous events crippled the gambit. Yudenich had made last-minute appeals to the Finns to attack from the north but General Mannerheim, who was in favour, had been out of office since July. And far from supporting the NWA, Prince Bermondt-Avalov instead turned his Western Army against Riga in Latvia in conjunction with the Germans. Both the F^tonlans and Royal Navy had to divert assets to deal with this crisis in the south. Still worse, General D. Vemrenko's White 3rd Division failed to cut the vital railway from Tosno to Moscow,

Avalov Bermondt
Red Guards await Yudenich's attack on Petrograd, October 1919. (Painting by V Serov.Young Guard, 1971)

allowing the lied Army to freely reinforce Petrograd. On the far left of the line, Krasnaia Gorka still held against the Estonians.

Against this backdrop, the Red counterattack began on 21 October. The 15th Army struck from Pskov to l.uga, threatening the White right flank and centre. The 7th Army, now reorganized and reinforced by thousands of Red Guards raised inside the

Russia Army Pskov

Krasnaya Gorka Kronstadt Munian

I iiKemKin landers Oranienbaum




Krasnoe Selo_



Lofce Pskov (Peipus)

_..'Whtte positions, 21 --22 October British Navy Red Navy

Estonian Peipus Flotilla © British and White tanks


Attack on Petrograd city, pressed westward against the White left and centre. Their combined strength, at least 73,000, forced the NWA back to Gatchina on 3 November, to Gdov on the 7th and to Narva, the starting point, on the 14th.

The NWA, having maintained good order, now found its position untenable. A late autumn cold combined with typhus hit the army hard, claiming several thousand lives. The Estonians, fearing Red reprisals, disarmed and interned the survivors of the

NWA. Sandwiched between a resurgent ¡led Russia and Germany's territorial designs for the Baltic region, the Estonians signed a treaty with the BOlsheviks on 2 February 1920.

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