Bluecoats

Image - The UNR Army: Bluecoat soldiers. Image - The UNR Army: a Bluecoat soldier.

Bluecoats [Синьожупанники; Syniozhupannyky]. The popular name, named after the color of the coats of the soldiers, of the First Cossack Volunteer Division of the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic. The Bluecoats were actually two Ukrainian divisions formed under the auspices of the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine from Ukrainian prisoners of war in German camps after the Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on the basis of the agreement between the Ukrainian peace delegation and Germany. Each division consisted of four infantry regiments (1,200 men including officers) and one artillery regiment. The first division, under Gen Viktor Zelinsky, was formed in Kovel, Volhynia. In the middle of March 1918 it was transferred to Kyiv, where it was disarmed and demobilized by the Germans on the eve of Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky's coup (29 April 1918). The second division, formed in Holoby, Volhynia, was demobilized even before its transfer to central Ukraine. Many Bluecoats joined other military formations. An attempt to re-form the divisions by the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic led to the formation of the Seventh Blue Regiment in the Third Iron Rifle Division of the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]




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