Graycoats

Image - The UNR Army: Graycoat soldiers. Image - The UNR Army: 4th Gray Division. Image - Pavlo Skoropadsky with the Graycoats troops (1918).

Graycoats [Сірожупанники; Sirozhupannyky]. The popular name of an infantry division formed by the Austrian army in Volodymyr-Volynskyi during March–August 1918. Recruited from among Ukrainian prisoners of war in Austria, it was officially designated the First Rifle-Cossack Division, under the command of Col Ivan Perlyk. It was composed of four infantry regiments and various other combat and support units, with a total strength of 6,140. On 28 August 1918, the Graycoats were transferred to the Ukrainian Hetman government army and stationed in the vicinity of Konotop. In October 1918, the division was reduced in strength, but during the November insurrection it declared its allegiance to the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic and was reinforced with insurgents. Reorganized in December 1918 as the Gray Division of the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic and placed under the command of Gen Antin Puzytsky, it fought against Bolshevik forces on the OvruchKorostenBerdychiv line. In April 1919 it was expanded into a corps unit of two infantry divisions and transferred to the Polish front, where in May it was decimated in combat against the Polish army. Subsequently, the unit was reformed as the 4th Gray Division with a strength of 700, then reduced to a brigade of the 2nd Volhynian Division; it participated in combat until November 1920. Other commanders of the Graycoats included Otaman Borys Palii-Neilo, Lt Col Viktor Abaza, Gen Illia Martyniuk, and Col Petro Hanzha.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]




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