Hurby, Battle of

Hurby, Battle of [Бій під Гурбами; Bii pid Hurbamy]. Engagement fought by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and special NKVD troops on 24 April 1944 near Hurby village, southeast of Dubno in Volhynia. This was the largest battle between the UPA and Soviet forces. In early 1944 the forested region between Dubno and Kremianets became the principal base of the UPA-South, which operated just behind the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front commanded by Marshal Georgii Zhukov. On 21 April about 30,000 NKVD Internal Troops under the general command of Maj Gen S. Marchenkov encircled about 5,000 UPA fighters. As the circle tightened, UPA units attempted to break out. By 23 April, after several major skirmishes, the main body of insurgents was surrounded near Hurby. Led by Brig Comm Mykola Svystun, the UPA troops had well-prepared defensive positions and were armed with light infantry weapons, heavy machine guns, 120-mm mortars, and light artillery.

The Soviet attack began early on 24 April and continued until late at night. The NKVD rifle brigades were supported by artillery, tanks, and airplanes. During the night UPA units broke through the primary encirclement in several directions and during the next two days came into contact with NKVD blocking units. Wounded insurgents and civilians hiding in the forests were summarily executed by their Soviet captors.

According to NKVD reports the operation involved 26 battles or major skirmishes and captured arms included 1 airplane, 7 artillery pieces, 15 mortars, 47 machine guns, a printing press, 120 wagons with horses, ammunition, and food supplies. According to UPA estimates Soviet losses were over 800.

Petro Sodol

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

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