Holiday of the Ukrainian Sea

Holiday of the Ukrainian Sea

On April 29, 2018, the sun shone brightly over the Sevastopol Raid. This is how the Ukrainian military and public figure, historian and publicist Captain-Lieutenant of the Military Fleet of the Ukrainian People’s Republic Sviatoslav Shramchenko (1893—1958) recalled the events that took place on that special spring day in the section “History of the Ukrainian Army” dedicated to the Ukrainian Navy . The first edition was published in separate notebooks in October 1935 – September 1936 by Lviv publisher Ivan Tiktor. Some of these brochures are kept in the funds of the Central State Archive of Public Associations and Ukrainian Literature. The author’s style, spelling and punctuation have been preserved.

“At 16. the flagship ship of the Black Sea Fleet, the battleship “Yuriy Pobidonosets” on the order of the commander of the fleet raised the signal: “Flyota raise the Ukrainian flag!”

Red sheets fell. On most of the ships, the command “Get on board” was heard. This team was commanded in the old way, as it was in the combat Black Sea fleet, which had not yet been destroyed by the revolution, the sailors stood along the side facing the middle of the ship.

“On the flag and huys – well done! Raise the Ukrainian flag!”

And the Ukrainian flag flew up to the trumpets and whistles of the chief sailors.

“Split up!”

Trumpeters played together with the team. Large yellow-blue cloths fluttered in the air almost on the entire large fleet of the Black Sea.”

On this day, 105 years ago, Ukrainian flags were ceremoniously raised on the ships of the Black Sea Fleet and the command of the fleet officially declared it the property of the Ukrainian People’s Republic.

However, the process of Ukrainization of the Black Sea Fleet began much earlier. The Council of the Ukrainian Black Sea Community, created in April 1917, played a major role in this. It was headed by the director of the Sevastopol State Girls’ Gymnasium, Vyacheslav Lashchenko. It included many senior officers of the fleet, including Volodymyr Savchenko-Bilskyi, Mykhailo Ostrogradskyi, Mykola Neklievich, Vadym Bogomolets and others.

By the end of April 1917, Ukrainian councils and circles appeared on almost all ships of the Black Sea Fleet, as well as in the land parts of the Sevastopol sea fortress. The most active councils operated on the liner ships “St. John Chrysostom”, “St. Yevstafiy”, “Rostislav”, cruisers “Memory of Mercury” (later renamed “Hetman Ivan Mazepa”), “Kagul”, “Prut”, squadron destroyer “Zavidny” and in the mine brigade. And the Sevastopol naval half-crew, which was commanded by lieutenant colonel V. Savchenko-Bilskyi, even had its own Ukrainian flag. According to S. Shramchenko, it was “the first historical Ukrainian flag not only under the new Ukrainian fleet, but also in the new Ukrainian army.”

The issue of Ukrainization of the troops was one of the main issues on the agenda of the First Ukrainian Military Congress held in Kyiv in May 1917. More than 900 delegates from all fronts and the Black Sea and Baltic Fleets took part in its work. According to the resolutions of this congress, the personnel of the Black Sea Fleet, more than two-thirds of which were Ukrainians, was to be replenished only by them.

See also  Fez security stops a dangerous foreigner searched for internationally

In July 1917, the Ukrainian flag was the first to be raised by the squadron destroyer “Zavidny”, and by the end of the year, national flags flew on almost half of the ships of the Black Sea Fleet, in particular on the giant dreadnought battleship “Volya”. A powerful impetus for this was given by the adoption in November 1917 of the Third Universal by the Central Council, which proclaimed the creation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic.

Lieutenant General of the Ukrainian Navy V. Savchenko-Bilskyi (left) and Lieutenant S. Shramchenko

However, as S. Shramchenko notes, “the spontaneous development of the Ukrainian movement in the Black Sea Fleet was not liked, of course, by Muscovites of all directions, especially socialists and Bolsheviks, and they launched a crazy agitation against it.”

Bolshevik propaganda, which took place under the slogans of class struggle, world revolution and proletarian internationalism, slowed down the process of Ukrainization of the Black Sea Fleet. S. Shramchenko writes: “Meanwhile, the Black Sea Fleet was seething in Sevastopol. Red flags flew on some ships, yellow-blue on others, and black (anarchist) flags on others, and these flags changed almost every day, because confused sailors at numerous meetings changed their national beliefs from red to yellow-blue, then to black, then red again, etc.”

The situation was complicated by several other significant circumstances. After the October coup of 1917, the Ukrainian Central Rada refused to recognize the Council of People’s Commissars, headed by v. Lenin and categorically rejected the demands of the “Manifesto to the Ukrainian People with Ultimate Demands to the Ukrainian Rada” received from the Petrograd Committee of Councilors. Therefore, in mid-December 1917, revolutionary units from Russian territory began armed aggression against the Ukrainian People’s Republic. In December 1917 – January 1918, the Bolsheviks seized power on the Crimean Peninsula, as a result of which the Black Sea Fleet came under their control.

Despite all these obstacles, the development of the national fleet continued. The General Secretariat of Maritime Affairs of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, later renamed the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, headed by Dmytro Antonovych, began working. In January 1918, the First Ukrainian Naval Congress was held in Kyiv, where issues related to the creation of the naval fleet of the Ukrainian People’s Republic were discussed. The state and prospects for the development of the Black Sea military and merchant fleet and services on it, the organization of the seamen’s trade union, etc. were considered.

On the basis of the decisions adopted by the Congress on January 14 (27), 1918, that is, a few days after the IV Universal declared the full state sovereignty of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, the Central Rada adopted the Provisional Law on the Fleet of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. According to this legal act, the Black Sea military and transport (merchant) fleet is declared the fleet of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. It was supposed to perform the duties of coast guard and trade on the Black and Azov Seas, and the UNR took over all the obligations of the former Russian government regarding the maintenance of the Black Sea Fleet and ports. Since the adoption of this law, all military and commercial ships in the Black and Azov seas were obliged to raise the Ukrainian flag.

See also  Honey hearts and "Kisses" - with love for warriors

This extremely important document, in the first part, affirmed the situation that actually existed in the Black Sea Fleet even before the Bolshevik coup, and normalized what had already been done on ships and in sea fortresses thanks to the initiative and activity of nationally conscious sailors and officers. However, S. Shramchenko states with regret that “in the second part of this law, the Central Rada, regardless of the opposition of national maritime factors, made such points that weakened the first part of the law; it canceled compulsory military service in the fleet and introduced voluntary replenishment of the fleet on the basis of the people’s militia. This second part was canceled under the Hetmanate, but it was too late.”

On January 27 (February 9), 1918, a UNR delegation signed a peace treaty with the countries of the Quadruple Alliance in Brest-Litovsk. Almost immediately after the conclusion of peace, German and Austro-Hungarian troops entered Ukraine, with the help of which the UNR government hoped to preserve statehood, freeing its territory from the armed forces of the Bolsheviks. In April 1918, units of the German army and a group of troops of the Ukrainian People’s Republic under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Peter Bolbochan moved to Crimea, which, according to the III Universal of the Central Rada, did not formally belong to the Ukrainian People’s Republic.

Of course, the command and crews of the ships of the Black Sea Fleet could not remain aloof from these events. Captain-Lieutenant S. Shramchenko recalls: “In mid-April 1918, a meeting was convened at the Sea Club of the Central Fleet, a body elected collegially to manage the fleet, and of the commanders of all ships, led by Rear Admirals Sablin (a Muscovite) and Mykhailo Ostrogradskyi (a conscious Ukrainian ); there it was decided, in case of the need for the transition of the combat-ready part of the Black Sea Fleet from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk, to prepare the last port for this and, for this purpose, immediately send there the hydrocruiser “Troyan” with a whole commission headed by Captain II rank Lebedynskyi.

But when on April 20, Colonel Bolbochan and his Zaporozhians broke through the front of the red gangs in Perekop ahead of the Germans and on April 22 captured St. Dzhankoy, 25 — Simferopol, and the Hordienko cavalry regiment appeared in Bakhchisarai that same day, panic began in Sevastopol. Then the teams of both dreadnoughts “Volya” and “Tsarytsa Catherine the Great” decided to choose one command of the fleet and for this command to order the entire Ukrainian fleet to raise the flag, fulfilling the law-order of the Central Council; whoever does not listen to the admiral will be forced by the 12-inch guns of the dreadnoughts.”

See also  "Mriya" will appear in a new role

On April 22, 1918, Rear Admiral Mykhailo Sablin, who became the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, after long negotiations with the UNR government delegation and taking into account the decisions of the command delegates and the mood of the majority of sailors, issued a fleet order according to which all ships and port property in ports and on the coast of Crimea was declared the property of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. On April 29, the commands of most ships of the Black Sea Fleet supported this order and raised Ukrainian flags.

However, subsequent circumstances — the coming to power of Hetman Pavel Skoropadskyi’s government in Kyiv on the same day, the granting of M. Sablin’s permission to withdraw first Bolshevik ships from the Crimea to Novorossiysk, and then his order to evacuate the entire fleet — led to the fact that the German troops, considering such redeployment as a violation of the terms of the peace treaty, they took full control of those ships of the Black Sea Fleet that remained in Sevastopol under the command of M. Ostrogradskyi and part of the squadron of Rear Admiral M. Sablin, which fulfilled the ultimatum of the Germans to return from Novorossiysk.

The government of Hetman P. Skoropadsky was gradually able to agree on the return of the interned ships to the Ukrainian state. However, at the end of November – in December 1918, Sevastopol and Odesa were captured by the troops of the Entente, and the Ukrainian People’s Republic finally lost its navy.

Despite this, in April 1919, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs of the Ukrainian People’s Republic decided to celebrate the Day of the Ukrainian State Fleet on April 29, and to award all the participants of that historic event with a commemorative bronze medal. Already after the defeat of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921, significant efforts were made to popularize this holiday, first in the interwar Western Ukraine, and then among the Ukrainian emigration, especially captain-lieutenant Svyatoslav Shramchenko, who rightly believed that “for the history of the Ukrainian fleet, this day is April 29 1918, when at 4 p.m. the entire Ukrainian fleet showed its belonging to the Motherland, became the most outstanding day of the Ukrainian state fleet and the holiday of the Ukrainian Sea.”

Nadia Likholob,
archivist of the 1st category of the Central State Archive of Public Associations and Ukrainians,
for “Government Courier”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Most Popular

On Key

Related Posts

Traces, faces and route

Traces, faces and route

Rodrigo Muñoz León Hill of Paltacalo The journey to Paltacalo, approximately 4 hours—archaeological territory; It belongs to the province of El Oro, but has a