Roland Battalion

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Roland Battalion
Active February 25 - late October 1941
Country  Nazi Germany
Allegiance Abwehr
Size 240 to 350
Engagements Operation Barbarossa, .
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Yevhen Pobigischiy.

The 'Roland Battalion (German: Battalion Ukrainische Gruppe Roland), officially known as Special Group Roland,[1] was the subunit under command of the Abwehr special operation unit Lehrregiment "Brandenburg" z.b.V. 800. Along with the Nachtigall Battalion it was one of two military units formed February 25, 1941 by head of the Abwehr Wilhelm Franz Canaris, which sanctioned the creation of the "Ukrainian Legion" under German command. It was manned primarily by occupied Poland citizens of Ukrainian ethnicity directed to unit by Bandera's OUN orders .[2]

In Germany, in November 1941 the Ukrainian personnel of the Legion was reorganized into the 201st Schutzmannschaft Battalion. It numbered 650 persons which serve for a year at Belarus before disbanding.[2]

Formation[edit]

Prior to Operation Barbarossa, the Bandera's OUN actively cooperated with Nazi Germany. According to the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and other sources, OUN-B leader Stepan Bandera held meetings with the heads of Germany's intelligence, regarding the formation of "Nachtigall" and "Roland" Battalions. February 25, 1941 head of the Abwehr Wilhelm Franz Canaris sanctioned the creation of the "Ukrainian Legion" under German command. The unit would have had 800 persons. Roman Shukhevych became a commander of the Legion from the OUN-B side. OUN expected that the unit would become the core of the future Ukrainian army. In the spring the OUN received 2.5 million marks for subversive activities against the USSR.[2][3] In the spring of 1941 the Legion was reorganized into 2 units. One of the units became known as Nachtigall Battalion, a second became the Roland Battalion, and the remainder was immediately dispatched into Soviet Union to sabotage the Red Army's rear.[2]

The Battalion was set up by the Abwehr and organized by Richard Yary of the OUN(b) in March1941, prior the German invasion to Soviet Union.

Approximately 350 Bandera's OUN followers were trained at the Abwehr training centre at the Seibersdorf under command of the former Poland Army major Yevhen Pobiguschiy. .[2]

Uniform[edit]

In comparison to Nachtigall - which used ordinary Wehrmacht uniform, the Roland Battalion was outfitted in the Czechoslovakian uniform with yellow armband with text "Im Dienst der Deutschen Wehrmacht" (In the service of the German Wehrmacht). They were given Austrian helmets from World War I.[4]

Weapons[edit]

The Battalion had arms consisting of 2 Czechoslovakian light machine guns and Germans light weaponry .[4]

In action[edit]

The Roland Battalion moved to Romania- Soviet border by June 15, 1941 and placed under command of the Army's Group South.[5] On June 27, 1941 they placed under command of the German 11th Army with task to move in the direction Campulung Moldovenesc - Gura Humorului - Suceava- Botoşani with the tasks of clearing road and transportation corridors, organizing groups of Ukrainian home guard, guarding transportation of food, helping with the evacuation of POW's, and guarding strategic objectives.[5]

On June 30, 1941 Abwehr received an order to prevent the unit from taking any military action, and it was held at Frumusola.[5]

On July 24 the Roland Battalion was transferred to the command of the 54th army corps with the task to guard roads to East of the Dniester river. At that time the Battalion had 9 officers and 260 soldiers. In time the Battalion was planned to be topped up with another 150 volunteers from the occupied areas and spend some time near Yassy

From July 28 the Battalion was directed to front-line crossed the Dniester at Dubossari and headed to Odessa.[6]

Dissolution[edit]

August 10, 1941 the Command of the 11th Army received a telegram from Abwehr: "After consultations with the Reichsminister of the occupied territories of the East, the Roland organization should be excluded from campaign because of political reasons"[7] August 14 battalion was recalled. The 50 from the Roland personnel remained as translators at the established occupational administrations of the Reich. They were restricted however, from political activity, and after 30 days they were all relieved of duty. The rest of the Battalion returned to Focşani on August 26, 1941. Their weapons were taken from they while they travelled; they were transported to the town of Mayerling near Vienna and their weapons returned to them.[7]

By the October 21, 1941 unit was transferred to Neuhammer where it was merged with the Nachtigall Battalion to form the 201st Schutzmannschaft Battalion.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Abbot, Peter. Ukrainian Armies 1914-55, p.47. Osprey Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-84176-668-2
  2. ^ a b c d e І.К. Патриляк. Військова діяльність ОУН(Б) у 1940—1942 роках. — Університет імені Шевченко \Ін-т історії України НАН України Київ, 2004] I.K Patrylyak. (2004). Military activities of the OUN (B) in the years 1940-1942. Kiev, Ukraine: Shevchenko University \ Institute of History of Ukraine National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine pp.283-288
  3. ^ Організація українських націоналістів і Українська повстанська армія. Інститут історії НАН України.2004р Організація українських націоналістів і Українська повстанська армія, Раздел 1 http://www.history.org.ua/LiberUA/Book/Upa/1.pdf стр. 17-30
  4. ^ a b І.К. Патриляк. Військова діяльність ОУН(Б) у 1940—1942 роках. — Університет імені Шевченко \Ін-т історії України НАН України Київ, 2004] I.K Patrylyak. (2004). Military activities of the OUN (B) in the years 1940-1942. Kiev, Ukraine: Shevchenko University \ Institute of History of Ukraine National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine p.287
  5. ^ a b c І.К. Патриляк. Військова діяльність ОУН(Б) у 1940—1942 роках. — Університет імені Шевченко \Ін-т історії України НАН України Київ, 2004] I.K Patrylyak. (2004). Military activities of the OUN (B) in the years 1940-1942. Kiev, Ukraine: Shevchenko University \ Institute of History of Ukraine National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. pg. 312-317
  6. ^ І.К. Патриляк. Військова діяльність ОУН(Б) у 1940—1942 роках. — Університет імені Шевченко \Ін-т історії України НАН України Київ, 2004] I.K Patrylyak. (2004). Military activities of the OUN (B) in the years 1940-1942. Kiev, Ukraine: Shevchenko University \ Institute of History of Ukraine National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. pg. 314-317
  7. ^ a b І.К. Патриляк. Військова діяльність ОУН(Б) у 1940—1942 роках. — Університет імені Шевченко \Ін-т історії України НАН України Київ, 2004] I.K Patrylyak. (2004). Military activities of the OUN (B) in the years 1940-1942. Kiev, Ukraine: Shevchenko University \ Institute of History of Ukraine National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. pg. 317