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Association of Ukrainian Soldiers in the Polish Armed Forces [Союз Українських Вояків у Польських Збройних Силах] – an embryonic organisation from which the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain evolved.

The idea of creating an organisation for Ukrainians in the Polish Armed Forces under British command, similar to the Ukrainian Canadian Servicemen’s Association (UCSA), emerged towards the end of the Second World War, by which time there were approximately 1,000 Ukrainian members the Polish forces in the UK. The initiator of the project was Stephen Jaworsky, who arrived in the country in 1943 for training with the Polish Air Force. In June 1945 Jaworsky, with support from Bohdan Panchuk and Stanley Frolick of the UCSA, and also from the pre-war Ukrainian community in Manchester, disseminated a call for expressions of interest in joining the proposed organisation.

After a positive response to the call, on 28 August 1945 a meeting of an Initiating Group took place at the UCSA headquarters in London, attended by Volodymyr Solowij, Nikita Bura, Michael Oparenko, George Salsky and Stephen Jaworsky. An interim executive was formed, consisting of Bura (chairman), Oparenko, Salsky and Jaworsky. Its main tasks were to disseminate information about the creation of the “Association of Ukrainian Soldiers in the Polish Armed Forces” among known Ukrainians in the Polish forces, seek permission from the Polish General Staff for Ukrainians in the Polish forces to join the association, prepare a draft constitution and organise a general meeting of members.

Although the Polish command did not object to Ukrainians in the Polish forces becoming members of the newly created organisation, it was stipulated that this could not have a ‘military’ character. Accordingly, the organisation was renamed “Self-Reliance Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain” (although the original name continued to be used in some situations, for example in the minutes of the interim executive’s meetings). On 30 October 1945 the Polish Chief-of-Staff granted permission for Ukrainians in the Polish forces to belong to the association under its new name. By the date of the inaugural general meeting, held on 19-20 January 1946 in Edinburgh, the association had registered the names of 670 Ukrainians in the Polish forces, of which 409 had become members of the association. Whilst most of these members were based in the UK, 95 were in Italy and 25 in Germany. In November 1945 the association began the publication of a monthly bulletin entitled Nash Klych (renamed Ukrainska Dumka in January 1947).

During the preparation for the inaugural general meeting the nature of the new organisation was changed. In a draft constitution prepared by the interim leadership (and adopted at the meeting with minor amendments) it was conceived as an organisation for all Ukrainians in Great Britain, not just Polish armed forces personnel. It was also renamed “Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain” and exists under this name to the present day.

Among those who assisted the interim committee in its work were Serhij Nahnybida, the Rev. Anthony Hodys, Georgius Jenkala, Peter Pihichyn, Yurii Olesnytskyi, Teodor Turko, Volodymyr Sovinskyi and Borys Melnychuk.

Roman Krawec

Bibliography

'Zvit iz Pershoho Orhanizatsiinoho Ziizdu Soiuzu Ukraintsiv u Velykii Brytanii', Nash Klych (London), 29 January 1946, addendum

'Za namy odyn rik pratsi', Nash Klych (London), 25 September 1946, p. 2

Jaworsky, S., 'Moia sluzhba v polskomu viisku i pershi roky u Velykobrytanii', in Almanakh Ukrainskoho Narodnoho Soiuzu na rik 1987 (Jersey City – New York), pp. 199-202

Martschenko, I., 'Desiat rokiv dialnosty Soiuzu Ukraintsiv u Velykii Brytanii (1946-1956)', Ukrainska Dumka (London), 25 April 1996, addendum