Ulagai Landing Operation of 1920
Ulagai Landing Operation of 1920
a marine landing operation in August 1920 by White Guard forces commanded by S. G. Ulagai, involving the transfer of troops from the Crimea to the Caucasian shore of the Sea of Azov.
The purpose of the landing was to broaden the socioeconomic, political, and territorial base of Wrangel’s forces. According to General P. N. Wrangel’s plan, crack troops were to be landed at three points. The main forces, led by Ulagai (6,100 bayonets and sabers, 17 field guns, 243 machine guns), were to land near the stanitsa (cossack village) of Primorsko-Akhtyrskaia. The auxiliary landing party led by General A. N. Cherepov (1,500 bayonets and sabers, two field guns, 15 machine guns) was to land in the vicinity of Novorossiisk, and the auxiliary landing party led by General P. G. Kharlamov (2,200 bayonets and sabers, six field guns, and 25 machine guns), in the Taman’ area. The troops were then to advance against Ekaterinodar (now Krasnodar) and Maikop, replenishing their ranks with Kuban’ cossacks, join General P. P. Fostikov’s White-Green “army of the Russian resurrection” (15,000 bayonets and sabers, five guns, 60 machine guns), and form a new anti-Soviet front in the Northern Caucasus.
The coast along the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea from Rostov to the Georgian border was protected by the Ninth Army of the Caucasian Front (army commander M. K. Levandovskii, Revolutionary Military Council members S. A. Anuchin and Ia. N. Poluian), comprising two rifle divisions, two cavalry divisions, one rifle brigade, and three cavalry brigades (24,100 bayonets and sabers, 133 field guns, and 550 machine guns). The forces of the Ninth Army were scattered over the entire Kuban’ Region, with three-quarters of the troops involved in mopping up Fostikov’s bands.
On August 14, Ulagai’s landing party, driving back a small Soviet force numbering 500, occupied Primorsko-Akhtyrskaia. Attaching no special significance to the landing at first, the command of the Ninth Army sent just one cavalry division to wipe out the landing party, a task the cavalry failed to carry out in the fighting on August 15 and 16. On August 17, the Ulagai group passed to the offensive and on August 18 took the stanitsy of Briukhovetskaia and Timashevskaia, thus capturing a sizable base of operations, which measured 80 km along the front and about 90 km in depth.
Cherepov’s party landed north of Novorossiisk on August 17. Ekaterinodar was threatened. On August 19-20, however, Ulagai halted his offensive in an effort to replenish his forces with Kuban’ cossacks; however, most of the cossacks evaded the mobilization. The command of the Ninth Army and the Caucasian Front (commander V. M. Gittis, Revolutionary Military Council members G. K. Ordzhonikidze, A. P. Rozengol’ts, and V. A. Trifonov) brought up the reserves, comprising two rifle divisions and three cavalry brigades, and formed two groups to strike: one from the north against Ulagai’s flank and rear and one from the east for a frontal attack. Briukhovetskaia and Timashevskaia were liberated on August 21-22. The Azov Flotilla, commanded by E. S. Germet, mined the escape route from Primorsko-Akhtyrskaia on August 21 and landed a marine division, which took Primorsko-Akhtyrskaia on August 24. On August 23-24, Cherepov’s party was destroyed, and Kharlamov’s party, which had landed in Taman’ on the night of August 23, was blockaded. In the period August 24-30, Soviet forces split up Ulagai’s group into two parts and destroyed them. To this end, an important part was played by the river landing party commanded by E. I. Kovtiukh (about 600 bayonets and sabers and four machine guns), which descended the Kuban’ and Protok rivers and launched a surprise attack against the enemy rear. On August 31, the remnants of Ulagai’s units fled to the Crimea. On September 2, Kharlamov’s landing party was smashed, and by September 7, the entire coast had been cleared of all enemy forces. The attack by Fostikov’s bands on Armavir was also driven off by the Ninth Army.
On September 10, Ordzhonikidze reported the complete destruction of the enemy landing parties to V. I. Lenin, who considered the defeat of the Ulagai landing operation a matter of “importance to the whole state” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 51, p. 277). The defeat signified the political and military failure of Wrangel’s plan to expand his base of southern counterrevolution and testified to the strength of Soviet power in the Kuban Region.
REFERENCESDirektivy komandovaniia frontov Krasnoi Armii (1917-1922 gg.), vol. 3. Moscow, 1974. Pages 339-54. (Collection of documents.)
Golubev, A. V. Vrangelevskie desanty na Kubani: Avgust—sentiabr’ 1920g. Moscow-Leningrad, 1929.
Kondakov, A. A. Razgrom desantov Vrangelia na Kubani. [Krasnodar] 1960.
A. M. AGEEV