After the February Revolution of 1917, the decomposition process of the Russian Imperial Army participating in the WWI accelerated sharply. Already by October, attempts were made to raise the morale of the army and the creation of new units. But due to military setbacks and dissatisfaction with the leadership, many soldiers did not want to serve and fight.
Then, the need arose for volunteer units of a new type.
Since the beginning of World War I, many Armenians, both Russian citizens and those who lived outside the Russian Empire, expressed a desire to volunteer to serve in the Russian army.
By 1917, 4 Armenian divisions had already been formed, and they had actively participated in the battles on the Caucasian front. These 4 divisions were the 1st Division (commander General Aramyan), 2nd Division (Colonel Movses Silikyan), cavalry brigade (Colonel Ghorghanyan), and Western Armenian Division (Major General Andranik Ozanyan).
Due to the critical situation on the fronts, some units were reorganized into units of “death.” One of these units was made up of Armenians.
On September 22, 1917, by the order of the Army and Navy, Colonel Poghos Bek-Pirumyan was appointed the commander of the 5th Armenian “death” infantry regiment which fought as part of the Van detachment in the battles for Van and Mush.
The strength of the Armenian regiment of “death” at the time of its formation reached 1,200. But during the fighting and up until the disbandment of the regiment, about 400 soldiers were wounded.
On December 6, the Armenian “death” regiment was redeployed to the city of Van as part of the 4th Caucasian Army Corps. And on August 6, 1917, by the order of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the Armenian “death” regiment was disbanded.
According to the book “Armenians in the First World War (1914-1918),” out of every hundred Armenians in Russia, 13 were drafted into the army. The 2-million Armenian population of Russia gave over 200 thousand soldiers to the Russian army during the years of the war. They mainly took part in fights in the territory of historical Western Armenia.