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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:23 am 
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:25 am 
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Crossing the Majevicas

Before units of the Division would mobilize for their biggest operation to date, Regt. 28 crossed the Majevicas and captured the Muslim city of Tuzla.
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The terrain was so rugged that the men were restricted to small mountain trails only.
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A scout from I/28 in the mountains.

Unternehmen Maibaum

The largest operation Handschar executed in the spring of 1944. It was also one of the largest partisan sweeps of the war. The plan was to destroy an entire partisan corps (III Bosnia Corps). Secondary objective was also to prevent it’s crossing into Serbia to relieve the pressure on their fellow partisans. Regt. 27 the closest one to the Drina would once again act as the blockading unit.

Three battalions from SS Prinz Eugen and two from the 3rd Jager Brigade would advance north pushing the enemy into the path of the southbound Regt. 28. The famous SS-Fallschirmjager Battailon 500 was also scheduled to support the operation by jumping on Kraljevo. However, due to bad weather, their fate changed. They did not wait long, a couple of weeks later they would be awarded with an even more daring mission, to drop on Tito’s HQ at Drvar and capture him.
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A Hauptscharfuhrer from Handschar explains the situation to an Obersturmfuhrer from Prinz Eugen,
Han Pijesak 27. April 1944. The situation in Vlasenica was about to heat up.


Prinz Eugen

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7th SS-Freiwilligen Division Prinz Eugen was a veteran of the Bandenbekampfung on the Yugoslavian territories during WW2. It operated as south as Montenegro. As mentioned in the beginning, it helped with the formation of the Division Handschar. And now the two SS-Gebirgsjager formations were operating together.

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Last edited by 42gunner on Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:55 am, edited 5 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:34 am 
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Men from Prinz Eugen somewhere in northeastern Bosnia

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In the Bosnian mountains.

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The commander of the 7. Division for the most of 1944, Otto Kumm, had this to say of Handschar’s battlefield performance.
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“The 13th SS Mountain Division was our sister division and had, fought with great bravery, especially in the last months of the war, despite it’s short existence.” - Otto Kumm (1909-2004)

Battles of Vlasenica and Sekovici

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Battalion I/28 split from it’s original task force and headed towards Vlasenica on the 25th. Days later it captured the town from an already superior force when it was suddenly attacked from the east by two partisan divisions. Raithel’s staff company and an additional infantry company were surrounded at nearby Sekovici.
II/28 was ordered to head back up north from Han Pijesak and relieve their battered comrades in Vlasenica.
It was obvious that the two pincers found their prey (the three enemy division) that had realized they were at a disadvantage and decided for an all out attack. After helping out I/28, II/28 continued northwards towards Sekovici that same day, encircling it on the dawn of the following morning. I/28’s luck wouldn’t change that summer, it would bear the brunt of enemy attacks and offensives to come.
The Battle of Sekovici would last over 48 hours and into May. The last reserves, pioniers and pack animal tenders were thrown into the action as ammunition ran low. Hellmuth Raithel was even recommended for a Knight’s Cross.

Aftermath:
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There are many conflicting reports of the operation, one Tagesmeldung, Sudost 3. May 1944 report states that the partisans lost 956 men and a further 96 captured. While Prinz Eugen claims the following in it’s area of operation alone.
2,844 counted partisan dead
1,434 wounded
1,339 captured
128 Partisan deserters

The first claim seems more credible since three battalions (Prinz Eugen) inflicting such heavy casualties is unheard of.
No real after action report was written.

The overall situation was summarized by Freiherr von Weichs:
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The near loss of his men in Sekovici angered Sauberzweig and thus Phelps ordered them to return to the security zone. This started a feud between him and Phelps which would last over the next few months. Himmler in turn re-assured both of them that only with his permission could a company or even a battery move out of the security zone. But for now that was the least of their worries.

The Division’s highest critics were now praising it and it’s achievements.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 3:16 am 
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I added some more rarer pictures on pages 2 and 3. Certain things were also explained.
I'll continue with the division's history when I have more time.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:41 pm 
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Skirmish near Rastosnica

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Jagdkommandos of the 2nd Battalion/Regt. 28 moving through the eastern Majevicas.

Altough the regiments went southwards along the main roads, capturing town by town and village by village. Lone battalions would often branch off, where companies would act on their own, sometimes independently. Combing through the wooded hills trying to hunt down the scattered resistance after the major operations. The decission to launch a Jagdkommando action was done based on reports and at the discretion of the higher up commanders.
One such case is the skirmish that happened near Rastosnica after Maibaum.


The following is a report done by II/28's adjutant, Hans Meschendorfer, kindly provided to me by Mr. Lepre.

" The battalion left Simin Han that morning and marched through Babina Luka into the eastern Majevicas. The battalion ascended to Stolice (Hill 915). Companies Koenig and Jeep swung ahead through Rozanj and took up night positions close together in the heights east of Rastosnica. Massanek's company was attacked that evening. Strong Partisan forces were observed in the eastern and western heights.”

Konig’s 9./28 company was then halted by heavy fire in their march northwards, with Petkovic’s 2./28 rushing to help (May 14th)

"There was also a Partisan attack to the south; Company Eiden engages heavy weapons; Company Jeep attacks to the east. The massive fire slackens as friendly attacks provide breathing space. At 1700 the battalion occupies positions in the heights around Priboj. The Partisans have withdrawn to the east."

It was soon learned that the enemy in the area was several brigades strong.

I have not been able to piece together a good map of this battle at the moment.

Im sure they were slightly confused as to where the fire was coming from in those hills. The terrain doesn’t give any clues as to their exact attack route (a lot of hills and possible positions from which the enemy might’ve fired from) It can atleast be said that superior fire power won the day.
Following Maibaum and Maiglockchen it was common for companies to be combing and patrolling through the divisional security zone looking for pockets of resistance that were reorganizing.
Sauberzweig also reported that routed partisans were often ambushed by Cetniks, who took advantage of their disorganized retreat and attacked them seeking weapons. Cetnik units were documented to be following, on the flanks of Handschar units or somewhere in the vicinity during the summer. Some believe that the massacres and illegal killings that occurred in Handschar’s sector can be credited to the Cetniks for their ruthless treatment of partisan prisoners. The partisans recorded the killings and without much tought blamed it on the SS units nearby. Somehow it was easier to believe that the occupier would do such things rather than a domestic enemy (Cetniks).


At this time the 16th Vojvodina division was mobilizing to cross the Spreca river in aid of their outnumbered partisan units.

Unternehmen Maiglöckchen
The last sweep south for May

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Last edited by 42gunner on Tue May 25, 2010 6:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:43 pm 
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Artillery units of Regt. 27 were busy barraging the entrapped partisan forces in Stolice.
Having crossed the Spreca river, 16th Vojvodina Division was intercepted by the Recon. Battalion and other infantry units from Regt. 28 and eventually pushed back across the Spreca.
What remained of the partisan force at Stolice pulled out on the night of the 18th southwards.

One notable ambush was executed by an exemplary company commander, Hans Konig, 9th Company, Regt. 28. With only a platoon he let the enemy patrol pass before him, a mere 60 meters away. He then coordinated his mortar and machine gun fire to lay a barrage on the enemy while he and his riflemen maneuvered within 30 meters and then assaulted through the enemy force under the cover of the morning fog. The enemy, in total confusion and disarray retreated leaving behind 35 dead. One partisan was taken prisoner, along with 31 rifles, 1 AT weapon, 1 MG and a mortar. Konig’s men suffered two slightly wounded.
It’s interesting to note that the partisans were always low on equipment and weapons, a common practice was to retreat with as much weapons taken off of their fallen comrades. The partisans got most of their weapons through capturing unguarded weapons dumps after for example the Royal Yugoslavian Army was disarmed. Huge unguarded ammo dumps were captured and hidden in forests for distribution amongst the first volunteers. After the disarming of the Italian Army, a huge number of Italian rifles were brandished by the partisans.
In the example of the previous ambush, there were 36 enemy casualties (35 dead + 1 captured) but only 32 personal weapons were captured, 3 of which could be considered crew served weapons.
It’s likely that their retreating comrades were close to them and ran off with their rifles.





Often after operations, a number of counted dead and another estimated number of dead or wounded is also given.
The exact number of enemy casualties is usually unknown after counter-insurgency battles.
Captured weapons are significant because it means that for example 31 new insurgents aren’t going to be armed, or wont be brought into the fight. In the successful case of Unternehmen Hackfleisch, where Handschar captured an enormous ammunition dump and a stockpile of weapons.
For the Germans, captured weapons meant a blow to the enemy recruitment of new partisans and ultimately the reinforcing of battered partisan units.
Some eastern European partisans were more effective at holding onto their weapons, as in the case of Unternehmen Nasses Dreiek near Kiev. 843 partisans were killed, 205 executed, but amazingly only 10 rifles were recovered. It is believed that they were buried on the run, hidden in weapon’s caches or left in the swamps to be picked back up.
Nevertheless Konig’s luck would stay with him that year, later on he’d ambush an entire partisan brigade using combined arms on a bigger scale and totally overwhelming the enemy. It should be noted that one of the partisan’s oldest battlefield complaints was their lack of heavy weaponry, and the enemy’s (SS’) effective use of it’s heavy weapons.


Maiglockchen was the last operation to be executed during May. Regt. 27 remained in the Zvornik area and Regt. 28 in and around Srebrenik. It was the last resting time the division would get for a long time.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 12:59 pm 
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Der Feind
Bandenkampf Südost


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A short description of the enemy.
To start off it’s important to note that former Yugoslavia’s largest ethnic group were Serbs. That alone explains the bitter hatred and motivation of the NDH forces.
The Yugoslav partisans were led by a former and distinguished sergeant major of the Austro Hungarian Army, his name was Josip Broz Tito. He was caught by the Russians in 1915 and through a life on the run and in captivity he became a revolutionary and eventually a communist leader of the pre war Yugoslavian Communist Party.

First partisans…
During the April 1941, German invasion of Yugoslavia, 8,000 Yugoslav soldiers evade capture and hide out in the woods, gathering weapons from unguarded stockpiles of their defeated army.
The guerrilla style warfare was adopted as the best and easiest way to combat the occupiers (through the means of sabotaging, raids and hit and run tactics)

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A roadside ambush with a WW1 MG08, a German Maxim variant.

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Last edited by 42gunner on Sat Apr 24, 2010 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 1:05 pm 
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One such cache was left in the Ibar valley, Serbia.
1 heavy machine gun, 4 light machine guns, 55 rifles, 3 rifles, over 100 grenades and 5 boxes of ammo were found there. They were distributed out to the first volunteers. It soon became apparent that more people were volunteering than there was weapons for.
As late as mid 1943, the lack of field equipment and most importantly footwear was evident. Certain units were over 50% barefoot. The reason behind hitting and overrunning isolated German units was obvious.
If a partisan squad was able to ambush a German squad successfully, that doubled the enemy’s strength in one day. Because they could now arm and clothe another squad of volunteers from the nearest village eagerly waiting. The infamous SS Bandenkampf medal notes this fact in its symbolism. In which a sword is seen killing a Hydra. A mythical beast with nine heads. If you cut one head, two more would grow in it’s place.
So for that reason many captured German, Italian and Croatian domobran uniforms can be seen worn by partisans.
Nevertheless, partisans still suffered from a poor logistical and re-supply system even under fire and in emergencies. To the point where the allies had to intervene and help out.

"With strong artillery support, the SS battalion launched their attack at 1400hrs on the battalion position. The Germans began their attack with a great shout, something they rarely did. We were waiting for them on rocky terrain. We had no ammunition. We had been promised a delivery, but it had not yet arrived from Ribnik. We were ordered to not shoot until the Germans came close. The Germans came so close that they began throwing hand grenades at us. Running out of ammunition, the firing rate of our soldiers dwindled, which the enemy noticed, strengthening their attack. The medical personnel were too few to pull out all the
injured fighters from our positions, so the supply staff had to come in and help. When it looked as if there was absolutely no chance left for our side to continue fighting, our soldiers began to prepare to attack with our bayonets. At that moment, nine Allied aircraft flew over our positions and dropped ammunition and food supplies by parachute. The containers fell both on our positions and the German ones. All those in the rear and even the wounded who could still move about participated in gathering up the supplies. The intensity of the battle increased again as our soldiers could return fire.

- charge of the Prinz Eugen battalion Drvar


Looting for equipment and food was extensive, entire battalions could be seen wearing uniforms from the enemy. Domobran units were stripped to their underclothes and sent back, in some cases they willingly started undressing once captured. A warehouse that was captured in Tuzla, had 32,000 uniforms and 10,000 pairs of shoes which went towards dressing several divisions.
Uniformity was almost non-existent such as discipline standards in alot of battalions that were not raised in a professional military fashion. The relationships between officers and regular partisans was more formal towards the end of the war as the force was growing into a professional army.


Unit Strength

Some units were 10-20% female and interestingly amongst them were volunteers of the Spanish Civil War.
The 1941 units were under strength, with brigades of merely a 100 men or less, and companies of 20 to a 100 men, usually from the same village.
Unlike their German counterparts which had traditionally sized units no matter the casualties. They always reorganized or disbanded certain components of a division to strengthen the units that made up the backbone.

Brigades, usually a 1,000 man strong (but in reality anywhere from 300-,1,500 strong)
HQ detachement w/ escot and support company
4 Battalions
-1. Company
-2. Company
-3. Company
-4. Company
-1. Platoon
-2. Platoon
-3. Platoon
-4. Platoon

Support companies were available only if mortars and howitzers were captured.

Ethnic Composition

1941-42
Serb & Montenegrin majority
(dense woodlands and the rugged terrain might’ve aided to the first units to come out of Serbia)

Yugoslavia
1944
Serbs: 44%
Croats: 30%
Bosniaks 2.5%
Others/Unknown 23.5%
Source: Hoare, Marko A.. "Whose is the partisan movement? Serbs, Croats and the legacy of a shared resistance"


Croatia
1941-1943
Serb majority
1943-1945
Croats: 61%

Serbs: 28%


Bosnia and Herzegovina
1941-1945
Serb majority (2/3)

The ethnicity of the partisans is a direct result of which ethnic group was the most attacked (by either Ustasa, German or Cetniks) Which is the reason for the low number of Bosnians in the partisans in the year 1944. SS Handschar had already picked out all the able bodied men out of northern Bosnia. Upon it’s return it recruited more and convinced a number of partisans to switch sides.

Training

Needless to say, they little had military experience. To combat this, new volunteers would be paired up with seasoned veterans.

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A new rifleman and an experienced partisan (in British uniform)

An interesting example of the need for improvement were after action reports. Critiquing of what had happened, how it could’ve been improved. It was stressed that a lot of the initial failures were due to lack of experience and the underestimation of the German forces.

New recruits are organised in separate platoons and companies which are part of battalions. Before going into active service they have ten days' military training. In addition the battalion commander together with the political commissar educate them, according to a set program, in such subjects as the development and goals of the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia; Comrade Tito as the leader of our people and other outstanding personalities of our uprising; servants of the occupier of our country, and seven other similar themes.

- partisan, 16th Vojvodina.





Tactics

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Unexploded ordinance was used for improvised explosives to aid in ambushes, blowing up railways, and often the trains themselves as they were passing by.
Zagreb-Belgrade railway line, along which Handschar rode in on, was bombed and targeted 595 times.
The partisans had a habit of using the Boys 13.9 mm anti-tank gun, called 'John Bull to destroy train engines.
They didn’t attack like an disorganized mass, and it can be proven that they had the concept of fixing and flanking with the concept of the bomber, support and assault groups.
The “bombers” were “exceptionally brave” soldiers armed with half a dozen to a dozen grenades, a pistol or some sort of last defense weapon. Supported by usually a squad of riflemen they were supposed to close in and crack the will of the enemy. Opening up the way for the support breakthrough group. Who according to doctrine were supposed to assault through the enemy positions with sub machine guns.

It all worked in planning but due to poor coordination and maneuvering of the main (and adjacent) units in the initial stages of the attack caused a huge number of the attacks to fail.
Other factors were the lack of heavy firepower, reinforcements, light and noise discipline at night.

In January of 1943, the SS Prinz Eugen division brough a change in strategy in combating the partisans.
They would quickly advance to overwhelm and surround partisan units before they had a chance to form a front. Taking advantage of their premature firing, poor communication, supervision and overall poor coordation with all adjacent units.

Otto Kumm, a former commander of the Prinz Eugen Division, explains in further detail:

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 1:11 pm 
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“The partisans operated as a hit and run unit, firing a few shots, dropping back, firing again, luring our men into ambushes and trying to penetrate our flanks. Some even carried radios to call artillery and air strikes against us. Finally, we decided on a tactic of probing forward with a squad, followed by a platoon, which would be flanked by a platoon on either side. Once the partisans fired the centre squad would give chase, dropping to fire as the following centre platoon rushed through under covering fire. The two flanking platoons were in radio contact with the rest, so depending upon which way the partisans ran, the facing platoon would stand fast while the entire formation would pivot around behind the enemy, chasing them into the line of fire of the stationary unit. This plan worked very well, and once the enemy were engaged the platoons would call artillery fire behind the partisans preventing their escape, forcing them to stand and fight. This was when heavy weapons would take over, and the artillery would be walked back into the partisan unit. It took a few practices to get this down to a proper format, but it proved to be quite effective. The circle would grow smaller, constricting the ring until the surviving partisans broke for cover, and we allowed an avenue of escape that was fire free. Once they made for it we had them. It was like gathering ants by burning their perimeter, forcing them into the ever-tightening circle. The few who attempted to leave got burned, while the rest would group together to find moral support or security in their closeness. This we exploited by bombing, artillery or machine gun fire, but it was always a costly tactic employed by the best method of containment and liquidation we ever used. It is interesting to note that most of these tactics we developed in the field; Berlin did not take any great notice, not even when Bach-Zelewski was in overall command of all anti-partisan operations in Russia. Himmler and the General Staff knew what we were doing and they wanted reports, but they were very non-committal in their support, such as in weapons and troop allocations. They expected commanders to simply take the soldiers they needed from whatever units were available, usually a couple of companies totaling about 200 men; basically a reinforced motorised company and this would not work. Men needed to be trained and rehearsed in this type of warfare. One does not simply jump right into a new method of waging war without learning and practising. These men had to work together, know each other and rely upon each other, and this type of unit integrity is not quickly thrown together.”

Kumm, further explains the nature of the fighting:


“Once a partisan unit was located, the senior planning staff would gather the necessary intelligence, which included ground and aerial observation reports. Maps were always being updated, which is a requirement for everyone, not just us, and the orders sent down the chain of command, although the men were usually kept uninformed as to the specific nature of the operation, especially if the mission included outright elimination of Jews and Communist sympathisers. We needed to know that in the event of success, would the same formula work in Yugoslavia as that applied to Russia? These were all very interesting questions and we had very little time to attempt trial and error. Once we were given a plain language table of organisation and equipment with tactics outlined, we felt better prepared for tackling the partisan problem. However, we had been improvising with our own methods, and these new tactics were unique; they were handed down as a guideline, not engraved in stone, offering us the opportunity to use the new methods in conjunction with the previous method. We were even encouraged to write reports on our missions and make recommendations. Another unique part of this plan was that everyone, even the lowest rank was to give input though the chain of command so that every perspective was covered. It was a wonderful method of waging warfare, but it never resolved the problem of halting the constant flood of partisans that seemed to pop up like mushrooms after a summer rain. Other officers made recommendations that were finally taken
seriously and placed into the doctrine. This was how important Berlin finally took the partisan problem. Unfortunately, little in the way of a clear definition was ever provided.”

History:

July 4th 1941 - decision to start an uprising. 80,000 fighters strong, operating independently on battalion level.
Oct-December 1941 - “First enemy offensive” aiming to reclaim 2/3s of Serbia lost to the growing insurgency.
Partisan - Cetnik alliance is broken, turns into open hostility.
1941 casualties - 18,896 killed
1942 - 150,000 fighters
Jan-February 1942 - “Second enemy offensive“, eastern Bosnia, partisan avoid encirclement
Image
Life in the woods. Winter nears.

Spring 1942 - “Third enemy offensive” in eastern Bosnia and into Montenegro. All liberated territory is lost and the partisans suffer heavy casualties.

Image

Fate

1942 casualties: 24,700 killed
Jan-April 1943 - “Fourth enemy offensive” (Unternehmen Weiss-eastern Bosnia) Largest offensive to date. Pushing the partisans over the Neretva river.
May-June 1943 - “Fifth enemy offensive” (Unternehmen Schwarz-southeastern Bosnia and northern Montenegro. Following right after the 4th offensive to surround the the retreating partisans at Sutjeska.
Autumn-Winter of 1943 - “Sixth enemy offensive”, following the capitulation of Italy, securing the Adriatic coast.
19 partisan brigades are formed from the willing Italians. Huge weapons and ammunition dumps from the disarmed Italian forces fall into partisan hands and arm new divisions.
In fear of an allied landing and invasion across the Adriatic sea, Phleps plans to have Prinz Eugen intercept the invasion force.

1943 casualties: 48,378
May 1944, Seventh and last enemy offensive, German raid on Drvar in northwestern Bosnia to capture Tito.
Tito escapes by railway and leaves his forces to fight off the Germans.
12-13. August 1944, Western allies finally recognize the partisan government bodies in Yugoslavia
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The retreat of the Axis forces from Greece. Map shows the ground held by the partisans. The SS Mountain divisions in the area held the avenue of retreat open. They retreated out of Greece to set up along the eastern front.


1944 is the worst year of the war for the partisans. Enemy operations are continuous. They loose 80,650 men, almost twice of the previous year.
Jan. 1945 - 800,000 strong
15. May 1945, last Axis resistance in Yugoslavia (NDH Croatia) is suppressed.
In 5 months of 1945: 72,925 killed.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 1:48 am 
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Partisan Offensive
It’s obvious that Tito was angered by the close and audacious attempt on his life at Drvar. He ordered an increase in operations and offensives to exhaust the enemy. The Drvar operation was the seventh and last German offensive in Yugoslavia. The partisan offensives that month were almost coordinated with the all-out efforts of the Allies in the west and the Soviets in the east to speed up the demise of the Third Reich.
Image

The first units to detect this force were from Aufkl Abt. 13 on the 6th of June. Thus on the 7th, a plan to counter the enemy, Unternehmen Vollmond, was put together.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:33 am 
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Photo link is not working on your last post

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 10:41 pm 
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the link to my gallery or the map of the partisan attack?
They both work for me

http://i50.tinypic.com/10rn2op.jpg

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2010 11:24 am 
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Its working now , I just had a play around with my computer settings

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:28 am 
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Unternehmen Vollmond

Plans were based off intel derived from decrypted partisan radio messages. Sauberzweig ordered that the forces mobilize to prevent the enemy from advancing north towards the Majevica-Posavina-Semberija area.

Plan being as follows:
‘1st and 2nd Battalion from 27. SS Regiment to attack south towards Visoka Glava (I/27) and Jasenica (II/27) with support of 2nd Battery located in Donja Trnova.
1st Battalion from 28. SS Regiment to hold heights around Priboj covering position of 6th and 7th Battery and after attack starts it will link up with 4th Battalion from 28. SS Regiment which was in Lopare.’
The general idea was: “assault the enemy from the north and west, pushing him against the Drina.” (Sauberzweig)
It commenced on the early morning of June 8th at 3:45 AM.

SS-Ostuf. Heinz Driesner’s I/28 battalion was moved in position to block the “weaker” forces that in reality was the partisan western column of advance. So, a single battalion with 2 supporting batteries now stood alone in front of the advancing 16th Vojvodina division.

I/28 was made up of fresh recruits, some with zero training. One partisan commander said “The situation was ripe for action.” This was contrary to Sauberzweig’s beliefs, as he assumed the partisans would bypass Lopare and the Priboj area.

German positions:

Image
Driesner’s men made their last stand on the hill southeast of Lopare, and behind them, less than 500 meters, just across the Lopare-Priboj road was 6th Battery of AR 13, and the 7th heavy Battery with four 150mm sFH 18 howitzers. They were located on elevated ground that overlooked the road near the village of Zajednice, just east of Lopare (at the base of hill Brezovacha)

The Attack Begins
Image
Lopare battle from the German perspective. (First hours)

Partisan attack was commenced at 1800 by the 1st Battalion of the 16th Vojvodina. It’s 4th and 5th brigades went straight towards I/28. The 2nd Vj. Brigade was an hour late but it soon joined reinforcing the assault and attacking northwest across Radojevici towards Medenik.
I/28’s mortars were firing danger close to their own men, trying to disorganize the partisan attack, which was now on top of them. Having been overrun, a number of men of the battalion were scattered, some retreated to the positions of the batteries on the hills.
(Two days later, about 500 members of the battered I/28 turned up, the partisans had made a mistake in not pursuing after I/28, and they would soon pay dearly for it at Lopare)

Heinz Rudolph, the commander of the heavy battery, had about 80 men at his disposal. The heaviest of the small arms they possessed to fend off enemy infantry was a single MG42.

Image
Rudolph directing fire for one of his sFH 18 Howitzers.

The howitzers, meant for suppressing the enemy from a distance (in-direct fire) now found themselves shooting directly into the advancing partisans. Shooting about 4-5 shells a minute, which was still painfully slow. The 7th battery was under small arms fire before the 6th (at the village of Brezovaca) because a partisan column bypassed I/28 to east, cut the road to Priboj and was now preparing to attack (2300)


Following a heavy 4 hour firefight with the insurgents and staying true to his artilleryman spirit, Rudolph was the last to leave his howitzers that night. The survivors were out of small arms ammunition, and were now making their way towards the 6th Battery at Brezovaca.
A number of Rudolph’s men were buried on the ground they held.

Just now, was the regimental commander learning of the situation, so he mobilized II/28 to help out.
II/28 was about 30 km away in Srebrenik, they would not get there that night.

It was also soon found out that on the other flank of the battlefield, areas assigned to Regt. 27’s units were far too wide to cover and the enemy forces of the eastern column continued right through them (Regt. 27 was not mobilized soon enough to block the eastern column, it was not in position). Interestingly enough, the local Cetniks, who found themselves in the mess became the only oppostion to most of the partisan column, however they stood no chance and were quickly scattered.

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Handzaru Udaraj!


Last edited by 42gunner on Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:17 am, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:31 am 
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“Re-take Lopare or be court-martialed!”

Image
SS Regiment 28’s commander, Helmuth Raithel, watching his forces counterattack Lopare on the 9th (the illustration is that of a regimental staff officer)

II/28 having taken off at 0200 on the 9th wouldn’t move into position to attack till 1600 that day. Konig, CO of 9./28 found Heinz Driesner and received orders from Raithel to re-take Lopare or face court-martial.
Driesner was killed in action the next day faithful to his orders. Town was in German hands once again at 1730 that evening, and the partisans evacuated the area with heavy casualties.
The entire western column had retreated so fast that II/28 was not able to catch up to it

In the east, Regt. 27 enjoyed some success in blocking the eastern column’s advance. The story was, 6 howitzers, four 105mm cannons and 3 AA guns convinced the partisans to pull back.
On the 12th, partisans were pushed back across the Spreca river.

Aftermath
Image

Heinz Stratmann, described the scene at the position where the men of the 7th Battery fought and died:

“It was a scene of destruction. The partisans had been unable to take the big guns, prime movers, or vehicles with them and had destroyed them. Thirty eight soldiers of the battery had been killed and eight were missing. I wont go into detail about how gruesomely our dead were mutilated by the enemy, but I will say that even during my two years of combat in Russia I had never experienced anything so horrible. As it was not possible to move all of the bodies to the military cemetery at Celic, the dead were buried where they had fallen.”

Eduard Roth also added how “…provisions were plundered. The tent was completely ransacked, all of the rucksacks were emptied and the personal effects were strewn about…”

During the previous Balkan war the area was mined and yet again fought for.

Sauberzweig claimed 3,000 dead partisans following the operation, which was thought to be slightly exaggerated.
The official German report stated the following.
1586 enemy killed. Having lost 205 SS men, 528 wounded and 89 missing in action. The partisan report claims that of the 89 that went missing, 30 were captured.
The SS did not record having taken prisoners or loosing men to the partisans as POWs.

The partisan report isn’t credible at all considering the magnitude of the battle and the counterattacks. The entire 16th Vojvodina admitted to 230 dead and wounded. While other reports inflated the Germans’ casualties to 350 on June 9th alone.
In fact, partisans of this division’s particular brigades suffered more non combat related casualties in less than a month and a half of marching than they were admitting they sustained during combat operations
67 partisans died from hunger and exhaustion during marches (July 23- Sept. 3 1944), 130 were once classified wounded because of poor footwear (1943). Thus it’s hard to believe their low casualty rates when they were facing 150mm howitzers at point blank range.

Counterattack of II./28 battalion prevented 16th Division to capitalize on its success and it only managed to take 60 rifles, six MG-42s and two Bergmann M-34 SMGs, 1 mortar (from I/28) , 13 pistols, 20.000 7.92 mm rounds, 100 pairs of boots, 180 uniforms, 60-70 horses... forcing it to quickly destroy 6 out of 8 captured howitzers, trucks, several cars, two motorcycles also leaving large number of shells intact (Pack mules were not spared by the partisans during the attack, it's suprising that those 60 or so horses stayed alive)

The Cetniks, who were not present during the battle, would be seen in the following weeks scavenging for weapons and left over equipment where the SS men had fallen.
After talks with the Cetnik leaders, Hampel was able to convince them to have the equipment returned.
12 machine guns (I think both SMGs and LMGs) and 40 carbines (Karabiner 98s) and some radios.


The estimated strength of the 16th Vojvodina was slightly over 4,000 before Vollmond, the battle at Lopare had severely mauled it and the partisans were trying to cover up their own losses. Their brief occupation of Lopare and the destruction of 6 howitzers hoping to destroy the inexperienced I/28, had cost them 1586 men.

_________________
http://s321.photobucket.com/albums/nn377/Sturmmann13SS/
Handzaru Udaraj!


Last edited by 42gunner on Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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