(1. Hrvatska Udarna Divizija and/or 1. Ustaška Jurišna Divizija, and abbreviated 1. HUD)
by H.L. deZeng IV

The order to form this elite division was issued on 9 October 1944. The personnel were volunteers from already existing units, mostly Ustasha, and not older than 34. Volunteers were directed to report to a designated assembly location in Zagreb not later than 20 October and the appointed commander, Ust. Pukovnik Ante Moškov, was given just 14 days to form up into a division. There is a great deal of myth surrounding this division, most of which emanated from Croatian veterans and veteran groups after the war. One of the most prominent of these is the claim that this division held an “attacked Russian force at bay on the banks of the Drava River for six weeks until supplies and ammunition ran out.” The 1st Croatian Assault Division (1. HUD), in fact, was never employed against Soviet forces along the Drava (Drau), much less for 6 weeks, as the following history should make clear. (1)

Operational History

16 Nov 44: formation completed and 20th Assault Inf. Rgt. assigned to secure the railway and roads along the line Zagreb – D.Selo – Križevci.
28 Nov 44: elements of 20th Rgt. along with other units attacked and drove back formations of 32d Division NOVJ in the Križevci area/c. 60 km NE of Zagreb.
21-31 Dec 44: Division participated in Operation “Bilogora” along with the 1st Regt. PTS. The 20th Rgt. fought in the Bilogora-Podravina area while 21st Rgt. and the XX Artillery Gp. Were engaged in the Vrbovec-Popovača-Voloder area. The Division, with its HQ now in Bjelovar, operated under the tactical command of German LXIX. Armeekorps.
11-17 Jan 45: together with elements of German 1. Kos.Kav.Div. and the Pavelić PTS, the Division launched an attack on large Partisan forces belonging to 10th Corps NOVJ and captured a number of enemy-controlled villages. After receiving reinforcements, the Partisans counterattacked 18-19 January and retook most of the villages.
24 Jan 45: 21st Rgt. and elements of German 1. Kos.Kav.Div. fought for 7 hours against 33d Division NOVJ and the 1st Zagorska NO Brigade near Bjelovar. The battle was a draw with around 60-70 casualties on each side.
26 Jan 45: 20th Assault Inf. Rgt., following weeks of heavy fighting in the Daruvar – Veliki Zdenci area, transferred to Petrinja where it fought in the Petrinja-Glina area until at least the end of January under Ust. Pukovnik Josip Mamić.
Feb – Mar 45: 1. HUD engaged in the Vrbovec- Popovača-Voloder area where it suffered heavy losses. These were immediately replenished with replacements from the 22d Assault Inf. Rgt., which was still being formed in Zagreb. Division strength at this time averaged around 9,000.
18 Feb 45: Division elements together with the German 1. Kos.Kav.Div. and the Pavelić PTS attacked units of 10th Corps NOVJ just west and northwest of Daruvar. After hours of bitter fighting, 33d Division NOVJ rallied and drove the attackers back.
8-17 Mar 45: 1. HUD, along with the German 1. Kos.Kav.Div., Croatian 1st Mountain Brigade and the Pavelić PTS, opened an offensive on 32d and 33d Divisions JA in the area 15-20 km NW of Daruvar. The week-long fighting accomplished very little and cost each side between 500 and 1,000 casualties.
22 Mar 45: Division engaged elements of 12th Assault Div. JA and 33d Div. JA in two separate day-long firefights between Bjelovar and Daruvar that cost each side nearly 200 dead and wounded.
28 Mar 45: Partisan 1st Brigade/33d Division JA ambushed a 1. HUD supply column along the Čazma – Ivanić-Grad road killing 120 and wounding many others. Captured were 3 mortars, 7 light machine guns, around 100 rifles and a large amound of additional equipment and supplies.
Mar 45: at the end of March 1. HUD withdrew to the line Bjelovar-Dubrava-Čazma-Narta.
Apr 45: fighting continued during the month. Toward the end of April the 22d Assault Inf. Rgt. finally joined the rest of the Division, which was then deployed along the line Trnovitica-Plaščica (between Bjelovar and Garešnica).
23 Apr 45: Div. in fighting with 12th Assault Div. JA and 32d Div. JA in area 20 km ESE of Bjelovar. On 27-28 April elements of 1. HUD were still engaged around Bjelovar.
1-7 May 45: Division remnants withdrew toward Zagreb along with the great mass of Croatian forces that were still intact, and then began a fighting retreat toward the Austrian border that continued to mid-May.

Commanders (2)

Ust. General Ante Moškov (Oct 1944 - Mar 1945)
Pukovnik Josip Šolc (Mar 1945 - May 1945)

Subordination

I Territorial Corps (Nov 1944 - c. 15 Mar 1945)
I Ustasha Corps (c. 15 Mar 1945 - c. 15 Apr 1945)

Order of battle (Dec 1944)

20th Assault Infantry Rgt. (Hq Co. and I – III Bn.), Pukovnik Rudolf Šimić and then Pukovnik Lončarević
21st Assault Infantry Rgt. (Hq Co. and I – III Bn.), Maj. Zdenko Šrajber and then Pukovnik Lorin
Mobile Gp. (2 tank Co. with 10 tanks each and a Reconnaissance Co. with 20 motorcycles with machine gun equipped sidecars)
XX Artillery Gp. (3 x 75mm mountain guns)
20th Engineer Co.; 20th Signal Co.
2 Motor Transport Co.; 20th Medical Co.
Veterinary Co.; Bakery Co.
Military Police Platoon

Added during the month of January 1945:
22d Assault Infantry Rgt. (Hq Co. and I – III Bn.), Podpukovnik Nikpalj
XXI Artillery Gp. (3 x 100mm howitzers)


Footnotes

1. AVII Beograd, kut. 134a, reg.br. 3/1; [Vojnoistorijski institute]. Zbornik dokumenata I podataka o narodnooslobodilačkom ratu jugoslovenskih naroda, Tom (vol.) V/34, pp.532-33; V/35, p.586; V/36, pp.731-46; XI/3, p.164; [Vojnoistorijski institute]. Hronologija oslobodilačke borbe naroda jugoslavije 1941-1945, pp.1006, 1058-59, 1085, 1087; [Vojnoistorijski institute]. Oslobodilački rat naroda Juooslavije 1941-1945, vol. 2, pp.598-99, 637; Drina (Madrid), br. 10-12 (1954), pp.87-91; Colić 1979, p.163; Colić 1976, p.1049.
2. Other officers serving in the Division were: Satnik Ivan Kostelac (CO I Bn./20th Rgt.); Ust. Satnik Stjepan Biošić (CO II Bn./20th Rgt.); Satnik Ivan Švajhler (CO I Bn./21st Rgt.); Ust. Satnik Marijan Perković (CO II Bn./21st Rgt.); Satnik Tomašević (CO III Bn./21st Rgt.); Bojnik Martin Tonković (CO I Bn./22d Rgt.).


Reference material on this unit

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