(5. Hrvatska Udarna Divizija)
by H.L. deZeng IV

Ordered formed on or about 1 December 1944 with Division HQ in Bjelovar. Until mid-March 1945, it was official designated as 5th Croatian Infantry Division. There was a small German liaison team (DVK 305) assigned to the Division for coordination purposes. Like the 1st Croatian Assault Division, the 5th has been the subject of a lot of postwar myth and exaggeration, mainly because its commander was a notorious and fearsome individual. In practice, it was viewed by both Partisan and Allied intelligence as being only moderately well armed and generally not up to strength. Its morale was only good among its Ustasha personnel in the V Ustasha Brig. It maintained an average strength of around 5,000 – 6,000 during its existence. (1)


Operational History

Dec 44: during the month the Division operated in the Varaždin – Koprivnica area and in the Križevci – Bjelovar – Djurdjevac – Virje area. For operational matters the Div. came under the German LXIX. Armeekorps.
Jan – Feb 45: in frequent action in the Bilo Gora and Moslavačka mountains and around Velika Pisanica and Popovača.
6-9 Feb 45: elements from the Division took part in offensive operations around the Virovitica bridgehead as part of German Kampfgruppe “Fischer” (7. SS-Div. “Prinz Eugen”, Kos.Kav.Div., 297. Inf.Div. and a regiment from 11. Lw.-Felddivision). The operation succeeded in retaking a number of towns and villages.
Mar 45: the Division fought a few small unit actions during March, but no major operations are known.
Mid-Mar 45: major reorganization carried out to transform the 5th Croatian Infantry Division into the 5th Croatian Assault Division. The 11th Domobran Brig. was disbanded, the V Ust. Brig. became the 23d Croatian Infantry Regiment (I – III Bn.), a 24th Croatian Infantry Regiment (I – III Bn.) was formed from other Ustasha units and a V Artillery Group was formed by consolidating various existing batteries. The large divisional HQ Co. contained signal, engineer and transportation components. On completion of the reorganization the Div. reported a total strength of 164 officers, 806 NCOs and 5,174 men, or 6,144 in all. Attached to the Division, and not counted in this total, were the Koprivnica, Križevci and Garešnica Garrison Battalions. At the end of April and beginning of May, a 25th Croatian Infantry Regiment (I – IV Bn.) was created from components of the disbanded II Ustasha Brig.
26 Apr 45: after two days of fierce fighting with the 32d Division JA, elements of the 5th Croatian Assault Div. were forced out of the town of M. Grdjevac (near Virovitica) that they were defending and forced back toward Bjelovar.
29-30 Apr 45: Div. HQ still in Bjelovar and holding positions to the north, east and south of the town together with most of the German 11. Lw.-Felddivision. Finally, after a week of heavy fighting with a much stronger enemy force, 5th Assault Div. was driven out of Bjelovar on 4 May.
5-8 May 45: the Division joined the general retreat toward Zagreb and from there north toward the Austrian border.

Commanders

General Rafael Boban (c. 1 Dec 1944 - May 1945)

Subordination

I Territorial Corps (c. 1 Dec 1944 - c. 15 Mar 1945)
I Ustasha Corps (c. 15 Mar 1945 - c. 15 Apr 1945)
Poglavnik Bodyguard Corps (c. 15 Apr 1945 - May 1945)

Order of battle (Dec 1944)

Div. HQ in Bjelovar
V Ustasha Brigade (5 battalions)
11th Domobran Brigade (4 battalions)
2 x artillery batteries.


Order of battle (Mar 45)

Division reorganized (see above)


Footnotes

1. AVII Beograd, kut. 114a, reg.br. 24/30 and kut. 134a, reg.br. 3/1; [Vojnoistorijski institute]. Zbornik dokumenata I podataka o narodnooslobodilačkom ratu jugoslovenskih naroda, Tom XI/3, pp.76-77; [Vojnoistorijski institute]. Hronologija oslobodilačke borbe naroda jugoslavije 1941-1945, pp.1071, 1100; [Vojnoistorijski institute]. Oslobodilački rat naroda Juooslavije 1941-1945, vol. 2, p.638; Colić 1976, p.1050; NARA WashDC: RG 226 (OSS intelligence documents Nos. 109636, 110433 and 126034); RG 331 (roll 447-B).


Reference material on this unit

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