4. Jäger Brigade (Croatia)
- Published: 16 February 2013 16 February 2013
- Last Updated: 16 February 2013 16 February 2013
(4. lovački zdrug)
by H.L. deZeng IV
Formation ordered on 11 February 1943 in Sarajevo with a target completion date of 1 April as one of the two Jäger brigades that were first to form. The German 718. Inf.Div. was initially made responsible for setting up the Brigade and seeing to its training and material needs until it was ready for operations. Later, during the summer and early fall of 1943, a German training staff and battalion (Deutsches Ausbildungs-Btl. 4 bei der 4. kroatischen Jägerbrigade) was attached to the Brigade to try and bring it to an acceptable level of effectiveness and efficiency. (1)
26 Feb 43: according to German Hptm. Schindler, who was in charge of the working staff (Arbeitsstab) assigned to the Brigade, formation was coming along nicely with eager officers and impressive men, but there were no vehicles, wagons or pack horses yet available nor were there any service and support units for the Brigade except for the Engineer Co. and rations personnel.
Mar 43: Brigade moved from the Sarajevo area to the Travnik area during the second half of March.
8-9 Apr 43: in a follow-up report, Hptm. Schindler stated that the Brigade was still short 77 officers and 2,900 NCOs and men. Of the on-hand strength, 50% were Moslem. The first operation being planned for the new Brigade was to open the vital supply road Travnik – Rastovo – Gornji Vakuf.
May 43: relieved by the 2d Mountain Brigade in the Travnik area and departed for Sarajevo to take part in Operation “Schwarz.”
10 May 43: Brigade strength now at 213 officers, 473 NCOs and 5,821 men for a total of 6,507.
15 May – 15 Jun 43: “Schwarz" - advanced from the Foča area/SSE of Sarajevo as part of a very large German – Italian – Croatian – Bulgarian – Chetnik force attempting to surround and destroy Tito’s battered Partisan units in a decisive battle around Mt. Durmitor. The Brigade encountered heavy fighting over the next several weeks, with final positions along the Tara River southwest of Čelebić. Although Tito’s forces took heavy losses, his cadre managed to slip through the Axis positions and escape.
29 Jun – 3 Jul 43: together with elements of the German 7. SS-Freiw.Geb.Div. “Prinz Eugen” and other forces, took part in a clearing operation that drove the 5th Assault Division NOVJ out of the Zenica mining basin.
7-18 Jul 43: in company with strong German forces, including 7. SS-Freiw.Geb.Div. “Prinz Eugen” and 369. Inf.Div. (kroat.), the Brigades 7th Jäger Rgt. participated in a concentrated operation to clear eastern Bosnia of main-force Partisan units, eventually retaking Zvornik, Kladanj, Olovo, Vlasenica and several other towns that had been briefly held by the enemy.
10-11 Jul 43: III Bn./7th Jäger Rgt. surrendered to elements of 5th Assault Brigade NOVJ after intense resistance on the Ozren Plateau west of Tuzla, losing some 100 killed and 270 captured with all weapons; the Partisans reported only insignificant losses on their side.
18 Jul 43: Brigade transferred to the Banja Luka area and German 118. Jäger-Div. turned over all training and tactical responsibilities for the Brigade to the 373. Inf.Div.
3-4 Aug 43: III Bn./13th Jäger Rgt. was attacked and surrounded in Gornji Vakuf by elements of the 5th and 10th Assault Divisions NOVJ, but a German relief column from Bugojno managed to break through the next day.
5-6 Aug 43: 203 men from 13th Jäger Rgt. in Donji Vakuf deserted with all weapons to the 10th Assault Div. NOVJ.
11 Aug 43: German Gen. Lüters, the commanding general of German troops in Croatia, visited the Brigade’s 13th Jäger Regiment in Banja Luka this date and wrote the following scathing report. It should be borne in mind that Gen. Lüters never, ever had anything good to say about the Croatians. “Under its present leadership, the regiment is without any fighting spirit and is ripe for dissolution. The officers are cowardly in combat. The regimental commander is personally courageous in action, but he cannot lead his officers who have absolutely no military knowledge. The other ranks could be good soldiers, but only if they were led by German officers who spoke Croatian. The men wish to be under German officers. Discipline and morale are poor. Cases of cowardly deeds before the enemy by officers are not prosecuted. Troop welfare is completely ignored and the men have no loyalty toward their officers, with the result that desertions are increasing. The majority of the officers and men are of no use in this civil war; these troops could present a danger for the German armed forces in Croatia. The IX Artillery Group must be isolated from the 13th Jäger Rgt. in order that it not become infected.”
17 Aug 43: Brigade ration strength reported to be 191 officers, 430 NCOs and 5,479 men for a total of 6,100.
Sep – Dec 43: Banja Luka area with locations relatively unchanged from 12 August 1943 - no significant action.
1 Jan 44: Brigade took around 150 casualties during a Partisan surprise attack on Banja Luka that penetrated to the very heart of the city before it was driven back.
3-6 Jan 44: took part in Operation “Napfkuchen” in the mountains between Banja Luka and Doboj.
20-23 Mar 44: I Bn./13th Jäger Rgt. participated in Operation “Föhn” between Bos. Novi and Prijedor.
24 Apr – 8 May 44: took part in Operation “Ungewitter” in the Papuk Mountains.
8-9 May 44: elements participated in Operation “Reinhard” southwest to Prijedor.
16 May 44: Brigade ordered to transfer from Banja Luka to Prijedor to take over security in that area. Reassigned from the tactical control of 373. Inf.Div. (kroat.) to the 1. Kosaken-Div.
25 May – 6 Jun 44: elements took part in Operation “Rösselsprung” against Tito’s HQ in Drvar.
21 Jun 44: Brigade ration strength: 151 officers, 456 NCOs and 3,028 men for a total of 3,635.
21 Jul 44: elements engaged in the Kotor-Varoš area under German LXIX. Armeekorps z.b.V.
7 Sep 44: 7th Jäger Rgt. decimated in defense of Prijedor, which was taken this date by the 4th Division NOVJ.
8 Sep 44: I Bn./13th Jäger Rgt. deserted to the Partisans in the Bos. Novi area.
30 Sep 44: following staggering losses during September, by the end of the month the Brigade only consisted on 13th Jäger Rgt. strengthened to three battalions plus the Brigade service and support companies and platoons.
Nov 44: disbanded in late November and reorganized as the 7th Jäger Brigade.
Pukovnik Vladimir Metikoš (? Feb 1943 - ? Mar 1943)
Pukovnik Stjepan Gaščić (? Apr 1943 - ? Feb 1944)
Pukovnik Zvonimir Stimaković (? Feb 1944 - c. Sep 1944)
Pukovnik Julije Reš, acting? (? Jul 1944 - 2 Aug 1944)
III Domobran Corps (III Territorial Corps) (May 1943 - Jul 1943)
II Domobran Corps (II Territorial Corps) (Jul 1943 - Nov 1944)
Order of battle (12 Apr 1943)
Brigade HQ and support units in Travnik
7th Jäger Rgt. HQ in Travnik with I Bn. in Turbe, II Bn. in Travnik and III Bn. in Gučja Gora
13th Jäger Rgt. HQ in Bugojno with I Bn. in Bugojno, II Bn. in Gornji Vakuf and III Bn. in Donji Vakuf
IX Artillery Gp. in Bugojno
XI Artillery Gp. in Sarajevo and Zenica
Order of battle (12 Aug 1943)
Brigade HQ and support units in Banja Luka
7th Jäger Rgt. HQ in Kozarac with I Bn. in Kozarac, II Bn. in Omarska and Bistrica and III Bn. in Ivanjska
13th Jäger Rgt. HQ in Banja Luka with I Bn. in Banja Luka, II Bn. in Klašnica and III Bn. in Musl. Čelinac
IX Artillery Gp. in Banja Luka
XI Artillery Gp. in Kozarac
Brigade under the tactical control of German 373. Inf.Div. (kroat.).
Order of battle (28 July 1944)
Brigade HQ with Tank Platoon (4 medium tanks), Signal Co., Engineer Co., Medical Co., Veterinary Platoon, Military Police Platoon, Bakery Platoon, Butchery Platoon, Rations Office and two horse-drawn Transport Columns in Dvor near Bos. Novi
7th Jäger Rgt. HQ in Prijedor with I Bn. in Prijedor and II Bn. 16 km NW of Prijedor
13th Jäger Rgt. HQ in Bos. Novi with I Bn. in Bos. Novi and II Bn. in Rudice near Bos. Novi
XI Artillery Group in Prijedor
XXII Artillery Group in Banja Luka
1. Arhiv VII, kut. 114b, reg.br. 1/2; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Hronologija oslobodilačke borbe naroda jugoslavije 1941-1945, pp.494, 507-08, 524, 885; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Zbornik dokumenata I podataka o narodnooslobodilačkom ratu jugoslovenskih naroda, Tom IV/27, p.601, IV/29, p.276; IV/31, p.871; NARA WashDC: RG 226 (OSS document 110433); RG 242 (T-311 roll 192/088, 244); (T-314 roll 558/893, 1133; roll 1545/776); (T-315 roll 1301/310-12, 334-39, 376; roll 2156/834; roll 2170/513, 531; roll 2171/038, 376, 639; roll 2271/795, 934-35); [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Oslobodilački rat naroda Juooslavije 1941-1945; Dragojlov, Fedor - Der Krieg 1941-1945 auf dem Gebiete des ‘unabhängigen Staates Kroatien’, p.445; Schraml, Franz - Kriegsschauplatz Kroatien, pp.48-50; Strugar, Vlado - Jugoslavija 1941-1945.
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