III Mountain Brigade (Croatia)
- Published: 16 February 2013 16 February 2013
- Last Updated: 16 February 2013 16 February 2013
(III. gorski zdrug)
by H.L. deZeng IV
Formed 21 March 1942 in Slavonska Požega from men called up in August/September 1941 and trained by the Germans in Austria. Operated during 1942 and the first half of 1943 in a strength of four 1,000-man battalions under the lst Mountain Division, and then reorganized and expanded during the summer of 1943 beginning 15 July in Bos. Novi as an independent brigade under Croatian II Corps. The reorganized Brigade used its old headquarters and staff reinforced with personnel from the HQ of the Croatian 2d Infantry Division, along with two mountain infantry regiments (the 3d and the 11th), artillery groups plus other assets. Although the 114. Jäger-Div. was assigned overall responsibility for the reorganization, a German army training staff and battalion (Deutsches Ausbildungs-Btl. 3 bei der 3. kroatischen Gebirgs-Brigade) was assigned to improve the brigade’s effectiveness and reliability. It was disbanded in September – October 1944 and then reconstituted on 21 November 1944 as part of the completed reorganizing of the Croatian armed forces. The new 3d Mountain Brigade was established in Brčko by renaming the former 10th Garrison Brigade and carried the honorific “Bosanski Planinci”. On 1 December 1944 the Brigade was incorporated into the new 12th Croatian Infantry Division, where it remained until the end of the war. (1)
Jun – Jul 42: Brigade HQ in Banja Luka - participated in the joint large-scale German-Croatian anti-partisan action, Operation “West-Bosnien”, in the Kozara Mountains area to the north of Banja Luka.
18 Sep 42: II Bn. in Banja Luka departed this date for operations in the field under Gruppe von Wedel from the German 714. Inf.Div.
12-19 Oct 42: IV Bn. in Prijedor took part in Operation “Kozara”.
2-7 Nov 42: III and IV Bn. were employed in Operation “Lug” in the area west of Sanski Most.
15-25 Nov 42: Brigade elements counterattacked a Partisan breakthrough in the vicinity of Radomirovac/27 km NNW of Sanski Most and near the important mining complex at Ljubija, throwing them back after several days of bitter fighting.
3-5 Jan 43: IV Bn. was employed in Operation “Una – Sava Bend” and then from 6-8 January in Operation “Berta” near Prijedor.
20 Jan – 17 Mar 43: Brigade participated in Operation “Weiss” under the tactical command of the German 369. Inf.Div.
30 Jan 43: elements retook Bos. Krupa from the 8th Krajina Assault Brigade and other Partisan units.
1 Mar 43: III Mountain Brigade had sustained such high losses in personnel, weapons and equipment since November 1942 in the Ljubija – Bos. Novi area that General Prpić, the chief of the Croatian general staff, asked the Germans on 1 March for permission to relieve it because its continued usefulness was in question. His request was rejected.
19 Mar 43: at the conclusion of Operation “Weiss”, the Brigade was reassigned to the German 714. Inf.Div. and moved by train through Slavonski Brod to the Bos. Krupa area where it was made responsible for protecting the Bauxite mines located there.
1 Apr 43: together with elements of German 114. Jäg.Div., 187. Res.Div. and local Chetniks, the Brigade began an operation to clear the Partisan 4th Assault Div. from the mountainous area east of Bihać.
19-21 Apr 43: took part in Operation “Otto” in the Bos. Novi – Prijedor area.
4-5 May 43: participated in Operation “Paula” in the Grmeč Mountains between Bos. Krupa and Bihać.
8-12 May 43: II and IV Bn. employed in Operation “Ulrich” in the Kozara Mountains north of Banja Luka.
9 Jun 43: operating in the Bos. Krupa area.
15 Jul 43: HQ in Bos. Novi - ordered reorganized and expanded this date in conformity with the new two-regiment configuration for mountain brigades.
13 Aug 43: the Brigade’s 3d Mountain Rgt. lost 16 killed, 10 wounded and 282 captured in fighting with elements of the 8th Division NOVJ in the Velika Kladuša – Cazin area, while the Partisans reported losing only 1 dead and 1 wounded.
7 Oct 43: following an inspection of the Brigade, the chief of the German training staff assigned to it reported that it was “showing a marked improvement” since reorganization began in July.
10 Oct 43: Brig. HQ now in Prijedor, and 11th Mountain Rgt. HQ still in Prijedor with I Bn. now in Kozarac, II Bn. in Prijedor and III Bn. in Blagaj.
14-15 Oct 43: II Bn./3d Mountain Rgt. lost 11 killed and 198 captured when elements of the 4th Assault Division NOVJ took the Ljubija mining complex near Prijedor.
20-21 Oct 43: 3d Mountain Rgt. lost another 45 killed, 15 wounded and 865 captured when Sanski Most was taken by elements of the 4th and 19th Assault Divisions NOVJ after it offered stiff resistance for 12 hours. The Rgt. CO, Podpukovnik Čučković, was among those taken prisoner. Virtually destroyed, the survivors of I and II Bn./3d Mountain Rgt. were incorporated into III Bn. during the last 10 days of October.
20 Nov 43: Brigade reported its strength as 113 officers, 270 NCOs and 2,589 men for a total of 2,972.
24-28 Dec 43: elements of 11th Mountain Rgt. participated in Operation “Ristow” between Bos. Novi and Prijedor.
17 Apr 44: Brigade received III Bn./12th Infantry Rgt. as replacements.
19-20 Apr 44: repelled a strong and determined attack on Prijedor by a large enemy force from 4th, 10th and 39th Divisions NOVJ with heavy losses on both sides.
8-9 May 44: took part in Operation “Reinhard” southwest of Prijedor.
16 May 44: Brigade HQ and other components ordered to transfer from Prijedor to Banja Luka for attachment to the German combat arms school run by Pz.AOK 2.
19-30 May 44: Brig. elements employed in Operation “Schach” in the Banija region across the Una River from Bos. Novi.
21 Jun 44: Brigade reported its strength as 142 officers, 537 NCOs and 2,934 men for a total of 3,613.
27 Jul 44: together with a number of German units, the Brigade participated in Operation “Feuerwehr” which was aimed at destroying Partisan forces in the mountains between Banja Luka and Derventa.
10 Aug 44: I Bn./3d Mountain Rgt. transferred from Ivanjska to Banja Luka where it relieved II Bn., which moved to Ivanjska.
18 Sep 44: Brigade destroyed during the major attack on Banja Luka by Partisan V Corps; only two battalions (II Bn./3d Mountain Rgt. and I Bn./11th Mountain Rgt.?) that were not in Banja Luka survived intact. The Brigade commander and his entire staff were arrested and charged with dereliction of duty.
18 Oct 44: following the debacle at Banja Luka, the few surviving troops were used to replenish I Bn./11th Mountain Rgt. and then 3d Mountain Brigade was either completely disbanded or a handful of headquarters personnel were sent to Brčko where a new 3d Mountain Brigade was formed from the former 10th Garrison Brigade on or about 1 December 1944. Around the end of October I Bn./11th Mountain Rgt. was renamed IV Bn./4th Mountain Rgt.
21 Nov – 1 Dec 44: reconstituted as noted in the opening paragraph.
Jan – May 45: see the 12th Croatian Infantry Division for information on the Brigade to the end of the war.
Pukovnik Dragutin Rubčić (21 Mar 1942 - ?) June 1942
Pukovnik Franjo Gjoić (? - ?) Jan 1943, Apr 1943
Pukovnik Milan Kereković, acting? (? - ?) May 1943?
Pukovnik Arnold Redlstein, acting? (? - ?) June 1943
Pukovnik Stjepan Grlić (1 Sep 1943 - 26 Oct 1943)
General Mirko Gregurić (? Oct 1943 - 18 Sep 1944)
Podpukovnik Andjelko Švab (c. 1 Dec 44 - May 1945?) Feb 1945
1st Mountain Division (Apr 1942 - Aug 1943)
II Domobran Corps (II Territorial Corps) (Aug 1943 - Sep 1944)
12th Croatian Infantry Division (Dec 1944 - May 1945)
Order of battle (Apr 1942)
Brigade HQ and support elements in Sl. Požega,
Mountain artillery battery.
Order of battle (3 Jan 1943)
Brigade HQ and support elements in Bos. Novi,
I Bn. in Metla
II Bn. in Musl. Ljubija
III Bn. in Ljubija Rudnik
IV Bn. in Prijedor
Mountain artillery battery.
Order of battle (12 Aug 1943)
Brigade HQ and support elements in Bos. Novi
3d Mountain Rgt. HQ in Bos. Novi with I Bn. in Bos. Novi, II Bn. in Dvor and III Bn. in Dobrlin
11th Mountain Rgt. HQ in Prijedor with I Bn. in Prijedor, II Bn. in Ljubija Rudnik and III Bn. in Sanski Most
II Artillery Gp. (reorganizing in Zagreb and later replaced by XIII Artillery Gp.)
Engineer, signal, medical and other service and support components in formation.
Order of battle (28 July 1944)
Brigade HQ and support elements in Banja Luka
3d Mountain Rgt. HQ in Ivanjska with with I Bn. in Ivanjska and II Bn. in Banja Luka
11th Mountain Rgt. HQ in Bos. Gradiška with I Bn. in Klašnice and II Bn. in Banja Luka
XIII Artillery Gp.
Military Police Platoon
Two horse-drawn columns
300 attached Chetniks, 200 attached Moslem militia, 60 attached active Ustasha and 120 attached Ustasha militia.
Order of battle (1 Dec 1944)
Brigade HQ and support elements in Brčko,
I Bn. in the Zvornik – Janja area
II Bn. Zvornik – Janja area
III Bn. in the Puračić – Lukavac area
IV Bn. in Gračanica
V Bn. in Mirićina
VI Bn. in the Zvornik – Janja area
VII Bn. Zvornik – Janja area
VIII Bn. in Čelić
IX Bn. Gračanica area
X Bn. in Gradačac.
1. Arhiv VII, kut. 114b; Colić 1979, p.157; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Hronologija oslobodilačke borbe naroda jugoslavije 1941-1945, pp.409, 452, 530, 571, 725; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Zbornik dokumenata I podataka o narodnooslobodilačkom ratu jugoslovenskih naroda, Tom IV/26, p.109; IV/29, p.149-50; IV/30, pp.649-50; IV/31, pp.824-26; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Oslobodilački rat naroda Juooslavije 1941-1945; NARA WashDC: RG 242 (T-311 roll 192/215, 244, 435; roll 193/1164; roll 196/389); (T-314 roll 554/263-67; roll 558/1141-46; roll 559/179; roll 560/754-57, 1223; 1545/774); (T-315 roll 1294/287; roll 1296/35-55; roll 2170/531; roll 2171/37; roll 2258/996); RG 331 (roll 447-B); Strugar, Vlado - Jugoslavija 1941-1945; Dragojlov, Fedor - Der Krieg 1941-1945 auf dem Gebiete des ‘unabhängigen Staates Kroatien’, in: Allgemeine Schweizer Militärzeitschrift, 1956, pp.436; Schraml, Franz - Kriegsschauplatz Kroatien, p.37; Narodne novine, issues 10 Jan 43, 28 Jan 43 and 12 Feb 43; Drina (Madrid), br. 3-4 (1953), p.9.
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