(IV. gorski zdrug)
by H.L. deZeng IV

Formed April 1942 in Slavonski Brod 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 Sisak (later changed to Daruvar) as an independent brigade under Croatian II Corps. The reorganized Brigade HQ was the former 1st Mountain Division headquarters and staff, and to this were added two mountain infantry regiments (the 4th and the 8th), artillery groups plus other assets. Although the German 187. Res.Div. was assigned overall responsibility for the reorganization, a German army training staff and battalion (Deutsches Ausbildungs-Btl. 4 bei der 4. kroatischen Gebirgs-Brigade) was assigned to improve the brigade’s effectiveness and reliability. Reorganized on 21 November 1944 as part of the completed reorganizing of the Croatian armed forces. The regiments were done away with and the Brigade once again consisten of four battalions (I – IV) plus the I Artillery Gp. and a signal company. On 1 December 1944 the Brigade was incorporated into the new 7th Croatian Mountain Division, where it remained until the end of the war. (1)


Operational History

1942

May 42: declared operational and assigned to a zone in central Slavonia that included the Papuk Mountains.
Jun – Jul 42: 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.
24 Jun 42: III Bn. severely mauled in heavy fighting near Prijedor, losing 150 killed and 60 captured.
15 Aug 42: Brigade located in and around Pakrac in central Slavonia.
Sep 42: transferred to the Slovene border 30 km NW of Karlovac with I Mountain Brigade to clear Partisans out of the mountainous Žumberak region.
4 Oct 42: I Bn., having just returned from the Žumberak region, took part in a sweep of the Bilo gora near Bjelovar.
10-11 Oct 42: II and III Bn. operating from Daruvar began a 2-day operation against the 1st Slavonian NOP Detachment, which reportedly lost 58 killed for a loss of 35 missing and 13 wounded on the Croatian side.
13-16 Oct 42: Brigade engaged in the Papuk Mountains near Daruvar.
Dec 42: II Bn. in Daruvar and III Bn. in Pakrac.

1943

19-22 Feb 43: I and IV Bn. took part in Operation “Bilo gora” to the southwest of Virovitica.
22-23 Feb 43: I and IV Bn. sent to relieve the Garešnica garrison which was under attack by the 4th Division NOVJ, losing 19 killed, 47 wounded and 12 missing, while the Partisans lost 26 killed, 67 wounded and 6 captured.
26 Feb 43: IV Bn., which was in bad shape, was relieved and transferred to Sisak to rest and refit for two weeks.
15-17 Mar 43: IV Bn. participated in Operation “Gustav” near Bos. Gradiška.
19 Mar – 5 Apr 43: Brigade HQ in Pakrac - participated in Operations “Braun” and “Virovitica”.
8 Apr 43: engaged 4th Slavonian Division NOVJ near Slavonska Požega losing 42 killed and 60 wounded against 16 Partisans killed and 24 wounded.
9 Jun 43: supported by German Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers, III Bn. engaged elements of 4th Division NOVJ northeast of Grubišno Polje killing 37 for a loss of 3 killed, 10 wounded and 2 missing.
13 Jun 43: engaged elements of the 10th Division NOVJ in Sirač near Daruvar, eventually losing the village with 57 killed, 55 wounded and 85 captured. Partisan losses were reported to be 27 killed and 63 wounded.
22-24 Jun 43: elements took part in Operation “Petrinja” in the area centered on Novska.
15 Jul 43: Brigade ordered reorganized and expanded this date in conformity with the new two-regiment configuration for mountain brigades.
25-27 Aug 43: again operational, participated in Operation “Bilo gora Ost” in the Bilo gora Mountains.
18-19 Sep 43: II Bn./8th Mountain Rgt. lost around 100 killed, 12 wounded and 158 captured when elements of the 12th Division NOVJ took strongpoints held by the battalion near Daruvar after 11 hours of intense fighting. The Partisans admitted to only 13 killed and 69 wounded.
19 Sep 43: the deputy commander of the German working staff assigned to the Brigade filed a scathing report this date stating that the fighting value of 4th Mountain Brigade had been sharply reduced due to the influence of Partisan propaganda which had led to very bad morale, numerous desertions and men not reporting back from leave. Promised replacements never arrived and unit training was poor because of the incompetence and shortage of officers and non-commissioned officers. Few of the Brigade personnel supported the Ustasha regime or believed in a favorable outcome of the war.
20 Sep 43: Brigade reported its strength as 135 officers, 231 NCOs and 4,034 men for a total of 4,400.
7-12 Oct 43: fought several actions against the Daruvar NOP Detachment and 12th Division NOVJ in the Lipik – Pakrac area with 100+ casualties on both sides.
9 Nov 43: carried out aggressive reconnaissance patrols around Grubišno Polje, but there was no significant enemy contact.
Nov 43: toward the end of November, the senior German commander in Croatia opined that the 4th Mountain Brigade had been able to defend the Daruvar – Lipik – Pakrac area against strong enemy attacks from the Psunj – Papuk region, but only with the greatest of effort. This key area was one of the most fertile in Croatia and contained a large number of agriculturally important industries, the largest steam plant in Croatia, a large lumber industry and Croatia’s largest fish breeding establishment, which was especially important for the feeding of the Army and the civilian population. Additionally, a number of large and wealthy villages were located in the area plus the mineral bath and industrial centers of Lipik, Pakrac and Daruvar, along with many very wealthy large German Volksdeutsche communities.

1944

3 Jan 44: 4th Mountain Rgt. carried out reconnaissance patrols around Daruvar (III Bn.) and Grubišno Polje (I Bn.), but there was little enemy contact.
26 Jan 44: Brigade units located and destroyed a large Partisan camp with 28 buildings in the woods 13-15 km SE of Daruvar.
4-8 Feb 44: carried out a small-scale clearing operation between Daruvar and Pakrac, claiming 157 Partisans killed for a loss of 11 killed, 28 wounded and 5 missing.
11 Feb 44: Brigade elements attacked by units of the 12th Assault Division NOVJ in the village of Velika near Sl. Požega losing 20 killed and 8 captured.
18 Feb 44: began a sweep of the area just to the southeast of Daruvar in search of the Daruvar NOP Detachment, but failed to make contact.
19-24 Mar 44: secured the roads between Lipik and Suhopolje during Operation “Margarete I”, the German occupation of Hungary. Several sharp engagements were fought during the week with the 28th Division NOVJ with around 100 casualties on each side.
4 May 44: Podpukovnik Kristofić, CO of the 4th Mountain Rgt., was captured by elements of the Daruvar NOP Detachment in an ambush along the Daruvar – Pakrac road.
24-25 May 44: together with elements of the 1. Kosaken-Kav.Div., the Brigade took part in an unsuccessful operation against the 12th Division NOVJ in the Čaglin area.
14 Jun 44: elements of the 28th Assault Division NOVJ overran the Brigade’s strongpoint at V. Grdjevac near Bjelovar, killing and wounding 55 and capturing 60 out of the 400-man garrison.
21 Jun 44: Brigade reported its strength as 173 officers, 545 NCOs and 4,151 men for a total of 4,869.
2-31 Jul 44: took part in Operations “Arras”, “Rouen I” and “Rouen II” in the Kalnik Mountains to the southeast of Varaždin.
27 Jul 44: participated in Operation “Feuerwehr”, which was an attempt to destroy Partisan concentrations between the Vrbas River and the Sl. Brod – Maglaj railway line.
9 Aug 44: II Bn./4th Mountain Rgt. fought a limited action near Kočanica/NW of Daruvar with the Czech Volunteer Partisan Brigade “Jan Žiska”, losing some 50 weapons to the enemy. This incident led to continuous fighting with the 12th and 40th Divisions NOVJ over the next 10 days.
18 Aug 44: one of the 4th Mountain Regiment’s battalions suffered heavy casualties when the Grubišno Polje garrison was overrun and the town captured by units of the 12th and 40th Divisions NOVJ.
1 Sep 44: by this date the Brigade had been reduced to just three battalions, I and II Bn./4th Mountain Rgt. and III Bn./8th Mountain Rgt., and these were all engaged in the Daruvar area together with the Brigade’s I Artillery Gp.
14 Sep 44: 8th Mountain Rgt. components garrisoning Pakrac were overrun when the town was taken by units belonging to 40th Division NOVJ, and II Bn./4th Mountain Rgt. was also overrun when Lipik was captured the same date.
Oct 44: the now greatly weakened Brigade was moved to the Novska area in the Sava Valley and used to guard the main rail line between Novska and Banova Jaruga.
21 Nov 44: Brigade ordered reorganized.
25 Nov 44: I Bn. detached and tactically under the Banja Luka Brigade.
Dec 44: II Bn. in Sibinj, on the railway line 8 km WNW of Sl. Brod.

1945

Jan – May 45: see the 7th Croatian Mountain Division for information on the Brigade to the end of the war.
20 Apr 45: in what must have been one of its final engagements of the war before it fragmented while withdrawing along the Sava Valley toward Zagreb, all four battalions of the Brigade defended Sl. Požega for 24 hours before they pulled back as the town was overrun by units of the 42d and 48th Assault Divisions JA.

Commanders

Pukovnik Zdenko Begić (? Apr 1942 - ?) Aug 1942
Pukovnik Stjepan Grlić (? - ?) Jan 1943, Feb 1943
Pukovnik Matija Čanić (? Aug 1943 - 25 Oct 1943)
Pukovnik Stjepan Grlić (26 Oct 1943 - ? Nov 1944?) Jan 1944, June 1944, Sep 1944
Pukovnik Viktor Marković (? Nov 1944 - May 1945?)

Subordination

1st Mountain Division (Apr 1942 - Aug 1943)
II Domobran Corps (II Territorial Corps) (Aug 1943 - Nov 1944)
7th Croatian Mountain Division (Dec 1944 - May 1945)

Order of battle (Apr 1942)

Brigade HQ and support elements in Sl. Brod,
I Bn.
II Bn.
III Bn.
IV Bn.
Mountain artillery battery


Order of battle (27 Jan 1943)

Brigade HQ and HQ Co.,
I Bn.
II Bn.
III Bn.
IV Bn.
1st Battery/IV Artillery Gp.
Engineer Co.
Medical Co.
Signal Platoon


Order of battle (9 Aug 1943)

Brigade HQ and support elements in Daruvar
4th Mountain Rgt. HQ in Pakrac with I Bn. in Pakrac, II Bn. in Lipik and III Bn. (XI Ustasha Bn. – see there)
8th Mountain Rgt. HQ in Daruvar with I Bn. in Daruvar, II Bn. in Grubišno Polje and III Bn. (XXXVII Ustasha Bn. – see there)
I and XII Artillery Groups in Daruvar
Engineer Co. in Daruvar
Signal Co. in Daruvar
Medical Co. in Daruvar
Motor Transport Section in Daruvar
Rations Section in Daruvar


Order of battle (10 Dec 1943)

Brigade HQ and support elements in Daruvar,
4th Mountain Rgt. in Pakrac with I Bn. in Pakrac, II Bn. in Pakrac and III Bn. (XI Ustasha Bn. – see there)
8th Mountain Rgt. HQ in Daruvar with I Bn. in Grubišno Polje, II Bn. in Pakrac and III Bn. (XXXVII Ustasha Bn. – see there)
I Artillery Gp. in Daruvar
XII Artillery Groups in Pakrac
Tank Platoon (5 tanks) in Daruvar


Order of battle (1 June 1944)

Unchanged from 10 Dec 1943.


Footnotes

1. Arhiv VII, kut. 114b; Colić 1974, p.348; Colić 1976, p.1044; Colić 1979, pp.157 and 169-73; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Hronologija oslobodilačke borbe naroda jugoslavije 1941-1945, pp.284, 357, 458, 497, 551, 578, 758, 762, 791, 851-53, 897, 1072, 1099; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Zbornik dokumenata I podataka o narodnooslobodilačkom ratu jugoslovenskih naroda, Tom II/12, p.563; Tom IV/30, p.649; Tom V/8, 413, 438; V/12, p.529 and 563; V/13, p.697; V/16, p.379; V/19, p.689; V/21, p.625; V/23, p.660, 738; V/24, pp.584, 605, 638; V/25, pp. 781-89; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Oslobodilački rat naroda Juooslavije 1941-1945; NARA WashDC: RG 226 (OSS OB document 110433); RG 242 (T-311 roll 192/215; roll 196/389); (T-314 roll 1544/312-16); (T-315 roll 1296/035; roll 1553/304; roll 1554/251 and 470; roll 1555/818); (T-821 roll 54/095); RG 331 (roll 447-B); Dragojlov, Fedor - Der Krieg 1941-1945 auf dem Gebiete des ‘unabhängigen Staates Kroatien’, in: Allgemeine Schweizer Militärzeitschrift, 1956, pp.437; Strugar, Vlado - Jugoslavija 1941-1945; Narodne novine, issues 10 Jan 43.


Reference material on this unit

- None known at this time -

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