by H.L. deZeng IV

The formation of artillery units began on 12 May 1941 with the intention of setting up one artillery group (or detachment) for each territorial division (Savska, Osijek, Bosanska and Vrbaska). The Italians prohibited the formation of an artillery group for the Jadranska Territorial Division because it would have been located on the territory under their occupation, but this prohibition was ignored when a new order was issued on 21 July 1941 for the formation of a total of 10 groups, two for each territorial division. Each group would consist of a headquarters and 4 batteries (1st – 3d and HQ Battery) with an authorized strength of 421 officers and men, 12 x 10 cm howitzers and 266 horses. The task of these first Croatian artillery formations, which initially only had infantry weapons and a few artillery pieces borrowed from the Germans for training purposes, was to help the infantry units in performing garrison duties, to develop the capability for evolving into future artillery formations and to guard and maintain the artillery and equipment then being assembled. During the course of 1941, 258 artillery officers from the former Royal Yugoslav Army and from the old Austro-Hungarian Army were called up for service in the new Croatian Army, as well as a large number of NCO and enlisted artillery reservists. But progress was slow and by the end of 1941 most of the 10 groups were still in various stages of development. (1)

In August 1943, the first and only major reorganization of the Croatian artillery branch occurred, this taking place at the instigation of the Germans who were trying to reshape the Croatian armed forces from a poorly organized and poorly equipped militia with serious morale problems into something that could be deployed in the field and depended upon. The original 10 artillery groups (I – IX and XI), with a total of 22 light field howitzer batteries, 2 mountain gun batteries and 2 mountain howitzer batteries, was reorganized into 16 artillery groups (I – IX, XI – XIII, XVI, XVIII, XX and XXII) with a total of 32 batteries. Of these, 16 were to be equipped with 4 x 10 cm Model 14/19 field howitzers and used to equip the Jäger brigades, while the mountain brigades were to get 8 batteries of 4 x 10 cm Model 16 field howitzers and 8 batteries of 4 x 7.5 cm Model 28 mountain guns. Additionally, an independent Lehr- (instructional or demonstration) battery (the former 3d Battery/VIII Artillery Group) was set up and assigned to the troop training ground at Slavonski Brod, and another independent battery equipped with field guns (1st Battery/II Artillery Group) was located in the Italian zone of occupation. Other artillery units assigned to the Ustasha Militia and to garrisons were not affected by the reorganization.


Footnotes

1. Colić, Mladen. Takozvana Nezavisna Država Hrvatska 1941; NARA WashDC: RG 242 (T-78 roll 412/828); (T-313 roll 191/1320-22); (T-314 roll 558/1127).

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