I Ustasha Brigade (I. Stajači Djelatni Sdrug)
by H.L. deZeng IV

Formed between May and August 1942 with HQ in Sarajevo and a forward command post in Sokolac. No definitive date has been found, but it is believed that the order to form 5 active Ustasha brigades dates from May 1942 and then gradually carried out over the course of the summer. In any event, all 5 were formed by 26 August. (1)

Operational History

1942

Aug 42: the I Ustasha Brigade’s primary mission was to secure the area of eastern Bosnia between the river Drina and Sarajevo by establishing garrisons in the main towns.
24-28 Aug 42: participated in Operation “S” in eastern Bosnia under German 718. Inf.Div. The operation was intended to destroy a large Partisan group assembled about 15 km NNW of Vlasenica, but the enemy got away before significant contact could be made.
1 Dec 42: OB - Brig. HQ in Sarajevo; Brig. operational command post in Sokolac; Brig. Headquarters Co. in Sarajevo; 1st Recruit Co. Sarajevo; Brig. Labor Co. Sarajevo; I Mountain Artillery Battery (2 x M.28 mountain guns); and the following subordinate Ustasha battalions (see each for locations), II, III, XXI, XXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX and XXXVI. Brigade was tactically under German 718. Inf.Div.
15-19 Dec 42: took part in Operation “Tusla II” aimed at clearing partisans from the Majevica Mountains northeast of Tuzla along with elements of German 717. Inf.Div. and Croatian 3d Infantry Div.

1943

18 Mar 43: still operating under German 717. Inf.Div.
14 Apr 43: OB - HQ and HQ elements in Sarajevo and Sokolac; III Ust. Bn. Sokolac; XXI Ust Bn. Sokolac; XXII Ust. Bn. Sokolac; XXIII Ust. Bn. Skelani; XXIV Ust. Bn. Rogatica; XXVIII Ust. Bn. Han-Pijesak; XXIX Ust. Bn. Srebrenica. Under Croatian III Corps, but tactically under German 369. Inf.Div.
11/12 Jun 43: Partisan forces carried out a night attack on Srebrenica and temporarily took the town from its I Ustasha Brigade defenders.
17 Jun – 6 Jul 43: along with numerous German and other Croatian units, Brigade in heavy action at Pale, Han-Pijesak, Zvornik and Srebrenica during an offensive by 1st Proletarian Brigade and other Partisan forces in the area between the Drina and Sarajevo. Some of the towns changed hands several times during the 3 weeks of nearly continuous fighting.
10/11 Sep 43: Vlasenica attacked and temporarily taken by Partisan 16th Division, during which the Brigade’s XXII Ust. Bn. suffered losses and was forced to withdraw from the town.
29 Oct 43: now tactically under German V. SS-Gebirgskorps.
Nov 43: OB - HQ in Sarajevo; HQ Co. in Pale; II Ust. Bn. in Vitez; XXII Ust. Bn. Pale and XXIV Ust. Bn. Pale.

1944

Feb 44: OB and strength - HQ in Sarajevo (84); HQ Co. Pale (482); II Ust. Bn. Baltići (425); XXII Ust. Bn. Sokolac (586); and XXIV Ust. Bn. Rogatica (521) – total strength 2,098.
5-14 Feb 44: fought several night engagements with elements of 27th Assault Div. NOVJ around Sokolac and Rogatica with moderate losses on both sides. Brigade units (mainly XXIV Ust. Bn.) were responsible for protecting the Sarajevo – Višegrad railway line in that area.
May 44: Brig. fighting alongside 7. SS-Freiw.-Gebirgsdivision “Prinz Eugen” in the Vlasenica area.
19 Jun 44: two Brigade battalions (XXII and XXIV) were the target of a night attack by two Partisan brigades in the Srebrenica-Vlasenica area, but proved too strong a force and the attack was called off by the Partisans.
Jul 44: the Brigade reported a total strength of 4,040.
Aug 44: took part under the tactical command of V. SS-Gebirgskorps in the central and eastern Bosnia phase of Operation “Rübezahl”, a very large anti-partisan operation aimed at smashing two Partisan corps and prevent their forces from crossing the Drina and linking up with other forces in Serbia. The entire operation ran from 3-30 August and the Germans claimed an estimated 5,500 enemy killed, wounded and captured.
22 Oct 44: Brigade’s V Bn. destroyed in Travnik when the town was taken by 4th and 10th Assault Divisions NOVJ.
25 Oct 44: II and III Battalions, with nearly 2,400 men between them, withdrew from Rogatica after attempting to hold the town for two days against continuous attack by elements of 27th Assault Div. NOVJ.
Nov 44: OB and strength - HQ in Sarajevo (128); HQ Co. Sarajevo (255); Motor Transport Co. Sarajevo (90); Armored Platoon Sarajevo (29); Artillery Battery in Pale (62), Engineer Platoon in Sumbulovac (64); I Bn. with 4 companies in Gromile (478); II Bn. with 7 companies in Rogatica (1,300); III Bn. with 7 companies in Rogatica (1,188); IV Bn. with 4 companies in Kiseljak (449); V Bn. with 3 companies in Zenica (443); Garrison Bn. Sarajevo (1,013); Replacement Bn. in Pale (518). Total strength: 6,017.
1 Dec 44: I Ustasha Brigade incorporated into the composition of the new 8th Croatian Infantry Division.18 Dec 44: fighting Chetniks in the Sarajevo – Višegrad security zone under German V. SS-Gebirgskorps.

1945

Jan 45: a Partisan intelligence report stated that the Brigade had good morale and fighting spirit, but that its armament and equipment was only mediocre.
10 Apr 45: following the final Partisan offensive on Sarajevo that commenced on 28 March and inflicted very heavy losses on the defenders, the remnants of I Ustasha Brigade withdrew north as part of the Croatian 8th Division. No further information has been found, which suggests that it probably began breaking up and lost its identity.

Commanders (2)

Ust. Pukovnik Ivo Stipković (inception - 30 Aug 1943) KIA
Ust. Bojnik Milan Sulentić (30 Aug 1943 - 3 Sep 1943) KIA
Ust. Dopukovnik Franjo Sudar (c. Sep 1943 - 15 Jul 1944)
Ust. Dopukovnik Delko Bogdanić (15 Jul 1944 - ?)
Ust. Dopukovnik Ante Mamić (? - ?)

Subordination

III Domobran Corps (III Territorial Corps) (Aug 1942 - Nov 1944)
8th Croatian Infantry Division (Dec 1944 - May 1945)

Footnotes

1. Strugar, Vlado. Jugoslavija 1941-1945; Colić 1974, p.353; Colić 1979; NARA WashDC: RG 226 OSS intelligence reports 109655 and 110433; NARA WashDC: RG 242 (T-175 roll 120/822, 845; T-311 roll roll 184/1141; roll 196/060-64, 411; T-315 roll 2154/1382; roll 2155/509, 676, 891; roll 2156/636; roll 2270/781, 836, 1032-36; roll 2271/350; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Hronologija oslobodilačke borbe naroda jugoslavije 1941-1945, p.320, 387, 675, 945; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Zbornik VII Beograd (IV/20, pp.804-05; IV/23, pp.640-41; IV/29, pp.675-76, 703, 720; IV/30, pp.875-77; IV/31, pp.851-53; IV/33, pp.813-15; [Vojnoistorijski institute]. Oslobodilački rat naroda Juooslavije 1941-1945, vol. 1, pp.466, 613 and vol. 2/206, 266-67.
2. Other officers serving in the Brigade were: Ust. Satnik Avelin Golubović, Brig. chief of staff (6/44); Ust. Satnik Ante Caratan, commander of all 3 battalions in Sokolac (6/44); Ust. Satnik Eduard Kršulj, commander of the 2 battalions then in Zvornik (6/44); Ust. Nadporučnik Stanko Vasilj, commander of the Bn. in Rogatica (6/44); Ust. Poručnik Vinko Grbešić in Rogatica (6/44); Ust. Poručnik Mato Ljubičić, with the Replacement Bn./I Ust. Brig. (3/44); Ust. Satnik Mladen Penava, commander of V Bn. in Zenica (12/44).

Reference material on this unit

- None known at this time -

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