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

Formed either in February 1942 or approximately August 1942 with HQ in Karlovac. 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. Most of the cadre for its HQ and staff came from the former Kordun Brigade. (1)

Operational History

(Also see the individual Ustasha battalions for additional details.)

1942

Oct – Nov 42: major Italian offensive operations against Partisans in Slovenia resulted in Brigade participation toward the end of October in the Žumberak region just north of Karlovac. Small Partisan units of battalion-size that attempted to pass through the area were intercepted and attacked.

1943

The sector occupied by the Brigade was relatively peaceful during 1943. It was deployed along a line between Jastrebarsko/29 km SW of Zagreb through Karlovac to Ogulin. There were many large garrisons of Italian forces in this general area until Italy capitulated on 8 September, and this made it extremely difficult for the Partisans to raise, deploy and engage sizeable formations. The Brigade secured the roads and railway lines in its area and protected Croatian state interests and the Croatian population. Patrols were dispatched into the countryside, often jointly with the Italians, and occasional sweeps of suspect areas were carried out. What clashes occurred were general small in scale and infrequent.

1944

Brigade now involved in increasing offensive and defensive fighting with rapidly strengthening enemy forces in the Karlovac area. With the collapse of the Italian forces in September 1943, the Partisans had been able to seize large quantities of abandoned weapons and equipment which enabled them to raise and arm new formations. During the first half of the year the Brigade was tactically under German 1. Kosaken-Kav.Div.
17 Feb 44: together with elements of German 1. Kosaken-Kav.Div., attacked the Partisan Youth Brigade “Joža Vlahović” around Krašić and temporarily cleared much of the Žumberak region just north of Karlovac, but the Partisans soon infiltrated back into the area and the operation had to be repeated on 29 February.
30 Apr 44: a large mine, previously planted by a Partisan assassination team, blew up in the Brigade HQ building in Karlovac killing the commander and wounding a number of other officers.
1 Dec 44: Brigade became a component of 13th Croatian Infantry Division this date and was evaluated as being well armed and equipped with good morale.
14 Dec 44: after two days of heavy fighting, V Ustasha Bn. from Jastrebarsko and the German 1. Res.Jäger-Rgt. were driven from the village of Bratina/26 km NE of Karlovac by elements of 34th Assault Div. NOVJ.
24 Dec 44: two companies from V Ustasha Bn. were attacked by 34th Assault Div. NOVJ while defending bunker positions along the railroad track at Domagović and Lazina/10 km SW of Jastrebarsko. Of the 195 Ustasha involved, the Partisans claimed 49 KIA, 10 WIA and 32 captured for 3 dead and 9 wounded of their own. (Note: these figures seem highly exaggerated).
27-29 Dec 44: V Ustasha Bn. took part in a 3-day joint operation with German units against two Partisan brigades in the Bratina area that resulted in several hundred casualties on each side.

1945

15-16 Jan 45: in day-long fighting with the Karlovac Assault Brig./34th Assault Division NOVJ in the vicinity of Rečica with 20-25 casualties on each side.
4 Mar 45: XXX Ustasha Bn. attacked around midnight in Rečica and overrun by the Karlovac Assault Brig./34th Assault Division JA. The Partisans claimed 180 KIA and 250 captured for just 10 dead and 55 wounded of their own. (Note: these figures seem highly suspect).
27 Mar 45: XXX Ustasha Bn. lost 43 KIA and WIA in vicious fighting with elements of 18th Division JA near Karlovac.
Apr – May 45: see 13th Croatian Inf. Div. The Brigade’s activity was identical with the Division’s.

Commanders

Ust. Pukovnik Josip Metzger (Aug 1942 - Oct 1942)
Ust. Dopukovnik Antun Magaš (Nov 1942 - ?)
Ust. Dopukovnik Vladimir Rogoz (? - 30 Apr 1944)
Ust. Pukovnik Tomislav Rolf (May 1944 - 30 Nov 1944)
Ust.? Satnik Božidar Katušić (1 Dec 1944? - ?) Mar 1945

Subordination

I Domobran Corps (I Territorial Corps) (Aug 1942 - Nov 1944)

Order of battle (Aug 1942)

Brigade HQ in Karlovac
X Ustasha Bn. (approx. 700 men)
XXX Ustasha Bn. (approx. 650 men)
5th Ustasha Preparatory Bn. (approx. 600 men)
33d Ustasha Preparatory Bn. (approx. 500 men)
35th Ustasha Preparatory Bn. (approx. 600 - 900 men)
Total Brigade strength: an estimated 3,000 – 3,500.

Order of battle (20 Nov 1943)

Brigade HQ and headquarters elements in Karlovac (43)
HQ Co. in Karlovac (129)
V Ustasha Bn. (HQ Co. and 1st – 5th Co.) in Švarča – Stative – Turanj – Ilovac – Duga Resa – Belaj (714)
X Ustasha Bn. (HQ Co., 1st – 4th Co., “Vivodina” Co., Recruit Co.) in Karlovac – Kamensko – Rečica – Turanj (1,002)
XXX Ustasha Bn. (HQ Co. and 1st – 3d Co.) in Karlovac – Zvečaj – Draganići – Zdenčina (474)
XXXIII Ustasha Bn. (HQ Co. and 1st – 4th Co.) in Ogulin – Gojac – Ravna Gora – Trošmarija (684)
Total Brigade strength: 63 officers, 294 NCOs and 2,689 men = 3,046.

Order of battle (1 June 1944)

Brigade HQ in Karlovac (15)
HQ Co. in Karlovac (199)
Motor Transport Co. (7 tanks or tankettes, 34 trucks, 5 cars) in Karlovac (52)
V Ustasha Bn. (HQ Co. and 1st – 5th Co.) in Morća – Turanj – Stative – Susak – Duga Resa (946)
X Ustasha Bn. (HQ Co., 1st – 4th Co.) in Jastrebarsko – Karlovac – Kamensko (933)
XXX Ustasha Bn. (HQ Co. and 1st – 3d Co.) in the Horvati area (634)
XXXIII Ustasha Bn. (HQ Co. and 1st – 4th Co.) in the Vojnovac area (692)
Total Brigade strength: 3,471

Order of battle (Mar 1945)

Brigade HQ in Karlovac
I Bn. (ex-V Ustasha Bn.) in Draganići
II Bn. (ex-X Ustasha Bn.) in Duga Resa (previously in Stative)
III Bn. (ex-XXX Ustasha Bn.) in Mahično (previously in Rečica)
Ustasha Garrison Bn. Karlovac
Ustasha Garrison Bn. Rečica
Ustasha Garrison Bn. Jaska
Ustasha Garrison Bn. Ozalj

Footnotes

1. AVII kut. 114b, reg.br. 1/2; kut. 134a, reg.br. 4/1; [ - ] - Druga godina narodnooslobodilačkog rata na području Karlovaca, Korduna, Gline, Like, Gorskog kotara, Pokuplja i Žumberka, p.56-58; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Zbornik dokumenata I podataka o narodnooslobodilačkom ratu jugoslovenskih naroda. Tom II/12, p.561; V/9, p.447; V/36, p.530; V/37, pp.132-33; V/38, pp.697-703; V/39, pp.39-55, 142-44; XI/4; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Hronologija oslobodilačke borbe naroda jugoslavije 1941-1945, pp 682, 684, 1037-38, 1058, 1087; NARA WashDC: RG 226 (OSS intelligence reports No. 9611, 109655, 110433); RG 242 (T-120 roll 5790/H304069; T-314 roll 559/221; T-315 roll 1555/924; roll 2270/1032-36)


Reference material on this unit

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