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

Formed approximately August 1942 with HQ in Bihać by renaming all or most of the Lika Ustasha Zdrug. 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

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


1942

15-30 Jun 42: a Croatian I Corps activity report states that the Lika Ustasha Zdrug had been successful in bringing to a halt offensive operations by the Lika NOP Detachment around Bihać and the surrounding area. This early entry helps confirm the IV Ustasha Brigade’s date and place of formation as well as its lineage. The name change would not have occurred before July 1942.
Sep 42: Brigade engaged in the Cazin area against elements of the 3d Jrajina NOU Brigade during early September.
2-6 Nov 42: in defense of Bihać, Bos. Krupa and Cazin, which were all taken by Tito's main forces during this period. The main Partisan effort was against Bihać with 5 strong brigades, which was defended by much of IV Ust. Brigade and 12th Infantry Rgt., plus elements of 2d Infantry Rgt. The fight for the city raged during most of 3 and 4 November. The commander of IV Ustasha Brigade had overall responsibility for its defense, but he and his staff fled Bihać nearly 24 hours before the city was taken by the Partisans and never appointed a deputy to take his place. The defenses soon collapsed in the absence of leadership and a unified command structure. The commander of the German 714. Inf.Div. was enraged and disgusted over this act of irresponsible incompetence and cowardice, and sent strongly worded letters up the chain of command which are believed to have resulted in Ust. Pukovnik Tomičić being relieved of his position as commander of IV Ustasha Brigade.
14 Dec 42: after being routed.from the Bihać-Slunj area during the main Partisan offensive in the first two weeks of November, the Brigade moved to Glina to regroup and to take part in local operations in that area.

1943

20 Jan 43: XXXIV Ustasha Bn., attached to the Italian Division “Re”, attacked along the Lički Osik - Titova Korenica road northeast of Gospić during the opening phase of Operation “Weiss” while XXXI and XXXII Ustasha Bns. were engaged in the Lovinac - Udbina area. After the roads had been secured, all three battalions began clearing operations on 6 Feb 43 in the mountains between Titova Korenica - Bunić - Udbina together with elements of Italian Divisions “Re” and “Lombardia”, these concluding around 14 Feb 43.
16 Mar 43: lost the village of Sv. Rok near Gračac to 6th Division NOVJ, but losses were relatively light on both sides.
25 Jun 43: supported by Italian aircraft, attacked elements of 6th Division NOVJ and after heavy fighting captured Lički Osik and another nearby village. Losses were 21 KIA, 42 WIA and 8 MIA, while the Partisans reported losing only 13 men. The Partisans counterattacked three days later, but were driven off after the Brigade brought up strong reinforcements from Gospić.
18-22 Aug 43: operating from Gospić, attacked elements of 6th Division NOVJ in the Lički Osik and Perušić area killing 9 and wounding 42 Partisans.
17 Oct - 10 Nov 43: Brigade successfully defended Gospić from a sustained attack by two Partisan divisions.
14 Dec 43: Brigade elements from Medak (probably XXXI Ust. Bn.) attacked units of 13th Div. NOVJ in the village Papuča, but returned to Medak after 10 hours of inconclusive fighting with moderate losses on both sides. Further local attacks on elements of the same partisan division were carried out on 19 and 22 December.
11-26 Nov 43: took part in Operation “Adler” in the Gospić-Senj-Karlobag area.

1944

5 Jan 44: XXXI and elements of XXXII Ustasha Battalions ordered to clear the Medak-Lovinac road of Partisans to assist the movement of German 114. Jäger-Division from Gračac north toward Italy; heavy fighting developed with considerable losses on both sides; XXXI Ust. Bn. then moved into Udbina on 18 January.
30-31 Mar 44: carried out a clearing operation with 392. Inf.Div. from Otočac and Perušić against Partisan concentrations in the villages of Vrhovina. Raroljani and Turjanski which led to heavy fighting and losses for 13th and 35th Divisions NOVJ.
May 44: XIX Ustasha Bn. assigned to Brigade this month and rapidly built up to full strength of 5 companies.
5 May 44: XXXIV Ust. Bn. was attacked by Partisan 35th Div. around Ramljani/20 km SE of Otočac, suffering 100 casualties, several days before IV Ust. Brig. and a large number of German units began Operation “Morgenstern” to surround and destroy the Partisan 8th, 13th, 19th and 35th Divisions and their supply bases, barracks and airfields in the Krbava mountains centered to the north and south of Bunić in Lika; the operation continued to the end of June and was judged a success with 300 Partisan dead, 118 prisoners, and enough captured weapons, vehicles, ammunition and supplies to outfit an entire division.
20 Jul 44: XXXV Ustasha Bn., which had just joined the Brigade, took up positions in Lovinac this date, and during the first two weeks of August was in continuous action along the Lovinac - Udbina road.
8-18 Aug 44: together with elements of German 373. and 392. Legion Divisions, took part in a major sweep of the Krbava area to the W and SW of Bihać aimed at the destruction of 8th and 35th Divisions NOVJ; heavy fighting developed and losses were fairly high on both sides.
29 Aug 44: XXXIV Ust. Bn. (Lički Osik) and XXXV Ust. Bn.(Lovinac) both ordered to advance
toward Gračac to reinforce elements of German 373. Legion Div., which were under attack by the Partrsan 9th Dalmatian Div.; the attack was broken up with the Partisans admitting to 50 killed and 181 wounded.
8-15 Nov 44: Partisan 13th and 35th Divisions captured Lovinac, causing heavy losses to the defending XXXV Ust. Bn., but IV Ust. Brigade counterattacked from Gospić on 23 November and forced the two Partisan divisions to pull back to the north, where they regrouped and then attacked and captured Gračac on 9 December; an attempted relief effort by IV Ust. Brigade from Gospić failed to reach the surrounded German garrison in time.
1 Dec 44: Brigade completely reorganized and assigned to the new 11th Croatian Infantry Division. It had a total of 8 battalions, including one garrison battalion, and was considered to be a high quality, aggressive combat unit with around 4,000 men. Brigade HQ moved to Otočac during December 1944.


1945

6 Jan 45: Partisans attacked and overran defensive positions in Kamenica/5 km N of Brinje, claiming 20 killed and 12 wounded from V Bn./IV Ust. Brigade.
2 Apr 45: Brigade still located in the Gospić – Udbina – Senj – Karlobag – Brinje area with 6 battalions, one of which (III Bn.) was now labeled an assault battalion.
Apr – May 45: see 13th Croatian Inf. Div. The Brigade’s activity was identical with the Division’s.

Commanders

Ust. Pukovnik Tomičić (Aug 1942 - Nov 1942?)
Ust. Pukovnik Vjekoslav Servatzy (? - ?) Mar 1943
Ust.? Pukovnik Mirko Zgaga (? - 13 Oct 1943?) KIA
Ust. Pukovnik Čiril Čudina (Nov 1943 - 1944)
Ust. Dopukovnik Delko Bogdanić (1944 - May 1945) Sep 1944, Dec 1944, Mar 1945

Subordination

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

Order of battle (Aug 1942)

Brigade HQ and headquarters elements in Bihać
Machine Gun Co. in Cazin
XIX Ustasha Bn. (lst - 4th Co.) in Bihac
XXXI Ustasha Bn. (ex-I Lika Ustasha Bn. with 1st - 3d Co.) in Ličko Petrovo Selo
XXXII Ustasha Bn. (ex-II Lika Ustasha Bn. with lst - 4th Co.) in Bos.Krupa
XXXIII Ustasha Bn. (ex-III Lika Ustasha Bn. with lst - 3d Co.) in Bihac.


Order of battle (July 1943)

Brigade HQ and headquarters elements in Gospić
Tank Co. (7 x 3.5 ton tanks and 2 officers and 37 men)
Artillery Battery (3 x 7.5 cm guns, 2 officers and 102 men)
Two independent Artillery Platoons (with a total of 2 x 10cm guns, 3 x 6.5cm guns, 2 officers and 49 men)
IX Ustasha Bn. (1st – 4th Co.) in Drniš and later in Baške Oštarije (4 officers and 670 men)
XXXI Ustasha Bn. (1st – 4th Co.) in the Gospić - Perušić area and later in Medak (5 officers and 658 men)
XXXII Ustasha Bn. (1st – 4th Co.) Gospić - Perušić area and later in Gospić (7 officers and 693 men)
XXXIV Ustasha Bn. (1st – 4th Co.) in the village of Pag on Pag Is. off the Dalmatian coast and later in Lički Osik (8 officers and 770 men)
6th Ustasha Preparatory Bn. in Gospić

Order of battle (Sep 1944)

Brigade HQ, HQ Co. and 3 artillery batteries in Gospić (309)
IX Ust. Bn. (1st – 5th Co.) in Baške Oštarije, Karlobag and Pag Is. (668)
XIX Ust. Bn. (1st – 4th Co.) in Baške Oštarije, Stajnica, Lipice and G. Babin Potok (669)
XIXa Ust. Replacement Bn. (1st – 3d Co.) in Brinje (675)
XX Ust. Bn. in Baške Oštarije and Karlobag (600)
XXXI Ust. Bn. in Lički Osik and Perušić (450)
XXXII Ust. Bn.in Lički Osik and Perušić (500)
XXXIV Ust. Bn.in Lički Osik and Perušić (700)
XXXV Ust. Bn. (1st – 5th Co.) Lovinac (637)
Otočac Defense Bn. (1st – 5th Co.) in (Otočac (1,207)
Total Brigade strength around 6,500 officers, NCOs and men.


Order of battle (1 Feb 1945)

Brigade HQ and headquarters components in Otočac
I Bn. (ex-IX Ustasha Bn.) in the Gospić-Ribnik area
II Bn. (ex-XXXI Ustasha Bn.) in Ribnik
III Bn. (ex-XXXII Ustasha Bn.) in the Karlobag area
IV Bn. (ex-XXXII Ustasha Bn.) in Ratkovica
V Bn. (ex-XIX Ustasha Bn.) in Brinje
VI Bn. (ex-XXXV Ustasha Bn.) probably in the Gospić area.


Footnotes

1. AVII kut. 114b, reg.br. 1/2; kut. 134a, reg.br. 4/1; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Zbornik dokumenata I podataka o narodnooslobodilačkom ratu jugoslovenskih naroda. Tom V/5, p.608; V/10, p.416; V/28, pp.483, 524-25; V/31, p.607; V/37, p.535 and 593; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Hronologija oslobodilačke borbe naroda jugoslavije 1941-1945, pp.336, 370, 442, 498, 531, 626, 710, 851; [ - ] - Kotar Korenica i kotar Udbina u narodnooslobodilačkom ratu i socijalističkoj izgradnji, p.576; NARA WashDC: RG 226 (OSS intelligence report No. 109655 and 110433); RG 242 (T-311 roll 184/250; T-314 roll 558/1139; T-315 roll 1295/872); Dragojlov, Fedor - Der Krieg 1941-1945 auf dem Gebiete des ‘unabhängigen Staates Kroatien’, in: Allgemeine Schweizer Militärzeitschrift, 1956, pp.345-364; 425-449; 509-523; [ - ] - Kotar Gračac u narodnooslobodilačkom ratu 1941-1945; [ - ] - Kotar Korenica i kotar Udbina u narodnooslobodilačkom ratu i socijalističkoj izgradnji, 865-84.


Reference material on this unit

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