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

Formed April 1944 in Ražanac/21 km NNE of Zadar in northern Dalmatia by renaming the 5th Volunteer Rgt. PTS and adding 390 new Ustasha brought in from outside Dalmatia. (1)


Operational History


1944

Apr 44: in formation - tactically under German 264. Inf.Div./XV. Gebirgskorps.
2 May 44: Brigade in the process of arming and equipping for intended use in securing the main road between Obrovac northwest to Karlobag, but it does not appears to have ever been used for this purpose.
12-13 Jun 44: V Bn. suffered heavy losses in action with elements of 19th Division NOVJ in the village of Polača near Benkovac.
1-2 Aug 44: lost 70 men KIA in heavy fighting around Oklaj/13 km SW of Knin. Among the dead was the Brigade commander, Ust. Dopukovnik Kečet.
Sep 44: Brigade HQ in Drniš - during the first half of the month, it claimed it had successfully defended Oklaj against heavy Partisan attacks, killing 560 of them. Its losses were 32 KIA and 8 WIA.
Sep 44 (second half): German 264. Inf.Div. reported to XV. Gebirgskorps that 200 men belonging to VII Ustasha Brig. deserted during the month and, additionally, two of the Brigade’s companies were deemed so unreliable that they had to be disarmed by the Germans.
4-5 Nov 44: I and II Bns. almost totally destroyed when 26th Division NOVJ stormed and captured Drniš.
7 Nov 44: tactically under German XV. Gebirgskorps. According to a German Pz.AOK 2 report of this date, the Brigade had been reduced to just two battalions. Shortly after this, remnants of the badly decimated Brigade withdrew to the Knin area where they were joined by stragglers from Split (III Bn./VI Ustasha Brigade) and remnants of XXVII Ustasha Bn. from Sinj. Of the approximately 1,600 men now gathered in Knin, 434 volunteered for assignment to the German-Croatian 373d Legion Division while the remaining 1,150 were judged to be unfit for service with the Germans and were sent to Bihać. The defeat in Dalmatia and its heavy losses had been devastating to the Brigade and morale was very low.
1 Dec 44: Brigade HQ and two battalions became a component of the new 10th Croatian Infantry Division (HQ in Bihać), while its former V Bn. was reassigned to X Ustasha Brigade in the Banja Luka area. It II Bn. was the former III Bn./VI Ustasha Brigade.
12-17 Dec 44: in a strength of just two battalions and operating under the tactical command of German Feldkommandantur 1037/XV. Gebirgskorps, the Brigade was deployed along the Drežnik-Grad – Lička Jesenica road and was under continuous attack by 8th Assault Division NOVJ with fairly heavy casualties suffered by both sides.
18 Dec 44: a XV. Gebirgskorps report evaluated the Brigade as being “unfit for active employment since it is still reorganized following its departure from the Split-Sibenik area.”


1945

Jan – Mar 45: see 10th Croatian Infantry Division for additional information.
20 Mar 45: Brigade HQ with I and II Bn. in Bihać - total strength was estimated to be around 1,000.
Apr 45: withdrew north during the second half of April.
29 Apr 45: II Bn. reported destroyed at Otoka as it was withdrawing along the Una river valley.
2 May 45: Brigade remnants last identified in company with VIII Ustasha Brig. withdrawing from Kostajnica toward Petrinja.

Commanders

Ust. Dopukovnik Emil Kečet (? - 1 Aug 1944) KIA
Ust. Dopukovnik Tomislav Brajković, acting (2 Aug 1944 - ?)
Ust. Bojnik(?) Petar Mikrut (? - ?) Jan 1945
Ust. Satnik Miroslav Markotić (? - ?) 1945

Subordination

II Sector Command/I Territorial Corps (Apr 1944 - 20 May 1944)
Coastal Sector Command Cetina/I Territorial Corps (20 May 1944 - Oct 1944)
I Territorial Corps (Oct 1944 - 30 Nov 1944)

Order of battle (Apr-Aug 1944)

Brigade HQ and headquarters elements in Drniš
I Bn. (1st – 4th Co.) in Drniš
II Bn. (1st – 4th Co.) in Perković/21 km S of Drniš
III Bn. (1st – 4th Co.) in Kijevo/20 km NE of Drniš
IV (Assault) Bn. (1st – 4th Co.) in Biograd na Moru/57 km WNW of Drniš (later in Vrana/48 km WNW of Drniš
V Bn. (1st – 4th Co.) in Benkovac/46 km WNW of Drniš
VI Bn. (1st – 4th Co.) in Donji Zemunik11 km E of Zadar
VII Bn. (1st – 4th Co.) in Novigrad/59 km NW of Drniš (disbanded Aug 44)
Ribarska Bn. in Novigrad (training Bn. for new officers; only existed for 2 or 3 months)
Total Brigade strength estimated at 2,800 on formation, then increasing to 4,000.
(Note: IV, V and VI Bns. were generally referred to as the Zadarski Demi-Brigade.)


Footnotes

1. Arhiv VII Belgrade, kut. 134a, reg.br. 3/1 and reg.br. 4/1; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Zbornik dokumenata I podataka o narodnooslobodilačkom ratu jugoslovenskih naroda. Tom IV/31, p.824; V/36, p.530; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Hronologija oslobodilačke borbe naroda jugoslavije 1941-1945, pp.790, 1002, 1036, 1106; [ - ] - Zbornik Instituta za historiju radničkog pokreta Dalmacije, Knjiga (volume) 4, pp.893-94; Drina (Madrid), br. 10-12 (1954), p.74; NARA WashDC: RG 226 (OSS intelligence report No. 110433); RG 242 (T-311 roll 184/1141; roll 185/330, 1530; roll 193/1164; roll 196/389; T-314 roll 560/1235); RG 331 (roll 447-B).


Reference material on this unit

- None known at this time -

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