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

Formed May 1944 with HQ in Kostajnica located along the Una river 77 km SSE of Zagreb and 73 km NW of Banja Luka. Its history actually dates back to April and perhaps March 1944 when it was briefly known as the Ustasha Border Brigade (Krajiške ustaške zdrug). Its I Bn. was reportedly the former VIII. Ustasha Bn. (1)


Operational History


1944

Apr – May 44: the Brigade’s primary mission was to secure its territory and protect all of the roads and rail lines passing through it.
19 Apr 44: II Bn., in action in the Petrinja area with elements of the German 1. Kosaken-Kav.Div., unsuccessfully attacked units of the 7th Assault Div. NOVJ.
19-30 May 44: participated in Operation “Schach”, a large effort under German 373. Inf.Div. (kroat.) against Partisan 4th Corps concentrations in the area Vojnić – Barilović – Korana – Bukovac – Miholjsko, all of which were in the Kordun and Banija region between Karlovac and 36 km south thereof. Also taking part were: German Jäger-Res.Rgt. 1, Mot.Rgt. 92, elements of 1. Kos.Kav.Div., Polizei-Bn. 7, 2d Croatian Jäger Brig., Croatian 3d Mountain Brig. and a number of lesser units. On conclusion, the operation was judged relatively successful, although the troops never brought the Partisan main force units to battle. The Germans claimed 284 Partisans KIA, another 1,000 more estimated KIA, over 450 WIA and 40 captured. German/Croatian losses were 54 killed, 137 wounded and 16 missing.
13 Jun 44: Brigade units that were responsible for protecting the railway viaduct between Kostajnica and Dvor were attacked by elements of the 7th Assault Div. NOVJ, which managed to destroy a large number of their bunkers and fortified positions before German and Croatian reinforcements arrived from Kostajnica.
4 Jul 44: I Bn. unsuccessfully defended the village of Ličko Petrovo Selo/17 km NW of Bihać against a strong assault by elements of 35th Division NOVJ and was forced to withdraw.
9-10 Sep 44: operating from Petrinja and Sisak in company with 1. Kosaken-Kav.Div., Brigade elements carried out an unsuccessful sweep of the Glina area that was aimed at bringing the enemy to battle.
13 Sep 44: according to a Partisan account, the Brigade’s V Bn. lost 273 KIA, 90 WIA and 276 captured while defending Cazin, which was taken this date by 8th Assault Div. NOVJ. The Partisans admit to the loss of only 14 killed and 44 wounded.
1 Dec 44: Brigade assigned to the 4th Croatian Infantry Division effective this date. It was considered to be well armed and equipped (except for the garrison battalions), and aggressive with good morale.


1945

13 Feb 45: III Bn. from Kostajnica assisted in preventing an attempt by Partisan forces to surround and cut off Petrinja.
16 Feb 45: II Bn. fought a 3-hour battle with elements of 34th Assault Division NOVJ around the village of Mala Gorica/5 km NNW of Petrinja with light losses on both sides.
20 Feb 45: with Brigade HQ remaining in Kostajnica, I and II Bn. transferred to Bihać to reinforce the defenses there in the face of impending attacks by numerically superior Partisan forces. These two battalions remained there through March.
23 Apr 45: Brigade operating along the line Kostajnica – Bos. Novi with 5 battalions.
2 May 45: last identified withdrawing from Kostajnica toward Petrinja.

Commanders

Ust. Bojnik Petar Dujić (? - ?) Sep 1944
Ust. Bojnik Josip Kurelac (? - ?) Nov 44, Dec 1944

Subordination

I Territorial Corps (Apr 1944 - 30 Nov 1944)

Order of battle (Sep-Dec 1944)

Brigade HQ and headquarters elements and HQ Co. in Kostajnica (199)
I Bn. (1st – 4th Co.) in Bos. Dubica and later in Vaganac near Bihać (790)
II Bn. (5th – 8th Co.) in Petrinja (600) (incorporated into XIX Ustasha Brigade on 19 Dec 44)
III Bn. (9th – 12th Co.) in Kostajnica (739)
IV Bn. (13th – 16th Co.) in Bos. Krupa and later in Divuša/12 km SSW of Kostajnica (699)
V Bn. (17th – 20th Co.) in Cazin/55 km SW of Kostajnica (566) (incorporated into XIX Ustasha Brigade on 19 Dec 44)
Replacement Bn./VIII Ustasha Brigade in Bihać (500)
Ustasha Garrison Bn. “Drežnik” in Vaganac near Bihać (325)
Ustasha Garrison Bn. “Glina” in Petrinja (462)
Total Brigade strength: 4,880


Footnotes

1. Arhiv VII Belgrade, kut. 134a, reg.br. 4/1; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Zbornik dokumenata I podataka o narodnooslobodilačkom ratu jugoslovenskih naroda. Tom IV/28, p.274; IV/29, pp.668 and 672; IV/30, p.954; IV/31, pp.826, 874 and 879-85; V/29, p.558; V/38, pp.391 and 448; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Hronologija oslobodilačke borbe naroda jugoslavije 1941-1945, pp.733, 761-62, 791, 817, 886, 895 and 1106; NARA WashDC: RG 226 (OSS intelligence report No. 110433); RG 242 (T-311 roll 184/250; roll 185/330; T-314 roll 560/1336; roll 563/338; roll 1545/788 and 794; roll 1546/445-46 and 461-64); RG 331 (roll 447-B); Schraml, Franz - Kriegsschauplatz Kroatien, pp.187-88.


Reference material on this unit

- None known at this time -

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