VIII Ustasha Battalion (VIII. ustaška bojna) also Ustasha Battalion "Devčić"
by H.L. deZeng IV

Formed during the early Summer of 1941 in Banja Luka. Re-designated III Bn.(VIII Ust.Bn.)/10th Jäger Regiment in February 1943 and attached to the 2d Jäger Brigade. When the 2d Jäger Brigade was withdrawn from operations in January 1944 and sent to Döllersheim in Austria for training, the cadre of the VIII Ustasha Bn. remained in Croatia and helped rebuild the battalion in Zagreb during February and March 1944 using personnel from the former Ustasha Volunteer Battalion Slunj. Although informally known variously as Ustasha Bn. “Devčić” or Ustasha Bn. “Ivan Devčić”, there is no evidence yet available to suggest that Ivan “Pivac” Devčić or Ivan "Pavao" Devčić ever commanded thisbattalion. After it was reformed in Zagreb the VIII Ustasha Bn. was transferred to Cazin in March but then in June 1944 was re-designated I Battalion/VIII Ustasha Brigade, thereby losing its separate identity. (1)


Operational History

(See the regiments and brigades it was subordinated to for additional details)


1941

After forming at Banja Luka, the Bn. was transferred to mine security duty at Lješljani in August and then to similar duty at Ljubija in October. In Oct 41 the VIII Ust Battalion reported its Bn. HQ and 4 companies in Lješljani and Ljubija in a total strength of 700 officers, NCOs and men.


1942

Still stationed at Ljubija, the Bn. participated in Operation “Westbosnien” in June, initially attached to the II Bn./German 721st Inf.Rgt. (714th Inf.Div.) and then under Blockade Group North in a strength of 3 companies. On 18 July it was engaged in mopping up the Kozara area, and several days later it encountered a group of 20 Partisans near Moštanica, killing 18 and capturing 2. The 2d Co. was detached and during August and September fought in the Bugojno-Kupres area attached to the Black Legion. Around the beginning of Oct 42 the VIII Ust Battalion reported its Bn. HQ in Ljubija, 1st Co. Ljubija, 2d Co. Prijedor and Bos. Dubica, 3d Co. Ljubija, 4th Co. at Sošice in the Žumberak, attached to the XVI Ust. Bn.
12-23 Oct 42: Ust..Bn. “Devčić” participated in Operation “Kozara” aimed at the destruction of Partisan groups in the area G. Podgradci - Bos. Dubica – Brdo – Prijedor - Kozarac under tactical command of the Ge-rman 714th Inf.Div. During the night of 22/23 October, the Battalion’s 2d Co. under Ust. Poručnik Ivan Batinić are alleged to have massacred with axes and knives the Pravoslavni populations in the villages of Palančište and Gornje Jelovac (a few kilometers north of Prijedor). It was said that among the victims were 181 children. The German command in Prijedor was furious and ordered the Croatian 3d Gendarmerie Rgt. (HQ Banja Luka) to carry out a full investigation, including an exhumation of the corpses. Several of the female corpses allegedly showed evidence of extensive torture. On German orders the entire 2d Co. was disarmed, and on 28 October Ust. Poručnik Batinić attempted suicide by shooting himself in the mouth. The bullet lodged in his head and he was taken to the hospital in Banja Luka. After the war the Yugos1av authorities considered this one of the worst atrocities committed in the Kozara area.
29 Oct - 3 Nov 42: two companies from “Devčić” participated in Operation “Sandmann” under the 714th Inf.Div. The objective was to destroy Partisan units in the area south of Bos. Novi between the Una and Sana Rivers, these being Partisan remnants that had escaped destruction in the previous months during Operations “Westbosnien” and “Kozara”. This was immediately followed by Operation “Lug” in essentially the same area, in which two companies from “Devčić” participated (2d Co. had been disarmed and 4th Co. was in the Žumberak). At the end of December, 4th Co. rejoined the rest of the Battalion in the Ljubija area.


1943

n February VIII Ustasha Bn. was attached to the Domobran 10th Jäger Regiment as its III Bn., but continued its security duties around the ore mining complex at Ljubija. From 8 to 12 May it fought in the Kozara and Prosara during Operation “Ulrich” under the tactical command of the German 114th Jäger Div. (ex-714th Inf.Div.). During the summer the Bn. transferred to Banja Luka, in the fall to the Blatna-Otoka area and by the end of the year it was based around Bihać. In Nov 43 dispositions were given as: Bn. HQ in Blatna, 9th Co. Otoka, l0th Co. Blatna, 11th Co. Blatna, 12th Co. Blatna with a total strength of 18 officers, 53 NCOs and 384 men.


1944

After the Bn. was rebuilt in Zagreb it moved to Cazin on 23 March, which it successfully defended against a powerful Partisan attack on 9 April. Apr 44 dispositions were given as: Bn. HQ in Cazin, lst Co. Cazin, 2d Co. Cazin, 3d Co. Cazin with a total strength of 6 officers and 554 NCOs and men, plus an attached, unarmed recruit company.By June the VIII Ustasha Bn. was stationed in and around Vaganac (northwest of Bihać) getting ready for Operation “Morgenstern II”, but by then it had become I Bn./VIII Ustasha Brigade (see there).

Commanders (2)

Ust. Poručnik Domenik Šutić (Feb 1942)
Ust.? Satnik Vinček (May 1943)
Ust.? Bojnik Gross (Nov 1943)

Subordination

Banja Luka Brigade (tactically) (1941 - Jun 1942)
II Ustasha Brigade (Jun 1942 - Feb 1943) (but tactically under the Banja Luka Brigade)
10th Jäger Regiment/2d Jäger Brigade (Feb 1943 - Feb 1944)
III Ustasha Brigade (Feb 1944 - Jun 1944)

Footnotes

1. The Croatian, Partisan and German primary documentation used for this history was inadvertently discarded, but it is similar to the sources used for the other units.
2. Other officers serving in the Battalion were: Ust. Poručnik Ivan Batinić, CO 2d Co. (10/42); Ust. Nadporučnik Franjo Sertić, Bn. trainrng officer (3/42); Ust. Zastavnik Bohumil Vaško, CO 1st Co. (2/42).


Reference material on this unit

- None known at this time -

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