Operation "Panther" (1943-12-07)
- Published: 23 January 2011 23 January 2011
- Last Updated: 07 April 2012 07 April 2012
Dates: 7 – 20 December 1943. (1)
Objective: To annihilate Partisan forces concentrated in the Glina area and destroy their supply bases in the Petrova gora and Samarica Mountains in order to reduce the frequent attacks on the Zagreb – Novska, Zagreb – Sunja and Sunja – Bihać railway lines.
Enemy Forces: 4th Corps NOVJ (7th Banija Div., 8th Kordun Div., Banija NOP Detachment and the Kordun NOP Detachment). Total strength approximately 13,000 combatants.
Total force strength: approximately 30,000.
371. Infanterie-Div. (main force)
373. Infanterie-Div. (kroat.) (5 battalions with supporting units)
1. Kosaken-Kav.Div. (6 battalions with supporting units)
2d Jäger Brigade (elements)
Eight (8) Ustasha and 1 Domobran companies from the Karlovac area
Domdo Battalion Husko Miljković (300 men attached to 373. Inf.Div. (kroat.))
Conduct of Operations and Results: Ordered by 2. Panzerarmee and under the overall command of German XV. Gebirgskorps, the operation covered a large area and took two weeks to complete. After surrounding the area, the Axis forces advanced toward the center between Glina – Topusko and Vrnograc in the Petrova gora. According to the German after-action report, the Partisan Central Staff for Croatia was prevented from creating an operational reserve in the area using the 8th Kordun Division. The Partisans were knocked off balance and prevented from carrying out operations in and from the area for at least a month. In addition to material losses, the Partisans suffered a major setback summarized as follows: (1) their military and civil infrastructure in the Banija largely destroyed; (2) the development of their Communist Party organization (Women’s Front, Youth, Young Pioneers, etc.) in the area was severely damaged and delayed; and, (3) their valuable propaganda coup in “liberating” a large area was destroyed, making them appear weak in the eyes of the populace. According to the Partisan accounts, the operation was marked by large scale looting and mistreatment of the population. The 2. Panzerarmee operations order directed the forced evacuation of some 6,000 locals and their temporary incarceration in holding camps in Karlovac and Sisak, but how many were actually rounded up is not known. The main body of the 4th Corps NOVJ evaded destruction and slipped away.
Losses and Booty (from German sources)
Germans: 70 killed, 278 wounded, 24 missing, 153 sick plus 141 horses killed.
Croatians: 10 killed and 30 wounded (incomplete).
Partisans: 882 counted dead, numerous wounded, 191 captured, 21 defectors, and 96 men who had been forcibly conscripted by the Partisans were rescued and evacuated.
Booty: 3 x 7.5 cm guns, 1 x 4.7 cm antitank gun, 2 x mortars, 47 x machine guns, 189 x rifles, and a large herd of livestock.
1. [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Oslobodilački rat naroda Juooslavije 1941-1945, 2 Vols (Belgrade: 1965), Vol. II, pp.35-38; [Vojnoistorijski institute] - Hronologija oslobodilačke borbe naroda jugoslavije 1941-1945 (Belgrade, 1964), p.624; Colić, Mladenko - Pregled Operacija na Jugoslovenskom Ratištu 1941-1945 (Belgrade: Vojnoistorijski Institut, 1988), pp.162-65; NARA WashDC: RG 242 (T-313 roll 191/7450940); (T-314 roll 558/470-73, 478, 480-85, 520-21 and 616-29).