Operation Walzertraum (iii)

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This was the German seizure of the island of Hvar in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of German-occupied Yugoslavia within the overall context of ‘Herbstgewitter III’ and ‘Herbstgewitter IV’ (19 January 1944).

The Yugoslav partisan forces of Marshal Josip Broz Tito had already decided to abandon the island, and their garrison, the 11th Brigade, had been evacuated to the nearby island of Vis.

‘Walzertraum’ (iii) was undertaken by two amphibious detachments. The first comprised 700 men of the 750th Grenadierregiment, who were transported in two landing barges and two assault landing craft from the island of Korcula to land at 04.20 on the south coast of Hvar 1.25 miles (1.85 km) west of the Kozja cove; and the second comprised 860 men of the 2 and 3/738th Grenadierregiment, who were transported in two landing barges, five assault landing craft, two motor sailers and two patrol vessels from Povlja to land at 04.30 east of Vrbovska. The landings were supported by artillery from Brač and Cape Lovišće. Part of the second landing force was provided by the Küstenjägerabteilung ‘Brandenburg’ of Generalmajor Alexander von Pfuhlstein’s Division ‘Brandenburg’, and during the landing one of their craft hit anti-tank mine in a cove near Jasla, 21 of the battalion’s men being killed.

Anti-personnel and anti-tank mines which the partisan forces had received from the Allies had been placed in the sand or mud under the coastal shallows in several coves on the north coast of Hvar island.

The Yugoslavs received the initial report of the German landings on Hvar by telephone at 04.10 as the German ships approaching the shore opened fire on landing beaches. After they had come ashore, the German units advanced toward Sućurje and Zastražišće, Stari Grad and Hvar, and German naval patrols moved along the north, east and south coasts of Vis island. During the evening a pair of Yugoslav vessels travelled from Vis to Hvar island to collect the small number of partisans of one company who had been left on Vis. During the night the motor sailer Deva, escorted by patrol boat, also arrived to aid the final evacuation. After these vessels had left, there remained only one partisan detachment, with 37 men, on Hvar.