Operation Bura

north-east wind

'Bura' was a German and Croat operation by the 370th Grenadierregiment (kroatisches) and 369th Artillerieregiment (kroatische) of Generalleutnant Georg Reinicke’s 369th Division (kroatische), together with Croat units of General Bozidar Zorn’s 9th Mountain Division against the forces of Marshal Josip Broz Tito in German-occupied Yugoslavia (27/29 January 1945).

The Axis order of battle for this undertaking comprised Major Becker’s Kampfgruppe 'Becker' with the 1/370th Grenadierregiment and 3/370th Grenadierregiment, two battalions of the 369th Artillerieregiment, the 1st Battalion and 3rd Battalion of the 9th Mountain Division's 2nd Mountain Brigade, the 1st Battalion, 3rd Battalion and 5th Battalion of the 9th Mountain Division's 9th Ustase Brigade, the 2/1st Ustase Active Service Brigade of General Roman Domanik’s Croat 8th Division, and the 4th Battalion of an undetermined Ustase brigade. The Yugoslav order of battle comprised the 3rd Assault Brigade and five-battalion (including one Italian) 4th 'Split' Brigade of Lieutenant Colonel Ljubo Truta’s 9th Assault Division.

The Axis attack was launched from Mostar and Siroki Brijeg (Lestica) through Citluk and Capljina toward Ljubusko and Metkovic, and took the Yugoslav forces completely by surprise. Three bridges over Neretva river at Capljina, Gabela and Metkovic were captured and destroyed, effectively cutting the Yugoslav forces' land communications between eastern and western Yugoslavia in this region. After the destruction of the bridges, the Axis Kampfgruppe abandoned Metkovic and drew its units back to Capljina.

On 11 February the 4th 'Split' Brigade reported its casualties as having been 30 killed, 40 wounded and 276 missing, out of which significant number returned to the brigade during February. The heaviest casualties were suffered by the brigade’s 5th (Italian) Battalion, and the six mountain guns of the 9th Division’s artillery battalion were lost. The Axis force took 18 prisoners, five armoured vehicles of the 3/1st Tank Brigade, eight pieces of artillery and many lighter weapons.

As result of this operation, Tito ordered Major General Petar Drapsin’s Yugoslav VIII Corps to strike at full strength and capture Mostar. Soon Lieutenant Colonel Stanko Parmač's 19th Division, Colonel Bozo Bozović's 26th 'Dalmatia' Division, Major General Vlado Segrt’s 29th 'Herzegovina' Division (from the II Corps), Major Franc Misjak’s Heavy Motorised Artillery Brigade of the VIII Corps and Lieutenant Colonel Perisa Grujić's 1st Tank Brigade arrived, marking the beginning of the Mostar operation. This was undertaken successfully between 9 and 15 February 1945 with the aid of two Yugoslav fighter squadrons as well as coastal and riverine transport vessels provided by the Yugoslav navy.