Operation Dubrovnik II

(Yugoslav city)

This was a Croat operation against the partisan forces of Marshal Josip Broz Tito in the puppet state of Croatia in German-occupied Yugoslavia (8/11 February 1944).

At the conclusion of ‘Dubrovnik I’, Ustaše Pukovnik Ante Moškov on 7 February issued orders for new operation, which started at 05.00 on the following day with Ustaše Pukovnik Rafael Boban’s 5th Active Service Brigade, the 1st Poglavnik Bodyguard Regiment and one armoured battalion of Moškov’s own Poglavnik Bodyguard Brigade, and one mountain artillery battery of the Croat army’s central artillery training establishment.

The Ustaše and Croat forces initially assaulted one battalion of the ‘Zagorje’ Partisan Detachment in the village of Osijek and, taking completely by surprise, the partisan battalion soon fell back in considerable disorder, but managed to avoid significant losses. Later in the same day Moskov’s force met more determined opposition from the ‘Kalnik’ Partisan Detachment during the Croat and Ustaše capture of the Gradec position and the little village of Brezanci near the larger village of Apatovac.

At 17.00 the 2nd Battalion of the ‘Kalnik’ Partisan Detachment counterattacked toward Brezanci, pushing the Croat troops farther from Apatovac, and the same battalion also made a partially successful attack on Hill 368, driving the Croat troops from their first-line positions.

In the Bednja valley, parts of the 1st Regiment of the Poglavnik Bodyguard Brigade started to move at 11.00 from Varazdinske Toplice in the direction of Svibovac, where it was checked by the fire of the reconnaissance section of the ‘Braca Radic’ Brigade. After this the 3/‘Braca Radic’ Brigade sent a section with light machine guns to Hill 346 in the Medved forest area of the village of Leskovac, which was attacked by three Ustaše companies at 13.00.

On 9 February the ‘Matija Gubec’ Partisan Unit cracked, and the Croat and Ustaše forces soon took Ludberg and Koprivnica. Koprivnica fell to the 5th Active Service Brigade, while Ludberg fell to the 3rd Regiment of the Poglavnik Bodyguard Brigade, which was still forming. The operation was completed by capture of Ludberg and Koprivnica.

The partisan forces suffered the loss of 22 killed, 21 wounded and 17 missing, and claimed to have killed 88 men and wounded 109 others, among them four or five Ustaše officers, the latter including Devcic. The partisans also captured 35 rifles, one heavy machine gun and a field kitchen, damaged two tanks, and burned one truck. The Croat commander in the Varazdin area, Pukovnik Begic, in his report to the I Corps District, reported Croat and Ustaše casualties of 11 dead and 22 wounded, and claimed that the partisan losses were 350 dead and 600 wounded.

With Koprivnica secured, Croat troops quickly moved to recapture Pitomaca and to undertake the repair of the rail lines linking Zagreb and Varazdin, Zagreb and Krizevici, and Koprivnica and Krizevci.