Operation Ferkel (ii)

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This was a German and Croat operation against the partisan forces of Josip Broz Tito in the Majevica mountain region to the north-east of Tuzla in the puppet state of Croatia within Axis-occupied Yugoslavia (3/13 November 1943).

The undertaking’s objective was the destruction of the 16th Assault Division and its supplies in the mountain area to the north-east of Tuzla bordered by Brčko, Gračanica, Bijeljina and Tuzla and so prevent the formation of a new partisan brigade believed to be taking place in the area. The Axis effort employed some 6,000 men including, from the Germans, elements of Generalleutnant Heinrich von Behr’s 173rd Reserve-Division, elements of Generalleutnant Josef Brauner von Haydringen’s 187th Reserve-Division, the Panzerspähzug (six armoured cars) of General Ernst Dehner’s LXIX Corps and the 206th Panzerzug, and from the Croats the 1, 2 and 3/5th Jägerregiment, and the 1 and 3/8th Jägerregiment.

The main action of the operation took place on 7 November. The partisan account of the battle claims that they stood their ground and drove the Axis forces back toward Brčko with an estimated 500 casualties while losing only 17 of their own men killed and another 48 men wounded. However, the German record suggests that there was no major action, but rather several skirmishes as the partisans, as was their standard procedure, evaded battle and slipped away. The German record admits 11 Germans killed and 58 wounded, together with 29 Croats wounded, and claims 210 partisans counted dead plus another 150 estimated dead, and 300 to 400 wounded.