Operation Kreševo

(Yugoslav town)

This was a German and Croat operation against the partisan forces of Josip Broz Tito in the puppet state of Croatia in occupied Yugoslavia (3 July/3 August 1942).

The Axis forces' operational objective was the destruction of a large partisan force, the 2nd and 4th Proletarian Assault Brigades, in the area bounded by Trnovo, the Treskavica mountains, Bjelasnica mountain, Igman mountain and Lepenica in the area to the south and east of Sarajevo. On the Axis side, the German forces were the 738th Regiment of Generalleutnant Johann Fortner’s 718th Division and the 103rd Panzerzug (armoured train), and those of the Croats the 1/5th Regiment, the 3rd Mountain Gun Battery of the 9th Artillery Group, two Ustaše companies, one motorised air force company, and one combined air force company.

The operation was prompted by a partisan attack on the 176-man Croat Ustaše, gendarmerie and militia garrison in the village of Kreševo, some 18.5 miles (30 km) to the west of Sarajevo, on 5 July. Before taking the village, this same partisan force had been engaged for the preceding weeks in the sabotage of railway lines and attacks on isolated outposts around Sarajevo. The Axis reaction was slow, however, and by the time the Germans and Croats had assembled their forces the partisan brigades had moved off to the north-west, in the direction of Bugojno and Donji Vakuf.

Most of the limited fighting which did take place occurred on and around Bitovnja mountain, some 25 miles (40 km) to the west of Sarajevo. The Germans later reported just nine Germans and Croats killed, as well as seven wounded, while claiming the 970 partisans killed and 450 wounded, most of them probably civilian ‘partisan suspects’ killed as the Axis troops swept through the villages of the area.