Operation Morgenwind

morning breeze

This was a German pair of operations (‘Morgenwind I’ and ‘Morgenwind II’) to occupy the islands of Brač and Šolta in the Adriatic Sea off the Dalmatian coast of German-occupied Yugoslavia (12/16 January 1944).

The two operations were part of a series of German undertakings to recapture the Dalmatian islands, which had been occupied by the Yugoslav partisans after Italy’s September 1943 armistice with the Allies.

After the heavy losses they had sustained in ‘Herbstgewitter II’, the partisans decided to abandoned the rest of the Dalmatian islands and retreat to Vis, whose defence needed reinforcement and as there was a serious lack of transport capacity in the event a retreat across the sea became necessary.

Brač was taken on 12/13 January in ‘Morgenwind I’, and Šolta on on 14/16 January in ‘Morgenwind II’. Brač was held by small numbers of men of the Yugoslav partisan forces’ 26th Division and the ‘Brač-Šolta’ Partisan Detachment, against which the Germans deployed elements of the 738th Jägerregiment of Generalleutnant Josef Kübler’s 118th Jägerdivision, possibly supported by a small number of Croat troops.

The Germans took the island with little difficulty as the partisans evacuated their forces as they learned of the German approach, moving to the island of Vis farther out in the Adriatic Sea.

Šolta was held by elements of the same partisan forces, against which the Germans deployed a battalion (480 men) of the 892nd Regiment of Generalleutnant Otto Lüdecke’s 264th Division. The assault force departed from Trogir on the mainland, and the landing on Šolta was effected in two waves on the island’s north-west coast at at Maslinica at 03.25 and 04.00 with one landing barge, two landing boats, two motor sailers and one armed vessel. Support was provided by a mobile battery of 100-mm (3.94-in) artillery on Ciovo island.

After capturing Maslinica, the Germans advanced cautiously toward Grohotoe, Gornje Selo and Stomorska against the partisans’ rearguards. At 17.30 the partisans decided to abandon the island, and at 18.00 the men, their weapons and all equipment were delivered by sea to Vis island. Neither side suffered anything but the lightest losses in either ‘Morgenwind’ operation. The German occupation of the Dalmatian islands was completed by ‘Walzertraum’ (iii) to seize Hvar.