Operation Mostarska Operacija

Mostar Operation

This was a Yugoslav operation by the forces of Marshal Josip Broz Tito to take and hold Mostar, which shielded the left flank of the Axis forces of Generaloberst Alexander Löhr’s Heeresgruppe ‘E’ pulling back to the north from Serbia and Montenegro through Sarajevo and along the Bosna river to Slavonski Brod (6/15 February 1945).

The Axis order of battle, under the overall command of the headquarters of Generalleutnant Georg Reinicke’s 369th Division (kroatisch), included the 369th Grenadierregiment and 370th Grenadierregiment, 369th Artillerieregiment and 369th Aufklärungsabteilung of the 369th Division, the 359th Regiment of Generalleutnant Eugen Bleyer’s 181st Division, the 649th Artillerieregiment, one anti-tank battalion, one engineer battalion, one signals battalion, two fortress battalions, other independent units and the 48th Mobile Detachment, Pukovnik Božidar Zorn’s Croat 2nd Mountain Brigade and the 9th Ustaše Brigade of Zorn’s 9th Mountain Division, Croat militia units, the Italian 49th CCNN Legion ‘San Marco’, the Gruppo artiglieria ‘Lince’ and, in the area of Zijemnje and Ćesim, the surviving 500 or so men of the Četnik Nevesinje Corps‘Mostar’, ‘Nevesinje’ and ‘Konjic’ Brigades.

Against this force was arrayed General-major Petar Drapšin’s Yugoslav VIII ‘Dalmatia’ Corps comprising Potpukovnik Ljubo Truta’s Yugoslav 9th Division, Major Bruno Vuletić’s 2nd ‘Dalmatia’ Proletarian Brigade, Major Josip Babin’s 3rd ‘Dalmatia’ Brigade, Major Ivan Gaće’s 4th ‘Dalmatia’ Brigade and Major Mate Meštrović’s 13th ‘Dalmatia’ Brigade), Porpukovnik Stanko Parmač’s 19th Division (Major Rade-Radica Repac’s 6th ‘Dalmatia’ Brigade and Major Repac Ilija’s 14th ‘Dalmatia’ Brigade), Pukovnik Božo Božović’s Yugoslav 26th ‘Dalmatia’ Division (Major Vaso Đapić’s 1st ‘Dalmatia’ Proletarian Brigade, Major Ivan Guvo’s 11th ‘Dalmatia’ Brigade, Major Josip-Bepo Marinković’s 12th ‘Dalmatia’ Brigade and Major Bogdan Viskić’s 3rd Overseas Brigade), General-major Vlado Šegrt’s 29th ‘Herzegovina’ Division from the Yugoslav II Corps (Major Radomir Mirković’s 10th ‘Herzegovina’ Brigade, Major Slavp Skender’s 11th ‘Herzegovina’ Brigade, Major Ljubo Mijanović’s 12th ‘Herzegovina’ Brigade, Major Milorad Kujačić’s 13th ‘Herzegovina’ Brigade and Kapetan Radovan Šakotić’s 14th ‘Herzegovina’ Brigade), the six battalions of Major Franc Misjak’s Heavy Motorised Artillery Brigade of the VIII Corps, Potpukovnik Periša Grujić’s 1st Tank Brigade, Major Jovan Andrić’s 3rd Brigade of the KNOJ ‘Bosnia-Herzegovina’ Division, the 1st and 2nd Fighter Squadrons, and General-major Josip Černi’s transport force of the Yugoslav navy.

Most of central Herzegovina was part of the Hum district in the puppet state Croatia, and Mostar was also the main airfield of the Croat air force. The Yugoslav forces took Široki Brijeg on 6 February and Mostar, without meeting resistance, on 14 February. On entering the city, the Yugoslavs seized seven Franciscans, including Leo Petrović, head of the Franciscan province, from the church of St Peter and Paul, and executed them before dumping their bodies in the Neretva river.

The operation thus proceeded basically according to plan, and its successful outcome was reflected in the casualty figures of 514 men killed, 336 men missing and 1,544 men wounded among the Yugoslav forces, and 5,558 men killed, an unknown number wounded and 1,314 taken prisoner among the Axis forces, which also lost large amounts of matériel destroyed or captured.