Operation Ostern (ii)

Easter

This was the German withdrawal from the port city of Zadar on the Dalmatian coast of the puppet state of Croatia within German-occupied Yugoslavia (30/31 October 1944).

The operation was part of the larger ‘Herbstgewitter’ (iii) for the withdrawal of the German forces from the Dalmatian coast toward the ‘Grüne-Linie’ position. ‘Ostern’ (ii) was the part of the undertaking associated with the withdrawal of the Kampfgruppe ‘Strecker’ (based on the 891st Grenadierregiment of Generalmajor Paul Hermann’s 264th Division), which was the garrison of Zadar and the area surrounding it.

The regiment’s commanding officer received initial instructions to prepare his unit’s withdrawal for 12 October 1944 and, when the order was given, to break through Smilcic toward Obrovac or through Biograd, Pakostane, Pirovac, Vodice, Bribirskih Mostina and Roski Slap to Drnis, gathering local garrisons along the way; as last resort there was sea route to Senj or Sibenik.

The success of the partisan 19th ‘Dalmatia’ Division in northern Dalmatia blocked the first two land routes, and thereby compelled the regiment to chose withdrawal by sea through Vodice toward Šibenik, where it would join the 892nd Grenadierregiment and 893rd Grenadierregiment before joining the 264th Division’s staff in Knin. The Kampfgruppe ‘Strecker’ was formed from regimental and naval personnel in Zadar for this specific task.

The sea movement was carried out successfully during night of 30/31 October from Zadar to Šibenik and thence to Knin just two days before the partisan attack on Šibenik cut off the Kampfgruppe ‘Allermann’, which was then savaged as it made an overland break-out and retreat. During the movement from Zadar to Šibenik, the German naval vessels involved (the torpedo boats TA 20 and TA 21 [ex-Italian Melpomene and Spingarda], corvettes UJ 202 and UJ 208, and minesweeper R 187) made 37 sorties without loss.

In the following ‘Wikinger’ (iii) which undertook the naval evacuation from Šibenik to Fiume (Rijeka), the squadron was intercepted by the British in ‘Exterminate’, which sank UJ 202, UJ 208 and TA 20.