Operation Petrova Gora

Petrova mountain

This was a Croat pair of operations (‘Petrova gora I’ on 18 March/18 April 1942 and ‘Petrova gora II’ on 9/15 May 1942) against undetermined partisan forces of Josip Broz Tito in the puppet state of Croatia in Axis-occupied Yugoslavia (18 March/18 April q942).

The object of ‘Petrova gora I’ was the engagement and destruction of the 1st and 2nd ‘Kordun’ Partisan Detachments in the Petrova mountain area of the Kordun region between Vojnić and Topusko. For the task the Croats deployed the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Combined Gendarmerie/Domobran Regiment, 1st and 2nd Lika Ustaše Battalions, 15th Ustaše Battalion, Karlovac Recruit Battalion, and five tankettes.

This month-long Croat offensive, under the command of Ustaše Dopukovnik Ante Moškov’s Utinjski Brigade, swept through the designated operational area with great brutality and no quarter given by either side. A number of Pravoslavni villages were burned to the ground and all non-residents arrested. No loss figures have been located for this operation.

The objective of ‘Petrova gora II’ was the engagement and destruction of the 1st and 2nd ‘Kordun’ Partisan Detachments and a proletarian company (totalling some 730 men missed in ‘Petrova gora I’) in the Petrova mountain area of the Kordun region between Vojnić and Topusko. For the task the Croats deployed some 3,175 men of the 1st and 2nd Lika Ustaše Battalions, 5th, 10th and 11th Ustaše Battalions, two companies of the Ustaše Poglavnik Bodyguard Battalion, Motorised Detachment of the Ustaše Poglavnik Bodyguard Battalion (five tankettes and 14 motorcycles with sidecar-mounted machine guns), 8th Ustaše Company, one company of the Ustaše Replacement Battalion, Ustaše Recruit Company, Machine Gun Company of the Lika Brigade, Karlovac (Domobran) Recruit Battalion, and Gendarmerie Wing Vojnić.

Under the command of the Utinjski Brigade, this all-Croat force advanced on 9 May from the east, south-east and south toward the centre of the Petrova mountain region. The partisans sought without success to break through the encircling forces during the night of 12/13 May, but during a second attempt on 14 May major elements managed to slip the through the cordon to the north in the direction of the Katić mountain range and Perna stream.

During the operation, the Ustaše burned down several more villages and killed or captured many women, children and old people who were later transported to concentration camps. The Croats admitted the loss of 37 men killed, 19 wounded and two missing, and claimed between 650 and 700 partisans killed.