Operation Sisak

mad dog

This was a Croat operation against the partisan forces of Marshal Josip Broz Tito in the northern part of the puppet state of Croatia within German-occupied Yugoslavia (23 March 1944).

After Ustaše intelligence had reported that the Western Group of Partisan Detachments was arriving in the area of Bistrica, an operation against the group was planned with a start time of 07.00 on 23 March 1944. By the time the operation began, however, the Western Group of Partisan Detachments had already moved in its capacity as the vanguard for 32nd ‘Zagorje’ Division, which was advancing toward Zagorje.

The Ustaše attack encountered the ‘Matija Gubec’ Brigade, which had thought the area was safe, and as a result the Ustaše’s surprise attack on the brigade headquarters resulted in several partisan deaths, including those of the brigade commander, Mijo Bobetko, the chief medical officer and another 11 partisans; another three partisans were wounded.

The Ustaše force involved in the undertaking totalled about 1,000 men led by Nikola Orešković, commander of the Fast Battalion of Ustaše Pukovnik Ante Moškov’s Ustaše Poglavnik Bodyguard Brigade. Centred on the Fast Battalion, the force had six armoured vehicles, two machine gun platoons, a mortar half-platoon, an anti-tank gun half-platoon, a headquarters company, a grenadier company, a platoon from the Zlatar garrison, the 10th Company and 12th Company of the PZUV (Ustase militia traffic control brigade) from Oroslavlje, and the 2/1st Regiment of the Ustaše Poglavnik Bodyguard Brigade.

The Ustaše reported its losses at two men killed and nine wounded, together with two motorcycles and three small arms, and claimed partisan losses of 147 killed and five taken prisoner, together with 42 rifles and nine horses. The partisans reported their casualties as 15 killed and six wounded, and estimated Ustaše losses at about 100. Each side had failed in its intelligence assessment of the other, resulting in confusion and a failure to exploit the circumstances. The subsequent ‘Sisak II’ operation was launched in April.