Campaign of the Proletarian Brigades in the Bosnian Krajina


The offensive of proletarian and strike brigades in western Bosnia and the Bihać operation in 1942.

The campaign of proletarian brigades to Western Bosnia was carried out in the period from the end of June to the middle of August 1942. On June 24, 1942, the majority of units of the People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia (First and Second Proletarian, Third Sandzak, and Fourth Montenegrin Brigades) and the Supreme Headquarters of the National Liberation Army left Zelengora for western Bosnia. Along the way, battles were fought with the enemy (Konjic, Bugojno, Prozor, Livno, Kupres) and a newly liberated territory was created. At the end of July, the Fifth Montenegrin Brigade joined these forces with the Herzegovinian NOP Detachment, from which the Tenth Herzegovinian Brigade was formed.

The campaign in Bosnian Krajina was not intended as a march, but to strike at the enemy, expand free territory in western Bosnia and create favorable conditions for further development of the uprising in the western parts of Yugoslavia, so it was planned to be carried out gradually, in stages. In the first stage, a sudden attack was to break and destroy enemy crews and destroy the Sarajevo-Mostar railway, and then, in the next stage, continue to advance to the northwest, take control of the territory on the right bank of the Neretva, in the upper Vrbas and Kupres, Livno, Imotski. and connect with Krajina and Dalmatian units.

After a battle that lasted all night, around Jajce, the Second Battalion of the IV Montenegrin Brigade transferred the wounded, in the fall of 1942.

The commander of the Italian 2nd Army, General Mario Roata, commented bitterly on the penetration of proletarian brigades into Western Bosnia: "Here they are, a compact and renewed phoenix."

In order to prevent the further spread of the uprising, the Germans and the Italians, on March 3, 1942, in Opatija, signed an agreement which reached a plan for a general offensive against the partisans. According to that plan, the first operations began on April 15, 1942, in eastern Bosnia, for the purpose of which the "Bader" battle group was formed. The goal of this operation was the destruction of partisan units in the area of Rogatica-Kalinovik-Foča.

Due to the delays of the Italian divisions, which were held back by partisan forces in Herzegovina, as well as the successful resistance of the First and Second Proletarian Brigades and other partisan forces, the enemy's plan failed. The First and Second Proletarian Brigades managed to move to Sandzak and Montenegro, and partly to Herzegovina, to help the partisan forces, which the Italians, with a very strong force of about 9 divisions, launched an offensive in mid-1942. and managed to master these areas by the end of June.

"The units stayed at the Lucke Kolibe for seven days, getting ready and preparing for the big march towards the Bosnian Krajina. Hunger! The fighters are almost exhausted. "

(Koča Popović's War Diary of June 24, 1942)

Enemy offensive in eastern Bosnia, Montenegro, and Herzegovina (from April 20 to mid-June 1942).

The Supreme Headquarters of the National Liberation Army, which was in Foča until May 10, 1942, managed, with the help of the First and Second Proletarian Brigades, to withdraw part of the partisan forces from Montenegro and Herzegovina and form new units from them: the Third Proletarian Sandzak Brigade, the Fourth and Fifth Proletarian Montenegrin Brigade and the Herzegovina NOP Detachment.

Together with the Group of Brigades, which consisted of the First and Second Proletarian, Third Sandzak, and Fourth Montenegrin Brigades, the Supreme Headquarters, from the Zelengora region, on June 24, 1942, moved to western Bosnia in the general direction Kalinovik-Prozor-Kupres. The Fifth Proletarian Montenegrin Brigade and the Herzegovinian NOP Detachment with a partisan hospital were left on the border of Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Bosnia, in order to penetrate Montenegro and Herzegovina in a more favorable situation.

Partisan diversion on the Donji Vakuf-Jajce railway, September 1941.

Diversions on the railroad

After managing to break up the Ustasha forces around the Treskavica mountain, on July 3, 1942, the Brigade Group made a surprise attack on the Sarajevo-Konjic railway between Hadzici and Konjic. During the attack on Raštelica, a German armored train entered the station, firing at them from cannons and machine guns. Commander Koca Popovic, an artilleryman from Spain, fired at an armored train aiming through a barrel. During the night, the proletarian brigades defeated the enemy crews at the stations, destroyed important station facilities, destroyed the railway in several places, as well all-important bridges. Dozens of wagons and several locomotives were destroyed.

Attack on Konjic

"People everywhere welcome us very warmly. In Konjic, a lot of food was distributed to the population. (Koča Popović's War Diary of June 24, 1942)

After a series of diversions on the railway, the First Proletarian Brigade broke up the enemy garrison in Konjic on the night between July 7 and 8, defending a battalion of home guards and two Ustasha companies, liberated the city, and destroyed the railway station and furnace with about 25 locomotives. The liberation of Konjic was a great success - militarily and politically. 50,000 bullets were the prey one could only wish for at the time. This was a major blow to the occupying forces and the NDH, as ties with Herzegovina were severed for more than two months and the transport of bauxite from the Mostar region was prevented.

The attack on Duvno began at 11 p.m. Three battalions (one in reserve) took part in the attack. After weaker resistance, our units entered the city at 11:20 p.m. The enemy army all fled in the direction of Kola, and from there either towards Mostar or towards Livno. During and after entering the city, the order was perfect. Our units manifested themselves in an organized way through the city. "Koca Popovic's war diary."

The People's Assembly in liberated Livno in August 1942.

The liberation of Livno was a great success of the National Liberation Army. The second battalion of the First Proletarian Brigade entered the city through clearings, high wire barriers, and between masonry-concrete bunkers, destroyed the enemy forces it encountered, severed ties, and disrupted the enemy's command, and cooperated with other battalions attacking the city.

At the end of August, the units reached Bosanski Petrovac via Drvar, and the Supreme Headquarters of the National Liberation Army was placed in the train cars on Oštrelj. This will be followed by preparations for the attack on Bihac and the founding of the Bihac Republic.

In further battles, the Group of Partisan Brigades with the Krajina and Dalmatian units liberated: Aržano, Mrkonjić Grad, and Jajce. This created the conditions for the development of the People's Liberation Movement in the areas that had been under the influence of the Ustashas until then, and the newly liberated territory was connected with the liberated territory in the Bosnian Krajina through Livno and Mrkonjic Grad.

Fighters of the Mostar Battalion on the move towards Kupres, 1942.

On August 28, 1942, the Chetnik leader Dragoljub Mihailovic, who in cooperation with the Germans managed to expel the partisans from Serbia, ordered his commander Petar Bacovic to destroy the "last remnant remnants" in western Bosnia:

  "It is necessary and very important to beat the communists everywhere so that no one knows about them." They launched a campaign against us out of anger that they were almost completely destroyed in the country. "Action from eastern Bosnia, Herzegovina, Dalmatia, and Lika to destroy their last remnants in western Bosnia."

(Dragoljub Mihailovic)



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