The Battle of the Prozor in 1943.
|Column of Partizan in Prozor.|
The Battle of the Prozor was one of the significant battles of the Fourth Enemy Offensive. The battles for Prozor were fought on February 15 and 16, 1943, after which the Yugoslav partisans managed to briefly liberate the city from the Italians.
This attack by the People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia on Prozor was remembered for Tito's order "The Prozor must fall tonight!" After the end of the Fourth and Fifth enemy offensives,
Prozor briefly fell into the hands of the partisans again in August 1943. The attack on Prozor took place as part of the planned operation of the Main Operational Group of the People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia to penetrate the east and in a wider part of the operational unit known in historical fiction as the Battle of the Neretva or the Fourth Enemy Offensive.
|General Pekić, Fraković, Colonel Boban, next to the armored car of the Black Legion, Prozora area, March 1943.|
Prozor was defended by the 3rd Battalion of the 259th Infantry Regiment of the Italian Murge Division, reinforced by a company of light tanks and an artillery division, totaling around 800 soldiers and officers. The city was well fortified, defended by a circular system of bunkers and anti-personnel obstacles in the form of multiple rows of barbed wire on a cleared area. Access to the bunkers is defended by an efficient centralized fire system.
All three brigades of the Third Division participated in the attack: First Dalmatian from the general western direction, Fifth Montenegrin from the north, and three battalions of the Tenth Herzegovina from the east. During the course of the battle And when Tito said "The Prozor must fall", Sava gathered us, all four battalions, and said in Montenegrin: "Listen, comrades! This is a small town, it's called Prozor, there are 700 Italians, and we will kill them tonight." In the end, there were 1500 Italians, but we captured Prozor that night." (One of the fighters)
On February 15, 1943, the Third Shock Division attacked the Italian garrison in Prozor. The attack began at 20:00, and took place with partial success, especially in the First Dalmatian sector, parts of which took control of a number of bunkers and reached the first houses. Despite this, before dawn on February 16, the division headquarters judged this success insufficient to continue the day's fighting and ordered the withdrawal of units from the Italian artillery zone.
The attack was renewed the following evening. The second attack began on February 16 at 23:00, and the forces of the Third Division were reinforced by the Artillery Division of the Supreme Headquarters (7 howitzers) and two battalions of the Third Krajina Brigade. The second attack was much more successful. Particularly successful was the Third (Mostar) Battalion of the Tenth Herzegovina, which slipped between the bunkers and entered the city center. Parts of the Fifth Montenegrin also broke through. Already after 1:00 a.m., panic gripped the Italian crew. Its remnants formed a motorized column reinforced by tanks and before dawn, they started to break through toward Rama and Jablanica. This column was met in an ambush by two battalions of the Tenth Herzegovina Brigade, deployed in advance for that purpose, and almost completely destroyed it.
|The effect of incendiary bombs over Prozoro.|
One of the war legends is related to the second attack, according to which a courier brought a note from the Supreme Commander (who was located in nearby Šćit) to the meeting of the division headquarters with the commanding officers of the brigade, on which were written four words: "The Prozor must fall tonight". Historical records and memories of fighters confirm this legend.
The Italian unit had 220 dead, 280 captured, and a larger number of wounded in this battle. Units of the People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia captured a large amount of war booty, which, among other things, consisted of 5 light tanks, 4 howitzers, 2 anti-tank guns, 4 mortars, 12 machine guns, 25 SMG, 10 trucks, 1 tractor, about 500 rifles and a large number of war materials and equipment.
The units of the Third Division suffered losses of 23 dead, 39 seriously and 78 lightly wounded fighters. A large number of the seriously wounded later succumbed to their wounds.
In that period, the Italian forces suffered a series of heavy defeats: near Drežnica, on February 16, parts of the Second Proletarian Division destroyed the 1st Battalion of the 260th Regiment of the Murge Division, the 1st Battalion of the 259th Regiment was destroyed on 20-22. February in Rama and Jablanica and numerous smaller crews were also liquidated. In this way, the People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia units took control of the access roads and the Neretva valley from Mostar to Konjic.