Royal Yugoslavian Guards Battalion serving Africa'42

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Andy H
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Royal Yugoslavian Guards Battalion serving Africa'42

Postby Andy H » 21 Sep 2010 13:09

Hi

The following is an extract from the 4th Indian Divisional History Pg161

On March 15th (1942) when the Hamra positions were nearing completion. 4th Division relieved the 2nd South African Division in the Salum Box. A battalion of Royal Yugoslav Guards came under (our) command.


They are not mentioned again. I know they didn't fight when under 4th Divisions command, but anyone with some further info would be gratefully recieved

Regards

Andy H

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Ironmachine
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Re: Royal Yugoslavian Guards Battalion serving Africa'42

Postby Ironmachine » 21 Sep 2010 17:14

There is some information here: http://www.feldgrau.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=3125

If memory serves me correctly Italy recruited Slovenes from Venezia Julia into its army just like any other Italian citizens. I believe that the British took in over 4,000 Slovene deserters or prisoners from the Italian Army in North Africa, 300 of whom already formed the nucleus of 1st Yugoslav Royal Guard Battalion by August 1941.


According to my information only 35 Yugoslav officers and 20 Yugoslav other ranks had succeeded in escaping to British lines in the Middle East by late 1943. If so, it is still probable that the Yugoslav Royal Guard Battalion was initially largely formed from ex-Italian Slovenes. There were about 100,000 Italian prisoners in British hands by August 1941, so it is not too unlikely that there were 300 Slovenes amongst them.


It was not until the Operation "Compass", when two prominent Slovene politicians who were politically active in Egypt even before the war, pressed on the Royal Yugoslav Government to allow Slovene POWs from the nearby Al-Agamy Camp to enlist themselves into the 1st Royal Yugoslav Guards Battalion, which was at that time badly understrength with only about 100 men, most of them army officers. Soon new recruits were pouring into the battalion, including those from Italian East Africa, Somalia, India, Kenya, South Africa, Palestine and some even from Argentina and the French Foreign Legion in French North Africa. When enlisting into the battalion, each recruit swore to the King Petar II. and received a Yugoslav citizenship, thuis revoking the Italian one, so that by September 1943 all soldiers were technically Yugoslav citizens.


In mid-June 1942 the Royal Yugoslav Guards Battalion was formed in Agami Camp next to the barracks of the Czechoslovaks. At the beginning of August 1942 came into the battalion more than 100 Slovenes who had returned from Tobruk, where they have served with the Polish Brigade. At about that time the battalion's strength was arounf 300 men. Alone on 2 January 1942 some 150 new Slovene POWs came, raising the strength of the battalion up to 500. The battalion saw very little action. As a part of the 10th Brigade of the 5th Indian Infanty Division they were sent to the oasis Kennels Box in the Libyan Desert, later to Halfaya Pass, never encounbtering any enemy afterwards they were pulled back to Trandjordan.


According to my source, around fifty specially selected men from the Royal Yugoslav Guards Battalion in Palestine and Jordania were sent to Eastbourne, England, in early 1943 to complete command traning and to form a special troops inside the 10th (Inter-Allied) Commando.


After September 1943, when the story about Tito fighting against the Germans and Mihailovic not, majority of the men of the Royal Yugoslav Guards Battalion, Royal Yugoslav Navy Squadron and various supply units joined to some of the Tito's forces which were at that time headquartered in Southern Italy. Only a small contigent of men remained loyal to the Royal Government, probably less than a company and several warships in Taranto. They were mostly drafted into the American or British armed forces in Southern Italy and saw some combat in Southern and Northern Italy in 1943-1945. However, they should not be mistaken for "Yugoslav" labour companies in Sardinia, Corsica and Southern France in 1943-1945.

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David W
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Re: Royal Yugoslavian Guards Battalion serving Africa'42

Postby David W » 21 Sep 2010 19:25

Nice work. Thanks for that.

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Andy H
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Re: Royal Yugoslavian Guards Battalion serving Africa'42

Postby Andy H » 26 Sep 2010 17:18

Thank you Ironmachine for that

Regards

Andy H

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Re: Royal Yugoslavian Guards Battalion serving Africa'42

Postby BryanK » 21 Nov 2010 03:58

Hi all
I've been reading all the correspondence about the Royal Yugoslavian Guards and their involvement in the Africa and Italy campaigns. The reason is to gain some understanding of history surrounding my father, who was born in 1918 in Gorenja Trebusa in Slovenia.
When Germany invaded "Yugoslavia" he was doing military service in the army. After the surrender, he and his brother fought as partisans until he decided that fighting two wars - Germany and Communists - was not to his liking. In his own words he "left and found his way to Palestine". His brother stayed with the partisans, becoming a communist, and somehow survived. Now I know little of how this was accomplished, but dad was in the 8th Army, and was definitely at El Alamein, and from what I can remember may have been at Tobruk too - not at all sure here if he were in the Royal Yugoslav Guards at all - but from the small bits of information he gave up, he was in a "commando" role and a sergeant platoon leader.
One thing I am sure of, he was one of the Slovenes recruited into No. 10 Inter-Allied Commando, trained at Fort William and based at Eastbourne. He held the rank of sergeant. He was in Algeria prior to the invasion of Italy, and was at Anzio and Monte Cassino, being attached to a Scottish regiment. He entered Rome with that regiment.
Being a stout anti-communist, he declined the offer of repatriation to "Yugoslavia", and joined the RAF, being stationed for a while at Klagenfurt in Austria. From there he was transferred to Algeria, where he met my mother, who was serving in the WRAF.
Would welcome anyone who can fill in some details.
Regards - bryank

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Re: Royal Yugoslavian Guards Battalion serving Africa'42

Postby 312MSO » 06 Mar 2011 13:47

This may help BryanK:
My father was a TA officer in the Royal Army Service Corps commanding 543 Transport Coy RASC in the Tobruk area Jan 42 to Mar 42.
The unit's War Diary (file WO169/6056 at the National Archives Kew) records that on 8 March 42 they "loaded !st Bn Royal Yugoslav Guards whilst under enemy air attack".
The RASC company was in the rapid retreat leaving the Tobruk area 27 March and arriving near Cairo 31 March. There is no further mention of the Yugoslavs. That RASC transport company alone would have had 200-300 vehicles, including 61 'non-runners' they towed 369 miles from Matruh to Cairo.

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David W
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Re: Royal Yugoslavian Guards Battalion serving Africa'42

Postby David W » 11 Oct 2012 16:27

Any idea when they left N.A for TransJordan?

At a bayonet strength of approx 500 are we assuming just three companies?


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