Battle of Vukov klanac

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Post by Lt.-Colonel » 30 Dec 2004 19:06

It could be. Partisans, generally, spared POW Wehrmacht, but in 369ID were much more Croats than Germans, so it is possible that they have gotten the same treatment as ustaše.

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Post by streljko1 » 02 Jan 2005 01:54

Yes there is great disproportion in NOVJ/german casualties.Why? We can choose between:
a)Partisans held the higher ground,and germans were suprised and in panic they were dispersed suffering high casualties.
b)Killing of POWs.Most of the captured were croats,and maybe partisans treated them like traitors, but I must point out that at that time many of the men of 369 ID realised that they are fighting for the lost thing, also some partisan agents were infiltrated in division, and they managed to persuade two companies from 2 batallion of 370 regiment to join partisans on 16.09.1944. on Pelješac peninsula,also many others individually deserted, and it seems unlikely that the partisans would waste oportunity to refill their ranks.
c)Partisans simply could boost number of enemy killed or captured for propaganda reasons.

During 1944 and 1945 many NDH soldiers deserted, either to the partisans, or they simply went home. I don´t have information how partisans treated captured enemy at Vukov klanac, but I can give you example how partisans treated other captured germans at that time.
In one local newspaper ,year ago I read interview with former member of 738 regiment of 118 jager division. I think that his name was Max.
During the german retreat from Dalmatia his platoon (~60 men) was ordered to defend small town Zagvozd (8 km north of Makarska), unfortunately for Max and his platoon they were soon attacked by strong partisan forces,and after a short fight german defence was broken, ~10 germans were killed by partisans, ~5 (including their commander) commited suicide,other, including ~20 wounded were captured.
Partisans loaded wounded prisoners on trucks and Max never heard of them (after the war , in Germany,he searched for them-but without success) . Other prisoners were forced to clean mines ,mostly with their bare hands,from road Split-Makarska, that ironically were laid by german troops during the retreat. After some time most of the prisoners were killed during this risky work but Max managed to surive. Later he spent few months in Solin near Split,and in Tivat. He also sayed that treatment of the prisoners improved after capitulation of Germany, and during the time he spend in Tivat,no POWs died. I lost that article so I am not able to post you correct data about numbers of germans involved,or years, but I think that my estimate is more or less correct.

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Post by Lt.-Colonel » 03 Jan 2005 12:19

Now, I have found exact outline of that battle and I have 1:25.000 map of the area, but I cannot post it. Can somebody help me with that ? The description of the battle is meningless without a map to track it. If you have a map available casulty rate of 369ID becomes comprehendable.

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Post by streljko1 » 05 Jan 2005 10:54

If you cannot post map of the battlefield send description,if you think it is usefull.

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Post by G. Trifkovic » 22 Oct 2005 17:51

"...When the order of the 2. PzAOK came to evacuate the coast so that a defensive grouping can be covered in the interior,the 369th Leg.Div. was severely whipped north of Dubrovnik. It lost almost all of it's artillery and heavy infantry weapons."


p.71

"...The 369th Div.,Generalmajor Reinecke,in Mostar,heavily hit,almost without artillery,morale and material.Not fit for action (unfortunate occurances at Trebinje and Dubrovnik have already been mentioned)..."


p.82

These are extracts from the book "Endkampf auf dem Balkan" (Heidelberg,1955) written by Erich Schmidt-Richberg,at the time chief of staff of "Heeresgruppe E". No further details on the defeat are given,but I believe that the two quotes from above say enough.

Cheers,

Gaius

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Post by streljko1 » 22 Oct 2005 18:29

I will soon post more about this interesting battle, thanks to family of one of my cousin, who was member of 11th dal. brigade, I got book dedicated to that brigade, which includes very detailed description of that operation + very detailed map, I need some time to translate (around 20 pages, but I will try to present basic facts only).
Pozdrav!

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Post by streljko1 » 23 Feb 2006 21:42

When I started this thread a year ago, I wasn´t even sure did this battle even happened, altrought the final results were(according to few lines that I found in YU books) serious blow to German strenght.
Luckily, I got Rako/Družijanić book dedicated to 11. Dalmatian brigade which in detail (around 20 pages) describes actions of mentioned brigade in area Ston – Neum.
11. Dal. brigade was in support role, and actions of 1 Dal . brigade were decisefull, but in the book were only mentioned in basic lines, and many things (like German /Yugoslavian casualties) remained unclear.
Anyway, when I compared info from the book with very few informations that could be found on the internet(mostly on some forums) I decided to write shortened version of Rako/Družijanić article in hope that it will be helpfull for those interested in that battle, but after some time, I got few more books that touch Vukov klanac and I had to use them and refill existing text, so that is reason why I didn`t post this earlier.
Here I tried, in simple way and using timeline, to show what happened during the october 1944. in south Dalmatia.
The books I used were written by Yugoslav authors, and in some aspects are not objective, still, these authors heavily based their work on “other side” books and documents and I held them as best source of informations about ww2 on ex Yugoslav territory.

Also I am sorry for any mistake during the translation.


Introduction

After losing Dalmatian islands, and Pelješac peninsula, and because of crise situation in the north-east of Balkan, German command planed to abandon front line in Dalmatia, which would move to line Rijeka – Senj – Velebit – Knin – Mostar- Nevesinje – Gacko.
Start of evaculation was ordered for 17.10.1944., Dubrovnik should be abandoned on 20.10., Šibenik 2.11., operation codename was, like attack operation one year ago, “ Herbstgewitter”.
Problem for German plan was situation on islands Hvar and Brač and Pelješac peninsula, which were previously taken by units of 26th Dalmatian division, expected Yugoslav attack along the coastline and with poor morale of Croatian troops, both serving in German and NDH units, that were more and more affected by Yugoslav propaganda to change sides while they still can, German situation was not promising.

That was confirmed during the defence of fortified town Janjina on Pelješac peninsula (18/19.september 1944.), where Croatian soldiers from 2 .bat/370IR(two entire companies + some smaller parts) killed German officers and joined the Yugoslavs, and only unit that resisted attack of Yugoslav 11. Dalmatian brigade and 3. Oversea brigade were parts of Naval brigade Orebić( “...in Ston came running remains of 2nd bat/370IR , together with remains of Naval brigade Orebić. Most of the Croat members of battalion escaped with their weapon to the Reds, most of German staff were brutaly killed, what happened in Ston was drama, of which nothing can be more sad, Croats of 2. battalion were disarmed, major Schiestl (commander of 2.battalion), with rucksack,came alone on the land, he was like hit in the head...” Quote from F. Schraml, “Kriegsschauplatz Kroatien die deutsch – kroatischen Legionsdivisionen”).

Finally, 19. Fortress battalion <999> stopped Yugoslav attack on Ston 21/22.09.1944. by using old fortifications made by Dubrovnik republic, many Yugoslav soldiers later wondered why that penalty unit, that included even some communists, fought so hard against them, commander of 11. Dal. brigade major Guvo, who personaly interviewed captured commander of Fortress battalion recalled that German commander insisted that he must admit that his unit fought hard, and that his men were rehabilitated , and according to Guvo`s words “lived in world of medival knights”.


Yugoslav plan for attack in october

1. and 11. Dalmatian brigade of 26. Dalmatian division(strenghtened with Group of southdalmatian island detachments) were ordered to capture Ston and to cut the road Metković – Dubrovnik, only German retreat line from Dubrovnik. 29. Hercegovina division and Primorje operative group were ordered to attack Germans from the rear and to capture Dubrovnik.
During the 10/11. october 1.bat /11. Dal. brigade made landing in the area Slivno Ravno, result of the action showed that is possible to overcome German defences in that area (parts of 3.bat/370IR streched on a wide area) and advance to Vukov Klanac.
Battalion from Southdalmatian islands detachments was landed near Točionik and ordered to attack artillery in Ošlje.
Dubrovnik detachment was ordered to capture bridge near village Trnave.
.
.
.

13.october-Yugoslav officers agreed about plan for attack, 11.Dal. brigade (without 2 battalions) + two 75 mm mountain howitzer batteries and AT platoon will attack Ston, and capture the town and important hill Oštrikovac (hill 404) near the road Metković-Dubrovnik.
1.Dalmatian brigade (without 5.batallion) with 75 mm howitzer battery and platoon of AT guns will land between Neum and Slivno Ravno, advance to Vukov Klanac, repulse possible counterattack from Metković direction,and to cut off Ston from the direction Neum – Đunta Doli.
Day before attack, HQ of 369. Infanterie Division organised conferention in Metković with commander of 369IR Fischer and commander of 370IR Kaene(Kiene? different books give few versions of his name), so when units of 26. Dalm. division blocked the road Metković – Dubrovnik,colonel Kaene was cut from his unit.

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Post by streljko1 » 23 Feb 2006 21:44

German troops and their positions
369.Infanterie Regiment around Trebinje, Konavli and Dubrovnik (without 2. battalion that is added to 118 Jäger division, Aržano near Sinj)
370.Infanterie Regiment between Slano and Metković (without 2. battalion that was almost completely destroyed during the defence of Janjina IX.1944.)
369. Artillery Regiment – divided between infantry units
Other parts of 369 ID are in the area Nevesinje and Stolac
Fascist Legion San Marco (defends rail line in Popovo polje)
19. Fortress Battalion <999> in Ston
612. Navy Artillery Regiment and 949.Coastal Artillery Regiment (organised into Artillery group Dubrovnik, in all, 13 batteries)
9.Ustaša/HG garrison Brigade(Ustaša militia)
Parts of 9. Ustaša brigade
Dubrovnik Četnik corps

In the area attacked by 26. division were:
STON - 19. Fortress battalion <999> and company from 370IR (commanding officer Schulenberg)
FROM NERETVA VALLEY TO NEUM 3.battalion/370IR
NEUM – STON 1.battalion/ 370IR
OŠLJE HQ of 370IR
TOPOLA – ZAMASLINA 2. Artillery Battalion/369. Artillerie Regiment
Also in the villages in landing zone was around 720 Gendarmes and Ustaša militia, but they were not considered as dangerous because of poor moral.


Yugoslav troops and their positions

26. Dalmatian division – 1. and 11. Dalmatian brigade with Group of Southdalmatian islands detachments(200+ men)- Pelješac-Ston
29. Hercegovina division – 10.,11.,12.,13. and 14. Hercegovina brigade- east Hercegovina
Primorje operative group of 2. NOVJ Corps– 2.Dalmatian Proletarian brigade, 1.Boka brigade and 10. Montenegro brigade- east Hercegovina and Montenegro
Dubrovnik detachment- Osojnik north of Dubrovnik
Konavle detachment – Konavle

Ston sector (11 dal. brigade)14-17. october
11.Dalmatian brigade was ordered to attack Ston without 4.battalion (in reserve, later added to 1 Dal. brigade).

Ston is town situated on important isthmus, that connect Pelješac peninsula with land, those value was praised even by old Dubrovnik republic, that built strong fortifications (around 5 km long) from one to another side of the isthmus, these fortifications were repaired by German and NDH units and manned by 19. Fortress battalion <999>.

Fortified isthmus didn`t gave numerically superior Yugoslav forces(1.5:1 ratio) opportunity for ground flanking attacks, so they simply decided to use one of partisan tactics; stealth and suprise - 3.bat./11.Dal. brigade was ordered to cross the Malostonski bay during the night with small fishing boats and suprise the enemy, for the men of the battalion that was not a problem because many of them were prewar fishermen.
That, according to Yugoslav plan, in combination with frontal attack of other battalions should led to complete downfall of organised resistance and quick capture of Ston.

14/15. october attack on Ston begins with attacks of Spitfires and Hurricanes of Yugoslav airforce.

16/17. october using two small boats, 3.bat./11.Dal. brigade crossed Malostonski bay to attack German fortifications on Stinčera (hill 347) from the rear, attack was ordered for the morning of 17.10., but the transport was slow (entire batallion crossed the bay around 0300), so battalion commander decided to postpone attack for the next day and battalion remained hidden behind German lines for almost a day, and was not discovered.

During the day other battalions(1.,2 and 5.) attacked Ston directly.
1.bat/11. Dal.brig. managed to capture Hum (hill 78) at 0900, after almost five hours of combat.
2.bat./11.Dal.brig. captured fort Bartolomija (hill 219) what was considered as great succes, because Bartolomija is one of dominant hills over the battlefield.
5.bat/11. Dal.brig.(oversea unit) on the right flank suffered heavy losses from artillery fire, mostly because this battalion advanced on the open ground, over saltern in front of German positions, 1.company was badly mauled and dropped to 28 men.
During the afternoon of 17.10. Germans tried to push back Yugoslavs from Bartolomija, but their counterattack was stopped and beaten back.
4. battalion was transfered from the reserve positions to 1. Dalmatian brigade sector in Neum.
At the end of the day Germans were reinforced by a company of Italian fascist from San Marco legion.

With dusk (1730) 3. bat./11.Dal. brig. started to move over Zamaslina area toward hill Stinčera, during the movement, patroles captured 11 soldiers from 369 ID and cut telephone lines between Ston – Ošlje.
To keep secrecy(bat. was behind enemy lines) all soldier are ordered to take their boots of.
This strategy worked, around 2100 bat. attacked positions on Stinčera hill and first Germans are captured off guard, other put weak resistance, but without succes, finaly three white flares signaled that Stinčera is in Yugoslav hands.

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Post by streljko1 » 23 Feb 2006 21:47

Vukov klanac 15-17.october

15/16. october From port Drače two battalions if 1.Dalmatian brigade landed in Soline bay(1.and 3.battalion 1.Dalmatian brigade) and one(2. battalion) landed in Klek.
On left flank 1. and 3. battalion moved to Slivno Ravno and attacked parts of 370IR, after initial resistance Germans retreated to Opuzen. Battalions continued toward road Metković-Dubrovnik.
370IR strongly defended line Zavala – Krstac – Marin Vijenac but was forced to retreat.
1.Dalmatian brigade reached line Radež village – Brestica, bunkers near Vukov klanac were not captured.
On right flank 2. battalion attacked enemy positions near Ćurvilo, and took them around afternoon, 16. october. After Ćurvilo was lost, Germans realised that Yugoslavs could envelope their main force, so they abandoned Neum.
With the capture of of Neum, 1.Dalmatian brigade formed a bridgehead on the line: Ćurvilo – Vranjevo selo – Žrnjevo – Radež – Brestica –Trovr. Road Dubrovnik – Neum was blocked by the nightfall.
15/16. october Battalion of Southdalmatian islands detachments destroyed one battery of 369.AR near Oštrikovac.

I phase of Yugoslav plan was successful.

During the night 4.bat./11 Dalmatian brigade and 4. bat./1.Dalmatian brigade landed in Neum.
17. october Dubrovnik garrison learned what happened in Neum and send Marine Rifle battalion(ex 612. Navy Artillery Regiment) by sea to aid 370IR.
Dubrovnik detachment failed to destroy bridge near village Trnove because guard was reinforced.
Staff of the 1.Dal. brigade decided that two battalions (3.bat/1.Dal.brig. and 4.bat./11.Dal.brig.) will block road in the Vukov klanac area, and organise defence against possible attack from Metković.
Other battalions from 1. Dal. brigade (1.,2. and 4.) will advance from both sides of the road from Neum to Oštrikovac.
17. october during the morning 1.,2. and 4. battalion of 1.Dal. brigade moved from their positions near Neum to village Duži, where they captured after short combat one battery of 369 AR(one 105 mm gun was in good condition).

To secure flanks in direction Hutovo, line hill 428 – hill 405 was defended.
At the end of the day, Yugoslavs reached line Ošlje – Rudine.
1.battalion/370IR and local militia suffered serious losses.
According to Yugoslav data Germans had 150 killed and 120 captured, 15 different guns, 70 horses, 40 special vehicles, 25 motor vehicles, brigade destroyed around 30 vehicles and two workshops mounted on trucks.
Schraml described 1. battalion fate: “1. battalion/370 IR was destroyed before 18. october, except 1.company, that was in reserve. Parts reached Rudina crossroad....three company commanders and battalion adjudant were killed, major Becker hardly escaped and managed to evade capture”.
3.bat/1.Dal.brigade succesfully attacked German positions in Vukov klanac and captured them after short combat, and to their suprise, soldiers discovered that Germans placed mines in lenght of 2 km of the road probably to destroy it in case of allied landing or after retreat.

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Post by streljko1 » 23 Feb 2006 21:49

Ston 18.october

After reciving news that Stinčera hill was in Yugoslav hands and road to Ošlje is blocked,one group of Germans from 19. Fortress battalion retreated to fortress Kaštel in Ston, another group with Italian fascists retreated to fortress Korona in Mali Ston where they wanted to resist until help arrive and broke the siege.
Those in Mali Ston were attacked from all sides, and only after Yugoslavs fired number of bazookas into the fortress explosions of ammunition caused fire and Germans surrendered.
In Ston Germans were blocked in Kaštel fortress, same as in Mali Ston they refused to surrender, but after Yugoslavs captured the gate of the fortress, and begin to throw molotov coctails inside they surrendered, in all,250 soldiers and officers were captured.
Yugoslavs were shocked to learn from German soldiers that many of them are convicted members of leftist parties, some even show documents, but still they fought hard.
In Zamaslina was captured battery of 105 mm guns, two of them were in good condition.
After liberation of Ston, 11. brigade commander decided to continue with attack tomorow towards Đunta Doli and hill Oštrikovac on the road Neum – Dubrovnik where battalions of 1. Dalm. brigade are heavy engaged against German troops.

Vukov klanac 18.october

During the morning of 18. October, 1.,2. and 4. bat of 1.Dal. brigade attacked Oštrikovac, but after German positions were reinforced with two companies of San Marco legion from Hutovo area and two Ustaše companies, Yugoslavs abandoned idea for quick capture of Oštrikovac, and retreated to best possible defence positions. Germans abandoned Dubrovnik and their column advanced towards Slano, pursued by 29. Hercegovina division and 2. Dalmatian brigade.

HQ of 26.DD established connection with 29. Hercegovina division, and got situation report of 29. HD (for day 16.10.), according to that report, 10. and 12. Hercegovina brigade were near Dubrovnik, 13. Hercegovina brigade captured Turkoviće, 2. Dalmatian brigade captured Cavtat and one of this brigade`s battalions arrived in Orahov dol and could attack German positions near Oštrikovac.
But, that was on 16.10., in two days situation has changed, Dubrovnik was liberated, and 2. Dalmatian brigade retreated to Konavle without any action against German troops in the area.

At the same time, 4. battalion /11. Dal. brigade was sent from positions around Vukov klanac to patrol toward Metković, during the patrol battalion on the Čukavica (hill 412) attacked German – NDH column, after some combat, Germans tried to retreat, but were ambushed by 3. company and destroyed, Yugoslavs had 2 killed.
After that success battalion continued with advance and arrived near Metković, one company went near Ustaša held villages Mislinja and Mlinište, Ustaša militia from those villages didn’t resist.
Finally, staff of 1.Dal. brigade ordered battalion to retreat to defence positions near Vukov klanac, because attack is expected from both directions, from Metković and Dubrovnik.


Around this time, Supreme staff of NOVJ, that was main link between 26. and 29. division, went for Serbia, and that will cause break of communications between these divisions, so instead to pursue the retreating Germans harder, staff of 29.division decided to give rest to its exhausted units in Dubrovnik for two days.

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Post by streljko1 » 23 Feb 2006 21:51

Situation map 15-19. october:
http://img413.imageshack.us/img413/9418 ... aza5kw.jpg


Ston 19.october

2.battalion /11.Dalm. brigade captured Đunta Doli where many enemy soldiers surrendered.
1.battalion tried to capture hill Oštrikovac (hill 404), but was repulsed, Germans also defend hills 254,402 and 376, terrain was not favourable for attackers, so Germans were able to hold these hills.
3.battalion managed to capture hill 402, enemy losses were 6 killed soldiers and one officer, 5 Italians were captured, during the night battalion also captured two soldiers from 369 ID.
5. Battalion was in reserve in Ston.

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Post by streljko1 » 23 Feb 2006 21:53

Vukov klanac 19.october

Commander of 370 IR Kaene, who went on consultations with division commander, was by actions of 1. Dal. brigade cut from his unit, finally managed to organise battle group in Metković from parts of 3.bat/370IR, some alarm units from Neretva valley and NDH units.

Commander of 1. Dal.brigade Stupar decided to use mines captured at Vukov klanac and after the explosions, road was useless for traffic. That will be,as future development will show, fatal for German group from Dubrovnik.

KG Kaene (7 Italian tanks and assault guns, 2 armoured cars and few trucks with around 150 infantry soldiers), advanced during morning to clear road Metković – Neum, colonel Kaene was not advised that road in area of Vukov klanac was destroyed by Yugoslavs, and also lacked information about Yugoslav forces in front of his KG, so instead to wait for stronger infantry units that will guard his flanks on the mountain and crass terrain he decided to attack with tanks and free road for group from Dubrovnik. His group was closely watched and delayed by patrol groups that were dispatched to give Yugoslav main force time to prepare ambush near Vukov klanac at destroyed road.
There were waiting 2. and 3. company from 4. bat/11.Dal. brigade, supported with AT guns, and when tanks stopped in front of the ruins , AT gun destroyed last tank in column, so retreat of the column was impossible, and infantry finished the other tanks(according to other story all tanks were destroyed with AT guns- that difference is probably because AT guns were from 1.Dalmatian brigade, and infantry from 11.Dalmatian brigade).
From Schraml :”....enemy suprised us, suddenly attacked us and advanced almost to Metković. Colonel Kaene with alarm units, parts of 370IR, and with tank support organised counterattack, but was almost completely destroyed before he reached Neum pass....”.

At the same time, in the area east of Oštrikovac from Dubrovnik arrived large Axis group, around 4000 men strong (parts of 369IR and 370IR, remains of 19. Fortress battalion <999>, Navy Rifle battalion,remains of 9.Ustaša /HG Garisson brigade(most of the men deserted), , two batteries of 3. battalion 369 AR,one battalion of coastal artillery, two company of 9. Ustaša brigade and two company of San Marco Legion.
That units were organised into KG Becker (commander of 1.bat/370IR) and had more men than Yugoslav troops in front of them, great problem for Gemans were many vehicles and other equipment, that were too prescious to be left behind, so Germans had only one option- to follow the road, regardles to casualties.
To protect the vehicles hills around the road should be occupied and defended, and attack will be spearheaded by 4 tanks that were evaculated from Dubrovnik and Trebinje.

Units of 1. Dal. brigade noticed strenght of enemy, HQ of 26 DD expected attack in direction Metković and ordered retreat to line hill 332 – hill 378 (1. and 2. battalion/1. Dal. brigade), 4. battalion /1. Dal. brigade was oredered to defend in deep line Imotica – Duži.
Units were also ordered to evade costly stands and rather retreat than to risk more lifes.
11.Dalmatian brigade was ordered to attack enemy flanks.

At the same time,13. Hercegovina brigade captured Hutovo, Hrasno and Sjekose.

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Post by streljko1 » 23 Feb 2006 21:56

Vukov klanac - Oštrikovac 20.october
To secure its left flank, parts of KG Becker (around 250 soldiers) attacked 3.bat/11.Dal.brigade on hill 402, attack was repulsed, German losses were, according to Yugoslavs, 10 dead, 3.bat. lost 3 KIA,3 WIA.
During the afternoon German column, supported with tanks and artillery, reached Duži, after ferocious exchange of fire 2.battalion/1.Dal. brigade retreated to Neum, 1. battalion/1.Dal. brigade retreated to line hill 457 – hill 437, 4. battalion/1.Dal. brigade retreated to Ograde area.

Around 1700, 4 Yugoslav planes strafed German column, Germans managed to shot down one Hurricane (pilot S. Vouk was killed), after that Yugoslav mortars opened strong fire on suspected AA sites.
Germans lost 3 tanks, two on mines and one by planes.
In the north, parts of KG Becker attacked positions of battalion of South Dalmatian Islands detachment, captured Lisac and Visočani and reached Točionik.

HQ of 1.Dal. brigade asked HQ of 13.Herc. brigade to advance to road Metković – Dubrovnik, but after news that German troops captured Točionik, HQ of 13HB presumed that Germans will advance on Hutovo and moved all units in that direction.

HQ 1.DB finally decided that without reinforcements is impossible to fight KG Becker frontally, and ordered its battalions to attack enemy flanks, 2. and 3. from the south, 1. and 4. from the north.
Direction Metković was covered by 4.bat/11.Dal. brigade. On the left flank of KG Becker were 1.,2.,3. and 5.bat./11.Dal. brigade. Units were ordered to hold German attempts to repair the road and establish secure area around road.

Map for 20-23. october:
http://img383.imageshack.us/img383/7298 ... aza2mo.jpg

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Post by streljko1 » 23 Feb 2006 21:57

Vukov klanac - Oštrikovac 21.october

KG Becker was ready for breakthrough and during morning of 21.10. Germans abandoned Slano and Oštrikovac and moved by the road west of village Duži, Neum was reached around 1200 column was perfect target for Yugoslav artillery, mortars and small arms fire, Yugoslavs attacked from the flanks, and Germans managed with heavy losses in material and life to advance along the road, to support main force smaller attacks were done in area Metković and Oštrikovac, also, KG Kaene attacked in direction of Vukov klanac.

After main body of KG Becker moved to Neum, 11.Dal. brigade finally captured hill 404 and road Oštrikovac - Rudine, where they discovered many abandoned trucks, guns and other equipment.
2. and 5 bat. followed German column to Ošlje, Germans evaded any longer combat, and retreated after few shots.
Forward elements of KG Becker reached destroyed road near village Kuti by nightfall, and there they halted because it was impossible to move on with vehicles, ironically, they were stopped by the work of their own mines, strong patrols were send to establish connection with KG Kaene and defence was organised on both side of the road.

At the same time staff of 1. Dal. brigade ordered 4. bat./11.brigade to cross the road and move to area of Opuzen in case of axis attack on Yugoslav bridgehead from that direction, during the movement, two soldiers were MIA (they were killed or captured by above mentioned German patrols).

To repair the road work battalion arrived from Metković, but during the night road could not be repaired, mostly because work battalion came under precise Yugoslav mortar fire.
Still Germans managed to transport many wounded to safety.
Units of 8 .Dalmatian Corps were also engaged in the north, and Yugoslav forces there(half of 26.Dal. division,19. and 20.Dalmatian division) were insufficient for planed operation against German forces in Šibenik - Knin area, and to start that operation soon as possible, HQ of 8. Corps ordered 1. and 11.Dal. brigade to move from Neum and 29.Her.division to take their positions.
11.brigade followed that order and retreated from battlefield, but division’s chief of staff A. Biočić, who was with 1.Dal. brigade refused the same because he felt that even with only one brigade and with only around 1200-1500 soldiers, his unit can destroy enemy 2-3 times stronger in numbers, but with little ammunition, stuffed in small space around the road with around 400 wounded (100 heavy cases) and very poor morale.

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Post by streljko1 » 23 Feb 2006 21:58

Vukov klanac - Oštrikovac 22-23.october
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KG Becker did have made connection with German troops north of Vukov klanac, but that line was under Yugoslav fire, Commander of KG also refused to abandon his vehicles and retreat on foot, he rather choose to defend hills around the road in hope that relief troops will come and repair the road, during the day, Becker was informed that battalion that should help his group to clear the road is delayed by Yugoslav fire and to continue on foot, because road could be repaired only after around 14 days of work.
In the meantime Yugoslav units continued attack against pinned Germans for whole day.
From the west two battalions attacked, one battalion attacked from south-east and one from east, German positions on hills 351 –211 and 219 were taken and part of KG Becker was surrounded in village Rudež. To relieve blocked group, Germans attacked Yugoslav positions near Slivno Ravno.
4.bat./11DB held these attacks, while 1DB was closing on blocked parts of KG Becker.
Large group of Germans managed to break on foot to the north, some by the road, some over mountains, other were forced to surrender during the morning of 23.october.

Part of report by Ante Biočić, chief of staff 26DD from 23.10.1944, around 1330 hours:
“ ...During the 21. and 22. there was heavy fighting with enemy who tried to break through from Oštrikovac to Metković. Enemy suffered heavy losses, commander of the column, colonel, was killed.
Enemy column 4400 men strong, 12 tanks, 120 trucks, 300 other vehicles... enemy was moving by the road. We killed 600, wounded 800 and captured 180 German soldiers. This is at least. No vehicle, truck and tank did not pass. Corpses are on the road. We still find German officers with pistols on their heads, they committed suicide. I am sure that enemy losses are higher. Great prey lies on the road....”.

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