Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Dinarska Divizija

The village priest from Strimica Dalmatia, Momcilo Djujic gathered the nationalist leaders of the uprising in the Tromedje area for a Serbian Sabor held October 27th 1941 in the geographical centre of Tromedje the village of Crni Potocima. It was decided by the leaders of the uprising in the various areas to form a united command, and Momcilo Djujic was elected Vojvoda of what was to be named the Dinaric Chetnik Division or DCD. Each area of uprising was to be organized into regiments and commanders were selected from the best leaders during the uprising days.

On April 6th 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, along with Fascist Italy, and their Axis ally Hungary. The defeat of the Royal Yugoslav Armed Forces was swift, as was the fate of many nations before. By April 17th the Yugoslav High Command signed an unconditional surrender.

The twelve-day "April War" was a successful operation for the Axis, leading to the defeat of Greece, which culminated in the casting out of the last large British forces from the European continent. However the Axis, or more so the Germans, did a sloppy mop-up job after the Yugoslav surrender, they subsequently rushed to re-deploy their forces for the impending attack on the Soviet Union.

As many as 300.000 Yugoslav Soldiers (mostly Serbs) were left with their arms in the hills and mountains of Yugoslavia. The Italian 2nd Army, under the command of General Ambrosio was a weak force of five infantry divisions when the war broke out. Their only support came from a single infantry division based in the Italian holding of Zara (Zadar) on the Dalmatian coast.

The 2nd Army's main goal was not the destruction of the Yugoslav Army, the Germans were sure to take care of that, but the occupation of territory as Italy had long claimed the Dalmatian coast and its island chain for there own. The Italians in their rush to grab territory also allowed many Yugoslav officers and men to evade capture.

Before the Yugoslav surrender and to help bring about the destruction of the Yugoslav State, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany sponsored the creation of an independent Croatian state. On April 10th, an agent of the exiled Croatian Fascist Party, know as the Ustasha, declared the Independent State of Croatia, (Nezavisna Drzava Hrvaska) or NDH for short, in Zagreb its capital city.

Before the Ustasha were asked to form a government the Germans tried to get the popular Croatian politician Vlado Macek to form a government, as he was the leader of the Croatian Peasant Party. Macek refused to go along with this, so the Ustasha, who were not very popular in Croatian politics, were called in. Ante Pavelic, their leader in exile was in Zagreb by the 15th of April and proclaimed "Poglavnik" the Croatian term for fuerher. As soon as the April 17th surrender was signed, the territories of the defeated Yugoslavia started to make splinters in Axis unity over the Balkans.

Three German divisions occupied Serbia; Hungary, and the Banat given to its ethnic German population to administer annexed Northern Serbia. Macedonia was given mostly over to Bulgaria, and the Serbian province of Kosovo was granted to the Italian colony of Albania, to form a Greater Albania. Slovenia was divided into three, the Western end to Italy, the Northern part to the Greater German Reich, and the eastern end to Hungary.

Montenegro was occupied by Italy, and made a govenorship under Giuseppe Bastianini, and small southern tips were also handed over to Albania. Croatia and Italy were by late April at odds over territory in central Yugoslavia even though Croatia's new independence was granted by Italy and Pavelic’s whole existence politically was because the Italians groomed him and his followers throughout the 1930's. Italy was after the Serb provinces of Bosnia-Herzegovina and sought to annex of the Dalmatian coast. These same territories were also sought after by Pavelic and his Ustasha government, in the end the Germans supported NDH's claim to B&H and a slim slice of Dalmatian territory. NDH's Dalmatian slice was along the southern tip down to Ragussa (Dubrovnik), however they were not granted large port city or town and were forbidden by the Italians to build a navy.

Italy's new territory, the "Govenership of Dalmatia" had as many as 300,000 Croatians, 100,000 Serbs and around 7,000 Italians, not including Italian garrison troops.

Beginnings of the Uprising in Tromedje The small western Bosnian town of Drvar, with an 90% Serbian population was the first place in the Tromedje area that rose up to repel the Ustasha killing squads sent from Zagreb to purify NDH of its Serbian population. On the 25th of July 1941 a combined force of Ustasha and Croatian Domobran (Home guard) forces fell on Drvar and its surrounding villages killing many Serbs and rounding up 300 more, who were to be killed the next day. Also on the 26th the newly appointed Ustasha mayor of Drvar, Mr.Konrada was to arrive with his Domobran escort sent from Bihac.

On the 26th arrived five Nationalist Serbs including their leader, Simo-Mime Bursac, attacked the convoy carrying the new mayor killing him, his wife and his Ustasha entourage. Then they gathered the Serbs who had been hiding in the woods since the Ustasha arrival and attacked Drvar freeing the 300 captives and chasing away the Ustasha and Domobran units collected there. At the same time near the town of Petrovac, Ilija Desnica and Mane Rokvic ambushed a Domobran convoy of weapons and ammunition headed for Petrovac and gathered together Serbs from that area who were in the woods after fleeing the Ustasha killing squads.

This unit of nationalist Serbs captured a heavy cannon with one hundred rounds, and took up an attack position between Medenog Polja and Ostrelj facing Petrovac, which had 1700 Ustasha and Domobran soldiers collecting to help in the killing around Drvar. Desnica and Rokvic were attacked on the 26th using the cannon, captured rifles, and machine guns. The Croatian forces fled the town and tried to reach Drvar where they thought they would be safe because due to the Ustasha and Domobran forces there, when they arrived at Drvar they were chased away by Simo Bursac and the armed Serbs of Drvar.

After the 27th the dust had settled around Drvar and Petrovac, Ilija Desnica organized and commanded the Chetnik Odred "Drvar"1. Even before the Drvar and Petrovac incidents, Serbs in Dalmatia had fought off Ustasha attack, although not to the extent as in Bosnia. Around the 20th of June, Croatian monks organized Ustasha units from the peasants in the Croatian village of Kijevo, which was one village around a sea of Serbian villages. They attacked and killed Serbs from the Vrlika area and then moved onto the villages of Greater Polaca and Turic.

In Polaca a Serbian Orthodox Priest Mihajlo Popovic, was taken while holding the Holy Liturgy in the Church of St.Peter and Paul, along with the people attending the service. They were taken to the Ustasha Death camp in Gospic Lika and killed. The Serbs again organized themselves and counter attacked the Ustasha, who had taken the top of the mountain Kosjak, where they could rain death from above to the surrounding villages. The Serbs who attacked the Ustasha had three military rifles; three hunting rifles plus old swords and knifes. The group of nationalist Serbs, led by an villager from Markovac, Djuro Trifunovic, rushed the mountain and dislodged the Ustasha, who then retreated to their own village of Kijevo. The group of Serbs then shot what few rounds of ammunition they had at Kijevo, and less than an hour later all the Ustasha were gone. When the Serbs entered the village they found one dead Ustasha beside his machine gun, also armed with three hand bombs, 200 rounds of rifle ammunition and a rifle.

In southern Lika the Ustasha had also struck, and as in Bosnia and Dalmatia the Serbs quickly organized and counter-attacked to defend their lives. In late July 1941 the Ustasha attacked and were repelled by nationalist Serbs led by Dane Cicvara, Pajica Omcikusa and Navy Lieutenant Mico Lukic. By the second week of August 1941 all of southern Lika was cleared of Ustasha and Croatian Domobran forces. The Serbs were formed into a military unit and placed under the command of Lt. Lukic, who had proven himself a good officer in combat.

The Ustasha government was deeply ashamed by all the set backs their forces experienced and was finding it difficult to combat Serbian up risers, not just in the Tromedje area, but in all of their NDH where they had begun their killing sprees. To take back southern Lika the Ustasha in mid September established the Bihac Front, attacking into Lika controlled by the Serbs who by August were beginning to call themselves Chetniks. The Ustasha started their offensive to retake southern Lika on September 19th and advanced through Kulen Vakuf towards Donji Lapac, and it was here that Lt. Lukic and his ad-hoc band of Chetniks awaited the Ustasha attack. When the Ustasha forces attacked the Chetniks in Lapac they were totally destroyed in the ensuing combat and sent back reeling to Bihac.

Lt.Lukic was killed in this combat, and due to his and many more brave souls the Serbs of southern Lika were spared another round of killing under the Ustasha knifes. Because of the lawlessness of the territories in western NDH, like that in Southern Lika, the Italian 2nd Army extended its occupation zone into NDH to bring order and peace on October 17th 1941. This brought a rest time for the Serbs who had fought since May against the Ustasha plans to rid NDH of all its Serbs; it also brewed up the Italian-Croatian rivalry over territories along the Dalmatian coast. During this time of relative peace the up risers of Tromedje were to band together and form and military alliance which would last until the end of the war.

Six regiments were formed:

1-Regiment "Petar Mrkonjic" (northeast Dalmatia) commander
Momcilo Djujic, counties Strmica-Plavno and villages around Knin.

2-Regiment "Gavrilo Princip" (western Bosnia) commander
Branko-Brane Bogunovic, counties Bosansko Grahovo and surrounding villages.

3-Regiment "King Aleksandar" (northwest Bosnia) commander
Mane Rokvic, counties Petrovac-Drvar.

4-Regiment "King Peter II" (southern Lika) commander
Pajica Omcink then Mirko Maric, counties Srb and Tiskovac.

5-Regiment "Vozd Karadjordje" (southern Lika) commander
Tocan Stanisavljevic-Cicvara, counties Gracac and surrounding villages.

6-Regiment "Onisin Popovic" commander Pavle-Pajo Popovic, counties Kosovo-Polaca.

Knin, the central strategic town in the Dalmatian hinterland was occupied by the Italians back in April. In November 1941 they sent a delegation to the Stab of DCD in the village of Strimica and an agreement was met that if the Chetniks left the Italian positions alone, the Italians would not help nor intervene against the Ustasha. This allowed the DCD to begin its life with only the Ustasha to contend with. Soon the communists in the area would start their own war of domination not only in the Tromedje area but all over Yugoslavia bringing down an unnecessary civil war upon the people.

In Bosnia, especially, there was a heavy mix of Serb, Croat and Muslim populations. It was this mix that the Partisans traditionally recruited new fighters. In October 1941 the Italian 2nd Army occupied what was called the 2nd Zone, which included the rest of Dalmatian, Lika, Krodun and an portion of Western Bosnia in an attempt to bring order to western Yugoslavia. The forces of NDH could not control the uprisings by Nationalist Serbs and communist forces. The zone was extended to the middle of Bosnia in January 1942 seeing that the Croatian Domobran and Ustasha were hard pressed to regain control of their new nation and the fact that the Germans were pulling more troops out of Yugoslavia for use on the Russian front. The Croatians didn't like the Italian 2nd Army occupying more and more of their territory, but there was little they could do.

The Ustasha and Domobran forces were allowed to garrison towns and cities but they rarely came out to do combat with either Chetnik or Partisan forces. The main threat to the Serbian people, were Ustasha killing squads, who were removed by the Italians for the most part removed by the Italians in January 1942. This gave both the Chetniks and Partisans in NDH time to build and prepare their forces in the West. The DCD by 1942 had a mission of protecting the Serbian population and preventing the spread of communism in their region.

DCD at war 1942-45

With Vojvoda Bircanin set-up as leader of the so-called Serbian Nationalist Movement in the areas occupied by the Italian 2nd Army, he was in a good position to receive supplies from the Italians for the Chetniks in Western Yugoslavia. This was also being done in Eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina through Vojvoda Dobrislav Jevdjevic. And it was because these two men worked the Italian authorities as they did that many Chetniks units had some sort of supply until the Italian surrender to the Allies in September 1943. The Italians were very worried about the growing communist and Partisan threat in some of their occupation areas and requested that Bricanin supply anti-Partisan Serb forces to help the Italians and, combat the Partisans.

Bircanin agreed with a few conditions, 1) The Italians must supply the Serb forces to fight the Partisans.

2) The Serb forces were not to come under the direct command of the Italian 2nd Army.

These conditions were agreed on and so the Italians began to arm the DCD to combat the Partisans, with out the knowledge that the DCD was part of the Chetnik movement of General Mihailovic in Serbia. The Italians called these Anti-Partisan Serb Nationalist Groups the Voluntary Anti-Communist Militia or MVAC for short. What the Italian command didn't know was that these same so-called MVAC units would turn at a moments notice and attack the Italians if requested by Mihailovic or in the case of a, Allied invasion in the Balkans. With the threat of the Ustasha mostly gone from the Tromedje area, the DCD welcomed the Italian request for men to fight the communists because it was perceived in Chetnik ranks that the Axis would lose the war and the greater threat was stopping the Sovietization of Yugoslavia.

In the fall of 1942 the Partisans main force of 12,000 was sent into Northwest Bosnia after being attacked by the Germans in the Foca area. When the Partisans arrived they established what they called the "Bihac Republic" in northwest Bosnia encompassing Bihac, Drvar, Petravac and Glamoc. This was the first real test for the DCD and more so for the Lika and Bosnia Chetniks who had to battle the red invaders. The "Bihac Republic" were in an excellent position for the Partisans, because they were able to make physical contact with their strong Partisan formations in Kordun, Banija and Western Slavonija thus reinforcing themselves and giving them a good position from which to attack Chetnik strong holds in the Tromedje area. In October 1942 the Partisans launched two major attacks against the DCD, one to take Gracac in southern Lika and the other to take Bosansko Grahovo in Western Bosnia.

Order of Battle: Expidicanary Corps-commander Vojvoda Petar Bacovic Mixed Nevesijna/Trebijna

Battalion-commander Rogatica Brigade-commander Dobrica Dukic Vlasenica Brigade-commander (Only part of the brigade.)

Grbljana Battalion-commander 2nd Lieutenant Dusan Vuckovic Pracanin Cheta-commander

Gracac was attacked on January 14, 1943, Serbian Orthodox New Years, and in the insuing battle the losses again were high on both sides. The Regiment “King Peter II” but was reinforced by the Usdolje/Ramljana Cheta, Regiment “Onisin Popovic”, and the Drvar Chetnik Odred and the Grbljana Battalion, of Hercegovinians defended.

Under German pressure the Italians promised that they would dis-arm their MVAC units, (which they did not). By 1943 the Italians were getting suspicious of the so-called MVAC units, and had already accused Vojvoda Bircanin and Jevdjevic of having close ties with General Mihailovic and being part of an Greater Serbian plan. This was true of course, the whole Chetnik army was really fighting for a restoration of the Yugoslav (Serbian) Monarchy and a new beginning in Yugoslavia in the post war years. The Italians helped the poorly armed and supplied Chetniks with their own weapons and supplies!

In Chetnik eyes the Ustasha were a dying cause. The Croatians and Yugoslav Muslims were running to join the Partisans in order to evade persecution the Partisans became the true threat as their numbers grew. They were becoming the pets of Churchill and they were his idea what a guerrilla army should be. When the German "Operation White" started it did push the Partisans out of their "Bihac Republic"; the Partisans pushed South to escape and headed for Herzegovina. The Chetniks of the "Gavrilo Princip" Corps were to take up blocking position to prevent any Partisan units from turning west and attacking into Dalmatia.

As the Partisans passed by and the "Battle of Neretva" was starting in Herzegovina the Chetniks were finding hundreds and thousands of Serbian dead along the path the Partisans took south. As the Partisans moved south and prepared to invade Chetnik held Herzegovina, the Hercegovinian Chetniks were rushed back to their home territories to help defend against the Partisan advance.

To cover their retreat Tito ordered the civilian Serb population to follow the retreating Partisans; anyone who refused was killed on the spot. Thus 40,000 Serbian, women, children and elders were forced to march through Bosnia in the winter, with no food and no shelter. The men of the 2nd"Sator"Brigade under Ivic's command found a gruesome scene, hundreds of frozen bodies of the Serb civilians, from Banija who were forced to march. They had jumped into the Sator Lake or into the falls to end their suffering in the freezing cold Bosnian winter. The 1st"Grahovo"Brigade also found hundreds of Serbs, this time alive, and gave what few potatoes and what wheat they had. The Drvar Chetniks who operated around the Grmec Forest also found hundreds of frozen bodies of the Serbs forced to leave their homes in the Bihac Krajina area.

In early June 1943 a small Chetnik offensive commenced in the Grahovo Valley area North of the town Grahovo. The newly formed "Grahovo-Peulje" Partisan Odred under the command of Dragan Vukobrat and Commissar Nikica Jojic, (both pre-war communists from the Grahovo area, were making trouble). These two men were ordered to stay in their home region, after the Partisan retreat in February and March 1943, and try and reform some sort of communist force in the area of Grahovo.

Since February they had recruited 50, mostly young Serbs from the Grahovo area into their odred, and in that time had only achieved to terrorize Serb families in the area who had family members in Chetnik ranks. They stole what they needed to live and even burned a few houses. This Partisan odred was more of an annoyance than a real military threat to the DCD, but it still had to be dealt with. The Chetnik forces involved were to be large in relation to the Partisan strength, but it was still unclear at how many Partisans were running around in the Grahovo Valley region. The DCD deployed the, 1st"Grahovo" Brigade, "Gavrilo Prinzip" Corps and the 1st Brigade, 2nd Dalmatian Corps. The offensive started the 3rd of June 1943, in the late evenings in the direction of Stozista and by morning the Golubic Battaion, of the 1st Brigade, had reached Stozista. The rest of the forces were still moving up as the Golubic Battalion was the forward unit and had the job of locating the Partisans, which it did. As the Chetniks approached the village they saw a single sentry, who seamed to be sleeping because the battalion surrounded the single house where the Partisans were bushwhacked. The Partisans were awakened suddenly by a volley of rifle fire from the Chetniks; this sent the sleeping sentry running into house. Soon after a Partisan ran from the house to try and make it to the near by woods, but he didn't get far, and no one else attempted to run. Then the Partisans started to fire their weapons out of the doors and windows in a fruitless attempt to break out; they were silenced when Chetnik volleys riddled the house.

In the morning the other units approached the village, and a call went out for the Partisans to surrender. By mid morning the Partisan odred had come out of the house and gave up their weapons. In all 30 Partisans were in the house and the rest were on patrol in on area to the South, thus eluding escape. The Partisans were well armed with rifles and hand bombs, many of them carried two rifles, the Golubic Battalion for their triumph considered these extra weapons a prize. The Partisans were then sent South under guard to their fate. Vojvoda Djujic and Vojvoda Bogunovic both inspected the young proletariats. It was surmised that these young men had no real idea what communism meant so they were free to join the Chetnik ranks, which all of them did. In Dalmatian ranks the Bosnian Chetniks wanted to get their hands on the communists. Sadly within two months only a hand full of these converted Chetniks were left in the Chetnik file. Their commander fell first and majority followed. They reformed the "Grahovo-Peulje" Partisan Odred, and were to grow to a larger number and continue to harass the flanks of the "Gavrilo Prinzip" Corps to wars end. By letting these young idealist Partisans live, the DCD might have made a mistake, however it would in the long run hurt even more if the 30 were executed, they would have been perceived as martyrs.

With the main Partisan force gone from Western Bosnia, the DCD and the Bosnia-Krajina Corps of Vojvoda Uros Drenovic13, plus the newly formed "Gremc" Chetnik Corps14 under the commander of Vojvoda Djuro Plecas, went on the offensive to clear some remaining Partisan pockets. The "Grmec" Chetnik Corps now included Vojvoda Mane Rokvic's Chetnik Odred "Petrovac" and Chetniks from the villages of the Grmec Forest. Through June and July 1943 Chetnik forces forced the Partisans into a pitched battle in the area of Unistima Bosnia, near the mountain of Dinara, on July 19th. The battle was fought against the Glamoc Partisan Odred and at the end the Chetniks were unable to totally destroy the Partisans in the Glamoc and Livno Valley, (which were populated by Bosnian-Croats).

For the Chetniks there were heavy losses including well respected personalities such as, Vojvoda Plecas, who was killed in combat, Dusan Miric the Chief of Staff of DCD and the President of the Chetnik Youth of Knin, 2nd Lieutenant Mirko Martic. Martic was captured during the battle and the next day murdered by the communists as the leader of nationalist Serb youth in the Knin Valley. After this battle the, Partisans were still under gunned by the Chetniks, but they had enough forces to keep the DCD on guard not only in Bosnia but in Lika and parts of Dalmatia as well. On that same day of the "Battle of Unistima", Vojvoda Ilija Trifunovic-Bircanin died in Split of a heart attack. This was a great loss for the Chetnik cause in the West because the arms and supplies were to almost dwindle away after his death. The Italians grew increasingly suppositious of the DCD or as they called it the MVAC.

The Germans were putting pressure on the Italians to totally disarm the MVAC units in its zones and re-occupied Western Bosnia, after leaving it to the DCD to patrol back in late 1942. The Italians were wiry of re-occupying western Bosnia, since October 1942, the Axis in North Africa were on the run and in July 1943 the Italian island of Sicily was invaded by Allied forces. Western Bosnia was an after thought for the Italian command in Rome. The DCD was left alone for the most part to fight the Partisans in Bosnia and along the Adriatic coast. The Serbian National Organization that Bircanin had led in Split was now having a hard time with the leaders of the Italian 2nd Army. Two of its leaders a school professor Racic and Orthodox Priest Urukalo, were arrested by the Italians. Gen. Mihailovic then assigned Lieutenant Colonel Malden Zujevic to command of the Coastal Region Command and he also was arrested by the Italians who had no more faith in the so called Serbian National Organization. Also the Partisans were at work recruiting many new fighters in the coastal regions, mostly Croatians, who were terrified of joining the DCD through communist propaganda. The fighting against the Partisans was to get harder as Partisan units began popping up all around the Tromedje area. This was prior to July, Croatian Domobran and Ustasha troops were deserting their fascist ranks and joining the communists! This reinforced the Partisans around the DCD on all sides, and allowed the Partisans greater strategic position in relation to DCD positions.

Croatian desertions were happening in Knin, Sinj Dalmatia, Gospic Lika, and all over Bosnia, in towns like Livno and Duvno and many more. All these areas were around the Tromedje area. The Italians for the most part had no fight left in them by July 1943 and many just wanted to go home, so they stayed in their fortified towns in Dalmatia and left the country side to the Chetniks and Partisans to fight over, to the dismay of the Germans. But the Italians did give into German pressure to stop supplying the Chetniks, which they did, although the Italians did do a great favor to the DCD. They were requested by the Germans to disarm and disband the DCD, which the Italians did not do, most likely so that the Chetniks would continue the fight against the communists, while their troops stayed safe in their fortified towns. The Partisans captured half of the town before a Chetnik counter-attack threw the communists out again. The Partisan's did capture the hospital, which it contained Chetnik wounded, three officers were murdered and other wounded were removed and ether killed or forced into communist arms. During the battle the commander of the Herzegovinian Chetniks, Lieutenant Vuckovic was killed. The Partisan attack was fought off again with the loss of 86 dead and missing Chetniks. Gracac was taking beating after beating, with the help of the Drvar and Herzegovina Chetniks and the Chetniks from the Kosovo area in Dalmatia, Gracac was not to see another large scale Partisan attack until August 1944. The Partisan losses were, around two hundred dead and wounded.

On the 26th of January 1943 the Expadicanary Corps launched an attack to clear the Vrlika Krajina area south of Knin of Partisan forces from the village of Stirmica. The left wing was made up of the Rogatica Brigade and Vlasenica Brigade, Nevesijna/Trebijna Battalion took the centre, and the right wing was made up of men of the Regiment "Onisin Popovic" and the Regiment "Gavrilo Princip". The Chetniks advanced in the direction of Vrlika all day, and in the late afternoon the Rogatica Brigade ran into heavy rifle fire from Montenegrin Bolshevik's. After a little more than an hour of fighting night brought an end to the small battle. In the morning the Partisans were gone. The advance continued and all three Chetnik wings entered the town of Vrlika. The local people stated that the Partisans had left the day before. The offensive failed in destroying any Partisan forces, but it did bring the Vrlika Krajina into the zone of control of the DCD, and after the Chetnik liberation, Chetnik units were raised in the area and continued to be part of the DCD until the end of the war. The Partisans attacked Strimica in the morning of January 27th, 1943, and holding the line were the men of the Regiment "Petar Mrkonjic". The first two Partisan attacks were repelled at high cost to both the Chetniks and Partisans. The third attack was two much for the men of the regiment and they were forced to withdraw. Vojvoda Djujic sent couriers to the Regiment "Onisin Popovic" to send in reinforcements and a battalion of Herzegovina Chetniks was rushing to Strimica to assist them. At, 3 am on the 27th, the Regiment "Petar Mrkonjic" made a counter attack and retook Strimica from the Partisans. After which the Partisans retreated away from the DCD and headed for Lika.

The DCD Stab (headquarters), was saved as was the area around Knin from communist terror. The Chetniks from the village of Stirmica lost dearly, 40 of its Chetniks were killed defending the DCD Stab (headquarters). In the extreme Northern zone control of the DCD laid in the Serbian village of Crna Vlast in Northern Lika, in August 1942 it organized 200 men into a assault cheta and a village defense cheta, know as the Crna Vlast Chetnik Battalion. As it was so far from the operation areas of the DCD it operated more as an independent unit of the DCD. It held itself up well fighting against both the Ustasha and Partisans, but in March 1943, it came under heavy communist attack. Its location was near to strong Partisan territories, so it was ordered to destroy the Chetniks in the village area and bring it under Partisan control. On March 7th the village was attacked, although the Chetniks were ready and waiting to defend their homes. Again and again the Partisan attacked Crna Vlast but was unable to break the defense, but with every attack the Chetniks were weakened, but the Partisans remained strong due to their large numbers deployed. The church bell was rung in hope that other Chetniks near by might hear its call to arms, but no help came. The commander of Crna Vlast, Captain Boro Gesovic sent a runner through the lines to find help. The runner returned with a Chetnik cannon from the Lokve Kanalov area, on the 21st of March and from a safe distance they shelled the Partisan lines. Captain Gesovic seeing the defense waning, used the shelling to withdraw his force from the village or meet total defeat, and most likely death at the hands of the communist's. In the break out Captain Gesovic was wounded but his men carried him to safety. In the battle one hundred Partisans were killed or wounded taking one small Chetnik village in Northern Lika. The Crna Vlast Chetnik Battalion made home in Crkvenice, refugees in their own land. The battalion stayed here unto the capitulation of Italy in September 1943, where the battalion was forced to retreat to the Adriatic Island of Losinje. On Losinje where there was already 200 Chetnik refugees from the Gacke Doline region of Northern Lika. Contact was made with the Coastal Region Combined, who was operating out of British held Italy.

The island was to be named free Chetnik territory under Ravna Gora's commander, but before this could be accomplished the Partisans landed a strong force on an undefended side of the island and took the 400 Chetniks by surprise. The Chetniks of Crna Vlast were able to retreat off the island on small boats, with about 150 men, but the other group of Chetniks from the Gacke Doline were killed to the last man, all but their commander Major Slavko Bjelajac and a few men, 246 in all.

The Chetniks in Herzegovina and Montenegro were battered in the German operation "Black", as many as 10,000 Chetniks were killed, missing or captured in the operation which was to the South of the DCD operational area. It was also the last major operation the Italians were to take part in, on Yugoslavian territory. On July 25 1943, Mussolini was deposed as the leader of Fascist Italy and a new government started secret new talks with the Allies for Italy's surrender. As this was going on the Italian command in Rome did nothing to prepare its forces still in Yugoslavia for surrender, and on September 8th when it was announced that Italy was out of the war the Germans were ready. They took most Italian garrisons in the towns and coastal cities in the Italian zone in less than a week. The Partisans were able to establish two of their so-called "Republics", in the port cities of Split and Sibenik. In Spilt the 1st Proletariat Division took over the Italian garrison on the 9th 1943, and when the Germans retook the city on the 27th, Father Urukalo was dead along with 300 other nationalist Serbs. In Sibenik during the Partisans short stay they murdered four Orthodox Priests, 730 Serbs and 170 anti-Pavelic/Communist Croatians.

The Serb Nationalist Organization that worked the Italians to receive arms and supplies was now totally destroyed thus the Western Chetniks were on their own. With British help in getting the Italians to surrender mostly to the Partisans the Chetniks in Western Yugoslavia, including the DCD were to face a further 80,000 communist Partisans. Vojvoda Djujic did order sabotage to try and slow the German advance on the sea, but the DCD was no match for the highly trained and motorized units of the German forces, namely the ethnic German SS Division "Prince Eugen". By the time the dust had settled in Dalmatia after the Italian capitulation, the DCD was left stand and dazed. The Germans and Ustasha were now the occupying authorities and the Partisans were so heavily armed by the Italian surrender that they were to dominate western Yugoslavia.

Through the rest of 1943 the DCD spent the time trying to avoid combat with the Germans, which would be suicide, the rest of the time fighting the Partisans that operated on the fringes of the DCD's zone of control. The Germans formed in September 1943 the Polozei-Battaillon VII (kroatische) in Knin to help keep the peace in the town from Croatian volunteers, and the Sicherheitspolizei company Knin (German State Secret Police) with up to 300 ethnic Germans born in Yugoslavia. At the same time the coastal cities in Dalmatia were fully garrisoned by static German defense units and any German units that could have attacked and destroyed. The DCD were re-deployed to other regions of Yugoslavia and by the end of 1943 the Germans were instructing the Ustasha government to form garrison brigades that would help control the newly taken territories. In late September, the Partisans were active in north and northwest Dalmatia, and were trying to establish a strong hold their and form new communist units. The danger was recognized and the DCD Stab made plans to take the initiative away from the foreign red troublemakers. On October 8th until November 19th 1943 the Padjane Battalion began to make reconnaissance missions in the areas the Partisans were operating in and on December 3rd the battalion launched its offensive to clear the region of the Partisans.

The Chetniks moved in the direction of the small village of Roiste, 20 kilometres, from the village of Padjane, just over the border in southern Lika, and arrived in the early hours of the 3rd. In the village was the Partisan Supply Stab, and while still dark the Chetniks launched a heavy assault taking the Partisans by surprise. The Partisans did return fire but they were caught of guard by the surprise, the small battle ended when the Chetniks assaulted the Partisans lines and ended all resistance. Some Partisans had fled into the woods, leaving behind a number of dead and wounded, ten surrendered along with hardened Bolsheviks. The Partisans were out numbered but they managed to put up a fight, because they were in charge of the supplies for the region and they left behind, such as weapons, food and uniforms. The Chetnik battalion then moved in the direction of the village of Ervenik, they were joined by a weakened strength Ervenik Cheta of Chetniks, who were in the woods avoiding the Partisans in the area. Until the 20th of December the battalion stayed on, to purge the are of communists. During that time the Partisans attempted a few half-hearted counter-attacks, but to no effect. During the battalions stay in the Ervenik the local Priest; Ilija Bulovan made it to the Chetnik lines. In that time the Ervenik, Kucivic and Mount Ros were cleared of Partisan intruders and the battalion returned to its own village on the 20th of December 1943. That same day orders were given for the battalion to move again to clear Partisan units in the direction of Bjedovo, where the Partisans were waiting for the battalion. During this small action the Partisans were driven back in haste, leaving their few dead and wounded behind, one Partisan was captured. When night fell the Partisans came back and picked up their wounded from the field. The next day, December 22nd, the battalion moved out towards Mokrog Polja and when they were passing by a shepherd’s shack the Partisans opened fire on the Chetniks in an attempt to stop the advance. The Partisan fire was greeted by stronger Chetnik fire, due to the weapons and ammunition taken earlier, and with a foot charge on the Partisan positions the battle was won. There were casualties on both sides, but the Partisans after losing so many times in this area of northern Dalmatia, lost heart and fled far back onto the Partisan holding of Raducke Glavice.

In October 1943 the DCD also scored another victory in the northern Dalmatia area, again weakening the Partisans foot hold on the zone of control to DCD's north. The Letece Brigade (Flying Brigade), under the commander of Lieutenant Bosko Asanovic attacked the around the flank of the 8th Partisan Corps, capturing the Stab and an all important radio transmitter/receiver. Then he turned his brigade and attacked the 19th & 20th Partisan Divisions, throwing them off balance. Northern Dalmatia was safe for a time of major Partisan infiltration with the losses given to them by both the Padjane Battalion and the Letece Brigade. In October 1943 the British in Italy had setup a supply base in the port city of Bari, to support the Partisan war effort in Yugoslavia, and were by this time almost at the point of breaking all ties with the Chetnik movement in Yugoslavia.

In the name of Allied unity between the British Empire and the Soviet Union, the nationalist Serb armed movement was to be pushed aside in favor of the People's Liberation Army of Josip Broz Tito. This meant that the Partisans that operated along the Adriatic coast could be easily supplied, making the fighting even more difficult for the DCD and Chetnik forces right down to Montenegro.

Report to Royal Yugoslav Armed Forces From General Mihailovic: Nu.163, 10 November 1943: "Of the unheard terror that is the communists and Ustasha, I give to you a report from our commanders in Dalmatia. He says: Ustasha area measuring up any nationalist elements in Dalmatia. The greater number of Croats in Dalmatia are in Ustasha or Partisan ranks. They gratefully help the communist actions...Their is tremendous anti-Serb propaganda. Between Tito and Pavelic's newspaper there is no difference. In Dalmatia not one Serb can be sure of his life, nor Croatians of Yugoslav orientation. Ustasha have taken greater steps here than in the first days of 1941. On the side of the Allies in their support of the communist, the people are shocked in asking what sort of Allied help is this, that they would support the communist propaganda who are doing the great crimes on the people."

In early 1944 the Germans had also requested of the Ustasha government to raise garrison forces to help them control Dalmatia, and other zones previously controlled by the Italians. By March 1944 the Croatians deployed the 3rd Garrison Brigade, made up have under equipped older aged unmotivated Croatian conscripts. The Ustasha also formed new units separate from the Croatian Domobran units in area of the DCD by January 1944. In Zadar Dalmatia the 8th Ustasha Brigade was formed and included seven battalions of infantry. In Gospic Lika the 18th Ustasha Brigade was formed with four defense battalions. Many of these same Croatian forces would become Dalmatian Partisan forces by the end of 1944, when it was quite clear the Germans were loosing the war. The Partisans in early 1944 had 80,000-armed fighters in Western Yugoslavia, the majority in Bosnia.

The DCD by early 1944 had five thousand poorly armed Chetniks. During early 1944 the Partisans were pushing the DCD on all sides, but most heavily in western Bosnia. In March the main Partisan stronghold was beginning to center on Drvar, the town where in early 1941 the Serbs rose up against the terror of the Ustasha killing squads, while Tito had just taken to field only after Germany invaded the Soviet Union on July 22nd 1941. On April 3rd, 1944 Tito ordered the Balkan Air Force, to bomb Knin, which it did, hitting only the Serbian ends of the town with heavy loss of life. While, Zagreb the capital of fascist Croatian was never bombed during the war! The winter of 1944 was full of combat holding off the Partisans who seamed to be all over the flanks of the DCD. Some of the actions fought were:

1st Dalmatian Corps- (November) Crni Vrhu north east of Bosanski Petrovac. (February 1st) Cetinje Dalmatia.

2nd Dalmatia Corps- (January) Ervenik North Dalmatia. (February-March). All over north Dalmatia-western Bosnia.

1st Lika Corps- (January) Gracac Lika.

"Gavrilo Princip" Corps-Throughout their zone of control. The Germans had decided in early 1944 to launch an offensive in Western Bosnia aimed at destroying the headquarters of the Partisans and capture or kill Tito himself. The Germans were to deploy large forces in this Operation "Knight's Move". The DCD had a hard time since the Italian surrender, and had no choice when the Germans demanded that the DCD provide a brigade size force to act as a blocking force in case the Partisans were to try and retreat into Dalmatia. The leadership of the DCD decided to agree with the German demand, and it was wise for the DCD to do so, for if the Partisans did break out of the German offensive they could very well break out into the heart of DCD territory, Northern Dalmatia. Also who was to say that the Germans would not use the large and powerful forces in the area to, clean up the DCD as well.

When General Mihailovic heard that the DCD was to take part in the German operation he was extremely opposed, but other staff officers in his Stab (headquarters) calmed the General down, explaining that the DCD was alone in a sea of foes, Ustasha, Partisans and Germans alike. The following German forces involved in Operation "Knight's Move":

1st Mountain Division. 7th SS Mountain Division "Prinze Eugen".

92nd Independent Motorized Infantry Regiment.IInd Battalion/ 1st Brandenurg Regiment.

IIIrd Battalion/ 1st Brandenburg Regiment.

500th SS Parachute Battalion.

373rd Croatian/German Infantry Division.

Also in the summer the 1st Dalmatia Corps was being put under pressure by Partisan attacks to the south of, and on Dinara which was a strategic point in the corps zone of control. They also they fought a large battle with the Partisans during the summer on Pakovo Brdo. As this was going on in the stronghold of the Chetnik movement the DCD was also being put under relentless pressure by communist forces in Dalmatia. On October the 8th Partisan Corps was concentrating near the coastal city of Sibenik, and was taking masses of Croatian Domobran and Ustasha troops into its ranks. The last week of October, the 26th Partisan Division was landed in Sibenik, which the Germans had abandoned, along with weapons and supplies for the 8th Corps. By the last week of October the 8th Partisan Corps numbered some 30,000 fighters, and was supported by the Balkan Air Force. Holding the front against the Partisans were the "Gavrilo Princip" Corps in Kojnevrata, and the 3rd Dalmatian Corps deployed as such: Benkovac Brigade in Biograd, Skradin Brigade in Skradin, Djevrsac and Kistanja Brigades in Varivode and Smrdelje. Seeing the situation the commanders of the Dalmatian and Bosnian corps ordered all forces to withdraw to Kojnevrata, where they could move the Chetnik concentration in the Kosovo region to the East. The Partisans were also approaching DCD territory from the Bosnian side and from the Southern approaches of Dalmatia. The Southern front was held by the 1st Dalmatian Corps, which defended the Svilaja and Kozjak Mountains. The Western side of the Dinara Mountain was defended by the "Gavrilo Princip" Corps. The Cetinje Brigade, of the 1st corps, and the Golubic Battalion, who held the pass from western Bosnia to Northern Dalmatia in the village of Pljesevica, defended the northwestern front.

While the 2nd Dalmatian Corps defended the North /West approaches to the DCD. Through November the DCD was fighting day and night on all sides in Dalmatia, as Partisan advances were closing the doors of escape. No where on the front did Chetnik lines collapse or falter. In most cases there was a 5 to 1 ratio of Partisans vs. Chetniks and when one also looks at the material support the Partisans received, the Serb Chetnik fighting spirit shows its superiority over the mixed forces of the Partisans. The last week of November the Cetinje Brigade moved to the western side of Golubic to protect the flank of the 2nd Dalmatian Corps positions, and the Golubic Battalion was forced by Partisan attacks to pull out of Pljesevica and move to the rail way station in the village which was the battalions stab and supply depot. The rail way station was fortified by the Golubic attalion to slow the advance of the Partisans coming over from Grahovo. On November 26th the Partisans surrounded the station and began their attack to destroy the battalion, which would open the way to attack the East flank of the 2nd Dalmatian Corps.

Three days the Partisans attacked the battalion which was dug in around the station, in which they were able to surround the battalion. Seeing that they could not hold out forever, the battalion during the night of the 29th of November, were able to pullout of their surrounded positions undetected. On the morning of the 30th of November the Partisans attacked the station and found it empty. The Golubic Battalion left their home village of Golubic and moved to the eastern area of the next village of Plavno, this is where the Golubic and Plavno Battalions were deployed to fight off the Partisans who were sure to follow, which they did on November 31st. During November the 3rd (Glamoc) Brigade defended the village of Topolja (Kovacic) just East of Knin, while the 4th (Kupres) Brigade took and lost mount Kozjak above the village of Markovac.

Units of the 1st Lika Corps moved south to defend the villages of Plavno and Zagrovic. The Partisan advance across mount Pljesevica, which was previously defended by the Golubic Battalion, was stunned by the Chetniks of Drvar, and Regiment "King Alexander", who attacked the Partisan foothold there three times. The 1st (Grahovo) Brigade's mission during November was to defend Vrelo*, just out side of Knin. It was decided by the Staff of the DCD with all corps and brigade commanders present that the DCD should break out north for Lika, and for the West. It was discussed if the DCD should fight its way into central Bosnia and meet up with General Mihailovic's forces there, however that idea was scraped because the road to meet Mihailovic was occupied by Germans, Ustasha and Partisans, and the danger to the Chetniks would be too great. It was then at the end of November 1944 that the DCD was to turn and retreat as a whole unit for Lika. The first three days of December 1944 were to see the conclusion of over a month of constant fighting in northern Dalmatia. The DCD was pulling back under heavy pressure to the South, and was meeting strong Partisan forces on its northern front, which would block its escape route to Lika if the Partisans there were not broken. On December 1st the 3rd (Sator) Brigade was given the responsibility to defend and help transport the wounded of DCD and the thousands of civilian refugees to Lika, which they accomplished, reaching the small Lika village Otric, late on the 1st of December. Through the 1st and 2nd of December all brigades of the DCD were centering on the villages of Zagorovic and Padjane, which were seeing heavy fighting as the Partisans followed the withdrawing Chetniks. The 3rd of December saw all the forces of DCD gathered around the village of Padjane. The 26th Partisan Division, which had tanks, closed the door to Lika and salvation by taking up position North of Padjane. On the eastern flank of the DCD the Partisan 20th Division was advancing. To the South of the DCD the 19th Partisan Division advanced.

Vojvoda Djujic with his staff had came up with the attack plan on the night of the 2nd and in the early hours of the 3rd the DCD started their breakout attempt from the trap the Partisans had closed on the Chetniks of Tromedje. Leading the attack was the Guard Battalion DCD, and on its flanks were the "Gavrilo Princip" Corps and the Leteca Brigade of the 1st (Kosovo) Dalmatian Corps. The 2nd Dalmatian Corps was to act as reserve and the 1st Dalmatian Corps was to attack and break the Partisan line at Stari Straza. At the end of the day of the 3rd of December 1944 the DCD had given the 8th Partisan Corps, under the commanded of a Serbian communist Drapsic, a resounding defeat on the fields and hills around Padjane. The DCD escaped the Partisan ring around Knin and made it to Otric in Lika the same night. Without time to count the dead and think of what had passed in what was to be called "The Battle of Padjane", the DCD moved out of Otric and the next day moved North to Srb. During the battle causalities were high for both the DCD and the Partisans, Vojvoda Djujic was wounded, this sent waves of fear through the ranks of the division as he was revered for having brought the Chetniks of Tromedje through the war and leading them to safety to Lika. Vojvoda Brane Bogunovic, commander of the "Gavrilo Princip" Corps, was killed, as was the leader of Nationalist youth in Tromedje, Perise Dobrijevic, who was from Grahovo. The Chief of Staff of the DCD, and commander of the 1st Dalmatian Corps, Major Mijovic was also killed in battle. Lieutenant Bosko Asanovic, who was wounded a week before leading the Leteca Brigade against the Partisans on mount Svilaja, was captured in the divisions hospital in Topolja.

When the division reached Lika the 1st Lika Corps gathered its forces and followed the DCD in retreat. The plan now was to move to Slovenia where there were still strong Slovenian Chetnik forces and other Nationalist Slovenian formations at work, and their anti-Communist Serbs and Slovenes would try and halt the Partisans. By the third week of December the DCD was now moving into Northern Lika and came into contact with the 2nd Lika Corps, which until the arrival of the DCD was an independent Chetnik corps, but now come under the command of Vojvoda Djujic. As the column moved north it grew in size, about 8,000 Chetniks and around 6,000 refugees. The group encountered several problems with a small number of heavily wounded men and some elderly people. They could not travel with the DCD without a risk to their lives, and a solution had to be found, for if this group were left behind it would mean certain death at the hands of the communists

On December 16th the wounded were moved to Bihac in Northwest Bosnia and boarded a German train bound for Slovenia, where the wounded were to join up with the DCD again. The train left Bihac on the 16th, and after many hours of traveling it arrived in Kostajnica, Croatia where it was stopped by a group of Ustasha soldiers. When they saw that the train had Serbs inside, and more so wounded Chetnik soldiers, the Ustasha started to empty the train. Some were killed on the wagons as they were to weak to move on order of the Ustasha, others were killed as they tried to move to where the Ustasha were gathering them together. About 13 who were physically able to move and a few that were along as nurses for the wounded were locked up in a cellar, and above them they could hear the massacre of their fellow Serbs over a two day period. Late in the day of the 18th a German and a group of Cossacks entered the room and told the 13 souls that they were safe now and nothing would happen to them. The Germans put the small group in a building and provided them with food and blankets. The Germans were true to their word with the remaining few Serbs nothing happened to them, and they were transported to Slovenia where they once again joined the DCD, and told the story of what had happened. The reason that last group of 13 were spared, because Russian Cossacks who were in German service were in the area of Kostajnica, heard of the killings in the town they asked the local German commander to intervene. The local German commander did ask the Ustasha commander in Kostajnica too end the killing of the wounded Serbs, but the Ustasha did nothing to stop the pointless massacre. Then on the 18th the Cossacks deployed their force around Kostajnica and threatened the Ustasha in the town that they would destroy the town and all the Croatians in it if they did not leave the area. And leave they did, in a hurry, but it was too late for most of the poor souls, and only the group of 13 was left. In all 136 lost their lives, mostly Chetnik wounded but a number of Serbian civilians as well. The divisions continued to move North through Lika as strong Partisan forces were being deployed to its south to try and catch the DCD. The way north was relatively free of strong Partisan forces because the Partisans had deployed units to western Bosnia thinking that the DCD would move to join General Mihailovic there. This error in Partisan tactics bought time for the DCD to withdraw. By the third week of December the division reached the River Korana, in Lika, whose ice was not very strong as a result many of the donkeys brought along were left on the South bank. This loss of mobility was to make life harder as the division moved north as their were still many wounded and sick, and the heavy weapons had to be carried on backs across mountains and valleys. As the Korana was crossed the DCD had the difficult task of crossing the mountain Mala Kapela, which was quite large, with ice and snow covering it. This is where the DCD moved into the territory of the 2nd Lika Corps on December 18th. As the Division moved into this mountain area they came into contact with Croatian villages, in which there were no able bodied men.

It was discovered that the Croatian men of this area were in the service of the Ustasha or Croatian Domobran forces. The peasants that were left were women, children and the elderly, and they were visibly afraid as thousands of Serbian Chetniks suddenly passed through their homeland. An order was sent out from Vojvoda Djujic to all corps commanders down to cheta commanders that the Croatian villagers were not to be harmed. For Vojvoda Djujic did not want to see his brave and heroic Chetniks fall to the level of the Ustasha or Partisans, in seeking pointless revenge on innocent lives. The order was well carried out. Then the DCD entered the Serbian populated lands of the Gacka Valley. Here the local peasants welcomed the arrival of the Tromedje Chetniks with open arms and provided what shelter and food they had to help the tired and sick Chetniks and refugees following them. The 2nd Lika Corps now became a part of the DCD, and entered into the march north for Italy, to find the Western Allied armies and safe haven. Many thousands of peasants packed what they could and followed the Chetniks instead of awaiting the arrival of the Partisans. It was here that the dreaded typhus diseases also spread widely through the ranks of Chetniks and civilians made the suffering even worse on top of being cold and hungry. By the end of December 1944 the DCD entered Slovenia, which signaled a time of relative peace as there were no Slovenian Partisan forces of any match in the area that the DCD was to rest and reorganize in, which was just on the border between Slovenia and Istra. The DCD was greeted by well wishing Slovenian people, who had no love for the communist Partisan, and who had many sons and fathers in Slovenian Chetniks ranks, or the anti-Communist Slovenian Domobran. Here also was Vojvoda Jevdjevic with a few thousand Chetniks from East Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a good part of the Serbian Volunteer Corps of anti-Communist fighters organized and equipped by the Germans.

Here the time was spent licking wounds and training, for a fight against the Partisans when they would advance on Slovenia, and all anti-Communist forces, Chetnik and Slovenia were put under the command of General Damjanovic, sent by General Mihailovic, to defend Slovenia against communist aggression. The DCD organized and trained many men who were unschooled. They combined officers and non-commissioned officers, much of the units were commanded by untrained men. Those with pre-war military training were called on to make real officers and NCO's out of, what looked like a rag tag army, of the many brave volunteers the DCD had taken over the years. In early spring 1945 the DCD was greeted with a pleasant surprise. His Holiness Patriarch Gavrilo Dozic and Bishop Nikola Velemirovic were released from German captivity in Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany and sent to the DCD in Slovenia. This was a nice surprise for the men and refuges fleeing the communists as His Holiness brought a sense of ease to the people with his position of respect and power. After a short stay His Holiness Patriarch Dozic left for Switzerland as it was not yet possible to return to Beograd do to the communist take over there but Bishop Nikola stayed on giving spiritual comfort to the many fleeing the Partisan advance. As the DCD rested in Slovenia and more Chetnik and other nationalist Serb forces poured into Slovenia, the situation in the rest of Yugoslavia was grime. The Partisans along with the help of the Soviet Red Army had taken control of most of Serbia and were slowly moving to Slovenia as the German front fell back on fronts. General Mihailovic was in Bosnia leading what was left of the Chetnik armies after being mauled by the Red Army and Partisans, not to mention the Ustasha and Germans. Also it was learned by April 1945 that the British forces in Italy were not to enter Yugoslav territory leaving the DCD and other nationalist in a bad position. Vojvoda Djujic and his staff and other nationalist leaders, along with General Damjanovic decide that the forces under their command must now leave Slovenia and advance to British lines in Italy, or await destruction at the hands of the martially superior Partisan forces moving North. Through April all nationalist forces concentrated in the Vipabskoj Valley in Slovenia and at the end of the month moved in the direction of Gorica in north Italy. As the DCD moved to Gorica, around them were moving Germans who had abandoned Triest and Istra, and were retreating to Austria. On the 1st of May 1945 the DCD reached the Soca River which was the frontier between Slovenia and Italy and immediately on the left bank was the Italian town of Gorica. The Chetnik forces had to move swiftly at this point to cross into Italy as their was a strong Partisan force which was sent to trap and destroy these Chetniks and nationalist before they could reach the British. When the DCD arrived at the river they had found the stone bridge which ran across it intact, but wired to explode, by the Germans, who didn't blow it up in their rush to each Austria. At that time Fascist Italian units in Gorica started to shell the Chetniks on the right bank and the Partisans also came into artillery range from the rear. Units of the DCD then pushed across the bridge and began to deploy in defensive positions on the left bank. While tail of the Chetnik column, made up of a artillery battery of the Sumadija Chetnik Division27 under the command of Major Ilija Micasevic, was brought up to the left bank and returned fire on both the Partisans and Fascists.

Not long after all the units in the column and civilians were over the river, so now the bridge had to be blown to prevent Tito's Partisans from crossing and following the Chetniks into Italy. The job was given to a young man of the Split-Sibenik Battalion, Mladen Bilic, who went out onto the bridge and detonated the charges the Germans had set. Unfortunately Mladen was killed as he sent the bridge into the air. At this point the war was effectively over for the DCD and its men. It was not long before the DCD came into contact with British (New Zealanders) troops in Northern Italy, Vojvoda Djujic and General Damjanovic went to Udina immediately to seek permission to officially enter Allied occupied Italy. This was achieved and the Division was sent South to a camp set up by the British in Palmanova. The division marched South, armed, to the general disbelief of the local Italians who knew little of Chetniks, especially this group made up of all different uniforms and weapons. The Italian Partisans knew who the "Cetnico" were and stayed out of their way. Palmanova was reached on May 6th 1945 the day of the Chetnik soldiers Patron Saint George. Also on May 6th the British ordered that the Chetnik disarm. There was no choice for the commanders of the DCD but to obey the order, for if it was refused the British had the power to enforce the order. Vojvoda Jevdjevic gave a speech to the Chetniks brought to parade that the British would re-arm and re-train the DCD, which would become part of the allied armies in Italy. It is not known if Jevdjevic truly believed this, or told the men so as to calm them down. For the Chetniks soldiers who had fought so long and hard as Allied soldiers, were asking themselves what kind of allies were these that would take their weapons.

Two young Chetniks killed themselves in despair. Vojvoda Djujic and his commanders had a very difficult time in calming the men, but the disarming did go throughout. As the disarming was going on in Palmanove 30,000 Chetniks who had escaped the Partisans and reached the British in Austria were turned over to Tito where most were massacred in the Slovenian forests. In all, including the DCD 12,000 Chetnik surrendered to the British in Palmanova.

Exile of DCD From PalmaNove the great majority of Chetniks were never to see their Homelands again. With Tito in power they were forbidden to step back into there own homes, those few who did were killed or jailed. The Chetniks were to endure three years in the camps of Italy before being allowed to move to the country of their desire, or where they could find work. They became forever exiles, most moving to England, then to USA, Canada, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, and other countries as well. These Chetniks still under the command of Vojvoda Djujic and supportive of their own exiled King Peter the Second, then formed "The Movement of Serbian Chetniks Ravna Gora." which is still in existence today.

Vojvoda Djujic was the honorary President for life, until his death September 1999. The greatest sadness to the end of the DCD is that even now, 53 years later the Chetniks of DCD can not return to their homes because, the same "Allies" who abandoned them in WW II supported the ethnic cleansing of Serbians in Tromedje, during Croatia's 1995 operation "Storm".

After the bulk of the DCD had crossed the bridge into Gorica then came Vojvoda Jevdjevic in command of the 2nd Lika Corps, followed by General Ivan Prezelj and his Slovenian Chetniks, General Borivoj Jonic and the rest of the Sumadija Chetnik Division then hundreds of Slovenian civilians fleeing in front of the Partisan advance. The units of DCD then cleared Gorica of the Italian Fascist troops, which was surpassingly easy, and a new-formed group of Italian Partisans. On the left bank of the river the Chetniks found a abandoned German lorry with a anti-tank gun and lots of ammunition. The gun was put to use as the column was still crossing the bridge, and it came in very handy as Partisans were now with rifle and machine gun range. The Gun was manned by Nikola Novakovic of the 2nd Brigade -1st Lika Corps, and helped to quell the Partisans firing from the houses on the right bank of the Soca. On May 25th 1944 the Germans started their anti-Partisan offensive in Western Bosnia, forcing the Partisans to scatter all over the region. This forced the communist leader to flee, via Soviet flown C-47 transports, to Italy where the British greeted their guerrilla hero.

The Western press said little how the vaunted Partisan fighters in Drvar, some 10,000 strong with another 40,000 in the region broke and fled when only 500 German SS parachuters landed in the middle of the town. Tito himself was not to return to Yugoslavia for nine months, operating off a British defended island in the middle of the Adriatic Sea. This German offensive also bought time for the DCD, taking off pressure on its Eastern flank in Bosnia, but not for long. Partisans were still snapping at the heals of the DCD, but all the while the Partisans were getting stronger in Western Yugoslavia, so was the DCD, which had 7,000 poorly armed, Chetniks. During the months that the Partisans were in Western Bosnia, they could not break into the heart of DCD territory. Partisan Collaboration with Ustasha The mission received a great deal of information charging that the Ustasha and Partisans were collaborating in attacks on Nationalists in Dalmatia and that in Bosnia Ustasha in large numbers were joining the Partisan ranks. It was charged in particular that known Ustasha criminals, who had been active in the terrible killings of 1941, had taken this means of escaping punishment. The undersigned has been told by a reliable source that the British have recognized this last charge as true and that unsuccessful representations have been made to Partisan Headquarters on the subject. The Nationalists, both Serbs and Muslims, have collected a mass of detailed reports on Ustasha crimes, with names, places, and dates. They also have the names of the better known criminals who have joined the Partisan Army; civil administration or who have been accepted by the Partisans as collaborators against the Nationalists. The undersigned was not in a position to obtain direct proof of these charges, but their specific character and the varied character of the sources give the impression of veracity. It is certainly true that the charges are believed by Serb Nationalists and it encourages them to believe that the Partisan leadership, in addition to its Communist character, has inherited the program of Pavelic and the Ustasha which sought the destruction of the Serb population in Western Yugoslavia. The latest reports from Dalmatia received by the undersigned prior to leaving the country, covering the second and third week of October, do strongly suggest that a bloc of one half million Nationalist Serbs in that general area are being harried by both Partisans and Ustasha, that many civilians are being murdered, and that large numbers of civilians are fleeing into higher mountain districts despite the winter and lack of food.

Since this area lies close to the British and Americans in Italy, at Nationalist Headquarters it was felt that Dalmatia would serve as a test case. If in this area the British and Americans do nothing to stop the civil war and bring security and relief to the civilian population, then Nationalists generally throughout Yugoslavia must be prepared to fight the civil war to the bitter end. As the German offensive was on around Drvar there was a battle in the small village of Crni Lug on the eastern slop of mount Dinara. The 1st Dalmatian Corps was deployed to the village and fought off a retreating Partisan column that wanted to penetrate over Dinara into Dalmatia, within Chetnik territory. And on May 28 the "Gavrilo Princip" Corps attacked the Partisan flank southeast of Drvar, taking two dead. By the end of August 1944 the Soviet Red Army was approaching the Eastern frontier of Yugoslavia, and in preparation of the impending invasion, General Mihailovic ordered national mobilization of all Chetnik forces, whose strongest forces were in Serbia. Eighteen days after the Chetnik mobilization the forces of General Mihailovic were attacked in the flank, by concentrated Partisan armies in Bosnia. As the Red Army in Serbia liberated towns and cities, the Red Army promptly disarmed the Chetniks and handed control of the area over to the Partisans. By the end of October Serbia was in the control of the Partisans, and Mihailovic retreated to Bosnia and attempted to regroup and counter attack. The Partisans were also attacking again western Bosnia forcing the "Gavrilo Princip" Corps to give up its territory slowly, so by the fall of 1944 they were concentrated in Dalmatia forced to abandon their homes.

The Chetniks in the Gracac area were suprised at the Partisan attack and were forced to pull back, but did not lose their cohesiveness as a unit, thus turning the Partisan victory into an tactical victory by not destroying the Chetnik power base in Lika. In Grahovo Chetniks fought a pitched battle between October 25th and 27th 1942, against the Partisan attack. The Partisans were unable to take Grahovo and retreated back to their so-call "Bihac Republic". The whole purpose of the two pronged Partisan attack on Tromedje was to open up the roads to attack the heart of Chetnik power in Western Dalmatia. In December a Chetnik battle group moved to the Tromedje area from Herzegovina under the over all command of Vojvoda Petar Bacovic. Their mission was to assist the DCD to counter attack the strong Partisan force in Western Bosnia, but as it turned out they were doing as much defending as attacking. The Chief of Staff to General Mihailovic in Serbia, Major Ziharija Ostojic came up with the plan to reinforce the DCD seeing that the main Partisan force was on its door step and the DCD was yet up to strength and fully organized on Chetnik lines. This battle group was named the "Chetnik Expedicanary Corps".

Letter to Vojvoda Djujic from General Mihailovic

Dearest brother Vojvoda, In recognition of your work for our people and King and Fatherland. Sir you have given all from your self in the heroic leadership during bloody battles of your formation. Not at least your work in organizing the Chetnik Dinaric Division. In the name of the King and Fatherland I thank you for all that you have done until now, and in faith that your formation under your heroic leadership will continue to raise yourselves in establishing a new and free Fatherland. Brotherly Welcome to you, Drag. M. Mihailovic arm General. 24.July 1942. From the Free Serbian Mountains.

In July 1942 Vojvoda Ilija Trifunovic-Bircanin met with General Mihailovic in Gacko, Herzegovina. Mihailovic appointed Bircanin commander of the Coastal Regional Command. Bircanin moved to Split, which was annexed by Italy, to begin work as a double agent, in the cause of freeing Yugoslavia and restoring the Yugoslav Monarchy. While working with the Italian 2nd Army to receive supplies and arms, to provide for the needs of what were really Chetniks acting as Anti-Partisan Police along with the Italians. Vojvoda Djujic had already contacts with the Chetnik command in Serbia by the end of 1941. With Bircanin's appointment the DCD officially became a part of the Royal Yugoslav Army in the Homeland, under the command of Army General Dragoljub Mihailovic. Official radio contact was made between the DCD and Mihailovic's HQ's in Serbia, on December 26th 1942, and did not break until the end of the war. With this came a reorganization of the DCD. The regimental style was dropped and a corps and brigade organization was adopted, as was the way in Serbia and anywhere else the Chetniks operated. It was not until early 1943 that all the units of the DCD were to re-organize.

In December 1942 the DCD strength stood at 3000 armed regular Chetniks. General Mihailovic was commander of all the Chetnik forces in Yugoslavia, and Minister of the Army, Navy and Air Force for all Yugoslav forces in Exile (granted by King Peter the Second and his Royal Government in Exile). In Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia thousands of Serbian civilians were targets of reprisals by the Axis forces. The Chetnik army took on the role of a shield, 1941 had seen as many as 400,000 Serbian deaths, mostly at the hands of the Ustasha and Mihailovic was not about to let innocent Serbian civilians die because some British officer in Egypt wanted a railway brigade blown up.

Serbia and Montenegro were Chetnik fortifications, but NDH and the Italians occupied zones were up for grabs, by both the Chetniks and Partisans. Strong Chetnik forces were mostly found in Serbian populated areas such as the Tromedje. The Yugoslav Communist Party (YCP) by September of 1941 was moving closer to a state of war between their Partisan forces and the Chetnik forces of Colonel Mihailovic in Serbia proper. It was also in September that the YCP ordered the communists that were hiding in the Tromedje area to start forming units to fight the nationalist units being formed. Fighting the Ustasha killing squads came second! Young pre-war communist's rallied to the call and formed three units. In southern Lika, Djoke Jovanovic formed a Flying Unit, in Bosnia, Ljubo Babic formed a Flying Unit in the Drvar area, and communists from the coastal towns of Dalmatia formed a Flying Unit in Podinarji, comprising of Serbian and Croatian communists.

By October in Serbia proper an all out civil war had broken out between the Chetniks and Partisans, this was on its way to Tromedje. Near Drvar in October a group of Partisans along with Ljubo Babic were captured by Mane Rokvic, and on the Partisans was found a list of nationalist Serbs that were to be liquidated. On the top of the list was Ilija Desnica, and when Ilija spoke to Ljubo Babic, the communist used Serbian nationalism to make Ilija forgive and forget the list. Babic spoke of Serbian unity in this time of need and that Serbs should not be killing Serbs. Ilija forgave Babic as a good Orthodox Christian might forgive, that was a mistake. Less than two months later a communist Trojka (Killing Squad) went to Desnica's house in the village of Kamenica, called Ilija out and killed him, then tossed his body into a deep pit. In Lika on the 24th of January 1942, Chetniks under the command of Gendarmerie Sergeant Jovica Senardar fought off an Ustasha offensive supported by the Italians in the village area of Ljubov and won a great victory sending the Ustasha fleeing. The battle brought great amounts of arms and ammunition to the Chetnik camp, 2 cannons, 450 rounds of cannon ammunition, 2 light tanks, 4 mortars with 300 mortar bombs, 5 machine guns, 5 semiautomatic machine guns and 10,000 rounds to go with the machine guns. The next day on the 25th a group of Partisans suprised Senardars Chetniks by capturing them all. Sergeant Senardar was sentenced to death by the communist commissar but that night he was able to escape. The next day the Partisans shot seven Chetniks in front of the others, in panic the captured Chetniks thought they would also be killed so they, removed their Chetnik head ware and placed the five pointed communist star on their caps. This could be considered the start of the civil war in the Tromedje area of Yugoslavia.

In Western Bosnia all out civil war started on April 2nd 1942 when Partisans under Ljubo Babic attacked the village of Marinkovci and Upper Peulje. The Chetniks from that area under the command of Brane Bogunovic fought off the Partisans. On the 5th the commander of a Partisan battalion, Cviju Orescic was captured. The next day the Chetniks attempting to sway the Partisans in to not fighting their brother Serbs released Orescic. He would be back as communist as ever; the persuasion did no good. The communists in Dalmatia murdered one of the leaders of the uprising, Pajo Popovic on June 19th 1942. The attacks and murders continued on and on in the Tromedje area and with the death of Pajo Popovic came the end of the Chetniks trying to sway the Partisans from forgetting their political goals. It was clear all over Yugoslavia that the communists were bent on power any way possible.

[Pictures] [Back] [Home] [Interview]

Written and researched by M. Dobrich
2001 copyright
Cetnicki Ponos