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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:55 am 
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One of the hills held by I/28 on June 8th 1944.

Tally, so far.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:26 am 
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Waffen SS Reconnaissance Battalion 13

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The Bosnian SS Recon battalion had the luck of being one of the best and most dependable units within Handschar, it proved itself exceptional from training to the fighting on the eastern front in Hungary towards the end of the war.

From it’s foundation at Neuhammer it’s leadership was mostly Volksdeutsche and Bosnian, so there was no language barrier as there was in some of the regular infantry companies. At Neuhammer they focused on small arms training and patrolling. Its motorized sections practiced driving.

During operations in Bosnia, it was common for them to operate separately from the infantry regiment and were very often the first into unknown territory.
In June of 44, Aufklarunds Abt. 13 became the nucleus of the newly formed 2nd Bosnian SS division nicknamed “Kama.” Fortunately for them, they didn’t have to move to Hungary and join their new unit in training there. They remained in action in Bosnia.

AUFKLARUNGS!

Summed up as the eyes and ears of their parent unit, Waffen SS Aufklarungs were always abteilung (battalion) sized. They rarely worked at company strength. They enjoyed superior mobility with their Schwimmwagens. The amphibious car would most often carry a fire team (4 men with a light machine gun - MG42) Textbook tactic was to attack the enemy’s flanks and rear, achiever surprise, probing attacks, repeated attacks to quickly destroy isolated enemy pockets. Aufklarungs units would also be tasked with pursuing fleeing enemies.

Ambushes would only be executed if a live prisoner could be captured. At the same time it was not uncommon for them to overrun enemies, if a weak point along the front was discovered by the spahtruppen, larger recon elements would be called in to try take the position through heavier firepower and hold it until reinforcements could be moved in.
They themselves were always exposed, vulnerable to attack and being overrun so pitched battles were avoided whenever possible.
Unpredictability was their favorite weapon in the offense. Artillery could be called in on adjacent units prior to an attack but a different section of the front would be actually assaulted, throwing the enemy off. For tougher jobs they were accompanied by pioniers (combat engineers)

The smallest unit was the size of a German rifle squad, 8 men and an NCO. In a sense it was the continuation of the Sturmtruppe legacy of WW1.
A huge empahsis was placed on teamwork within this community
"Teamwork is a secret of successful reconaissance. Haphazardly formed recon, made up on men who have never worked together before were of little value" they had to be resourceful under pressure, functioning as a unit under a leader with confidence.”

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SS issue smocks were a favorite among Aufklarungs troops.

Their primary mission was gelandeerkundung (terrain reconnaissance) Objectives had to be clear and communication good. As a normal practice, backpacks, letters, epaulletes, written documents and other unnecessary equipment was left behind. In case of capture, personal documents could reveal a lot of information to the enemy, so no written orders concerning their operations was ever written.
To cover the objective from all possible angles the group would be split up and provided a challenge and password. Calling out in the enemy’s language (which in the case of the Bosnians or Volksdeutsche members wasn’t hard) would cause further confusion. Opening fire prematurely was discouraged, and as a general rule of ambushing in danger of being compromised, fire should be held until the last possible moment, always a second longer.
After action reports were immediately written down following their return. Information gathered often changed the outcome of the battles to come. Uncertainty and 3rd party info had to be clearly stated and not taken in as truth.





Example of an after action report:
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“Cunning, versatility, ability to grasp orders rapidly, skill at driving vehicles across any type of terrain, the offensive spirit, resourcefulness under all circumstances and especially at night, cold bloodedness, and ability to act quickly and independently should be characteristics of men selected for reconnaissance units.”

- German handbook.
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A patrol on horseback.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:33 am 
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SS Division Kama
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Men of the division in training, Batschka, Hungary. Late summer 1944.

"My goal is clear: The creation of two territorial corps, one in Bosnia, the other in Albania. These two corps, with the Division 'Prinz Eugen', as an army of five SS mountain divisions is the goal for 1944." Himmler to Phleps May 22. 1944
The intent of this single statement by Himmler, arguably, started a series of blunders made by him and the SS leadership in the handling of their Balkan allies and ultimately their ability to keep the insurgent enemy suppressed. Merely six days later he recieved permission from Hitler to form the second Bosnian mountain division. The actual approval to raise the division was given on the 17th of June, under the name “Kama”
Another formation with a name reminiscent of the Ottoman period. Kama was a shorter fighting knife designed for close hand to hand fighting. It’s even mentioned in Japanese folklore.
Batschka was chosen as the training ground by Sauberzweig warning Himmler that the recruits “should not be trained in Bosnia……….due to the Ustasa’s negative influences.”

The decision to raise Kama brought about a number of changes to Handschar.
Handschar lost it’s oldest and most respected commander, Sauberzweig, 3 NCOs from every company and a few officers. Regt. 28’s commander, Raithel was chosen as the division’s first commander.
Sauberzweig on the other hand was given his own SS mountain corps (IX. Waffen-Gebirgs Korps der SS)

Aufklarungs Abt. 13 was planned to be the nucleus of this new division, however due to it’s parent division’s busy schedule starting in June, it and many other units couldn’t not be transferred until later.

Meeting with Himmler
Sauberzweig visited Himmler in Berlin only three days after handing over Handschar. Needless to say, Himmler wasn’t spared the truth about the ever worsening situation. His main complaints were about tactics. If the (Handschar) division continued to conduct offensive operations outside the security zone, sooner or later, enemy units would assemble to it’s rear and wreak havoc where it’s units felt safe. If such a move was taken, all of the previous progress would’ve been lost. Thus loosing the support of the people.
His other points were:
1. More Bosnian territory could be taken over and pacified but not liberated (from influences)
2. If the men were overworked, Ustasa’s propaganda would be more effective
3. The formation of Skanderbeg weakened Handschar’s combat strength by 25%

Coming events would prove Sauberzweig’s predictions only too accurate.
“If the elements of the division are moved out of their homeland, desertions will increase, as the men would much rather remain in their home villages as militia than hunt for the enemy.”

Taking his advice, Himmler made sure Handschar didn’t move out (for a couple of months at least), he also compensated it for Kama with 500 local Volksdeutsche as replacements.


Nevertheless, after all of these precautions he wouldn’t get good news even from his closest advisors.

During his travels to Croatia, Himmler’s recruitment officer realized the truth about the situation.
"the induction of 10,000 Croatian citizens of the Islamic faith (was) not possible, for such a number of reliable youngsters (was) simply not available, and thus Catholic Croatians will be (accepted)."
SS-Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger 13. August 1944


Training of the Kama

It was planned to train and form the division in the same manner as Handschar. It began to take shape in July-August time frame.

1) Recruit Depot – Sambor;
2) Recruit Depot – Bosujaci
3) Between Sambor and Verbas
-55.Waffen-Gebirgsjaeger-Regiment der-SS (kroatische Nr. 3)
-56.Waffen-Gebirgsjaeger-Regiment der-SS (kroatische Nr. 4)
4) Kula - Waffen-Gebirgs-Artillerie-Regiment der-SS (kroatische Nr. 2)
5) Centamas - located the old Handschar Aufklarungs Abt…..now redesignated SS-Aufkl. Abt 23.


Peak strength: 3,793 men (September 1944)

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There is no explanation behind the sun shaped collar patch. It was supposed to be issued following the completion of training but since no unit was fully trained, none were produced. The design itself has no connection to any Bosnian tradition to my knowledge.

The M44 dot uniform was in decent numbers in this unit. Kama had one of the few cases of national arm shields and other insignia being sewed onto camouflage tunics such as the M44 dot pattern.

Headgear discipline was loose, those who got fezzes wore them, for all others SS Bergmutzes and side caps had to do. Headwear did not denote religion, as it sometimes did in Handschar. Where you’d have non-Muslim members wearing the side cap. After all the Third Reich was coming to an end in less than a year. There were other equipment priorities.

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Majority of the men still hoped to show up as a welcomed sight to the Handschar division and follow in their footsteps in Bosnia. Unfortunately for them the SS leadership had other plans.


In it’s last stages of training, the units of the division were in danger of literally becoming a part of the eastern front, because the Russians were getting so close to their training grounds.
On Sept. 24, the decision was made that the Bosnians under SS-Standartenführer Hellmuth Raithel are to be transported south to Bosnia. Initially the idea was to still form 2 Bosnian divisions. Where Kama would borrow men from Handschar. Himmler still clung on to the idea of creating an SS mountain army in the south.
He even suggested that the Mufti make a last visit to the Muslim SS troops in Hungary on the 11th of October to bolster the morale. It never happened due to the heavy fighting in the area.

After a short combat experience on the eastern front the men reported to Handschar in northern Bosnia.
It’s last commander was SS-Oberführer Gustav Lombard. A man who shared the unit’s bad luck. He was in “command” of 4 separate units in less than 4 months.
The divisional number 23 was handed off to a Dutch volunteer division on the 31. Oct 1944.

In some respects, it can be said that the idea wasn't a complete failure. The SS war machine received over 2,000 men in the end. Some sources also state that the reliable members of the division went towards forming the nucleus of the 31st SS Grenadier division.

The memory of this second division is unknown to most Bosnians and some people who study this subject.
If Handschar has had little research done on it, this unit has had virtually none. Even if it’s story is told, the information is loose and parroted.

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Bosnian SS members that joined in the summer of 1944. Trained with the Kama division, and were later on transferred to Handschar. The caption below the picture seems to say that they might’ve been killed at Bleiburg 1945. Also indicating that they had fought on the eastern front.






Art from past 3 parts was from Ron Volstad, Stephen Andrew and Ramiro Bujeiro

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Last edited by 42gunner on Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:54 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:15 pm 
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Very interesting read again, thanks for writing ans posting!

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:14 pm 
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Thanks for your time and attention rednas.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 6:31 am 
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The days following the Battle of Lopare were fairly calm until the last week of the month, when partisan activity in the area stepped up. The newly formed III/28 was deployed to the Maglaj area on the 26th of June to deal with the partisan threat to the security zone along the Spreca river. The division’s Aufklarungs and Panzerjager troops were sent to relieve the Croatian forces who were pushed out of Derventa. A cetnik battalion within the security zone was mauled by the partisans on the 29th, who pulled back before SS units could chase them down. It was one of those amazing paradoxes of WW2. The cetniks didnt prove too dependable operationally especially during partisan sweeps, and now...they enjoyed protection from the Bosnian SS division.
On the 30th, II/28 pushed back a partisan force of 7-8,000 men attempting to take Sekovici, an action which would earn it’s commander, Hans Hanke, a German Cross in Gold.

The next few days saw the partisans attempt to cross the Sava and attack the division’s security zone from the north. Their first attempt on the 1st and 2nd of July was an enormous failure, German units lay in wait on the riverbank, holding their fire till the first partisan laden boat was half way across. Another attempt was made on the 7th, this time the Germans pursued the partisans, crossing the river in assault boats with artillery support, and pushing the partisans back into the Bosut forest.
Earlier on the 4th, yet another attempt was launched by the partisans, this time in the eastern most edge of the security zone, Doboj. A partisan force believed to be 2,500 strong was attempting to cross the river Bosna, was stopped on the 10th, loosing 137 men killed and 12 captured. II/28 lost 2 men.

This series of attacks would eventually take a toll on the members of the division, coupled with other political influences and coming events, Handschar’s long streak of good luck and success would be stopped by an unlikely person.

Unternehmen Fliegenfänger
14. July 1944

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The strip today. It has been divided in two parts following the war, two: kilometer by 200 yard wide parts. Most likely by nearby farmers who now cultivate the land.

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Last edited by 42gunner on Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:22 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:32 pm 
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Very detailed, respect!

I´m interested in "Handschar" about more than 10 years. The motives and reasons of those men were very different - it is highly interesting to read about it.
I have found many modeler pictures in this thread, it is a really good work!


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:57 pm 
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Volunteer wrote:
Very detailed, respect!

I´m interested in "Handschar" about more than 10 years. The motives and reasons of those men were very different - it is highly interesting to read about it.
I have found many modeler pictures in this thread, it is a really good work!


thanks the point was to educate people and bust many myths and stereotypes about the division.
If you do end up making a Handschar diorama please share with us :D
theyre always a treat

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 10:00 am 
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Pioniere der SS-Geb. Pi. Abt. 13

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A bridging unit works on a bridge as men of Regt. 27 pass by with their pack mules.
(On a side note, this picture has a couple cases of the M40 side cap being worn instead of the fez. It should be noted that most of the enlisted men were issued 2 items of headgear, the side cap during training and the fez upon completion of training. The green fez could be seen worn during parades and ceremonies contrary to the popular idea that both enlisted and officers wore the red fez during such occasions. It simply wasn’t a priority. Some of the more nationalistic members of the division were known to take off the Chessboard patch, showing their dissatisfaction with the NDH state.)

It was this unit that bore the bad fortune of having to put down the September mutiny. Some of it’s more prominent members were SS-Pioniers Jasarevic, Okanadzic, and off course their commander and Imam.

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Illustrations by Ron Volstad and Stephen Andrew.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 4:10 pm 
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Close Quarters Weapons

“The Bosnian is a very good soldier. His strength lies in the use of terrain and in close combat. With the infantry attack he is in his element”

The most widely used pistol in the division was the 9mm P38. Imams were issued the Walther PP.
Reflecting their non-combat status. Imam Halim Malkoc can be seen wearing the Walther PP holstered during a speech after receiving the Iron Cross for foiling the Villefranche mutiny.
There is little evidence to believe that the Luger saw significant use in the division.
Nevertheless, close quarters weapons, ranging from grenades and bayonets to pistols were traditional tools of the trade for the Bosnian infantry.
Many nations pride themselves on their skill with the bayonet and romanticize the bitter hand to hand fighting that they excelled at.

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Above is a picture of the “buzdovan” (unknown Bosnian WW1 museum)
Reminiscent of the medieval times, buzdovan is a wooden or iron bat with nails or sharp edge on the top.
It was used in face to face battle by the “Old Breed” against the Italians in WW1 to a deadly effect. Italian crews were known to abandon their machine guns when overrun by Bosnians charging with buzdovans.
(source: cited from various award citations: 1 famous case of Infanterist Serif Miljkovic from Bh IR. 2, from northern Bosnia, it’s likely that one of his sons or grandsons served in the Waffen SS)

Sidearms - Seitengewehre:

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(Seitengewehr frogs were normal issue, they weren’t the special SS issue, atleast in the pictures I’ve studied)



Hand Grenades - Hand granaten:

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Cut away diagrams of the Stgr. 24 and Eihgr. 39.


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Same grenades in booby trap form (pretty simplistic, it only required a trip wire string tied to the porcelain ball/blue fuse cap) The Eihgr. 39 (top left) was fitted with a special Z.Z. (Zug Zunder) 35 pull fuze, made especially for trip wires. The Zug Zunder could be most associated with the Pioniere as it was one of the signature tools of their trade.
The ZZ 35 was used with everything from small anti personnel egg grenades to Teller mines meant to do bigger damage.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:37 pm 
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Unternehmen Heidrose
17. July 1944


Objective was to finally attack the partisan stronghold north west of Šekovići.
The Germans were convinced they had a lot of underground bases and supply depots here. This would actually prove to be one their most successful and accurate predictions yet. Since Šekovići is still today considered as one of the first places from which the first uprisings in Yugoslavia were organized, as well as many brigades were formed. It served as a logistics center for the eastern Bosnian sector where new volunteers could be armed.
“Šekovići was a military, political and cultural center for whole Eastern Bosnia. And inside of it was the highest military and political leadership for Easter Bosnia.”
Rudi Popover 1943

From the start a minimal number of forces was used, against the advice of the higher command to wait. Another promise of a jump by the SS paratroop units was made but never actualized, instead a battalion and further Prinz Eugen units were used, since they were already in position.

Elements of Regt. 27 under temporary command of SS-Obersturmbannführer Erich Braun, swung westward across the mountains.

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Due to the early successes of the operation, Regt. 28 units were convinced only disorganized partisans were leftover and would pose no threat. So they went elsewhere for the time being.




As shown by the first two maps, approaches from the north and east were most effective and less noticeable, if not easiest. The approach of the 7th SS units was detected by the partisans in Vlasenica and the roads they would’ve taken to Šekovići would channel them right into the enemy attacks. Either way, they did their assigned duties well and blocked the southbound roads and all possible escape routes.

It is likely that there was little communication with the Cetnik battalion since they did not commit all of their men, in some cases they just stood by.

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Finally, having driven all of the enemies out, the SS units were allowed the opportunity to look for the partisan bases. The Cetniks, who had taken little part in the actual fighting around Šekovići, were now eager to loot what the partisans left over. It should be noted that one of their favorite tactics was to be on the flanks of SS units that scattered partisans, as they found a sweet opportunity in it to ambush the retreating partisans for weapons and equipment. Many executions happened during such events, and after the partisans found the bodies in the following days, the nearby SS units were accredited with the deeds.
The cooperation with the Cetniks during July 1944, resulted in the partisans complaining (in post war accounts) about everything from rapes of partisan nurses to executions of regular partisans who have surrendered.

Even tough the division’s intelligence officers insisted that those bases had to be there, nothing was found on the first day. They were allowed one more day and were astounded at what they finally found.

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In one day’s searching they had found more than during the period of 7. April - 15. June having paid 24 men for it.
What they had found could’ve armed an entire partisan brigade with enough ammo to last at least half a year of heavy fighting. In Bandenbekampfung, this is preferred, because you are preventing more hostile people from being armed into active insurgents. Capturing enemy stockpiles puts a strain on it’s ability to counterattack and for the time being the enemy looses it’s momentum. It’s comparable to destroying an entire brigade without firing a shot.
Hampel was so impressed that he proposed that Braun receive the Ritterkreuz.

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Last edited by 42gunner on Sat Nov 26, 2011 11:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:22 pm 
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Selfmade Fez:

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:47 am 
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Very good effort.
Is there a way you can soften the edges on top?
If I may also add, you'll need more black strands for the tassel, otherwise good job.

Im gonna end up dying a regular white fez into feldgrau, replacing the tassel and putting on the insignia. This one here is in a 90% similar shape the fezzes were issued in at Neuhammer, after that they stretched at the bottom and the top of the fez kind of depressed into the center (if you look closer to some of the pictures)
http://www.villagehatshop.com/green_fez_tassel.html
(just gotta figure out how to dye different colors, as this is the only cheap way)

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 12:52 am 
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July 29th - Ustasa and Green Cadres units pushed out of Kladanj, III/28 takes it back.

Unternehmen Hackfleisch
4. August 1944

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:25 am 
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42gunner wrote:
Very good effort.
Is there a way you can soften the edges on top?
If I may also add, you'll need more black strands for the tassel, otherwise good job.


Thank you.
I´ll try to make a second one while the autumntime and will post the result here. :D


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