Sava Kovačević (Partisan)
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January 25, 1905|
Nudo, Principality of Montenegro
|Died||June 13, 1943
Krekovi, near Tjentište, Bosnia-Herzegovina
|Years of service||1941–1943|
|Battles/wars||World War II
Battle of Neretva
Battle of Sutjeska
|Awards||Order of the People's Hero
Order of Kutuzov
Kovačević was born in the Nudo village, close to Nikšić, to a family of Montenegrin peasants. In his early age he worked as a blacksmith and adopted communism, becoming a member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ) in 1925. He gradually rose through the party ranks, became one of the communist leaders in Montenegro. He was often arrested for his activities.
After the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia, Kovačević was one of the leading organizers of uprising against Italian occupation of Montenegro. He became commander of Nikšić Partisan Detachment, deputy commander of Main Headquarters of Montenegro and finally a member of Supreme Staff of the Yugoslav People's Liberation Army (YPLA).
In June 1942 he became first commander of 5th Montenegrin (Sandzak) Brigade of YPLA. His unit took part in 1942 Bosanska Krajina Campaign (Bosnian Frontier Campaign) - operation against Independent State of Croatia garrisons that brought large sections of Bosnia and Herzegovina under Partisan control. In February and March 1943, during the Battle of Neretva, (German operation Weiss) Kovačević commanded his brigade in attacks on Prozor against Italians and Konjic against joined Italian-Ustasha-German defenders. On June 6, during the Battle of Sutjeska (German operation Schwarz) he became commander of 3rd Assault Division of YPLA. His division covered the rear of other Partisan units while they successfully broke through German lines. 3rd Division, also encumbered with the wounded Partisans, was less successful in its attempt of breakthrough. On June 13, Sava Kovačević was killed while personally leading his men during the charge against fortified trenches of German 118th Division at Krekovi, on river Sutjeska.
Owing to his humble background and habit of disregarding any privileges of the rank, Kovačević was one of the most popular Partisan commanders. He was famous for his personal courage: one of the well known episodes happened on February 20, 1943 in Ostrožac on Neretva river when he, with his Brigade commissar Dragiša Ivanović, in an unexpected encounter with a group of Italian tanks, managed to jump on tank platform, Sava on the second and Dragiša on the third of three tanks, to destroy their crews and to capture one tank each. His heroic death made him into one of the Partisan icons.
He was posthumously proclaimed People's Hero of Yugoslavia.
In popular culture