Capture of Banja Koviljača

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Capture of Banja Koviljača
Part of the Uprising in Serbia during World War II in Yugoslavia
Date1–6 September 1941
Result Chetnik-Partisan victory
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Independent State of Croatia Independent State of Croatia
Commanders and leaders
Nikola Radovanović
Bogdan Drljača
Georgije Bojić
Lazar Savić
Dragoslav Račić
Obren Popović 
Aleksandar Stanković
Mika Mitrović
Independent State of Croatia Mate Rupčić
Independent State of Croatia Grum
Units involved
Jadar Detachment
Cer Detachment
4th company
Pocerski Battalion
Podrinski Division

Nazi Germany 9th company
Nazi Germany 12th company of 3rd Battalion
Nazi Germany718th Infantry Division[1][2] Independent State of Croatia 3rd regiment
Independent State of Croatia 4th regiment

of the Croatian Home Guard battalion from Zvornik and Tuzla[3]
3,000 Chetniks

Nazi Germany 300 Germans

Independent State of Croatia 300 Ustaše[4]
Casualties and losses
4 killed
4 wounded [3]

The Capture of Banja Koviljača (1–6 September 1941) was a long battle fought by allied forces of Chetnik Detachments of the Yugoslav Army (Chetniks) with Yugoslav Partisans against German forces. On 1 September 1941, the allies attacked German soldiers who were garrisoned in an outpost at Banja Koviljača. This was the beginning of the hostilities of the April war.[5] The Battle of Koviljača reflected skillful command by leaders of the uprising in Serbia.[6]


In August 1941, insurgent activity in the Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia increased. There were 242 attacks on the German Army and gendarmerie posts, railroads, telephone wires, mines and industrial facilities during that month. Twenty-two German soldiers were killed and seventeen were wounded.[7] In the same month, Draža Mihailović ordered the mobilisation of Chetnik units.[8]

On 31 August 1941, the Chetniks captured Loznica and Zavlaka village and then, on 1 September 1941, they captured Zajača, a mining town.[9]

Two Chetnik detachments participated in the Capture of Banja Koviljača: the Jadar Detachment and the Cer Detachment. The commander of the operation was Nikola Radovanović, a lieutenant general. The Cer Detachment conducted attacks on Šabac in order to distract the Germans in Banja Koviljača. They were quickly transported from Prnjavor through Loznica and Trbušnica to Mount Gučevo above Banja Koviljača where Račić, commander of the Cer detachment, was informed of the intention of the Jadar Detachment of 3,000 men to attack Banja Koviljača.[3](p267)[10]

The Jadar Detachment was supported by two companies of Partisans that belonged to the Pocerski Battalion, Podrinski Partisan Division. One of the companies (the 4th) was commanded by Aleksandar Lala Stanković. The other, an assault force, was commanded by Mika Mitrović.[4](p181)[11] The German soldiers in Banja Koviljača were accommodated in the kursalon (the music hall) and in the hotels Podrinje, Herzegovina and Dalmatia. Between 30 and 40 German soldiers were positioned in a sanatorium on the hill above Banja Koviljača.[3](p267) These soldiers were part of the 718th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht 118th Jäger Division). The divisional headquarters were in Banja Luka and the divisional command post was in Zvornik, both located in the Independent State of Croatia. Hence, the divisional commander first approached the Croatian Minister of the Armed Forces, Slavko Kvaternik, for support.

Mate Rupčić (commander of the NDH Military on the Serbian front) gave support with the Croatian Home Guard 3rd and 4th Regiments from Zvornik and Tuzla, commanded by Colonel Grum.[12][13][14]

The battle[edit]

On 1 September, the Jadar Detachment under the command of Captain Bogdan Drljača and reserve Lieutenant George Bojić attacked the 3rd Battalion of the German 718th division. German soldiers at the sanatorium retreated to the town and dug a trench and improvised a bunker.[3](p267) Others made a strong defensive fortification with barbed wire and machine gun nests. The German soldiers offered fierce resistance and successfully repelled the attackers and held the town whilst waiting for reinforcements.

On 2 September, the 3rd Battalion of the 738th German Regiment had to retreat to the east from its position near Koviljača.[15] On the same day, a German reconnaissance aircraft was damaged above Loznica.[16] During the night of 2 September, allied forces numbering between 5,000 and 6,000 Partisans of the Valjevo Detachment and around 1,000 Chetniks under the command of Martinović and Vlado Zečević, a priest,[10](p490) attacked the neighboring town of Krupanj.[17][18] German reinforcements from Valjevo tried to reach Krupanj and Koviljača with support of the German air force but could not break through the allied lines.[19]

On 3 September, the German soldiers in Banja Koviljača received artillery support from the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH) and support from the Luftwaffe. Two Junkers Ju 87s dropped twenty-four bombs on Chetnik positions.[3](p271) After this barrage, Croatian Home Guard forces of battalion strength crossed the Drina River near Zvornik.[20] They attacked the left wing of the Chetnik-held slopes of Gučevo, west of Banja Koviljača.[3](p272) The Chetniks under the command of Lieutenant Lazar Savić were suppressed by the Germans and NDH forces who crossed the Drina at Kozluk. Lieutenant George Bojić returned on the same day with reinforcements to halt the progress of German and NDH forces and joined with the Cer Detachment under the command of Dragoslav Račić.

On the night of the 4 September, large battles were fought. On 5 September, according to Vladimir Dedijer, the Chetniks requested support from Partisan forces (Mačva Detachment and Valjevo Detachment).[21] These detachments marched towards Banja Koviljača. When Partisan units reached Tršić they received news that Banja Koviljača had been captured.[10](p489)

The German soldiers erected high voltage wires in front of their line. Sergeant Obren Popović, not knowing this, approached the critical German position at the Hotel Hercegovina. Popović led the Chetnik men with a bomb in his hand. The Chetnok men ran onto the high-voltage wire and all were killed.[citation needed]

On the night of 5 September, fighting continued. The Chetnik forces reached the Hotel Hercegovina in a decisive onslaught by jumping over the high-voltage wires and throwing grenades through the windows of the hotel. There was panic among the Germans, who rapidly retreated with the NDH to Zvornik[citation needed] and were then evacuated by air.[22]


After the capture of the town, the Chetniks celebrated the birthday of King Peter II of Yugoslavia. A prison camp to contain captured German prisoners was opened in Planinica village.[19] The Chetniks and the Partisans established command posts in Loznica and Banja Koviljača.[4](p182) Remaining German forces were trapped in Šabac and Valjevo, encircled by the allied forces.[23] Victories at Loznica, Banja Koviljača, Zavlaka, and Krupanj released most of western Serbia, including Loznica, Koviljača and Krupanj, from Axis occupation.[24]

The Cer Detachment commanded by Račić attacked German positions in Šabac. They penetrated the town but could not capture it.[25] The Chetniks joined with forces in Šumadija to attack Valjevo. The consolidated Chetnik forces advanced to the valley of Western Morava and captured Čačak, Kraljevo and Kruševac.


  1. ^ "Germany (Territory under Allied occupation, 1945–1955 : U.S. Zone. Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10, Nuremberg, October 1946 – April, 1949: Case 12 : U.S. v. von Leeb (cont.) Case 7: U.S. v. List (Hostage case)." U.S. G.P.O. 1949 p947. "3d Battalion, 738th Regiment, fighting near Koviljaca and Loznica,..."
  2. ^ Batanović M. "Podrinjski Partizanski Odred" in "Ustanak naroda Jugoslavije, 1941: Zbornik knjiga." Vojnoizdavacki zavod 1964. ""U Koviljači su tada bile 9. i 12. četa 3. bataljona nemačkog 738. pešadijskog puka — oko 300 vojnika"
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Parmaković D. "Mačvanski (Podrinski) narodnooslobodilački partizanski odred, 1941-1944." Vojno-istoriski glasnik 1989 p86. "Svim snagama (ako je potrebno i iz Tuzle i Zvornika) pomoći njemačke opkoljene jedinice u Loznici i Koviljači. Svoju odluku Kvaternik je saopštio."
  4. ^ a b c Mitrović D. "Zapadna Srbija 1941 (hiljadu devetsto četrdeset prve)." Noli 1975.
  5. ^ Pajić S. "Decenijama palio sveću zaboravljenom heroju." 4 September 2011. Accessed 23 January 2014.
  6. ^ Jončić K. "Kraljevački oktobar 1941." Ekonomska politika 1971 p42. "Борбе око Ковиљаче показале су да српски устанички покрет располаже добрим вођством."
  7. ^ Hehn 1979, p. 28.
  8. ^ "Vojno-istoriski glasnik." 1982 p237.
  9. ^ "The Četniks: a survey of Četnik activity in Yugoslavia, April 1941 - July 1944." G-2 1944. p9.
  10. ^ a b c Dedijer V. "From April 6, 1941, to November 27, 1942." University of Michigan Press 1990 p490 ISBN 978-047-210-091-0
  11. ^ Filipović S."Podrinsko Kolubarski region' Glas Podrinja 1982 p306
  12. ^ "Vojno-istoriski glasnik, Volume 40." Vojnoistorijski institut. Belgrade, Serbia 1989 p86.
  13. ^ "Le Cinquiòme Congrès du Parti communiste de Yougoslavie, 21-29 Juillet, 1948." Kongres Savez Komunista Jugoslavije. Livre yougoslave 1949 p85 "Des détachements de notre domobran, du 3e et du 4e régiments, sous le commandement du colonel Grum, ont passé la Drina dans un élan magnifique et, en étroite collaboration avec les troupes allemandes, après avoir détruit les bandes."
  14. ^ Begić M. "HOS: 1941 - 1945, Hrvatske Oružane Snage u borbi za obranu Nezavisne Države Hrvatske, slobode i obstanka hrvatskog naroda iron Krešimir." Laus 1998 p39-40. ISBN 978-953-190-091-1
  15. ^ "Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10, Nuremberg, October 1946-April, 1949: Case 12 : U.S. v. von Leeb (cont.) Case 7: U.S. v. List (Hostage case)" Germany (Territory under Allied occupation, 1945-1955 : U.S. Zone, U.S. G.P.O. 1949 p947 "2 September 1941, Valjevo - Higher [Corps] Command communicates - 1305 hours, 3d Battalion, 738th Regiment, fighting near Koviljaca and Loznica, forced to withdraw toward east. Croats are trying to cross the Drina near Koviljaca and Zvornik, succeeding only near Zvornik."
  16. ^ Avramov S. "Genocid u Jugoslaviji u svetlosti međunarodnog prava." Politika 1952 p. 194. "У оперативном дневнику немачког заповедника у Србији наводи се следеће 2 септембра оштећен је непријатељском ватром извиђачки авион изнад Лознице."
  17. ^ "Zbornik Dokumenta" Vojnoistorijski institut Serbia, Belgrade 1949 p75. "2 септембра у ноћи снаге Ваљевског партизанског одреда, у сарањи са војно-четничким одредима поручника Мартиновића и проте Зечевића, отпочеле су напад на Крупањ..."
  18. ^ Kovačević M. and Jeremić M. "Narodna vlast u Srbiji, 1941-1961.' Savremena administracija 1962 p17. "Војно-четнички одред попа Владе Зечевића и поручника Мартиновића ... ове снаге су оствариле јединство акција у борби за ослобођење Крупња, са ваљевским народноослободилачким одредом..."
  19. ^ a b Dimitrijević B. and Nikolić K. "Đeneral Mihailović: biografija." Институт за савремену историју, Belgrade 2004 p166 (in Serbian.)
  20. ^ "Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10, Nuremberg, October 1946-April, 1949: Case 12 : U.S. v. von Leeb (cont.) Case 7: U.S. v. List (Hostage case)." Germany (Territory under Allied occupation, 1945-1955 : U.S. Zone, U.S. G.P.O. 1949 p. 947. "Croats are trying to cross the Drina near Koviljaca and Zvornik, succeeding only near Zvornik."
  21. ^ Šnuder M. "Dnevnik 1941-1945: V partizanih." Založba Obzorja 1994, p152. ISBN 978-86-377-0739-4 "Dalje so zavzeli Banjo Kobiljačo, kjer so vojnim četnikom prišli na pomoć partizani iz Mačvanskega odreda, pa tudi iz Valjevskoga odreda skupina z Zečevićem in Martinovićem."
  22. ^ Hehn P. "The German Struggle Against Yugoslav Guerillas in World War II: German counter-insurgency in Yugoslavia, 1941–1943." East European Quarterly, Boulder, Colorado 1979 p49. ISBN 978-0-914710-48-6.
  23. ^ "Godis ̆njak." Istorijski Arhiv u Sapcu 1966 p263. "За неколико дана ослобоћени су Богатић, Лозница, Ковиљача, Крупањ, Столице, Љубовија, читав ваљевски крај и друга места. Немци су остали једино у блокираним градовима Шапцу и Ваљеву."
  24. ^ Gojko N. "Korijen, stablo, pavetina: memoari." Sveučilišna naklada Liber u suradnji s Prosvjetom 1982 p315. "oslobođeni su Loznica, Koviljača i Krupanj, pa je već stvorena i slobodna teritorija."
  25. ^ "The Četniks: a survey of Četnik activity in Yugoslavia, April 1941-July 1944." G-2 (pb), A.F.H.Q. 1944 p9. "Racic even managed to penetrate into Sabac without succeeding in establishing control over that town."