Kosovo Operation (1944)
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The Kosovo Operation (October 15–November 22, 1944) was a series of military operations leading up to one final push during World War II, launched by the Bulgarian army (commanded by Major General Kiril Stanchev) with the assistance of Yugoslav and Albanian Partisans to expel German forces from Kosovo and prevent the retreat of German forces from Greece.
The main forces involved in this undertaking were Bulgarian 2nd Army (78,000 men, 895 pieces or artillery and mortars, and 85 tanks) supported by the Yugoslav 24th and 26th Divisions and the 3rd, 4th and 5th ‘Kosovo-Metohija’ Brigades, the Albanian 3rd and 5th Brigades of the People’s Liberation Army of Albania, against units of Generaloberst Alexander Löhr’s Heeresgruppe ‘E’ as the latter retreated from Greece. The Axis order of battle against the Bulgarians and Yugoslavs in this operation comprised some 17,000 men including the Kampfgruppe ‘Langer’ (three infantry companies, one artillery battery and one platoon of tanks), Kampfgruppe ‘Bredow’ (six infantry battalions, three artillery battalions and 10 tanks), Kampfgruppe ‘Skanderbeg’ (about 7,000 men of SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS August Schmidhuber’s 21st SS Gebirgsdivision ‘Skanderbeg’ [albanische Nr 1], and about 4,000 German navy personnel making their way to the north from Greece.
The Germans were supported by some 10,000 men of the Balli Kombëtar (National Front), the Albanian nationalist, anti-communist and anti-monarchist organisation The operation resulted in the capture of Kosovo by the Communists. The combined Yugoslav, Albanian and Bulgarian operation resulted in the capture of Kosovo from the Germans. By the end of the month Bulgarian 9th Infantry Division pursued the retreating enemy and reached the defensive line Raska - Novi Pazar.