25 January 1905|
Nudo, near Grahovo, Montenegro
13 June 1943 (aged 38)|
Krekovi, near Tjentište, Bosnia and Herzegovina
|Years of service||1941–1943|
5th Montenegrin Brigade|
3rd Shock Division
World War II|
Battle of Neretva
Battle of Sutjeska
Order of the People's Hero|
Order of Kutuzov
Sava Kovačević (Serbian Cyrillic: Сава Ковачевић; 25 January 1905 – 13 June 1943) was a Yugoslav Partisan divisional commander during World War II, and one of the heroes of the communist Partisan movement.
Kovačević was born in the village of Nudo, 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.
World War II
After the German-led Axis invasion of Yugoslavia, Kovačević was one of the leading organizers of the uprising in Montenegro against the Italian occupation. He became commander of the 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 the first commander of the 5th Montenegrin (Sandzak) Brigade of the 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 the Italians and Konjic against joint Italian-Ustasha-German defenders. On 6 June during the Battle of Sutjeska (German operation Schwarz) he became the commander of the 3rd Shock Division of the YPLA. His division covered the rear of other Partisan units while they successfully broke through German lines. The 3rd Shock Division, which was encumbered with wounded Partisans, was less successful in its attempt at breaking out. On 13 June, Kovačević was killed while personally leading his men during a charge against trenches held by the German 118th Jäger Division at Krekovi, on the Sutjeska river.
Owing to his humble background and habit of disdain for the privileges of 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 20 February 1943 in Ostrožac on the Neretva river when he, with his brigade commissar Dragiša Ivanović, in an unexpected encounter with a group of Italian tanks, managed to climb onto two tanks, Sava on the second and Dragiša on the third of three tanks, to kill 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 honour of Kovačević, numerous streets were named after him, as well as urban neighbourhoods in Zemun and Palilula. Also, Savino Selo (literally: Sava's Village) in Vojvodina is named after him. Naval repair facility which operated in Tivat was named "MTRZ Sava Kovačević" (popularly called Arsenal), until its conversion into the yacht marina "Porto Montenegro".