(Desant na Brač)
While HQ of the No.2 S.S. Brigade was searching for island to avenge failure of operation FARRIER and HQ of 26th Dalmatian Division of NOVJ was planning its own raid on Brač island news that German have launched Raid on Drvar (operation RÖSSELSPRUNG) reached Vis. In order to take the pressure off Tito, raid on Brac was planed as operation in which Germans would have impression that partisans plan to take and hold the island and then land on the coast itself. This would prevent Germans from sending reinforcements from coast to inland and perhaps even force them to send reserve from inland to defend coastline.
Brac island was held by two reinforced battalions of the 738th regiment from the 118th Jäger Division missing one reinforced company which was on the eastern part of Hvar island. Strongest German positions where in central part of the island, southeast from Nerezisc and in the eastern part of the island in are Selca-Sumartin; in area of Supetra and on Vidova gora where only smaller German forces.
From forces participating in landing three columns where formed:
- Northern column - had task of landing during night on 31st May/1st June on the south coast, remain hidden on the island during the day and then during the night on 1st/2nd June with smaller force eliminate German stronghold on Vidova Gora while with larger force block Supetar-Nerezisc.
- Western column - which was transported by three convoys and was the strongest, was suppose to land in the same area where did the Northern column land but on the following night. Its task was to eliminate German strongholds in area of Nerezisc.
- Eastern column - which was suppose to land on the same night as the Western column, but east from Bol, had task of attacking German strongholds in eastern part of the island.
Beginning of attack for all three columns was set for 6 a.m. on 2nd June.
Reconnaissance platoon made of 20 partisans and 6 commandos which would be on the night 1st/2nd June transferred on Solta island had task of reporting possible sending of German reinforcement from Solta and to report ships movement from Split harbor.
Two advanced parties were landed on 31stMay/1st June and moved into position. At first light RAF aircraft attacked the main position and Supetar with rocket-firing Hurricanes. NO.43 Commando attacked the northernmost points of the main position, Pt 542 and were foiled by a minefield, like the HLI had been at the enemy's Observation Post the previous night. The Partisans attacked PTTs 648 and 622 in the morning and Pt 542 that afternoon. Another attack by the HLI and a Partisan company again failed to take the OP> The RAF were called in and the position was finally taken. Air attack preceded the partisan attacks on PTs 648 and 622 but miens and wire proved formidable although they overran the outposts. No.43 had a similar problem at Pt 542 and further Partisan attacks that night were unsuccessful. Reinforcements were called in that night with tree troops of No.40 Commando, 300 Partisans and two 25 pdr guns being landed in the early hours of 3rd may. In the east, the Partisans enjoyed considerable success and captured or killed a large number of the enemy and by noon on the 3rd had the remainder bottled up in the town of Sumartin.
The main position still remained a problem, Nos.40 and 43 Commandos would attack Pt 422 at dusk, the Partisans harassing Pts 542 and 48 and the Commandos would then support the partisans attacks on these. Communications now developed problems, with No.40s deciphered orders reading that they alone were to make the attacks with partisan support on the flanks.
No.43 began their attacks at 203 hours with supporting artillery fire and got through the minefield using Bangalore torpedoes. They reached the top of the hill just before 2200 hours but had suffered fire from both flanks. Almost immediately they were counterattacked and lost touch with B Troop on the right. No wireless communications with brigade HQ and steadily mounting casualties caused Lt Colonel Simmonds to decide to withdraw. B troop were held up by a suspected minefield and the withdrawal took them to the far left of No.40. B troops were located by no.40 and they went in with No.40s attack, passing through the suspected minefield and reached the objective. Here they came under heavy fire and D troop of No.43 arrived, but German soldiers overran the position and 13 men were captured. the remainder of No.40 an B Troops of No.43 withdrew to the start line where they met up with No.43 Commando. The attack had cost the commandos 10 officer and 41 other ranks killed or missing and 6 officer and 70 other ranks wounded. The HLI Company had 16 casualties and the partisans on the flanks some 60 casualties. In view of the fierce German resistance it was unlikely that the Commandos would be able to destroy the enemy garrison and they withdrew, covered by the hurricanes of No.242 group RAF and the Royal Navy.
Order of Battle
Brač ended series of large scale raid operations with Germans fortifying and reducing number of their garrisons there were few if any easy targets left. Also with landings in Normandy and breakout at Anzio Allied attention was back at Italian front. Pressure on Germans was continued with constant harassment and landings of artillery batteries which would quickly leave before German garrison could recover from shelling.
- 42 killed
- 150 wounded
- 11 missing
- 220? captured
- 67 killed
- 308 wounded
- 14 missing
- 50 killed
- 73 wounded
- ~20 missing
- 1 wounded
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