Croatian Army

    Croatian Army

    Croatian Army Stamps


    On 10 May 1941, 5000 sets of the Jusgolavia 1939 issues were overprinted. These postage stamps were issued to honor the founding of the Croatian Armed Forces.

    Croatia proclaimed its independence on 10 April 1941 under the leadership of Dr. Ante Pavelic. Six days later the Croatian Home Defense force was created and led under Field-Marshal Kvaternik. The Croatian Home Defense Army was basically used as an occupational force and to combat Tito's Partisans. In November 1941, the Croatian Army was reorganized into three Region Corps, each with two infantry divisions. Each division only had about 4000 men, so really it should be of brigade size.

    The Croatian Regular Army "Domobran"

    In 1943, the Croatian Army was referred as "Domobrani." The Domobrani or regular army were mostly led by former Officers of the Royal Yugoslav Army. Other specialized military formations were formed. In April 1942, the 1st Mountain Division was activated with a force of 17,000 men. Three Croatian Armored Corps of battalion strength were formed and later by 1943 incorporated into the three Army Region Corps.

    Like the Italians who had their political Black Shirts formations, the Croatians had the Ustaša Units ( Croatian Revolutionary Movement) , which were established in early May 1941. By 1944 the Ustaša force grew from 17,000 men in early 1941 to 76,000 men. In September 1941, the 1st Ustaša Regiment was formed in Sarajevo and commanded by Major Jure Francetic. The dreaded Ustaša Regiment was commonly referred as the Black Legion because all the men wore black uniforms.

    Croatian RAD Stamps

    First Day Cover showing 3rd Anniverssary State Labor Service postal issues with special cancel dated 20 August 1944. Next to it is a special Red Cross postcard showing wounded soldier and nurse. Below on the left is a Military Parcel Stamp released on 6 January 1945 in order to limit the amount of parcel post sent by military personnel. Only two labels were issued to each soldier. The Parcel Stamp shown on your bottom right was issued on 24 March 1945.

    In August 1941, the Germans formed the 362nd Infantry Regiment from recruits and former veterans of the Croatian Legion, whom had participated in the battle of Stalingrad.
    Please note that the military and postal history of the Croatian Legion shall be discussed in "LEGION-STAMPS."

    In January 1943, the 373rd Infantry Division was formed and placed under German command. The Croatians whom were part of these infantry divisions wore German style uniforms and were trained by the Germans. The Germans also had the Waffen-SS Mountain Division "Prinz Eugen," which was composed of ethnic Germans from Croatia, Romania and the Banat region.

    In addition, the Germans formed the 13th SS Mountain Division "Handschar" mostly composed of Muslims from Bosnia. An attempt to form another SS Mountain division failed because of the high desertion, it would have been officially designated as the 23rd SS Mountain Division "Kama."

    During the Italian capitulation on 9 November 1943, the Croatian 369th and 373rd Infantry Divisions as well as the SS Prinz Eugen Division participated in the disarming of the Italians. By 17 August 1943, a third German-Croatian division was formed it was designated the 392nd Infantry Division. By 1944, the Croatian Infantry Divisions participated in one of the last offensives in attempting to capture Tito, who was Drvar, Central Bosnia.

    By 20 March 1945, Tito�s Partisans, 800,000 strong now as part of the Yugoslavia National Army began a major offensive. By 15 May all Croatian territory was now part of Yugoslavia. The majority of Croatians who were in the military were either massacre by Tito�s Partisans or sent to Concentration camps.

    Croatian Postal History

    Croatians serving their country paid for postage. Letters and postcards were mailed at regular post offices because there were no official military post offices in existence. By the summer of 1943, Croatian fieldpost offices were established.

    On 12 August 1944, a fieldpost service was introduced for Croatian forces fighting Tito's partisans. The field service, were handled by the Croatian Post, Telephone and Telegraph. The fieldpost service applied their own postal cancels "GLAVNA SABIRNA BOJNA POSTA," however most covers have regular postal cancels where units were stationed. All military mail was eventually collected at the main postal center located in Zagreb.

    All military covers were inspected and censored by Croatian postal authorities. On 17 April 1943, special field cards were printed. These cards bore three language descriptions: Croatian, German and Italian. After Italy capitulated these cards were printed only in Croatian and German. The printing was done by the Croatian State Printing office, on off-white, bluish, greenish and blue-rose cardboard type of paper. The card was divided in two parts. On the right top part is the states coat-of-arms, the Croatian inscription: "DOPISNICA ZA BOJNU POSTU" (post card for fieldpost), and the German FELDPOSTKARTE. Below the inscription are six lines for addresses. On the left side of the card the sender's address. In Sept. 1943, all field mail to and from Croatia was censored.

    Concerning the postage stamps, on 10 May 1941, 15 Yugoslav stamps were overprinted with the Croatian shield, the date of issue and the inscription "HRVATSKE" (Croatia). They were sold twice the face value, the surtax was used to fund the Croatian Army.
    In 1943, three imperforate semi-postals honoring the Black Legion were issued.
    On 9 January 1945, a set commemorating the Croatian Storm Division was issue. In addition a souvenir sheet showing the three stamps were issued. These stamps were design by Oto Antonini. The stamps, was printed by Tipografije, Ltd. in Zagreb.

    Beginning the year 1945, two military stamps were released, in order to facilitate the parcel post of military personnel. On 6 January 1945, a military parcel stamp was printed for weight not exceeding 1kg. Printed in Zagreb showing a red/black color of the state coat-of-arms. Each soldier was given two stamps a month. On 24 March 1945, a parcel stamp designed by Prof. Vladimir Kirin showing the valley of Neretva River by Jablanica, bottom of inscription "BOJNA POSTA" (military post). Printed in Zagreb on white paper, brown/yellow color, 100,000 issued.

    Croatian Storm Division Stamps

    Croatian Storm Division Stamps

    On 10 April 1944, a set of three postal values commemorating the Ustaša Militia "Black Legion" were issued. Pictured in the anniversary sheet is the notorious Black Legion leader Major Jure Francetic, who is wearing the black Ustaša uniform. Below is a souvenir re-print sheet of the desirable so-called Storm Division Set.

    Also shown below are three Storm Division stamps.
    The 50 + 50Kn,postal value stamp shows five members of the division in the assault. Each wears a German helmet and the Storm Division insignia over his right breast pocket. However each soldier wears a different type of uniform.
    Beginning at the left, the first soldier wears the uniform of the Ustaša Militia, identified as a Corporal.
    The second soldier wears a regular Army uniform, identified as a Corporal.
    The third soldier who's rank cannot be identified wears a naval uniform.
    The fourth soldier is an Air Force Officer.
    The last soldier is a former member of the State Labor Service.
    The 70 + 70Kn showing a scene depicting Storm Division troops spoiling an evening around the campfire for the enemy.
    The 100 + 100Kn, blue color, showing the divisions emblem superimposed on a map of Croatia. The stamps have the division emblem in the upper left corner.

    Croatian Storm Division Cover

    An extremely rare Croatian register cover with Storm Division sheet. This cover was mailed to Zagreb on 3 February 1945 (from the collection of Ramon Boronda).

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