Croatian Legion Military and Feldpost History

    13th SS Volunteer Mountain-Division "Handschar"

    The Waffen-SS recruited and formed units composed of Bosnian and Croat volunteers. To provide a sound basis, a cadre of ethnic Germans from the Division "Prinz Eugen" was added.
    The 13th SS Croatian Volunteer Mountain Division was formed on 2 July 1943.
    It should be noted that the division had a large number of Albanian volunteers. Eventually the Albanians were withdrawn to form the Division "Skanderberg."

    By end of July, the transfer of ethnic Germans had been completed and the Recruit Depot at Wildflecken, Germany was transferred to Mende, France.
    The division came under the German 2nd Armored Army in February 1944, and from its headquarter at and around Brcko on the River Sava in northern Bosnia, it took on Tito's partisans.

    Croatian SS insignia

    In late 1943, members of the Croatian Division were issued with SS uniforms. Instead of the SS collar tab a special collar tab consisting of a hand holding a Scimitar with a swastika. The sword has historically been the symbol of Bosnia, an example of the collar tab is shown above.
    On 30 April 1943, members of the division were authorized to wear an SS pattern Croatian National shield. The were two style of shields made, both forming the red and white checkerboard pattern (see images above). These shields were commonly worn on the left sleeve just below the sleeve eagle although regulations stipulated to be worn on the center right sleeve.
    Because this unit was built as a mountain division members were authorized to wear the oval SS style Edelweiss patch on the upper right sleeve of the uniform. The headgear was the Muslim Fez, in field gray or red for walking out.

    In May 1944 the division was renamed as the "13. Waffen-Gebirgs-Division der SS "Handschar" (Kroatische Nr. 1)." The division was composed of Croatians, ethnic Germans and Moslem recruits from Bosnia. The first commander was Standartenf�Herbert von Obwurzer from March 9 till August 1, 1943. The last comander of the division was Oberf�later Brigadef�Desiderius Hampel. The division departed for training in occupied France. It was at Villefranche, during this period of training that certain members of the division mutiny and a number of German cadre personnel were killed during the mutiny. The fault in the uprising implicated three Communist that infiltrated into the ranks of the division. About 14 soldiers were executed as mutineers. By mid-February 1944, the division completed its training in Neuhammer and was sent back to Bosnia to combat Partisans. The division participated in several anti-Partisan operations around northeastern Bosnia, western Serbia and southern Sirmium.

    By late 1944, the Soviets were penetrating the Croatian borders. In October, the division as such no longer existed because of the high numbers of desertions. It was of regimental strength and made up of its German and ethnic German personnel. The 9000 German personnel were used as an SS Battle Group "Henke." This group fought in southern Hungary and engaged the Russians near the Yugoslav border. By the end of the war, the remnants of the battlegroup fought in Austria. On 7 May 1945, surrendered to the British. Members of the Handshar Division were awarded with 5 Knight Crosses and 5 Gold German Crosses.

    All Moslem volunteers were handed over to Tito's forces after the capitulation and that they were virtually all executed at Maibor on the Drava.

    An attempt to form another division was tried in summer of 1944. The division was named as the 23rd SS Mountain Division "Kama" and later change to the 31st SS Grenadier Division "Kama."

    However the division was dissolved late in 1944 because of not having enough recruits and high desertions. In addition five Croatian Police Regiments and one battalion were formed and organized by the Waffen-SS.

    Waffen-SS Handschar Postal History

    From spring of 1943 to December of 1944, The 13th SS Mountain Division Handschar was assigned the following FPN:

    SS Div. Hqtrs------------ 57400

    SS Mountain Rgt. 27------------- 59054

    I Battalion (1-6 Co.)----------- 57130 A-F

    II Battalion (7-12 Co.)--------- 56013 A-F

    III Battalion ------------------ 59583

    IV Battalion--------------- 57295

    SS Mountain Rgt. 28------------- 57347

    I Battalion (1-6 Co.)----------- 56239(43) & 48004(44)

    II Battalion (7-12 Co.)--------- 59128 A-F

    III Battalion ------------------ 57872

    IV Battalion ------------------- 56156

    Croatian SS Feldpost

    SS Art. Rgt.13 ----------------- 59297

    I Battalion -------------------- 57452

    II Battalion (5-8 Co.)--------- 56388 A-E

    III Battalion (9-12 Co.)------- 59136 A-E

    IV Battalion--------------- 57822

    SS Reconnaissance Unit 13th ----------- 58907

    SS Engineer Btl. 13--------- 56975

    SS Signal Unit 13------- 58229

    SS Anti-tank Unit 13--------- 58861

    SS Supply Staff 13------- 58315

    Transport Column 1-3--------- 56802

    Small Motor Transp.1-3------- 58375

    Motor Vehicle Repair Shop--------- 57508

    Logistic Column------------- 59065

    Supply Co.------- 56770

    Armed Repair Co.----------- 56528

    Fuel Transport Col.-------- 56684

    SS Heavy-weapons Repair Col. ----------- 57983

    SS Motorcycle Btl--------- 56491

    SS Military Police Troop-------- 57584

    SS Medical Unit ----------- 57068

    SS Veterinary Co.--------- 58179

    SS Stewards Btl.---------- 57754

    Note: The division was assigned FpA SS-13, FPN 59000 and Kenn 394, from July 1943 to May 1945.

    Feldpost numbers were assigned to the 23rd SS Mountain Division Kama, which was formed in the summer of 1944 but later dissolved in late 1944. The numerical designation was given to the SS Volunteer Panzer-Grenadier Nederland. German records indicate that remnants were reformed into the new 31st SS Volunteer Grenadier Division Kama. Activated in September 1944 and dissolved late December 1944. The same Feldpost numbers assigned to the 23rd Division Kama were given to the 31st Division Kama.

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