On 25 May 1944, 800 men of the 500th SS Parachute Battalion descended on Drvar, a town behind enemy lines in north-western Bosnia. The aim of Operation Rosselsprung
- or ‘Knight’s Move’- was to kill or capture Marshal Tito in his mountain base. A daring glider- and parachute-borne assault was intended to snatch the partisan leader from inside his safe haven, and hold out until a ground assault relieved them the next day. Tito, however, escaped from his mountain hideout, and the elite paratroopers were counter-attacked and nearly destroyed by his partisans.
Osprey has released Knight's Move
, number 32 in its "Raid" series of books, that covers this little-known battle.
Knight's Move, the Hunt for Marshal Tito 1944
was written by David Greentree with illustrations by Johnny Shumate. The book is listed with a retail price of $18.95, and is available as an eBook from Osprey for £4.48
With rare photos of the raid and new maps and artwork, this book tells the story of the raid and analyzes the intelligence and tactical failures that led to the paratroopers' defeat.
(From the rear book cover:)
Author David Greentree has provided a short but well detailed account of Germany’s final move against Marshal Tito in his Bosnian headquarters, in which the newly organized 500th SS Parachute Battalion, comprised mainly of SS soldiers who had been punished for some misdemeanor and demoted, and who volunteered in hopes of restoring their rank and standing, made a high risk assault into the narrow valley where Tito had his headquarters, landing by glider and parachute.
Mr. Greentree also goes beyond the battle itself, providing information on the background of the partisan movement in Yugoslavia, how Tito came to power and led his forces, and some of the internal political and social struggle that affected the movement (and still affects the region today.) He also describes the German military situation and why the German army felt it was necessary to try to take out Tito and protect their lines in the Ukraine.
He also describes the allied missions to the partisans, and how they determined Tito was the best choice to support.
The book's contents are laid out in both chapters and main subheadings. The main chapters are:
• Initial Strategy
o Operation Weiss
o Operation Schwarz
o Sixth Offensive
o Target Tito
o 500th SS Parachute Battalion
• The Plan
o Partisan Defences
o Final German Preparations
• The Raid
o Approach and Landing
o Initial Attacks
o Partisan Reaction
o Attack on Tito’s Cave
o Reinforcement and Regrouping
o Relief Force Stalled
o Fight for Survival
o Cordon Operations and Pursuit of Tito
The text is accompanied by numerous photographs of the participants, including a fair number of the 500th SS Parachute Battalion in action during the operation showing the initial stages of the attack. Others show the DFS 230 assault glider in action, as well as numerous aircraft and a light Italian tankette, one of four present at Drvar. There are accompanying maps showing the movement of the various forces, and artwork showing specific scenes of the battle. Both sides nearly came to failure in the raid, with Tito barely escaping capture and the 500th SS Parachute Battalion narrowly escaping complete destruction.
Knight’s Move, the Hunt for Marshall Tito 1944
is an interesting and informative look into the effect that the partisan movement had on the German army, as well as how the Germans operated behind the lines. It covers training and equipment, and the overall military and political situation in Yugoslavia during WWII, as well as how these events both shaped and determined the outcome of the last raid against Tito.
My thanks to Armorama and Osprey Publishing for making this review copy available. Be sure to mention you saw it reviewed on Armorama when ordering.