Soldbuch of Kanonier Josef Mutter
Mutter was born in Croatia on the 20.2.1922 into a Catholic family in the town of Ernestinovo in the district of Osiyek. In his civilian life he was a Saddler. During the war Mutter got married with his love Irna, receiving leave for one day to attend his own wedding in July 1944.
The Soldbuch was opened on he 16th of October 1942 with the Stabs Batterie of the the Artillerie Regiment (Kroat) 369.
Mutter was extremely lucky, he was not stuck with the main units of the 369 a few months before, they would fight to the end in Stalingrad.
Mutter’s service would span from October 1942 till the wars end fighting mainly partisans in Operations Weiss & Weiss II & Operation Schwartz.
He was awarded:
1943 – Croatian Ante Pavelic Bravery Medal in Silver
1944 – Croatian War Badge with State shield
1945 – War Merit Cross with Swords
The Soldbuch also contains a Croatian extra page added, of which I have not managed to find another!
He was issued with a Rifle several times as well as some interesting equipment such as Tropical Clothing.
Interestingly the complete Soldbuch states that Mutter is serving with the Stabs Batterie although on further inspection it becomes clear the majority of the signatures inside the are from the 3rd Batterie, I Abteilung Commander: Oberleutnant Guske.
The 3rd Batterie was armed with the WWI Field Cannon Mod 16 (10.5 cm leichte Feldhaubitze 16).
The Soldbuch is in good overall untouched condition.
The Artillery Regiment 369 (Croatian) was set up in September, 1942 in Military District XVII. The regiment was set up with German support personnel and Croatian soldiers. The regiment consisted of two medium and one heavy artillery sections.
After the formation, the regiment was subordinated to the 369th Infantry Division. After Christmas the regiment was shipped to Croatia. On December 29, 1942, the regiment was unloaded and deployed in Sunja, southeast of Sisak. The second division came from the regiment to the places Sas and Zivaja, where they set up for all-round defense.
Towards the end of January 1943, the regiment was shifted slightly to the south-west in order to carry out its first major anti partisan mission. Operation “Weiss” led the regiment to fight in the Karlovac – Bihac – Livno area.
On March 3, 1943, the regiment reached Livno. Then it was turned in the direction of Mostar and forced towards the Narenta and Ramatal. Eventually the regiment reached the western banks of the Narenta.
From April 13th to the 20th, 1943, Operation “Weiss 2” began. The I. / G.R. 370 from Zavidivici from northeast forward, the III. / Grenadier Regiment 370, coming from Sprecatal, had to comb through the Ozren planina from an easterly direction and the II. / A.R. 369 to advance towards Doboj. After the end of the operation, the Division marched to Maglaj linking up with the other Abteilung.
In mid-May 1943 the Operation”Schwarz” was carried out. The area of operation was now northern Montenegro. Soon after the start of the operation, the German troops and the participating Italians encountered strong enemy resistance, namely at Podgorica and Kolasin, on the Tara and south of Foca, and especially on the Sutjeska in the north-west. The resistance could only be broken after heavy fighting, but the main partisan forces managed to escape. After the end of Operation “Schwarz”, the fight against the partisans continued in the form of a non-stop, grueling guerrilla war. It grew more and more in size. At the end of June 1943, the partisans captured the cities of Vlasenica and Srebrenica from Croatian Ustaša forces. Against this threat, the Germans have inter alia the Nachrichten Abteilung 369 from Sarajevo, the I. / Grenadier Regiment 369 and the II. / Grenadier Regiment 370 as well as the Panzerjäger Abteilung 369 were assigned to Tuzla. In Tuzla there was heavy fighting with the partisans.
On July 9th 1943, a regiment of the division attacked the enemy standing in front of Tuzla and threw them back to the south. Then they turned to Zvornik, which had been captured by the partisans a few days earlier. At the end of July 1943, the I. Abteilung was in Doboj, the II. Abteilung together with the III. / Grenadier Regiment 370 in Janja and the III. Department in Zvornik. At the beginning of August, parts of the area previously held by an SS division were occupied by the 369th Infantry Division, which moved the regiment to Kiseljak, the 1st division (without 1st battery) to Kiseljak, the 1st battery to Bijeljina and the II. Abteilung after Petrovici and Capardi.
The guerrilla war against the partisans continued in the new positions. On September 9 and 10, 1943, the regiment took part in the disarming of the Italian troops. From 16.-20. September 1943, the 4th and 5th batteries took part in an operation against the occupied city of Trnovo. Behind Vojkovici, Captain von Schröder, Commander of the II Abteilung, was fatally wounded by shrapnel. Six soldiers died with him and four were wounded.
On September 30, 1943, partisans attacked the city of Tuzla, where the regimental headquarters and the 6th battery were located. The 6th battery was wiped out during the fighting, and the battery chief, Captain Paul Schlueter, has been missing since then. The remains of the battery managed to break out of the city to Prozor with the staff. The 6th battery was rebuilt with mountain guns, the new battery chief was Lieutenant Jansen, who died in October 1944 near Dunta Doli. The III. Department moved from Maglaj to Sarajevo at the end of October 1943. In December 1944, parts of the regiment took part in Operation “Kugelblitz”, which was directed against partisan formations in the area of the Korun and Javor Planina.
In mid-March 1944, Division I with its 10 cm Skoda guns was relocated to Nevesinje, Gacko and Fojnica. On June 16, 1944, the 5th battery was moved to the coast at Gjunta Doli. At the end of July 1944, the 4th also moved to the coast. Around September 20, many of the Cetnics, allied to them, attacked their former German comrades.
During the partisan offensive in October 1944, Ston, the base of the 5th and 6th batteries, was also attacked by the partisans. The positions were overrun and smashed by the partisans. The remnants of the regiment withdrew to the line Lise – Mostar – Nevesinje.
By early 1945, the withdrawal brought the remains of the regiment as far as the Konjic area.
On March 26, 1945, the regiment supported the attack by Grenadier Regiment 370 on the height 1011. The regiment remained in its positions until the end of March. On April 4, 1945, the withdrawal from the positions of the “Ivan saddle” and the retreat to Zenica and through the Bosna valley to the north began. Zepce was reached on the evening of April 11, 1945 and the march continued on Brod. Here the regiment was used to secure the city, through which a large part of the repatriated German units were smuggled. The heavy attacks of the partisans continued, the main frontline was lost on April 18, 1945. In the evening it was possible to regroup the troops east of Glagovica and to build up a new line of resistance. Here, too, the enemy attacked the next day, the regiment had to move further away and reached the Prubudovac ridge.
On April 21, 1945 Sibinje was crossed and Vrbova was reached. On April 22nd they marched to Bodegraji and on April 24th 1945 they took up a new position in Garesnica. In late April the regiment moved to the railway line from Garesnica to the north. Since the Ustasha units in front cleared the front without a fight on May 2, 1945, the regiment had to retreat to Draganec at an accelerated rate.
On the night of May 6, 1945, the I. Abteilung was attacked while passing through Cazma, Lieutenant Gentsch fell, Lieutenant Feige was wounded by a shot.
On May 2, 1945 the regiment’s retreat continued, Stefanie was reached. On May 7, 1945 the regiment reached the Hrastje area. St. Urban on May 10, 1945.
The regiment had to allow itself to be disarmed by Yugoslav units. Disarmed, the regiment was able to continue its march and reached Schönstein on May 11 at 10 p.m.
On May 13, 1945, the regiment was interned by the British in Grabach and taken to Griffen.
Combat Footage of the Croatian Legion