- Arso Jovanović
Infobox Military Person
March 24, 1907– 1948
caption=Jovanović (left) and Tito, in Drvar, 1944
Democratic Federal Yugoslavia, Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia
branch=DF Yugoslavia, FPR of Yugoslavia
World War II
laterwork= Arso R. Jovanović (Serbian
Cyrillic: Арсо Р. Јовановић) (1907 - 1948) was one of the foremost military commanders to participate in the People's Liberation Struggle (Narodno oslobodilacka borba) in Yugoslavia(as their World War IIoperations were referred to by the Yugoslav Communist Partisans).
Educated through the Yugoslav Royal Army academies, General Jovanović was one of the best-educated generals among the partisan forces in Yugoslavia, speaking French, Russian and English. His military reports distinguished him, sometimes running to as many as ten pages, and he stayed close to the partisan High Command, lecturing in the first partisan officer school in
Arso Jovanović was born in Zavala village near
Podgorica, Principality of Montenegroon March 24, 1907into a family with a strong military tradition. His father was, until 1910, an officer of the Kingdom of Serbiaarmy, stationed with the artillery regiment in Topčider, a suburb of Belgrade. Jovanović went to school in Nikšić, and then progressed to the Yugoslav Royal Army's military academy in Belgrade in 1924. There he was a contemporary of Velimir Terzićand Petar Ćetković, who would later also become significant commanders in the partisan forces during World War II. He graduated the top of his class, and was recommended to go to France for 'professional perfection'. He finished with top grades at the academy and went on to its higher school, graduating in 1934.
By this time he had reached the rank of
lieutenantand continued with his studies. He completed the additional course of the military academy in 1940, being promoted to the rank of captainon January 18, 1938and then to first class captain on December 20, 1938. On the recommendation of military experts and the minister of defense, Milan Nedić, and in recognition of his abilities, Jovanović was transferred to become troop commander of the school of reserve infantry officers.
Not long before the Nazi German invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, he was posted as commander of the school battalion of the infantry school of active officers. In the meantime, he had met and married Senka, a law student from Belgrade. They were separated when the war started, meeting up again in Drvar in 1944. After the war, when
Josip Broz Titobroke with Moscowand Stalin in 1948, General Jovanović openly sided with the Soviet Union. He was killed by Yugoslav border guards while trying to escape to Romania.
The German invasion
When the German invasion started, Arso Jovanović was commander of the school battalion. He was subject to the Second Army Group under General Dragoslav Miljković. His task was to take action in the direction of
Sarajevo- Travnik. An interesting fact is that here he served with a number of future high commanders in the army such as Dragoslav Mihailović, Major Miodrag Paloševićand Major Radoslav Đurić. Following the breakdown of the front at Sarajevo on April 15, and the entry of a German armoured group into the city, Captain Jovanović did not go forward to support Colonel Mihailović who was being attacked near Derventa. Instead he returned to his birthplace, unwilling to surrender to the enemy. There he awaited the famous uprising of July 13in Montenegro, in which he participated.
In these actions other active officers of the
Kingdom of Yugoslaviawho subsequently crossed over to the partisan lines also excelled themselves. Examples include infantry colonel Savo Orović, reserve sub-colonel Veljko Bulatović, infantry class I captain Velimir Terzićand infantry class I captain Petar Ćetković. All fought then in the Royal Yugoslav Army that renounced the country's capitulation to the invaders, and later alongside the partisan units commanded by Peko Dapčević, Vlado Ćetković, Jovo Kapičićand others.
Montenegrinshad traditionally held great affection for Russia, when the Soviet-German war broke out Montenegro rose in revolution. Despite the fact that plans and preparations for guerrilla warfare had not been made, a universal uprising was under way. Jovanović commanded his forces in a drive against the Italians near Crmnica, where they defeated one Italian battalion. Alone, Jovanović's unit captured 2,000 Italians and a significant amount of war equipment. Captain Jovanović then joined the partisan forces.
The partisan war
Jovanović was well received among the partisans. Due to his experience, he was assigned as chief of staff of the partisan guerrilla units for Montenegro and Boka. Until December, he was chief of staff for Montenegro.
Meanwhile, the Italian army had managed to transfer one army corps and three squadrons from
Albaniain order to quell the uprising. Jovanović found himself pressed between strong forces that slowly cleared the partisan units from the territory. He ordered a move towards Cetinje, where partisan units even managed to surround the Italian governor. The Italians however succeeded in deblocking Cetinje. Captain Jovanović then ordered an attack on Kolašinand Šavnikbut the enemy forces were too strong, and the partisans were forced to retreat.
Arso Jovanović faced the ire of the people due to the deteriorating military situation. In this situation, he ordered a retreat on the entire front until the arrival of troops from Sandžak. For this action, 3,500 people were mobilised in Montenegro. On November 20, these forces commenced a march-manoeuvre in all parts of Montenegro. The main objectives were
Kolašin, Mojkovac, Mioče, Donja Morača, Gornja Morača, Boan, Đurđeviča Tara, Nikšić, Šavnik and Žabljak. Jovanović ordered his troops to take the city of Pljevljaat any cost, and manoeuvres were made to surround the city. The battle for Pljevlja commenced on December 1when the majority of the forces entered the city itself. Arso Jovanović was among his fighters, and ordered charge, then retreat, and charge again. The Komski, "Bajo Pivljanin" and "Zetsko-lješanski" battalions all participated in this battle. The city was almost taken, but the enemy counter-attack was so strong that Jovanović had to order a retreat. The Axis forces suffered 1,000 dead, compared to only 253 among the partisan units.
After the unsuccessful battle for Pljevlja, which was intended to connect the free territory in Sandžak and Montenegro, Jovanović was called to supreme command. He thought that he would be relieved of duty, but (instead of Captain Branko Poljanac) Jovanović was appointed on
December 12 1941as head of the Supreme Command of Yugoslavia's partisan forces. He held this post until the end of the war. Jovanović wrote an extensive report on the uprising in Montenegro and the reasons for the unsuccessful attempt on Pljevlja. In this report he described the shortcomings of the partisan forces.
Yugoslav People's Army
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