A combined airborne and ground assault by the German XV Mountain Corps and their allies on the Supreme Headquarters of the Yugoslav Partisans located at the town of Drvar in western Independent State of Croatia (of which modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina was a part) during World War II. The operation was launched on 25 May 1944, and was aimed at capturing or killing Marshal Josip Broz Tito and destroying the headquarters, support facilities and co-located Allied military missions.... Operation Rösselsprung was a coup de main operation... a parachute and glider-borne assault force based on 500th SS Parachute Battalion and their link-up with ground forces of the XV Mountain Corps converging on Drvar. The airborne assault was preceded by heavy bombing of the town by the Luftwaffe. The ground forces included Home Guard forces of the Independent State of Croatia. The operation was a failure, as Tito, his principal headquarters staff and the allied military personnel escaped, despite their presence in Drvar at the time of the airborne assault....
The offensive began at 5am with the advance of ground forces from their assembly areas surrounding the areas of operations. About 6.35am, five squadrons of Luftwaffe bombers, including Junkers Ju 87 dive bombers, began bombing targets within Drvar and Bosanski Petrovac. A total of 440 sorties were flown on 25 May 1944. 500th SS Parachute Battalion began to parachute and glide onto their objectives at 7am, with most parachutists and glider pilots able to land relatively close to their targets despite the smoke and dust from the bombing. Some gliders landed significantly off course, including one that landed in front of the Bastasi cave seven kilometres to the west of Drvar, and several that landed in Vrtoče. The occupants of the glider that landed in Bastasi were immediately killed by members of Tito's escort battalion guarding the cave, and the occupants of the gliders at Vrtoče had to fight their way toward Drvar. After landing, the first wave of the 500th SS Parachute Battalion quickly gained control of Drvar.
Panther Group supported by Red Group overcame minimal resistance at the cemetery and Captain Rybka established his headquarters behind the cemetery walls. However, there was no sign of Tito or his headquarters. Greifer Group and Brecher Group were also unsuccessful as the British and American groups had moved following the aerial reconnaissance on 23 May. Parts of Stürmer Group landed their gliders in a field immediately south of the Drvar cave and came under fire from members of Tito's escort battalion on the high ground in the area of the cave. The Draufgänger Group landed their gliders at the "Western Cross", then assaulted a building they believed was the Partisan communications centre. However, the building was actually the office of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia Central Committee, who resisted fanatically until the building was levelled using satchel charges. Both Blue Group and Green Group, consisting of parachute troops that landed in the eastern part of Drvar where most of the population lived, were also engaged in heavy fighting. The Young Communist League of Yugoslavia had just finished a conference in Drvar, and many of the delegates were still staying in the town. Many youths took up whatever arms they could obtain and commenced fighting the parachutists who were attempting to establish a cordon on the eastern side of the town.[
Two kilometres further east on the road to Mokronoge was a Partisan officer training school with about 130 students. On hearing the fighting from the direction of Drvar, the students marched west initially armed with pistols and a few rifles. They split into two groups, a smaller group which crossed the Unac and advanced west along the railway line on the ridge leading toward Tito's cave, and a larger group which collected arms and ammunition from several stray canisters of German equipment dropped by parachute. The larger group of students attacked Green and Blue Groups from the east around 8am, suffering severe casualties but maintained continuous pressure on the German flank. About 9am, the Germans had largely secured Drvar, and the available troops went from house to house, armed with photographs of Tito, brutally questioning the civilians they could find. Soon after this commenced, Rybka realised that Partisan resistance was concentrated to the north in the vicinity of the cave. He therefore fired the red signal flare to rally his troops for an assault in that direction.
About 10.30am, Rybka launched a frontal attack across the Unac supported by at least one MG42 machine gun firing into the mouth of the cave. The Germans reached the base of the hill, fifty metres from the cave, but suffered severe casualties in the assault. They were also running low on water. Prior to this attack, Tito and around 20 staff had taken refuge in the cave. While Rybka was assembling his troops for this attack, surrounding Partisan forces were rushed toward Drvar. Three battalions of the 3rd Proletarian Brigade of the 1st Proletarian Division approached from the southeast. One battalion attacked the German position at the cemetery while the other two swung around to strike the Germans from the west.
At about 11.15am, after Rybka's first attack had been defeated, Tito and the small group gathered with him escaped from the cave. There was a platform at the mouth of the cave, and they climbed down a rope through a trapdoor in the platform, although the hysteria displayed by Tito's mistress Davorjanka Paunović (codenamed "Zdenka") and his dog "Tiger" caused some delays. The party split up and following a creek leading to the Unac, the small groups climbed the heights to the east and withdrew toward the village of Potoci.
About midday, the second wave of parachute troops were dropped in two groups to the west of the cemetery. The drop zone was within fields of fire of the Partisans to the west of Drvar, and they suffered many casualties during the drop. Collecting the remainder, Rybka mounted a second attack, but the pressure on his flanks was too heavy, and the assault again failed. Fighting continued throughout the afternoon with both sides taking heavy casualties.
In the late afternoon, Rybka ordered a withdrawal of all his forces to the area of the cemetery and formed a defensive perimeter. During the withdrawal, at least one group of troops was cutoff and killed. About 6pm, Rybka was wounded by a grenade blast and was later evacuated with other casualties in the light aircraft intended to carry away Tito after his capture. By 9.30pm, the Germans had consolidated their position in the cemetery, although they were now completely surrounded by the Partisans. During the night the 3rd Proletarian Brigade attacked the cemetery, with elements of the 9th Dalmatia Division reinforcing the assault. At 3.30am on 26 May, the final Partisan attack was launched against the cemetery, breaching the walls in several places, but the paratroopers held on.
Throughout 25 May, the ground forces of XV Mountain Corps had not been able to advance as quickly as expected. There had been unexpected resistance from the Partisan 1st, 5th and 8th Corps along their axes of advance, and there was very poor communication between the various elements which resulted in lack of coordination of their movements. They were also subjected to several Allied air attacks.... Tito ordered the withdrawal of Partisan forces from the town. About 5am on 26 May, a Luftwaffe fighter-bomber formation engaged the withdrawing Partisan troops. After German troops were observed in the area of Potoci, Tito, his staff and his escort continued toward Kupres, travelling on foot and by horseback, as well as on the wagons of a narrow-gauge logging railway. During this trek, one of the members of the Soviet mission was wounded by shellfire.
About 7am on 26 May, the 500th SS Parachute Battalion established radio contact with reconnaissance elements of Battle Group Willam, but it was not until 12.45pm that the 92nd Motorised Grenadier Regiment reached Drvar and relieved the paratroopers...