|Battle of Bezděkov|
Soldiers of the SS-Inf.Regt. “Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler” has taken up positions in the village of Bezděkov, October 10, 1938.
|Date||October 10 - October 11, 1938|
|Result||Decisive German victory|
The Battle of Bezděkov was a military engagement between the Republic of Czechoslovakia and Nazi Germany fought between October 10 and 11, 1938, in the vicinity of the village of Bezděkov, north-west of Plzeň, Czechoslovakia. It was one of the few battles in which the SS participated without involvement of other Army units.
Prelude to the Battle
Following Guderian's success at the Battle of Otročín, the German secured their flanks and then continued westward toward their main target Prague. As a heavy fortified line ran west and north of Plzen, they would have to establish a starting point for operations against both Plzen and Prague. As a result, 3 companies of the SS-Inf.Regt. “Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler”, under the command of SS-Obergruppenführer Josef “Sepp” Dietrich, was ordered to move out to the village of Bezděkov, located southeast of Otročín.
“Sepp” Dietrich was eager to test his SS unit in combat, to show that their hard training and whole hearted commitment for the German cause would prove that the SS was a reliable component of the German armed forces.
“Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler” faced elements of the 2. divize ”Mácha” under Brig. Gen. Valentin Pozdíšek. Elements of his division had been ordered to take up positions along the line Brt'-Otročín-Rankovice on October 5, in order to halt the German advance, after the corps command of I. sbor “Smetana” received reports of German forces consisting of armoured scouts approaching from the northwest. As the Germans encircled the units positioned in Otročín, the Czech battalion in Beranov fell back to Nežichov, setting up their headquarters there and deploying their forces in the edge of the forest between Nezichov and Bezděkov. A small scout team was positioned in the village itself, which withdrew as the soldiers entered the village.
At 11:05 the forward observation post in Bezděkov reported that they had spotted the forward elements of the advancing German troops. As a result, they withdrew to the forest in order not to alarm the Germans of the Czech's presence in the area. The Czech battalion commander therefore ordered the Czech troops to prepare for a attack on the German troops, and ordered the artillery to stand by.
Half an hour later, the forward elements entered the village with trucks and motorcycles, and set up positions. The Germans were surprised when they found the village to be empty, as reconnaissance had reported that the Czechs troops had been in the village earlier the same day.
While the Germans prepared their positions, a local civilian had led one of the Czechs company up close to the German positions in the village. At 12:15 the Czechs put in a surprise attack, which caught the Germans completely off guard. Some stiff bayonet fighting resulted before the Czechs were driven off, just as the Czech artillery began firing on the SS soldier's positions. A larger counterattack (supported by heavy machine guns and mortars) now entered the fight, and further close combat fighting resulted. Time and again the Czechs counterattacked, some of them attacking the village directly, others managed to flank them get in behind the attackers, sniping and hurling grenades.
Both sides lost a lot of men in the battle. During the middle of the battle, the Leibstandarte had to throw in the only remaining troops they had in the vicinity - which were cooks and drivers. Eventually, the intensity of the fighting diminished as the Czech effort faded.
After five hours of fighting, the Czech troops retreated back to Nežichov. The Leibstandarte had managed to hold the village, but with heavy casualties.
Both sides suffered heavy casualties in the battle. The Germans lost 296 men, while over 200 were injured. They also lost a number of transport trucks and motorcycles. The Czechs suffered 410 men lost and 300 injured.
As the SS soldiers found out that a civilian had helped the Czechs, they systematically began killing inhabitants of the village, but only five were killed when a German colonel of the 1. Leichte Division ordered them to stop, angered by the SS lack of respect for human life.
|Invasion of Czechoslovakia|
| Battle of the Border|
(Opava • Operation Freudenthal • Šatov • Znojmo • České Budějovice)