Battle of Drava

The Drava operation was a defensive operation of the Bulgarian First Army during Bulgaria's participation in World War II against German Wehrmacht forces, who were trying to capture the north bank of the Drava river as part of Operation Frühlingserwachen. The Drava operation lasted from 6 to 21 March 1945.

The German advance aimed to distract the main Soviet force away from its advance on Berlin, to surround and annihilate 57 Soviet Army and First Bulgarian Army and reach the Danube. The Wehrmacht carried out three major attacks:

The main German attack was halted by Soviet forces on 15 March.

The attack against 57 Soviet Army and the 10th Division was stopped with the help of the 14th Infantry Division.

In the Donji Miholjac area, the Germans managed to cross the Drava and occupy an area 18-20 km long and 5-6 km wide. Their advance came to a halt when two Soviet divisions from the 133th Corps reinforced the Bulgarians. From 12 to 19 March, after fierce fighting between the Drávaszabolcs, Drávapalkonya and Drávacsehi villages, the area is retaken with the help of the Bulgarian 16th Division. The Wehrmacht is thrown back south of Drava and the Bulgarian defences in the area are stabilized. By 21 March the 3 Yugoslav Army had pushed away the Germans from Valpovo.

The success of the Drava operation leads to a failure of the planned German advance in the region and helps prepare the Vienna offensive of the Red Army. The victory at Drava also raises the prestige of the Bulgarian Army.

In Bulgaria the battle is also known as the Drava epopee because of the bravery shown by the Bulgarians in withstanding the impact of a much more technically advanced and experienced adversary.

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