Government Army

Government Army
Vládní vojsko
Emblem of the Government Army.png
Active 1939–1945
Allegiance Flag of Bohmen und Mahren.svg Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
Role physical security, public duties, civil defense, rearguard
Size 6,465 (1940) [1]
Principal field weapon Gewehr 98 rifle
Commanders
Commander-in-Chief Emil Hácha
Inspector-General Gen. Jaroslav Eminger [1]

The Government Army ( Czech: Vládní vojsko; German: Regierungstruppen), also known as the Army of the Protectorate, was the military force of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia during the time period of the German occupation of Czechoslovakia.

History

Organization

The Government Army was created following the dissolution of the Czechoslovak Army which occurred after the German occupation of the Czech lands, and was officially constituted on July 25, 1939 by Government Order No. 216. [2] [1] It had an authorized strength of 7,000 men and a period of enlistment of twelve years; at its height it had an actual strength of 6,500 troops organized in twelve battalions. [3] [2] Despite the force's diminutive size, it boasted 40 generals. [4]

Czech Republic
link=Prague
Prague
link=Brno
Brno
link=Hradec Králové
Hradec Králové
Battle icon (crossed swords).svg Government Army regional inspectorate headquarters' shown on a map of the contemporary Czech Republic

The State President was commander-in-chief of the Government Army. [5] Operationally, the Government Army was organized into three regional inspectorates with their headquarters at Prague, Brno, and Hradec Kralove. [1]

The Government Army's 1st Battalion was tasked with the protection of the State President, as well as public duties at the presidential residence of Lány Castle. [6] Beginning in November 1939, it assumed responsibility for guarding Prague Castle in concert with German forces, a mission formerly performed by the Prague Castle Guard of the defunct Czechoslovak Army. [6]

Initially, the bulk of the force consisted of officers and men transferred directly from the former Czechoslovak Army. [7] For political reasons, many of the transfer soldiers were gradually cashiered to be replaced by new recruits unconnected with the armed forces of the formerly independent Czechoslovakia. [7] New recruits were limited to Czech males between 18 and 24 years of age, of Aryan ethnicity, at least 165 centimeters tall, in good health, and free of criminal record. [7] The army's last annual recruitment occurred in 1943. [7]

Equipment and operations

Uniform of the Government Army

The Government Army was equipped with light arms only in the form of Gewehr 98 rifles, bayonets, and revolvers. [4] A plan to raise a cavalry troop was shelved due to a lack of horses. [4]

Prior to 1944, Government Army forces were primarily deployed to provide security along railroad lines, to support civil defense, for public duties assignments, and – during the winter of 1943 to 1944 – in a short-lived effort to capture parachutist drop sites in Bohemia and Moravia. [1] [7] However, in May 1944, the entire Government Army – with the exception of the 1st Battalion – were moved to northern Italy to support German military operations there. [6] [8] While in Italy, approximately 600 of the Czech soldiers deserted to the side of the Italian partisans, due in part to effects of the propaganda campaign "Operation Sauerkraut" of the United States' Office of Strategic Services. [9]

On May 5, 1945, the 1st Battalion of the Government Army revolted and joined Czech partisans in the Battle of Czechoslovak Radio. [10] Three days later, a separate force of the Government Army moved to the Old Town Hall to assist in its defense from German attack. [10]