We all know about the army navy games. Often armed services hate each other. I am sure that somewhere, somehow, there has been a war between two armed services in the same country.

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    That is called a civil war. The Russian Revolution may qualify, but the question is ... broken... service branches don't go to war on a whim; they are commanded by a government to go to war. I just can't stress strongly enough that services do not have a foreign policy; they execute other people's policy.
    – MCW
    Sep 4 '17 at 23:07
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    @MarkC.Wallace sometimes a branch of the military might break from the legitimate government of a country to execute the interests of the military leaders - but as you say, that entails civil war and the military leadership end up becoming a junta.
    – user13123
    Sep 5 '17 at 0:23
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    @MarkC.Wallace: Why is this broken? There are military coups and they might be led by a general but opposed by an admiral.
    – Jeff
    Sep 5 '17 at 7:00
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    @Jeff A military coup doesn't really fit the question which is asking about inter-service rivalry spilling over into armed conflict between those services. While a military coup may well lead to different parts of the military taking opposing sides, the cause and aims of a coup are about taking political control of the country not disposing of a rival service.
    – Steve Bird
    Sep 5 '17 at 7:34
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    Not sure why people are downvoting as this seems to be an interesting question, but the wording of it needs working on. There might be some examples with coups in Latin American or African countries, but I think factions within the same service turning there guns on each other is much more common - practically speaking, armies are usually on land, navies at sea so its usually not easy for them to attack each other... Sep 5 '17 at 9:34

I'm not sure if it counts as a "war", but the Battle for Castle Itter on May 5, 1945 was certainly a battle between two service branches of the same country - the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS. A unique feature of this battle was that the Wehrmacht were allied with a unit from the US Army.

Schloss Itter is a medieval castle in the Austrian North Tyrol village of Itter. During the Second World War it became a sub-unit of the Dachau concentration camp used for VIP prisoners, prominent politicians and military figures that the Nazis wanted to use as bargaining chips. Prisoners there included two former prime ministers of France, Edouard Daladier and Paul Reynaud, as well as Marie-Agnes Cailliau, the elder sister of General Charles de Gaulle.

In May 1945, the German guards at Schloss Itter fled, but the prisoners were trapped in the castle by roaming units of Waffen SS and Gestapo. The prisoners managed to contact a German major, Josef (Sepp) Gangl who had become opposed to the Nazis and was collaborating with the Austrian resistance.

At that time, Gangl only had a couple of dozen loyal troops with him. Under a flag of truce, he made contact with the nearest American unit - from the 23rd Tank Battalion of the US 12th Armoured Division, commanded by Captain Jack Lee.

Lee offered to lead a rescue mission to the castle.

They reached the castle, but at dawn on 5 May, they were attacked by a large force of Waffen SS. The SS succeeded in blowing up the American Sherman tank protecting the castle gate, but were unable to storm the castle. The defending forces held out until a relief force from the 142nd Infantry Regiment arrived, encircling and capturing about 100 Waffen SS troops.

The combined US-German force only suffered a single casualty - Major Gangl was killed by an SS sniper.

The battle is often remembered as the day the US Army joined up with the Wehrmacht to fight the SS.

  • 1
    The SS were not part of the army (Heer), and there was often a bitter animosity between them. Strictly speaking, the question is about intra-army conflict. Similarly, we can include Prague uprising in 1945 here (Vlasov units against Waffen SS). If you include also the police, you can find plenty of examples of conflicts between an army and police units in history - Yugoslav war(s) started as a conflict between the army and Slovenian police. Franco's ascent began with Ejército de África fighting against, well, the republic. But I'd call such events an insurgency, not a war. Nov 5 '17 at 9:39
  • @RadovanGarabík The question is explicitly asking about conflict between "armed services", not necessarily intra-army conflict. The Waffen SS were certainly an armed service! Dec 5 '17 at 19:37
  • @jjack As an ex-Sapper, it's fair to say that I'm tolerably familiar with the meaning of the term in modern English. In Nazi Germany, however the Waffen SS were the armed wing of the SS & fielded 38 divisions during the course of World War II. That meets your definition under "military forces of a nation". More generally, if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, one should - at the very least - consider the possibility that one has a small aquatic bird of the family Anatidae on one's hands. Dec 6 '17 at 0:53

The definition of war

a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations

War is between states.

If you have two different service branches fighting, then they are pretty much by definition not from the same country. Might be a mutiny or a coup. Might be a civil war, but in all of those cases, the two forces are serving - or attempting to serve - different states.


There was the Battle of Castle Itter, at the end of WW2, where Wehrmacht and a small number of US forces joined together to fight off a SS division attempting to recapture the Castle Itter. The castle was a prison for high ranking French political prisoners. Presumably, the SS intended to capture the castle to execute the prisoners.

Relief arrived after prisoner and peacetime tennis star Jean Borotra had run on foot from the castle to the main US forces some miles away, to alert them to the precarious position of their advance unit.

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    I do believe that I might have mentioned that in my answer above. ;-) Dec 5 '17 at 22:09

Yes, it happened. Cavalry vs infantry. With some casualties. But it was an accident: the Battle of Karánsebes.

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