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The Romanian Army in 1944

By Wayne Turner

At the start of 1944 the Romanians had already seen much combat against the Red Army. They had fought all the way to the gates of Stalingrad only to be pushed back to the Crimea. They fought the Red Army in the Caucasus, in the Crimea and now the red menace was beating at their door!

Crimea 1943 to 1944
Romanian forces evacuated the Caucasus region through the Taman Peninsula in October 1943. The defeat and retreat after Stalingrad had left many of the Romanian divisions in a sorry state, with only the cavalry and mountain divisions in good condition. These units were pressed into combat by the Germans holding the Crimea.

The successful Soviet break-in to the Crimea forced the German and Romanian forces to withdraw towards the port of Sevastopol due to insufficient reinforcements. However, the Romanian Mountain Corps did not retreat. Instead they were ordered to hold the northern defences of Sevastopol and guard the Yaila Mountain passes to allow the German V Corps to retreat from Simferopol. As more mountain units arrived in the city more were sent to man the old Soviet defences that surrounded it. For the rest of April the 1st and 2nd Mountain Divisions continued to hold off local Soviet attacks with German artillery support. At the end of April the Romanians held 35% of the Sevastopol defences, while the Germans held the rest.

The Romanian leader, Marshal Ion Antonescu, managed to get Hitler to agree to an evacuation and non-combat troops were shipped out between 14 and 27 April. Next were the Cavalry divisions. By 28 April 13,330 Romanian troops were left in the Crimea when Hitler suspended the evacuation.

During early May the Soviets began to escalate their attacks against the northern sector, and the Romanian 2nd Mountain Division bore the brunt of the attack. It wasn’t until nearby German divisions were overrun that the Mountain Corps was forced to retreat to avoid being cut off.

On 8 May Hitler finally allowed the Axis troops to be withdrawn from the Crimea after many previous requests were ignored. The remaining Romanian troops were evacuated by 12 May, with only the troops of the 1st Mountain Division remaining to act as a rear guard. However, these last troops were lost at Omega Bay the following day before they could be evacuated. Of the 64,712 Romanians that started in Crimea in 1944, 22,522 were lost during the fighting.

The combined losses of the Stalingrad, Caucasus and Crimean campaigns had cost almost the entire equipment of the 24 divisions committed to the Soviet Front. These forces had to be rebuilt during 1943 and 1944.

Ion Antonescu
The Army Rebuilds
While rebuilding their shattered divisions the Romanians also set about reinforcing their fortifications. It was realised, even with the rebuilt divisions, the Romanian army would be no match for the Soviets in mobile warfare. The natural defences of the Carpathians and lower Danube offered formidable obstacles for the Soviet invaders and these were further reinforced by fortifications in the 80km long Focsani-Namaloasa-Braila (FNB) gap on the lower Siret River.

Romanian armour on parade In February 1944 the ‘Cantemir’ Mixed Armoured Group was organised, in lieu of a fully organised and equipped Armoured Division being available, and sent to the front to join the III Corps in Transnistria. The group consisted of two medium tank companies (total of 2 T-3 and 30 T-4 tanks), an assault gun company (10 TA assault guns), two tank-hunter batteries (total 14 TACAM T-60 tank-hunters) and two light tank companies (one of R-2 and one of R-35 tanks). This force was withdrawn from Transnistria 28 March and its R2 and R-35 tanks were taken out of service.
It was then formed into the Rapid Armoured Detachment and consisted of the elements of the 1st Armoured Division. It contained a motorised recon group, a motorised anti-tank battalion (six TAC43 Resita 75mm guns), the 63rd Tank-hunter Battery (TACAM T-60), a Tank Battalion (two companies of 16 T-4 tanks each and an assault gun company of 10 TA assault guns), the Motorised Vanatori Battalion, a Motorised Artillery Battalion (12 100mm Skoda howitzers) and an anti-aircraft company. While at the front the remainder of the 1st Armoured Division was built up around it.
Romanian Panzer IV
The Soviets Invade
On 8 March the Soviets made a major breakthrough against the Germans in the northern Ukraine and had overrun Northern Bucovina by 24 March. During this time the Romanian Fourth Army was activated to join the Third Army in the field. The IV Corps, with the 5th Cavalry, 4th Mountain Training, 7th and 8th Infantry divisions, found its designated defensive area already in Soviet hands and was forced to evacuate half a million refugees and withdraw.

Romanian Infantry Next to be under threat was Transnistria, a former Soviet area between the Dnestr and Bug Rivers, which had been under Romanian administration until April 1944, when the Germans had formally taken over. Despite the 11% Moldavian (Romanian speaking) minority there was no real will on behalf of the Romanians to retain control of this territory. The Soviets broke through the German positions in the north of Transnistria and quickly out flanked the Romanian III Corps positions on the lower Bug and in Odessa. The Romanians withdrew across the Dnestr into Basarabia with little or no fighting.
Defence of Basarabia
While Romanian troops may have left Transnistria with little resistance, this was not to be the intention with Basarabia (the province to the south of Transnistria between the Bug and Prut rivers). This province, lost in 1940, was the reason the Romanians had entered the war in 1941 and they were determined not to give it up again without a fight. The Romanian and German units were in mixed commands, Group Wöhler consisted of the German Eighth Army and the Romanian Fourth Army and Group Dumitrescu contained the German Sixth Army and the Romanian Third Army. Both Mixed army groups were under German Army Group South Ukraine.

The Romanian Fourth Army dug-in on the hastily constructed Traian fortified line positioned below the Carpathian foothills on the Siret and Dnestr rivers covering the northern approaches to Basarabia. The German Sixth Army was positioned on the Stefan Line, a less complete position behind the eastern Traian Line. The Romanian Third Army was fortified along the lower Dnestr River. During May, Group Dumitrescu’s positions on the Dnestr solidified, but those of Group Wöhler in northern Basarabia remained precarious into June.
Romanian Infantry

The first of the re-constituted Romanian units in Group Wöhler to enter combat were the specialist mountain ski troops and frontier guards in the Carpathian passes fighting alongside the German XVII Corps during April. Various Soviet Second Ukrainian Front probing attacks were conducted along the front line of Groups Wöhler and Dumitrescu throughout late April. On 28 April a counterattack by the German 23. Panzerdivision and 79. Infanteriedivision halted the Soviet attacks towards Iasi.

Other counterattacks were launched in late April with the Romanian Guard Division distinguishing itself while fighting alongside the elite German Grossdeutschland division north of Tirgu Frumos.

The Romanian Guard Division
The Guards penetrated the defences of the Soviet 81st Guards Rifle Division and drove northward to the outskirts of Harmanesti, turning the left flank of the Soviet 8th Guards Airborne Division and forcing them to withdraw. The Romanian attack was finally halted at Harmanesti. One regiment of the division attacked northward up a valley to the southwest of Crivesti, but was forced back by a counterattack by the Soviet 81st Guards Rifle Division’s rear area troops supported by the divisional artillery. To extract themselves from this difficult situation they required the aid of the Grossdeutschland division’s Panzerregiment. After further fighting the position stabilised. The Germans and Romanians had advanced the defensive lines about 6km.

Romanian Infantry check out a T-34 Tirgu Frumos
On 2 May a major Soviet attack was launched towards Tirgu Frumos. It was preceded by a deafening 60-minute artillery barrage followed by a wave of infantry and tanks. The Romanian unit engaged by this assault was the Guard Division who were hit by the full force of the Soviet 8th Guards Airborne Division and a supporting tank brigade from the 18th Tank Corps. After several hours of intense fighting the Soviets had broken through the Romanian positions south of Helestieni. By noon they Soviets had cut the Pascani-Tirgu Frumos road and the Romanians had withdrawn to a secondary fortified line.

Many of the nearby German Grossdeutschland units had held at strong defensive positions, disrupting the Soviet attack and forcing them to leave behind infantry to deal with the stubborn defenders. The Grossdeutschland Panzer Regiment soon came to the rescue and drove the Soviets back towards their initial positions. Various breakthrough and counterattacks continued throughout the day. Grossdeutschland was joined by 24. Panzerdivision from reserve and the attack/counterattack battle continued until 7 May when the final German counterattack halted the Soviet offensive.

The German Sixth Army made an effort to clear Soviet bridgeheads across the Dnestr River during May with some success, but these operations were conducted by German troops who were more suited to offensive operations than the supporting Romanian infantry formations.

Early June fighting – German counteroffensive
While the Soviets were still in planning for their drive into Romania, the German Eighth Army had plans of its own. Army Group Wöhler launched one of the few major offensives to be conducted by a German army during 1944 on the eastern front. Intelligence had identified large concentrations of Soviet troop north of Iasi and General Wöhler decided to form a Panzer group to attack and destroy these Soviet concentrations. In the region of Iasi, Romanian and German troops were intermingled defending the fortified lines.

Dug-in Romanian Infantry

The Romanian 6th, Guard, and 4th divisions were in the rearward line and the 1st, 18th Mountain, 3rd, and 11th Divisions in the forward lines. 

The 5th Cavalry Division was also held in reserve with the German 14. Panzerdivision. At the end of May Wöhler concentrated the 14. Panzerdivision, 23. Panzerdivision, 24. Panzerdivision and Grossdeutschland Panzergrenadierdivision in the Iasi region. The operation was launched in two stages with Operation Sonja starting on 30 May and Operation Katja on 2 June. Operation Sonja was conducted by 23. Panzerdivision and 24. Panzerdivision and was launched north of Iasi towards the Soviet assembly areas. They were supported by 79. Infanteriedivision and the Romanian 11th Infantry Division. The Romanian 18th Mountain Division was to protect the attack’s left flank and the Romanian 3rd Infantry Division the right of the second phase Operation Katja, conducted mainly by the Grossdeutschland Panzergrenadierdivision.

Dug-in Romanian observer

Operation Sonja captured the area around the village of Sarca (south of the town of Cirpiti) and threw back four Soviet Rifle Divisions on 30 May. The following day attacks were launched against Soviet salients on their left flank. On the right flank the Romanian 11th Infantry Division supported 23. Panzerdivision Kampfgruppe. On the third day 24. Panzerdivision withdrew to prepare for Operation Katja and left their positions to the 14. Panzerdivision and 79. Infanteriedivision, reinforced by the Romanian 3rd and 11th Infantry Divisions.

Operation Katja
The forces for Operation Katja formed around the village of Tautesti. The attack was launched on 2 June with the aim of taking the Soviet strong points at Horlesti and Zahorna, northwest of Iasi, before swinging right. The two regiments of the Romanian 3rd Infantry were to follow 24. Panzerdivision and provide support and clean up bypassed pockets of resistance. To the 24. Panzerdivision’s left was the Grossdeutschland Panzergrenadierdivision with the aim of taking strong points at Avantul, Movileni Station and Epureni before continuing north to take the high ground overlooking the Jijia River. The Romanian 18th Mountain Division was to follow Grossdeutschland to provide additional infantry support and clear isolated enemy pockets. The Romanian 4th Infantry Division would come up from reserve to take over the 18th Mountain’s positions.

Operation Katja

The German Panzer Kampfgruppen set off early on 2 June and quickly advanced against weak Soviet opposition (three Rifle Divisions). After the first days fighting Grossdeutschland had reached all its objectives and turned the sector west of Epureni over to the Romanian 18th Mountain Division and reinforced the 24. Panzerdivision’s wing.

The assault resumed on 3 June as Grossdeutschland and 24. Panzerdivision continued their assaults on the Soviet positions. The Romanian 3rd Infantry Division joined the assault on the 24. Panzerdivision’s right. The Romanians assaulted the positions north of Vulturi and south of Hill 164 held by the Soviet 116th Rifle Division. Fighting intensified during 3 June as Soviet reinforcements arrived, including tanks of the 16th Tank Corps and new IS-2 heavy tanks.

By 4 June strong defences south of Epureni halted the Grossdeutschland advance. The Romanians continued in their supporting role, taking over freshly taken ground each time the German Panzertruppen moved forward. The Romanian 3rd Infantry Division also finally took Hill 164 with support from 24. Panzerdivision and Grossdeutschland panzergrenadiers.

Heavy fighting continued into 5 June with fighting north of Hill 162. A Soviet counterattack almost overran the Romanian 18th Mountain Division, but Grossdeutschland intervention restored the situation.

Romanian Mountain machine-gunner

More Soviet forces shored up the Soviet line and fierce fighting continued into 6 June, but the attacks by German Kampfgruppen halted and the Axis defenders settled into the former Soviet trenches. The main objective had been achieved with the taking of the high ground overlooking the Jijia River.

The Romanian 18th Mountain and 3rd Infantry took up the defence and the 20th Infantry Division, German Grossdeutschland Panzergrenadierdivision and 23. Panzerdivision went into reserve behind the newly won positions. However, Epureni still remained in Soviet hands and a number of small bridgeheads remain on the southern bank of the Jijia River.

A number of counterattacks were launched on 7-8 June by the Soviets, but most of the newly won ground was held and fighting died down by the end of 8 June. For the remainder of June and July the front remained relatively quite as events in Byelorussia drew Soviet and German attention elsewhere.

The Romanian Fourth Army included:

1st Armoured Division
8th Infantry Division
18th Mountain Division
German 20. Panzerdivision
VII Corps (103rd and 104th Mountain Commands)
I Corps (6th and 20th Infantry Divisions)
V Corps (4th Infantry and Guard divisions)
VI Corps (5th Infantry Division, 101st Mountain Command, German 76. ID)
German LVII Corps (Romanian 1st and 13th Infantry Divisions, German 46. ID)).

Fourth Army: Iasi-Chisinau
During the summer Antonescu suggested a controlled withdrawal to the more defensible Carpathian-Danube line, which was substantially more fortified. However, Hitler refused with a promise to hold sufficient German troops in Basarabia. With the launch of the Soviet Operation Bagration in late June, the Germans quickly started withdrawing armoured formations to shore-up the situation in Byelorussia. Also in the defensive line were the Romanian IV Corps (5th Motorised Cavalry, 7th and 3rd Infantry divisions and 102nd Mountain command) and the German IV Corps (German 376. Infanteriedivision and 79. Infanteriedivision and Romanian 11th Infantry Division) from the German Eighth Army.

Soviet Iasi-Chisinau Operation

On 20 August the Soviets attacked both the Third Army south of Tiraspol and the Fourth Army north of Iasi. The Germans and Romanians had some sense of what was coming and had prepared what little armour they had to counterattack. In the Romanian Fourth Army the 1st Armoured Division, under the German LVII Corps, had been split into two battle groups, A and B. They had been positioned forward of the villages of Goesti, Crucea and Sinesti supporting the 1st and 5th Infantry Divisions where the Soviet blow was expected. Two small German Assault Gun detachments had also been attached to the 1st Armoured Division, Kampfgruppen Kessel and Brausch. Once the expected Soviet assault had begun the armoured forces were to counterattack north and northeast of it.

The Fourth Army faced the Soviet 7th Guards, 27th and 52nd Armies in the front lines with the 53rd, 6th Guards Tank armies and 18th Mechanised Corps in reserve for the exploitation phase of the operation.

Iasi Attack
The Soviet attack on the Fourth Army began on 20 August with holding attacks along the front of I, V and German LVII corps. The Romanian 20th Infantry Division held its positions, while the Guard, 4th and 6th Infantry divisions suffered localised penetrations that were quickly retaken with counterattacks during the day. A secondary attack by the Soviet 7th Guards Army fell on the Romanian 1st Infantry Division and German 46. Infanteriedivision who held steady, but by evening events on the right of the 1st Infantry Division threatened the flank as the VI and IV Corps were pushed back.

Romanian infantry advance

The main Soviet assault hit the VI and IV Corps after a 1½-hour preparatory bombardment, with the initial weight of the attack and artillery falling on the positions of the Romanian 5th Infantry Division. They were hit by the Soviet 27th Army, which was heavily equipped with tanks and assault guns. 

The Romanians were smashed and their positions quickly overrun. By 1230 hours the 27th Army had taken the village of Podul Iloaiei and had crossed the Bahlui River. On the 5th Infantry Division’s right the Soviet 52nd Army had also punched through the Romanian 7th Infantry Division and broken the front of the German 76. Infanteriedivision between the two Romanian formations and forced them to retire. The destruction for the 5th Motorised Cavalry Division on the 7th Infantry Division’s right forced it to withdraw to Tomesti to avoid being out flanked. The Romanian 11th Infantry Division, part of the German IV Corps to the right of the Romanian IV Corps, fought well holding off attacks before also being forced to withdraw by its threatened left flank when the German 79. Infanteriedivision withdrew.

Soviet Emcha in Romania

Trench lines along the heights above the Bahlui River had been prepared over the summer and a secondary defensive position was setup. The Romanian 18th Mountain and 3rd Infantry divisions were moved forward to occupy these positions, with the gap between them being taken by the retreating German 76. Infanteriedivision. In reserve behind them was a small detachment of German Assault Guns. Unexpectedly the Soviets had released the 6th Guards Tank Army early to begin the breakthrough and the 18th Mountain Division ran into this massive armoured formation as it pushed through the breach made by the 27th Army at Podul Iloaiei. The 18th Mountain Division fought stubbornly in the wooded hills behind the Bahlui River.

1st Armoured Division Counterattack
While the 18th Mountain Division tried to hold the 6th Tank Army, General Korne of the 1st Armoured Division organised his counterattack for 1400 hours. His aim was to push back the penetration made by the Soviet 6th Tank Army south of the Bahlui River. He sent German Kampfgruppe Kessel to retake Podul Iloaiei and Kampfgruppe Brausch to take Cosinteni and Scobilteni. The 1st Armoured Division would attack Hoisesti.

However, the Soviet tanks were in too greater number. Kampfgruppe Kessel was forced back well short of Podul Iloaiei and Kampfgruppe Brausch could only reach Cosinteni. 

Tacam T-60

The 1st Armoured Division’s Battle Group B retook the heights of Hoisesti, which they only held temporarily. By 1915 hours the Soviets had flooded the area with masses of infantry and tanks. The hard pressed 18th Mountain Division began to give and the flanks of the armoured units were exposed forcing them to withdraw.

During the night of 20/21 August the 1st Armoured Division was reorganised, with the Battle Group A merging with Kampfgruppen Kessel and Braucsh under Colonel Constantinescu. This group contained the 4th Motorised Rifle Regiment, 1st Motorised Artillery Regiment, 101st Anti-tank Battalion, an Armoured Infantry Company, a Reconnaissance Group, TACAM Battery, and 10 German Assault Guns (StuG G). Battle Group B, commanded by Colonel Nistor, contained a Tank Battalion (20 T-4), an Assault Gun Company (10 TA) and the 3rd Motorised Rifle Regiment. General Korne also signalled the German 20. Panzerdivision to send forward the tanks and assault guns left with them to train the Romanian 2nd Armoured Division. However, the Germans held on to the armour for their own use.

Soviet Emcha in Romania The Germans began to plan more counterattacks for 21 August, but the limited armoured resources available could do little. 20. Panzerdivision was ready, 10. Panzergrenadier-division only had 20 tanks and made no impression on the 18th Mechanised Corps it was sent against and the Romanian 1st Armoured Division was just holding its own against the 6th Tank Army without trying to launch an attack.
Soviet Breakthrough
Early on 21 August the 18th Mountain Division was finally overrun, forcing the supporting 1st Armoured Division Nestor detachment to withdraw on the Fortified Traian Line to the positions of the 101st Mountain Command. Soviet forward momentum continued with 18th Mechanised Corps moving south through Iasi and penetrating the front lines of the Romanian 3rd Infantry Division.

Breakthrough at Iasi

On the right of the main penetration the Romanian I and VII Corps we left relatively unmolested. The Romanian 1st Infantry Division (German LVII Corps) was hit in the flank by the 23rd Tank Corps forcing them and the 4th Infantry Division and German 46. Infanteriedivision to withdraw through Tirgu Frumos to the Traian Line.

By the end of the day the Soviets had broken through the Traian Line, getting as far as the counterattack assembly positions of 1st Armoured Division’s 3rd Motorised Regiment at Poiana de Sus and driving them south during the night of 21/22 August. The line had been well and truly broken and Hitler finally agreed to fall back on the FNB line that Antonescu had first suggested during the summer.

Romanian infantry climb a river bank
Romanian 37mm Bofors anti-tank gun

On 22 August the Romanian Fourth Army began a phased withdrawal on the FNB line (fortifications in the 80km Focsani-Namaloasa-Braila gap on the lower Siret River). The VII Corps and the 20th Infantry Division moved to hold the passes in the Carpathian passes. The Soviets attacked the I and VII Corps on the same day with the aim of collapsing the whole Romanian front, but the 103rd Mountain Command (a brigade sized unit) and the 6th Infantry Division repulsed the Soviet infantry assault. The 4th Infantry and Guard divisions also successfully held off attacks on the Traian Line. However, the 13th Infantry Division did come under heavy pressure.

Meanwhile General Korne’s 1st Armoured Division reunited around Boghicea and Bira, less the 3rd Motorised Rifle Regiment that had been driven off at Poiana de Sus. Under constant air attack they reorganised and counterattacked the Soviet assaults on the 13th Infantry Division’s positions. The two divisions held off the Soviets until midnight on 22/23 August when the line of the 4th Motorised Rifle Regiment was breached, forcing the Romanians to withdraw. A 1st Armoured Division counterattack held the Soviets advancing out of Boghicea, allowing the Guard, 4th, 13th, 1st Infantry divisions and the German 46. Infanteriedivision to cross the Siret River north of Roman during morning of 23 August. 

Despite being driven from Poiana de Sus the 3rd Motorised Rifle Regiment held up further Soviet advances during early 22 August, but with dawn the overwhelming presence of the Soviet Armour forced them to retreat south once again.

As 23 August dawned the retreat had proved too much for the 1st and 13th Infantry divisions who had disintegrated during the chaos of the night. The 1st Armoured Division and the relatively intact V Corps (Guard and 4th Infantry divisions) were tasked with covering the next phase of the withdrawal to the FNB Line from the Siret River to the Moldova River.  The Fourth Army’s last reserve division, the 8th Infantry, was committed to the fight to hold a bridgehead at Bacau for the retreating forces. Relations between the German 20. Panzerdivision and the 8th Motorised Cavalry Division (training to become the 2nd Armoured Division) ended with the Germans seizing all the tanks and heading north to cover the German Sixth Army’s withdrawal and the Romanians being ordered to assemble on the FNB Line.

 A number of other training division were also ordered to assemble on the FNB Line. All the Romanian medium 88mm and 75mm anti-aircraft guns were also ordered to be relocated on the FNB Line from Bucharest and the Ploiesti oil fields.

The I Corps continued to hold up against Soviet attacks throughout 23 August, beating off one as late as 2040 hours that evening. At 0030 hours on 24 August Romanian units of the Fourth Army were formally ordered to cease-fire.

Soviet ZIS-3 gun

The Romanian Third Army included:

II Corps (9th, 10th Infantry, 9th Training divisions and Marine detachments),
III Corps (110th Brigade, 2nd, 15th Infantry Divisions)
German XXIX Corps (Romanian 21st Infantry and 4th Mountain divisions and the German 9. Infanteriedivision).

Third Army: Iasi-Chisinau
The II Corps protected the coast round Dobrogea and the Marine and Frontier Guard units protected the Danube Delta to their north. The III Corps was positioned on the far right of the Axis line on the Basarabian coast. To their west was the German XXIX opposite the Soviet bridgehead at Tiraspol. The Romanian 14th Infantry Division was included in the German Sixth Army on the Third Army’s left. In reserve was the 1st Cavalry Division, two companies of obsolete R-35 tanks, the German 13. Panzerdivision and 153. Infanteriedivision.

Chisinau Attack
The Soviet attacks on the Third Army and German Sixth Army concentrated on intersection of the German Sixth and Romanian Third Armies. The major blows of the Soviet 37th Army fell on the German 15. Infanteriedivision and 306. Infanteriedivision. Secondary assaults were launched against German 257. Infanteriedivision and 302. Infanteriedivision by the 57th Army and the Romanian 4th Mountain Division by the 46th Army. The Soviets reported fierce fighting against the Romanian division, but by the end of 20 August the 4th Mountain had been completely overrun. The penetration of the Soviets drove up to 12km through the lines by the end of the day. The disintegration of the 4th Mountain forced the 21st Infantry Division to withdraw to protect its exposed flank. The German divisions feared little better, and a counterattack launched by 13. Panzerdivision was thrown back with the loss of 15 of its 35 tanks.

Iasi-Chisnau offensive

Soviet Breakthrough
The complete destruction of the Romanian 4th Mountain Division and German 306. Infanteriedivision early on 21 August and further failed counterattacks by the German 13. Panzerdivision and 153. Infanteriedivision allowed the Soviets to release their exploitation units, the 4th and 7th Mechanised Corps. This forced the collapse of the Romanian 21st Infantry Division and forced the German 9. Infanteriedivision to retreat.

Romanian HMG

The Soviet 4th and 7th Mechanised Corps advanced a further 80km on 22 August. The 13. Panzerdivision lost its last tanks and its further offensive capability. The Romanian 1st Cavalry Division attempted to hold on the Kogalnik River but was driven back by the advancing mechanised corps.

The same day the Soviet 46th Army made an amphibious landing with 8000 troops against the III Corps’ 110thInfantry Brigade on its coastal right flank. Despite a desperate counterattack by a regiment, the Soviets had taken Akkerman by the late evening. The III Corps was now under threat of being surrounded and cut off, withdrawal had become essential.

The Third Army avoided being surrounded only because the Soviet focus was on the German Sixth Army. The Soviet punch swung west behind the German positions, leaving the Romanian Third Army space to withdraw on the FNB Line. However, on foot the Romanian units of the Third Army were still behind the Soviet flank when the cease-fire was announced at 0030 hours on 24 August. Some units kept fighting into the next day in an attempt to breakout south. The fighting was centred on the towns of Jibrieni and Vilkov. It was not until the Soviets made another amphibious landing at Jibrieni late on 24 August that the Third Army finally capitulated.

The Coup
On 23 August the Palace Guard arrested Ion Antonescu while he was summoned before King Mihai. A new government was formed. Cease-fire negotiations were completed with the Soviets, ironically Antonescu had already done most of the groundwork, and at 0030 the Romanian forces in the field were ordered to cease fighting the Red Army. The Romanian officer corps remained loyal to the King, and despite German attempts they could not convince any Romanian units to continue fighting.

Red Bear

The Romanians are now found in Red Bear.

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Last Updated On Thursday, November 21, 2013 by Wayne at Battlefront