Romanian Armed Forces
in the Second World War
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Marshal Ion Antonescu
General Gheorghe Avramescu
General Petre Dumitrescu
General Gheorghe Mihail
Lt. general Nicolae Ciuperca
Lt. general Nicolae Dascalescu
Lt. general Corneliu Dragalina
Lt. general Nicolae Macici
Lt. general Mihail Racovita
Lt. general Nicolae Sova
Maj. general Radu Băldescu
Maj. general Ioan Dumitrache
Maj. general Mihail Lascar
Maj. general Leonard Mociulschi
Maj. general Ioan Sion
Brig. general Radu Korne
General of Air Squad Aviator Gheorghe I. Jienescu
Brig. general Radu Korne
Brigadier general Radu Korne
General Radu Korne in his inter-war rosior uniform
Orders and medals that belonged to brig. gen. Radu Korne on display in the National Military Museum

2 November 1917: Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class

22 June 1941 – 4 November 1942: 6th Motorized Rosiori Regiment

12 February 1942: Mihai Viteazul Order 2nd class

26 September - 6 October 1942: 3rd Mountain Division

5 November 1942 - 4 April 1944: 8th Cavalry Division

18 December 1942: Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

7 January 1943: promoted to the rank of brigadier general

6 January - 10 March 1944: Guard Division

4 April - 20 September 1944: 1st Armored Division

Radu Korne, "the pride of the cavalry", was born on 23 December 1895 in Bucharest, as part of a noble Romanian family. The name was pronounced "Cornea", but he was very fond of the spelling from the old chronicles: Korné.

He was admitted into the Targoviste Cavalry Officer School in 1913 and graduated in 1915, receiving the rank of 2nd lieutenant. He was assigned to the 9th Rosiori Regiment, but a year later he was moved to the 4th Rosiori Regiment Regina Maria, with which he took part in WWI. In 1917 he was promoted to 1st lieutenant. He distinguished himself during the second battle of Oituz, during the assault on 13 August 1917 on the Tarapan Hill, commanding a machine-gun section in the area of Hill 703. He was practically buried by the explosion of a 150 mm shell. He remained in the first line, being wounded eight days later. Lieutenant Radu Korne was awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class, being among the few Romanian WWII generals that won this distinction in the first line during the previous war. He served in the 4th Rosiori also in the campaign against Hungary, as commander of the 2nd Squadron and then of the regiment’s machine-gun group.

In October 1919 he was promoted to the rank of captain and the following year Radu Korne was the aid of the 2nd Rosiori Brigade’s commander. In 1921 he was transferred in the staff of the 2nd Cavalry Division and, at the end of the year, he began the classes at the Military Academy, which he graduated in 1923. He continued his studies in the Cavalry School in Saumur, France, between 1925 - 1926. After his return to Romania, he was named cavalry instructor and tactics professor in the Special Cavalry School in Sibiu and in 1927 he was promoted to the rank of major and a few months after became the school’s director of studies. In 1929, Radu Korne was moved the staff of the 2nd Cavalry Division, from where he was detached for a period that year to the General Inspectorate of the Cavalry. In 1931 he was transferred to the Inspectorate as chief of the 4th Services Bureau and then to the Organization and Mobilization Bureau. IN 1934 he was promoted to the rank of lt. Colonel and assigned to command the 1st Battalion/9th Calarasi Regiment. In 1936 he was the chief of staff of the 12th Division and at the end of 1938 and beginning of 1939 he was the chief if staff if the General Inspectorate of the Cavalry, a very important position within the Romanian cavalry. He was then promoted to the rank of colonel and given the command of the 8th Rosiori Regiment.

The war's outbreak found him at the command of the 6th Motorized Rosiori Regiment from the 5th Cavalry Brigade, which was stationed in Northern Moldavia. Unlike the majority of the Romanian troops, which first saw action from on 3 July, the 6th Motorized Rosiori Regiment started the war on 22 June, when the 3rd Squadron overran the pillboxes on Bobeica Hill. Colonel Korne was quickly remarked by general Neuling, the CO of the German 239th Division, who asked general Ion Antonescu on 30 June to delay his retirement, as he was a very capable officer.

On 4 July the 5th Cavalry Brigade crossed the Prut River and advanced with a detachment commanded by colonel Korne towards Lipnic, reaching the Dniester River on 7 July. The river was forced on 17 July, in the Liasevti sector. The Romanian cavalrymen had to brake through the Stalin Fortified Line, situated on the left bank. The 6th Motorized Rosiori Regiment had some difficulties initially, succeeding in creating a beachhead in the afternoon and taking 12 pillboxes. From 20 July onwards started the advance to the Bug River, his regiment reaching Obodovka that day. On 29 July the Col. Radu Korne Detachment was created from the 6th Motorized Rosiori Regiment, 3 motorized cavalry squadrons and a mountain artillery section. It had the mission to quickly advance to Mikhailovka and Savran. At the beginning of August it reached the Bug and by the end of the month it was on the Dnieper River.

On the Dnieper, the Cavlry Corps, of which colonel Korne's regiment was part of, repulsed several Soviet attempts to cross the river and on 19 September continued the advance north of the Azov Sea. There, from 25 September, it faced the powerful Soviet offensive carried out by the 9th and 18th Armies. The 5th Cavalry Brigade was attacked by a much superior force in the Akymovka area. The 6th Motorized Rosiori Regiment stood its ground, even though the rest of the brigade was pushed back. The offensive ran out of steam after several days and the German-Romanian counterattack led to the encirclement and destruction of the two armies. For his deeds during the battle, colonel Radu Korne was awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 2nd class.

However, the 11th German Army remained, following this operation, without its only motorized unit: the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler Waffen SS Division, which was reassigned. Because General von Manstein, the army's CO, needed troops that would make a quick advance after the brake through into the Crimean Peninsula, the Colonel Korne Mechanized Detachment was organized with the 6th and 10th Motorized Rosiori Regiments, an AT battalion, the 54th Motorized Heavy Artillery Battalion and a motorcycle company. The detachment was engaged in the follow-up operation after the front in the Perekop Isthmus was breached on 28 October 1941. Colonel Korne distinguished himself again, this kind of actions probably suiting him very well. His detachment infiltrated to southwest of Simferopol on 31 October, where, isolated, it cut the retreat roads towards Yevpatoria and carried out heavy fights with the Soviet troops heading to Sevastopol.

It was then subordinated to the German 54th Corps and took part in the first siege of Sevastopol. It advanced 5 km along the coastline between 17 and 23 December, reaching the Kachea Valley, which it cleared up until 25 December, advancing another 5 km towards the city.

The Soviets made several landings at Kerch on 26 December. The detachment was immediately sent on the other side of the peninsula, being reinforced with the 3rd Motorized Calarasi Regiment and subordinated to the German 42nd Corps. The Soviet landing at Feodosiya on 30 December forced the detachment, already on its way to Kerch, to turn back and create a new front in the threatened sector. Thus in January 1942 it repulsed, together with the rest of the 42nd Corps' forces, all the attempts of the Soviet troops in the Kerch Peninsula to come to the aid of those at Feodosiya, which were under attack by the German 30th Corps. In February it was moved in the Genichesk area, receiving the mission to guard the coastline.

After the elimination of the Feodosiya beachhead, the Soviet command reinforced constantly the troops in the Kerch Peninsula, thus in May 1942 the 44th, 47th and 51st Armies were found there. For their destruction, general von Manstein, 11th Army's CO, conceived the Operation Trappenjagd. On 5 May 1942, the Korne Detachment received the order to move to Feodosiya, where it was supposed to subordinate to the Groddek Brigade. This was a German ad-hoc unit, which reunited the motorized units of the 11th Army. Beside the Romanian cavalry detachment, which constituted its main force, the brigade had the 22nd Recon Group, the 6th Company of the Brandenburg Regiment and the 560th Mixed AT Company.

The attack started on 8 May. On 9 May, the Groddek Brigade infiltrated through the breach made by the German 30th Corps and advanced on the coast up to Kipcheak, where it arrived in the evening, bypassing the Soviet troops. Colonel Korne, with the bulk of his detachment, secured the brigade's rear and flanks. On 11 May it had to continue the advance towards Saraymin. It arrived there with difficulty, because the Soviet troops in retreat towards Kerch were trying to make their way through the brigade's positions. In the evening, in front of Saraymin, the assault failed and colonel Korne was lightly wounded at the left arm. But the Romanian and German troops, although practically surrounded, controlled the Saraymin-Kerch road. During 12 and in the morning of 13 May, the Soviets desperately attacked to open the retreat route, but were repulsed every time. In the afternoon, with a part of the forces, colonel Groddek and colonel Korne mover to Ortaeli in the attempt to cross the Tabechikoe Lake and to advance to Kamish Burun, which was situated just south of Kerch. On 14 May, colonel Groddek was seriously wounded and left the command of the brigade to colonel Korne. He took Ortaeli and then entered Kamish Burun in the same time with the forward elements of the German 132nd Infantry Division.

The action of the Groddek Brigade, implying obviously also that of the Korne Detachment, which represented the majority of its forces, was decisive, as general Erich von Manstein recognized in his memoirs, because it prevented the creation of a new Soviet front behind the one already breached. The Red Army lost 162,282 men, as well as large quantities of equipment.

After the battle, on 16 May, the detachment was assigned with the defense of the coastline south of Kerch. It returned to the Cavalry Corps, which in August was involved in the offensive in the Caucasus. Colonel Korne was again named at the command of a detachment organized from the motorized elements of the 5th and 9th Cavalry Divisions. It preceded the quick advance of the other Romanian units and on 31 August 1942 it reached Anapa, taking two 152 mm batteries on Nasuruvo Heights, with which it bombarded the city and the port, facilitating its capture. It then continued the advance towards Novorosyisk, which fell to German and Romanian troops at the beginning of September.

Because of the dangerous situation created at the 3rd Mountain Division following the failure of its offensive, on 26 September, colonel Korne was temporarily named at its command, managing in a short time span to reorganize it.

On 7 October, the 5th Cavalry Division started its trip towards Stalingrad, but colonel Radu Korne received a new assignment: the 8th Cavalry Division, which was subordinated to the 4th Army, situated south of the city. After the start of the Soviet offensive, on 20 November, it received the mission to create the link between the 6th and 7th Corps in Aksay sector. He decided to create a strong point at Kraniy Geroy with the mounted elements and to concentrate the motorized elements (the 3rd Motorized Calarasi Regiment) at Korobkin, from where he could quickly intervene in the threatened area. But Krasniy Geroy had to be abandoned on 23 November, colonel Korne retreating his men to Korobkin and then to Kotelnikovo, destroying on the way a Soviet motorized column in cooperation with the German Panwitz Detachment. He created a new defense line in the Dorganof and Sarnutovsky area, which he held until 4 December, when the division pulled back towards Pimen Cherny. It took part in the Wintergewitter Operation, being subordinated to the General Popescu Group. It managed to retake Dorganof on 14 December, after very heavy fights. But the attempt to reach the encircled 6th Army failed and, on 26 December, the general retreat started, the Romanian cavalrymen being permanently harassed by Soviet tanks. On 7 January it crossed the Don Riverand continued its trip to Romania, where it arrived on 4 April 1943. For the way he commanded the 8th Cavalry Division in the hard moments in November-December 1942, as well as for the actions in the spring and summer of the same year, Radu Korne was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general.

A year away from fighting followed. During 1943, the 8th Cavalry Division was transformed into a motorized division, the general supervising its reorganization. For two months between January and March 1944, he also held the command of the Guard Division.

From April 1944 he was named at the command of the most powerful Romanian unit: the 1st Armored Division Romania Mare. On 15 July 1944 it was sent to the front in Moldavia and put in the reserve of Army Group Wöhler (4th Romanian Army and 6th German Army). After the start of the Soviet offensive on 20 August 1944, the 1st Armored Division entered in combat south of Bahlui River, counterattacking the Soviet tanks that had broken the Romanian-German front. During the 20/21 August night, the 1st Tank Regiment and the motorized vanatori regiments were separated. The division lost 34 tanks and self-propelled guns, destroying 60 Soviet tanks. The attempts to restore the front on the Bahlui River and then on the Traian Fortified Line failed, the division's elements covering, as much as it was possible, the retreat. On 23 August it created a defensive position north of Roman, between the Siret and Moldova Rivers, where the armistice with the allies found him.

After the offensive against the German and Hungarian troops in Transylvania began, general Korne requested a command on the front, but he was turned down and put at disposal of the Ministry of War on 20 September and on 21 October 1944 he was arrested at the request of the Soviet Commission for the Armistice. He was locked down in the Capital's Military Command, until February 1945 when he was released, only to be put under house arrest. Between 1945-46 he was investigated by the "People's Court", but was found innocent. He was arrested again on 24 March 1948 for "conspiring against the State's security" and imprisoned at Jilava. On 18 April 1849, his health deteriorated and was taken to the Vacaresti Central Hospital No. 1, where he passed away on 28 April 1949, at 1300 hours.

Author: Victor Nitu
User Comments Add Comment
Luminita Hix (Dragu)  (15 December 2009)

     I am a Romanian-born female and am looking for my late grandfather who was the Army Colonel of Romania in 1938.  This Army Colonel adopted my father at the age of six.  My family and I fled the Ceausescu Regime in 1978 and have lived in the United States for 30 years.  I am desperately seeking information on my late grandfather as I am writing my Biography.  I believe his last name was Popescu.  His wife's name was Eliza Popescu.  Any information would be greatly appreciated.  This Army Colonel is believed to have also been the Director of a School in his time.  I do not know when the Colonel deceased. The son he adopted was named Florin Dragu who is now deceased since 1993. My father, Florin Dragu, left us very little information.  My father also served in the Romanian Army before 1963 when he had married my mother, Ecaterina Georgescu.  I would greatly greatly appreciate any information on my grandfather.  If there is someone out there who can help me, please do.  I have searched the internet but am unable to locate him.  Thank You.

                        Luminita Hix (Dragu)
                        Tennessee-UNITED STATES

Catalin Gaian  (15 November 2009)
Intradevar aproape condamnarea la moarte a generalului, a fost unul din gesturile rusilor, care nu puteau suporta ofiteri care sa cunoasca "Arta razboiului" mai bine decat ei. Generalul de brigada Radu Cornea, asa cum il retin cei care au luptat sub comanda lui, chiar daca nu a absolvit vestita Academia militara de la Saint Cyr, Scoala de cavalerie de la Senmur, l-a format si prin faptele de arme, a ramas in memorie ca fiind unul dintre cei mai buni si profesionisti oameni de arme, pe care i-a avut Romania. Puteti citi despre domnia sa si in cartea veteranului de razboi Emilian Ezechiel.

Baias Petru  (6 January 2008)
Unul din cei mai viteji generali romani din al doilea razboi mondial.Am citit cartea "Am trecut prin iad".