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> 55. The Romanian Military Body During 1941-1944
Posted: August 05, 2004 05:18 pm
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by Petre Otu

The military operations in the summer and autumn of 1941 on the Eastern front, where Romania commited in two armies (the 3rd and the 4th) also navy and air forces constituted a severe examination for the Romanian Army as a whole and a basis for the measures needed in order to restructure its system. Looking back the actions carried out by the Romanian units on the front, some mistakes which generated great losses, especially during "Odessa" Operation, Marshal Ion Antonescu decided on November 1, 1941 to modify and to complete the Romanian Army organizational system. For this purpose during November a commission start to work at the Romanian General Headquarters, made up by division commanders and army corps commanders which fought on the front. The commission decided it was necesary to reorganize the Romanian Army in a German doctrine's spirit as much as such operation was permitted by the existent equipments, starting from the conclusion that German Army functioned very well at that time. Thus, the weight of infantry and field artillery regiments was to be reduced in the benefit of the alpine units. This plan could not be put in practice because some Romanian big units continued their fight on the battlefields.

In the given conditions the restructuring measures were taken in two stages. During the first stage (between January 1 and June 15, 1942) several changes produced in the internal struc-ture of the units; the second stage started since June 15, 1942 when new recruits came in the army and ended when a new organizational list for the Romanian big units was settled. Between the modifications which occurred dur-ing this second stage we wish to remind: a) a new antitank gun section (6 pieces of cal. 75 mm) with a new recover and sanitasion measures company was introduced in the structure of the Romanian divisions and commands; B) a new mortar section (cal. 120 mm) with an antitank and field gun section entered the infantry regiment's structure; c) a third howitzer section was added in the organizational structure of every artillery regiment; d) each artillery command group (for regiment, section and company) received an automatic rifle. As a result of these modifi-cations an infantry division had: the command (cartier), divisional subunits (signal companies, police companies, antitank sections, A.A. machine gun sections, a reconaissance group etc), three infantry regiments (made up of three battalions each), two artillery regiments (made up of one gun division and one howitzer division each), logistical units etc.

Also, the alpine brigade was transformed into an alpine division, by introducing in its structure a third artillery division and a recover and sanitasion measures company. In the structure of an alpine division thus were as divisional subunits two alpine groups (three battalions each) and an alpine artillery group (gun and howitzer sections).

The cavalry brigade took the shape of a cavalry division by introducing new elements: a mortar (cal. 120 mm) squadron and a recover and sanitation measures company. The A.A. and A.T. subunits were divided into two parts each containing 12 guns. The 81.4 mm mortar squadrons were now subordinated to a regimental command (previously they were subordinated directly to the divisional command). In its new structure a cavalry division contained: the command (cartier), nondivisioned subunits (signal, police, antitank, A.A. machine guns, motorcyclists) a hipo cavalry regiment with two cavalry divisions (squadrons) and a heavy armament squadron, a cavalry mounted regiment with two divisions and other sub-units and an artillery horsed regiment with two divisions.

The armoured division was also restructured and three fortifications divisions (similar to an infantry division each) were made up. The army corps structure also suffered several modifica-tions, being mixed up together with the territorial commands. Thus, the army corps chief was also charged with the missions to organize the preparation for war of the territory. In case troops were to participate in fights, the commander-in-chief was commanding the new big unit, and his deputy took the missions concerning the territorial issues.

During the 1942 campaign, the Romanian big units sent on the front were organized as light divisions (each regiments was made up of two battalions) and numbered only six battalions. As General Ilie Steflea (who was charged with the command of the Romanian General Headquarters since January 1942, by replacing General Iosif Iacobici) appreciated, at about 220,000 soldiers were kept inland.

During the second part of 1942 the Romanian forces on the front were grouped as follows: in the Stalingrad area the 3rd Romanian Army (the I, II, IV, V Army Corps with 11 divi-sions); the 4th Romanian Army (the III and VI Army Corps with 6 divisions); in the Caucasus region 6 Romanian divisions (the 2nd and the 3rd Alpine Divisions, the 10th and the 19th Infantry Divisions, the 6th and the 9th Cavalry Divisions); in Crimea the 1st and the 4th Alpine Divisions; in Transdniestrian region the 1st Fortification Division and the 1st, the 2nd and the 3rd Security Divisions.

The great losses suffered by the Romanian Army during the Stalingrad battle determined the retreat of the big Romanian units from the front. Until April 17, 1943, almost all divisions subordinated to the 3rd and the 4th Romanian Armies were brought back in the country; in the operative zone remained only 8 big units, from which 6 in Kuban bridgehead and 2 in Crimea. After the arrival of the troops from the front several restructuring measures were taken. The effectives of 6 divisions remained in the country during the whole period (1st Frontier Guard, 1st Fortification, 2nd Guard, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Security) were mixed up with the effectives of 6 big units which came back home and the names of the latter did not change. The existent number of infantry divisions was reduced from 28 to 18; also some new antitank weaponry was given to the last mentioned ones; compared with these, the number of the alpine divisions was increased to five. Yet the most significant changes suffered the cavalry, where 3 divisions were done away and only three remained.

As the importance of the motomechanized troops was now greater, a new structure was born the Motomechanized Troops Command, whose charges where to organize, to ensure the equipment and the training of the motomechanized troops, to train specialists and to establish the principles for their combat missions.

In the structure of the Romanian Army the 1st Armoured and other two motomechanized divisions subzisted by restructuring the 5th and the 8th Cavalry Divisions. As a result of such measures, in the autumn of 1943, the Romanian Army had: 3 army commands, the Military Command of Bucharest, 10 army corps commands, 18 infantry divisions, 5 alpine divisions, 3 cavalry divisions, 1 armoured division, 2 motomechanized divisions.

Several restructuring measures over-look the Frontier Guard Corps, where two new regiments were settled (the 9th and the 10th). These regiments were organized similarly with the infantry battalions, having in their structure a border company, a riflemen company and a heavy armament company. Also several fixed regional bat-talions were made up ("Bucovina", "Neamt", "Vrancea", "Cluj", "Aries", "Bihor", "Cris", "Codru", "Somes").

Actions were made for reorganizing and improvig the military school system. The number of the existent military schools was increased and the period of the courses was reduced from 2 years to 1 year and five months (related to officers) respectively 1 year and six months (related to NCOs). All these measures were reflected in the paragraphs of the 720 Law ("The Organization of the Army Forces") which was promulgated on the 28th of October 1943. Through this law the Ministry of National Defence change its name into The War Ministry, having as main missions the organization, the supplies, the maintenance, the discipline, the training and the control of the army forces.

The military potential of Romania became greater and greater. On October 10, 1943, Romania's population raised to 16,843,539 people from which 8,287,021 men. From these ones 2,821,020 could be mobilized at any moment, which represented 34 per cent of the entire male population. The land army would have to receive 2,691,789 men, the air forces 101,377 men and the Navy 27,854 men.

During 1941-1944 the Romanian political and military factors tried to change the Romanian Army into a specialized system which could face the challenges of the modern battlefield at that time. Meanwhile, as much as the line of the front came closer and closer to the Romanian territory, measures were taken to preserve the military potential of the country. This fact permitted to Romania that concomitantly with the action for joining the United Nations a new front was opened against Germany and Hungary: also, Romania sustained a serious effort beside the Allies until the final victory of May 1945.
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