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Dénes
Posted: March 21, 2006 04:30 am
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Here is a little known war episode involving the Carol line, in Sept. 1944 (excerpt from a manuscript under work):
"A notable local Hungarian victory – with German assistance from the air – against Soviet armour took place on September 20. The commander of the 19th Field Infantry Replacement Division, based nearby Miniş (Ménes), recalled that the so-called Carol line – built pre-war by the Rumanians against the excepted Hungarian attack – lies nearby, including a large anti-tank ditch. Assuming that the Soviets are not aware of this defensive structure, he ordered his men to lure the enemy armour towards the ditch.
His assumption proved to be correct, the advancing Soviet tanks were halted by the unexpected, unsurpassable obstacle. At this point, the Hungarian tanks and anti-tank cannon of the 1st Armoured Division ambushed the stranded Soviet tanks northwest of Zimandu Nou (Zimándújfalu). Soon German ground attack airplanes join in the killing frenzy. Within hours, the entire Soviet armoured force, consisting of 25 T-34s of the 18th Tank Corps, was annihilated. The Hungarians accounted for seven tanks, the rest being knocked out by the Luftwaffe Schlachtfliegern. By the end of the day, the German flyers reported 30 enemy tanks ‘killed’ in the area, along with 120 trucks and vehicles. The Axis allies did not suffer any losses.
However, this local Hungarian victory – known to them as ‘the tank battle at Pénzespuszta’ – did not halt the overall Soviet offensive, only slowed it down. It allowed, however, the Hungarian 3rd Army units to seamlessly regroup to new defensive positions."


Gen. Dénes
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SiG
Posted: March 21, 2006 09:34 am
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Interesting episode. Did the Soviets blame the Romanians for not telling them about the Carol line? After the armistice, Soviets would often accuse Romania that it wasn't committed enough to the antifascist cause, and use this as a pretext to interfere with the royal army, purge officers, loot and demand higher war reparations. I wonder wether this incident was ever used as "evidence" of Romanian "sabotage" of the common war effort.
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Carol I
Posted: March 21, 2006 03:57 pm
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QUOTE (Dénes @ Mar 21 2006, 05:30 AM)
...  – built pre-war by the Rumanians against the excepted Hungarian attack – ...

I presume it has been a typo and it is in fact "expected" instead of "excepted". ;)
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Dénes
Posted: March 21, 2006 04:36 pm
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Yes, Carol, it's a typo.

SiG, I don't know if the Rumanians were put at fault by the Soviet 'brothers-in-arms' or not. Probably not, though, as the Soviets used their own map, where this pre-war fortification line was not shown.

Gen. Dénes

This post has been edited by Dénes on March 21, 2006 07:48 pm
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Dan Po
Posted: March 21, 2006 05:18 pm
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Anyway, this episode looks more like a Romanian - Hungarian "brothers-in-arms" against the Soviets. ;)
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Wings_of_wrath
Posted: April 28, 2006 11:57 pm
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Finally, I got the time to go to Cernavoda and see for myself the situation of the fortifications there.
There is no trace of the center "Bogdaproste" (Cismelele) sector, since it used to lie where the Danube- Black Sea canal is now, but I had high hopes for the other two sectors and the two blockhouses near the bridge itself.
As previously mentioned on this thread, I was told that at least one of the forts was being used as an animal feed warehouse by a local farm, and since I could find it on the "Protected Monuments" list, I was sure I will find it in a pretty good condition, so I was optimistic when I stepped down from the train in Cernavoda. I wasn't sure on where exactly the fort was located, but I hired a local cabby and showed him the place I wanted to go, using the rough map I had and a pretty bad satellite photo from Goole Earth.
After a bit of meandering around the fields, trying to find a road that led in the right direction, we reached the area, and, soon enough, we could make out some kind of building on the top of a nearby hill.
But upon reaching the spot, stupor! The building turned out to be a crude concrete water tank for watering herds, clearly of modern construction, and besides that, there was nothing that looked like a fort on the whole hilltop, only a few holes and pieces of concrete.

(IMG:http://img146.imageshack.us/img146/3750/cer02wt.jpg)

Incredulous, I pulled out my binoculars and scanned the sorriundings, but It it was paintfully obvious that this was the best spot for a large military installation, since it held a commanding view on the nearby hills, and even on the site of the nuclear powerplant and the town of cernavoda itself.
So where was the fort?
I started looking around, and soon enough, I noticed a rusted pipe sticking up from the ground. A few meters away, there was another, and then another, in a line that embraced the top of the hill. They were obviously quite old, and upon examining one close up, I noticed it had a concrete ring around its base. Since you don't usually stick pipes in hillsides unless you have a solid purpose, I looked closer at the various debris that littered the hilltop, until I found this:

(IMG:http://img232.imageshack.us/img232/9269/cer26tb.jpg)

The hole in the ring is about 1.5 meters across and the piece is made of plain concrete, so I'm pretty sure it's the base for one of the four transportable 53mm turrets on top of the fort. But since the forward batteries also had 53mm turrets of the same design, I searched for more evidence, and upon finding huge slabs of concrete everywhere as well as signs of digging, I had to conclude that the fort was no more.

(IMG:http://img227.imageshack.us/img227/2677/cer10ww.jpg)

(IMG:http://img75.imageshack.us/img75/9238/cer37tz.jpg)

And indeed, a sheperd came to water his flock, and when I asked him wherever there were any old ruins around the hills, he said this was the only one, and the place was known as "La forturi" ("The Forts")...
As the story goes, it apears that in 1987, while the Nuclear Powerplant was being built, the communist government decided to tear down the fort, for some unknown reason, so they filled the underground vaults and tore open the concrete, leaving the hilltop as we see it today.
However, I also learned that the fort on the other side of the canal, in the "Movilele" sector, is still in good shape, but it's part of a military unit, so visiting it is impossible.

Higly dissapointed, we went down back to the town, to search for the last two objectives, the two blockhouses near the bridge.
While heading to the eastern end of the bridge, we came upon some railway offices, and asked the people inside about the two bunkers. They promtly told us that any military installation on the eastern side of the bridge was destroyed when the canal was built, but the blokhouse on the other side was still there, albeit damaged by the construction of the new bridge.
So we headed over Saligny's old railway bridge, and, soon enough, we saw this:

(IMG:http://img45.imageshack.us/img45/8063/tur19xv.jpg)

An intact retractible 53 mm turret!

(IMG:http://img56.imageshack.us/img56/5195/tur21qi.jpg)

(IMG:http://img220.imageshack.us/img220/1267/tur39jo.jpg)

A quick read out of col. Vasiliu's book on fortifications later, we also identified the probable locations for one of the open 150mm emplacements, a little further back from the turet, smothered in vegetation, but it was paintfully obvious that about half the bunker had been demolished to make way for the new bridge:

(IMG:http://img70.imageshack.us/img70/270/tur53ef.jpg)

After a while I also decided to venture inside the bunker, and found it to be mostly free of debris, although some of the rooms were blocked with mud, as well as some odd looking cubes of concrete, that I realised were samples taken for testing from each batch of concrete while the new bridge was being built. A wall carefully built out of these blocks plugs the passage that would have lead to the other half of the cassemate.
I also clambered into the turret, and, although my camera doesn't have an inbuilt flash, I managed to grab a couple of shots of the interior mechanism (that is still there after all these years) one of witch came out pretty good:

(IMG:http://img81.imageshack.us/img81/384/turretinside1rf.jpg)

As you can see, the cannon would have been slipped on rails out the ambrasure on the left, and the whole turret would have rotated around a central shaft set in the middle of the cuppola, just below what I assume is a ventilation hole. There is also trace of the lifting mechanism, and the interior walls of the turret space are lined with iron plates, to act as a mold for pouring the concrete around it.
The rest of the bunker is made up of a central chamber and a few vaulted corridors, as well as an impressing number of flanking cassemates. The walls are built of plain (unreinforced) concrete, and the roof seems to be made out of railroad tracks stacked together and with concrete poured on top and in between, a type of construction that fared badly against the german onslaught in the forts of Belgium and France during WW1.
Just in front of the entrance there is also a ladder leading up to the 150mm emplacement, that was probably used for sending ammunition to the gun from the bunker. Although I tried, I could not open the hatch.

Although I didn't have enough time to make proper measurments of the bunker, and I plan to return there in the near future to draw up some accurate plans as well as to photograph the interior, here is a rough sketch of the internal layout (al distances given in mm):

(IMG:http://img92.imageshack.us/img92/8746/casemata22vq.jpg)

Later edit: With all the excitement about this find, It completely slipped my mind that the southern sector had not one but two small forts, so on my next trip to Cernavoda I fully intend to explore that part of the defensive sector, as well as take detailed measurments of the casemate near the bridge. If you want to join in on this expedition, as well as the one to the forts around Bucharest, feel free to PM me on the forum.

This post has been edited by Wings_of_wrath on April 29, 2006 12:20 am
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Victor
Posted: April 29, 2006 06:56 am
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Well, what can I say? Great job! No, super great job! I wish more of the members would contribute in such a manner :)
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mihnea
Posted: April 29, 2006 07:04 am
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Oau!! :o
Extraordinary discovery, but I have a few questions:
1. Any other pictures with the interior?
2. On your sketch I see no doors, did it had any doors to the rooms or at the entrance?
3. Can you estimate the thickness of the outer walls?
4. Did you see any traces of the bunker being inundated?
5. Is there a drawing of this fort in Vasiliu's book as the shape is very odd.
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Kepi
Posted: April 29, 2006 08:23 am
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Congratulations, Wings-of-Wreath!

It’s really a great job to search and reveal such unknown aspects of Romanian military history. It’s again astonishing that it wasn’t any military historian to study modern military fortifications. A possible explanation could be that they were still considered “Secret” until recent years and some military installations were located there.
I know that an Italian researcher was interested to study the forts round Bucharest at the middle of 1990s and he very difficult obtained the permission to go there, only accompanied by an officer of the MoD, because they plans were still classified.

Colonel Ceraceanu, the commander of the signals military unit of Otopeni, near the road bridge, who is an open minded (atypical) officer and a history enthusiast, studied these fortifications and he will be interested to publish a book on the subject (maybe it would be a new volume of MMN “Dorobantul” series). Colonel Ceraceanu will help MMN during the project of the Arges River Battle reconstruction, of 2nd September, that will be held at Fort Mogosoaia (Batteries 1-2). The terrain is on his military unit property. Then it will be a good opportunity to visit this location and to highlight the importance and also the poor condition of these forts among the public.

Wings-of-Wreath could have a major contribution on this project.
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C-2
Posted: April 29, 2006 10:20 am
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Amazing work!!!!!
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Claudiu1988
Posted: April 29, 2006 10:31 am
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A job well done. Keep on the good work :D
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Wings_of_wrath
Posted: April 29, 2006 11:44 am
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Thank you.

Mihnea:
1) Yes, but like I said, my camera didn't have a flash so they turned out black. There are only two other views of the cuppola, but are very blurry, because I had to keep a long exposure time (in excess of 30 seconds) so I had a hard time keeping the camera still in the confined space
2)There were no doors, and I saw no signs of ever having been any, like door hinges or such. The acess from one room to another is made va simple openings.
3)Outer walls are about 1.5meters at the entrance. Inner walls about 40cm.
4)There was a shallow blanket of mud on the inside (about 1cm thick), and small puddles of rainwater, but other than that the bunker was clear, except for those portions filled in during the construction of the new bridge.
5) No there is no drawing in Vasiliu's book, just a mention of it's armamaments and rough location. On the plan, I'm not that sure this is the exact shape, because I was groping around in near darkness and drew hte sketch outside (on the cuppola ring), so I will have to revisit for accurate measurments.

Kepi:
That is great news! I figured there must be other people with intrest in these forts, but I wasn't sure on where to get a hold of them. Can you please put me in contact with mister Ceraceanu? If he can provide us with acess and plans (I have been previously denied just that at both the Bucharest and National Archives), we can offer to help out in exploring them (they're large, and there's lots of them, so I figure we shall need at least a day for exploring each one, meaning about a month for the whole lot) as well as recording the overall state and other details of this nature.
And if you care to see the thread on Bucharest fortifications, we had a break in the case of the forts by some very accurate sattelite imagery, allowing us to inspect even the state of the turrets in some cases! (thread is located here and I will be posting an in depth analysys of each fort in the following week)

This post has been edited by Wings_of_wrath on April 29, 2006 01:14 pm
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dragos03
Posted: April 29, 2006 02:00 pm
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Great job, Wings of Wrath!
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Dénes
Posted: July 04, 2006 03:34 am
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At the link below, at the beginning, there are a few interesting period photos, taken by Hungarian propaganda reporters in September 1940, on the fortifications located at the former Rumanian-Hungarian border in Western Transylvania (disregard the propaganda text, and some of the likewise photos).

http://www.liktor.hu/keletfele/kezdolap.html

Gen. Dénes

This post has been edited by Dénes on July 04, 2006 03:41 am
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Claudiu1988
Posted: October 23, 2006 12:54 pm
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QUOTE (Victor @ August 17, 2005 10:35 am)
4. Black Dot on the second map

This pillbox is practically on the beach, some 10 m away from the sand.

(IMG:http://img353.imageshack.us/img353/8223/418mj.jpg)
(IMG:http://img353.imageshack.us/img353/5720/428pw.jpg)
(IMG:http://img353.imageshack.us/img353/1218/432iv.jpg)
(IMG:http://img353.imageshack.us/img353/5018/441it.jpg)
(IMG:http://img353.imageshack.us/img353/6/456rm.jpg)
(IMG:http://img353.imageshack.us/img353/4339/465qi.jpg)

A week ago this bunker was opened with the help of a buldozer, they want to make a disco inside. I went in and the bunker is fill with mud and wather. The interior looks ok, except you have to enter the bunker through a small hole because the door is full with mud, until you reach the interior of the bunker you have to crowl some 4 m, then when you reach the inside of the bunker the mud and wather is 1m deep but you can walk through it. You can see the on the wall a lot of rusted iron suports I think they were for the beds but I am not sure. I will go again inside on Friday or Saturday and I will make pictures. If someone is interested in coming with me let me know I will also go and see the other fortifications. We will enter 2 more bunkers.
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