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> The Flamanda Maneuver
dragos
Posted: March 02, 2004 05:50 pm
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[quote][quote]
Are you referring to the Flamanda maneuver?
[/quote]

no i'm referring to the crossing of the Danube at Rahovo in an attempt to get some units behind the Bulgarian divisions invading Dobrudja. the left bank of the river was still under Romanian control so a dispatch of the monitors would have been possible. navigating along 1 enemy shore was at least common for Austro-Hungarian monitors throught Sptember and October.[/quote]

I think you are refering to the Flamanda maneuver. The preparations for this operation started after 2 September. During the night of 18/19 September, hours after the forcing of Danube begun, several monitors bombed the bridge under construction. They were driven away by the Romanian artillery on the northern bank of Danube. From my sources, these monitors were: "Barsch", "Viza", "Bodrog", "Koros". The bridge was under construction at Flamanda, not at Rahova.
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dead-cat
Posted: March 03, 2004 04:50 pm
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definetly i'm referring to the crossing at Rahovo over a pontoon bridge on Oct. 1st, as quoted from various sources inluding the bulgarian and austro-hungarian general staff and Paul Halpern's "A Naval History of WW1".

neither "Barsch" and "Visa" was a monitor.
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dragos
Posted: March 03, 2004 06:34 pm
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The Flamanda maneuver ended on 21 September. The confusion must have occured because it was a bridge under construction there as well.
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dead-cat
Posted: March 04, 2004 08:06 am
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yes i think so too. i'll try to check this in the weekend.
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petru
Posted: March 04, 2004 05:49 pm
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Flamanda could be the name of the village on the left bank of Danube and Rahovo could be the name of the closest bulgarian village. I don't know of any other operation over Danube River, but I have to chek that.
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dragos
Posted: March 04, 2004 08:21 pm
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petru, you are right. Flamanda does not exist any more. It was situated 25 km northe-east of Giurgiu, in the holm of Danube.

This recent map shows the locality Ryakhovo (Rahovo ?)

(IMG:http://www.worldwar2.ro/images/forum/giurgiu.jpg)
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Carol I
Posted: March 06, 2004 08:32 am
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Probably Ryakhovo on Dragos' map is the Rahovo we are referring to.

I have found two references on the geographical location of Rahovo. One says "Rahovo, about 20 miles west of Turtukai" and the other "Rahovo, between Tutrakan and Rustchuk". I have even found a small contemporary map showing a Riahovo at about 20 miles from Turtukai/Tutrakan.

(IMG:http://img69.exs.cx/img69/33/Rahovo.jpg)

One source gives the date of the Rahovo operation (1st of October) and the other mentions the strength of the Romanian force that crossed the Danube (five infantry and one cavalry divisions).
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Victor
Posted: March 06, 2004 10:40 am
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QUOTE
Probably Ryakhovo on Dragos' map is the Rahovo we are referring to


Not probably, but surely.
Flamanda was situated 25 km north-east of Giurgiu, 463 km on the Danube. On the other bank of the river was Oreanovo (Ryahovo)

QUOTE
One source gives the date of the Rahovo operation (1st of October) and the other mentions the strength of the Romanian force that crossed the Danube (five infantry and one cavalry divisions).


That source probably considered a 100 divisions strong Romanian army.
Only the 10th Infantry Division completely crossed into Bulgaria. The 21st Infantry Division left one regiment on the Romanian bank. By 3 October the Romanian troops retreated and were immediately transported north, were the Romanian front was in trouble.
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Carol I
Posted: March 06, 2004 01:31 pm
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QUOTE
That source probably considered a 100 divisions strong Romanian army.


Here is the original quote from http://www.worldwar1.com/tgws/rel006.htm

QUOTE
THE ROUMANIAN RAHOVO OFFENSIVE  

The Roumanians held a council of war. General Averescu, new commander for the southern front, insisted that the proper plan was to cross over the Danube behind von Mackensen and destroy him. General Presan, commander of the norther group of armies moving into Transylvania, insisted on carrying out the original plan of operations. The final decision was an unhappy compromise -- to carry out both offensives. At this time the isolated Roumanian columns were moving into Transylvania. Now all of their reserves were to be taken away for use south of the Danube.  

The plan was to cross a force to the south of the Danube on pontoon bridges at Rahovo (about 20 miles west of Turtukai) and operate against the rear and line of communications of von Mackensen; at the same time to start an advance south in Dobrudja to hold von Mackensen's forces on the front south of the Constanza-Cernavoda railroad. For this operation the crossing force, under Roumanian command (General Averescu), was to consist of five infantry and one cavalry divisions. The force in the Dobrudja was to consist of six Roumanian and two Russian (one actually consisted of Serbians) infantry divisions and one Russian cavalry division, all under Russian command (General Zaionchkovsky). The two forces were to operate independently, and the operation was to commence on 1 October. Some Austrian monitors (gunboats) were known to be in the Danube west of Orsova. Roumania had no boats which could effectively oppose them.  

To furnish troops for the crossing at Rahovo all forces on the northwestern front were forced to take up the defensive in the face of Falkenhayn's attack. Nevertheless, the attack at Rahovo was a failure, due to hostile opposition, a sudden flood, and the necessity of withdrawing troops to the north because of reverses in Transylvania. By the third week in October von Mackensen had taken Constanza. Leaving half his army to defend the conquered territory by an entrenched line from the Danube to the sea, he brought the remaining force, strengthened by a Turkish division and an additional Bulgarian division, south of the Danube near Sistova.
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dragos
Posted: March 06, 2004 02:34 pm
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The war council at Peris, on 2 September 1916 decided to stop the offensive in Transylvania and to annihilate the Bulgarian-German-Turkish forces that invaded Dobruja and were stopped on 3 September on the line Rasova - Cobadin.

It was formed the Army Group "South" (commanded by Averescu), made of the 3rd Army and the Dobruja Army. The 3rd Army had the 10, 16, 18, 21 and 22 Infantry Divisions, and the 1st Cavalry Division. The Dobruja Army had the 2, 5, 9, 12, 15, 19 Infantry Divisions, 5th Cavalry Brigade and the Russian Corps, with 61 and 115 Infantry Divisions and the 3rd Cavalry Division.

The plan of operations was to force the Danube at Flamanda (Rahovo) with the 3rd Army and to advance on the direction Flamanda, Acadinlar, Kurtbunar, in the same time with the offensive of the Dobruja Army towards Cobadin, Kurtbunar, in order to encircle the enemy.

The operation started on 18 September, with 10 and 21 Infantry Divisions crossing the Danube. During the night of 18/19, a storm caused damage to the bridge under construction and the flooding of Danube's holm, in the forcing sector. The raising of the water level of Danube, permited several ships (“Barsch”, “Viza”, “Bodrog”, “Koros”) to pass over the barrage at Tabanul and to attack the bridge, but they were driven away by the Romanian artillery.

In the same time, the offensive of the Dobruja Army between the Danube and the Black Sea made very little progress.

In these unfavorable circumstances, General Averescu cancelled the operation. The Romanian troops that crossed the Danube at Flamanda were withdrawn during 20/21 September. The maneuver at Flamanda offically ended on 22 September 1916.
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dragos
Posted: March 06, 2004 03:33 pm
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Romanian historiography recorded the events of WW1 by the old calendar. Romania adopted the new calendar (Gregorian calendar) in 1919. Between the old calendar and the new calendar there is a difference of 13 days. According to the new calendar, the recorded date of 18 September is actually 1st October :!:
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dead-cat
Posted: March 06, 2004 08:59 pm
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M$ Encarta Worldatlas 2001 does have a "Rjakhovo" about 30km west upstream from Tutrakan. The romanian river bank doesn't show anything but if you search for "Flamanda" a village mysteriousley pops up about 5km north. the Danube seems to have 2 larger islands in that area.
combined with the now explained calendarisical differences, the mystery is solved.

about the pontoon bridge:

in the early morning of Oct 1st several romanian battlaions crossed the Danube in lighters to establish a bridgehead, which had a depth of about 5 mi. on a 10 mi. front. then the building of the pontoon bridge started. Bulgarian reserves and german artillery was brought in from Tutrakan and Rustchuk.
The Danube flotillia was tasked with destroying the bridge.
German aircraft bombed the bridge in the afternoon, archiveing the first diruption. the bridge was finished around 7 PM but a storm broke the bridge in 3 places, delaying any further advance for about 12 hours.

Before the monitors could arrive, austrians made the first attempt to destroy the bridge. they sent a small team with mines which worked his way through the romanian lines and launched the mines, but lacking boats they launched the mines from the shore, hoping the current would carry them into the bridge. the wind carried the mines ashore instead and nothing was archived. the party narrowly escaped capture.

the stormy weather affected also the Danube flotillia and the area around Rahovo was difficult to navigate because of shifting sandbanks.
during the morning of Oct. 2nd, the patrol boats Viza and Barsch managed to approach the bridge under heavy fire from romanian artillery ashore but managed to hit one of the pontoons several times with light artillery and machine guns, forcinf the troops to clear the bridge. both boats were hit by artillery from both shores but no hit was critical so they kept firing until they ran out of ammo and retreated. By now, the Third Monitor Group (Bodrog and Körös), guided through the sandbank by the patrol boat Wels started shelling from a place called "Lungu Island" (probably one of the 2 islands i meantioned earlier) which was about 3km away from the bridge.
Both monitors were repeatedly hit by shore artillery and at 2 PM Bodrog has to haul out of range to repair, haiving her turret and electrical circuits out of action. Körös kept firing until her main steam pipe was cut which left her drifting rudderless into the romanian shore. by nightfall the pipe was repaired and both monitors retreated to Lelek beause of danger from mines. According to the austrians, the pontoon bridge was badly damaged but french officers with the romanian army reported her intact (shells fell 600m over and 200m short according to their account).

so far, the bridge was still usable, but the threat from aircraft and monitors had been shown and Averescu felt his supply line threatened and decided to start the retreat, holding only the bridgehead.

from "A Naval History of WW1" by Paul Halpern and various austrian, german and bulgarian army communiquees published during the days of the campaign. ( http://anno.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/anno )

to be continued...
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dead-cat
Posted: March 06, 2004 09:22 pm
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The Rahovo crossing (Part II)

During the night of Oct 2nd/3rd stormy weather damaged the bridge once again.
The First Monitor Group (Temes and Enns) and the Fourth Monitor Group ( Szamos and Leitha) were ordered to aid the now damaged Third Monitor Group and to bring coal, diesel and ammunitions to the flotillia.
Szamos and Leitha left in the afternoon of Oct. 2nd each with a lighter in tow carrying fuel respectively soil. The idea was to launch the lighter loaded with soil in the hope the current would carry him and break through the bridge.
But until then they had to run through romanian artillery positions on Chingarele Island, near their base at Belene Canal (austrian newspapers mention this place only by the name "secret base").
Both monitors and the lighters were hit, the Szamos losing one 7cm gun barrel. It was decided to have the Enns which towed a fuel lighter, wait until nightfall and Temes proceeded on her own to Lelek. The 2 damaged monitors were ordered back to Belene Canal, while the austrians there replenished during the night.

The fighting resumed on the 3rd, the romanian army now struggling to keep the bridge open to retreat, Averescu having lost any faith in the enterprise. So the plan changed to holding only the bridgehead on the bulgarian shore. Medium and heavy artillery moved back across the bridge. Because of the artillery threat the monitors refrained from approaching the bridge and loaded the patrol boat "Compo" with mines which launched them against the bridge. This time it worked and about 50m of the bridge were destroyed. The bridge also recived damage from german aircraft through the afternoon.
The austrians now were all set to destroy the bridge once and for all and planned a new operation. Two empty lighters flooded to correct depth and several mines would be launched, brought up by patrol boat Viza and the armed steamer "Balaton", under the cover of Temes and Enns. The operation was partially successfull. One lighter was found later grounded but the other tore another section of the bridge away and was found drifting all the way downstream at Kalimik.

However by now, the remnants of the romanian units escaped across the bridge and thus the operation ended.
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petru
Posted: March 07, 2004 09:40 pm
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Nice links, but I don’t entirely agree with the critics.

A plan to take Bulgaria out of the war was perfectly possible, but no one says anything about the Russian opposition towards such a plan. Both Slavic nations, Bulgaria and Russia were in general sympathetic to each other, and the Russians were not eager to mount a serious offensive towards Bulgaria.

Secondly I don’t really agree that the planning of the Romanian Headquarter was poor. I think some of the operations were really good, but the execution of these order were in general slow and some generals were losing their heads too fast. In addition bad luck was also present in some operations.

At Turtucaia the first line of defensive positions were occupied by Bulgarians very easily and no attempt was made to reoccupy them. In some cases the positions were evacuated without fight. In the following days of fighting on the main defensive belt (I think it was the third day of fighting), all the reserves were committed in the wrong sectors. When the belt was finally breached in a place it was ordered the evacuation of the rest of the line instead to seal the breach. We all know the outcome of Turtucaia battle “page of shame in Romanian history”. This is a first example of how Romanian generals fought at the beginning of the war. The second example is the battle of Olt. Gen. Popovici panicked at ordered the retreat too soon. The attack from the east, supposed to relive the pressure was too slow, and despite its success didn’t achieve anything.

Flamanda maneuver and the Arges-Neajlov battle was a combination of bad luck (bridge broken by storm, or the capture of a Romanian staff carriage with the operation plan during the Arges-Neajlov battle) and command hesitations. Romanian historiography presented the cancellation of the Flamanda operation as a consequence of the general situation on the Carpathian front, but it also possible that Averescu didn’t believe in the success of the operation anymore. In my opinion it was a little from both. Similarly, during Neajlov-Arges battle (a good conception) you have first the capture of the operation plan (bad luck), the retreat of the Soceac division (poor command), and the inactivity of the Russian troops (great cooperation).
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dead-cat
Posted: March 07, 2004 10:35 pm
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it's not enough to say "planning is poor" because it's seldom done by entirely stupid or completly desinformed individuals. usually the plan is good if the circumstances were identical with those assumed.
it's more the combination of planning and implementation that should be criticised. a plan might be great but if it's not possible to implement that plan under the given (and/or rapidly changing) circumstances the whole thing is worth nothing. i'm counting plans which sound good but are not implementable under the given circumstances as "bad".

there are zillions of examples. like the russian offensive in Eastern Prussia in August 1914. looked fine on paper. i'm pretty sure most of the general staff knew very well what a bunch of incompetents were running the whole operation, but promoting generals was a business of the ruling clique. they should have altered the plan, the objectives etc. to something even those fools couldn't mess up.

or take the Schlieffen plan, not a very new idea and nothing special either but implementable. but then you've got mediocre commanders promoted to their positions by criteria of heritage prestige only (Moltke) and suddenly you have a failure.

it's not diffrent with romanian general either. put 6 divisions behind the enemy. great, but usually the enemy won't sit idle and cooperate especially if he has 2 years of war "hands-on" experience. there was no backup plan in case the enemy destroyed the bridge. even the harrassement by the danube flotillia shakened the nerves. and of course the enemy would rush in reserves and all the artillery he could muster. of course the weather doesn't allways cooperate. after all it was october. the Zeebruegge raid was postponed 2 times because of changing weather conditions. and when it finally happened the wind blew the smoke screen away, much to the delight of the Kaiser Wilhelm battery that opened fire at point blank range.

the implementability of the plan, like it was designed by the romanian general staff, to knock out bulgaria with merley 7 divisions, when the enemy allready recived turkish reinforcements of at least 1 additional division and the other front was crying for reserves, was close to zero. it wouldn't have worked even if the storm didn't damage the bridge and all troops got across, since it was the operations single fragile lifeline and would remain under continous attack by austro-hungarian riverline forces. bulgarian and turkish reinforcements were allready pouring in.
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