During the winter of 1941/42, the bulk of the Romanian troops was back in its garrisons. Only a select number of units, rightfully considered elite, remained on the front in the Ukraine under the disciplinary command of the 3rd Romanian Army. The Mountain Corps (1st and 4th Mountain and 8th Cavalry Brigades) was deployed in the Crimea, subordinated to the German 11th Army and the Cavalry Corps (the 5th and 6th Cavalry Brigades) was occupying defensive positions North of the Sea of Azov. The latter repulsed several Soviet assaults that aimed to threaten the flank of the German troops on the Mius River. The exploits of the Mountains Corps are described in a separate article, so they will not be mentioned in this one.
Apart from these forces, maj. gen. Corneliu Dragalina's 6th Corps (1st, 2nd and 18th Infantry Divisions) was stationed between the Bug and Dnepr Rivers, carrying out security missions. It had seen just little action during the last days of the siege of Odessa and its infantry divisions were probably the only up-to-strength units of their kind the Romanian Army could field at that moment.
On 18 January 1942, the Soviet 6th and 57th Armies launched the Barvenkovo – Lozovaia Offensive, to the South of Kharkov, at the junction of the German 6th and 17th Armies. Enjoying a numerical superiority of about two to one in that sector, the Soviets managed to penetrate the German line and began to advance westwards. The crisis forced Army Group South to muster every available reserve in order to contain the enemy offensive and managed to do so by 31 January. Among these were the Romanian "Col. Rotta" Skier Detachment and the 1st Infantry Division.
The detachment (25th and 26th Skier Battalions) was meant as a reinforcement for the 1st Mountain Brigade operating in Crimea, but it was diverted to the German 17th Army in the Izyum sector. It arrived at Krasnograd on 26 January and was subordinated to the German Mikosch Group. For 12 days it covered a line 15 km long East of Novo Komo, repulsing all Soviet attacks in the Kechitshevka sector and intercepting the roads leading to Krasnodar. From 4 February the detachment counterattacked and forced the Orel River in the Pakrovka area. By 10 February it was 65 km South of Kharkov. An notable event occurred on 14 February at Shukor. 2nd lt. Traian Cioara, from the 25th Skier Battalion, with 20 soldiers, resisted firmly against a much superior Soviet force, permitting the rest of the Detachment to break out from the encirclement and regroup at Grushino. Cioara was severely wounded and died two days later. He received posthumously Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. The Romanian skiers were then subordinated to the Koch Group, which used it to take the fortified positions near the Sivash farm on 17 February. Between 19 and 23 February it fought on the Orelka Valley, taking Kaspurovka and Novo Nikolaevna.
At the beginning of March, the Skier Detachment was moved to the Bereka Valley, 50 km South of Kharkov, where it assisted the German advance in the Gomoloshka Forest area. For the attack on 8 March, a Hungarian cavalry squadron was subordinated to col. Rotta. This was a very rare situation during WWII, as even though Romania and Hungary were technically allies, the two armies generally regarded each other as future enemies. However, the operation was successful.
On 28 March, the detachment was moved to the Western bank of the Orel River where it remained on defensive positions and held out until 14 May. 50 of mountain troops skiers received the Iron Cross for their actions during the battle of Kharkov. Col. Ioan Rotta and lt. col. Mihail Schuster were also awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class.
The 1st Infantry Division, commanded by brig. gen. Emanoil Barzotescu, was stationed in the area around Krivoirog, with guard and security duties. It had to march around 400 km in freezing weather conditions and arrived in Dnepopetrovsk on 21 January. It was without its artillery, which had remained behind at Mariupol. Nevertheless, the situation was critical and, the following day, the German 11th Corps, to which the division had been subordinated, ordered gen. Barzotescu to take up positions in the areas near Pavlograd, Sinelinokvska and Novomoskovsk, barring the road towards Dnepropetrovsk.
A week later, on 29 January, the Romanians were introduced into the first line, in between the German 298th Infantry and 100th Jäger Divisions. Gen. Barzotescu set up the 5th Vanatori Regiment on the divisions left flank, between Samoilovka railway station and the Northern outskirts of Samoilovka itself. To the South, in the center, was the 1st Battalion/93rd Infantry Regiment and then, on the right flank, between Blagodatnoe and Kochovka, was the 85th Infantry Regiment. A notable incident occurred during the night of 31 January/1 February 1942, when the 2nd Company/5th Vanatori Regiment, which had just taken up positions near Kamoilovka, was attacked by a superior Soviet infantry force and surrounded. Under the leadership of 2nd. lt. Constantin Radulescu, the company resisted until reinforcements arrived and then counterattacked and occupied the village.
On 1 February, the 1st Infantry Division, together with the German 298th Infantry Division, began an offensive meant to obtain positions more suited for defense than the current ones. The 5th Vanatori Regiment occupied the Samoilovka railway station and elements of the 85th Regiment took Samoilovka itself and Kristapovka. The Soviet 34th Rifle and 38th Cavalry Divisions offered stiff resistance and counterattacked the following day, taking back Samoilovka and putting a lot of pressure on the 9th and 10th Companies of the 85th Infantry Regiment in the village of Kristapovka. The two companies repulsed several enemy attacks throughout 2 and 3 February, but were driven out by an assault during the night of 3/4 February. The 1st Infantry Division attacked the following morning, without success, then again on 7 February. A further offensive effort on 12 and 13 February led to the capture of Samoilovka by the 5th Vanatori Regiment and of Kristapovka by a concentrated action of all the division's regiments. Col. Ermil Paraschivescu's 85th Regiment also received felicitations from gen. von Kortzenfleich , 11th Corps' commander.
The advance continued and, on 14 February, the 3rd Battalion/93rd Infantry Regiment, supported by elements of the other two regiments, entered Dimitrievka and fought its way through it. The following day, the 93rd Regiment took Grigorievka by 1300 hours. The 1st Battalion made a frontal assault that pinned down the Soviet defense, while the reconnaissance company circled around the village and attacked from the rear. Thus the 1st Division arrived one km South of Uplatnoe. The village was enveloped on both flanks and the enemy forces occupying it had to retreat. On 17 February, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions/5th Vanatori Regiment assaulted Domacha and managed capture it in the evening, after 4 hours of heavy fighting. During the night, the vanatori repulsed a Soviet attempt to recapture the village.
At this moment in time, the 1st Infantry Division was stretched over a 15 km front, South of Lozovaia. The lack of proper equipment, the long marches, the freezing weather and the last weeks of fighting had taken their toll on the troops. The German command wanted to continue the offensive from the West with the 11th Corps (German 113th, 298th and Romanian 1st Infantry Divisions) and from the Southwest with the 1st Panzer Army. The Romanian division was situated on the right flank of the 11th Corps, but there was a 15 km gap between the 85th Infantry Regiment and Eberhard von Mackensen's 1st Panzer Army. Ironically the German general was the son of Romania's greatest foe during WWI, field marshal August von Mackensen. To cover this gap, general Barzotescu created an operational group from the division's reconnaissance group, two companies of the 85th Regiment and a German company. It had to take up positions some 6 km from the bulk of the division. Thus, the already depleted resources of the 1st Infantry Division were further reduced.
The attack was resumed on 19 February, but only with the 5th Vanatori Regiment, on the division's left flank, and the 93rd Infantry Regiment in the center. The 85th Regiment remained on the defense. The Soviet resistance was very determined. The 3rd Battalion and the reconnaissance company of the 93rd Regiment managed to close in to within 500 m of the village, before they were forced to pull back due to heavy artillery fire. The following day, the 5th Vanatori Regiment continued the attack and with great effort managed to reach the village's outskirts and capture the first houses. The effort was in vain.
In the morning of 20 February, the Soviets launched a powerful counterstroke in the sector defended by the rest of the 1st Infantry Division. The 93rd Infantry Regiment was the worst hit. The soldiers had been manning the positions during the entire night and were exhausted. In the morning, the Soviet 270th Rifle Division supported by tanks attacked the sector of the 93rd Regiment. After two hours of fighting, the Romanian soldiers began to retreat in disorder. The division's reserve, the 3rd Battalion/5th Vanatori Regiment counterattacked, but could not stop the enemy advance. On the right flank, the Soviet infantry lacked tank support and the 85th Regiment was able to repulse it, but the breach in the 1st Division's center forced brig. gen. Barzotescu to order col. Ermil Paraschivescu to retreat his troops to the new defense line, some 20 km away. The 5th Vanatori Regiment had kept its positions in front of the 341st Rifle Division's attack and the entire 1st Division used it as a pivot and swung its front clockwise around it. In a second phase, it reduced its front and pulled back South of Novo Alexandrovka.
On 23 February, the 1st Infantry Division launched a local offensive against elements of the Soviet 270th and 341st Rifle Divisions and managed to take Novo Alexandrovka and thus improve its defense position. It now occupied the sector between this village and Dimitrovka and did so until May 1942. Marshal Ion Antonescu was very discontent with the defeat suffered by the 1st Division and, as usual, dictated disciplinary measures. Brig. gen. Emanoil Barzotescu was relieved of command in March and replaced by brig. gen. Ion Mihaescu, the division's artillery commander. He was accused of retreating his unit despite a direct order from the German 11th Corps to keep the positions near Lozovaia with all costs. Along with him was sacked and retired of active duty also col. Ermil Paraschivescu, 85th Regiment's commander, and the battle flags of the 85th and 93rd Regiments were taken away only to be restituted if the units would be cited twice in official communiqués.
Besides the Skier Detachment and the 1st Infantry Division, the German Army Group South requested further Romanian troops. Following the fall of Odessa, brig. gen. Nicolae Ghineraru's 2nd Infantry Division was stationed near Kirovograd, acting as a security unit. After the 1st Division was sent to the front, it also took over the Krivoirog and Nikolaev sectors. However, soon after this, Army Group South requested further reinforcements and the 2nd Infantry Division marched towards the Kharkov area.
It reached the German 11th Corps in February and quickly three infantry and one artillery battalion were subordinated to the German 113th Infantry Division. The 1st and 2nd Battalions/26th Dorobanti Regiment, the 3rd Battalion/1st Dorobanti Regiment and the 3rd Battalion/9th Artillery Regiment took over a sector near Orelka, 24km Northwest of Lozovaia, where the 1st Infantry Division was located. The bulk of the 2nd Infantry Division replaced a Kampfgruppe of the German 100th Jäger Division on 9 March, near Blagodatnoe, some 45 km Southeast of Orelka.
Brig. gen. Ghineraru deployed on his left flank the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 31st Dorobanti Regiment and on his right flank the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 1st Dorobanti Regiment. The 3rd Battalion/26th Dorobanti Regiment was placed behind the right wing, while the 3rd Battalion/31st Dorobanti Regiment was kept as a general reserve. Reconnaissance companies defended the extreme flanks.
At the end of March, the 2nd Division faced a powerful Soviet assault, carried out by a force composed of the 15th Tank Brigade and the 49th, 64th and 70th Cavalry Divisions. Fighting climaxed on 27 and 28 March, but gen. Ghineraru's men resisted the onslaught.
Further Romanian forces were deployed in this area of the Eastern Front during the following months. The 4th Infantry Division, which had been acting as a security force near Odessa, crossed the Bug River on 8 April and, on 4 May, replaced the German 113th Infantry Division in the front line near Alexandrovka. The 20th Infantry Division was mobilized in order to replace the 4th Division in Trans-Dnestra, but it was also sent to the area South of Kharkov, where it arrived also at the beginning of May. The large number of Romanian forces concentrated in that sector, prompted the Romanian General Staff to bring maj. gen. Corneliu Dragalina's 6th Corps from Crimea. It took over the Romanian forces in the area, which, after the arrival of the 1st Motorized Heavy Artillery Regiment, counted as much as 64,120 men. The 1st and 4th Divisions were defending a 45 km front line on the Western side of the Izium bulge, South of Alexandrovka, while the 2nd and 20th Divisions were holding 35 km of the Southern part of the bulge, in the Blagotanoe and Nova Plavlovka region. Together with the German 298th Infantry Division, the 6th Corps formed the von Kortzenfleisch Group, subordinated to the 17th Army.
The situation was calm on front line, as both sides were preparing for the summer offensive. Skirmishes and local attacks were still being carried out, though. For example, during the night of 6/7 May, near Alexandrovka, two Soviet infantry battalions attacked the positions of the 6th, 9th and Reconnaissance Companies of the 93rd Infantry Regiment. They were surrounded, but continued to resist, until the relief force commanded by lt. col. Vasile Maior arrived and repulsed the Soviets. 180 enemy soldiers were killed during the fighting.
On 12 May 1942 the lull period was over. The Red Army launched a powerful offensive aimed at encircling the Axis forces in the Kharkov area, using two pincers that would brake through the front and surround the German 6th Army. The Southern pincer was made up of the Soviet troops inside the Izium bridgehead: 6th, 9th and 57th Armies and Group Bobkin. During the first day, the German 454th Security Division was overran and through the gap charged the Soviet 6th Cavalry Corps, which advanced well behind Axis lines.
As a result, the German 113th Infantry and 1st Gebirgsjäger Divisions were relocated to the threatened sector and consequently, the Romanian 6th Corps had to extend its front to the Samara River. The Romanian 2nd Infantry Division took over the positions of the 1st Gebirgsjäger Division and the 20th Infantry Division was brought from Petropovlova in a forced march and settled around Orodchi.
Soviet cavalry and tanks reached the Eastern outskirts of Krasnovgrad. Thus the left flank and rear of the Romanian 6th Corps and of the Kortzfeisch Group were in danger of encirclement. Because of this, general von Kortzfleisch consolidated the front between Samara and Ternovka, while general Dragalina [6th Corps' commander] created on 14 May the general Georgescu Detachment on his left flank, with the mission to stop any enemy advance between Orel and Bogotaya.
On 15 and 16 May the enemy pressed the left flank of the Gerogescu Detachment while trying to infiltrate between Savnovchina and the Bogotaya River and surround it. The Romanian troops put up a strong resistance and managed to stop the enemy advance in the evening of 16 May on the Kura River. On the front of the Romanian 1st Infantry Division, near Novo Ivanovka, 2-3 Soviet battalions with air and artillery support occupied the positions of the 5th Vânători Regiment on 16 May, but were later repulsed by the counterattack. In the same time, the troops of the Romanian 4th Division were attacked by 2-3 battalions in the area near Nova Alexandrovka, but they held out. In the sector of the Romanian 2nd Division and that of the German 298th Division, the Soviet assaults carried out between 12 and 16 May were weak in intensity.
On 17 May 1942 began the Axis counterstroke, aimed at closing the neck of the Izium bulge. Thus, the depth of the Soviet advance spelled became a big problem for the Soviets themselves. By 20 May, the German 17th Army had advanced enough to threaten to encircle the Soviet forces South of Kharkov. Only in this moment did the Stavka direct the 21st and 23rd Tank Corps towards the advancing Germans, but it was too late.
On 20 May, the Romanian 6th Corps and the German 298th Division joined the attack. The 1st Infantry Division of brig. gen. Constantin Panaitiu was the spearhead of the assault. At 0315 hours, after a 15-minute artillery preparation, it attacked the positions of the Soviet 973rd Rifle Regiment on the Mikhailovka – Proletarsky axis. The 93rd Infantry Regiment, backed by an artillery battalion and a mortar battery, advanced on the Alexandrovka – Nova Uplatnovo direction. The 85th Reigment attacked towards Proletarsky supported by an artillery battalion and the 5th Vanatori Regiment had to take Hill 177.4 and secure the division's left flank. In reserve was the 710th Battalion. The 4th Division of maj. gen. Gheorghe Cialik began the attack at 0330 with two regiments in the first line, West of Alexandrovka. Its mission was to take Fedorovka. The 2nd Division of brig. gen. Dumitriu Tudose, also with two regiments in the first line, between Salomkiva and Northeast of Andreevka attacked towards Novo Uplatnovo. On the right flank was the 20th Infantry Division and on the left one was the German 525th Regiment from the 298th Division. The 20th Division (minus one regiment) of brig. gen. Gheorghe Georgescu attacked towards Proletarsky with two regiments from the heights North of Salomkina. On its right was the German 3rd Panzer Corps. The left flank of the 6th Corps was held by the general Georgescu Detachment, which between 20-23 May blocked a Soviet attempt to break through to the Savnovkina – Chernoglosovka road.
The 1st Division encountered difficulties because of a vulnerable right flank (the German 298th Division began its attack at a later hour) and of the strong opposition it encountered. By the end of the day, the 93rd Regiment managed to take the heights 1 km North of Uplatol. The 85th Infantry and the 5th Vanatori Regiments made shallower advances arriving Northeast of Vdarnik and, respectively, Hill 174.4. In the sector of the 4th Division, the 1st Battalion/21st Infantry Regiment managed to get a hold on half of Fedorovka. The village finally fell on 22 May.
During the night, the 1st Division's commander changed the axis of offensive towards Novo Uplatnovo – Koromenko railroad station. The main strike force was the Southern Group (the 93rd Infantry Regiment, reinforced with the 710th Battalion, and the 85th Infantry Regiment), which, supported by three artillery battalions, had to take the heights West of Udrony and those North of Uplatnoe. The 2nd Battalion/5th Vânători Regiment and the 2nd Battalion/612th German Infantry Regiment made up the Northern Group. It had to take Hill 177.4 and then advance to the heights 3 km Northwest of Lozovaia.
The attack began at 0400 hours and the fighting was fierce for every pillbox or trench encountered. By morning on 22 May, the 85th Infantry Regiment had taken Novo Uplatnovo, after encircling it the previous evening, and Hill 156 northeast of the village and thus assisting the advance of the 93rd Regiment towards Uplatnoe. The Southern Group pushed on towards Proletarskiy, Domosha and Lozovaia, while the Northern Group continued to attack towards Nova Ivanovka. The 93rd Infantry Regiment occupied Proletarskiy and the 85th reached the ridge between Novo Uplatnoe and Nestilevka. The 26th Dorobanti Regiment on the 2nd Division left flank, attacked towards Sofievka, in order to assist the German 298th Division that was engaged West of the village and, by nightfall, Sofievka had been taken.
On 23 May, around 1030 hours, the Southern Group took Domosha and at 1200 hours Lozovaia fell to Romanian troops. The same day, the 4th Infantry Division occupied Poltavkie and the 2nd Infantry Division assisted the attack on Lozovaia carried out by the 1st Infantry Division.
On 24 May, the Soviet troops began to pull back northeastward. The 6th Corps followed closely. The following day, the 1st and 2nd Divisions were engaged in heavy fighting near Krasnopavlovka with the enemy rearguards. The 21st Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division encountered resistance in Artelnoe, which it later occupied with its 1st Battalion. The reports stated that partisans were captured and executed. That was the last serious resistance encountered and by 27 May the 6th Corps had reached the Bereka River, where it took up positions between Mikhailovka and Feodorovka. The 6th, 9th and 57th Armies, as well as the Bobkin Grouop had been completely or partially trapped by the Axis forces. The 6th Corps lost 2,983 men during the fighting, but captured 26,432 prisoners and an important number of tanks. The casualties suffered by the Romanian units in this sector of the front from the January to May 1942 numbered: 1,952 killed, 8,355 wounded and 1,010 missing in action.
Apart from the 6th Corps, the Skier Detachment, which had been assigned to the fateful German 454th Security Division attacked, until 25 May, towards Andrievka and Volny. The Romanian mountain troops had been in combat continuously for 4 months and were exhausted. The Detachment was put in the reserve of the 11th German Army, which deployed it in the Pavlograd area. Its mission was to guard and escort prisoners and to fight partisans in the Donetsk Basin. In September 1942 the detachment returned home.
Although overall a debacle, the Soviet offensive managed to perturb the German attack plans and the Axis summer offensive was postponed, in order to reorganize the necessary forces. The 6th Corps (2nd, 4th and 20th Infantry Divisions) was subordinated to the 1st Panzer Army and together with the German 1st Gebirgsjäger Division and the Romanian 1st Infantry Division formed the general Strecker Group. The front line had stabilized on the Donetsk River, which represented the first obstacle the Axis forces had to overcome in the coming offensive. Dragalina had deployed his divisions in a single line, with the 4th on the left (Northern) flank, the 20th in the center and the 2nd on the right (Southern) flank.
The attack began early in the morning on 22 June 1942. The 4th Division had received the mission to cross the river and advance towards Chervony Shakhtar. At 0520 hours, the 1st Battalion/21st Infantry Regiment was pinned down by the fire coming from two pillboxes at the village's Southern outskirts. With artillery support the attack was resumed and by 0920, the 21st Regiment had entered Chervony Shakhtar and was engaged in heavy street fighting with the Soviet troops inside it. Their resistance was very determined and the houses had to be set on fire in order to clear the village. While the 20th Infantry Division advanced without big problems towards Petrovsky after crossing the Donetsk, the 2nd Infantry Division faced the stiffest opposition of all three units. Its attack towards Izium had to be carried out through a fortified area, which it eventually managed to overcome. By the end of the day the 6th Corps was 4 km West of Izium. The 1st Infantry Division remained on the other bank of the Donestk. However, its artillery supported the crossing of the German 1st Gebirgsjäger Division.
After this operation was completed successfully, the 6th Corps advanced to the Oskol River on a broad front and there it occupied defensive positions between 27 June and 7 July. The 1st Infantry Division returned under the direct command of. general Dragalina. The 6th Corps forced the Oskol on 8 July and cooperated with the left flank of the German 44th Corps in the attack towards Karpovka (with the 4th Division) and towards Svatovo (with the 1st and 20th Divisions). The 1st Division was kept in reserve. By marching. On 19 July, the corps was subordinated to the German 4th Panzer Army and, in 20 days, it had to fight and keep up with the German motorized units along a distance of 450 km. It was preceded by a motorized reconnaissance force made up of two motorcycle squadrons, which captured the commanders of the Soviet 140th Rifle Division, along with 3,100 men, 14 artillery pieces and 4 tanks. The Romanians reached the Don on 27 July near Zamlinskaya, where the German 29th Motorized Infantry Division had created a bridgehead over the river. The 2nd Infantry Division replaced the German troops in the respective bridgehead and held out against Soviet attacks between 28-30 July.
The offensive was resumed on 31 July, when the 2nd Division assisted the assault of the German 29th Motorized Division, by securing its left flank. The following day, it broke through the defense of the hastily created Stalingrad Front. For six days, the Romanian infantry fought and advanced through the steppe some 130 km, along the Remotnaya – Stalingrad railroad line, on a terrible heat. On 6 August, the 2nd Infantry Division reached the Aksay Valley and established bridgeheads at Slainsky, Doroteev, Shestakov and Klikov. To reinforce these positions, lt. gen. Dragalina introduced the 4th Infantry Division on the right flank of the 2nd Division and the 20th Infantry Division crossed the Don and advanced approximately 75 km. It secured a 40 km frontline on the Aksay Valley, while the rest of 4th Panzer Army pushed on towards Stalingrad.
By 8 August, the 6th Corps had reached the city's exterior defensive belt on the Myshkova River. The 2nd and 4th Divisions assaulted the entrenched positions of the Soviet 64th Army, without much success. The attacks didn't enjoy any more success even after the 1st Infantry Division entered the first line to the left of the 2nd Division and, on 13 August, they ceased. The offensive was renewed a week later. The 2nd and 4th Divisions assaulted the enemy positions East and, respectively, South of Tebektenerovo. The fighting was fierce, as the Soviets resisted with determination following Stavka's Ni Shagu Nazad! [Not a step back] order (no. 227/28 July 1942). The 1st Division was more successful at Vasilievka. The village had been heavily fortified and was defended by an independent battalion and students of a military school rushed to the area. The 85th Infantry Regiment was pinned down by heavy machine-gun fire, but, after the artillery destroyed the pillboxes, in cooperation with the 5th Vanatori Regiment and the division's light infantry battalion, it managed to take Vasilievka by 1800 hours, on 22 August. 120 POWs were taken, but the Romanians had 13 KIA and 117 WIA. On 23 August, the 20th Infantry Division replaced the German 94th Division on the Myshkova River on 6th Corps' right flank. The 4th Infantry Division was then subordinated to the German 48th Panzer Corps. On 27 August it attacked the Tundutovo village, which fell after heavy fighting in the evening of the following day. The 48th Panzer Corps, further reinforced with the Romanian 20th Infantry Division, eventually broke through the Soviet defense North of Seti and thus the 2nd Infantry Division was able to take Tebektenerovo on 29 August, capturing 630 soldiers. The same day the 5th Dorobanti Regiment (from the 4th Division) occupied Sadovoe. On 1 September, maj. gen. Nicolae Tataranu's 20th Division cooperated with the German 14th and 24th Panzer Divisions and took Zhibenko and Basaguno railroad station and then, by 9 September, Pesteanka (Stalingrad's Southern outskirts), Stara Duborova and the Trikurgana Heights.
As already mentioned, the 6th Corps had reached Stalingrad's southern outskirts and the Soviet resistance was increasingly stiffer. The 4th Panzer Army assigned it the mission to intercept the communication lines Southeast of Krasnoarmeisk. Lt. gen. Dragalina employed brig. gen. Dumitru Tudosie's 2nd Infantry Division for this task, while the 1st Infantry Division secured the 4th Panzer Army's right flank and rear. Between 5 – 8 September 1942, the 2nd Division tried to brake through the Soviet defense at Bol. Cheapurniky, without success. The Romanian casualties were high, around 400 men. The 4 divisions were exhausted after several months of continuous fights and marches. Furthermore, the 6th Corps was stretched over a 125 km front, with an open right flank, covered only by German motorized patrols in the steppe. Lt. gen. Dragalina decided it was safer to adopt a defensive stance on the Mal. Derbety – Dubovy Ovrag – Andreevka line. The 20th Infantry Division was replaced near Stalingrad by the German 371st Division and returned to the 6th Corps, taking over the Zhagodny – Tundutovo sector. To its South was the 4th Division, defending a front 55 km long. Beyond it was only the steppe.
The Germans were very impressed with 6th Corps' performance. In two months, it advanced over 800 km, more than any other German infantry unit in Southern Russia, keeping up with 4th Panzer Army's mechanized units. Lt. gen. Corneliu Dragalina, the corps' commander, received the Ritterkreuz. Also, he was promoted to the rank of lt. general and awarded the prestigious Mihai Viteazul Order 2nd class. Only 13 Romanian officers received this class during WW2.