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|WorldWar2.ro Forum > Western Front (1944-1945) > Battle worth mentioning on this site.|
|Posted by: luciang March 18, 2012 07:12 pm|
I am a regular visitor of your site, which I consider very interesting.
A recent post in the "western front" forum reminded me of this book that I
have in my library - "Radio Donau nu mai transmite". In this book there is a
story about what I believe it's a remarkable battle which is worth mentioning
on this site, perhaps as an example why the romanian heavy artillery regiments
were considered to be elite units.
As described in the book, on the 18th of October 1944, in the Szolnok area, in
Hungary, the Romanian 1st heavy artillery regiment was engaged in a battle with
60-80 german Tiger and Panther tanks; the artillery regiment had no infantry support
so the battle was an unusual tanks versus heavy guns direct engagement.
Due to the skillful maneouvering of the romanian regiment, the german advance was
considerably delayed, and eventually only two romanian guns have been lost. The
exact number of destroyed german tanks is not mentioned in the book.
Other details, as written in the above mentioned book:
- the romanian commander was colonel Alexandru Dobriceanu ;
- the romanian regiment had 24 heavy guns and howitzers, 105 mm and 150 mm
respectively (I suppose these were Schneider guns and Skoda howitzers);
- it was reinforced before the battle with four 75mm AA guns - out of
which two were destroyed by the ennemy, as mentioned above ;
- the german side had 60 - 80 Tiger and Panther tanks, which were part of the 4th
tank army ;
- the battle lasted for about 10 hours, starting at 6 AM on the 18th of October ;
- the action took place in a rectangular area of 25-30 km by 8-12 km ;
Perhaps additional details could be added by someone else, in order to get a
complete account of this battle.
All the best,
|Posted by: Victor March 18, 2012 08:19 pm|
|Numbers and types of German tanks given in Communist popular literature should be taken with a grain of salt. They trying to build an image of a German Army in which even the water for the troops was carried by Tiger tanks.|
|Posted by: Florin March 19, 2012 02:54 am|
This habit with "Tigers everywhere" is not proprietary to the Socialist Romanian publications.
Only 1,347 Tiger I, 492 Tiger II and (about) 80 Jagdtiger were made, covering almost 3 years over thousands and thousands of kilometers of frontlines, but in the Soviet and Western movies, articles and publications you could feel "Tigers everywhere".
the maximum number of Tiger I available to the German Army at a given moment was on 1 July 1944 - 671 pieces. The peak of production was in April 1944 - 104 in that month.
|Posted by: dragos March 19, 2012 07:17 am|
| From "Tigers in combat" - Wolfgang Schneider:
18 October 1944: Attachment to the 24.Panzer Division, transport to Szolnok and assembly for the offensive out of the Theiss (Tisza) Bridgehead. Only the tanks of the 1./schwere Panzer-Abteilung 503 arrive (in Abony) and 10 of the 3./schwere Panzer-Abteilung 503 (in Cegled).
That makes a grand total of 24 Tiger tanks.
|Posted by: Victor March 19, 2012 08:37 am|
| What I was trying to add yesterday, but couldn't due to some computer problems, is that the site is an ongoing work, which lately due to lack of available time is lagging behind. It is not finished, just that it may take a while to finish the Operations series, which is the central piece of the site.
Furthermore, there is no indication of all the Tigers being committed to the front line in only one place. Usually Tigers tended to be spread up on a wider front, especially in 1944 when there weren't that many around to work with. Against one heavy artillery regiment, 24 Tigers would be an overkill.
|Posted by: Florin March 20, 2012 05:33 pm|
* * *
So, "60 - 80 Tiger AND Panther tanks" could be close enough to reality, if Panther tanks are considered in total. Actually, after Dragos posted the update with 24 Tiger tanks, I realized that the attacking force was quite powerful, so the Socialist Romanian legend had a big core of truth.
In the message starting the topic there is no mentioning regarding German losses:
In theory, both 105mm and 150mm calibers could knock out a Tiger I. Meanwhile the Tiger's 88 could kill any artilery piece - if it was able to identify it.
|Posted by: Victor March 20, 2012 08:21 pm|
Not really, when firing HE ammo. There was no AP ammo for the heavy artillery.
|Posted by: luciang March 20, 2012 08:26 pm|
| I agree that a certain amount of propaganda was necessary for the book to be published anyway in those days. But, indeed, to be fair, the story doesn't say that most of the german tanks were Tigers ; actually the report of a romanian scout officer is quoted as stating "around 15-20 tanks appeared at the southern edge of the city...I see their guns through binoculars: they are 75mm in caliber; they also have machine-guns. These are Panthers !".
Also, the story is not so triumphal - it describes that before attacking the heavy guns regiment, the german tanks inflicted very heavy casualties to a romanian battalion which was part of the 4th infantry division and was positioned near the Kisanda village ; after this action the german tanks turned toward Rakoczifalva and the engagement with the romanian 1st regiment actually started.
So I would say that there are elements of truth in the story.
There is also a short interview with the romanian commander - taken in the 70s - who confesseses that for two days he kept shivering after he received confirmation from the Romanian Army Corp that he was engaged by no less than 60 tanks, part of two ennemy divisions ; in the interview he considers that the very good radio equipments which his regiment had at that time - "G radio apparatus" - was one of the most important factors which explains the survival of the regiment.
|Posted by: Florin March 20, 2012 09:17 pm|
This is an interesting matter for a professional historian to take a closer look.
If all ammunition available to the artillery regiment was not good against armor, no tanks would be destroyed by canon fire. If no tanks would be destroyed by artillery, nothing would stop the attack columns to reach and overrun the positions of the artillery regiment.
|Posted by: Florin March 20, 2012 09:24 pm|
I am assuming the "G radio apparatus" was actually a piece from series "FuG", standing for Funkgerät / Luftwaffe radio equipment.
Much more about this subject:
|Posted by: Radub March 20, 2012 10:01 pm|
The "G radio apparatus" may refer to the G-Gerät or G-Zusatz radio teletype encription machine, which was the common name for the Lorenz Schüssezusatz GZ40/42 used by the German Army.
|Posted by: dragos March 21, 2012 06:35 am|
A direct hit by a high calibre HE shell is not required to penetrate in order to injure or kill the tank crew. And a hit by a 150mm could completely blow off the turret of a Tiger. See the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISU-152 which was an effective tank destroyer.
|Posted by: Victor March 21, 2012 07:49 am|
The SU-152 was an effective tank destroyer because it could fire as well AP rounds. I wouldn't be so sure about the HE ammo though. During Op. Uranus there were instances when Romanian divisional artillery fired at point blank range at approaching T-34s without much effect. Furthermore, direct hits on a tank from a 150 mm howitzer are highly unlikely. The only way the heavy artillery could counter a tank attack is to fire a strong barrage at the advancing enemy in the hope of them breaking up under the pressure or knocking off the tracks on the tanks.
Lucian, I am not saying that the story isn't true, just that some the tank numbers and types may be exaggerated. After all, the 4th Infantry Division was lost almost entirely in that battle and its CO, gen. Platon Chirnoaga, became after several months the Minister of Defence in Horia Sima's "government" in Vienna.
|Posted by: Radub March 21, 2012 08:51 am|
| Piercing the armour is essential if you want to kill the crew inside.
As Victor said, HE round can still cause a lot of damage to the external non-armoured parts such as the running gear, or the sighting/optical devices turning the tank into a useless pile of metal. But, one must consider the concussive effect of a 105mm HE round, even if it does not penetrate.
|Posted by: dragos March 21, 2012 10:31 am|
| I was thinking of the effect of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spalling, even more accentuated by the http://english.battlefield.ru/was-the-tiger-really-king.html used by Tigers due to late war shortage of materials.
There are accounts of Romanian artillerymen aiming the howitzers for direct fire against tanks. Example: p.91 from Veteranii pe drumul onoarei si jertfei - "De la Stalingrad la batalia Moldovei" - aiming the 100mm howitzer at the base of a T-34 turret with delayed fuse, so that the HE substance would cover the armor then it will be ignited, engulfing the tank in flames.
|Posted by: Florin March 21, 2012 07:56 pm|
| From what I had read before, the quality of armor plates of Tiger I was better than the quality of Tiger II armor plates.
Were the Tigers roaring around Tiger I's or Tiger II's ? Just curious - the shells did not have a better chance against a Tiger II...
For me, the part of the story the least reliable is the following:
Not for the information in itself, but for the way it is presented.
I think it is quite difficult to make the distinction between the 75mm and 88 mm tank cannons from a big distance. It was much easier to see if the armor is sloped (Panther) or vertical (Tiger I). The Tigers also had machine guns (this regarding the quote above).
From a big distance, the distinction between Tiger II and Panther was easier by comparing the size of the whole tank, rather than the looks of the tank cannon.
I know, the officer had binoculars, but the usual magnification for hand held optics is 8...10 times.
|Posted by: Radub March 21, 2012 08:28 pm|
| Actually, it is easy to tell the tanks apart using the cannon. The muzzle brakes were different. Also the barrels were different shapes and lengths.
The line may refer to the fact that the Panther and Tiger 2 shared some hull shapes and a very easy way to tell them apart was by looking at the cannon.
|Posted by: luciang March 21, 2012 08:49 pm|
| I suppose the best thing would be if I could find the time to bring the whole story here, as written in the book. I think it's time to mention that the book's author is mr. Ion Gheorghe Pana, former captain in the 34th Regiment of the 9th Division.
So, I said that the exact number of destroyed german tanks is not mentioned in the book ; but, the beginning of the story goes like this:
"The 75mm battery opens fire first. No tank has been hit...they have slowed down and opened fire with their guns...two 75mm guns are instantly destroyed, but the other two keep firing. The tanks are now at 1000m from the regiment's position "All batteries fire !" and the earth shook while heavy clouds of dust raised over the romanian heavy guns; four red explosions rip the heavy dust fog: four german tanks were burning...a fifth tank bows on its side."
This paragraph is the only one mentioning clearly five german tanks being hit and supposedly destroyed.
Now, I believe we have an independent confirmation that the romanian heavy guns could at least damage a Tiger, from this source:
Quote:"The Tigers of Company Three advanced slowly, each tank spaced 50 meters from the other. One of the tanks received a direct hit from a Rumanian 105mm artillery gun damaging the commander’s tank."
Regarding the fate of the romanian 4th infantry division described above - I suppose this explains why in the book there is only the brief mentioning of the heavy casualties received by one of its battalions and nothing else...
|Posted by: Florin March 21, 2012 09:18 pm|
I learned something today: those Tigers were Tiger II - all of them.
So as the overall appearance was much closer to a Panther, I think you are right regarding the tank cannons.
|Posted by: Florin March 22, 2012 12:29 am|
| This interesting map
is offered by this website:
My understanding of the map is that this artillery regiment was completely surrounded for several days.
And in this link there is a long article written by Pat McTaggart for the March 1997 issue of World War II magazine
Considering that the article has plenty of information and it is well documented, the total absence of the Romanian Army's actions around Debrecen is not due to ignorance, but due to deliberate omission. Politics of 1997, I would add as personal opinion.
|Posted by: Radub March 22, 2012 09:06 am|
| I doubt that historians ignore Romanian history on purpose. I worked with many "non-Romanian" historians over the years and most of them were surprised to hear about the level of Romanian involvement in WW2. That is simply due to the almost total absence of literature on this subject in anything other than Romanian. Furthermore, Romanian literature on the subject is misleading or poorly written. Stuff written before 1989 does not mention much about the period between the summers of 41 and 44 and what they mention about the period after the summer of 1944 is infected with phrases such as "under the wise leadership of the Communist Party" and how "workers" fought "fascists" or "horthysts". To real historians, that is laughably irrelevant because of the sickeningly obvious bias and thus they tend to ignore it. After 1990 there were a few attempts to write on the subject, and a good example is "Third Axis, Fourth Ally" but the book is still incomplete and hard to find. Denes wrote a few books about the Air Force.
Thankfully, we have enthusiats today who try to fix that, and this website is such an example. Some books about it are emerging slowly.
Hopefully we will have a good non-partisan and complete book (in as many volumes as it takes) about Romanian involvement in WW2. There is no such thing yet.
So, if Romanians do not care enough to write about it, we can hardly blame others for doing exactly the same.
My two cents,
|Posted by: dead-cat March 22, 2012 01:38 pm|
it is quite easy to distinguish a Tiger from a Panther from a distance as they are not similar. if he could tell the diffrence between a 75mm and a 88mm gun through binoculars, he would certainly notice other diffrences, like turret, chasis etc.
Tigers are more easily taken as PzIVs (and viceversa), because the shapes share some similarities.
|Posted by: Radub March 22, 2012 04:25 pm|
Of course the Panther and the Tiger are very different. It is easy to tell them apart, no need to look at the cannon barel.
But, the Panther and the Tiger II share a number of hull similarities, especially in profile, and in that case it helps to look at the barrel to identify which is which.
But anyway, irrespective of all that, that line does not say anything about any possible confusion whether he was looking at a Tiger (neither I nor II) or a Pather. No Tiger is mentioned at all. It just an observation: "it is a Panther because it has a 75mm cannon" which is 100% correct.
The difference between the cannons is obvious, especially in profile, no need to look at the gauge. The 75mm barrel used on the Panther is smooth from the mantlet to the muzzle brake. The 88 mm cannon used on the Tiger I features two large steps between the mantlet and the muzzle brake. The 88 mm cannon used on the Tiger II features one step between the mantlet and the muzzle brake.
Identification (aircraft, ships, tanks) relies mainly on clear identification of the weapon first. Spotters and scouts were instructed to do that first (and still are today) in order to assess the enemy strength.
|Posted by: ANDREAS March 22, 2012 10:18 pm|
|The episode described in the book "Radio Donau..." is confirmed (partially) by the book (written in hungarian) "Pancelosok a Tiszantulon: Az Alfoldi Panceloscsata 1944 Oktobereben" written by Számvéber Norbert, but with some important mentions: the episode (firefight between german tanks and romanian heavy artillery mentioned to be the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment) takes place in October 19, 1944, after the approx. 50-60 tanks of 24 Armoured Division German (supported by 1st (commander Günter Piepgras) and 3rd (commander von Rosen) Heavy Tank Companies from the 503th HT Battalion, both equipped with Tiger B tanks) cross the resistance of the romanian 4th Infantry Division (which had 6 infantry battalions and a mortar battery fighting on the west coast of the Tisa river, and only 2 infantry battalions, the divisional artillery and the services on the east coast, south of Szolnok) who managed to destroy at least two Tiger B heavy tanks, using anti-aircraft guns, without delay the Germans armor for too long. The Romanian infantry lacking heavy weapons, after trying in vain to escape, surrendered. Although the book do not mention heavy fighting with Romanian Artillerymen, it mentions a successful penetration of a position held by a Romanian heavy artillery unit (part of the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment), entering in depth defense of the Romanian troops. After this episode, the fate of the Romanian 4th Infantry Division and 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment is not mentioned anymore.|
|Posted by: ANDREAS March 22, 2012 11:05 pm|
|I found a more ample description of the battle mentioning in more detail the battles of the Romanian 4th Infantry Division Romanian and 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment with the german 24th Panzer Division and the heavy Tiger B of the 503th Battalion in the book (written in english) "Panzerschlacht -Armoured Operations in the Hungarian Plains September-November 1944" -by Perry Moore (page 117), book which quotes as one source the prior mentioned book written in Hungarian. Whether is of interest to someone, I can give quotations from the latter.|
|Posted by: Victor March 23, 2012 09:32 am|
That's a different battle: Debrecen. Also, Romanian involvement in it wasn't that big scale. The Tudor Vladimirescu Volunteer Division fought there, but that wasn't a Romanian division. It was a Red Army division at the time. The 3rd Mountain Division was partially involved, as was the 2nd Mountain Division, but not in the middle of the action. It was mostly a Soviet show.
|Posted by: dead-cat March 23, 2012 10:18 am|
in low visibility environment someone untrained might mix them up. but if someone claims to identify the caliber, then it'd be hard not to notice the difference when it comes to the turret for example.
it might have been a Panzer IV from that caliber, which was a far more common occurance than a Panther.
i doubt that. every submarine had a booklet with the shapes of all ship classes (+ dimensions) for identification.
|Posted by: Radub March 23, 2012 11:05 am|
| There is no possible way to confuse a Panzer IV with a Pather. Not a chance! Especially not by a guy who can identify the caliber of a tank cannon.
I have no idea why this issue is causing so much debate.
The man said "This is a Panther because it has a 75mm cannon". That is an accurate statement. Today is Friday. What is the problem? Why all this hair splitting?
Dead-Cat, I have identification books that rely on "silhouette" and "weapons". One is a wartime publication, some are modern. Silhouette identifies class and weapons identify the type. There are plenty of websites dedicated to "silhouette identfication". They even use that for birdwatching.
All armed forces relied on field manuals featuring silhouettes for identification.
Do you have some time? Have a look here: http://wardepartment.wordpress.com/field-manuals/
I am quite certain that the Germans have similar books.
I am also quite certain that Romanians did too.
In Britain the Royal Observers Corp issued a number of similar publications.
|Posted by: luciang March 23, 2012 07:55 pm|
| After checking again in the book I realize that I made a mistake in my first post: the battle took place on the 19th of October, not on the 18th. I was tricked by the literary style in which the book is written; the story begins on the 18th of October with the avalanche of messages received from the regiment's scouts about incoming tanks and then goes on till the end of next day, the 19th; it was on the 19th between 6:00 AM till 15:30 when the battle is described as taking place.
So, it looks like the "Radio Donau..." book is in line with the sources mentioned by Andreas.
I would speculate that in fact, the whole point made in the book is that it took the powerful ennemy one day to get past the initial positions of what were, after all, only slow moving heavy guns out of which not even one was destroyed ; according to the story, this was due to several factors:
- at the time of the engagement the ennemy was not aware that there was only the 1st Regiment left in front of him ;
- the Romanian commander wisely alternated barrage firing with direct aim firing which confused the ennemy ;
- the heavy guns have constantly moved back to seven succesive retreat positions ("pozitii de repliere"). The retreat moves are described as being made half of the guns at a time (12 guns kept firing while 12 guns were retreating to a new position) ;
- the very good radio equipments of the regiment allowed the commander to have at all times everything moving according to his orders ;
- the dusty conditions in the Hungarian plain at that time helped covering the movements of the Romanian regiment ;
|Posted by: ANDREAS March 24, 2012 07:49 pm|
|On the 19th [October], Thursday, the German counterattack continued at 05.00 with a brief artillery barrage and tanks of the 24th Panzer Division crossing the Szolnok railway bridge. The 3rd Battalion /24th Panzer Regiment with PzKpfw IV Ausf.J tanks and StuG III Ausf.G assault guns, 24th Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion with Sd.Kfz. 250 armoured halftracks and 26th Panzer Grenadier Regiment all rumbled forward. The 3rd Panzer Battalion now contained 45-50 operational tanks and assault guns, in equal numbers. Behind this unit came the 503th Heavy Tank Battalion's 3rd Company with 11 Tiger B tanks. Following further was the 1st Company of the same Battalion. The 24th Panzer Division assaulted the Romanian 4th Infantry Division, which was overwhelmed by this attack. [...] Some Romanian units did oppose the German armour with numerous types of AA Guns, damaging few tanks. However the Tiger B tanks simply ran over and destroyed most of the Romanian 1st Heavy Gun Regiment and the breach opened the way for German troops to advance trough. The advance continued for 20 km., the 3rd Company /503th Battalion advanced to the Szolnok -Mezotur railway line. [...] The Hungarian 20th Reserve Infantry Division attacked with the 4th Panzer Corps, its two regiments advanced to the Szolnok railway line, where Romanians continued to surrender or retreat eastwards. The Romanians had so far lost 179 officers, 272 NCOs and 4680 enlisted men during the German attack, either as POW or killed. They had lost 23 artillery guns, 79 LMGs, 82 MGs, 20 AA Guns. - from the same book mentioned above.|
|Posted by: luciang March 25, 2012 08:08 pm|
| I'll try to be as unbiased here as I can although I admit it's not easy.
I would say that this may be a classical case where each side engaged in a combat operation has seemingly opposing accounts on its outcome.
However, certain things I believe have been objectively confirmed:
- there was an action on the 19th of October 1944 during which the 1st Heavy Gun Regiment was fully envolved ;
- the german side did possess a large number of tanks, at least 60, out of which at least 11 were Tiger II's ;
- one unquestionable outcome of the larger engagement was the ill fate of the Romanian 4th Infantry Division. As I posted earlier, although very briefly mentioned, in the "Radio Donau ..." book there is a quoted report of a 1st Regiment scout placed near the position of a 4th Infantry Division battalion which reads "The battalion fires with all weapons but it looks like in a few minutes the tanks wil roll their chain wheels over our comrades ("vor trece cu senilele peste ai nostri")." ;
Now, we get to interpretations:
- Quote: "Some Romanian units did oppose the German armour with numerous types of AA Guns, damaging few tanks."
This matches at least partially the action of the four 75mm AA guns assigned as reinforcements to the 1st Regiment, out of which two have been eventually destroyed.
On the other hand, may be some of the damaged tanks have been damaged not by AA guns but as result of the action of the 1st Regiment's guns.
- Quote: "However the Tiger B tanks simply ran over and destroyed most of the Romanian 1st Heavy Gun Regiment and the breach opened the way for German troops to advance trough."
This may be the ennemy interpretation of the outcome of the alleged organised action of the 1st Regiment, to fall back succesively to retreat positions ("pozitii de repliere").
On the other hand, the alleged destruction of "most of the Romanian 1st Heavy Gun Regiment" is a statement in total contradiction with the Romanian account. Here I don't know what to say - as I posted earlier, an interview taken in the 70s with the Romanian commander had as main subject "How did your Regiment manage to escape without losses ?" !?!
- Quote: "The advance continued for 20 km., the 3rd Company /503th Battalion advanced to the Szolnok -Mezotur railway line."
I wonder how long did it take the ennemy forces to advance those 20 km ? In the "Radio Donau..." book there is this statement "from 6:00 AM in the morning till 15:30 the tanks struggled on an area 25-30 km long by 8-12 km wide". There isn't such a big difference between these two accounts, regarding the size in kilometers of the ennemy advance.
Comments are welcome...
|Posted by: Florin March 25, 2012 09:46 pm|
It was common practice, not only for Romanian Army, that a defeat was named "fall back successively to retreat positions". When you are under attack, the only reason to retreat undefeated is if in your right or your left the front collapsed and you may get encircled. That regiment was under direct attack. Maybe I am too harsh to use the word "defeat", but if the defender cannot keep a position, for one reason or another, something is going wrong with him.
Starting with 1943, the Germans used so often the terminology "repositioned on new line previously selected" that it become a laughable reference during war, including for the people living in the Axis camp.
Also regarding the start of the Battle of the Bulge, you can read this "fall back successively to retreat positions" in the American accounts, and that sound as "defeat" to me – for the beginning of the battle. Same for the Battle of the Kasserine Pass, in February 1943.
I would comment that the only "fall back successively to retreat positions" being under control was at Kursk, were the Russians predicted the German punch and prepared up to five (seven?) lines of defense, one behind another. For other wars, good examples are the Battle of Austerlitz, were Napoleon instructed the French Army to withdraw in the beginning under a clear plan, or at Nicopole/Nicopolis (1396), were the Turks were excellent tacticians. Another example is the Battle of Cowpens (January 17, 1781), a victory of Brigadier General Daniel Morgan, considered because of it as the only general (from both sides) with innovative thinking during the American Independence War.
|Posted by: luciang March 26, 2012 06:25 pm|
| I fully agree with the "repositioned on new line previously selected" actual meaning.
But is this the point here ? Did the heavy artillery regiment have any alternative but to maneuvre in this way in front of the attacking tanks ? The claim is not to have defeated the ennemy but to have survived while slowing him down.
One thing which could perhaps clarify things would be if someone would be able to independently confirm whether the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment sustained any losses on the 19th of October 1944.
|Posted by: ANDREAS March 26, 2012 07:07 pm|
I hope you understand very well that I am not necessarily credit the version of events presented by the Hungarian book, which is probably based on primary documents issued by the German and Hungarian military commands. But I really do believe that, for example, the German troops fighting equipment presented in the book is closer to reality than f.i. the alleged "Panther" tanks mentioned in the Romanian book. I can certify from other sources (I have a collection of at least 9 books that analyzes only the Panther tank, the units which have used him in combat, the battles in which he took part, a.o.) that the 24th Panzer Division never used during the entire war "Panther" tanks! On the other hand, I noticed differences between the two books that I mentioned, the one in Hungarian language mention two Tiger tanks B taken out of combat (one is identified as Tiger B tank no. 112) hit by Romanian anti-aircraft guns, the one in English speak only of few tanks damaged! But the notable difference between the two versions (the one you quoted and the one I quote) is that in the first the Romanian 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment escape by gradually retreat, in the second it is almost completely destroyed by the germans. The differences in the perspective of the battle are high, as shown above!
|Posted by: luciang March 26, 2012 07:33 pm|
| I understand the points you make Andreas.
Now, I just performed a search on Google with "Alexandru Dobriceanu" as search term;
I got this:
Dansul de foc al traiectoriilor
* Editura: Ed. Militara
* Stare: foarte buna
* Limba: romana
* Volume: 1
* Pagini: 122
* An: 1967
* Latime: 13 cm
* Inaltime: 20 cm
Cu harta si fotografii alb-negru
* Activitatea Regimentului 1 artilerie grea moto in perioada 23 august -5 septembrie 1944
* Actiunile de pe Mures
* Actiunile de pe Tisa Mijlocie
* Spre Budapesta
* In Cehoslovacia
* In loc de incheiere
It looks like the episode in "Radio Donau..." is a rerun of something narrated in this book...
|Posted by: ANDREAS March 26, 2012 07:37 pm|
|Because you're wondering how much time passed from the German attack up to the penetration of the Romanian positions, it is written that the Romanian positions from Rákóczifalvá held by an infantry battalion and a artillery division (battalion) completely surrendered to the Germans on 11 o'clock (to noon) of the 19th October. After that, it is said, the Germans could move forward rapidly in depth in direction south, occupying the Tiszaföldvár area in the same afternoon (on a map this distance is about 20 km).|
|Posted by: luciang March 26, 2012 08:11 pm|
| I believe this matches the time line in the "Radio Donau..." story ; however, the 20 km advance in 10 hours it is considered as "slow move" in that book.
On the other hand, I suppose "position surrender" shouldn't be read as the artillery regiment has surrendered; col. Dobriceanu is mentioned even on this site as taking part with the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment at the siege of Budapest...
|Posted by: luciang March 26, 2012 08:33 pm|
| Well, I believe what might be the official position of the Romanian Army is roughly in line with the "Radio Donau..." story ; I found this link:
and the story in this document goes like this (I'll take the time later to translate it into english):
Regimentul 1 artilerie grea al Corpului 4 armată se afla în poziţii de tragere la
est de Tisa, în zona Racocziujfalu pe liziera de vest şi de sud-est a localităţii.
Regimentul avea misiunea să sprijine împreună cu Regimentul 10 artilerie unităţile
Diviziei 4 infanterie. În dimineaţa zilei de 19 octombrie, aproximativ două divizii
blindate inamice au executat o puternică contralovitură la joncţiunea dintre trupele
sovietice şi Divizia 4 Infanterie.
Bateriile Regimentului 10 artilerie erau dispuse pe malul estic al Tisei la vest
de localitatea Racocziujfalu. Divizionul de obuziere este încercuit de către
autotunurile germane dar tunarii acestui divizion continuă să lupte cu îndârjire şi să
reziste cu bărbăţie. Tancurile inamicului care au executat contralovitura de la Szolnok
se lovesc de rezistenţa dârză opusă de către Regimentul 1 artilerie Grea. Pentru a
limita pătrunderea tancurilor inamice spre sud şi a da posibilitatea bateriei 2 din
divizionul 1 să se replieze, comandantul regimentului colonelul Dobriceanu ordonă
deschiderea focului la vedere cu celelalte baterii ale regimentului. Deşi nu dispun de
muniţie antitanc, tunarii reuşesc să distrugă 4 tancuri grele germane şi să avarieze
câteva. Lupta cu tancurile este dusă până în seara zilei de 19 octombrie, zădărnicind
intenţiile inamicului de a încercui şi distruge bateriile ce se opuneau înaintării lui.
|Posted by: ANDREAS March 26, 2012 08:34 pm|
|Another clue worthy of investigation is the one focused on losses in combat equipment of the 4th Infantry Division! In the book written by the Hungarian author are mentioned as technical (weapons) losses all divisional mortars, 20 AA Guns ... but no artillery guns (medium or heavy)! In the english book are mentioned 23 artillery guns, without indicating whether they are medium or heavy (it also mention the 20 AA Guns)! If you have a good source on these technical losses, it would be a good start!|
|Posted by: Florin March 28, 2012 05:16 am|
Considering the bad situation of Axis troops in October 1944 on all fronts (...until the end of the war), and by this I mean smaller available numbers of men, equipment, gasoline and munitions as compared with the facing enemies, I would consider "20 km advance in 10 hours" as a good achievement.
|Posted by: luciang March 28, 2012 08:36 pm|
| Honestly speaking I also deem this advance rate as fair enough, even by WW2 standards.
In the book the "slow move" appreciation is substantiated by invoking the flat plain nature of the battleground, suited for fast tank movements, and by the alleged lack of other significant opposition to ennemy advance besides that put forward by the heavy artillery regiment.
Anyway, as promised, here is the translation of the above quoted romanian text, taken from the "165 years of Romanian Artillery existence" essay, published in 2008:
"The 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment, belonging to the 4th Army Corp was placed in firing positions east of Tisa river, in the Racocziujfalu area on the west and south-east edges of this settlement. The Regiment's mission was to support together with the 10th Artillery Regiment the 4th Infantry Division's units.
In the morning of 19th of October, about two armored ennemy divisions performed a strong counterstrike at the junction between soviet troops and the 4th Infantry Division. The 10th Artillery Regiment's batteries were placed on the eastern bank of Tisa river, west from Racocziujfalu settlement. The howitzers battalion [romanian - "divizion"] is about to be encircled by german self-propelled guns but the battalion's gunners keep on fighting fiercly and hold on bravely.
The ennemy tanks performing the Szolnok counterstrike hit the fierce resistance opposed by the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment. In order to limit the southward pennetration of ennemy tanks and to allow the 2nd battery from 1st divizion to fall back, the regiment's commander, colonel Dobriceanu orders open sight fire commencing by all other regiment's batteries. Although lacking antitank ammunition, the gunners succeed destroying 4 heavy german tanks and damaging a few others. The fight against the tanks goes on until the evening of 19th of October, thwarting ennemy atempts to encircle and destroy the batteries opposing his advance."
Now, there is a slightly confusing topic in the above text, related to the newly appeared 10th Artillery Regiment ; to clarify it I'll add a second translated quote from the essay:
"On the 15th of October, the bridgehead achieved by the soviet troops started to be occupied by units of the 4th Romanian Infantry Division, replacing the Soviet 409 Infantry Division. The 4th Division, having its forces divided in two echelons by Tisa river (6 battalions and the 3rd divizion of the 10th Artillery Regiment in the bridgehead and 2 battalions, 1st and 2nd divizion of the 10th Artillery Regiment and back formations east of Tisa river) installed itself in defense on a wide front."
So, the 10th Artillery Regiment was the divisional artillery of the 4th Infantry Division. Given its placement "on the eastern bank of Tisa river, west from Racocziujfalu settlement" it was prone to encirclement from the very beginning of the german attack.
There are several comments which can be made starting from these quotes, but for now I'll mention one: at first I thought that Racocziujfalu it's Rakoczifalva written poorly but after looking at the map I saw that this is in fact a different settlement, about 5 km south from Rakoczifalva ! This changes the geographical assesment of the situation, because Racocziujfalu is roughly half way between Szolnok - the starting point of the german attack and Tiszafoldvar the night of 19th October ending point; if it was placed initially "in the Racocziujfalu area on the west and south-east edges of this settlement" this means that the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment only had to go back 10 km by gradually retreating instead of 20 km.
|Posted by: ANDREAS March 29, 2012 10:58 pm|
| The existence of 10th Artillery Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division gave a possible explanation to the loss of divisional artillery, mentioned by the book "Panzerschlacht -Armoured Operations on the Hungarian Plaines..." so the romanian heavy artillery pieces to have escaped the german encirclement or destruction! But it is only a theory, not a certainty!
There is another issue in question: how do we know that Tiger Ausf B heavy tanks apparently destroyed were not repaired later, and that the 4 tanks which are claimed to be hit have not been later repaired? From 11 heavy tanks of the company that enter in battle 4 tanks destroyed is a significant number...
|Posted by: luciang March 30, 2012 08:20 pm|
| Some bits and pieces are matching:
ANDREAS Posted on March 26, 2012 08:34 pm
while in my quote and translation from the essay above I missed one word:
"...6 battalions and the 3rd mortars divizion of the 10th Artillery Regiment in the bridgehead"
So, given the fact that all mortars [romana - "aruncatoare"] were in the bridgehead, on Tisa's west bank, it's obvious that they were all lost.
It looks like the other two "divizions" of the 10th Regiment divisional artillery possessed 75 mm field guns - the 1st divizion and 100 mm howitzers - the 2nd division. I couldn't find informations about AA artillery attached to 4th infantry division.
|Posted by: luciang March 31, 2012 10:42 am|
| On the same line of matching bits and pieces:
- A number is also matching ; the 10th Regiment had 12 guns in 1st divizion and 12 howitzers in 2nd division. The total this is 24 artillery pieces which matches this claim of Romanian technical (weapons) losses, from the english book:
ANDREAS Posted on March 26, 2012 08:34 pm
[...as technical (weapons) losses]"
It looks like the hungarian book focuses on what was happening on the western bank of Tisa while the english book focuses on what was happening on the eastern bank.
- Neither in the "Radio Donau..." book, nor in the essay the actual type of the alleged four destroyed german tanks is clearly stated. Only in the essay there is the ambiguous "heavy tanks" statement. So we don't actually have a claim that four Tiger tanks have been hit.
- The general picture of the larger engagement, as resulting from various sources is consistent. The so called "junction" between Romanian 4th division and Soviet troops was in fact a wide gap, created due to Soviet forces concentrating further north-east, supposedly as part of Debrecen Operation planning. To make matters worse, the Szolnok bridge over Tisa was intact in the middle of this gap which allowed the German-Hungarian forces to attack simultaneously on both banks of the river.
I would say that this also explains why during the battle the two 10th Regiment's divizions from the eastern bank and the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment were not able to give fire support to the bulk of the 4th Infantry Division positioned in the bridgehead, on the western bank of Tisa ; they were themselves under direct attack, engaged by the ennemy.
|Posted by: ANDREAS March 31, 2012 10:55 am|
| luciang, please don't mind and don't suspect me for having the intention to cancel the subject opened by you with what I will write ... but... I found in the book you quoted, on page 134 a phrase which questions the reliability of the whole battle as described... it is written that "at 3 and half hours (15,30 PM) after almost ten hours of continuous fight, German tanks, how many remained in combat, turned back." These last words are proven historical errors, contradicted by unquestionable documents, German tanks penetrating the Romanian defense, crashing in the same day (at nightfall) with the Soviet infantry and tanks in the Turkeve area (about 40 km from the starting point!).
I hope that you understand my intention correctly!
|Posted by: luciang March 31, 2012 01:41 pm|
| It's ok, I do believe that open and honest debate always yields good results !
I was also thinking for some time at that paragraph in the book ; my view is that given its status of "popular literature" it had to end the episode on a triumphal note, after all.
The truth may be - as suggested by the map from this link:
that the push southwards of the German-Hungarian forces was a secondary push, aimed to encircle and finish off the bridgehead of the 4th Infantry Division and provide cover for the main push. The main push was aimed directly eastwards, towards Mezotur and Turkeve - as you also say. On the map we see that reaching Tiszafoldvar was the farthest the secondary southern push went.
Both the "Radio Donau..." book and the quoted essay only speak about the southwards advance of ennemy forces.
|Posted by: luciang March 31, 2012 07:10 pm|
| Guess what: I played with Google a little bit and found this:
dragos Posted: January 02, 2005 01:17 pm
|Posted by: ANDREAS March 31, 2012 07:37 pm|
| luciang, indeed if we are watching the situation of the attack on the map, you're absolutely right! But, in this case, I wonder why they would claim that the German tanks attack was stopped, when in fact they have reached their objectives by penetrating deep behind the frontline held initially by the Romanians?
In the book I quoted, the area Rakoczifalva -Tiszafoldvar where the remains of the romanian 4th Infantry Division were retreating (probably where the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment was too), the german unit who advanced was the 4.SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division or units from it! And indeed the division had in his composition a handful of Panzer IV Ausf. J tanks and StuG IV assault guns. But these armored vehicles certainly were not in number of 50-60, maybe up to 20 altogether ... and whether they were used against the Romanian or Soviet troops from the Mezőtúr area (the book says that against the Russians!).
|Posted by: luciang March 31, 2012 07:54 pm|
| Related to:
I believe that if you consider only the southwards pennetration, then, the assertions are correct in both Romanian sources. If you look at this issue from a general perspective one might argue that limiting the length of a front line breaking is quite an achievment...
|Posted by: luciang March 31, 2012 08:03 pm|
| Related to:
I believe that here is the point where it's hard to say when the southward pennetration became less important for the germans and the forces actually pursuing the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment were no longer so powerful. Given the fact that all attacking forces had to cross the Szolnok bridge, at the very beginning it must have been quite a force presenting itself towards the 1st Regiment. After a few hours most of that force must have shifted eastwards, but since the 1st Regiment was already falling back this wasn't so obvious for them...
|Posted by: ANDREAS April 02, 2012 09:41 pm|
Indeed, from what is mentioned in the book, Hungarian infantry units ensured the flanks after the armored and mechanized German units penetrate in the depth ... so the remainings of the 4th Infantry Division and the entire 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment faced later Hungarian infantry units!
|Posted by: luciang April 03, 2012 08:59 am|
| So, to wrap up things resulting so far:
- The story in the "Radio Donau..." book should be considered as written exclusively from the perspective of the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment. The general development of the larger engagement was different from what may seem to result by interpreting this story. There are also elements of "popular literature" present in the story - such as the claim of only Tiger and Panther tanks beeing present there - which should be dismissed.
- The survival claim of the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment stands, and I would say that it stands undiminished from a merit point of view. It was most likely achieved by gradually retreating in front of the advancing tanks.
There may be an additional merit here, as resulting from the 2005 quote above, that the 998th infantry battalion, part of the 4th Infantry Division managed to survive as well - probably with a certain amount of losses - and avoided being captured, thanks to the resistance opposed by the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment.
- The slow down of the ennemy advance claim appears diminished from a merit point of view. This is due to the fact that the gradual retreat of the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment was performed on a north to south axis while the main axis of the ennemy offensive was west to east.
However, I would speculate that this claim should not be dismissed entirely due to the fact that the initial aim of the attacking force which crossed the Szolnok bridge must have been to clear the area of ennemy forces before dashing eastward. So at least the initial shock which the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment sustained could have come from a significant proportion of the attacking force.
Another angle from which we may consider the maneuver of the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment is this: the north to south gradual retreat axis was probably chosen on purpose by colonel Dobriceanu because in this way the left flank remained covered by the Tisa river making it easier for the Regiment to avoid encirclement.
|Posted by: ANDREAS April 03, 2012 07:59 pm|
luciang, in terms of withdrawal of the our heavy artillery regiment forces to the south, some other explanation is also possible (maybe not the real one?): the communications (roads and highways) in the area favored a withdrawal of this kind (to the south) more advantageous on the road than in the open field... it's an assumption of mine looking at the map!
Otherwise I adhere to the other conclusions of yours from the last post!
|Posted by: Florin April 05, 2012 01:52 am|
| My understanding from the link I already presented into this topic
is that the deep Soviet advances in Hungary in the previous weeks presented the German command with 2 options: overall withdraw, possible up to Budapest, or a counter-offensive to keep situation in check.
They tried the counter-offensive and succeeded (for that moment).
This episode presented by "luciang" was a part in the bigger picture of Axis counter-offensive in that whole area.
|Posted by: Dénes April 08, 2012 08:34 am|
| The book by Norbert Szamveber, titled: Az alfoldi panceloscsata (The Tank Battle of the Hungarian Plain), 1944 October (Puedlo Publisher, 2007), describes the events on a day-by-day basis. There are many interesting details also related to the topic of this thread. Unfortunately, I don't have time to translate it.
|Posted by: ANDREAS April 08, 2012 09:38 am|
|Indeed Denes, I also quoted from this book, which is very well documented and well balanced in assessments!|
|Posted by: cainele_franctiror April 18, 2012 02:03 pm|
Available this summer
|Posted by: Dénes April 18, 2012 06:48 pm|
| Based on the publisher's past history, it will actually take years until this book will be published (I know, I am one of their authors). But it's a well documented book, already published in Hungary, so the waiting will be well worth.
|Posted by: luciang May 16, 2012 08:24 pm|
| Incidentally I found on this site another reference about this battle:
|Posted by: Gabriela September 28, 2012 10:02 am|
| About the radio equipement the 1'st Heavy Artillery had, the "G radio" mentioned here, perheaps it would be interesting for you to know that on the 13th of May 1944, during the operations in Moldavia, Col. Feldmann, comander of the 4'th German Artillery Corp, gave a very performant radio equipement to the 1'st Heavy Artillery Regiment, used by the 1'st Battery of the Regiment during the fights in Moldavia. I don't know if it was the same thing or not, but all the same, the Romanian Regiment had a vehicle with radio equipement of german fabrication.
About the battle of Racoczifalva, col. Dobriceanu, in his book, says it took place on the 19th October 1944, the Regiment being placed south of Racoczifalva. For more precise informations I'll have to read again the way the Colonel describes this battle. However, although it is true that the 4'th Infantry suffered a great number of losses, I don't think the same thing happened to the 1'st Heavy Artillery, since only a few days later, starting with the 23rd of October, they took an active part in forcing the Tisa River. But for more precision I'll check out again the facts at Racoczifalva. According to Col. Dobriceanu, the mission for the 1'st Heavy Artillery Regiment that day at Racoczifalva, was to prevent the german tanks for pursuing their way in menacing the positions already occupied by the Romanian 7'th Army on the Tisa.
|Posted by: Gabriela October 01, 2012 09:14 am|
| The battle of Racoczifalva as described by Col. Al. Dobriceanu, Commander of the 1'st Heavy Artilery Regiment, in his book "Dansul de foc al traiectoriilor", Editura Militara - 1967, pag. 44-52. I apologise for the translation, it is my own doing, but I think one can get the picture out of it :-)
" The two artillery battalions of the regiment were settled on the western and south-eastern sides of Racoczifalva village, turned towards West, having the mission to sustain the 4'th Division's units and acting with the fire of at least one battery in the meander of Tisa, South of Szolnok, in the area of the 1000 B Battalion.
On 18th October, by sunrise, the Artillery scouts and the elements from the first line of the 4'th Infantry Division, reported that in the Szolnok area, a strong rumour of engine is to be heard. Deep clouds of dust covered the roads towards North. Later, tanks were seen as the Germans were trying to hide them behind the plantations and trees along Tisa, South-East from Szolnok. This information was confirmed by other observers, even more precisely, in the night between the 18th and 19th of October.
In the eveing of October 18th, the scout officer of the 1st Artillery Battalion of our Regiment, Slt. Ioan Ochescu, who was by the bridge, West from Tisa, warned us that the connection agents of the Infantry told him that, South of Szolnok, in Tisa's meander, 15 to 20 German tanks could already be seen.
The facts were refered to the Division's Commander, with the request of further verifying the informations. As for myself, I took the measure of immediately alerting the Battery Commanders, warning them about the arrival of the tanks.
In the morning of October 19th, 2.30 A.M., the Commander of the 1000 B Battalion, to whom I was connected to throw telephone, informed me of hearing engine sounds and that 4-5 tanks were heading towards Szolnok by South-East. I immediately sent Slt. Nicolae Baldescu to the Battalion's quarters; he confirmed the information. The number of the tanks and their direction could not be well determined. They were appearing on one spot than on the other, retreating afterwards. [...] Around 3 o'clock in the morning, German tanks, sourounded by Infantry, were clearly seen heading towards the mined zone in front of the 1000 B Battalion. After the fire of the German Artillery over this area, the previous day, they were now probably trying to find the places for passing.
Encountering the automatic fire of the Infantry and the poor anti-tank material this Battalion had, the German tanks withdrew. However, only 30 minutes later, the Regiment's scouts reported to me that enemy tanks were approaching the mined zone, blocking the road between Szolnok and Racoczifalva, fiering from this place, in order to protect the German Infantry which was passing over the mined zone. I reported this fact to the Army Corp, together with my personal opinion that these actions could mean that a tank attack was being prepared. Unfortunately I wasn't wrong. Around 6 o'clock in the morning, about 50-60 Tiger and Panzer tanks started the fire with all their available arms.
What followed was to confirm my suppositions. In that day, in Szolnok's area, took place an episode as rare as it could be in the history of all modern battles. I'm talking about the direct action of an Artillery unit against a large number of tanks, an action that was developed without any kind of anti-car material protection. [...] The heroic resistance of the Infantry soldiers from the 1000 B Battalion could not stop the march of the tanks. From that point we had to fight in the open, against a very powerful enemy, who had both more artillery material and the protection of the armor. [...] together with the Battalion Commanders and the Battery Commanders I took all measures to fend away the enemy's shoots. We had no other alternative than to fight. [...] Previously, around 2.30 AM, the Army Corp put me in command of one 75 AA Battery, settled on the nort-eastern side of Racoczifalva. Meanwhile I sent the 105 mm 3'rd Battery of Cpt. Marinescu Ion on the north-western side of the same village. These two units were the first to start fireing against the German tanks that were advancing South. They sat two vehicles on fire which, in some measure, did slow the others down. The fire of the German tanks hit two pieces of the AA Battery. The material was destroyed and Slt. Nicolae Vrinceanu and 2 gunmen died bravely by their pieces. Other 7 soldiers were injured. In order to allow these units to break free from the enemy, we started open fire with the other two Artillery Battalions that were South of Racoczifalva. This action allowed the two units - 3rd Battery and AA guns- to return in the Regiment's position.
8 o'clock. The 75 mm AA Battery and the Gun Battalion restarted fireing against the German tanks that were proceding on multiple lines. The Howitzer Batteries, that at this point were fireing from only 400-500 m away from the enemy, could break free and, covered by the other units that were hidden in the corn field, could occupy some new positions on both sides of the road going South from Szolnok. The difficulties encountered by the Howitzer Batteries repeated themselves later for the Gun Batteries. Still they managed to do the matterial maneuver, under very difficult circumstances, under the fire of the tanks, and to retreat and occupy new positions North of the larger meander of Tisa. From this location the Gun Batteries will shoot continously over the tanks, allowing the Howitzer Batteries to occupy new positions. The enemy's intentions of either capturing or destroying the Howitzer Batteries, by maneuvers on the sides, failed.
Gen. Chirnoaga, Commander of the 4'th Infantry Division, arrived at one point in a nearby position and witnessed the fact that the tanks found themselves only 400 m away from the Artillery pieces and they were fireing. [...]
Under the fire of the tanks, our two Howitzer Batteries once again broke free, not without difficulties, and settled some 7-8 km South-East of Racoczifalva, at the crossing between the road and the railway. The next thing they started fireing from uncovered positions against the tanks that were advancing on both sides of the road. The critical situation concerned not only us but also the 4'th Infantry Division. Still hopeing that I'd be able to stop the advancing tanks, I sent also the Gun Batteries by the positions of the Howitzer Batteries and I opened fire with the entire Regiment. [...] We managed to decrease the strength of the attack, foce them to split and, in the same time, we let them advance while fighting only 18 km in 10.30 houres. That is about 1km/h.
During all this time we were fighting completly alone, under the constant threat of the total destruction of the entire material. If we managed to avoid this disaster, it was only because we made a great dispersal of the pieces, while the movements from one position to another were perfectly performed. We always used the coverage provided by the corn fields.
It is important to say that the northen communications leading to Tiszafoldvar were blocked by carriages and other Infantry vehicles, as they were withrowing towards South. In order to prevent blockings in our unit's movements I had to use all available officers from the commanding group for organiseing the traffic. We managed to offer all Infantry carriages and vehicles the chance of advancing South in order and safety. [...] I am unpleased to say that such measures of prevention were completely neglected both by the commanding officers of the 4'th Division and of the 4'th Army Corp, as they should have anticipated and organised the movement of the troops in that area.
At one point, at the spliting of the roads from Tisa's meander, where both Battalions had been placed at 13.30 houres, becuse of the crops ahead, the bending of the road and because of the noise made by our own Artillery, the approaching of the tanks happened surprisingly fast and menacing. In those moments I was right at the crossing of the roads. I had to act quickly. I sent the Batteries that were by the road South, towards Tiszafoldvar. The 3rd Battery commanded by Cpt. Dini and two pieces of the 2'nd Battery commanded by Cpt. Marinescu, Batteries that had just settled their material, I sent them towards Mezotur on the south-eastern direction. All these movements were made under the intense fire of the tanks. The situation, bad as it was, was made even worse by the bad soil, by the urge of replacing the tires of the vehicles, damaged by the bullets. However, Cpt. Dini's and Cpt. Marinescu's men were able to leave the road and, under heavy rain, took for the fields with just compass guidance. After a difficult night, the Batteries managed to get to Kunszentmaraton.
The rest of the Regiment was leaded towards Tiszafoldvar. Until reaching this village two more positions were occupied and fire was opened. Around 14.30 we reached the area South of Cibakfalva.
The heroical fight of our officers and soldiers was essential for stopping the enemy tanks. Their movement towards South was considerably slowed until 15.00 and after this hour was completely stopped. We made sure this way, that the 2'nd Infantry Division kept the lines it already occupied. On the road I met Gen. Romulus Stanescu, Commander of the 2nd Division, to whom I gave my report over the situation and the fact that I had arrived with my Regiment in his sector, but without munition, which was entirely consumed in the first half of the day.
The brave resistance of the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment stopped the advancing German tanks; without this stop one flank and the back of the 7th Army Corp would have been seriously in danger. The Commander of the 7th Army Corp had enough time to change its position on Tisa and to move the Infantry North. [...] Although the fire of the Regiment delaied the advancing of the tanks, they still managed to break through one side of the 1st Army, some 15 km in depth, and to surround the 4th Infantry Division. The 4th Division suffered great losses. Its remaining troops, that managed to escape the besetment, were later sent to other units. [...]
|Posted by: luciang October 02, 2012 07:45 am|
| Thank you for this long translation Gabriela ! I believe that this confirms the general conclusions that we draw earlier based on various other sources about this battle. At the same time there are all sorts of interesting details on each phase of the battle, as seen by the commander officer of the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment.
|Posted by: ANDREAS October 02, 2012 09:28 pm|
| I also appreciate your post, Gabriela, which completes the picture of the battle that we discussed here!
Indeed luciang, the memoires of Col. Al. Dobriceanu, Commander of the 1'st Heavy Artilery Regiment, confirms most of the conclusions (and even some assumptions) that we draw earlier!
|Posted by: Gabriela October 10, 2012 06:51 am|
| Thank you both Luciang and Andreas for the appreciation. Here is a fragment of the award certificate earned for the battle of Racoczifalva and the western front actions of the 1st Artillery Regiment. The fragment is translated from the same book - Dansul de foc al traiectoriilor, by gen.maj.® Alexandru Dobriceanu, Editura Militara 1967, pag.119.
" Special report for awarding the 3rd class Michael the Brave order with spades to the flag of the 1'st Heavy Artillery motorised Regiment
I have the honour to propose for the award of the 3rd class Michael the Brave order with spades, the flag of the 1st Heavy Artillery motorised Regiment, for extraordinary war actions and the Commander and subordinates' initiative, with excelent results, done by this brave Regiment in the hard battles on the Tirnave, Mures, Tisa rivers, Budapest and the Tatra mountains - Javorina mountain.
[...] In the difficult battles from the 14th October 1944 (sic), when the enemy, while attacking with numerous armoured forces of all types, threatend the flank and the back of the Army Corp, the 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment, with his gun fire and a tactful material maneuver, managed to destroy and damage part of the enemy tanks, contributing to slow down the attack, which could not advance if not by a speed of 2,5km/hour (Day Order nr.59/25 October 1944 of the Commander of the 4th Army Corp)
Comander of the 4th Army Corp
Army Corp General Ion Boiteanu"