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> Panzer Forces in Iasi-Chisinau Operation aug. 1944, Could they stop the Soviets?
ANDREAS
Posted: April 04, 2009 07:27 pm
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Hallo to everybody,
Hope I don't miss something and this subject was nowhere opened till now.
I'm opening this for the following reasons:
-I am interested in the german panzer forces fighting in august 1944 on the moldavian front, their equipment, capabilities and actions, as well as their remainings in early september in Transilvania.
-I wish to have a good image about the romanian panzer forces -especially the 1st Armoured Division Romania Mare -particular in equipment since the official sources speak different : Ion S. Dumitru in his book Tancuri in flacari said our 1st Armoured Division had 60 Pz.IV G/H/J and 32 StuG.III G prior to soviet attack but on your site I found only 48 Pz.IV G/H/J prior to 20 august 1944 -where is the trough?
-I want to speculate a bit -what if some of the german elite units like GROSSDEUTSCHLAND and SS TOTENKOPF Panzer Divisions weren't retreat from our front in Poland? Could they stop the soviets in the early battles in 20-22 august?
-Why the german panzer forces still present on the front line /or near the front/ were so much understrength in august 1944 -I mean here 13th Panzer and 10th PanzerGrenadier Divisions -not talking about the KampfGruppe form 20th Panzer Division -who was weaker than a Brigade -german appreciation! The front was quiet since june 1944, and reinforcements were possible and more necessary! Why Hitler or the germans do nothing in this direction. Can we speak about romanian betray in this conditions? -speaking about 23.08.1944.
Waiting your contribution...
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Victor
Posted: April 05, 2009 06:06 am
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Hello Andreas,

1. Actually none of the figures are exact. I have been postponing the update of the Armor section for a long while now. Maybe it's time to do it in the following months. At the beginning of August 1944, 12 or 15 T.4s (the figure is not yet clear to me) were sent to the CIMM (The Mechanized Forces Training Center). Thus the 1st Tank Regiment had around 48 T.4s (definitive figure to be published later on) on 20 August. There may even be an article on the Romanian 1st Armored Division in the events of August 1944, sometime this year ;)

As an advice, do not take for granted everything Ion S. Dumitru wrote.

2. The Germans had to retreat most of their panzer forces due to the desperate situation of Army Group Center (see Operation Bagration). Without them, the Soviets would have been in Berlin much earlier or maybe could have entered Romania from Hungary. The reason the Germans didn't send more mechanized forces to the Romanian front was most likely because they didn't have these forces to send.
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ANDREAS
Posted: April 05, 2009 12:30 pm
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Thank you very much Victor!
And surely waiting the update of the Armor section you'll make. So that's why on Baneasa the so-called Armor Detachment Gen. Nicolescu Gh. had 13 Pz.IV G/H and 2 Pz.III N alongside with 10 StuG.III G (*source: Dimensiunea istorica a primei operatii a romanilor in razboiul antihitlerist) in 25.08.1944. If the numbers are accurate? I'm wondering for long time where this tanks and s.p. guns came from?
And again Ion S.Dumitru wrote that he personally, during his escape from russian captivity find at Monteoru station (between Buzau and Mizil) a train with german new Pz.IV H/J -some 22 tanks- it will be a complete tank company 1944 TO&E. Is this possible? I mean an abandoned train with so much new materiel? Defenceless? That was in 5 september according to Ion S.Dumitru. Is it possible the russian find and take the material or just destroy it? I read about some russian divisions who used german armor -not to mention artillery or trucks! Just thinking...
But again criticizing the germans they could find -f.i. in Hungary or Balkans forces for strengthening the Moldavian front -but many generals and Hitler himself wouldn't believe the iminent russian offensive! My opinion.

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MMM
Posted: April 05, 2009 01:39 pm
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What? I have Ion S Dumitru's book, "Tancuri în flăcări", I've read it but I cannot remember such a thing! It's quite hard to believe that at 05.09, at 4 days after SU troops entered Bucharest, the Wehrmacht would have 22 tanks on the road to... what?
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ANDREAS
Posted: April 05, 2009 10:11 pm
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No MMM, please read -page 142 paragraph 3- where the author narrate that during his run from the soviets he finds at Monteoru railway station (between Buzau and Mizil) a train with 22 german abandoned tanks in perfect condition -brand new- he said. The story intrigue me since this was in northern Muntenia so, normally, our military suppose to have some authority, and trying to take this tanks so necessary for the war was a must! But we were /then/ and still are /now/ in Romania and this explain a lot :( Of course if we believe the story?!?

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Dénes
Posted: April 06, 2009 05:28 am
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All captured German war matériel automatically became Soviet property.

Gen. Dénes
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Victor
Posted: April 06, 2009 06:04 am
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QUOTE (ANDREAS @ April 05, 2009 02:30 pm)
Thank you very much Victor!
And surely waiting the update of the Armor section you'll make. So that's why on Baneasa the so-called Armor Detachment Gen. Nicolescu Gh. had 13 Pz.IV G/H and 2 Pz.III N alongside with 10 StuG.III G (*source: Dimensiunea istorica a primei operatii a romanilor in razboiul antihitlerist) in 25.08.1944. If the numbers are accurate? I'm wondering for long time where this tanks and s.p. guns came from?

The source of these tanks was CIMM and most likely the T.4s were those transfered from the 1st Tank Regiment to CIMM early in August. The two Pz III Ns were the remnants of the Stalingrad campaign and were used for training in 1944.
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MMM
Posted: April 06, 2009 02:21 pm
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QUOTE (ANDREAS @ April 05, 2009 10:11 pm)
But we were /then/ and still are /now/ in Romania and this explain a lot :( Of course if we believe the story?!?

Romania or not, those belonged to the Wehrmacht's Supply Service and it would have been highly irregular to leave that kind of equipment "at random" in what just became enemy territory! The same services did a great job four months later for the "Battle of the Bulge" in December 1944, when they managed to mass quite a lot of troops and armor and tanks and whatever at just a couple of kilometres from the frontline, without letting the Allied forces suspect a thing. So, this episode seems too much of a Romanian blunder to be true... I re-read that and it sound very Sven-Hassel-like - i.e. very funny and also hard to believe without a second testimony.
However, I tend to agree to the oppinion expressed earlier, that there were simply NO German tanks to spare, especially on a "quiet" front, such as the Moldavian front from april to august.
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ANDREAS
Posted: April 06, 2009 06:08 pm
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To MMM,
I agree, this story seems hard to believe and the fact that nobody /I mean romanians or soviets/ secure such a valuable /for soviets to, for us not to mention/ material until 5 september make this unlikely.
Gen. Denes,
A friend of mine showed me a photo from a Book called -in hungarian 'A Parduc harckocsi'/the Panther tank/ in which a train with some Panther tanks in natural camouflage -broken boughs, leafage, a.o.- stationed in a Moldavian railway station in early august 1944 -at least so it was written under the photo-in german!. But the photo looks bad and is impossible to identify a buiding, anything but the train itself and the camouflaged tanks who looks like Panthers from the rear. No landscape can be seen so this can't help. Do you believe it is possible that the weak Panzer Forces stationed in mid august on the front line -speaking about moldavian-bessarabian front of course- could have Panther tanks? Of course the german forces who were send in july in Poland prior stationed in Moldova/Basarabia -especially the elite Grossdeutschland and SS Totenkopf Panzer Divisions-had Tiger or Panther tanks- but the weak 13.PzDiv or 10.PzGrDiv??
Victor,
you are right, the numers fit with what you said before, and this was our luck/or smart thinking/ having this tanks close to Bucharest. They played a decisive role in the Baneasa battles in the late august 1944 /stopping the german ground attacks/. And a question to you -do you heard anything about german light PSW 8x8 recon armoured cars deployed in the Ploiesti region -several companies- in the 5th Flak Division? Do the germans from this division have light armoured units?
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Taz1
Posted: April 07, 2009 03:00 pm
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The story in wich the 3 SS Totenkops was completely retired from the front prior to 23.08.44 is not throght, I found in many surces that elements from this divizion where stel on Moldova front at 23.08, including in the book,, Tancuri in flacari " the autor relates on episod in which he encontred elements of this divizion after 23.08.44- The 159 Corp ?? I think which was composed from 2 tanks, 3 stugs and ather vehicles and give them indications to cross the mountains in excenge of spare parts and ammo for the tanks. In other books I found the same information.
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ANDREAS
Posted: April 07, 2009 10:12 pm
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Hello Taz1,
Interesting story you tell, but ... are you sure you not mistake something? I mean on the Moldo-Basarabian Front in august 1944 several Sturmgeschütz-Brigaden /SP Gun Brigades/ were present. Some were before atached to the SS Totenkopf or Grossdeutschland Divisions, but remained on our front in august 1944. On 29. july 1944 for instance -a published document of the General Chieff of Staff of the romanian army speak about 9 Sturmgeschütz-Brigaden present on the front or behind it! And other 7 Sturmgeschütz-Abteilungen /SP Gun Battalions/ all together 416 StuG-III G and StuG-IV! So it's easy to make a confusion. All german or romanian documents I found speak about the SS Totenkopf Division leaving Moldova in end july 1944. If you know something different please tell the source!
Thank you!
My source : Romanian Army in WWII -MMN, Institutul de Studii Operativ-Strategice si Istorie Militara, Sectia Arhive a SMG, Ed. Meridiane Bucuresti 1995.
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ANDREAS
Posted: April 10, 2009 09:51 pm
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New informations over the german Panzer/Panzergrenadier Divisions present in august 1944 on the Moldova front.
A good informed ex-classmate of mine living for years in Germany send me some interesting informations reguarding the 10th Panzergrenadier Division present in the front region west from Iasi city, south from the river Bahlui, in mid august 1944.
His source is the book written in 1963 by general August Schmidt, the former commander of this division. In this book he describes in detail the battles of this big german unit on the eastern front, and also on the moldavian front in august 1944. So the new informations are:
-the german mechanised division /that's what Panzergrenadier means/ was very strong and complete in mid august with 3 tanks Pz.IIIM and 43 sp guns StuG.IIIG, 110 armd. halftracks and a strong artillery. The division commander was general August Schmidt, an very experienced officer, and his troops over 12.000 strong.
-the division was encircled from the first days due to romanian divisions -any idea which? -leaving their front with little resistence. He manage to avoid destruction with high losses and retreat towards Husi. More heavy fighting with the soviet units weaken the division who, without enough fuel for the machines had to abandon some battle ready armd vehicles and sp guns. On 24 august the colomns marched trough the Vutcani village where they meet soviet armour but manage to cross. But the shortage of fuel was the worst ennemy, and again many vehicles had to be destroyed
In 25 august the hope had returned since remnants of the 13. Panzer Division were in the Leova area, over the Pruth river. But the total encirclement of the Division was finished and the only order the commander could give was -abandon all the heavy materiel and destroy it and try, in small units, to escape. Some 2500 soldiers were able to cross the ennemy lines and after several tentatives they cross the Sireth river in the Condrea -Suraia east of Focsani in 27 august. The march trough Baragan towards Bulgaria was the only posibility since the Buzau area was closed by ennemy units. Remnants of the division pass Baragan with numerous clashes with romanian army and reserve units and could not cross Danube in Bulgaria. They abandon all the remaining motorised and armoured vehicles and also the light and medium guns in Varasti area, west from Calarasi, in 30 august, and tried to cross the Danube in Bulgaria with little succes. Most of them were captured by romanian troops and few crossed into Bulgaria.
If you know something ref. 13.Panzer Division or K.G. 20.Panzer Division please reply.
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Taz1
Posted: April 13, 2009 09:52 am
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QUOTE (ANDREAS @ April 10, 2009 09:51 pm)
New informations over the german Panzer/Panzergrenadier Divisions present in august 1944 on the Moldova front.
A good informed ex-classmate of mine living for years in Germany send me some interesting informations reguarding the 10th Panzergrenadier Division present in the front region west from Iasi city, south from the river Bahlui, in mid august 1944.
His source is the book written in 1963 by general August Schmidt, the former commander of this division. In this book he describes in detail the battles of this big german unit on the eastern front, and also on the moldavian front in august 1944. So the new informations are:
-the german mechanised division /that's what Panzergrenadier means/ was very strong and complete in mid august with 3 tanks Pz.IIIM and 43 sp guns StuG.IIIG, 110 armd. halftracks and a strong artillery. The division commander was general August Schmidt, an very experienced officer, and his troops over 12.000 strong.
-the division was encircled from the first days due to romanian divisions -any idea which? -leaving their front with little resistence. He manage to avoid destruction with high losses and retreat towards Husi. More heavy fighting with the soviet units weaken the division who, without enough fuel for the machines had to abandon some battle ready armd vehicles and sp guns. On 24 august the colomns marched trough the Vutcani village where they meet soviet armour but manage to cross. But the shortage of fuel was the worst ennemy, and again many vehicles had to be destroyed
In 25 august the hope had returned since remnants of the 13. Panzer Division were in the Leova area, over the Pruth river. But the total encirclement of the Division was finished and the only order the commander could give was -abandon all the heavy materiel and destroy it and try, in small units, to escape. Some 2500 soldiers were able to cross the ennemy lines and after several tentatives they cross the Sireth river in the Condrea -Suraia east of Focsani in 27 august. The march trough Baragan towards Bulgaria was the only posibility since the Buzau area was closed by ennemy units. Remnants of the division pass Baragan with numerous clashes with romanian army and reserve units and could not cross Danube in Bulgaria. They abandon all the remaining motorised and armoured vehicles and also the light and medium guns in Varasti area, west from Calarasi, in 30 august, and tried to cross the Danube in Bulgaria with little succes. Most of them were captured by romanian troops and few crossed into Bulgaria.
If you know something ref. 13.Panzer Division or K.G. 20.Panzer Division please reply.

Hy, Andreas, the informations abaut the presence of the elements of SS Totenkoph division I found in diferent surses. In the book ,,Tancuri in flacari ", the aothor Ion S Dumitru tells the story about his encountrd with element of this divizion. Despite his sometime exagerations in book, he knew very well the divizion, he c,ant make a confusion whith ather german unit. In the book ,,Pumnul de Fier " the author allso recolect that afther 23.08.1944 he tried to save the live of anWaffen ss soilder. Hear on the site you can find the story of a veteran how was there on the front in that period and he allso recolects that he tied to escape the russ captivity and on the road he encontrd an Waffen SS - unterofficier and togeder make their escape. All those informations are from eyewittneses how where there on the front at that time it c,ant be a coincidence. Not allways oficial document present the hole picture and in the haos of the war some data and informations are lost. I found that on many subjects.
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ANDREAS
Posted: April 14, 2009 08:18 pm
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Hallo Taz1,
Since I speak only based on the books, documents published and indirect informations I got, certainly can't deny that elements of the 3rd SS Totenkopf division existed on /or near/ the front line. But that fact means not much since the bulk of that division forces were not on our front in august 1944! All documents I read speak about 2 romanian armoured/mechanised divisions and 3 german armoured/mechanised divisions which were all identified: the romanian 8th cavalry/mechanised division and the 1st armoured division and the german 10th mechanised and 13 tank divisions and a battle group (brigade size) from the 20th tank division. I am now more convinced that the german 13.Panzer Division was the strongest from them all, followed by the romanian 1st Armoured Division and the romanian 8th Mech. Cavalry Division and after them by the german 10. Panzergrenadier Division (strong and good trained by with almost no tanks!) and the battle group of the 20. Panzer Division (with only one tank company! -if I am right).
My hopes to find here answers about german tank forces present on our front line in august 1944 are low since that kind of info can't be easily found and in all cases not in Romania!
But still waiting anybody with even parts of information who could help!
Thanks anyway Taz1 and waiting new contributions!
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Victor
Posted: April 16, 2009 06:37 pm
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The total number of armored vehicles of Army Group South Ukraine on 1 August 1944 was 155 tanks, 225 assault guns and 30 self-propelled howitzers. See Klaus Schoenherr, Luptele Wehrmachtului in Romania, Ed. Militara, Bucharest, 2004, page 80. The primary source is from the operations diary of Army Group Southern Ukraine.

Regarding the 3rd SS Panzer Division, no matter what the veteran recollections may be, it wasn't in Romania then. The German panzer/panzergrenadier forces I identified were:
- the 13th Panzer Division
- 10th Panzergrenadier Division
- the Kessel Detachment (elements of the 20th Panzer Division), which was subordinated to the Romanian 1st Armored Division on 20 August

There were also various StuG detachments. For example, the Maj. Brausch Detachment (10 StuGs+one infantry battalion), which was also subordinated to the Romanian 1st Armored Division.

The 8th Cavalry Division was at Tecuci during the offensive. On 23 August its tank and StuGs were given to the Braun Detachment, made up of its instructors from the 20th Panzer Division. So it was just a motorized cavalry unit.
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