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> Battle worth mentioning on this site., Suggestion to mention an historical even
luciang
Posted: March 25, 2012 08:08 pm
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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...
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Florin
Posted: March 25, 2012 09:46 pm
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QUOTE (luciang @ March 25, 2012 03:08 pm)
..............................- 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").
...................................

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.

This post has been edited by Florin on March 25, 2012 10:05 pm
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luciang
Posted: March 26, 2012 06:25 pm
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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.
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ANDREAS
Posted: March 26, 2012 07:07 pm
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luciang,
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!
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luciang
Posted: March 26, 2012 07:33 pm
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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
Alexandru Dobriceanu
* 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

Cuprins:

* 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...
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ANDREAS
Posted: March 26, 2012 07:37 pm
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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).

This post has been edited by ANDREAS on March 26, 2012 07:53 pm
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luciang
Posted: March 26, 2012 08:11 pm
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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...
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luciang
Posted: March 26, 2012 08:33 pm
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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:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=%22...ItaFzd1XmcBNuNw

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.
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ANDREAS
Posted: March 26, 2012 08:34 pm
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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!

This post has been edited by ANDREAS on March 26, 2012 08:38 pm
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Florin
Posted: March 28, 2012 05:16 am
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QUOTE (luciang @ March 26, 2012 03:11 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.
....................

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.
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luciang
Posted: March 28, 2012 08:36 pm
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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.
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ANDREAS
Posted: March 29, 2012 10:58 pm
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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...
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luciang
Posted: March 30, 2012 08:20 pm
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Some bits and pieces are matching:

ANDREAS Posted on March 26, 2012 08:34 pm
QUOTE
In the book written by the Hungarian author are mentioned as technical (weapons) losses all divisional mortars, 20 AA Guns ...


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.
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luciang
Posted: March 31, 2012 10:42 am
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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
QUOTE
In the english book are mentioned 23 artillery guns,

[...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.
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ANDREAS
Posted: March 31, 2012 10:55 am
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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!
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