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> Battle worth mentioning on this site., Suggestion to mention an historical even
Gabriela
Posted: October 01, 2012 09:14 am
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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. [...]
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luciang
Posted: October 02, 2012 07:45 am
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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.
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ANDREAS
Posted: October 02, 2012 09:28 pm
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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!
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Gabriela
Posted: October 10, 2012 06:51 am
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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"
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