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> 23. I participated in the Battle of Tiganca
Posted: January 27, 2004 12:19 pm
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by Alexandru Ionescu Saint-Cyr

During the fierce battle of the bridgehead in Tiganca, Stoenesti, Cania, I - a young captain holding a staff college certificate - was a member of the Guard Division Command, under the orders of General Nicolae Sova.
On account of the strong resistance put up by the enemy, the fights were particularly difficult from the very first day of the war, the 22nd of June, 1941.

Most of the time I have noticed the harshness of the struggles from the advanced command post of the Division and, quite often, from its advanced observation post or from the lookout in the first battle line of the battalions and regiments.

I shall particularly treasure up in my mind the memory of the fierce, really dramatical fights carried on July 11 and 12, 1941, when the adverse infantry and tanks, supported by a great deal of artillery and air force, violently and almost continually - day and night -attacked and counterattacked towards Epureni, at the junction between the Guard Division and the 21st Inf. Div., turning the bridgehead into a hell. Within a very short time, the communications with the command posts of the main unit and regiments as wel as with the neighbours were completely interrupted.

The infantry and some of the artillery began to retreat, being pressed by the enemy armed forces. The situation became dramatic. I was wondering: “what was I to do?” The decision was not to be waited for long. I took a decision and I gave an order: "Everybody hold out against the attack, not a step back".

Just for a while, by means of the radio station."G", which was hardly put in working order, I succeeded in coming into contact with General Nicolae Dascalescu, the commander of the 21st Inf.Div., to whom I have reported: "I remain here".

The answer of the famous general was identical: "I do the same". In the meantime, I spoke - on the radio "G" and, to some of them, by telephone - to the commanders of the units situated on the same line and crest with me. Next to me there was Captain Calin Nita, who was an artillerist.

Without being aware, - as I have been told by those present around me - I started to sing an old Romanian folk song and then I ordered: "Everybody to the crest!"

This was, for sure, the most difficult moment, when I couldn't think of anything else but of the fact that all of us were bound to do our duty to the utmost, even at the expense of our own life.

"Hurrah! "... The enemies were surprised, they hesitated for a moment, but finally succeeded to stop us and hold out against our actions. Late at night, the fight and the organization of the battle lines, where we as well as the enemy stopped at, did not abate by any means.

Moreover, the folowing day, early in the morning - before dawn - the enemy had launched a ruthless bombardment against our positions, and afterwards they cruelly attacked all over the front of the division where I happened to be at that time. With the purpose of maintaining, at any sacrifice, our position, as we had formerly decided, I threw into the battle all the forces I had ready at hand: the command group, medical services, pioneers, and so. Through with out that period of time, in spite of all the efforts made by the signallers, we failed in having a connection with the commander of the division. Trying very hard, after frequent hand-to-hand fights, we managed to keep and save the bridgehead to the east of Falciu, which had been established at the expense of considerable efforts. As I was caught in the tightest point of the battle, some of my comrades considered me as missing, while others declared that they had seen with their own eyes when I - bayoneted - fell dead during the battle.

This fact determined those knowing the way I had acted during the fight against the enemy to intercede for me to be decorated post-mortem. As a matter of fact, I was indeed decorated post-mortem with the "Iron Cross" Order, but fortunately I haven't been killed. I only lost - temporarily - my voice, a fact that made me write the orders I kept up giving, which were afterwards delivered to the units by the officer standing near me with a view to be executed.

Later on, I found out that one of the officers from the Division Command, who kept trying to come into contact on the radio with me (reserve Lieutenant Frangu), managed, at a given time, to intercept, several times, certain fragments from the orders and instructions I used to give to the units, urging them either not to fall a step back or to throw themselves in the heat of the battle, crying out "Hurrah!". This made him shout: "Saint-Cyr is stil alive! I heard him shou-ting and urging all the commanders to throw themselves with everything they have into the fight".

The bravery and the sacrifice of the military men belonging to the two Romanian divisions which were sorely tested at the bridgehead eastward of Falciu were eulogized in a great number of Orders of day - I myself was also mentioned in one of them - signed by General Nicolae Sova and General Nicolae Dascalescu, and even in a National Order of day signed by General Ion Antonescu.
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