Romanian Armed Forces
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Marshal Ion Antonescu
General Gheorghe Avramescu
General Petre Dumitrescu
General Gheorghe Mihail
Lt. general Nicolae Ciuperca
Lt. general Nicolae Dascalescu
Lt. general Corneliu Dragalina
Lt. general Nicolae Macici
Lt. general Mihail Racovita
Lt. general Nicolae Sova
Maj. general Radu Băldescu
Maj. general Ioan Dumitrache
Maj. general Mihail Lascar
Maj. general Leonard Mociulschi
Maj. general Ioan Sion
Brig. general Radu Korne
General of Air Squad Aviator Gheorghe I. Jienescu
Lt. general Nicolae Sova
Lt. general Nicolae Sova

22 June 1941 – 19 February 1943: Guard Division

7 November 1941: Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class

24 January 1942: promoted to the rank of major general

19 February 1943 – 23 August 1944: undersecretary of the Navy

24 January 1944: promoted to the rank of lieutenant general

21 September 1944 – 7 February 1945: 7th Corps

January 1945: Mihai Viteazul Order with swords 3rd class

Nicolae Sova was born on 9 November 1885, at Poduri, in Moldavia. After five years in the school from his village, he went to high school at Bacau [in Romania, in that period the high school had 8 grades]. Because of the modest financial possibilities of his family, after three years he had to start earning his living, in order to stay in school. In 1907 he was admitted in the Infantry Officers School in Bucharest. On 1 July 1911 he graduated and was promoted to the rank of 2nd lt. At his request he was assigned to the 27th Infantry Regiment at Bacau, close to home. But from October 1911 to July 1912 he was sent to the Special Infantry School, which he finished the 29th out of 223. On 30 October 1912 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant.

During the 2nd Balkan War he was the assistant of the regiment’s CO and did his job so well, that he was proposed for promotion before term. However, this will happen only in 1916, on 1 November. Romania had only recently joined WWI and the situation was very difficult. He was then named CO of the regiment’s machine-gun company and distinguished himself in the desperate battles in January 1917, when his company proved decisive. Again his CO proposed a promotion before term. In March 1917 he was named commander of the Machine-Gun School of the 2nd Army. Until the end of July he had trained over 200 machine-gun sections. In August he was assigned to the Operation Bureau of the 7th Infantry Division. One month later he was promoted to the rank of major. During the campaign in Transylvania and Hungary in late 1918 and 1919 he was the chief of the Operations Bureau of the same division. He was then assigned to the Intelligence Bureau of the 6th Corps.

In the autumn of 1919 he was finally admitted in the Military Academy. He finished in 1921 and was the 38th out of 72. After his superiors proposed a promotion seven times, he finally received it on 10 May 1925. In 1927 he was named CO of a battalion in the 83rd Infantry Regiment, but in 1928 he returned to administrative work in the 6th Corps, as the CO’s assistant.. In 1931 he took over the 83rd Infantry Regiment. Col. Nicolae Sova (promoted to this rank on 1 April 1932) remained at its command until December 1934, when he entered the diplomatic corps as a military attaché at the embassy in Vienna. For three years he stayed in the Austrian capital. Upon his return he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and named CO of the 20th Infantry Brigade until 1 February 1939. On 6 February he was reassigned to administrative work in the Ministry of Defense, as the head of the Personnel Bureau. After gen. Ion Antonescu came to power in September 1940, he began a reorganization of the armed forces. Thus, on 10 January 1941, brig. gen. Nicolae Sova was named CO of the elite Guard Division. He remained in this position until 19 February 1943.

After Operation Barbarossa was launched, the Guard Division had the mission to secure a bridgehead over the river Prut, in the area opposite of Falciu. The attack commenced on 4 July, but because of the powerful Soviet resistance, backed by a large concentration of artillery (about 19 artillery battalions on 6 km of front) it was stopped. The intervention of the 21st Infantry Division (see gen. Nicolae Dascalescu) helped the Guard Division brake the defense and advance on 6 July. Between 7 and 11 July the two divisions expanded the bridgehead, an action which was, however, very costly. On 12 July the Romanian troops were strongly counterattacked, but with the help of the Romanian bombers, which dropped 37 tons of bombs on Red Army concentrations and artillery positions in the area, they managed to resist. The Soviet assault lasted until 14 July. Two days later the Guard Division started its offensive and by 19 July, the Battle of Tiganca was over. It had suffered 2,743 casualties.

The offensive continued and soon the Guard Division was engaged in the Battle of Odessa, where it distinguished itself in August in the fights near Kagarlik, by braking the front of the Soviet 25th Rifle Division. Then it participated in the assault on Dalnik, brigadier general Nicolae Sova’s skilled maneuvering being again remarked by his superiors. On 16 October, when Odessa fell to the Romanian troops, he was among the first elements of the Guard Division to enter the city.

Thus ended the first campaign of the gen. Sova. It lasted 118 days, of which 75 of fighting and 34 of marching. The casualties were high: 359 officers, 123 NCOs, 8,134 soldiers (1,639 dead, 6,850 wounded and 167 missing). The division took 4,500 POWs and captured 2,800 rifles, 113 LMGs, 100 HMGs, 49 artillery pieces, 7 tanks and 30 trucks. Brigadier general Nicolae Sova was awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class.

The Guard Division returned to Romania, where it remained until the end of the war. On 24 January 1942 he was promoted to the rank of maj. general. After one year, gen. Nicolae Sova was relieved of command and named undersecretary of Navy on 19 February 1943. He proved to be a very good organizer of the limited resources available. On 24 January 1944 he was again promoted, in recognition of his capabilities.

After 23 August 1944 he requested to be assigned to a command position on the front. On 22 September he was named CO of the 7th Corps (19th Infantry Division and 9th Cavalry Division), which was part in the 1st Army. Between 11 and 14 October, the Corps created a large bridgehead over the Tisza River, at Mindszet, 30 km wide and 7-8 km deep. However, it had to abandon it, following a German-Hungarian counter offensive, which forced the 2nd Ukrainian Front to move the 7th Corps in order to stop the enemy advance. It made yet another bridgehead over the Tisza, at Alpar, which the 19th Infantry Division successfully defended between 26 an 29 October against the attacks of the 3rd and 8th Infantry and 1st Armored Hungarian Divisions. At the end of the month the offensive towards Budapest could be continued. The corps was reinforced with the 2nd Infantry Division and reached the first defensive positions outside the Hungarian capital on 18 November. By New Year’s Eave gen. Nicoale Sova’s troops fought their way to the outskirts of Budapest, through the fortifications and despite many powerful counterattacks.

Inside Budapest, the 7th Corps advanced 11 km, managing to get only 2 km away from the Danube in two weeks of ferocious street fighting. One by one the Hippodrome, the Central Post Office, the Franz Josef Barracks, the Eastern Rail Station and the Kerepes Cemetery fell to the Romanian troops. The presence of gen. Sova in the first line, where the situation demanded, was something usual. On 26 December 1944, for example, his mantel was pierced by two bullets, during a counterattack.

On 16 January the corps was pulled out of its positions and sent to Slovakia. General Nicolae Sova was very irritated and protested vehemently:

The officers and the soldiers of the 7th Corps, who fought and bled next to the allied troops from the crossing of the Tisa and up to the middle of Budapest, are depressed by the fact that with the pending collapse of Budapest they are sent to another sector. They interpret this as their underserved removal from the honour to fight until the end of the operations in Budapest, considering that they have been used by the allies only in the difficult moments of the battle when they gave their unconditional assistance marked by the number of graves of their comrades killed in action in these fights and they are removed when the moment of victory, of reward and honour is near.

The corps suffered 10,708 casualties out of 36,348 soldiers in Operation Budapest, but it had captured approximately 7,000 POWs and caused many casualties to the enemy.

He was obviously relieved of command soon after this, on 7 February 1945. He had just received the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class with swords in January. On 24 March he was retired. Thus ended his 38 year long military career.

He was arrested in January 1946, along with other former members of Antonescu’s government, who were still free. However, he was accused only on 24 September, nine months later and put on trial on 15 December 1947, two years later! He was sentenced to ten years of prison, but the two which he had already served were taken into consideration. Thus, in January 1956 he walked out of the infamous Aiud prison. He was in a terrible condition and had the Parkinson syndrome. In 1948 his pension had been suspended and his house was confiscated. After many petitions, he started receiving it again in 1964.

He passed away on 12 March 1966 and was buried with all the military honors in the Ghencea-Militar Cemetery in Bucharest, next to general Constantin Argeseanu.

Author: Victor Nitu
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