9 September 1942. Folowing some heavy fights, 31st Infantry Regiment takes /…/ (not decipherable in original) Pescianka and Staro-Dubovka, including the grove at south of this locality, south-west of Stalingrad. Follows a new order, that change the direction of attack towards south-east, through Gornaya-Polyana and Sanatorium.
16 - 18 September 1942. 20st Infantry Division is assigned a new sector 20 km southward.
20 September 1942. I was appointed commander of 7th Company of 21st Infantry Regiment. Facing us, the enemy man a line reinforced with round pillboxes, placed 200-300 meters away one from another, on 2 or even 3 rows, having the firing trenches at 20-50 meters in front of them. The pillboxes are armed with automatic weapons and AT rifles, manned by understrength teams. The Russian infantry man the trenches in front of the pillboxes. Following a raid at one of the pillboxes, I am inclined to believe that Russians leave the pillboxes at night, because I didn’t find anybody inside. The distance between us and Russians is in some places of 300 meters, and in others of 600-700 meters. The enemy change place so often that they seem – and we even noticed some manneuvers – to bombard us with the same battery from different places.
29 September 1942. Enemy carried a raid having the strength of one platoon, in the sector of 1st platoon, but being sighted in time it was repulsed before Russians could reach our trenches.
In the second half of October, some of the winter clothing started to arrive: fur caps, overcoats, blankets, sweaters and headgear, but the most important were received in less quantities than needed. The biggest problem is the winter footgear. Some boots are worn and all of them are undersized. In this period started the rains, followed by cold weather, fog and freeze. Food, reported to this region and to our stretching, was good and sufficient, although later on bread was less good and smaller.
Beginning with early November 1942, German pioneer teams carried daily demonstrations on the methods and possibilities of destroying tanks, using the following means: smoke candles for screening, bottles filled with gasoline and oil for ignition and screening, satchels of 5 kg of explosive for placing under tracks, antitank mines and magnetic mines for placing on armor. The moral effect of these demonstrations was that men gained a plus of confidence in their fighting abillities when they are equipped with special material, also when knowing the methods of fighting the steel giants.
7 November 1942. The first frost.
12 - 14 November 1942. We can hear an intense rattle of weapons in the sector of 1st Battalion of our regiment, about 3 km away from Andreevka.
15 November 1942. At night, Russians executed a raid at our neighbors, 8th Infantry Regiment, that repulsed them. We were alarmed in time and ready to intervene. This night we borrowed – by division’s order – from 83rd Infantry Regiment, 10,500 cartridges of light machine-gun and 75 defensive grenades.
16 November 1942. Relative quietness on the entire front.
19 November 1942. All day we could hear an intense artillery activity in the right of regiment, at the neighbor division. The chemical officer of regiment came to inspect the gas masks and he gave a practical session on using them. Starting with 0:30 hours at night we were kept in state of alarm till the second day.
20 November 1942. Starting with 8 hours in the morning Russians shells the entire front, with a higher intensity in the sector of regiment. The shelling was followed by an attack over the entire line, supported from place to place by scattered formations of tanks, that after debouching stopped at a certain distance behind infantry.
At 12:00 hours a new order by wire from battalion demands that I move urgently with my company from Hill 92 to 2.5 km southward. Being attacked by Russian infantry, I deployed one platoon, one machine-gun section and one Bohler gun, I reduced 3 wheeled machine-guns and more light machine-guns with their respective gunners, the rest fleeing towards Hill 92.
At night we remained in state of alarm, patroling in every direction. The dense fog lifted only at 11:00 hours.
21 November 1942. We hear right from the daybreak, at some 2 km away, tanks and cars flowing continuously westward, that – after the fog lifted – we could see through the field glasses. There were tanks of different sizes, trucks, automobiles and armored cars. This flow lasted all day long. At about 20:00 hours, after I gave my sector to an improvised company commanded by captain Nicolau from 31st Infantry Regiment, whom I also left 3 crates of ammo, I left with battalion and at about 23:00 hours I deployed 1 km southeast of Hill 112.5, with the front towards Hill 95.7.
22 November 1942. Company is assigned to make the link between 8th Infantry Regiment and the counterattack unit (6th Company of 31st Infantry Regiment). At our right, beyond the berm, the flowing of Russian columns contiuned. With the premission of the commander of 1st Battalion of 31st Infantry Regiment – given the situation of the front – (we are) together with two machine-gun platoons, two Bohler guns and one 81.4 mm mortar section, with an overall effective of 200 men. We have plenty of ammo. We have manned the new defensive line, at the crossroads in the ravine – 2 km northwest-west of Iagodny.
23 November 1942. My regiment is at Zibenko. At 7 hours in the morning, Russian infantry, followed by 12 tanks, makes its appearance at the ridge on the line of Hill 110.8, where it receives artillery fire, approaches Iagodny and, around 11:00 hours, charges. After the attack was stopped by our fire at 400-500 meters, 6 tanks appear, followed by infantry, and approach us. At the distance of 400 meters the two German guns and both our Bohler guns open fire and in less than five minutes two tanks are ignited, two are immobilized and two withdraw. The infantry behind the tanks is decimated by our automatic weapons. The attack is repulsed with almost total losses. One of the damaged tanks approached as close as 150 meters from us. The crew bailed out and laid on the ground. Sergeant Precup from 1st platoon, with the weapon at the belt and two grenades in hands, rushed at them and when the Russians tried to take his weapon, he thrust a grenade inside the clothing of two of the Russians, in the pocket, and grabbing the third by the collar he took cover behind the tank. After the explosion of the grenades, when the two men were torn, sergeant Precup returned with the prisoner, which was the tank’s driver and also wounded and drunk. He refused to make any statement except the fact that they received vodka before the attack.
In this battle also distinguished 2nd lieutenant in reserve Ilarie Matiu, commander of machine-gun platoon, and 2nd lieutenant in reserve Alexandru Gavenea, commander of 1st platoon, that fought in the first line beside me. The men’s morale was very high after this success. By evening, after the attack was repulsed, Russians started to shell us with artillery and heavy mortars. We lost 5 men and I was lightly wounded at face and neck, but I wasn’t evacuated. During night we received from 82nd Infantry Regiment the translation of the order of 275th German Division, order that gave us knowledge of the fact that we were temporary surrounded and that we had to hold the line with any price, until help from outside would arrive. In the same time we were urged to avoid waste of ammo and food. This order was communicated to ranks. We labored at fieldworks and, later, at winter shelters, even if we were lacking timber. The company effective was replenished up to 105 men. Russians towed the two damaged tanks, that probably still had their guns functional.
It is sad that in the day of 20 November, as well as in the following days, we did not receive any of the materials we saw in early November at the German pioneers. The morale, in general, is average. The spirit of many of us is resembling the one of the man that is waiting for a train announced to be running behind but does not arrive even after the delay passed.
24 November 1942. At 8 hours Russians shell us and after a while set off the attack, supported by 12 tanks, which are mostly of light type. Three tanks were ignited and the rest withdrew into the ravine. In front of the platoons at right, Russian infantry approached up to 200 meters. After a failed attempt of counterattack, they shelled us all day long, inflicting us 17 casualties. We closed our third day without food.
25 November 1942. From daybreak to nightfall we were shelled by artillery, turret guns and mortars, with full hits, the rest of projectiles falling behind us at a distance of 100-200 meters. We suffered 38 casualties (mostly dead), this day being the worst of all for us. Russian infantry debouched for attack five times, but the same number of times they fell back in holes. In front of 3rd machine-gun platoon, which was flanking the ravine leading in Iagodny, so many dead Russians gathered, that they were making piles of them and they were pushing them on ice, only to approach us under their cover. A heavy tank that was burning behind our positions, after it entered our lines and got through us, was offering us an emboldening sight. The Germans told me that they let it through on purpose. We learn from a prisoner that the following day we are to be attacked by 20 tanks, arrived this day. In the evening we receive some bread crumbs and marmalade, but in very small quantity.
26 November 1942. We were shelled all day long, at a lesser intensity however. Infantry tried to attack three times. We had 11 casualties only. No trace of tanks. At night we were inspected by Lieutenant-Colonel Mangesius, commander of 82nd Infantry Regiment, attended by a captain from 275th German Division. We were praised and congratulated for our resistance in the previous days. We heard news of 91st Infantry Regiment and we received from company’s NCO half a bread and a warm soup each. As ordered and with the approval of division we remained under command of 82nd Infantry Regiment until new dispositions. After midnight we were shelled by mortars and katyushas.
27 November 1942. It’s starting to snow steadily. The same shelling and attempts of attack without tanks contiune. Between the platoon in the right and enemy, a grenade fight took place. We had 8 casualties (wounded) only. Ammo is depleting and we don’t get supplies, even if we requested them insistently yet two days before. In sectors at left and right of us it is quite. We don’t get any food even if it was promised.
28 November 1942. At dawn, the German NCO from the antitank guns reports me that they are very low on ammo and he beseeches me not to spread the word in the ranks. He also tries to persuade me that supperiors know of this situation and he is expecting arrival of ammo at any moment, but their attitude and the car which is ready to leave make me believe they have no ammo at all. Battalion knows of this. In the morning the usual shelling starts, but at a higher intensity. At 12 hours, a tank enters our position and moves at its own discretion behind us. The guns didn’t fire a single round. After some 10-15 minutes, at highest possible speed and loaded with infantry, another 11 medium tanks roll through us. Germans run from guns into holes. Infantrymen on tanks were falling like sheafs, reaped by the fire of automatic weapons, and the survivors jumped down behind and through our holes. A fierce fight with grenades, bayonets and even with… fists, took place.
Part of the tanks arranged themselves in a row behind us, while some were moving through ravine, firing at shelters. One of them overturned in a hole right beside me, in such a way that neither it could get out, nor the crew could bail out.
In the same time Russian infantry assaulted too, being only 200 meters away. I reported by wire to battalion, that sent in my help its command team. They were machine-gunned before they could get near to us. Eventually, observing that I’m alone among Russians, I was permitted to try to escape, just when four Russians were coming at me, carrying a telephone cable. I opened fire at them with a light machine-gun left by a wounded nearby, and I fled through ravine from hole to hole, up to battalion. Of those retreated to the left, I found one officer and four men, learning afterward that some 20 more retreated behind the German company to the right. The rest - dead, wounded (including two officers) and missing. All of these happened in about two hours.
At nightfall a company of 82nd Infantry Regiment attempted a counterattack, but it was repulsed. Over night the tanks withdrew, and in the cover of darkness part of the wounded escaped through Russians.
At 23 hours a German battalion arrived and put a section at my disposal, and I personally re-established the link with the German company in the right.
29 November 1942. At dawn I set off to assault together with the German battalion, in order to re-take the position and, after the third jump, I was wounded and evacuated immediately by none others than Germans. While I was still finding myself at the first aid post, Russians attacked on the entire line, coming again with tanks. The company in the right of 82nd Infantry and part of Germans retreat, but at the intervention of German and Romanian officers, the ranks recover and a fierce fight took place all day long. Situation re-established with the arrival of six German tanks.