Maj. general Radu Băldescu
Maj. general Radu Baldescu

26 January 1942 – 29 April 1944: 18th Infantry Division

1 September 1942: Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class

11 May 1944: promoted to the rank of major general

Maj. general Radu Băldescu was born on 16 October 1888, at Mihailestii de Sus, Olt, in priest family. He was admitted in the Infantry Officers School in 1909 and graduated in 1911, receiving the rank of 2nd lieutenant on 1 July. He was then assigned close to home, at the 3rd Dorobanti Regiment Olt. He participated with this unit in the 1913 campaign in Bulgaria, which ended the Second Balkan War, as well as in WWI between 1916-19 (with the rank of 1st lieutenant from 1 November 1914 and then captain from 1 April 1917).

After the war, at the end of 1919, he was admitted in the War Academy, which he finished in 1921, the 13th out of 72. He had been promoted to major since 1 April 1920. He moved to Sibiu, where he taught at the Special School for Infantry and Cavalry, contributing to the formation of many generations of officers. He was promoted to lt. colonel on 10 May 1929 and to colonel on 16 October 1935.

On 1 April 1936 he was named commander of the 93rd Infantry Regiment Closca at Arad, but on 1 October 1937 he came back to Sibiu, taking command of the military school. On 1 August 1940, during a very difficult period for Romania, he was named commander of the 16th Infantry Brigade at Satu Mare. At the end of the month he had to oversee the retreat of his unit, because northwestern Transylvania had been given to Hungary.

On 15 September 1940 he became the deputy commander of the 18th Infantry Division, position which he held at the beginning of the war on 22 June 1941. In the meanwhile Radu Băldescu had obtained the rank of brigadier general on 10 May. The division was kept in reserve until the autumn, when it was sent to the 4th Army to take part in the final assault on Odessa, being subordinated to the 3rd Corps. Since 5 September, he had assumed temporary command of the unit and he personally conducted the follow up of the retreating Soviet soldiers on 16 October, entering the city with the first elements. After this, the 18th Division was subordinated to the Cavalry Corps and sent beyond the Bug River.

Because of the situation created in Crimea by the Soviet landings at Feodosiya and Kerch, the German Command requested the subordination of the 18th Infantry Division to the 11th Army, which was situated in the peninsula. It arrived there in January, after a march of 450 km in 20 days and in miserable weather conditions, but without the 90th Infantry Regiment, strengthened with artillery units, which remained with the Cavalry Corps.

The division was included in the German 42nd Corps, which was on the front in the Kerch Peninsula. During 15 – 18 January it attacked in the sector between Seit Asan and the Azov Sea and managed to occupy the objectives it had received. It had repulsed several Soviet counterattacks, destroying 16 tanks and killing about 600 Soviet soldiers. In the meanwhile, brigadier general Radu Băldescu was officially named CO of the division.

In February, the 51st Soviet Army, in the Kerch Peninsula, launched a new offensive, concentrating its main effort in the sector of the 18th Infantry Division. The front was broken in several places and the Romanian troops had to retreat all the way to Tulumceak, where the offensive was stopped with the help of reinforcements. Following this episode, the less experienced 18th Infantry Division was pulled out of the Kerch front and sent on the other side of Crimea, at Sevastopol, where it was subordinated to the Mountain Corps. The 90th Infantry Division also joined the division.

It took part in t he second siege of Sevastopol (June-July 1942). Its initial mission was to pin down the Soviet forces in front of it and to support the assault of the German 54th Corps. The division advanced slowly towards the "Bastion II" Hill, taking the Hügel and Altes Fort heights. It managed to brake the Soviet line on 25 June. General Băldescu introduced the regimental recon companies in the breach. They managed to s eize the objective by noon and repulse an enemy counterattack. This success facilitated the advance of the 54th Corps, which was pinned down by a stiff Soviet resistance.

Because the circle around Sevastopol was getting smaller and smaller, the Mountain Corps was pulled out of the first line and sent south to liquidate the Blaklava pocket.

Following the 18th Division's successes, general Băldescu was awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class.

On 14 November, the division was subordinated to the 6th Corps, which was situated south of Stalingrad. A few days later, on 20, the Red Army launched the counteroffensive in the sector of the 4th Army. The 51st Soviet Army attacked the 1st and 18th Infantry Divisions and managed to make a breach at their junction and infiltrate mechanized troops behind the Romanian lines. General Băldescu's men were in danger of being surrounded. A hurried retreat started and the division suffered many casualties during this operation. A new line of defense was established on the Aksay River, but on 27 November the division was pushed back 25 km south of the river. It then took part in the failed attempt to lift the siege of Stalingrad, suffering even more casualties.

The remains of the 18th Infantry Division returned to Romania. On 30 March 1943, it was reunited with the 2nd Guard Division, which was disbanded. The 18th Infantry Division became the 18th Mountain Division and was housed on the Prahova Valley, to guard the refineries and oil fields. It was then moved to Campeni, in the Apuseni Mountains.

The offensive in March-April 1944 brought the Red Army on Romanian soil and the 18th Division was sent on the front in northern Moldavia, to the 4th Corps. Between 21 April and 12 May 1944 it defended the bridgehead northwest of Iasi, fighting in the area of the Marzescu Forest, the Bursucariei and Olarilor Hills. The Soviet troops achieved several breakthroughs in the Marzescu Forest between 24-26 April, following several powerful attacks. On 29 April, the 18th Division counterattacked supported by the 24th Panzer Division and managed to regain the lost ground. The Soviets launched another assault on 6 May, which did not progress too much. During these fights, the 18th Division lost 5,271 men (492 KIA, 4,152 WIA and 627 MIA). After things cooled down, general Radu Băldescu was relieved of command. At 11 May he was promoted maj. general and then was retired. He had problems with his superior, general Nicolae Stoenescu, because he had refused to execute the soldiers who had left their positions because of the Soviet pressure. Also, a letter from colonel Maltopol, who was a POW, was dropped from an enemy aircraft. The letter asked general Băldescu to defect with his entire division. Obviously the suspicions were unfounded, but the injustice was corrected on 14 November, when he was reinstated.

He was named deputy commander of the 6th Territorial Corps and on 20 March 1945 commander of the 5th Corps. On 8 September 1945 he became the commander of the 6th Corps, positioned in which he remained until 9 August 1946, when he was changed because of the hostility towards the political education units within the army and towards Communism in general. After one year, on 9 August 1947, he was retired and in 1948 was arrested and put under investigation. In 1950-51 he was again under investigation and lost his rank. On 9 June 1951 he was called over to the Securitate and he never came back home. The following year, his brothers, both priests, were also arrested.

It seems he passed away on 2 December 1953 in the Jilava prison.

Author: Victor Nitu
User Comments Add Comment
stoenescu bogdan  (27 July 2009)
Buna ziua

 Generalul Baldescu Radu a fost strabunicul meu.Ceea ce Dumneavoastra scrieti la un moment dat in articol nu corespunde cu realitatea si anume partea unde Radu Baldescu intra in conflict cu superiorul sau Nicolae Stoenescu.
  Nicolae Stoenescu a fost aghiotantul generalului Baldescu Radu si mai tarziu ginerele acestuia , tatal tatalui meu si bunicul meu.
  Cel cu care a intrat in conflict a fost chiar Ion Antonescu care i-a ordonat personal impuscarea celor care isi paraseau pozitiile.

   Cu stima , Stoenescu Bogdan