25 July 1942. I went to front (ranked 2nd Lieutenant) with
3rd Mountain Division, commanded by General Radu Falfanescu, in the 6th
Mountain Battalion of Beius Garrison. My commander was Lieutenant Colonel
Ion Mardarescu, assisted by Major Ion Petreanu. Being until then training
officer at the reconaissance company and at the heavy weapons company,
I was appointed aide-de-camp of battalion's commander.
The battalion, with an effective of 36 officers, 1292 troops, 502 horses
and 97 waggons, embarked in three trains.
5 August. We arrived in Kerch Peninsula (Crimea), debarking in
Oisul Village, where we setup our tents and foxholes needed in case of
fighting, as partisans were signalled in the area.
31 August. The battalion continued training with maneuvers and
preparations for embarking and debarking, with a view to cross the Kerch
Strait into Taman Peninsula (Caucasus).
During changing place for a reconnaissance maneuver, the truck of the
participating officers entered a mine field, being wounded three company
commanding officers, including the reconnaissance company commander, Lieutenant
Alexandru Raducu, a very good comrade in arms and friend of mine.
1 September. At 1900 hours, Captain Priest Gheorghe Lupsa (from
Paulis) blessed the crucifix raised by the battalion, in the assistance
of His Holliness Archbishop Nicolae of Oradea. The crucifix was inscribed
as following: "By the will of God, sacrificing, we brought you the
cross again. Prize it and defend it!".
By 2000 hours the battalion start the march towards the city of Kerch,
aproximatelly 60 km away. We were marching only at night.
9-10 September. The battalion crosses the Kerch Strait in boats,
under the strong cover of the German airforce, and we debark in the city
10-16 September. The battalion marches about 120 km (only at night).
14 September. At my request I obtain the command of the Reconnaissance
Company, which is the elite company of any mountain battalion. The Company
has 120 men in three platoons: 1st Alpine scouts Platoon (2nd lieutenant
Victor Botocan), 2nd Mounted scouts Platoon (2nd lieutenant Ion Coroiu),
3rd Reconnaissance Platoon (2nd lieutenant Iosif Bitiu), one machine-gun
section and one 60mm mortar. The Soviet air power is active, and so the
partisans. Stationing in Pilencovo, Moldovanskaia and other villages,
we came across Romanians. Asking a 10-years old little girl: "Ima
malako?", she responds: "lapte" (milk in Romanian)
not "malako". Romanians were deported here in the time of Russians
czars, which took our Bessarabia in 1812.
17 September. The battalion is stationing in a bivouac in the
woods east of Schibic Valley. We are at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains,
their western extremity, 8-km away from the enemy.
18-20 September. The Reconnaissance Company is ordered to scout
the field, make contact and ensure the safety of the battalion's attack
disposal. At 21 hours (20 September), the battalion deploys on the disposal
of attack for the day of 21, when it's scheduled the offensive of the
3rd Mountain Divison, having as objective the first heights of Caucasus
in the direction of Novorossiisk.
21-25 septembrie. At 0730 hours of 21 September, the battalion
begins the attack on the Hills 91-222-319-500, in the following disposal:
in the first line the 1st Company (captain Alexandru Popescu) and 2nd
Company (captain Cristea), each of them being reinforced with a machine-gun
platoon. The Reconnaissance Company (2nd lieutenant Constantin Nicolescu)
is kept in the battalion's reserve, less the 2nd Platoon (2nd lieutenant
Ion Coroiu) which is ordered to attack and secure the left flank of the
battalion toward Hill 91. The terrain is rough and covered with dense
woods, causing our artillery to be less effective The enemy is well dug
in, having pillboxes and taking advantage of the terrain. After four hours
of fight a gap appears in the left of 6th Battalion, where 11th Battalion
operates. From the 6th Mountain Group I receive the order to attack and
fill the gap, having at disposal the 1st Platoon and the machine-gun squad.
We start the attack, destroying two pillboxes manned by 2 rifle squads,
and link with the 2nd Company (captain Gheorghiu) from the left of 11th
Battalion, resuming the attack together. The enemy is strong, having casemates
and snipers hidden in trees, hunting the commanding officers. The next
day, 22 September, I resume the attack together with the captain Gheorghe's
company, but we are stopped by the fierce fire of the enemy. We set up
deffensive positions, meeting enemies in the front, left and right of
us. We dig in. The snipers in the trees harass us, we are almost encircled,
situation that maintains in the days of 23 and 24 September, but we hold
the ground. For three days we have no food or water. During the night
of 24 to 25 September, according to the orders and deceiving the enemy's
vigilance, I escape the encirclement with every man through a gully unwatched
by the enemy; we get to 6th Battalion and we deploy to my reconnaissance
company, guarding Hill 222 - an objective achieved by the battalion, for
which is the unit is congratulated by the German 5th Corps. Even if holding
firmly the Hill 222, the battalion's situation was precarious because:
the 11th Battalion in the right encountered stiff defense and fell back,
and the 12th Battalion in the left, being counterattacked, also fell back,
so the flanks of the 6th Battalion remained uncovered, the enemy having
the possibility to manneuvre it.
In the afternoon of 25 September, the enemy counterattacks strongly, supported
by artillery and flamethrowers, and takes the Hill 100, in the rear-left
flank of the 6th Battalion. In this situation, the battalion's commander
brings the 1st Company (captain Alexandru Popescu) on the Hill 222 and
counterattacks in order to take Hill 100. The counterattack lasts by nightfall,
the enemy strength being superior and endowed with heavy firepower and
flamthrowers. Captain Alexandru Popescu charges in front of his company
and falls as a hero struck by the bullets of a machine gun. The same way
fall 2nd lieutenant Vasile Pop and 2nd lieutenant Miron Mihele, platoon
commanders. The 1st Company suffers heavy losses. According to the orders,
I counterattack with my reconnaissance company at evening and manage to
relieve the 1st Company, which falls back on a new postition. I remain
with my company the reached line and hold during the night against enemy
assaults. Due to the general front's situation, the battalion is ordered
to fall back on a new defensive position, at the crossing of Karasubasar
Valley with Shibik Valley, in the Krimskaya-Abinskaya-Shapsugskaya area.
29 September. General Radu Falfanescu was dismissed due to the
failure of the 3rd Mountain Division, in his place being appointed general
Leonard Mociulski. The battalion remains in close contact with the enemy,
in the following disposal: the 2nd Company (captain Cristea) in the right,
the 1st Company (lieutenant Lucian Ionescu) in the center, the Reconnaissance
Company (2nd lieutenant Constantin Nicolescu) in the left, in contact
with the German 116th Infantry Regiment, and the 3rd Company, less one
platoon, in the reserve. One platoon is deployed between the 1st and the
29 September - 19 October. The 6th Mountain Battalion was constantly
in action, withstanding the attacks of the enemy, which tried to find
out in force the precise position and strength of the battalion, carrying
incursions in the gaps of our defense disposal.
20 October. The German High Command disposed the setting up of
the defense and the well-off organization of a durable position, in the
anticipation of the opening out winter. It was arranged a continuous line
of defense, without gaps between units, in order to prevent incursions
behind the lines in the wooded and rough terrain.
The divisional headquarters were organized as following:
- General Leonard Mociulski, the commander of the 3rd Mountain Division,
had under direct command the 3rd Mountain Group, with three battalions
(5, 12, 22), a mountain artillery battalion, and the German 57th Infantry
Regiment, with its artillery.
- General Schleinitz, the commander of the German 9th Infantry Division,
commanded directly the 6th Mountain Group, with three battalions (6, 11,
21), a mountain artillery battalion, and the German 116th Infantry Regiment,
with its artillery.
The 6th Battalion was stretched on a 4,000 meters wide front, having deployed
the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and the reconnaissance companies in a single line. My
reconnaissance company was situated on the left flank of the battalion,
having its three platoons in a single line, with a ten men squad of each
platoon in the reserve, and was linked by the German 116th Infantry Regiment
with the 2nd platoon. The German 116th Infantry Regiment, commanded by
colonel Welsser, was defending an 1,000 meters front that was situated
much forward than the 1st Company in my right flank, due to the configuration
of the terrain. On this front we organized and built 30 wooden casemates.
Each casemate had three embrasures and was manned by two or three men,
outside the casemates being dug round antitank holes. In front of our
positions we built low barbed wire nets, wooden abatis and, in some areas,
December, 1942. The winter opened with snow and blizzard, the
defense perimeter of the battalion and of my company being concluded and
ready for battle. Each casemate had a tablet with its name, names with
historical connotations: ROVINE, PODUL INALT, CALUGARENI, GRIVITA, PLEVNA,
OITUZ, MARASESTI, PE AICI NU SE TRECE etc. Commander of the German 9th
Infantry Division, together with lieutenant colonel Ion Mardarescu, commander
of the 6th Mountain Battalion, and major Ion Petreanu, assistant of the
battalion's commander, inspected the entire perimeter of the 6th Battalion
and were very pleased of what they saw, while lieutenant colonel Welsser,
commander of the 116th Infantry Regiment, come to battalion's headquarters,
congratulated me when seeing the defense perimeter of the Reconnaissance
Company, and ordered the German unit in my right to keep permanent contact
with me by telephone and agent. In all this period of quietness when the
organization of the defense took place, daily reconnaissance missions
were carried out in the front of the perimeter, near the village of Shapsugskaya,
where the enemy's activity was intense, as the concentration of troops
for the winter offensives, of which we were informed that would follow,
started. Over our positions, the Soviet planes threw papers written in
Romanian, signed by general Romulus Dimitriu, which was captured at Stalingrad.
These papers read: "Romanian officers in Caucasus, surrender! Your
fate is sealed. A new Stalingrad awaits you."
Indeed, in this Caucasian perimeter surrendered by the Caucasus Mountains
in the south, the Caspic Sea in the east and the Azov Sea in the west,
there was a group of German-Romanian armies, consisting of 17th German
Army, commanded by General Erwin Jaenecke, and six Romanian divisions
(10th and 19th Infantry, 5th and 6th Cavalry, 2nd and 3rd Mountain). Of
these divisions, the farthest was 2nd Mountain Division, at Naltchik,
while 3rd Mountain Division was situated in the Krimskaya-Abinskaya-Shapsugskaya
area, 500 km away.
13 December. I organize a strong patrol of 15 skiers from my company
which, under command of Sergeant-Major Iacob Budau, carries a deep incursion
towards the enemy, reaching the outskirts of the village of Shapsugskaya,
inside the Russian artillery positions, and captures a NCO. The informations
obtained by this patrol were very useful in the respect of the future
operations in the winter of 1943. Incursions and patrols inside enemy
lines continue. Any troops deployment or movement of the enemy is known
in time by the battalion and reported to the higher echelon, respectively
to 9th German Infantry Division. All patrols sent by the reconnaissance
company confirm a great concentration of forces around the village of
Shapsugskaya, consisting of infantry, artillery and armor.
6 January 1943. The German company belonging of 116th Regiment,
situated in my right (commanded by 2nd Lieutenant Rosenkranz) is relieved
by the cavalry company of 9th German Infantry Division, commanded by Lieutenant
Brendeke. The German comrades come to wish farewell, while the new commander
needs to tell me that he will keep a good relation with me and our collaboration
will be as good as with the ones he relieved.
10 January. Major Petreanu, breveted in the command of the battalion
by the leaving for rest of Lieutenant-Colonel Mardarescu, wires us that
9th German Infantry Division informs that "The great Russian offensive
is impending". The patrol sent by me during the afternoon returns
and reports that strong forces flow on a wide front towards the position
of company and battalion.
12 January. The patrols dispatched at dawn reports that the enemy
forces are setting up for attack on the entire front of the battalion.
I visit each casemate and embolden the fighters. At 9:00 hours the enemy
airforce bombs and machineguns the defense perimeter of the battalion.
At 9:30 hours the artillery preparation starts. They fire with guns and
howitzers of all caliber, with katyushas and mortars. The bombardment lasts
more than one hour on the entire front of the battalion: in the right
flank, 2nd Company (2nd Lieutenant Victor Botocan), in the center the
company of Lieutenant Lucian Ionescu and in the left flank, the Reconnaissance
Company of 2nd Lieutenant Constantin Nicolescu. The bombardment was ferocious
but little efficient because all the casemats stays whole. An 150 mm shell
fell directly on the casemate named "Pe aici nu se trece" but
it held, finding afterward the plaque with its name thrown 50 meters away.
The mountain troops stand in their casemates with the fingers on the trigger,
waiting for the assault of the enemy infantry. Our mountain artillery
executes a precise barrage only 150-200 meters away from our positions,
down the slope, where the Russian infantry is ready to attack. After the
last shells of the enemy artillery, waves of soldiers with bayonets fixed
and intoxicated by alcohol, rush upon my company's position and upon the
entire front of the battalion. The automatic weapons - light and heavy
machine guns, submachine guns - open a deadly fire, the field of fire
limiting to approximately 100 meters because of the rough terrain. The
bolsheviks fall struck by the bullets of the mountain troops in casemates.
At the link between my company and 1st Company from my right, five tanks
appeared, but the cannon destroyed all of them in front of our position.
The Russians came swarming but few returned. The struggle lasts by evening.
The Russians fall back on their starting positions. In front of my company,
as well as on the entire position of the battalion, are laying hundreds
of bodies, as a proof of the courage and determination of the Romanian
mountain trooper. I visit each casemate and congratulate all the fighters,
especially the machine gunners (sergeants Bondar and Tataru). At nightfall
I go to each casemate and deliver bread, meat and cigarettes, because
nobody ate since last night at 3:00 hours.
13 January. At 2 hours in the night the company's master sergeant,
Ghinghilovschi, comes with the hot meal which he distribute to all the
figters "at the working place". It is a day of winter, bitter
cold. The morning seems quite, but the artillery and airforce activity
Around 10:00 hours, after a 50 minutes artillery preparation, the enemy
infantry makes the assault, the main effort being made to right of the
battalion, at my company. The automatic weapons of the three platoons
and of the machine-gun section, and the Brandt mortar, unleash a deadly
fire, crushing any attempt of enemy to approach the line of casemates.
Sergeant Major Budau and Sergeant Tataru make miracles of bravery. At
15:00 hours, Sergeant Major Budau is killed by a grenade of a 81 mm mortar,
just when he was leaving the casemate. I dispose that Sergeant Tataru
to take over the command of the platoon. 1st Class Private Moca makes
wonders with his little 60 mm mortar, placing grenades, like with his
own hand, which fall over 150-200 meters right on top of the attackers
that keep coming on the slope. At 17:00 hours the fight ceases on the
entire front of the battalion. The Russians retreat to their concentration
area, the village of Shapsugskaya.
Our losses: one killed (Sergeant Major Budau) and two wounded that I evacuate
14 January. I go with a team to survey the battlefield in front
of the company's position. It is a "nice" sight, with piles
of Russian bodies, all kind of weapons, all kind of ammunition, gas masks.
Among bodies I discover one major, two captains and one 2nd lieutenant.
I count 50 bodies in the first line down the slope. I wasn't below. I
believe there are plenty more, as there are noticeable tracks where they
dragged the dead and wounded. I salvage four light machine-guns, five
submachine-guns, two anti-tank rifles, thirty rifles, seven semi-automatic
rifles, gas masks, different tools and all kind of ammunition. From the
information obtained from the prisoners and from the observations made
during the battle, we learned that the enemy attacked the defense perimeter
of 6th Mountain Battalion with three battalions: 3rd Battalion of 81st
Marine Brigade, 1st and 2nd battalions of 103rd Cadets Brigade, of 900
men each, organized on seven companies (three rifle companies, one submachine-gun
company, one machine-gun company, one anti-tank rifle company and one
mortar company). In the close proximity of casemates it was count a number
of 350 dead from which were identified two majors and several subordinate
officers. It was stockpiled in front of the battalion 31 light machine-guns,
43 submachine-guns, 13 AT rifles, 9 mortars of various caliber, 3 machine-guns
and 250 rifles. The heroic resistance of 6th Battalion prevented the enemy
to break the defense positions to open the road to Krimskaya and to cut
the communication line Naltchik - Krasnodar - Krimskaya - Taman. From
time to time, enemy patrols of 1 - 2 platoons carries attacks that test
the strength of our defense, but they are repulsed with heavy casualties
for them. By megaphones are announced prizes of tens of thousands of rubles
for the any "desertors" that could provide information regarding
the strength of our defense position, in the respect of a new offensive.
Intelligence received from the German echelon informs us that the new
Russian offensive will be much more stronger and supported by tanks, and
we have to prepare and rebuild the round anti-tank holes, to be used in
the eventuality the tanks will try to destroy the casemates.
26 January 1943. The new, great, strong and true Russian offensive
begins on the entire front of 6th Mountain Battalion, supported by tanks.
At my company the attack begins at 11 hours, in the sector of 2nd platoon,
2nd Lieutenant Coroiu Ion, but without tanks because the terrain is rough.
The Russians attack, but could not get over the obstacles, abatis and
the minefield in front of our position. The machine-guns do their job.
The attack also begins at the rest of the Reconnaissance Company. The
struggle lasts by evening, with little breaks. The Russians fall back
down the slope. At 2:00 hours in the night they assault our position,
but fail to achieve something. Their losses are high. In front of the
perimeter an "unusual obstacle" made of the bodies produced
by the automatic weapons starts to take shape.
27 January. At 8 hours the attack is resumed on the entire front
of the battalion. At 1st company, Lieutenant Ionescu Lucian, in my right,
there is a tank attack. Six tanks are destroyed in front of the position
by the single Breda gun. All gunners are incapacitated. Several tanks
manage to break through our lines, but without infantry, and they retreat
because two tank are knocked out by the tank hunters. At 14:30 hours,
2nd Lieutenant Coroiu Ion is badly wounded by a heavy artillery shell.
I evacuate him at our neighbors in the left. The German stretch-bearers
take him to the first aid, then he is transported to the hospital in Krimskaya,
where he died. I promote Sergeant Dan in command of the platoon. I have
no officer or NCO in the platoons' command, but company holds and defends
its sector. At dusk the struggle ceases for a while.
28 January. At 1 hour in the night the attack starts at 1st Company
in my right, supported by tanks that break through our lines, six tanks
getting behind my position. I request help from the Germans in my left;
Lt. Brendeke sends a pioneers company (with reduced effective), commanded
by Lt. Formstein. I counterattack with this company and reestablish the
situation at 1st Company, remaking the defense line, while three tanks
are destroyed by German tank hunters. The pioneers company remains at
my disposal as reserve.
29 January. At 6:30 hours the Russian attack is resumed on the
entire front of the battalion. At 10 hours they break through 1st Company,
on a 200 meters front, and infantry and tanks pour deep and fall behind
the Reconnaissance Company, which is heavily attacked in front. I am almost
completely surrounded, but I can still contact the Germans in my right,
from which I request help. I transmit the situation to battalion HQ.
Lt. Cinteza Simion, chief of operations (and my friend), sends word to
resist as much as possible, as he is about to come with a platoon in my
support, and he requested help to 116th German Infantry Regiment. I resist
with my reserve squad in the ditch surrounding my command post, together
with the German company of pioneers. The tanks approaching my command
post stop about 200 meters away, because the ravine I knew of, stands
in their way. The Soviet infantry is exposed to a deadly fire of automatic
weapons, captured by us in the fights of January 12. The night is passing,
but the Russians are still inside our position.
30 January. A German infantry battalion with six assault guns,
with the addition of the pioneers company, counterattacks and reestablishes
the situation, restoring the defense line of 1st Company. The six Soviet
tanks behind my position are destroyed. The entire line of the battalion
is reestablished. Lt. Ionescu Lucian, commander of 1st Company, is badly
hit in the back. I evacuate him to the German neighbors in my left. A
prisoner I captured on January 28, a military school cadet, declared that
in the sector of my company operates 903rd Infantry Regiment, with 3000
men. After three days of fighting only 1500 men remained, the rest being
dead or wounded. Many have been shot by political commissars for the failure
of the attack. "3000 against 100. Well done soldiers of Reconnaissance
The fights continued daily in the same manner, with two assaults at daytime
and one at night, until February 4 1943, but the battalion held the ground.
2 February. During a Russian assault, the casemate "Calugareni"
was disabled, and some thirty Russians passed through the gap and reached
my command post.
Taking advantage of a moment of disorder for the enemy, I counterattacked
with my reserve squad of 10 men, armed with Russian SMGs, and managed
to wipe them out, half of them falling dead or wounded.
I want to mention that in front of my position, and of the entire battalion,
it was formed an obstacle made of bodies, that was very difficult to overpass
by the attackers, obstacle that was raising the morale of my men and lowering
4 February. 6th Mountain Battalion is relieved due to tiredness
and physical exhaustion, by 5th "Moti" Battalion, with the exception
of the sector of Reconnaissance Company, that was taken by a company of
116th German Infantry Regiment, commanded by Lt. Lang, a neighbor in my
left for two months. The commander of the battalion, Cpt. Kraus, is impressed
by the sight of the battlefield and he congratulate me for the way I organized
and conducted the defense on this 1000 meters front during the 10 days
of fierce fighting.
Indeed, in front of 6th Mountain Battalion, after it was replaced, were
found over 5000 bodies. Between January 26 and February 4 1943, 6th Mountain
Battalion was attacked by three infantry divisions, one independent brigade
and one tank brigade. Of the 50 tanks that took part in the battle, 36
were destroyed inside and in front of the battalion's position. At displacement
time, Reconnaissance Company had 85 men, out of 100 at the beginning of
the Russian offensive. The losses were: 5 dead and 10 wounded. Following
these glorious battles, 6th Mountain Battalion "Beius" is congratulated
by the commander of "Wetzel" Group, and by Gen. von Schleinitz,
commander of 9th Infantry Division to which it was subordinated, and he
name the battalion "the prussian battalion".
On February 4 1943, after replacement, 6th Mountain Battalion moves to
Abinskaya as division's reserve, for rest and recovery.
6 February. At 12 hours all officers gather at the mess hall.
We are 12 officers remaining out of 36 that left Beius garrison (6 being
in country for rest).
9 February. The defense minister General Pantazi, arrives at Abinskaya,
at HQ of 3rd Mountain Division, and as special delegate of HM King Mihai
I and of Marshal Antonescu, awards with "Mihai Viteazul" cl.
III order the following officers of 6th Mountain Battalion: Major Petreanu
Ioan, battalion commander, Lieutenant Cinteza Simion, chief of operations,
2nd Lieutenant Nicolescu Constantin, commander of Reconnaissance Company,
2nd Lieutenant Botocan Victor, commander of 2nd Company, Lieutenant Ionescu
Lucian, commander of 1st Company (missing and evacuated to Krimskaya hospital).
Minister Pantazi disposes that battalion sets forth and forwards to 3rd
Mountain Division the proposal to decorate the unit's standard with "Mihai
During the festive meal that followed, Cpt. Bercea Nicolae, chief of operations
of 3rd Mountain Division, mentioned that as far as he knows, at the moment,
out of the 70 battalion-level units operating in Caucasus, 6th Mountain
Battalion is the single unit that has five officers awarded with "Mihai
Viteazul" order. Hearing this, the minister said: "it is possible
to keep this record".
The great Soviet offensive of January 12 1943, whose objective was the
breaking of the defensive position of 6th Mountain Battalion and reaching
Krimskaya, in order to fulfill the encirclement of German-Romanian forces
in the Caucasian perimeter (17th German Army and six Romanian divisions),
failed due to the heroic resistance of 6th Mountain Battalion "Beius",
which received the main blow. Nor the prediction of the letters signed
by the captured General Romulus Dumitriu, thrown from the plane, regarding
"a second Stalingrad", accomplished.
13 February. 6th Mountain Battalion receives the following order
from the 116th German Infantry Regiment - Lt.-Col. Welsser: the Reconnaissance
Company 2nd Lt. Nicolescu to move urgently for action in the support of
the cavalry battalion of 9th German Infantry Division, whose sector was
attacked by the Russians that broke the first line of defense. The battalion's
commander, Cpt. Hanko, is an acquaintance of mine since the fights of
January 12 - February 4, when he was commanding the neighbors in the left
of my battalion.
I set off immediately, with the company, for the cavalry battalion's position.
Getting to the command post, I contact Cpt. Hanko, which informs me that
a Russian rifle company broke the defensive line and managed to get inside
their positions. I return to company, deploy one platoon and the machine-gun
section in front of the artillery, to check the Russian advance, and with
two platoons I sneak through a known narrow gully and get to Cpt. Hanko,
which fell back with Lt. Brendeke's platoon for defense. We counterattack
together in the flank, reestablish the broken defensive line, deploying
Brendeke's platoon on its initial position. We resume the counterattack
from the rear with my two platoons and annihilate the Russian company
pressing towards the artillery positions. Feeling surrounded and being
summoned, most of the Russians surrenders. The Reconnaissance Company
remains in the reserve of the reconnaissance battalion (Aufklarung
Abteilung - Ritmeister Hanko).
Night of 17-18 February . The Russians attack once more. The struggle
lasts by 14 hours, but my company and the German defenders withstand penetration
of the defensive position. The attack fails to create any gap in the line.
It is badly wounded 1st Class Pvt. Daraban, machine-gunner. He is evacuated
at once by the German comrades. In the evening, we toast a bottle of Russian
champaign - Cpt. Hanko, Lt. Brendeke and 2nd Lt. Nicolescu, respectively
two German officers and one Romanian officer. I feel between us the true
comradeship in arms.
January 28-30. The Germans helped me when I was almost completely
surrounded, sending in support a company of pioneers, with the help of
which I managed to resist, keeping my defensive position intact. Now it
was Cpt. Hanko to request "Aufklarung Kompanie" Leutnant
Nicolescu, to come in his support.
21 February. Captain Hanko informs me that at 14 hours I have
to leave with my company to 6th Mountain Battalion, according to the order
received from the 116th German Infantry Regiment. We take leave of each
other. At departure, Lt. Brendeke, my good comrade, told me: "Russians
took Krasnodar and set off to Abinskaya. May God help us see each other
in Crimea", and I answered: "if everywhere we will fight as
6th Mountain Battalion did, we surely meet in Crimea." At 15:30 hours
I move towards battalion. The march is very difficult on snow and blizzard.
22 February. I show myself with the company to battalion, which
left Abinskaya two days ago, according to the order of 116th German Infantry
Regiment, and it was deployed in the defense of the Valley of Abin, south
of Abinskaya. The Reconnaissance Company stays in the battalion's reserve.
The mission: building a shelter for the battalion's command post and organizing
a defensive line, on which the companies from the first line to fall back.
We are informed that the Russians took Krasnodar and they are 60 km away
11 March. We are visited by Lt.-Col. Welsser, commander of 116th
Infantry Regiment; he is pleased by the defensive position organized by
the Reconnaissance Company, in the second line of the battalion.
Night of 20-21 March. At 2 hours I start to feel awful stomachaches.
At 7 hours I transmit the situation to battalion and the fact that the
pains do not cease. At 12 hours arrives Captain Medic Folescu, accompanied
by Lt. Cinteza, chief of operations. The medic gives the diagnostic of
acute appendicitis and gives me paper for hospitalization. I feel an intense
grief for having to leave my men, which I shared with the sufferings and
difficulties, but also the fervor of the fights we carried. I take my
leave from them and at 13 hours I am taken on stretcher by four strong
soldiers from my company that I have led for six months now. The soldiers
hurry to take me out of the bombing area. After two hours of being carried
on stretcher, we get to the German "wagon station". We hug and
the four soldiers go back to company. The German first aid post embarks
me in a sleigh, well covered with blankets and warm sandbags, and transports
me to the German ambulance. At 18 hours, the ambulance vehicle takes me
to the German hospital in Krimskaya. Two doctors come to see me, they
make injections for pain relief and they tell me they cannot operate me
because the hospital is going to be evacuated and the following day I
will be transported by plane to Crimea.
22 March. At 12 hours we land on Sarabuzo airfield, in Crimea,
18 km away from Simferopol. It was my first travel by plane. I was together
with 22 "evacuated". All of them "puked" due to airsickness.
I bore up. At 15 hours I leave for Simferopol with the Romanian ambulance
vehicle and I am hospitalized in the field hospital no. 7 of the Romanian
Mountain Corps, in room 19, where there were eight officers, among which
I found the chaplain of my battalion, Captain Chaplain Lupsa Gheroghe.
23-26 March. I am under the observation and care of Captain Medic
Manolescu, for the analysis required before surgery. In the evening of
March 23 1943, 23:30 hours, I listen to the radio the list of army promotions.
I hear my name: I am promoted to a lieutenant. Thanks God !
27 March. 10 hours: the scalpel handled by doctor Manolescu, assisted
by 2nd Lt. Medic Popescu, goes into action. The surgery, with local anesthesia,
went well, the doctors telling "jokes" all the time. 15 days
of hospitalization followed.
13 April. I am released from hospital and I am handed the permission
paper for vacation, issued by Mountain Corps. At 24 hours I get into the
train in Simferopol station and I start off to my country, the country
which I fought for in Caucasus.
16 April. 16 hours: I cross the Dniester at Tighina. Praise God
! I no longer believed I could feel this joy ! I dream of permission paper
10 May. Dressed in the white mantle, I attend the parade of May
10, having a seat reserved in the special tier of "Mihai Viteazul"
holders, vis-a-vis of the official tier, from where HM King Mihai I and
Marshal Antonescu attend the defiling of the army.
19 May. I leave Bucharest at 22 hours; I get to Tighina and cross
the Dniester. The beautiful dream ended.
24 May. I show up to 3rd Mountain Division's commander, General
Mociulski Leonard, that entitles me to train the march company of the
battalion for several days.
30 May. General Mociulski introduces me to the new commander of
6th Mountain Battalion (arrived from country): Lieutenant-Colonel Ionescu
Paul. The General speaks to me: "Brave one, take him with you and
teach him the ways of war", and then tells to Lt.-Col.: "Take
him in your staff and entitle him chief of operations of the battalion".
At 6 hours I set out with a car, together with the new commander, to the
battle position of the battalion.
On the way we are cought by a heavy rain, that brings us to a halt for
three hours. No car can move. At the same time we assist at an air bombing
and dogfights: six enemy planes crash under our eyes. We resume the travel
and we push the car about five kilometers.
In this context I meet the German Lieutenant Brendeke, my neighbor in
the left, we helped us each other this winter. He leaves in permission
to his country, I go back to my duty. We shake our hands again and we
wish each other: "may God help us meet in Crimea". At 19 hours
we reach Gretchinskoy at CP of 6th Mountain Group, where we remain over
31 May. I show up to battalion with the new commander and I remain
as chief of operations on battalion. I visit my company, few are left.
My good orderly, my devoted Avram is gone - it is a loss that cause me
grief. The battalion is situated in the second line, working at a new
defensive position, north of Bakanskaya, about 50 km west of the last
defensive position on the Valley of Albin, from where I was evacuated
for hospitalization. In 70 days of fighting we gave up about 50 km, the
battalion successfully carrying out the defensive fight of falling back
on successive positions.
1-14 August. 3rd Mountain Division, respectively 6th Mountain
Battalion, took part in the defensive battles on successive positions,
the last positions being situated on the Black Sea shore, east of Anapa,
near the city of Taman.
14-20 August. 3rd Mountain Division crosses the Kerch strait by
ferries and regroups in Crimea, and 6th Mountain Battalion is assigned
to defend the southern shore of Azov Sea, in the gulf of Kazantip.
5 October. Battalion receives from 3rd Mountain Division the General
Headquarters' order of transferring Lt. Nicolescu Constantin to country,
at the infantry military school of Sibiu. My replacement, as specified
by the order, is 2nd Lieutenant Scorus Nicolae, from this school.
8 October. Battalion expedites by agent "Memoir-Proposal"
for decorating the flag of the unit with "Mihai Viteazul" order.
21 October. Arrives at battalion my replacement, 2nd Lt. Scorus
Nicolae from Sibiu military school. I visit my soldiers of the Reconnaissance
Company on the seashore, I talk to them, they know I am transfered, but
I don't take mt leave of them because I didn't decide yet to leave to
country and I find it very hard to split up with them.
Night of 24-25 October. At 1 hour I leave the CP, going to my
place to sleep. At 2 hours, Master Sergeant Buzica, my assistant at bureau
of operations, comes and tells me: "Lieutenant Sir, I have order
from Lt.-Col. Ionescu Paul to prepare your leave, to embark you in the
wagon, to take you to Semkolodosey station and to put you in the train.
All papers are signed by Colonel, that momentarily is away, being summoned
to division". I ask: "What happened?". The answer is:"I
now nothing". I packed my campaign chest, took my skis and left together
to Semkolodosey station. At 4 hours I got on the train of "permission-holders"
and departed to country.
It was the last train that left Crimea through Perekop strait, this being
already blocked by the shelling of Russian artillery.