Soldat (soldier), Romanian Infantry December 1942 Sergent (cape), Romanian cavalry, 1942 Capitan, Romanian Infantry, late 1941
Operation München was the name of the main offensive by the German and
Romanian armies on the Prut river, which separate Bessarabia and
Bukovina to the north of Romania. The 5th Romanian Army Corps had to
establish a bridgehead on the Prut in the Falciu-Tiganca area. After a
short artillery initial fire (due to a lack of ammunition), the 6th
Romanian Guards regiment crossed river and swamps and engaged Russian
units in defense in the heights. The battle lasted 2 weeks with the
engagement of infantry and engineer units as well as guards units.
Tiganca, Stoenesti, hill 93 and Epureni Hill were the place of fierce
combats. On the 15th July, the 5th Army Corps succeeded to clear the
bridgehead and carried on his advance. But the battle of Tiganca had
cost more of 8 000 losses (KIA and injured) to the two Romanian
divisions engaged in the battle.
The 5th Corps, made up of the Guard Division (CO: brig. gen. Nicolae
Sova) and the 21st Infantry Division (CO: maj. gen. Nicolae Dascalescu),
received the task of establishing a bridgehead over the river Prut in
the area opposite of Falciu. It had rained a lot and this only added to
the difficulty of offensive. The lunca was flooded and the water barrier
was 200-600 m wide.
The initial attack started on 5
July and was carried out by the Guard Division. However it failed. The
Romanians had been stopped by the powerful resistance encountered on the
Epureni Hill and near the villages Stoenesti and Tiganca. At noon, the
21st Infantry Division received the order to force the river Prut and
assist the offensive of the Guard Division. The attack was going to take
place during the night. The infantry was supposed to cross on the
railroad bridge near Bogdanesti. The artillery was going to remain
behind on the right bank, until a bridge could be built at Falciu.
his reconnaissance, gen. Dascalescu decided that the attack should be
carried out by the 24th Infantry Regiment , with two battalions in the
first line. At 1:00 am the troops started to cross the bridge, which had
previously been damaged by a bombardment, through the rain. The next
day (6 July), the two battalions were ready to attack at 9:00 am. But
the bombers which were supposed to assist them did not arrive. At 10:00
am it was decided to start the attack without air support. The airplanes
appeared, but at 10:30 and attacked the Romanian troops by mistake.
With all the confusion, the 2nd Battalion managed to approach the
village of Stoenesti, advancing with difficulty through the marshes in
the area. The assistance of the 30th Artillery Regiment was requested,
but for unknown reasons it did not materialize. However, at 8:00 pm, the
24th Regiment had already reached the Epureni Hill and the 1st
Battalion was assaulting it. The losses of the first day: 26 dead and
166 wounded. Meanwhile, the Guard Division managed to brake the Soviet
resistance in front of it and establish a solid bridgehead, through an
attack carried out by a detachment of 5 battalions, under the command of
col. Alexandru Cozloschi.
During the night, the 24th
Regiment had to face a powerful artillery bombardment and then was
pushed back. The next day, the attack started at 11:00 am. The fighting
lasted until 5:00 pm. The Epureni Hill had been captured. The 11th and
12th Regiments (from the 21st Infantry Division) started to cross the
river Prut, and the 6th Guard Regiment ‘Mihai Viteazu’ (from the Guard
Division) advanced in the south of the Leca Plateau. But the 24th
Infantry had suffered heavy casualties: the 1st and 3rd Battalion were
at 50% and the 2nd Battalion at 75%. The recon company had been reduced
to 25% its original size. The operation was supported by the 1/2nd Guard
Vanatori (infantry) Regiment. The 3rd Battalion attacked through the
heavy rain, it crossed the Balacea creek under heavy artillery and
machine-gun fire and managed to advance to the western side of the
Tiganca Hill., between the villages Stoenesti and Tiganca.
8 July, the 11th Regiment entered in the first line south of Tiganca.
It was however powerfully assaulted. At about 10:00 am, col. Bardan, the
regiment’s Coreported that he was in a desperate situation together
with the 1st Battalion. They were almost out of ammo. At noon, it was
again attacked. Two companies pulled back, but col. Bardan remained on
the position together with 68 men. He ordered the regiment’s flag to be
raised and the trumpet sounded the attack. Meanwhile, gen. Dascalescu
took over the rest of the 11th Regiment and counterattacked, saving the
situation. The 12th Regiment, situated in the area of the Epureni Hill
was also attacked, but it stood firm.
On 9 July, the
1/2nd Guard Vanatori Regiment attacked on the direction of Hill 120 –
Hill 196 on in the Toceni Hills. After very heavy fighting and numerous
Soviet counterattacks, the regiment managed to take Hill 196 at about
5:00 pm. It had advanced 7 km. Two young officers were awarded the
‘Mihai Viteazul’ Order 3rd class, following this action. The fighting
continued intensively in the sector of the 21st Infantry Division, where
col. Gheorghe Nicolescu, the CO 12th Regiment, died heroically in the
line of duty.
The battle reached its climax on 12
July. The Guard Division was strongly attacked in the sector of the
1/2nd and 2/9th Guard Vanatori Regiments. The assault lasted 16 hours.
The two regiments held their positions with much difficulty. All the
reserves were thrown into the battle, the pioneers and even the command
groups. The violence was extreme. Hand to hand combat was frequent. The
example of the 3rd Battalion from the 1/2nd Guard Vanatori Regiment is
eloquent. Although almost surrounded on the Cania Hill, it continued to
resist on its position. The 21st Infantry Division, reduced to 4
battalions, was also attacked by two Soviet divisions, but it stood
The Combat Air Grouping had an important role in
the defeat of the Soviet offensive. Between 8:50 am and 5:30 pm, almost
37 tons of bombs were dropped on Soviet artillery positions and
concentration areas. 120 sorties were flown, of which 59 were by
bombers. The POWs taken stated that the air bombardment caused up to 40%
of the casualties suffered by the Red Army that day near Tiganca. Thus
the evacuation planed for the night of 12/13 July was cancelled. During
the fighting in July, the Combat Air Grouping dropped 134.5 tons of
bombs in support of the 5th Corps. The Soviet attacks continued until 14
July, but much weaker. On 15 July, the Guard and 21st Infantry
Divisions managed to break out of the bridgehead and advance into
Bessarabia. The Battle of Falciu/Tiganca was over. The casualties
suffered by the two divisions were very high: 2,743 by the Guard
Division and 6,222 by the 21st Infantry Division.
No less than 17 ‘Mihai Viteazul’ Orders, 3rd class, were awarded for this battle, of which 6 posthumously. The highest ranking officer decorated was maj. gen. Nicolae Dascalescu. Apparently, Antonescu took off his own MV order (received during WWI) and gave it to the general, during an inspection. Dascalescu was in fact the first Romanian officer this distinction during WWII (after Antonescu got the 2nd and 1st class). The 21st Infantry Division’s battle flag was also decorated with this award.