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Romanian Campaign of 1916,The Campaign in Dobrogea

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Romanian Campaign of 1916

Chapter II

Dobrogea Campaign

1.Bulgaria Against Romania

Bulgaria is leaving the old friends

In the wake of the Balkan War and of the Peace of Bucharest,Bulgaria threw herself,entirely, in the arms of Austro-Hungary.She has thus broken the friendship connections with Russia ,to which she was linked bythe most holly duties of gratitude.Plevna,Sipka and San Stefano have been forgoten(Russo-Turkish War, 1877–78).And against Romania,it has been unleashed in the political circles ,intelectual and military of Bulgaria,the most blind hatered.This savage hatered against Romania it was not justified,at all.The action of Romania in 1913 was not either a "treson ",neither a"villainy attack from behind",as the Bulgarians like to call it.Romania had no obligation towards Bulgarians;all the obligations were on their part.Romania did not obstacle Bulgaria to declare and wage war agains Turkey for liberating her conationals;it even followed with simpathy her action and received officialy from her part the most warm thanks"for the brilliand atitude and for the new proves of good and amicable feelings towards Bulgaria"*.

As open ,though,Romania declared that it will keep strict neutrality,as long as it isn't about territorial exchanges,and when the considerable increase of territory of Bulgaria become a sure thing,Romania has asked for legitime compensation,which they owed.At the Bulgarian roundabouts,Romania declared to Bulgaria ,without any hesitation,that she will stand her rights-if needed with the weapon in hand.But Bulgaria did not want to consider the modesty and the bases of Romanian demands.It was asked ,in this way,to a state which,after 35 years of national life,who had the unhoped luck to fulfill almost entirely,ethnic unity,to give up to those that helped it continuously to acomplishe this grandious thing,a thin piece of land from the most not Bulgarian part of their Kingdom.It was needed for all stuborness of men of state of Sofia,their total lack of political sense,all the patologic megalomany of ther King,as well as all the ingratitude,for this modest and rightful pretention to be"refused",and to unleash a national conflict between two states which had same interests.

The foreign policy of Bulgaria was lead by Tzar Ferdinand in the sentiment of hatered and thirst of revenge.The Tzar personallity did not sweet,but on the contrary,hurshed this vengeful atitude by his own resentments.A diplomat and historian makes the Zar this portrait ,very little complimentary:"an enigmatic character to which his power of hypocrisy,his revengefull refinements,his will to mistaken national missfortunes of his people with the particular wounds of his personal ego,had made him to be compared with an Italia tirant from the times of Renaissance,with a contemporary of Borgia lost in XX-th century".

The breakout of the European War ,reflammed in the souls of Bulgarians ,near to the thirst ove revenge for the defeat of 1913,and of the most extravagant hopes.The confessed program of their demands comprised territories which had to be razed from all neighbours:from the Greeks-territories Kavalla,Drama and Seres;from the Turks-Adrianopol to line Enez-Midie;from Romanians-Dobrogea Noua(New Dobroge).The unconfessed ideal by the government,but agitated by Bulgarian propaganda,was going way further:South of Albania to which they can reach Adriatic Sea,Serbia to Morava,to come into contact wit Austro-Hungary,Old Dobrogea(Dobrogea Veche) to the mouths of Danube River to come into contact with the Bulgarian colonialists of Southern Basarabia!

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Under the influence of Tzar Ferdinand ,the Bulgarian politics enters openly in spheres of influence of Austro-Hungary,implicit of the Central Powers.From these,Bulgaria hoped to repair"The Unjust of Bucharest" and to acomplish her national ideal.Speculating this hope ,the political chiefs of Austro-Hungary ,and especially Tisza,were making use of Bulgaria to exercise a blackmail agaist Romania.Still,in the first days of the European War,Bulgaria leaves to be understood that it would give her concur.The position of Bulgaria in the middle of Balkans Peninsula,had a great significance for the War in this sector;by this sector could be kept in chess ,Turkey.The Entente precipitated to win Bulgaria with the promise of territories on the expense of its Balkanic neighbours.Giving course to a suggestion of Venizelos,Sazonov thought he could revive the Balkanic Alliance.With this aim,he asked the balkanik neighbours ,of Bulgaria,to make to this ,concesions of territories which they earned by"Peace of Bucharest".These pretentions rose a paynful protest from Serbia,caught in desperate fight against Austro-Hungary,as Venizelos,sensing the double-game of Bulgaria,has pronounced for using "the manner forte".The Russian victory of Lemberg tempered the zel of Sazonov:the Bulgarian concur was not so urgent.On the other hand,the Bulgarian pretentions were so exagerated and unjust,as it would have been utterly impossibele to reach an understanding.The greed of Bulgaria could not stay at side but only with the lack of scrupuls of the Central Powers.

Next to Romania,Bulgaria understood tu use dissimulative behaviour,hypocrisy:even at 4th of August,Radev declares to Bratianu that Bulgaria is faithful to Austria and wishes the friendship of Romania;she will advance in Macedonia but will respect the new frontier with Romania.

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Bulgaria treaties

As Bulgaria received to have offers made,by both sides and bargained hard,she closed with Austro-Hungary ,at 6th of September 1914,a secret treaty of"Amicable politics" and of"mutual support".The two contracting states obliged themselves to put into action all military forces against the state which might attack one of the two fellows.This state could only be ,none other than Romania;the aggressive politics of Ballplatz was beginning to realise itself.

The negociations of Bulgaria with the Entente continued,somehow.The obstacle was the Bulgarian pretention to imediately take in possesion Macedonian territories reclamed by Serbia.This ,seemed ,even to the Bulgarofil Sazonov,excessively outrageous:it would have been cruel and unmoral to ask the Serbs ,these faithful and heroic allies ,to agree to an amputation of their territory,even when they were engaged in to decissive fight against the commune enemy.That is why,a second intervention of the Entente made in November 1914,after the entering of the Turks next to the Central Powers,has remained without any result,whatsoever;same with the third intervention in December,as a result of the Austrian offensive in Serbia.Fighting heroic,Serbia managed by herself to defeat the Austrians and to take them out of the country[1];the intervention of Bulgaria was now,not so pressing as to be bought with a price which not even Greece,neither Romania were not willing to pay.Besides,it was not asked anymore to Bulgaria the entering in the War,but a simple good will neutrality.

In January 1915,by the initiative of Sir Grey,the Entente made the fourth trial,made possible by the fact that it was promissed to the Greeks territorial compensations in Asia Minor,as well as the cede of the Island of Ciprus.The French tasked with tratatives in Sofia,Duke Guise,Chief of the Legitimeers in France,cousin of Zar Ferdinand.This one,under different pretextes,would not take any engagement towards Entente;in the same time he was receiving from Berlin a loan of 75 millions of marks.

The Anglo-French Expedition in Dardanelles, and the weakening of military power of Russia ,brought to evidence by Mackensen offensive ,came to change deeply the elements of Balkans problem.They showed that the assistance given by the small Balkanic powers it was not only desired,as until now,but indispensable.Dardanelles not being possible to be forced by sea,it only remained the possibility be turned ,by armed landings(General Sir Ian Hamilton).And here,the concur of Bulgarians was the most pretious.That is why,in the summer months ,under the impulse and direct conduct of Delcasse,it have been retaken new and minutious tratatives with the Bulgarians.The Bulgarians showed,this time,the program of their pretentions:Macedonia,Kavalla,Southern Dobrogea.But the negotiations ,made more heavy by the lack of trust inspired by Bulgarians ,have not reached other result but to indispose the friend countries to which painful sacrifices were imposed for the advantage of a government reckless and unsafe.The Entente addmited in principle the Bulgarian revendications,taking the obligation to ensure the countries asked by these sacrifices,gully compensations .But the Bulgarians hesitated in making formal declarations,entangling in delatory formulaes,asking all kinds of precissions over the stretch of the said territories,the dates of surrendering them,asking for this to anticipate the date of their entering in the War,then they dived in to total silence.The reason was that Zar Ferdinand ,following is double-game,was on the step to cross evident on the side of Austro-Hungary.At the end of August,Austro-Hungarian troops start to mass in Banat,in vecinity of Serbia,as Bulgarian troops were gathering towards the Eastern border of Serbia.

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The Duke of Mecklenburg,send by Emperor Wilhelm,arrived at SOfia in an ostentative visit and managed to dismiss the last hesitations of Zar Ferdinand of Bulgaria.At 4th of September 1914,Bulgaria closed an acord with the Central Powers known only by the King and the primeminister.Bulgaria was obliging herself to enter in War against Serbia and against the Entente,in 35 days.By the political conditions of the treaty,it was set the unclothing of Serbia not only of Macedonian territories ,but also by her old territories until Morava,for the profit of Bulgaria,as a price of military colaboration ,of this one.The paragraph 2 of the convention , developed the old understanding pretaining the works against Romania:"In the case in which Romania,during the present conflict,without any provokation from the Bulgarian Government ,would attack Bulgaria,her allies or Turkey,Austro-Hungary will agree to give to Bulgaria the territories ceded to Romania by Bucharest Treaty,as well as rectifying the Bulgaro-Romanian frontier draw by Berlin Treaty".

The representatives of Entente have started to have serious suspicions ,which have confirmed when they saw that,by good understanding,Turkey gave Bulgaria an important stretch of land along the right shore of Maritia together with Karagas,the socket neighbourhood over the river of Adrianopole,necessary to posses the railway which unites Adrianopole with Dedeagaci,It was obvious was payed the price of military colaboration with Turkey and the frontpay of territorial obligations taken by the central Powers.Still,Delcasse have not given up;judging more with logic than with the knowing of the Bulgarian psychology,he kept his firm convincing that Bulgaria will pass to the Entente,of which all intrests connected her.

Although the passing of Bulgaria in the opposite camp,was obvious,Radoslavov continued to lie the representatives of Entente,even after , at 24th September they declared general mobilization of the army.He tried to explain that"the mobilization of the army is nothing else than passing from unarmed neutrality to armed neutrality".Playing the comedy,he protested with tears in his eyes and tremble in his voice of the purity of his intentions,that he has no aggresive veleity against Serbia,whatsoever,that in Sofia are no German officers,that his heart is aking with pain to the thought that his efforts, would be perilled, to keep the brotherly relations with Russia.Faced with this shamelessness,the Entente ministers broke relations with Bulgaria,at 5th of October .In the same day disembarked at Salonic the firsts of the British-French military contingents,with the purpose of bringing different arguments in the controversy of Balkans Peninsula.They came unfortunately too late,not only to intimidate the Bulgarians,but to effectively take part in the fight.

Bulgaria throws away the mask.As Mackensen was forcing the crossing of Danube River,making thus the invasion of Serbia from North to South,Bulgaria attacked this one from behind.The failed tratatives had also a political epilogue :Delcasse,the French Foreign Minister,payed with his portfolio and with his political creer the ilussion in which he has been entangeled.

Cornered from three parts by powerful enemies,Serbia died heroicly.The help of the allies was tardive,and not enaugh.In the Valley of Vardar[3],the plebian hand of the Bulgar rose up,hitting hard the few British and French troops.Ceding in the face of the overwhelming numerical superiority ,the French-British Army of General Sarrail retreated at Salonic,which he transformed in a strong camp,well strenghtened.To the stuborness of Briand,the French Prime Minister,it is owed the maintenance of this seed of army at Salonic;he would play an important role in the unfolding of the events in Balkans.

As about Romania ,the unfavorable situation of the European fighting fronts,have obstacled her to give help to her neighbour.By maintaining neutrality,Romanian did not give to the Central Powers the necessary pretext for the premeditated aggression,as was written in the paragraph 2 of the convention with Bulgaria.

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Preparing the Bulgarian attack against Romania

The campaign plan against Romania and the role given to Bulgaria in this aggression has been established in the war council,held at the German Headquarter of Pless,at 29th July 1916.

The fundamental conception of this plan was the following:as on the Carpathians frontier will be made operations with demonstrative character,aimed to delay the advance of the principal Romanian forces which will attack this front,the Bulgarian-German-Turkish,concentrated on the Dobrogean frontier,will have the principal mission.They will attack the strenghtened position on Danube River shore,Turtucaia and Silistra and will advance in Dobrogea to the middle of it,in the most narrowed part ,between Danube River and the Black Sea.After touching this line,the bulk of the forces will be withdraw from Dobrogea and,strengtened with new troops and strong material,will be throwed cross the Danube River,at Sistov,in Bucharest direction.The Austro-Hungarian Generalisim Conrad von Hotzendorf sustains the ideea of an imediate offensive against Bucuresti(Bucharest) as being the safest of means to ligthten the situation in Ardeal.This ideea has not been accepted by the German Commandment,which found it too risky.The Danube could not be crossed ,while the right flank of the Bulgarian Army was threatened by Romanian Troops,and Russians,which were concentrating in Dobrogea.The Bulgarian Commanders were backing up the iddea of offensive in Dobrogea ,which would give them mastering over the territory wanted by them,as an acomplishment of the so called ideal,"PanBulgar".That is why ,at the installation of the Hindenburg duality-Ludendorff ahead of the German Commandment,Mackensen have received the order to attack the Dobrogean forehead(frontier) and,only after he would have consolidated here his positions,to attempt crossing Danube River,at an epoch which would be indicated by the progress of operations on Transilvanian Front.

Pretaining this operation,the fleet of Austrians monitors have descended the Danube River and anchored at Rasciuk,and the park of heavy pontoons of Austro-Hungarian Geniu,destined to throw a bridge over Danube,has been brought in total secrecy and hidden in Belene Channel,at the back of Persina Islet(ostrov).

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The operations against General Sarrail(Salonic Army)

A great importance had the unfolding of the operations at South of Danube River,the Salonic Front.General Sarrail Army,symbol of the same cause defended by the allies,because it was made out of French,British under the Command of General Sir Ian Hamilton,Serbs,Russians,Italians[4],had, here, to acomplish not only a military role,but also a political one.Her presence at Salonic played an important role in the decission of Romanian to join the War.The military actions of the Salonic Army had a great signifficance over the unfolding of actions at Danube River.

In the case of a strong Russian-Romanian offensive,started from the Dobrogen frontier towards South,a simultaneously and convergent action of General Sarrail Army,from South towards North,would have brought very important results.Unfortunately,the corps of 200 000 men promised by Sazonov and Alekseev to Nicolae Filipescu,with the occasion of a visit made by this one on the Russian Front in the spring of 1916,has been reduced at less than one quarter.The Protocol signed by Briand and Loyd George[5] at Paris,at 11th of August 1916,by wich it was decided the rising of the effectives of the Russian help in Dobrogea ,from 50 000 ,as was in the military convention,to 200 000,as it has been calculated to be nesessary for a real effect and to help the action of the Salonic Army,has been totaly refused by Alekseev.There was no question ,now,about a decissive action in this part.Neither General Sarrail Army,would have not been capable of an action in great style.She was tasked to enterprize against the Bulgarian Front only demonstrative actions,to fix here as many Bulgarian forces as possible.

In the same time,though,the enemy,well aware by the peril ,menacing him from this part and wanting to have free hands in the action planned against Romania,decided to take offensive against the group of armies of the Entente at Salonic.With this face,the Bulgarians went ahead:General Sarrail has been surprised in the midst of his preparatives ,by the Bulgarian offensive.At 17th of August 1916,the Bulgarians attack West of the left wing of Orient Army,made out of Serbs troops and seize Florina,and the second day ,Banica.At the East wing ,they cross Mesta in Greece and Struma,and seize Drama,Seres and Kavalla.The Greeks,on the territory where the fight was taking place,do not oppose any resistance ,whatsoever[6],they leave their forts in the hands of Bulgarians and let to be disarmed.They are send to Germany,wehere they are interned.The filo-German politics of King Constantin exposed the Greek army to the supreme humilliation ,to be disarmed,without fight,by the enemy defeated three years before;it constituted in the same time ,a grave threat for the back of General Sarrail Army.

At 23rd of August,the front of General Sarrail Army,is bent in the form of an arch of circle;both wings are pushed inside.With difficulty,the front can equilibrated;the resistance is organized;the Bulgarian offensive is stopped.But the result is,that the planned offensive of General Sarril,which supposed to ease the Romanian action,could not take place anymore.On the contrary,the roles are exchanged.The breakout of Romanian War and the beginning of the campaign on the Dobrogean frontier is wellcomed by General Sarrail;he can breath now,and work to consolidate his positions.

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Bulgaria declares war to Romania

Even since July 1916,news from diferent streams signalled to the Romanian government that Bulgaria woud have tired by the war which was longer than her expectations and that the belief in the triumph of the Cental Powers begun to shake.In this sense,Radoslavov[7] made to the Romanian Minister at Sofia,Derussi,the direct question if Romanian would eventually want to serve as middle near the Entente for a separate peace,which would give Bulgaria guarantees for the possesion of a part of Macedonia and keep Zar Ferdinand on the throne of Bulgaria.The Romanian Minister send to its government these suggestions,adding that,face with the Bulgarian duplicity and of the overpowerful German influence,it could not put to much trust on these proposals.Besides,the Romanian Minister at Sofia kept the Romanian Government informed by the vengeful dispozition of the conducting spheres of Bulgaria and of the public opinion of Bulgaria towards Romanians,as well as the intensive preparatives made for a war with Romanian.

To produce confussions in the political circles watching his activity,Radoslavov,with a lack of scrupuls ,deconcentrated even for an oriental diplomat,was lying left and right,to mask his real intentions.

In the day before entering of Romania in the War against Austro-Hungary,the Ministers of Entente at Bucharest-Blondel,Barklay and Poklevski-have given to Bratianu(Romanian Prime Minister) a note by which they announce to him that"the president of the Bulgarian council,declaring,in the most official way,to the Minister of His British Majesty at Sofia,that Bulgaria will keep a strict neutrality and will not attack Romania,if this one will participate to an action against Austria,the representatives of the Entente have notified Radloslavov tht they take into account this declaration".In the same time ,he declared to an Hungarian journalist from "Az Est",which interwied him:"Our relations with Romania are more than corect,loyal and of good vecinity:they are safe.No missunderstanding separates us".Two months and a half after this in Sobraniei Bulgarian meeting[8] of 12th of November 1916,the same Radoslavov declared with cinism:"As I was negociating with the Romanian rpresentative and I was sleeping him with my words,i was taking all the dispozitions,and once the moment has come ,I threw myself over aginst Romanians"

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In fact,Radoslavov goes through a cisis of undecissiveness and his declarations carry not only the seal of cinism and felony but also the mask of his hesitations which he seeks to present to the allies as a diplomatic stratagem.

In the day of War Declaration made to Austro-Hungary,the Romanian Minister at Sofia,presented the Bulgarian Government a note,by which the Romanian Government assured Bulgaria of no aggressive intention,but stated in the same time ,on a very determinate tone,by the danger it threatened Bulgaria,in the case in which she woud enterprize hostilities against Romania.The eventuality of an understanding with Bulgaria was so problematic,though,as all the measures have already been taken for the forseen breaking:the protection of the Romanians in Bulgaria was given to Spain Minister and the archives of Romanian Legation in Sofia have been burned.

Bulgaria did not imediately mansifested her intentions.As Germany and Turkey have declared War to Romania,even the second day,after our War Declaration towards Austro-Hungary,at Sofia was quiet.This atitude ,not understood ,was unresting the Bulgarian allies.At General German Headquarters and Austro-Hungarians was a clear temperamentation.The German and Austrian press had begun to attack Bulgaria,accusing her of felony.The German Minister at Sofia did not hide his despy,and the German officers and their families begun to pack up,making insults and threats to their suspicious ally.

It was obvious that the Bulgarian Government was going through a serious spiritual crisis and hesitates in taking a decission.The military circles were lokking with unrest to an eventuality of an advance through Dobrogea of Romanians and Rusians-of which force,even the Romanian official communicate ,has fixed it at 200 000 men-and,in the same time that of the Greeks and of the armies of Entente through Macedonia.The ideea of war against Russia,was ,on the other hand,disliked by a great part of the public opinion in Bulgaria.The opposition parties :Ghesovists,Rusofil Democrats,the majority of the Agrarians,were partizans for Separate Peace,with Russia as intermediator.It was ,then,felt within the army a sort of tireness:the Bulgarian peasant cannot be kept to long campaigning,his instinct of landworker calls him back to the field.Even in the most intimate circles of his partizans,Radoslavov was adviced to think to Separate peace.

The death of Radosavov,the ex-Prime-Minister,by the name of which the Bulgarian desaster is connected in the general War,has brought to actuality an old problem,which pretains directly the diplomatic preparations of Bratianu Government(Romanian) about entering in to action of Romania.

It was said after Turtucaia,and it has been cuntinued to be debated,making accusations,that our entering in the War has not been preceeded by the necessary guarantees,to shelter us against an eventual attack from South of Bulgaria as our armies were crossing Carpathian Mountains to acomplishe the national ideal.This was one of the blames which has been exploited for years against Romanian Government which prepared the War.Today the affair does not seem clarified for everybody,within us.The memory of the defeats in the first part of the War,which ended,after all-with the victory of Marasesti,where the Romanian armies were coverd by ancestors glory-with wholing of Great Romania,makes to resist still a legend which must be destroyed.Today generation,especially because it has suffered more,has the right to know,she firstly,the historical truth over the diplomatic preparation of Romania,at wich she contributed with painful sacrifices.But as historical truth can only be reestablished by documents ,we will reproduce in the followings one of those diplomatic documents wich will make disappear even the last shadow of doubt which could have remained in Romanian public opinion over the conditions in which Romania prepared the offensive against Austro-Hungary.

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*

The Government presided by I.C. Bratianu ,stopping at the solution of the offensive in Carpathian Mountains,it was natural to preoccupy firstly by the attitude of Bulgaria ,for the case of our entering in action.It was an elementary duty that the Romanian Army to be sheltered by an eventual attack from South.In this aim,Bratianu Government wanted to have in this context not only the assurances of Bulgaria but in the same time for more security also to have the guarantees of our great allies.

It has been given under the form of a written note ,carrying the signiatures of the Ministers of England,France and Russia at Bucharest.This is the content of this note given to Bratianu Government by the three ally ministers:

"The President of the Bulgarian Council declaring,in the most official way,to the Minister of His British Majesty at Sofia,that Bulgaria will keep strict neutrality and will not attack Romania if this one will take part in an action against Austria,the representatives of Entente have notified to Mr. Radoslavov that they take act of this declaration.

According to the instructions addressed to us by our Governments,we have the honor to bring to your knowledge of your Excelency the declaration of Mr. Radoslavov and the actions of the representatives of the Entente which sets the intentions of Bulgaria and leaves,as such,to the Government of His majesty total freedom of action for to take the necessary decissions to ensure His triumph of national ideal.

(ss) Blondel

Barkley

S.Poklevski-Koziel

The document is concludent.Romania was assured by this point of view.Bratianu Government,of a prudence and precaution which put to great test the patience of our allies,made,thus,everything in his power to put Romania to the shelter of an eventual surprize attack from Bulgaria part.If,however,Radoslavov Government did not respect its engagements,not the Romanian Government is to be blamed.The death of the Ex-Prime Minister of Bulgaria,have reset the question,giving thus the chance to clarify a page of history.

But the Bulgarian politics was not lead by Zar Ferdinand personally,and this was the tool of the Central Powers.They summon the Bulgarian Prime Minister at his summer residence of Sitniakovo,isolating him for a few days by any contact and refuses to see Malinov which,as a delegat of the opposing parties ,wanted to ask the King for a Crown Council.The turmoil of some political circles did not impress the Bulgarian Zar,which knew well the pshycology of his people.the oppsing parties had no passing at him.The Bulgarian Rusofilism was just a parade;it will completely evaporate in the day of War Declaration.The Bulgarian ,is esentially realistic;the feeling which dominates him is imediate profit,which he sees by participation with the Germans.

The hesitation of the Bulgarian Government had also the effect that,wakening fears on one side and hopes on the other,has begun to provoke offers of overlicitation from the two camps.The Entente left to be understood the posibility of any concessions in the Kavalla affair and Dobrogean frontier;the Central Powers were willing to promise Bulgarians the whole Dobrogea.And in the same time,Mackensen could operate the offensive group of the Bulgarian-German-Turkish Forces at the border of Dobrogea.

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At 30th of August the Bulgarian Minister at Bucharest,Radev,asked the Romanian Government for their passports,declaring that Bulgaria accomplices with Germany and breaks relations with Romania.In the same day the Romanian Government had send through telegraph to Romanian Legation at Sofia the news that Bulgaria has broken relations with Romania and the order to ask from the Bulgarian Government the Romanian passports.This messaje,caught by the German air post,in Sofia,has been transmited in great haste to Minister Derussi.The diplomatic relations have been broken,and the Romanian mission has been seized in the building of the Romanian Legation.In the morning of 1st of September,a clerk of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry presented to the Romanian Legation of Sofia and handed to the Romanian Minister the war declaration of Bulgaria.To make use of the point of aggression,by Romania,in the declaration ,it was founded on the alleged arestation of Dr.Radev at Bucharest,on the Romanian attack at Rusciuk over the Austro-Hungarian fllet and to an attempt of Romanians to throw a bridge over Danube River at Kladovo ,in the night of 30th-31st of August!It is known that the war declaration of Germany against France was motived by some inexistent attacks of aeroplanes over the city of Nurenberg.Bulgarians was good pupil of Germany.

In the same day,the war leaflet,filled with hatred at the address of Romania,announced the Bulgarians that"the hour of revenge has come",and the Bulgarian press saluted with ferocious joy the beginning of the national War against the hereditary enemy.This were the Bulgarian people ![9]Before the war declaration to be handed to Romanian Minister,Bulgarian detachments crossed ,even during the night,on to Romanian soil,slaughtering the frontier posts.In this way,Romania was founding herself in war on two fronts and with four states:Germania,Austro-Hungaria,Bulgaria and Turkey.She only had at her side the doubtful Russian help.

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The III-rd Bulgarian Army

The third Bulgarian Army-Commandant General Tosev-was at 1st of October 1915 in fighting position along the line Rusciuk-Varna,in waiting facing Romania and in defensive from Russia-on the Black Sea Front.In this time by almost a year the Bulgarian troops had build fortification works and completed their armament.Especially , that the Commandment wanted to prepare the "moral" of the troops,bringing to paroxism the hatred of Bulgarian soldier against Romania,"the creditar enemy","the stealer of Bulgarian territory".

At the entering of Romania in the War,the III-rd Bulgarian Army,was made out of two complete Divisions-1st Sofia and 4th Preslav-of three brigades each,one brigade of the VI-th Division Vidin,one cavalry division,a mixt detachment German-Bulgarian and the garrisons of the fortified points Rusciuk and Varna,these last thre of the force of a strenghtened brigade.In total 62 battalions of infantry,55 artillery batteries ,23 escadrons of cavalry,three battalions of geniu and one battalion of mines thrower.Two Turkish divisions were marching from Adrianopol towards the fighting front.besides the III-rd Army,which had the principal role of carrying the operations on Southern Dobrogea Front,was finding towards West of Rusciuk a division of Bulgarian militia(police)-the 12th Division-german troops undivisioned of Regiments 21st,115th,45th of infantry,6 ulani and few batteries German and Austrian.Over these troops of which mission was for the time being the guarding of the shore of Danube,has taken the Command,starting with 3rd of September,German General Kosch,of which Headquarter was at Plevna.

The III-rd Bulgarian Army was very well armed ,equiped with all modern equipment of a modern army and with a rich munition provission.A good part of the war material has been carried along Danube River in barges from Germany and Austria.If the number of Germans in this army was reduced,as fighting troops,in exchange their help was very important as officers and specialists troops:heavy artillery,aerostation,aviation,automobiles cuirast etc.What was making the most the power of this army and rising its moral was the German Commandment and especially the supreme chief.At 28th of August,the Supreme Command of the Bulgarian-German troops of North-West Bulgaria,has been handed to Marshal Mackensen.The Marshal was one of the glories of German Army.Commander of an Army Corps at Tannenberg,then Commander of an Army ay Lodz[10],he had linked his name especially by the famous breaking of Russian Front at Dunajec and Gorlice,in May 1915 and by the strangling of Serbia,in the autumn of the same year.he was the man of dearing initiatives,of brutal strikes ,of battles given without any spearing of human lives.Giving the Command of the operational army to a man like this showed the importance which Germans gave to the Action of Dobrogean Frontier.

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The III-rd Romanian Army and the Russian Aid Corps

From the Romanian part,Danube River and the Dobroge Frontier were defended by III-rd Romanian Army,Commanded by General M.Aslan.Along the Danube River ,from the mouth of Olt River until Oltenita,were spread troops of infantry and cavalry,with purpose of observation and of defence;they were Divisions 16th and 18th of Romanian Infantry,weak formations,made by regiments of gathering;together with 1st Cavalry Division,the effectives of the III-rd Army was rising,on Danube, to 50 000 men.At West of Olt River was the 20th Romanian Division which belonged to General Culcer Army. The principal forces of the III-rd Army were placed along Dobrogean frontier:at Turtucaia was the 17th Romanian Division,at Silistra the 9th Romanian Division and Bazargic the 19th Romanian Division,in total 72 000 men.

The Russian Corps was made out of two divisions of infantry with weak effectives and one of cavalry:28 nattalions,12 batteries of field,two heavy batteries,24 cavalry escadrons and two mounted batteries(cavalry)-in total less than 42 000 men.The military value of the Russian Corps follows clearly by even the comments and apreciations of its Commanders.Asking to be assigned one of his Generals to his Command post of the new corps,General Brusilov choose General Zaioncikovsky.Brusilov confesses that,unfortunately,Alekseev did not give sufficient importance to the troops in Dobrogea ,where there must have been send not two weak divisions,but first hand army.That is why,General Zaioncikovski refuzes totaly the given task,asking to be given at least four good divisions."I understand-explains him-your efforts to not send any troop to Romania,but with this kind of army,we risk giving the Bulgarians cheep satisfaction by defeating the Russian Army".Zaioncikovski left and went to the General Headquarter at Moghilev to sustain verbaly his demand,but here Aleckseev rejects his resignation with the affirmation that"He will not encounter in Dobrogea any serious ressiatance".Upset,Zaioncicovski telegraphed the Zar,qualifying the army given to him as "some bones throwed to Romania to tempt her to enter the War",ending by:"Let there be put a cross over these bones and clean them out from the Russian Army".This was the help send by Russia to its allies

About the personality of General Zaioncikovski,General Averescu describes him as a man of clear mind with field experience,but with an extreme suscebility,which made the colaboration with him difficult.The ulterior unfolding of the operations in Dobrogea showed was not at all up to the situation given to him.

The Russian have crossed into Dobrogea -the cavalry at Isaccea and the infantry through Cernavoda-and they were advancing hard towards Cobadin,South of Medgidia.For the wheeling of the operations,the 19th Romanian Division at Bazargic has been set under the Command of the Russian General,constituting together with the Russian units the Eastern Corps.Divisions 9th and 17th,Romanians ,having to defend the bridgeheads at Silistra and Turtucaia,remained under the direct Command of General Aslan,the Commander of the III-rd Army.The total of forces Romanian-Russian from Dobrogea was:83 battalions of infantry,40 mobile batteries and 34 cavalry escadrons.Comparing the Romanian -Russian forces with the enemy ones ,at Southern Dobrogea frontier,it is noticed that the Russians and Romanians had superiority in infantry,but in exchange,Bulgarians had a crushing superiority of artillery and specialities.The great Bulgarian superiority was especially of strategy;Bulgarians could have in hand in one day marching any of the points of the concentration zone,ready to fight.The Romanians were spread in isolated groups ,and the Russians were just arriving;distances of 37- 100 Miles were between the Romanian groups and the Russian ones.

The Romanian battle plan flowed from this situation of inferiority.The operations of the III-rd Army will go through two phases :defensive in the beginning and offensive at the end.In the first phase the groups from the Northern shore of Danube wil have the mission to obstacle the trials of the enemy to cross the river ,and the troops on the right shore will resist to enemy attacks ,to cover in this way the disembarking ,the advance and concentration of the Russian troops in the region South of Cernavoda-Megidia-Constanta.in the second phase,offensive one,which was supposed to start towards the 10th day from general mobilization of the army,the allied Romanian-Russian troops would have to start an offensive action to destroy the enemy forces from Eastern Bulgaria and to occupy line Rusciuk-Sumla-Varna,to give,by the succes of this operation ,the freedom of movement to the Romanian troops which will operate in Transilvania.A very important mission,linked by a great responsibility,was handed to the General Commander of the III-rd Romanian Army:defending the frontier South of Dobrogea against a stronger army and commanded by one of the famous generals of the time.The safety and the honor of the Kingdom were engaged here.

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Attacking the Austro-Hungarian fleet at Rusciuk

In the evening of 27th of August,half an hour after handing the war declaration of Romania towards Austro-Hungaria,three torpedo boats of the Romanian Military Navy(Marina Militara Romana) have attacked the Austro-Hungarian fleet anchored at Rusciuk,made out of 5 monitors and 4 sppedboats.Because of the primitive material of the attacker and of the inexperience of the commanders ,the attack was not a complete success.The torpedoes were launched from to great distance;only one hit a barge with munitions of the enemy fleet.The barge blew up with a formidable explosion.The Austrian officers ,which at the moment of the attack were at a party on the admiral ship-"Bodrog" monitor-retaking the command of the ships have managed to sink one of the Romanian boats.The Austro-Hungarian fleet closed in to the Romanian shore ,with the ships,and bombarded the buildings ,deposits and reservoirs of Ramadan Harbour(Ramadan Port) and Giurgiu Harbour;then they went up the Danube and hide behind Persina Islet.There she stood hidden for the rest of the campaign,knowing only to attack our harbours on Danube River,to which they made big destroys by bombardments.

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Mackensen attacks

At 28th of August ,surprised by the war declaration of Romania towards Austro-Hungary,Falkenhayn can only give to Mackensen the vague order of operations:"Urgent attack,as soon as possible .Direction and objective remain to the apreciations of Feldmarshal".It was the song of the swan for the great Generalisim which,the next day,will fall in disgration.the new Commandment Hindenburg-Ludendorff are fixing more precise the mission of the army groups of Mackensen,Forcing the crossing of Danube River is postponed,for later.For the time being the Marshal will defend the line of Danube and seek,"by entering in Dobrogea ,to atract the enemy forces towards himself and defeat them,to ease the ghatering of forces in Transilvania,until the second half of September".

The strategic advantage was on the side of the enemy.His army was concentrated at the frontier,ready to action towards the set goals.The Russian-Romanian Army,on the contrary was spread all over and only on the way of concentrating(of the troops).Mackensen will profit by this adavantage.The III-rd Bulgarian Army is separated into two groups:an Eastern Group in Varna region-Bazargic,with the mission for defence,for now,and a Western Group with the offensive mission;between them,the connection will be made by cavalry.With the Western Group Mackensen has started imediately the offensive,giving an attack with superiority of forces and violence,a bit forced,over Turtucaia,the most extreme point of the Dobrogean frontier.With any price,it was needed for the Romanian troops to be defeated and obstacled to concentrate,before the arriving of the Russian reinforcements.

The sights of Romanians, looking with aprehension and heart towards Transilvania,have to turn at once ,with unrest,towards South.In the tragedy of our War,the curtain has went up here,over one of the most bloody and painful acts.

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2.Turtucaia

A tough lesson

Page of pain and shame,sad will echo forever in the ears of every Romanian,its title,written with letters of blood in the history of our people!It is linked with the first big defeat of our holly War.Desastrous defeat,humiliating...[11].She fell like a lightning in the first days of the War over the dizzied heads ,by the enthusiasm of crossing the Carpathian Mountains,boiled up by the firsts easy victories.She bleed our hearts,but opened our eyes and made us to be able to read deep in the woonds of all kinds,of our lives.How many shortcomings were surfacing now!Lack of foresight,negligence,superficiality,ease,lack of strenght of character....It seems that all the defects of our people have been concentrated in one point and moment,to prepare a catastrophe to serve us even from the beginning as severe warning.

Turtucaia was a tough lesson for us.The lesson must be read carefully on all faces and udrstood entirely.It would not be of any use hiding the truth,or consolation,partly true,that the defeat was caused to the weak ressistance opposed by a new troop,unused with war,which is all of a sudden faced with an experimented enemy,which made war for few years,now.We cannot misslead the strangers with judgement-crackers and it would be of no use.As about ourselves ,in vain would had been the martyr of our national pride and of so many Romanian lives at Turtucaia,if we would not even had the manhood to look in the face the cruel truth,In sincere and brave confess,without any meant attenuation ,of the mistakes we made,we will find the strength to aside them in the future and make a healthier life.

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What was Turtucaia?

In organizing the defence on our territory,Turtucaia was a head of bridge,or a bridgehead ,meaning a fortification established ahead of a passing point,for to defend it against enemy attacks.

In fact there was no bridge over the Danube River at Turtucaia and there was no necessity of its existence,for acomplishing the defensive role atributed to the fortress.It is true that,after the primitive conception of the Romanian Headquarter,it must have,imediately after the war declaration, been throwed a bridge of boats over Danube,to link Turtucaia by Oltenita.This bridge,together with the fortress which would serve to,it was thus called to play an important role in an eventual offensive action against Bulgaria,Turtucaia being by its advanced position ,a nail hammered into the heart of Bulgarian territory.But,our war plan,adopted in the eve of entering in action,foresee,for the time being,offensive to the North and defensive to the South,it was renaunced at building the bridge at Turtucaia.It was transported to Isaccea,to serve to the crossing of the Russian cavalry division,from Basarabia to Dobrogea.Besides,building a bridge at Turtucaia would have been risky.It would have constituted a fix target for the artillery ,planes and the mines of the enemy and would ,thus have been destroyed,as were been destroyed the depozits and reservoirs of Oltenita.It would have also made difficult the manoeuvre of or vessels on the Danube RIver.The role of bridgehead Turtucaia was clear:not having to defend a road of crossing over the danube,inexistent,it had to defend the road of communication towards Silistra and together with this one coveredthe concentration of the Russian Army behind.Moreover,the colaboration of the two fortresses was imposed with inexorable necessity.

Turtucaia was ,thus,in a dangerous situation.Isolated in a corner of Romanian territory,with a wide river behind,without safe communications with the other shore,she had to guard to keep a permanent connection with neighbour Fortress Silistra,to opose resistance as long a spossible ,to give time, to the Romanian-Russian concentration troops, of movement ,from behind to end,and when the resistance would not be possible anymore ,the garrison to retreat to Silistra.That is how the instructions of the Staff foreseen,for the eventuality "when the resistance on the last fortified line could not be kept in any way".The most dangerous threat was the isolation of Turtucaia,by cutting communications with Silistra and so the surrounding of the fortress.Would the Romanian Commanders have the intuition of this peril and the inspiration fast of the countermeasures to be taken?Unfortunately,the prompt understanding of the situation escaped to the wit of these Commanders.It doesen't escaped to the enemy Commander however,which was one of the most reputed Generals of the Great War.Mackensen discovered first the weak spot,of which the isolation of Turtucaia was forming in the line of Romanian defence and saw cleaarly the gain which he coud drag.He decided to apply here the strike fast and violent*.

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*The plan of attacking Turtucaia would have been elaborated ,after a version given by General Tosev with this face:Marshal Makensen,badly informed over the value of the works of fortification and of the garrisons of Turtucaia and Silistra,which he evaluated much weaker than in reality,disposed the simultaneous attack of the two fortresses,first by the 4th Preslav Division,and the second one by the 1st Sofia Division.Tosev,more exactly,informed by Bulgarian spies ,who were swarming on Romanian territory and even within the Romanaian Army and,so making his apreciations more conform with the reality,even with some exagerations,proposed to attakc first Turtucaia with great forces ,to be able to seize it by a powerful strike,before the eventuality of arriving of Russian reinforcements;Silistra had to be masked by a brigade of Sofia Division and attacked the following.Makensen would have ralied to Tosev proposal which,ofcourse,as it was exposed by the Bulgarian General,was conform with the military principles and justified by the circumstances.

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Organizing of the Turtucaia bridgehead

The bridgehead Turtucaia was organized with the next face:arround the city on a circumference of 5 Miles,having the Danube River as diameter,was a principal line of defence ,in a length of 19 Miles ,made out by a succession of 15 "resistance centrals" ,separated between them with 0.5-1 Mile ,or even more;the centrals were numbered from West to East.

One central had the form of a redoubt,closed to the neck,in which were concentrated "means of defence of infantry".They were not build in permanent fortification-meaning with brick lay or concrete ,and without visible reliefs but,conform with the knowledge of modern war,by passager works , with deep trenches and with shelters for reserves ,armoured with metal beams or wooden ones.In front of the and on the flanks ,the central had barb wire nets on a few meters wide,abatize,woolf holes etc.,and they were masked with leaves and ground.At about 50-100 meters behind the centrals was a "recollecting line ",made out of entrenches for shooters ;the role of this line was that the troop,rejected from the line of centrals ,to summon there,to reorganize and oppose,thus, resistance until the arriving of reinforcements(reserve troops).In the gaps ,too big ,between some of the centrals ,were build ulterior some anexes(other smaller centrals) named "subcentrals",having ahead of them entrenches for shooters.Also,it has been added in the Western part-considered the most periled-on the dominant heights of plateau Satu Vechi-Siahlar,some uvrages which formed an outing in the form of an angle ,before the line of centrals.

As weaponry,the line of centrals was foreseen with machineguns-French type-and with small cannons taken out from the old fortifications of Bucharest(Bucuresti).There were 41 turrets of 53 mm,some in transportable domes,some on small frames ,built within the country,and 14 of 37 mm,in transportable domes .These small cannons ,with a very short firing range (2000-2500 meters) could not take part in the fight against the enemy artillery,they served only for covering fire of the infantry,and defending the intervals between the centrals.The line of the centrals was,in this way,a "fighting position for infantry",because the artillery defence,the fixed batteries and semi -mobile ones ,were at the back of the centrals line.Normaly,the line of the centrals was also named the "principal line of resistance",or the II-nd line of "defence".The name of "first line of resistance" was reserved for the advanced works,with stretched to the frontier piquets(posts).This so called first line of defencu,or the advanced line, was made in its turn,by three series of works:the line of the small posts ,the line of big guards and the line of equiped avanposts,here and there,with ground works and sheltering entrenches.The troops inhabiting them-platoons and companies -had only observation roles and reconnoitre ones;in case of attack by superior forces ,they would have to retreat ,gradualy on a series of "points of stop",organized beforehand,to force the enemy to stop unfold and uncover his forces and intentions.Like these points of stop were considered especially the points in which big guards were installed:villages Mese-Mahle,Denizler,Vischioi,Sarighiol;reserves of avanposts were in Dajdir,Antimova etc.Inside the fortified belt was ,another circular line of defence,at 1,5 Mile from the city;it was called "the III-rd line of defence" ,or "the II-nd line of resistance".This line was much weaker,made out of simple entrenches for shooterswithout shelters and without communication trenches ;it was left in ruin so im many places the trenches were destroyed.

The space between the principal of the centrals and the III-rd line was covered in the center portion and the West ,by a forest.The big corn fields were stretching outside the defence lines and inside them,obstacing the firings and favorising surprisings.

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The "artillery",which was supposed to defend the bridge head of Turtucaia,was not enaugh,as number and did not correspond to the actual means and progresses technical of battle.It was very mixed up:Turtucaia was some sort of artillery museum in which were represented all kinds of firing mouths(cannons) from the Kingdom.Different from this fact,the war has cought the Fortress in course of organization,with works unfinished,with uncompleted replenishments.The bridgehead Turtucaia had,at the beginnings of fights ,the following number of firing mouths(cannons):28 fix firing mouths(24 heavy and 4 light);59 semimobiles-harnassed with oxes-(31 heavy and 28 light);23 mobiles-harnassed with horses-(15 heavy and 8 light).In total-70 firing mouths heavy and 40 light=110.From this total must be subtracted 17 firing mouths which,not being installed or not having munitions,could not function,remaining thus 93 mouths of fire which could be used.At this must also be added the 55 small cannons of 37 mm and 53 mm,in turrets,or mounted on afets,seated -as we know-on to the line of the centrals.The weakness of the defence of artillery was coming mostly from the small numbers of cannons with fast shooting-only 40 of the total number-and by the spreading of the of the firing mouths on a defence line of 19 Miles.These circumstances made impossible the barrier firing ranges ,the storms of artilley fire,indispensable for stopping the attack columns in the distance and forbid their advance.At this it will also add -as we will see-the bad menteinance of this artillery.

The distribution of the artillery of the bridgehead was the following :as fixed cannons the most serious were four Krupp cannons,disembarked from the armoured Ship ,Cruiser "Elisabeta",and placed on concrete platforms ,on the hill West of Turtucaia.They had a firing range of 6.25 Miles and semi-fast firing;their ammunition was 150 fires for each cannon-has been wasted in the first two days of fights,so in the dicissive days of the battle they could only burst rare shots.There were then 24 cannons said"for siege",of 105 mm,taken from Bucharest Fortress,installed in batteries of ground;these cannons were considered as "semi-mobile" artillery,being able to be moved by oxes and bivoli(another kind of oxes) harnesses,with Turkish and Bulgarian locals.In fact they could not be moved,off their place.There were another 8 cannons of 87 mm and 8 of 85 mm,from the cannons of our field artillery-use to be,old cannons with slow firing and short range.Also as cannons of position were also used 12 cannons of 75 mm,the ones taken from Bulgarians in 1913,at Ferdinandovo.

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In the spring of 1916 it was send to Turtucaia six cannons of 120 mm and six mortiers of 120 mm,pieced together on domes,which belonged to the strongholded region Focsani.The instalation of the platforms and of the domes was not yet finished at the declaration of war-only the diggings were made-;because of this ,from this series only one cannon fired.It was also been brought an howitzer of 210 mm from Bucharest Fortress and six howitzers of 120 mm from Focsani,seated on afet(frames);not these last ones could fire because of a confusion of expediting ,they did not had the proper ammunition.As mobile artillery it was a divizion of howitzers,eight pieces of 120 mm,with slow firing,a divizion of light howitzers of 105 mm and one of cannons of 75mm;these last 16 mouths of fire were the only mobile cannons with fast firing.

The course of the Danube River was defended by barriers of mines and chains of wire,stretched to a few Miles up from Turtucaia,between Cirniciu Islet and Romanian shore.One side and the other of the Danube,in front of Calimoc Islet,has been installed four obusiers(howitzer) of 120 mm Skoda,taken from river monitors,four cannons St.Chamond of 120 mm and four of 75mm St.Chamond,all good pieces , with fast firing,ensuring an effective defence against an attack which would have come from up the Danube River,as weel as from the West sector of Turtucaia.

On the Danube,Turtucaia was also defended by the Danube Division of the Fleet,made out of four monitors cruisers and eight vedette boats under the Command of Rear-Admiral Negrescu. With this double defence ,the circulation of enemy boats on Danube River and their intervention at Turtucaia was completely imped,and the communication between the two shores ensured(as Turtucaia which today is Turtakan ,and Oltenita are one side and the other on Danube River).

The garrison of Turtucaia Fortress was made out of the troops of the 17th Division,new division,organized just few months before the beginning of the War.In her constitution it was only one active regiment,36th Vasile-Lupu Regiment.There were then two regiments of reservists;76th Regiment,with men recruited in South of Ilfov County,from around Oltenita;79th Regiment with men from Ialomita County(recruiting center of Slobozia);three battalions of new formation-4th Battalion-taken from Regiments 40th,75th,and 80th.In total 15 battalions.At the request of the Commander to have troops send to him,to form a mobile reserve,there were send in the eve of the fights four battalions of police-men with the effective of 600-800 men,not assigned;these were not fighters but men for guard and work.With this face,Turtucaia was defended by an army of 20 000 men,from which some 15 000 infantry making thus,for a front unfolding of over 19 Miles ,a very thin defence line.

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The troops were separated in three Sectors:I-st Sector,Old Village,at West,comprising Centrals 1-5 and the outing of Siahlar,was defended by 36th Regiment and 4th Battalion of the 40th Regiment;II-nd Sector Daidir,at South,comprising Centrals 6-9,was defended by 79th Regiment ;III-rd Sector Antimova,at East,comprising Centrals 10-15,was defended by 76th Regiment.The General Reserve was made of 4 battalions of Regiments 75th and 80th ,and from the battalions of policemen,two were on the left shore of Danube River ,at Oltenita.

The great importance atributed to sector Satu Vechi,where it was supposed that the principal attack will produce , yielding especially by the artillery distribution.The most numerous and the best mouths of fire,51 in number ,were distributed to I-st Sector;19 to II-nd Sector 24 and to the III-rd Sector ;16 mouths of fire were atributed especially to the defence of Danube River.Also,the great majority of the turrets of 53 mm were massed also in I-st Sector;the 37 in the sector defending Danube River.

Besides,with all the downs and missings of its organization,the Bridgehead from Turtucaia was pretty strong and capable to oppose resistance for some duration,but under the condition to be well defended.The Commander of the Bridghead Turtucaia was General C.Teodorescu.He was under direct orders of General M.Aslan,the Commander of the III-rd Army of which Headquarter was in Bucharest.

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The attacking army

The enemy army which attacked Turtucaia was the left wing of the III-rd Bulgarian Army,Commanded by General Tosev.It was under the direct Command of General Kisselov and was made out of :4th Division of Preslav-17 battalions ,-I-st Brigade of 1st Division of Sofia-8 battalions -and the mixt detachment of Major Von Hammerstein,of the power of one brigade -three Bulgarian battalions and one German,in total 28th battalions .The artillery which this army had ,was a very powerful one:there were in total 128 mouths of fire of which 7 cannons of 75 mm,with fast firing and 56 pieces of heavy artillery,all mobile ;of these there were 8 long cannons of 150 mm,24 long cannons of 120 mm and 24 howitzers of 120 mm.It also adds 5 cavalry escadrons,three companies of machineguns and five companies of geniu.The comparison between the Romanian forces and the Enemy ones is entirely in the favor of the last one.In quantity as in quality,the attacker was superior to the attacked one;28 battalions against 19 Romanian battalios.Then Bulgarian troops belonged to the best active divisions,as the Romanian troops ,belonging to a division newly formed,was made up from rezervists and even policemen,with weak training,few officers,a big proportion of reserve.The enemy artillery,numerous than the Romanian one ,especially in modern cannons ,af big caliber,with fast firing and long range,was rich provisioned.The enemy also had a captiv baloon and numerous airplanes,which made possible the reconnoitring and served to the adjustments of the artillery firing range,as the Bridgehead was completely poor of these indispensable auxiliaries of modern war.There were no reconnoitring cavalry troops to the defender,as the offender had five escadrons.It also has to be considered the superiority which the attacker has.He chooses the attack point and concentrates there the mass of its forces ,as the attacked ,not knowing the attack place choosen by the enemy,has to keep,as precaution,all its forces spread on the whole defence front.The Battle of Turtucaia presents itself thus,under not much favorable circumstances,for the Romanians.What makes,though,the strenght of the fortresses is not only the material strenght,under less favorable circumstances,of the strenghtenings and of the cannons ,but especially the moral force of the defenders.It is needed ,in this way,a forcing of the Commanders,to be able to inspire the troops that heroic elan,which multiplies ten times the forces and makes of weak troops ,uncroossable barriers.

Unfortunately,with few exceptions,the Commanders of different steps from Turtucaia did not correspond to their difficult mission.The Commander of the III-rd Romanian Army could exclaim in Bucharest ,speaking about Turtucaia:"It is our Verdun[12]".But the moral force of the Commanders from Vaux and Thionville[13] missed the Romanian Commanders of Turtucaia.

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the map;Battle of Turtucaia

Linii intarite romane=Strenghtened Romanian lines;Directii de atac dusmane=Enemy attack direcions;DUNAREA=Danube River;Oltenita=Oltenita,city and Fortress;Turtucaia=Turtucaia City and Fortress;Baterii=batteries;Ostrovu Cirneci=Cirneci Islet;Ostrovu Cusui=Cusui Islet;Reduta=redoubt;Atacul Det. Hammerstein=the attack of Hammerstein detachment;Soseaua spre Silistra=driveway to Silistra;Linia III-a=the III-rd line ;Padurea Daidir-turtucaia=Daidir-turtucaia forest;Atacul D.4Preslav=the attack of the 4th Preslav Bulgarian Division;1to 15=the Centrals;Balta Satu Vechi=Small lake/Pond Satu Vechi

post-43550-1239804973.jpg

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First operations

At 31st of August,during the night,in darkness,without War Declaration,the Bulgarians have attacked the Romanian frontier posts,between Razgard driveway and Danube River.The guarding troops,Granicerii(frontier army) and policemen,have given the alarm and then retreated on the line of smaller posts,on the Eastern edge of villages Turcsmil and Senova.The War Declaration was to be handed only the next day,Friday 1st of September ,at 10 in the morning.In this day ,the Bulgarians have not given attacks,they just closed in, their attack columns and have installed the artillery in positions.The Romanian trops in the Western secor have reocupyed the posts of frontier ,attacking and drifting the Bulgarians reoccupying them ;by evening the Romanian troops have again been retreated on the position of Siahlar,leving only one platoon for each post.in the evening of the day,the preparatives of the enemy were ended and the attack plan definitley established.

The enemy will give against Turtucaia a forced attack.The attack troops will advance in concentric mode .From the West,from Rusciuck direction,will advance the mixt column Hammerstein(constituted in the biginning by a German battalion,theree Bulgarian battalions ,seven platoons of machineguns ,three escadrons and two artillery batteries)against sector Satu Vechi(Old Village),especially against the Central 3 .From South,from direction Balbunar -belica will advance the 4th Preslav Division,attacking Daidir ,especially the line of forts 6-8.From South-East,from Kemanlar,will advance the Ist Brigade of the 1st Sofia Division,attacking Central 2 in direction Antimova*.

The enemy has started the operations,effectively in the night of Friday 1st-Saturday 2nd of September,attacking on the whole line of the frontier and on the whole fighting front of the bridgehead Turtucaia.The attack was produced in the darkness ,by surprise.Not knowing the value of the attacking forces ,the Romanian frontier posts have retreated ,after a short encounter,on the line of big guards,at 1-2 Miles ahead the line of Centrals ,as instructed.In the dawns of the day,the Bulgaran colunns have begun the advance ,sustained by the strong fire of their artillery.Soon it is noticed the superiority of the enemy artillery,especially of the batteries of heavy artillery,brought with tractors ,which beat with eficacity the Romanian batteries,finding themselves outside the firing range of the latter ones.A Romanian battery of 105 mm ,installed North-West from Satu Vechi,is framed by heavy artillery of the enemy and receives shots which take her out of service;in the following night it is withdraw with oxes and moved on another position ,less advanced.In sector Satu Vechi the Romanian trops have resisted on the line of big guards ,helped also by the artillery on the left shore of Danube and river monitors,which produced felt casualties to the enemy.In the afternoon the troops have retreated in the principal fighting position-the second line.

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In Daidir sector the artillery fight is very violent ,both sides.Villages Denizler and Mese-Mahle are in flames.The enemy columns were advancing hiding through the terrain crests.The Romanian troops -one battalion from Regiment 79th-,attacked by much superior forces ,have retreated in Daidir Village,from where they tried an unsuccesful attack over Denizler Village;then they retreated on the second line.Same happened in Antimova sector where the resistance was ,though weaker and the advanced lines have been left,almost without fight.In the evening all Romanian troops were on the principal line of resistance-the line of the Centrals ,said also "the second line";the link with Silistra has been cut;the fortress has been invested.

In the evening of Saturday towards Sunday,2-3 September passed without attacks from the enemy.The men,who were receiving for the first time the baptize of fire,were nervous and tired.Because of the false alarms were fired in to the wind ,shots of rifle,machinegun and from the turrets,wasting an enormous quantity of ammunition.

Against the Western Front of Sector Satu Vechi have unleashed in the day of 3rd of September the attacks of the enemy.By its form of out angle,the position formed thus a dangerous obstacle for the columns arriving from the West and South;the strenghtenings here could take into flank the attacks aimed for the neighbour sector Daidir.It was the first obstacle which had to be overcome.The Heavy batteries and of field of the enemy,installed West of Turcsmil and over the hills at Senova-Siahlar,were bombarding with unsaid violence,but with weak effect.The Romanian artillery,especially coast batteries ,on the shore of Danube and from the river monitors,were answering with equal strenght.Starting with 10,30,the enemy infantry gives violent attacks from Turcsmil and from Senova,until late in the evening.All attacks are stoped at the nets of barb wire fence,and rejected with heavy losses.In the evening,Romanians were masters on the position;the losses of the troops which fought here ,of Regiments 36th,40th and 75th were not important.Unfortunately,though,a panic within the Commandment had produce,with grave consequences.the Commander of the sector,Colonel Nicolescu,thinking he is attacked and with the entire line turned by the enemy by North,orders evacuation of the whole position-the out angle of the Village Vechi-Siahlar-and the retreat of the defenders on the line of the old centrals.The Commander of the fortress aproves the move and does not order re-occuption of them.The evacuation,unjustified,is executed during the night,in disorder and demoralizes the enervated troops.

On the front of the other two sectors the day went without too imortant events.the enemy searched to stronghold on the ridges in the face of Roanian positions,at 1500-2000 meters in fron of our barb wire nets.The artillery of the bridge head ,tried to spread ,with its fires ,the concentrations of the colums,which were made in its ray and to stop the installation of enemy batteries.

All night and the next day,Monday 4th of September ,the enemy has not tried any attack.the troops of the 2nd Battalion of the 36th Regiment ,by initiative of the Commanders of companies ,have reoccupied Siahlar sector,wich the enemy,not knowing what is going on on our part,did not occupy.By evening the Commander repeats the precise order as the sector to be evacuated again,which is executed in disorder ,leaving behind the machineguns and munitions.The Bulgarians did not occupy it till the next day at 12 o'clock.It was ,nevertheless,obvious that preparation for a big action are made.A captive baloon rose to the South ,numerous reconnoitre aeroplanes flew above the Romanian positions ,infantry columns were moving in different directions ,artillery was taking positions for firing.The defence ,kept in a continuous passivity.Without one weak beginning of attack,made in the II-rd Sector Antimova,over the villages Sarighiol and Antimova,by the initiative of companies Commanders ,but which was quickly given up by the order of Sector Commander,not even a serious attempt was made by the Commander to obstacle or delay the complete investment of the fortress.Morover,the Commander of the bridgehead has retreated the troops of the advanced lines from within all sectors on the principal line of resistance,the line of Centrals.

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Reinforcements send to Turtucaia

The initial fights,given bu Bulgarians in the days of 2nd and 3rd of September against the advanced lines from Turtucaia had not a grave character.The losses of the garrison were :200 dead and wounded.And the war material was intact.They ,however have influenced the nerves of the Commanders and of the men,unused with fight,such that,if the material losses were without importance, the moral was shaken.The tiresome and enervating of the troops,the lack of cold blood of the Commaners ,were giving the situation an alarmant character ,absolutely unsiuted with the real situation ,which were manifested in the pessimist raports which the Commander of the fortress was making to its superior,the Commander of the III-rd Army.In the day of 4th of September ,in the afternoon General Teodorescu asks for imediate reinforcements "otherwise he cannot take any responsibility,the troops being extenuated by the fights ".To the Chief of Staff of the III-rd Romanian Army,arrived at Turtucaia,Teodorescu explains the "gravity of the situation by the extenuation of the troops and total lack of reserves" which had all benn used in Satu Vechi.

Some unrest starts to be manifested also at the Hedquarter of the III-rd Army.Still the situation is seen,in general , with optimism.General Aslan assures everybody that it is no peril:"Turtucaia is our Verdun.Those who provoke,those who attack(themselves).For the strenghtening of the resistance it was ordered to the troops of the Strategic General Reserve,cantooned around Bucharest,to move towards South.The 10th Romanian Division was send to Giurgiu,for guarding Danube,and the 15th Romanian Division was send to Oltenita to cross the Danube to Turtucaia.It was an imposant force of 16 battalions of infantry,to which it was also added two batteries of howitzers of 105mm,12 canons ,small of 53mm,on afets(frames)and two batteries ,old,of field ,75 mm.

To quicken up the arriving of the troops ,the 80th Regiment has been transported to Oltenita ,with trucks ,automobiles,with sanitary automobiles,individuals automobiles,taxies,taken by police from the streets of Bucharest.All the troops have crossed from one shore to the other with the help of ferries and rafts,dragged by motor boats.Tehir arriving has been received by Turtucaia Garrison with explosions of joy.The moral was very high.On the bridge of the ferries ,poet Goga talked to the soldiers ,showing them by vibrant words what this War means today and how pricless has to be the martyr of all.Unfortunately this important help which comprised also elit units ,as Granicerii,could not be used as a complete formation,with its own Commander.The troops have arrived to late and at intervals.Only five battalions and the howitzer divizion has arrived during the night to Tuesday morning ,so they could be used Tuesdey ,5th of September.Seven battalions have arrived during Tuesday,and four have arrived in the evening and during the night of Tuesdey to Wednesday.

The forces raport,between the two adversaries ,till now unfavorable to Romanians,had to change now.Until now they could not oppose to the 28 battalions Bulgaro-German,with 128 cannons ,but only the 15 battalions ,Romanians of the 17th Division;with the received helps ,their number will increase to 31,without counting the four battalions of policemen,which had no combative value.The number of cannons ,together with the ones arrived ,rose up to 176,of which 67 were the small cannons of 37 mm and 53 mm.It also must be added the cannons of the Danube Escadron,which contributed to the defence of the fortress ,32 mouths of fire ,heavy and light ,although these cannons ,as the ones on the left shore of Danube and from the islets ,had a limited zone of action.The numerical superiority of the troops of infantry,Romanians was only at the surface.Because the arriving in turns ,of these troops and,as a result,the unpossibility to use them in simultaneous attcks and at the rightful moment,has diminished much the value of the received help.And still,...an energic Commander,with cold blood ,as military skill and strong will,would heve known to make more use ,of the fresh troops at his disposal and to acomplish the mission ,thus given to him.This mission was the same:strnghtening the resistance and keeping on hold of the enemy,untill the Russians could concentrate,as to,together with the Romanian troops from Silistra and Bazargic, start the offensive march towards West.In this moment,the un-surrounding of Turtucaia would have been produced directly.

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