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Romanian Campaign of 1916.The Invasion


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Chapter IV

The Invasion

1.Forcing Olt Line

The third crisis of our War

Under the pushing more and more strong of the enemy torrent,the dams of the mountains begun to crack.At Jiuu the breaking has produced.At Olt ,the dam was barely holding.

In the face of the invasion threat,the High Romanian Commandment was agitated by contradictory feelings and influences.There were,on one side ,consideration purely military .Evacuating of Oltenia ,to shorten up the Front,seemd like an inexorable necessity.Two times,the Great Romanian Headquarter planned it,studied it ,but gave up to it.Because considerations of other kind :feelings ,politics,cultural went ahead.Defending the national territory seemd to some like an intangible article of faith;not a patch of the ancestral land must be let by free will to the enemy.On the altar of this ideea has been sacrificied one of the great Commanders of Army.

At the Great Headquarter at Peris,in the morning of 22nd of November ,the two allied Councelors expose two opposite thesis.General Beleaev proposed a retreat after Russian method,on successive positions,to keep the Army for latter.General Berthelot was showing the impossibility of appalying the Russian strategy in a country with small territory ,as Romania,abandoning to the enemy the richness of the country and demoralysing completly the Army;this woud mean catastrophe without battle.The French General is for the ideea of an offensive with the Divisions that make the Strategical Reserve of the Great Romanian Headquarter.The breaking of Jiu Front is not an iremediable catastrophe.The hope of straighten things up ,shined still ,very lively.Berthelot proposes a vigorous manoeuvre in the flank of the enemy, too sure of himself,with an Army which would advance over Olt,to transform the German victory at Jiu in a desastre.The Group of Divisions ,which was in cours of gathering at Pitesti ,could acomplish this role .The Manoeuvre Mass will constitute at West of Pitesti of the 21st Division from the I-st Army ,together with the 2nd Division from Pitesti;the group had to cross Olt River ,above Dragasani,to operate with direction towards Jiu ,behind the German invasion Army.To cover the advance of the Group of Romanian Divisions ,it was needed that the troops on Jiu Valley to oppose a fierce resistance at Filiasi .The retreat order of the Group at Cerna and of the Detachment at danube at Bailesti,given by General Vasilescu Paraschiv ,the Commander of the Ist Romanian Army ,has been revoked;the troops had to stay on positions.The fast advance of the Germans into Oltenia made impossible the acomplishment of the planned manoeuvre.Berthelot thinks to a new manoeuvre:the Group of the three Divisions ,concentrated in Pitesti Region could be turned towards South to attack the heads of the German Divisions columns which will cross Olt River ,to repel them towards Craiova.Finally,these troops ,completed with Divisions 19th and 18th could organize ,whith a rise up moral ,the defence of Olt line .But the success of these operations needs without a doubt ,two more things :the I-st and II-nd Romanian Armies to oppose in their sectors a stubborn resistance ,and on the Moldavian Front,the Russians to begin,at last,their great offensive ,always postponed.The matter of outside help,to ease up the Romanian Front ,imposed itself as an indispensable condition.The Conference of the Interallied Commandments decided that the great offensive of the Armies of Entente to be postponed for the spring of the next year .Not being necessary the concentration of all forces on to the Western Front,Joffre proposed the strengthening of the Salonic Front with French troops ,English and Italians to take there a strong offensive ,wich will force the enemy to take from the Germano-Bulgarian forces from Danube ;the French Generalisim was convinced that Romania has managed to dominate the crisis ,which nears the end.Unfortunately ,the plans of the French Commandment have remained in the state of intentions.

What seemed as the most effective measure to aid Romania ,was the Russian aid.The Russian proximity made that his strong intervention to have imediate effects.From Bucharest ,from Peris,London,the most persistent requests were addressed to Russian ally to send in the aid of Romanian Army,situated in grave danger,numerous troops of Infantry and Cavalry, which were held on Prut ,with the weapon on foot and with the bridle in horses mouths.But the Russian aid let itself waited.General Beleaev ,the representative of the Russian General Staff attached to the Romanian Commandment ,was making to the latter one the demonstration that Russia have way passed over the obligations she has taken by the Convention with Romania.That in Dobrogea has send four Army Corps instead of three Divisions.That in Moldovia has taken over the defence of Romanian Front until Oituz.That the quick move of the troops ,gathered in Basarabia ,meets a lot of difficulties ,technical ,the principal fault of this situation beeing the poor capacity of Romanian railways...Russia cannot assume the engagement that she can make the aid troops to arrive in time,to stop our abandoning the positions into the mountains and the evacuation of the national territory.Besides,they do not see this eventuality as a catastrophe;on the contrary it would be an advantageous strategical operation ,because it would bring the shortening and strengthening of the Russian Front.

With much bitterness ,Bratianu(Romanian Primeminister) expresses to the Russian representativ the fatal consequences of the Russian actions.Ten Army Corps were sitting with the weapon on foot,blaming the administration of the Romanian railways .And still,the invoked motive did not had at all the value which the Russians wanted to give.From Prut until Carpathian mountains were only 63 Miles,meaning a distance which could be made in 5-6 days of walking ,with small stops ,and in Dobrogea, where four Russian Army Corps were concentrated ,the inaction of Zaharov permitted to the enemy to rise up troops ,which he then send in other parts of the Front.But the decission of the Russian Commander was determined;the much promissed Russian offensive is postponed for 28th of November ,and the units asked for the direct aid of Romanian troops ,the VIII-th Russian Corps ,the 40th Russian Division or at least the 8th Cavalry Russian Division ,are categorically refused to us.Berthelot communicates telegraphic to Joffre that Romanian Army "will be forced to extend by herself ,another eight days ,the extreme effort asked from her".

As the third crisis of our War was unfolding ,the defensive crisis ,fatal,light was brought over the intentions of our ally .At the dogma of defending the Romanian territory ,the Russians opposed the other dogma;sacrificing the territory ,in the interest of the strategic future developments ,necessitated by the operations of European War.The last ilussions which we made over the sincerity of our ally will receive this time the decissive blow.On the whole stretch of the Oriental Front ,from Baltic Sea to Egee Sea,the absolute quiet dominated.Only in the tongue of land ,streched between Carpathians and Danube ,a small Army ,tired for three months of continuous fights ,in which she did not had time to learn what rest means ,struggled ,cornered from all parts by numerous and strong enemies ,defending with energy of disperation the dear land of the ancestors .

And the Russian aid did not arrive.The hand of the strong neighbour and ally did not reach to stop us on the brink of catastrophe.But instead rise up ,to show us the road of retreat towards Siret .The Russian ideea triumphed.The Romanian Army will have to start on the road of her ordeal.

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Towards Olt line

In this time ,the enemy invasion was following its course ,unbothered by any serious obstacle.The resistance at Filiasi has been defeated and Craiova occupied by the enemy.

Through the large opened gate in Gorjului Mountains ,on the upper valleys of Jiu ,the enemy torrent flowed in to the fields of Oltenia .The glorious remains of Divisions 1st and 17th Romanians,were uncapable of a serious action .The weak Detachments of arierguard could not have other mission but to ensure ,as much as possible ,the evacuation of the war materials and of the wounded from the abandoned territory and to protect the retreat of the troops ,blowing up the bridges.

The first serious line of resistance possible was on to the Eastern shore of Olt River,in Dragasani -Slatina region .The left shore of Olt ,high and marshy dominating the entire river -field and the flat of Oltenia ,crossing perpendicular over the advance directions of the enemy ,made an excelent line of defence.With only one condition :to be occupied in time and in order by enaugh troops.

Unfortunately it was not so.The operations at Jiu -desperate trial to escape Oltenia-provoked the destruction of Jiu Group,have delayed the retreat of the Group at Cerna ,which had to be condemned to an unuseful sacrifice ,made disorganizing ,and worn out of the 17th Division ,throwed unit by unit into Jiu Battle.

On the wake of our Detachments was coming the phallanx of the seven Divisions of the Armies of Kuhne and Schmettow ,unfolding as an imense fan,as they exited Jiu Pass.At 21st of November ,in the day of occupying Craiova,the German front stretched on a wide of 25 Miles .The right wing of this front ,made out of the two cavalry Divisions of Schmettow ,advanced with great speed along Valleys of Motru and Jiu,touching with the avanguards Craiova.The left wing was advancing much slower,along Amaradia Valley ,then crossed Oltet Valley with direction Dragasani and reached at Otetelisu .The German Front ,was making thus ,a converssion towards East ,to place itself parallel with Olt River.

At 24th of November ,the German Armies reached the line of Olt River and had the unpleasantness to find the bridges at Dragasani and Slatina destroyed.From the oppsite shore ,strong bursts of artillery and an infantry fire announced the enemy that Olt shore was well occupied and energically defended.The enemy torrent had to stop,gather strengths and wait for the mistakes with which the inexperience or unthoughtfulness of ours will come to its aid.

Behind the Front line ,the roads of Oltenia are filled by the enemy invasion.Long columns of Infantery and Cavalery ,unnumbered cannons ,unfinishing convoys of waggons ,heavy automobiles move towards East.On the sides of the roads dead horses ,from which flesh the birds of prey tear pieces,smashed automobiles,abandoned weapons,turned up side down waggons with the wheels in the air,are the sad signs of Romanian retreat.By a road crossing ,a group of turkey birds ,thrust in haste over the ground mounds ,newly dug out.

The roads go through empty villages ,emptied by population which has taken,frightened ,the road of refuge.Sometimes ,the convoy of peasant waggons with oxes,carrying all the belongings of the family:the tree cover,corn cobs,herds,pigs ,pushed by hunger or by children,arrived in to enemy columns and turned from their way of lonely,go back to the desserted villages at the first moment of fear.Shots can be heared at all times,at the passing of columns through the villages .The Germans cannot stand dogs ;that is why their triumphal way is filled with the corpses of the poor animals.There are sad autumn days.The sky is ash like coloured ,and the roads are dug out,filled with mud ,holes and water.

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Come on, Razu. I don't mind most things laid to the feet of us Huns, the Rape of Belgium, the Crucifixion of the Canadian Soldier, the Eating of Little Children, the Breaking of China. But don't say that "the Germans can't stand dogs". The Huns/Germans were/are maddened dog lovers, absolutely world class. Note how many major breeds are German in origin. Many, many German officers had pet dogs at the front, and they are in many photos. I have a photo of Rommel as a lieutenant in WW I sitting in a dugout with his pet fox curled up in his lap, looking very comfortable and happy. Goering as a WW I fighter pilot had a lion cub at the front. But abandoned or feral dogs are a threat to people, all the more to unarmed civilians, and are doomed to a life of suffering and early death.

Bob Lembke, Resident Hun

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Come on, Razu. I don't mind most things laid to the feet of us Huns, the Rape of Belgium, the Crucifixion of the Canadian Soldier, the Eating of Little Children, the Breaking of China. But don't say that "the Germans can't stand dogs". The Huns/Germans were/are maddened dog lovers, absolutely world class. Note how many major breeds are German in origin. Many, many German officers had pet dogs at the front, and they are in many photos. I have a photo of Rommel as a lieutenant in WW I sitting in a dugout with his pet fox curled up in his lap, looking very comfortable and happy. Goering as a WW I fighter pilot had a lion cub at the front. But abandoned or feral dogs are a threat to people, all the more to unarmed civilians, and are doomed to a life of suffering and early death.

Bob Lembke, Resident Hun

Bob,

Sorry mate .I 'm just translating from the book.Guess you'll have to add this one up the list as well.

Best regards,

Andrei

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The Charge at Robanesti

Between the numerous episodic actions of the fights in Jiu and Olt ,by which the Romanian troops in retreat were trying to dam the advance of the German torrent ,to give time to set in defence the line of Olt River ,it deserves to not be forgotten the episode of the "Charge at Robanesti".

At Caracal was finding ,in the day of 7/20 of November ,the 2nd Rosiori Brigade-of the 1st Romanian Cavalry Division-made out of Regiments 4th and 9th ,with the mission of covering the left wing of the troops -Division 1/17-which was retreating from Jiu in direction Slatina ,pursued by Schmettow Cavalry .Advanced Escadrons come into contact with German patrols.The 2nd Rosiori Brigade receives from the Defence Group of Oltenia the task to fall in the flank and back of the enemy which was advancing from Craiova in direction East to attack the line of the most trialed 1/17 Division ,situated in the trenches between Robanesti and Cimpuri.

In the morning of 23rd of October ,the Brigade occupies Bujoiu Village ,setting on the run the enemy and advances towards West ,in Sector Lacrita-Robanesti-Pirsani,at the South of railway between Pielesti and Bals.Two Battalions of the enemy from 11th Bavarian Division ,solid entrenched ,opened violently from the edge of the Pirsani Forest and Robanesti Village .The 4th Rosiori Regiment(Cavalry) ,unmounted ,fights heroicly to crush the resistance ,but without success;the officers of the Regiment fall ,one after the other .At the left flank ,the 9th Rosiori Regiment did not succeed either to acomplish the mission of turning the right enemy wing ,such that it would ease the fight of the 4th Regiment.Then,Colonel Calinescu ,the Commander of the Regiment sends order that an Escadron to charge the enemy battery at the edge of the Pirsani Forest.

Captain Al. Filiti offers himself to execute this charge in the temple of 3rd Escadron.

The Escadron was reduced at only 110 swords and had no other officers but only the Commander,to which has added Lieutenant Mora ,which reconnoitred the position of the battery and Lieutenant Iuliu Rosca ,the adjutant of the Regiment,as volunteer.In the same Regiment was fighting ,as volunteer Seargent ,the old man Donici ,member of an old Moldavian family.With all his advanced age -almost 70 years-the oldman ,which made also the 1877 Romanian Campaign against Ottoman Empire ,did not thought much;he was making the campaign in the Platoon Commanded by his nephew,as in the Independence War of 1877 made it under the Command of the father of this one.Old Donici addressed to the Captain:

-What task you may give me ,Mr. Captain?

-Will you charge next to me?

-Thank you ,I am ready -answered short the old man,thrusting himself into the saddle near his Captain".

In five minutes ,the Escadron was ready .Filiti gives the order:"For attack! lance hang in balance,march,march!" Out of more than one hundred throats started the same shout:Uraa! and the Escadron dashed in gallop in the thunder of hundreds of hoofs .The German battery was sheltered behind the ridge of the hill of the clearing of Pirsani Forest;at the sight of the Escadron which was climbing in great speed the ridge ,the artillerists retreat in haste the cannons ,to hide in to the valley ,behind the infantry .As the Escadron continued the pursuit in descend now,the German machineguns ,hidden behind a straw stalk ,begin to cut down ,as a Company of Infantry -one file on their knees ,one standing-placed in the trench of the driveway Craiova-Piatra ,fires in full from front.Horses and riders fall in heaps ;the field is scattered by the dead bodies of men and animals.Captain Filiti ,Liutenants Mora and Rosca are amongst badly wounded.Near his Captain ,Donici has charged with the sword in the scabbard ,waving his hat in his hand like a flag-at his advanced age he did not want to kill-and falls dead ,pierced by bullets between the firsts.

The Escadron is entirely wiped out.

The rest of the 7th Regiment -reduced at two Escadrons -esalonated in depth to sustain the action of the 3rd Escadron ,is received in a very strong fire of artillery and retreats by Robanesti in direction Bals ;the same move is done by the 4th Regiment as well,which remained with uncovered flanks.

The 1st Cavalry Division has taken part in the fights for defending of Olt line ,cooperating with the Division 1/17 ,fighting when mounted ,when on foot,in a series of local engagements .Always harassed ,tired ,she has left the fields of battle scattered with the dead bodies of the fighters ,without being able to dam the advance of the enemy.

The Charge at Robanesti was an anacronism against the technical means of the modern war.General Kuhne classified it as "a madness!".This reminiscence of the old horsemen spirit of knights ,characteristic for the spirit souling the fighter on horse back in the times when a charge could have decide the fate of a battle ,has brought into evidence the elan and spirit of martyr of which is capable the Romanian soldier, in dfending his lands.

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Falling of Olt line

In front of Olt ,at 25th of November ,the Germans thought that a frontal attack ,made with the strong support of the artillery,will manage to put them in the mastering of the most direct and important crossing point of Olt River:the bridges at Slatina.But the bridges were destroyed,and the Eastern shore of Olt ,which dominates till far the line of the River Olt,was well occupied by the soldiers of 1/17 Romanian Division ,in retreat from Jiu,with artillery and infantry.Two days,25th and 26th of November ,the trials of Divisios 41st and 11th,Germans have failed .In vain their formidable heavy artillery ,directed by aeroplanes ,bombarded Slatina and the Romanian positions ;as soon as the German troops were starting the crossing of the River by boats or through shallows ,a violent fire of artillery ,machineguns and guns ,was starting from the Romanian shore and the try failed.In the day of 25th ,at Curtisoara Village ,in the evening of the same day at Tesluiului ,the next day at Villages Colibasi and Mosteni ,many boats with German soldiers have been sunk .And Olt Rivver dragged down to the valley many dead bodies.The try to force the passing by Slatina did not work.The same thing happens a bit more to the North still,where the 301st German Division did not acomplish,as well to cross the Olt at Dragasani.The positions on the Eastern shore were well defended by 2/5 Romanian Division ,brought from the remaking center at Buzau.The luck of the Germans and our bad judgement ,helps them obtain by surprise waht they could not obtain by force.

Further down to the valley from Slatina was another bridge ,at Stoenesti ,serving as crossing place for the driveway which passes from Caracal at Rosiori de Vede.The German Cavalry goes towards Caracal and Stoenesti.At 23rd of November ,Caracal was occupied.For the great and pleasant surprise of the Germans ,the bridge at Stoenesti was almost intact;the Romanian Detachment ,tasked with its destroying ,only damaged it a little.It has been thus used by the enemy even the next day;the Germans have build next to it another bridge.At 24th of November the 6th German Cavalry Division crossed over the bridge ,on to the Eastern shore ,and at 25th crossed also the 7th Division.The few Companies of militia ,which were in the vecinity of the bridge ,had to retreat ,without any resistance trial,whatsoever.With this face ,the crossing of Olt has been made ,by our mistake ,easier than the German could have iever magined.The Romanian line of defence at Slatina was turned.

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Face with this success ,the German Commander sends the 11th Bavarian Division ,which exhausted in vain in front of Slatina ,also towards the Stoenesti bridge and also in the same direction was going the Reserve of the Army,the 115th Division which ,at 26th of November ,reached Craiova.

Now ,the resistance of the Romanian Front could not maintain anymore on middle Olt .In the Northern part ,Kraftt Group von Delmensiengen,fighting on one side and the other of Olt ,has occupied Rimnicu Vilcea and defeated the resistance of Romanians on Topologului Valley.Advancing towards SouthWest ,he manages to establish the connection with the left wing of Kuhne ,in the hills region North of Dragasani and ,with this face ,to assigne an arch of circle around the Romanian positions ,one side and the other of Olt River.

In the same time ,a part of the German troops ,which have crossed the Olt already at Stoenesti ,have taken the oblique direction towards North ,tending to fall behind the Romanian troops at Slatina,as the rest of Cavalry troops continued the road towards Rosiori de Vede.

The 1st Romanian Cavalry Division tries to stop the advance of the enemy.She executes numerous marches and countermarches ,exhausting,harassing the troops of the enemy and being many times attacked by the airplanes of this one.A violent fight was given near Alimanesti.Against the enemy Cavalry -the 7th Division-which have occupied the Forest of Alimanesti,in which they retrenched ,strong,the Romanian Brigades of Rosiori ,fighting unmounted or charging on fronts of Escadrons ,well supported by the Mounted Artillery ,have bleed uselessly ,without succeeding to take out the enemy from its strong positions ,nor to obstacle the continuous invasion of the enemy torrent over Olt.In the different fights given on the Eastern shore of Olt ,the 1st Cavalry Division has lost more than a half of her men ,horses and cannons ,being thus forced to retreat at Potcoava().The General Commander of the Division ,which could not arrive in time to stop the crossing of the enemy on Stoenesti bridge ,commited suicide ,latter.

The Romanian positions at Slatina were not to be held anymore.With the threat of turning from North and South ,the retreat towards East must begin.The entire Army of Kuhne was now on to the Eastern shore of Olt .In the day of 27th of November ,the line of Olt has fallen.During this time,a new and grave event took place.Behind the Romanian Army ,at Zimnicea ,Mackensen has crossed the Danube River[1] and started a rapid advancement towards North-East ,threatening the Capital ,and also the communication lines and retreat ones of Romanian Army.The situation was of an exceptional gravity.The plan of manoeuvre from Pitesti towards South ,against the heads of the columns of the IX-th German Army ,which would have crossed Olt at Slatina or even more to the South ,was not standing anymore.The Seperior Romanian Commandment gave up to this plan .There was no time to gather the Divisions of the Manoeuvre Group.A new regrouping of the Romanian Forces was now necessary ,to oppose to the advancement of the enemy,which was now concentric :from the mountains direction ,and from Olt River and Danube River.

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2.The Odyssey Of Cerna Group

The resistance of Cerna Group

One of the most impressive acts of the Romanian tragedy was played beyond Olt.The thunder like advance of the enemy and conquering of Olt line has cut in two the fighting Army in Oltenie.The remains of Jiu Group retreated on to this side of Olt.Have remained,however,beyond ,three groups of fighters ,isolated,broken from their tree:at Orsova Cerna Group,in Gorj Taut Detachment ,and at Bailesti a small Detachment said"of Danube".Between tem and the "kingdom" was interposed the enemy.Oltenia was invaded by the enemy ,Craiova occupied ,the line of the metal road in his mastering.The fate of the three Detachments ,remained isolated behind enemy lines ,seemd sealed:it was the capitulation.But the troops belonged to some Regiments from Olt region ,elite of the Army.Oltenian pride did not make good friend with the ideea of defeat without fight and of capitulation.And then,in the face of the enemy ,perplexed ,begins to unfold an unique show in the history of wars...In the most extreme point of the Carpathians Romanian Front ,on Cernei Valley,the troops of Cerna Group remained on a stand still,helding solid Orsova,Alionului Mountain and the whole mountaineous line ,as it has been conquered and handed to them as a sacre deposit by General Dragalina.Not a palm of ground has the enemy taken.The brave troops repelled any attempt of advance of the enemy and contributed ,by sending of Dejoianu Detachment ,to the Romanian Victory at Jiu.

During the second Battle of Jiu,the enemy Group Mehadia -Commander,Hungarian Colonel Szivo-received the order to attack the Romanian Group at cerna ,to not let him send aid troops at Jiu,and to force the passing towards Severin behind the Group at Jiu.For this operation,the enemy group has been strengthened with a Brigade of Cyclists,German-of a power of 1200 rifles.For four days ,10-13th of November ,ferocious fights took place at Cerna .Only on the 13th of November ,after violent street fights .Romanians have cede Orsova and retreated on the left shore of Cerna .The trials to take them out of here have remained without result and the enemy offensive ,arrived at the end of its forces ,had to cease .

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During the fight given at Cerna,the Romanian Commander rose up, from the troops situated here ,three Battalions ,making Taut Detachment ,which he sends through Baia de Arama (Copper Bath) at Tirgu Jiu to intervene in the battle there;the Detachment could not arrive in time to intervene in the fight .Before ,have also been taken some other troops to strengthen the Army occupying Olt.

With all the weakness resulted from these taken of troops ,the thick of the Group made now of Regiments 17th,57th and 31st ,Commanded by Colonel Demetriad ,held with bravery Cerna line ,over which the enemy could not cross.Unfortunately ,painful events were taking place behind,at Tirgu Jiu ,which had to influence in fatal way over the Group at Cerna.

At 17th of November ,in the wake of the defeat of Tirgu Jiu,the Group had receive the order to retreat towards Filiasi ,to form up the left wing of the Army of Jiu,in retreat.This order has been however counter mandate ;in the interest of the manoeuvres planned by the High Romanian Commandment ,the Division received a new order ,to remain on place ,to resist,and it did.In a resembling situation was finding also the Militia Detachment -said the Danube Detachment-reduced at three Battalions and a battery under the Command of Colonel Al.Vaitoianu -shared between Hinova ,on Danube River and Bailesti ,in the South-West of Dolj County.It have received the order to retreat in the left of Cerna Group,with direction Caracal,to occupy and defend Stoenesti Bridge ,over Olt River.And this order was in the end ,countermandate.We now the result of the catastrophe of not occupying of the bridge at Stoenesti.

At 19th of November ,together with the advance of Kuhne Army towards Craiova ,the enemy started the offensive against the Group at Cerna ;the attack ,aimed against Alion Mountain ,has been repelled.Encouraged by the situation more and more difficult in which it was finding the Romanian Group ,with the cut retreat ,the enemy re newed with the same insuccess its attacks.In the same time ,Kuhne ,which has occupied Craiova and was advancing towards Olt ,started to be concerned by the safety of its back.On the other hand ,Hindenburg needed of the Way of Danube ,indispensable for the services of provissioning of the two Armies operating now in Muntenia Field(Wallachia or Valahia or Romanian Country).That is why ,the German Commander orders an action ,energic, by which the enemy to take in possession the left wing of Danube .The enemy attack on the whole line of the Front was given at 22nd of November ,sustained by Danube River monitors .With all the thinness of the Front line ,the Romanians have resisted with determination ,but start to be overwhelmed by the superiority of the enemy.

Behind the Group at Cerna ,Kuhne sends"The Strengthened Battalion Picht" with cannons and a telegraph station without wire.Picht started from Filiasi along the railway towards West and,defeateing the resistance of a weak Detachment of Militia at Balota ,occupies Turnu-Severin in the evening of 2nd of November .

At Cerna ,Demetriad is aknowledged by the Prefect of the County of Mehedinti that Severin is occupied since the evev ,by the enemy.Without waiting for an order from the Great Headquarter ,seeing his communication line cut ,the Colonel gives the order for general retreat.The retreat of the Romanian Group ,gave finally the occassion to the enemy to"conquer" the crossing of Cerna River and to begin the pursuit of the undefeated Romanian Division.The arierguard of the Romanian Group ,fighting with courage ,held the enemy to respectuous distance .In the night of 22-23rd of November ,the last Romanian Posts have left the Eastern shore of Cerna ,and at 24th ,the troops of Cerna Group were in front of Severin ,occupied with two days before by the Germans.

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"The wandering Detachment " Taut

Very adventurous has been the fate of Taut Detachment.Formed at 15th of November with the purpose of participating at the Battle of Tirgu Jiu,by elements taken from different sectors of Cerna Group.He was constituted by three Battalions of Infantry with an artillery battery at Ciresu and started in the morning of 16th of November towards Baia de Arama ,making a tiring march the whole day on snowing and waterandsnowing.From the right side ,the wind brings the echo of the cannon of Tirgu Jiu Battle ,which cooked up.Arrived in Baia de Arama late in to the night ,after three hours of rest ,the soldiers re-begin at 17th the march towards Tirgu Jiu.Before Pestisani ,the column meets with a Detachment of three Escadrons of the 6th Grman Cavalry Division ,with cannons ,which tey repel ;at night they cantoon at Pestisani.The next day in the morning ,18th of November ,the situations shows unclear.Isolated and in ignorrance of what was going on around him,Taut has to make suppositions over the situation and make decissions out of own initiative .The Battle at Tirgu Jiu took place yesterday,without the Detachment participation;it is obvious that the Romanians were in retreat ,followed by the enemy;the Front was towards South,far away.

The advance towards Tirgu Jiu was of no use whatsoever.Besides the Detachment was much too weak -with a little over 2000 fighters -to be able to bring a real service in the unfolding of the engaged battle.He has to look now after his own safety.Taut makes a going around move towards right and starts the march in South direction ,along Bistrita Valley.By here,has passed yesterday the 7th Cavalry Division of the enemy towards South and the road is followed now by the columns of Schmettow Corps.At Balcesti,the confluence of Bistrita water with Jiu River ,the Romanian Detachment meets a big enemy column ,which he attacks.After a violent fight ,the greatest part of the column is captured.120 waggons with munition ,effects and food are destroyed.The rest escapes on a lateral road ,under the protection of the snowing ,which obstacles the eye sight;three officers and 80 soldiers are made prisoners .At night,Taut is at Rosia;the enemy has important forces at Farcasesti ,2.5 Miles distance from the Romanian cantoonament.

The Commander of the German Group of Jiu,Kuhne ,which is on the way to Craiova ,is concerned by the existence and deeds of this wandering Detachment,which he has in the back and ribs.The 7th Cavalry Division ,German, and the Detachment of armoured automobiles are send in the pursuit of this Detachment.In the day of 19th ,Taut is at Raci;the enemy Cavalry cuts his way,occupying Bolbosi and Borascu .Taut changes direction towards South West to arrive over the hills at Strehaia ,from where he can go either to Severin,or Craiova.At the bridge at Bolbosi he is attacked by the enemy ,with strong artillery ;in the fight given here ,with heavy casualties by both sides ,falls Captain Benedict Popescu ,one of the heroes of Cerna Group.The road towards Strehaia being barriered by the enemy ,Taut changes once more direction more to the East ,towards Prunisor .Kuhne recalls the 7th Cavalry Division ,which he needs in other direction and leaves in the pursuit of the Detachment Taut ,only the Regiment of Armoured Nr.5th and three Escadrons with artillery;the armoured automobiles,stuck in the snow ,give up to the pursuit.In the day of 21st the Germans attack at Severinesti the Romanian Detachment ,but they are throwed back ,until Craiova and lose three cannons ,chesons,machineguns and prisoners .Important captures are send to Turnu Severin but,unfortunately ,the city has been occupied already by the Germans .The Detachment makes the telegraphic connection with the Commander of cerna Group .At 21st of November,in the evening.Taut Detachment is at Malovat,4.3 Miles North-East of turnu-Severin ,in the tactic field of the city,where he receives the order of Colonel Demetriad to leave for Turnu Severin to reconquer the city ,which ,in the mean time ,has been occupied by surprise by the Germans.

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The fight at Turnu Severin

At 23rd of November ,Taut is not able to attack Severin ,thinking that his Detachment is too weak to fulfil with success such a mission ,and the men ,few ,are tired after five days of continuous marchings and fights.In the same day ,arrives in to the tactic field also the bulk of Cerna Group ,coming from West ,followd close by the enemy,advancing hard on the driveway ,with ground holes made by rains and crowded by the multitude of horse carriages which here and there blocked the traffic.Panics were produced from time to time ,making losses of life and material.

The Germans ,occupying the city withe the Strengthened Battalion Picht,put it in defence position.All the exits from the city have been barricaded with the benches from the public gardens and squares ,with waggons and carriages;the machineguns have been installed in mansards and at windows of the houses ;on the boulevard in the center of the city ,from the public garden and from the Northern part of the city,cannons dominated the vecinities.So,for reconquering of the city by Romanians ,will have to be made a heavy fight.A lively discussion started between the Romanian Commanders ,if in this situation it would be oportun the attacking of Severin ,which will attract losses in men and time ;some opinionated that it would be preferable to continue the retreat in haste to East,going around the city,to save the unit from extermination and to make the connection of the Group with the bulk of the Romanian Armies.But Colonel Demetriad maintained his opinion, to attack Severin.The fight will be given during the day on 11/24 of November.

In the day of 23rd of November ,Taut ,which made contact with the German avanposts ,was forced to stay on watch in front of the city ,harassing with small enemy groups ,without engaging in fond.The arriving of the Group from Cerna in the tactic field was not without adventures which diminished its fighting strngth.An enemy attack in the dark over the tail of the convoys produced a great crowding and panic ;some Companies have been scattered to great distances towards East,missing the next day at the attack over Severin.The attack begun at 12 noon ,with all forces united of the two Brigades -as much as they could gather .The 1st Brigade ,Colonel Stavrache ,was operating in Eastern and Northern Sector ;the 2nd Brigade ,Colonel Lupascu in the Northern and Western Sector.The field of battle was well reconnoitred by the troops of the brave 17th Mehedinti Regiment ,of the 1st Brigade ,which had their Barracks in Turnu Severin,making thus on this terrain their exercises and fighting applications.Fighting with elan ,they have advanced on to the edge of the city.

Threatened ,the Germans request quick reinforcements by telegraph ,without wire,installed by them in the City Hall Park.They arrive the same day ;from the west arrives the Cyclists Brigade from Cerna;from over the Danube few Companies ,Bulgarians ,from east few Cavalry Escadrons of the 7th German Division ;on the Danube ,some Austrian vessels give help to the artillery.Their firing range and those of some Bulgarian batteries from the Southern shore of the river bombard,destroy and spread the convoys of waggons of the Romanian Division.A number of 380 prisoners ,Austrians ,found in the city ,are freed ,armed with rifles captured by Romanians and increasing thus the number of the enemy fighters.

The fight is made in difficult conditions for Romanians.The fires of the cannons and especially of the machineguns ,numerous,Germans ,which fire in full ,cut down the Romanians ,which cannot answer the same way.The Romanian batteries fire short ,of fraid to not destroy the beautiful Severin ,the residence of their own Division.Many officers and soldiers of the Division,from Mehedinti ,had here their house and family.The fight,very bloody,was given till late in the night ,at the light of rockets throwed by the enemy,in the edge and even on to the streets of the city where groups of Romanian soldiers have entered.The Germans,although they fought from shelters ,have big losses as well.By evening ,they are forced to notice that the resistance is not possible anymore ,they gather their telegraphic instalation ,without wire,and and prepare to run away over the Danube.Luckily for them,though,that in the same evening,Demetriad ,realizing that the fight is useless,that every hour of delay makes the situation more complicated ,that from one moment to another will arrive in his back the troops of Szivo Group ,and that the bulk of his forces executed the move of going around the city ,he breaks the fight and gave the order for general retreat with direction towards South-East;the retreat of the troops of the 1st Brigade started from own initiative of the Commander ,pushed by the situation of the fight.

Around the city ,the hills and valleys have remained covered with hundreds of dead bodies of the soldiers from Mehedinti ,dead in the fight for the pride and liberation of their city .A group of citizens and pupils of the schools of Turnu Severin have buried 216 dead bodies of Romanian soldiers ,which have been left by the Germans to putrefy on the field.

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The retreat of Cerna Group

At 25th of November Cerna Group,reconstituted with all its units ,begun the retreat in very difficult conditions.No connection with the Central Command or with other Fighting Groups did not exist anymore.All communications have been cut or occupied by the enemy.In this desperate situation ,Colonel Demetriad decided that by,own means ,to cross Oltenia Region,by South of the railway and of the big driveway ,to arrive at Inferior Olt River,which to cross on one of the bridges of this region.Heroic decission ,but hard to acomplish ,when Oltenia was in the power of the enemy,when his Cavalry and armoured cars were roving through up and down all the roads ,when from behind the Division was closely pursued by advers Group ,which did not give a minute rest ,when from the North were closing in the German columns ,and at South were crossing the Danube River the Bulgarian Detachments.Still,the Officers of the Group ,decided to continue the retreat ,forcing the passing through the middle of the enemy.

On the right side ,Vaitoianu Detachment started also the retreat along Danube River.The two Groups united at 1st of December and fussioned under the Command of Colonel Demetriad.The extraordinary retreat lasted for two weeks,going more than 125 Miles behind enemy lines(enemy Front),with short stops at Rogova ,Braniste ,Galicea Mare ,Bailesti,Sadova,Zaval,Bechet,Corabia.The marching of the troops was made hard;the weather was cold and rainy;the foot wear of the soldiers tore .There was not one day in which the Group not to be attacked either in flanks or in the back,where the 1st Mixt Brigade -Colonel Stavrache -which formed the arierguard of the column ,reduced at the brave 17th Mehedinti Regiment ,with two weak Battalions ,had to sustain almost continuously the fight with Szivo Brigade.The Romanians have given themselves numerous attacks to cover the retreat and ensure liberty of movements.Everything that was not indispensable :waggons ,chesons(ammo bins or waggons),ambulances have been send in to the abyss of Copcii Valley.At Zaval,Vaitoianu Detachment buried its cannons in to the ground.

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At 1st of December Cerna Group has cross over Jiu River by Zaval ,under the beat of the enemy cannons and cantooned at Sadova ,where the Commander wants to accord a day rest,to the tired troops.The rich installations and the mansion Domeniu Coroanei(The Crown Domain) have been devastated plundered in a savage way,by the Bulgarian Commitee-men ,which came over ,over Danube River.Surrounded and caught by Romanian troops ,they have not ,however,been shot ,after the right of War,but-in number of some 150 -taken prisoners and dragged with the Division,fore few days ,until Olt River.The enemy ,which follows close by,attacks all day and the troops have to fight in the trenches ,repelling all attacks.At Sadova,plundered by Bulgarian Commitee-men crossed over Danube River,the Commander receives finally,news which lightens the situation.A Calaras(horseman),Romanian, alone ,which escaped from a reconnoitring patrol ,comes back from over Olt River,with the news of the general retreat of Romanians and forming of the Romanian Front line on Arges River.With all the tragic of the situation ,the Council of Commanders decides retaking of the march towards West ,with cover over the right side against Bulgarians ,which try to attack from Danube direction.A new enemy attack with artillery ,at Visina ,on to the railway Caracal-Corabia,is repelled and at 5th of December the troops of the Group have reached the Olt River shore.The troops are unfolded facing Olt ;at the left side is the 1st Brigade ,Colonel Stavrache ,at Ciineni and Tia Mare;the bulk -the 2nd Brigade -is at the right ,at Izbiceni.The Group is reduced now at barely 5000 men .The rest have perished in the fights ;many soldiers ,especially Milita -men of "Dunarea Group"(Danube Group),from Mehedinti County , Dolj County and Romanati County,have remained in their villages ,which the Army was going through in her retreat.

A big desilussion awaited the heroic troop at the shore of Olt .The waters of the river were big ,because of the rains ,and the crossing over the bridges was impossible.The bridge at Stoenesti ,at Caracalului,went down in to enemy hands long time ago,which was occupying it solid.Same with the bridge at Islaz;a trial by here would have been very risky ,as the bridge was,as the shore,under the beat of the cannons from enemy vessels on Danube River and from the Bulgarian shore.The bridge at Izbiceni ,intermediary between the two ,has been blown up by the Detachment in which guard has been trusted and which was in a hurry to retreat.Demetriad,took the decission :the troops will cross at Izbiceni.In two days ,the big break made in the beautiful bridge of concrete will be repaired with improvized material at the disposal.The works begin imediately,almost under enemy fire ,and the troop place herself in cantoonament through the villages on the edge of Olt River ,constituting a fighting Front facing West,with the back towards Olt River and with the left flank towards Danube River.

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Before the reparations to the bridge to be ended,the inevitable has produced.All around the brave troop was gathering the enemy,which started to attack from all directions.At Islaz the Austro-Hungarian fleet disembarks troops ;behind,on the other side of Olt ,appeared troops of Stage ,Austro-Hungarians ,Bulgarian Pioneers and troops of German Railway.The bulk of Szivo troops arrived in the face of Romanian Front.

The enemy attacks -from North and North-West -at 5th and 6th of December the left Romanian wing-of North-of the Group.The Milita defenders -from Ciineni ,overwhelmed by the superior forces ,cannot resist anymore;the enemy occupies the villages and captures troops;now he can attack both from front and flank Tia Mare where cantoons the Brigade of arierguard.The Romanians resist with fury.The enemy artillery bombards with rage the village.The link with Izbicenii is broken ,the enemy columns invade from all parts .A try of braking of the enemy circle ,executed with two Companies ,is rejected.Nothing is to hope for.The flag of the 17th Regiment Mehedinti ,glorious carried in fights for three months ,is kissed by officers and soldiers ,then burned in fire.The trumpet-man sounds the cease of the fight and the white flag rises over the Romanian thrences ...In the same day ,the same fate has the bulk ,cantooned at Izbiceni.The enemy circle tightens from all parts around the troop.Attacked from North ,from West and from the South ,the Romanians find themselves also attacked over from Olt by railway troops of Mackensen Army ,which were on the Eastern shore.Defeated by fatality ,overwhwlmed by the enemy ,without any perspective of escape ,the troop has to bow her head in fron of fate.Painful scenes took place with the occasion of capitulation.Some batteries of the 1st Artillery Regiment,Romanian destroyed their cannons ,the waggons and furgonets;blew up their projectiles ;the officers and soldiers broke their swords and rifles and shot the horses.The smashes of the guns and waggons have been piled up in a huge stalk along with the dead bodies of the horses and burned.The soldiers of the heroic Division,which did not new defeat till then,were crying in front of the imense fire ,the altar of the sacrifice of a brave troop ,but without luck.In a big room of Rosianu Mansion ,has been made the scene of the dramatic capitulation.Colonel Szivo congratulated Colonel Demetriad for bravery ,the courage and resistance which he made proof of,in this long and difficult retreat .In the conversation which followed ,the Romanians found out that ,with consternation ,in tha same day,Bucharests have been occupied by the enemy Armies.So ,the plan of crossing Olt ,to unite with the bulk of the Romanian Army ,would have been inutile ,himeric,and the martyrs of two weeks of fighting,of the penible retreat, in vain.This is how the glorious story of this brave Division ends .In the history of our War,remains a bright page and the enemy consacrates elogious rows:"The small Group of Orsova,which have stayed for two weeks in the middle of the torrent and only at Turnu Magurele have been captured,have saved the honour of Romanian Army,when the bulk of her,already for a long time now,could held only by Russian aid".

The military correspondent of "Norddeutsche Algemeine Zeitung"-one of the German newspapers inspired by the government in matters of foreign politics -writes at 30th of December in connection with the retreat of the Group at Cerna:"All these cannot obstacle us from addmitting ,alltogether with our good militars ,that the conduct of Romanian at Orsova and in general of the entire Romanian Army of 1916,deserves all the admiration ,even in comparisson with the other allies of them.Who has the cult of the flag ,and unmoved trust in it ,will have to admit what is of the enemy as well ,after all".

Falkenhayn himself,very sobre when it comes to admit the virtues of the adversary ,border himself to write :"Also this deed deserves not to be forgotten in the history of War".

Colonel Demetriad has been sued ,at his return from captivity ,and trialed at Iasi in 1919,with the guilt of making an inutile attack at Turnu Severin,without superior orders:he was condemned to penssion before age limit.Bitter ,he put an end to his life ,latter.The public opinion absolved him and gave him the high esteem deserved by men of bravery and character.

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3.Crossing the Danube

An important number of the German program

In the second half of November ,the Supreme German Commander thought that the events on the Romanian War Theatre have reached,in their advantageous unfolding,to a deciding point.It was the proper moment for an Army to cross over Danube River ,to take part,hand in hand with Falkenhayn ,to a concentric advance towards Bucharests.The ideea of attacking simultaneously of Romania from two directions ,from North-over Carpathian Mountains-and from the South-over the Danube -was ,as we know the initial and fundamental ideea of the German strategic plan.There were the two blades of a scissor,which closed in,cutting the piece behind them.The plan has been elaborated by the Great German Headquarter ,imediately after Brasov Battle ,at 8th of October.

The awaited moment for executing this operation arrived;it is true that much latter than calculated the Great German Headquarter .The breakthrough of the Romanian Front in Dobrogea permitted to Mackensen to build up a strong defence line in the most narrow region of Dobrogea .The guard of this line has been handed to an Army ,made out of Bulgarian Divisions and Turkish-German Detachments ,calculated as sufficient for the lack of energy of the Russian attacks.With the rest of the German-Turkish-Bulgarian forces,Mackensen constituted a new Army ,destined to the invasion in Muntenia(the Romanian Country or Valahia;not the entire Kingdom of Romania).He completed this Army with Cavalry units ,taken from the Macedonian Front where ,after seizing of Monastir[2],the War there,entered a stationary phase,with German troops and with the 12th Bulgarian Division,which made till then the guard of the Danube and with a Turk Division.This was the new "Danube Army",which was supposed to cross the river ,between Sistov and Zimnicea .The day of the crossing depended by the situation of Falkenhayn Army .It has been set for 23rd of November ,when Kuhne Army ,advancing in the pursuit of the Romanian Army at Jiu,defeated,closes in to Olt River.The passing of Mackensen behind the Romanian troops had to have as result conquering of Olt River line and perhaps-the capturing of Romanian Army.

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Preparatives

The operation of crossing Danube River is,in itself,a difficult operation ,which reclames a lot of preparation ,rich technical means .The Germans have prepared it with meticulosity and with the spirit of tidy,specific to the rase.Harder even than the operation of crossing ,is the one of holding on on the adverse shore.For this it is necessary ,on one hand,that the bridge to be solid defended,and on the other hand ,that numerous and well organized forces to occupy the shore on an extended ray.Our try at Flaminda demonstrated that it is easier to throw a bridge and cross over it,than to try to hold on on the adverse shore.

Even during the time of neutrality(before the War).the Austro-Hungarian pontooneers have transported the necessary material for constructing a bridge System Herbert ,capable to sustain the most heavy artillery ;pntoons and pieces of bridge that had only to be set ,head to head.This material has been sheltered in Belene Channel ,between Persina Islet and the Bulgarian shore.Persina Islet is the greatest of the Islands of Danube River and it is covered by woods of willow tree,which mask completely the channel behind .It is at some 6.25 Miles above Zimnicea .The transport and sheltering of the material was made with a lot of guard and discretion ,such that ours did not find a thing.It would have been enaugh some cannon shots to destroy all this material.Also here,hide the fleet as well,of monitors and vedette Austro-Hungarian,as well as numerous motor boats ,which will be of great use at the crossing of the troops.

The chosen poit for crossing of Danube was Sisitov ,in front of Zimnicea .It is exactly the place where the Russians have built at 1877 the bridge,on which have crossed the Armies ,in the War for Liberating Bulgaria.The chosen point presents numerous advantages .The Bulgarian shore ,high and with gulleys ,dominates-as in the all course of the Danube-the Romanian shore ,flat,permitting observation up to great distances ,as behind the heights of Sistov ,covered with trenches ,the own movements,are hidden by the sight of the adversary.Besides,Sistov is head of railway ,at close distance from the base of the fleet of Persina ,and in the middle of the Danube ,in front is Bujorescu Islet ,which separates the flow of Danube in two arms ,making thus easy the crossing and construction of the bridge.The preparatives for crossing the Danube were made during the night .There were constructed on to the side of the driveway well masked ,there were unfolded rails ,there have been carried considerable amounts of munition and provissions ,there were installed in the trenches cannons of great caliber.A very severe supervising has managed to obstacle ,any crossing over the water ,such that the secret of the preparatives was well kept.The thing is not a surprise .The preparatives of the Romanian crossing at Flaminda have remained,as well,unobserved by the enemy,although he had the superiority of mastering the air with numerous aeroplanes and his fleet had more liberty of movement than the Romanian fleet,retained beyond the Dobrogean Front.Destroying of the Romanian observation post at over Cinghinelelor Islet ,at 8th of October ,has left to the Austro fleet the mastering of Danube ,which was not troubled but only by the batteries on the Romanian shore.

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However,the Romanian Commandment have received informations which yields the intention of the enemy.British aviators ,arrived from Lemnos Island ,reported that ,during their flight over the Bulgarian territory ,they have seen a long column of over 12.5 Miles going from East to West ,on the driveway from Osman -Pazar at Tarnovo.Other French aviators have observed big concentrations of troops arround Plevna .The officers of the Militia troops have notified their Chiefs that,during the night ,one can hear on the Bulgarian territory sispicious noises,which indicate an anusual activity.Unfortunately,the general situation did not permit to Romanians taking of measures of strengthening ,especially that no one knew for certain which might be the point chosen by the enemy to effectuate the crossing.To deceive the attention of the Romanian Commandment ,the enemy started an intensive bombardment in the whole length of Danube River and has occupied several islets.The bombardment was of unusual strength in the day of 22nd of November ,in the eve of the day fixed for the operation,whene there have been executed many more deceiving actions of disembarking in different points.At 22nd of November ,the enemy Army of Danube was entirely concentrated at Sistov and has been presented(review) by Marshal Mackensen and by the Chief of his General Staff,General Tappen.

The composition of this Army was the following:the 217th German Division ,General von Gallwitz,which fought at Topraisar;a Mixt Division,Germano-Bulgar,Austro-Hungars and Bulgars,brought from Macedonian Front.The Army has been foreseen with a very powerful artillery and especially with a big number of machineguns.The Commander of the Danube Army was General Kosch which,before the War,commanded the 10th Prusian Division with the ressidence at Poznan and took part in the Campaign against Serbia.

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On the Romanian shore ,the defence was given to a Group named the Group of Danube Defence ,put under the Command of General C. Iancovescu .The Group was made of the 18th Romanian Division ,General Referendaru,made out of three Brigades ,strengthened with a Brigade of Artillery and three Brigades of Calarasi.The 2nd Cavalry Division ,which fought at Magherus and Oituz ,has been brought in Muntenia -without one Brigade,left at Oituz -and cantooned in Bucharest,forming thus the Reserve of the Group for Danube Defence.The Danube shore ,from Olt to Calarasi,was separated in to three Sectors:Turnu Magurele-Zimnicea,Giurgiu and Oltenita ,corresponding to the three brigades of the 18th Division.Face with the strech of the sectors ,the guard was illusory :the density of the means was of one man at each 30 meters .The troop was made in the most part of Militia men.The Division was formed after the beginning of the War of Battalions of Militia and of the fourth Battalion of some of the Regiments in Muntenia.As active Regiment ,was only the 20th Teleorman .The weapons of the Militia were very weak ;the old weapons Martiny ,with which their parents made the 1877 War.In the last moment it has begun the change of the rifles by Weterley ,difficult to use weapon ,defectuous as mechanism ,but with a formidable bayonet!The artillery was submediocre .Without only few modern batteries or of great caliber ,the majority were the old cannons ,without repetition and the acompany batteries made out of the small cannons of 53 mm,taken out from forts and mounted on afets.The Romanian soldiers have nicknamed them the "rifles" in opposition with the powerful enemy artillery.Some batteries were harnassed with oxes ,because of the lack of horses.In some points of the Danube shore were installed fixed batteries ,which supervised the course of the Danube and the opposite shore .This was the weak cover that would have to be opposed to the strong Army ,which Mackensen prepared to throw over the Danube .

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DSC_0092.jpg

(Field cannon ,System Krupp;model 1904;caliber 75mm;firing angle -8 at +17';travers firing angle 35';maximum firing range 1200 m;weight of projectile 6 kg;fabricated at Krupp in Essen ;used by Romanian Army in the Great War)

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The Crossing

In the morning of 23rd of November ,a very thick fog covered the river and the shores.One could not see 10 m in front.At about 4 in the morning ,the first Company of German Hunters crossed the river on to the Northern shore in boats with padeles.The thick fog made the crossing easier,unobserved.Other boats followed .A bit up stream, crossed the river also the Bulgarian Companies .The disembarked troops started to dig fast ,holes in the ground,building a temporary bridgehead .

Soon ,the enemies have been discovered by the Romanian Posts and the general alarm was made.It was too late.From the Bulgarian shore ,the heavy and light German artillery started a strong bombardment over the Romanian shore ,separating by a curtain of fire the desembarking zone of Zimnicea ,by the neighbour villages ,where the Romanian troops were.Under the protection of this fire of baraj,the tow motor boats start to dragg the bulk of the troops ,on to Romanian shore.The Austro-Hungarian fleet of monitors was supporting the crossing ,firing as well over the shore.By evening have crossed the 217th Division von der Goltz and the 1st Bulgarian Division.

The bombarding of the Romanian shore ,was general now,from Islaz to Giurgiu.At Islaz disembarked other German troops ,making the Romanian Militia Battalion to retreat ,in the guard of which were the two bridges over Inferior Olt River.The small Detachments of Militia ,which have tried to oppose resistance ,had to retreat at North of Zimnicea .They are too weak -one against eight.

The next day ,24th of November ,the Germans have widen and completed the bridgehead .Now have started the construction of the bridge itsef by the Austrian pontooneers ;the construction continues also at night at the light of the projectors from the river monitors.In the next morning the bridge was ready ;its metal bars were shining in to the rays of a joyful autumn sun.Over the bridge were passing in unterminable columns ,in the sound of music and under the eyes of Marshal Mackensen ,the infantry masses ,cavalry and artillery ,Germans from all parts of the empire:from Mainz and Platinat,from Bavaria and Pomerania ,from Silezia and Schleswig -Holstein,then Hanovezi,Hungarians,Bosniacs ,Turks ,Bulgarians ,to pour as an invasion wave over the fields and villages Romanian.The enemy invasion was bursting now the kingdom from three parts.The fire circle of the strong enemy was getting tighter now ,more and more over the exhausted Romanian Army.She had to fight in the same time in the mountains facing North ,at Olt with the face towards West and now ,at the Danube facing South.The tragic situation in which we were finding ourselves ,reclaimed in to memory another decisive moment in Romanian history.From the same place ,in which now rise up the threatening sword of the enemy ,with almost 40 years before rose a frightened voice :"The Turks are finishing us.Cross the Danube .Make a demonstration ,pressure ,or any other operation,as was your wish".It was the voice of Grand Duke Nicolae ,the Generalisim of the Russian Army ,cornered by Osman Pasa at Plevna ,threatened to be pushed into the Danube River.He was imploring King Carol of Romania for the saving helping hand.The Romanians run for the aid of Russians ,Bulgaria was freed and...Basarabia was taken from us .Thirtynine years latter ,on the same spot ,the invasion hoardes ,in which shine,filled with hate ,the eyes of the liberated slave ,hand in hand with his yesterday executioner ,step onto Romanian land.But this time the voice of Romania resounds in vain.The great ally had his misterious calculations .His aid comes late ,weak,hesitant.We were alone in the hour of our grave danger !

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The Advance

The enemy has set foot on Romanian shore .He started its unfolding for battle.Goltz Division was closed down;its elements have been ,part of them assigned to other units,and another part remained as a Mixt Brigade Bulgaro-German independent ,and General von der Goltz took the Command of the Cavalry Division ,which will form up the covering of the Danube Army*.

Even in the day of 24th,Zimnicea was occupied by the enemy.He begins his advance along Zimnicea-Alexandria railway .The 217th German Division and the Turk DIvision are at the center.The Cavalry Division is at the left wing .The Bulgarians are forming up the right wing ;they take North -East direction ,along the Danube ,with direction of Giurgiu,accompanied by the Fleet of Danube ,which defends their flank.

The Romanian Detachments of Militia ,which constituted the defence of Zimnicea Sector ,are too weak to obstacle the advance.However,they give attacks which delay the moves of the adversary ,as the Commander of Danube Defence calls in support the troops of the other two sectors ,to concentrate all his forces in the invaded region.The enemy avanguards are detained for a brief moment by an attack from direction of Bragadiru ,executed by Arges Battalion ;then are brought to a stand still in front of Romanian positions at Ulmulet Trainstation.But the enemy attacks strong with three Regiments of Infantry sustained by artillery ,and the defence is made by three Militia Battalions with three batteries of old cannons ;few Companies of 20th Teleorman Regiment arrive too late and are too tired to take part in the fight .Face with this crushing superiority ,the Romanian troops have to continue the retreat.

The enemy advances now in three directions :the left continues the road towards Alexandria ;the center goes oblique towards North -East towards Tporu and Draganesti ,to cut the driveway Alexandria-Bucuresti;the right follows the road of Giurgiu.the Turks remain in reserve .To dam the advance of the enemy and to gain time,to make the marches and concentration of troops necessitated by the new situation ,the Romanian Commandment sets the troops of Danube Defence in a form of an arch of circle,leaning with the right on Vedea at Alexandria and with the left on Danube River,at Giurgiu.

The left enemy wing ,made especially of Cavalry ,is followed at distance by Turkish troops.She defeats the Romanian resistance at Soimu and at Sumirdioasa -were have fought only the 20th Regiment ,Teleorman,because the Battalion of Militia have left the fight-and occupies at 26th of November Tiganesti,and at 27th Alexandria.The enemy avanguards meet at Plosca ,between Alexandria and Rosiorii de Vede ,with Schmettow avanguards.

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The German cavalry ,coming from Caracal direction ,have crossed Olt River at Stoenesti Bridge,and have occupied in the eve Rosiorii de Vede.The 5th Rosori Regiment with an artillery battery and a section of machineguns is send to reoccupy Rosiorii de Vede,in which ,the Romanian Commander thinks have entered only an enemy patrol.Entering in the city ,the Regiment is received with fires from all the houses and especially from a position which the enemy occupies at West of the city.Surprised and threatened in his retreat ,the Commander of the Regiment ,gives order to Captain Corlatescu to cover the retreat by attacking the positin West of the city in which the enemy has retrenched himself.Corlatescu understands his sacrifice role and starts in a charrge with the lance in ballance for attack and in regulated files as at the parade ,against the enemy.A gulley stops for a few seconds the elan of the attack ,at 200 meters from enemy position.It was enaugh for that the rattle of enemy cannons and machineguns to cut down to the ground more than half of the men of the Escadron ,ahead with his Captain.The Regiment could retreat and save.

Three German Cavalry -men have been killed in the city .As retaliations ,the German set fire to the entire Comercial Center of the city;they also ask for a fine of half a million Lei(Romanian currency).Memories filled of feelings come back to the minds of Germans as they cross the city in flames."After 28 months of War ,we relive in the bottom of Valahia ,scenes of Belgium ,scenes of Dinant",writes a correspondent which has recorded the German atrocities from the firsts times of the War only as a pitoresque element.

After occupying Alexandria ,the Germans have advanced towards North-East ,following the driveway Alexandria -Bucuresti.Five Miles from Alexandria ,they have collided with the Romanian troops which have occupied the resistance line Vitanesti-Grosu on Teleorman.All the enemy columns which closed in of this line have been attacked end repelled.But the enemy,occupying with the middle column Prunaru and bombarding Draganesti ,behind Romanians,General Referendaru had to retreat towards these two localities.

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