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I would like to share the pictures and research of a recent addition to my collection. The medals and citations of Maiorul Gheorghe Spirescu who was killed in action on the 18th August 1941 during the battle of Odessa. Acting Lieutenant Colonel Spirescu was a Battalion commander in the 1st Romanian Tank Battalion.
I believe that I have correctly identified the awards as the Order of the Star of Romania on the military virtue ribbon for bravery in the face of the enemy, and the order of the Crown of Romania Knights cross with swords again on the military virtue ribbon for bravery in the face of the enemy. As you can see they represent a casualty group as clearly the citation for the Order of the Crown states "post mortem" so awarded after death.
These two awards represent the second and third highest awards for military gallantry in the face of the enemy in WW2.
I have traced the action that saw Lt. Col become a casualty.
The battle for Odessa 1941
August 18. At dawn, the I and III army corps launch offensive, without artillery preparation. The 3rd Infantry Regiment of the 11th Infantry Division carries fierce fights to take Karpova railway station. At 6.30 AM the tank battalion of the 1st Armoured Division joins the battle. Entering enemy positions without infantry, they suffers heavy casualties, including the commander of the armoured infantry battalion Lieutenant Colonel Gheorghe Spirescu.
In detail action of the 18/08/1941
The following day (18 August), before dawn, the 3rd Corps launched the offensive, without artillery preparation, in order to achieve surprise. The 3rd Dorobanti Regiment of the 11th Infantry Division carried out fierce fights to take the Karpova railway station. At 0630 hours a tank battalion of the 1st Armored Regiment joined the battle, but because of the poor cooperation with the infantry suffered heavy losses (32 tanks taken out of action and 3 officers killed). Shortly afterwards, the railroad station was also attacked with an assault battalion of the 11th Infantry Division, backed by tanks. By 0700 hours the Soviet resistance ceased. The 37th Infantry Regiment reached the northern edge of Mikhaylovka, but could not advance further. The 14th and 16th Dorobanti Regiments were caught under crossfire from Mikhaylovka and Karpova and took heavy losses. Both regiment commanders were wounded. Until the evening, the 7th Infantry Division managed to penetrate 1-1.5 km in the enemy lines, while the 11th and 3rd Divisions advanced 800-1000 m. At the 1st Corps, the Frontier-guard Division penetrated 7 km deep, reaching a position east of Tolmachev. The 5th Frontier-guard Regiment took the Kagarlik Mansion and pushed back the Soviet forces east of the Baraboy creek. Maj. Constantin Vladescu received the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class for this action. The Guard Division attacked at Kagarlik and Mannheim, but could not brake into the villages. At Blonskoye, the 9th Dorobanti Regiment attacked at 0300 hours without artillery preparation and carried out dramatic fights with the 241st Soviet Rifle Regiment at Hill 110. East of the Hadjibey Bank, the offensive was launched at 1000 hours, after a 20 minutes artillery preparation, with the Tactical Group "Colonel Poenaru" (35th Infantry Regiment backed by the 25th Artillery Battalion and the 3rd Battalion of the 23rd Artillery Regiment) on the direction 2 km east of Mal. Buzhalik - 2 km southeast Staraya Dofinivka, and the 1st Cavalry Brigade on the direction Buldynka - Chebanka.
Eye witness account of the death of Major Gheorghe Spirescu 1st tank battalion.
Born in 1901 in a family with six children, Major Gheorghe Spirescu followed his father in choosing a military career. Being a perfect military cadet, he attended the courses of the Sibiu School of Infantry Officers, he graduated in 1921, then worked as a young officer in several units, culminating in being promoted among the military cadres of "Nicolae Filipescu" from Dealu Monastery. Subsequently, he became a tank officer with the 1st Battalion Tank Regiment, being delegated with Captain Nicolae Mitu, to represent the Romanian Army between 1936-1939 in the Skoda R-2 light tank evaluation and reception committee, the tanks were manufactured in Czechoslovakia.
Major Gheorghe Spirescu was killed in action on the morning of August 18, 1941, around 4:25 am, in the attack on Karpova, battle of Odessa. Further combat details are in a written report from details from Sergeant Major Dumitru Vişan, also from Gura Şuţei, who was radio-telegraphist in 1941 on the battalion commander's tank Aurel Marinescu: "On the eve of the Karpova struggle, the circumstance made me hear some of the conversation between Major Spirescu with Lieutenant Colonel Christache Iliescu, Second Commander of the 1st Battle Regiment.
The intensity of our artillery bombardment, commenced long before the time set for the attack, and the thoughts of the struggle that was going to take place, kept me awake all night on 17/18 August 1941.
Major Spirescu's tank led the others, as he passed by our tank, I experienced a thrill of excitement. About 5 o'clock in the morning, his open tank came in at high speed, going backwards.
At the point of command, he stopped, and Lieutenant Morarerescu, the head of our rafotelegraphic school, who was in the crew of Major Major Spirescu's tank as the battalion commander of the battalion, left. Visibly excited, he shouted aloud for help.
The Major went out for a short while from the turret of the tank with his head, to see better how the battalion tanks were placed for attack and whether or not they followed the directions set by him; he was exposed enough to be hit by a dum-dum shot by an enemy sniper. The bullet entered into the left eye and into the cranium where it exploded. He started to exclaim, "Ah, you hit me!
Major Gheorghe Spirescu was buried in the cemetery in Chisinau, together with the lieutenants Iancu Preda and Gheorghe Crânguş, who fell on duty in the same struggle in Karpova.
As a sign of gratitude, the officials from Chisinau then gave the name of Major Gheorghe Spirescu to a street in the capital of Bessarabia.
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- Joined: 25 Apr 2019 10:01
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Can anybody please advise if a picture of Major Gheorghe Spirescu is available anywhere? It would be great to put his image back with his medals.
I have just found on line a picture of a knocked out Skoda R2 of the 1st Romanian Tank Battalion Odessa 1941