Let's Build The Battle of Targul Frumos

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combrig
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Let's Build The Battle of Targul Frumos

Post by combrig » 08 Nov 2002 01:55

Recently, a number of forum members have been discussing pooling their talents and resources to "build a battle." The idea is to create a thread containing all of the information we can dig up relevant to the chosen battle and, once we have taken it as far as we can, turn that information into an article for posting on this site.

Our host, Marcus Wendel, has announced the selection of the Battle of Targul Frumos (Rumania, 2-5 May 1944) as the topic for this effort.

The Targul Frumos battle grew out of an offensive in the Targul Frumos-Iasi area by 2nd Ukrainian Front against Armeegruppe Wöhler.

On the Axis side, the main force engaged was Kircherner's 57th Panzerkorps, which had available three of the most famous divisions on the Eastern Front: Grossdeutschland, SS-Totenkopf and 24th Pz.Div. There were also a number of other units involved, most notably Radu Korne's Divizia 1 Blindata.

The Soviets threw several armies into this battle, but the main assault force consisted of S.I. Bogdanov's 2nd TkA (3rd TK, 7th TK, 16th TK and 1st KK) and P.A. Rotmistrov's 5th GvTkA (18th TK, 20th TK, 28th TK and 29th TK, 5th GvMK and 8th MK).

Unlike so many battles in the East in 1944, the Germans were well-prepared to conduct a defense in depth at Targul Frumos and were able to coordinate the actions of dug-in defenders holding key terrain features with counterattacks by mobile forces to conduct what has since been called a "defensive Blitzkrieg." They won a decisive victory, destroying a staggering number of Soviet tanks (a couple of hundred on the first day alone) and winning GD a unit citation. Targul Frumos is notable for being the first clash between the famous German Tiger tank and the new Soviet JV Stalin heavy tank.

After the war, Western defense analysts, pondering how NATO might stop a Warsaw Pact Soviet-style multi-echelon offensive, studied Targul Frumos as a model for the type of mobile defense they thought they would have to mount.

So that's a quick overview of the topic. Who wants to kick things off?

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Daniel L
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Post by Daniel L » 08 Nov 2002 12:55

Here's some of what I found...

[img]http://maps.fallingrain.com/perl/map.cgi?kind=illum&lat=47.2000&long=27.0000&name=T%[/img]

from: http://www.calle.com/info.cgi?kind=illum&lat=47.2000&long=27.0000&name=T%e2rgul%20Frumos&cty=Romania&alt=380&zoom=-4


ConsimWorld: What are your future plans?

Glantz: I have ceased my desktop efforts for this year, both because I must return to my work on books and because I am not sure it is worth the efforts in terms of time spent. This fall I am beginning work on my next work, a study of the forgotten and covered up Soviet attempt to destroy German Army Group Center in February-March 1943, an operation whose failure drastically increases the importance of von Manstein's February-March 1943 counterstroke. Then I am going to work on the failed Soviet Belorussian offensive of November 1943, and the Soviet attempt to invade Rumania in May 1944 (Called by the Germans Targul-Frumos). I have the Russian archival materials for all three books, but need to find the time to write them. Further in the wings are major reassessments of the Battles of Moscow and Stalingrad. The maps are done, but the books will take some time. In the meantime. Operation Mars will come out in spring 1999 and Kursk in fall 1999, both by the University Press of Kansas. The History Book Club has already contracted for the former, which is in galleys.

from: http://www.consimworld.com/newsroom/archives/morenews/glantz.19981001.gen.html


After Kharkov, the 89th Guards assisted in the liberation of the Balkans. In April of 1944, they participated in the offensive against Romania at the battles of Iasi (or Iassy) in April, and Targul Frumos in May. After this they were transferred north to become the breakthrough division for the Vistula - Oder Operation in January of 1945.

from: http://pkka.narod.ru/89.htm


2 May, 1944: Romania, 330km NNE of Bucharest. In May of 1944 the German Wehrmacht was in retreat everywhere in the east. With the failure of Operation Citadelle the preceding summer, initiative had finally passed to the Soviets. The only hope the Germans had to slow the Soviet juggernaut were to fight a series of skilled defensive actions and ambushes. During the afternoon of 2 May General von Manteuffel's Grossdeutschland Panzergrenadier Division turned from its retreat to make another stand against the Soviets.

from: http://www.warfarehq.com/


It was at Targul Frumos that I first met the Stalin tanks. It was a shock to find that, although my Tigers began to hit them at a range of 3,000 metres, our shells bounced off, and did not penetrate them until we had closed to half that distance. But I was able to counter the Russians' superiority by manoeuvre and mobility, in making the best use of ground cover.

Hasso Manteuffel, interviewed by Basil Liddell Hart after the war for his book The Other Side of the Hill (1948)

from: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWt34.htm


In May 1944 the division fought in the 27th Army at Targul Frumos, and in July 1944 was transferred to the RVGK reserve. By August 1944 the 180th fought in the Iassi-Kishinev operation as a breakthrough division in Lieutenant-General I.T. Shmelin's 46th Army in Malinovskii's 2nd Ukrainian Front. The 180th Rifle Division was awarded the honorific title "Transylvanskaya".

from: http://pkka.narod.ru/ddrabik.htm


May 1944: May 1: at Targul Frumos, Rumania; SSTK rearmed & receives 4,500 replacement men from 16th SS Division

from: http://www.wssob.com/003divstk.html


Also, Panzer-Regiment Grossdeutschland by Hans-Joachim Jung contains good accounts of the battle. ISBN: 0-921991-51-7.

best regards/ daniel
Last edited by Daniel L on 08 Nov 2002 13:03, edited 1 time in total.

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Daniel L
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Post by Daniel L » 08 Nov 2002 12:58

Soviet Attempts to Exploit Offensive Success in Spring 1944


One of the most difficult tasks of a military historian is to determine the ultimate scope and aims of a strategic operation, even if that strategic offensive is successful. According to its general pattern of behavior, the Stavka understandably tended to expand its strategic objectives while operations were underway. This occurred during the Winter Campaign of 1941-42, the Winter Campaign of 1942-43, and the Summer-Fall Campaign of 1943. In general, this expansion of offensive aims could be justified on the basis that one could not determine whether or when German collapse would occur, and, unless one pressed the attack, opportunities would be lost. Of course, relative risk had to be assessed less the attacking force fall victim to the kind of trap that von Manstein sprung on Soviet forces in the Donbas.

The success of Soviet strategic offensives in 1944 and 1945 makes it more difficult to assess whether military operations at the end of the offensive were simply attempts to exploit success or were designed to posture forces more advantageously for subsequent offensive action (or to deceive the enemy regarding future offensive intentions). Two such operations pose serious questions for historians. The first involves a failed offensive late in the Winter-Spring Campaign of 1944, which the Germans label as major and which Soviet historians generally ignore; and the second (covered later) involves an apparent major attempt by Soviet forces at the end of the Summer-Fall Campaign of 1944 to penetrate deep into East Prussia.

The first of these operations in called the Battle of Targul-Frumos (2-4 May 1944), during which, according to German sources, German forces defeated a major Soviet offensive and inflicted heavy losses on the attacking Soviet forces. Subsequently, the battle has been used as a prime case study in officer tactical education (along with the Chir battles of December 1942 and the Nikopol' battles of 1943-44).
The Battle of Targul-Frumos (2-4 May 1944)


According to German sources, foremost of which are studies by H. von Manteuffel, commander of Grossdeutschland Panzer Grenadier Division, and F. von Senger und Etterlin, the battle was precipitated when large Soviet forces struck German positions north of Iassy in an attempt to seize the city and advance deep into Rumania (see map 14).30 The Germans identified the attacking force as 2d Tank Army and cooperating 27th Army. In three days of fighting, from 2-4 May, German LVII Panzer Corps (principally Grossdeutschland and 24th Panzer Division) and L Army Corps defeated the Soviet force and destroyed over 350 Soviet tanks.

Soviet sources are silent on the battle. Scattered reference appear in divisional histories concerning combat in Rumania during this period, but only 2d Tank Army's history makes direct reference to this particular battle. It notes, that in late March 1944, the tank army regrouped into 27th Army's sector with the mission of "attacking in the direction of Fokuri and Podul-Iloaei. Subsequently, the army was to strike a blow toward the city of Iassy and secure it."31 In its narrative of subsequent operations, the history relates that the tank army attacked with 27th Army's 35th Rifle Corps, and, although 3d Tank Corps reached Targul-Frumos, it was thrown back by heavy German counterattacks. The account attributes the Soviet failure to a poor artillery preparation and German advance warning that the attack was to occur.

Historians are thus left with the question of whether the Soviet offensive was a major effort to penetrate into Rumania or simply a local assault to improve the Soviet operational posture and opportunities for a renewed offensive in the future. The Germans maintain it was the former. This author has argued that it was the latter and was also associated with deception planning for future operations in Belorussia (to fix the future presence of 2d Tank Army in Rumania, while it was shortly moved elsewhere).32 Only further release of Soviet archival materials will settle this long-standing debate.

...The Gumbinnen operation stands as an example of an operation which had considerable impact on the manner in which Soviet forces would operate in the future. With the earlier Targul-Frumos operation and other unmentioned cases, it also raises serious questions about ultimate Soviet strategic aims in the waning stages of significant strategic operations. Again, accounts of the operation would be more thorough and conclusions more valid if the operation could be recounted and evaluated from Soviet as well as German sources.

from: http://call.army.mil/fmso/fmsopubs/issues/failures.htm

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Daniel L
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Post by Daniel L » 08 Nov 2002 13:47

The fighting boomed at the beginning of May, when the Soviets were trying to brake through the front in the Targu-Frumos area and were confronted by the German "Grossdeutschland" Division. The group claimed 8 victories between 1 and 6 may and the number of sorties was high, despite the small number of aircraft. On 3 May, for example, there were 37 sorties.

Image
Pilots of the 7th Fighter Group at Tecuci in 1944.

from: http://www.arr.go.ro/g7vt.htm

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Post by Daniel L » 08 Nov 2002 14:01

At the end of May 1944, the Soviets launched an attack on Targu-Frumos (40 km west of Iasi), in the sector of the Romanian 4th Infantry Division and of the Guard Division. It was repulsed with difficulty with the help of the German "Grossdeutschland" Division and 24th Armoured Division and of the Romanian 18th Mountain Division. The defensive line was stabilized and, until 19 August, the situation on the Moldavian front was calm. There were only small engagements. In these actions the Romanian Army suffered 10,784 casualties, from June to August.

from: http://www.wwii.home.ro/last.htm

Farewell to the Soviet Union
16 March - 31 May 1944

The GD Division pulled back to the Dniestr river in the last half of March 1944; by April it was engaged in the area around Targul Frumos in Romania, first launching a counterattack on 25 April, then participating in severe defensive battles in the first week of May. By 7 May, the front had quieted, and the remainder of the month was spent reorganizing. While some subunits such as the first company of Panzer Füsilier Regiment GD and the Armoured Reconaissance Battalion were re-equipping with new armoured vehicles, the two infantry regiments were being reduced to three battalions of four companies each, rather than four battalions of five companies each.

Image

from: http://members.shaw.ca/grossdeutschland/

12 June 1944 – Oberleutnant Bruno Kikillus (Kompaniechef 17. Panzer Fusilier Regiment GD) died at the Division’s field hospital at Roman from his wounds near Targul Frumos.

from: http://www.angelfire.com/rant/grossdeutschland/history.html

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Post by combrig » 08 Nov 2002 14:03

Some of the blitzkrieg principles apply equally well to armor in the defense, and where they do not an understanding of them points the way to countering them. We spoke of moment and momentum as strengths of the armored offensive. The attacker loses both these when he is unable to move forwards or sideways - in other words when he is contained. The counter is thus simply: first contain, encircling if possible; then destroy.

Unfortunately the Wehrmacht's operations feature rather few instances of well-conducted defense and these are mainly at divisional or at most corps level. Hitler's (and Goering's) repeated interventions, mostly featuring refusals to give ground laced with accusations of cowardice and treachery, prevented the field and air commanders on the Eastern Front from conducting the kind of defense which they wanted and which would surely have influenced the duration of World War II in Europe and the situation at its end.

Manteuffel's handling of the Pz.Gr.Div. Grossdeutschland at Targul Frumos (northeast of the Ploesti oilfield region) on 2 May, 1944, is one of the best examples. This battle is also of interest as the Germans' first encounter with the Soviet heavy tanks in the shape of KV85 [sic]. Schematically the ground is a horseshoe ridge with the opening facing roughly northeast and the left (west) side higher and longer than the right. There is rolling to hilly ground north of the horseshoe's opening. At the apex.of the horseshoe, above and to the south of the town of Targul Frumos, is a dominating hill on which Manteuffel set up his battle headquarters. He established both his infantry regiments, stiffened with jagdpanzers in depth and all other antitank weapons including a battery of 88mm guns, along the base of the horseshoe, with his tank reserve in depth. He deployed his reconnaissance and some tanks in the rolling ground about 8km to the north of the main position.

The Soviets advanced in strength with massive artillery support, mainly with tanks and evidently with the base of the horseshoe as their initial objective. Manteuffel's forward tanks fell back and to their left with fire and movement, drawing the enemy into the killing ground enclosed by the horseshoe and towards the southwest corner. The infantry were in concealed positions, which they had had several weeks to prepare. They lay low and allowed the Soviet tanks to pass through them, then took on the supporting infantry. The first crisis seems to have been caused by the Soviet heavy tanks thrusting down the west ridge just as the pressure on the southwest corner began to build up. Manteuffel used his tank reserve under his personal command.

Meanwhile the panzerfüsilier regiment on the right had deliberately been left entirely without tank support for over 2 hours. They were badly overrun and broken through, and the regimental headquarters had itself become involved in driving off a Soviet tank attack. Nevertheless they had held firm and succeeded in pinning down the enemy infantry. Then the Soviets, exploiting success, put in another tank attack on them.
After about 2 hours of intensive fighting, Manteuffel sensed a weakening of resolve on the part of the Soviets facing his left. Rather than counterattack at that stage, he took personal command of a company of Pzkw IVs and led his tank regiment, by now replenished, across to the right and straight into the attack off the line of march. His account says he appeared on that sector at 11.55 hrs - 5 minutes before the time he had promised the regimental commander. The tank regiment drove the Soviets right back with heavy losses.

That night he passed two companies each of Tigers and Panthers through the infantry into forward positions. These together with air support sufficed to beat off subsequent Soviet attacks. No ground had been lost; an estimated 350 Soviet tanks and SU guns were destroyed at a (claimed) exchange rate better than 20:1; and Manteulfel's force remained capable of operating effectively at its previous level.

I have dwelt on this battle because it well represents the defensive side of the blitzkrieg coin and is a model of great relevance today. The hammer-and-anvil principle was of course used to excellent effect by Montgomery in the battle of Alem Halfa though his hammer blow consisted - typically perhaps - mainly of tank fire rather than tank maneuver. Manteuffel combined this tactic with two others. One had been much employed by the Afrika Korps at lower levels - the use of an actually or apparently weak force of tanks as a bait to draw the enemy onto a screen of (in those days) antitank guns. The other was to separate the enemy tanks and infantry by allowing the enemy tanks to overrun the defending infantry in the anvil, and then to destroy both in detail.

"Easy come, easy go", runs the saying. Armored forces properly handled can gain vast areas of territory rapidly and achieve strategic success by disruption of the enemy forces. Conversely the defense against an armored offensive calls for great speed and scope of maneuver. Real estate has to be traded off for time and - paradoxically enough - space if disruption is to be avoided and containment achieved. This is the dilemma that currently faces NATO's land forces -and most of all the FRG.


-- Brig. Gen. Richard Simpkin, Tank Warfare: An Analysis of Soviet and NATO Tank Philosophy (London: Brassey's Publisher's Ltd., 1979), pp. 44-48.

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Daniel L
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Post by Daniel L » 08 Nov 2002 14:18

Some information posted on this forum:

"The Failures of historiography: Forgotten Battles of the German-Soviet War (1941-1945)", by David M. Glantz:

The Battle of Targul-Frumos (2-4 May 1944)

According to German sources, foremost of which are studies by H. von Manteuffel, commander of Grossdeutschland panzer Grenadier Division, and F. von Senger und Etterlin, the battle was precipitated when large Soviet forces struck German positions north of Iassy in an attempt to seize the city and advance deep into Rumania (see map 14).30 The Germans identified the attacking force as 2d Tank Army and cooperating 27th Army. In three days of fighting, from 2-4 May, German LVII Panzer Corps (principally Grossdeutschland and 24th Panzer Division) and L Army Corps defeated the Soviet force and destroyed over 350 Soviet tanks.

Soviet sources are silent on the battle. Scattered references appear in divisional histories concerning combat in Rumania during this period, but only 2d Tank Army’s history makes direct reference to this particular battle. It notes, that in late March 1944, the tank army regrouped into 27th Army’s sector with the mission of “attacking in the direction of Fokuri and Podul-Iloaei. Subsequently, the army was to strike a blow toward the city of Iassy and secure it. “31 In its narrative of subsequent operations, the history relates that the tank army attacked with 27th Army’s 35th Rifle Corps, and, although 3d Tank Corps reached Targul-Frumos, it was thrown back by heavy German counterattacks. The account attributes the Soviet failure to a poor artillery preparation and German advance warning that the attack was to occur.

Historians are thus left with the question of whether the Soviet offensive was a major effort to penetrate into Rumania or simply a local assault to improve the Soviet operational posture and opportunities for a renewed offensive in the future. The Germans maintain it was the former. This author has argued that it was the latter and was also associated with deception planning for future operations in Belorussia (to fix the future presence of 2d Tank Army in Rumania, while it was shortly moved elsewhere).32 Only further release of Soviet archival materials will settle this long-standing debate.

(Al Carter)



Battle of Targul Frumos

Sides = Russians - Germans(Romanian?)

Time = 1944 April-May

Commander = Marshall Konev,General S.G. Trofimenko,General Bogdanor - Lt.Gen.Hasso Eccard von Manteuffel

Area = Targul Frumos,Romania

OoB = 2nd Tank Army,27th Army - SS Grossdeutschland(24th Amoured Division,18th Romanian Mtn. Division?)

Plan = Russians - After the Russian offensive in early 1944 was stop by supply problem,the Stavka ordered a series of limited attack in southern Europe to convience Germans of their presence while the main blow would be delivered in central Europe(Operation Begration).
Germans - As the Russians steamroller have stopped,the Germans and their Romanian allies try to stabilized their front as uch as possible.After Hitler ordered a offensive to win back the land lost in 1944.

Action = 1.April 16 the soviet forces captured the town of Bals(9 miles NW of Targul) but was taken back by the Germans a while later.

2.Manteuffel convinced of a major attack on his front launched a series of small limited attack to prevent the inevitable as when on Apr.25, 2 PzGren battation and assult gun support with artillery attack hill 372(8-9 miles NW of Targul).As the attack went on, 2 days later the Germans uncovered the New JSIII tank,which enforced them to build better defenses.

3.At 5:20 am May 2 the attack begin with a horrofic devasting artillery barrage.T-34 and JS III firerd point blank range at the PzGren and fusilier postition at a valley near hill 372 and Ruginoasa(6-7 miles NW of Targul) As the tank pass through the trenches many young soldier were slaughered by the infantries behind but the German infantries held the Russian infantry that was suppose to support the tanks.As the tank and infantry were seperated the tank came intto Anti-Tank postition and were easily killed.A number of tanks ran into the Grossdeutschland Pz Regiment assembly area but were quickly elimated by the better trained German crew and also as the they overcame the shock.

4.Colonel Niemack's sector(NE of Targul) were the same.As the infantry and tank got seperated both got murdered.He manage to destory some tank himself when a number of t-34 ran rigth into his headquarter.

5.The night o fMay 2 Colonel Lankeit the Pz regiment commander moved some companies of Panther and Tiger to the front to directly support their infantry comrades.

6.May 3 the Russian tried again but since the Germans redpolyed all their units the Russian were beaten back again,though they manage to gain some ground.

7.Soviet changed tactic the next day,concentrating in a few places with everything.Particulary hard is around hill 256(4-5 miles N of Targul) where fighting was most fierce for the excellent observation post was changed hand several times that day.The infantry fougth with weapons from everything to razor sharp entrenching tools to flamethrower.But as the battle went on the casualties began to show and the Russians withdraw.

Outcome = Tie

Casualties = 350 Russian tanks destoryed,200 damaged, Infantry?(most likely high) - 10 destoryed tanks,Infantry?(most likely high)

Gained = Town of Ruginoasa,Cucuteni and a few minor villager,maxism penation about 5 miles. - Nothing in particular but inflitcted heavy damage,with a few miles of lose nothing important.

_____________________________________________________________
that is all i got, i got all the info from a WWII magazine that i have,too bad there is so few info about this great battle, since it was still studied by NATO during the 1980+

Interesting to note is that in all they have about 550 tank in casualties but the 2nd Urkrainian Front only had 650 tank/self-propelled gun. But I think there is a typo around there I mean that is losing the equal of 5-6 Russian Tank Corp! I think it is 90 tanks per corp.

(Lehr Division)

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The Targul Frumos Battle Area

Post by combrig » 08 Nov 2002 14:38

The Iasi-Targul Frumos battles took place in an area designated by OKH's "Mil-Geo" Branch as the Northern Bessarabian Highland. It lay between Bessarabia and the Ukraine to the east and the Carpathian Mountains to the west and southwest. It was geographically and geologically a part of the Moldavian-Bessarabian Plateau which stretched to the Danube Delta and then to the Black Sea. High, rolling hills of 300-500 meters fell off to the east into the region of the Pruth River which ran into the Danube from the northwest to the southeast and formed the east boundary of the battle area. The Pruth normally thawed in March and was generally 60 meters wide and 1.5-2 meters deep. In the spring, some areas of the river extended to 70 meters in width while during the summer the depth of the river could decrease to 0.8 meters at low water. East of the Pruth, foothills climbed to heights of generally 200-400 meters and stretched to the Dniester River. To the west, the Sireth and Moldau Rivers cut through the highlands in their roughly northwest-southeast courses to the Danube on the west side of the battle area (145).

Several towns and cities were in the area. Iasi, a city with a population of 105,000 in 1937 (half-Jewish by "Mil-Geo's" calculations), controlled several bridges over the Pruth. Politically, Iasi was, in Soviet parlance, "an administrative-political center" and thus worthy as an objective. It also controlled east-west access to the major north-south road and rail-lines of communications leading to the Ploesti oil fields and to Bucharest, the Rumanian capital. Other smaller entities were Targul Frumos, which controlled a north-south rail and road complex, the latter designated "W-3," Botosani and Harlau, which marked the course to Targul Frumos from the northwest (146).

The soils in the area were primarily clay and sand. In dry periods, dust clouds marked the trace of military movements and resupply convoys. During rainy periods the area could become muddy and cause great difficulty in movement. In the battle area, April's late winter weather gave way to warmer, dryer days. Parts of the area were identified as malaria-prone and mosquito nets were recommended...

Information compiled in 1940 by the Cyphers (Chi) Branch of OKW in 1940 shows that a well-developed network of telephone and telegraph communications existed in Rumania. In the battle area above-ground telephone and telegraph lines went from Iasi-Podul-Sarca-Targul Frumos-Pascani (east to west) and from Targul Frumos to Roman to Barlad to Galati. Iasi had a number of communications facilities of military potential and all the above towns had switching facilities which could be used. All served as command posts during the period in question. These same centers were connected by rail-lines which had their own independent communication system as well. All were single-tracked except the line between Iasi-Podul which was double-tracked. Road maps show a limited number of main throughput roads (hauptdurchgangstrassen) with "modern surfaces;" specifically, they show the north-south road "W-3" from Chernovtsy-Botosani-Targul Frumos-Roman (and south) and the east-west Iasi-Podul-Targul Frumos in that category. The remainder of the battle area contained poor roads (149).

The immediate area around Targul Frumos (Figure 6) was described as developed by three valleys. The first was an east-west valley from Targul Frumos to the east and Iasi. This contained the rail, road, water and land-line communications previously described. South of this valley lay the higher ground which the Rumanians manned and called the "Strunga-Linie" (Line). North of Targul Frumos and its valley was a second, smaller valley which ran northwest-southeast from the area where the Germans would define their HKL to Facuti and Sarca. The third valley ran northwest-southeast from Harlau to Belcesti and Podul. The high ground which dominated these valleys tended to show their steep sides to the north. The sectors created by the valleys were the areas on which the main defenses would be formed. Aerial photographs of the period show the open areas to be heavily cultivated (150).

The region to the north of this area was favorable to the Soviets in several respects. First, it was higher providing an initial psychological boost of attacking downhill; second, the high speed approach "W-3" was along the north-south axis; third, the vegetation in the hills was conducive to the assembly and concentration of armored forces; fourth, the terrain was generally favorable for armored movement, with the exception being some of the lower-lying areas which retained moisture (151).

The Germans were favored by occupation of key terrain and preparation time. The battle area was highly compartmented against north-south movement; the hills were steep against the southerly movement of Soviet forces. Wooded areas afforded cover and concealment for indirect and some direct fire weapons. Open area provided good fields of fire out to 1000 meters. The higher areas to the north were observable from the lower defended areas. The same advantages for armored maneuver and movement were afforded to the German side (152).

The limited weather data available provides additional insights: specifically, April was wintry with some snowfall in mid-month; late-April gave way to warm, clear weather with some thawing but generally stable conditions for the soil to remain trafficable. Moonlight and ambient light at the time of the principal engagements was adequate for rifle fire at 0400 hours 1ocal time. Aerial and ground photographs and personal accounts all conform to this picture. The days were warm and clear, suitable for air and ground reconnaissance and for the extensive command reconnaissance prior to the engagement reported by the German participants (153).


Conner, Albert Z. and Robert G. Poirier, Defensive Blitzkrieg 1944: Targul Frumos and its Implications for NATO (Unpublished Manuscript, 1984).

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Post by Victor » 09 Nov 2002 15:35

Here is a map of the present-day surroundings of Targu-Frumos from a Romanian software (NetEdit)
Take note of the fact that the map does not include all the villages and that some names of towns might have changed.
Image

An important contribution to the outcome of the battle had the Romanian 5th Bomber Group. In the first half of May the group had an intense activity, with 2, 3 or even 4 missions/day. They repeatedly attacked Hodora, Zahorna, Coplinita, Todiresti, Pascani, Motca, Vascani, Bals, Gastesti, Ruginoasa, Dumbravesti, Carpiti, Stanca Roznovanu, Sculeni-Targ, Medeleni and others.
Despite the heavy AAA and numerous VVS fighters in the area, the group suffered no casualties. Only a few airplanes were damaged.

On 28 August 1944, the group received a telegram from the Grossdeutschland Division, which read:

In the hard offensive and defensive fights at the end of April and beginning of May 1944, during which the Grossdeutschland Division was fighting in the key points of the battle, it was superbly supported by the 5th Bomber Group. The relentless and heroic activity of the Romanian aviators gave the Division, which was engaged in heavy fighting, considerable ease and contributed considerably [sorry, I am not a very good translator] to the offensive and defensive successes during those days. The Division hopes for a good co-operation in the future, until the final victory.

Maj. general von Manteuffel

Another unit that had a great impact on the battlefield was the 8th Assault Group, equipped with the Hs-129B2. On 1 May the group carried out 40 sorties, mostly without fighter cover. It took two missions (one with 5 a/c and the other with 11) to deal severe damage to the Soviet troops near the village Bals. Large explosions were seen. Ten Henschels then struck targets west of Baiceni and another nine attacked east of Baiceni. The last mission was against the village of Harmanesti, just as a Ju-88 formation was approaching the area. About 40 sorties were flown that day.

But the next day, the Soviets started their attack on a line between Liteni (10 km N of Targu-Frumos) and the river Moldova. But the line was kept, generally speaking. The most serious situation was between Giurgesti and the river Siret, where about 30-40 Soviet tanks penetrated as far as Helesteni. The 8th Assault Group struck Soviet forces advancing on Dealul Ciobanului (Shephearder's Hill) and the Soviet armored formation north of Helesteni, destroying three tanks. A third formation attacked the Principele Nicolae village. However, the Soviets managed to advance 1.5 km south of Bals. One Hs-129 was hit by AAA, but the pilot managed to make a belly-landing in friendly lines. The 5th Bomber Group also participated in the battle that day. 20 Ju-88s struck Pascani, 5 Motca, 13 Boiceni and 14 Vascani, in total 52 sorties.

The Soviet offensive continued on 3 May. The 8th Assault Group attacked in the Ruginoasa area, bombing the tanks that had reached the Dambrovicioara Hill and strafing the support infantry. A second mission was flown against Soviet light artillery on the same hill (approx 1 km S of Ruginoasa). A third formation returned in the area later and attacked tanks, but VVS P-39s forced half of them to brake formation.

On 4 May, the 8th Assault Group flew two missions, totaling 33 sorties. The first one was against a Soviet column N of Helesteni. Two tanks were destroyed. The second formation struck Soviet infantry 3km S of Ruginoasa and destroyed a section AT guns. They were shortly engaged by VVS fighters in the area and even Il-2s. But the Romanian ad German fighters intervened and they got away. The weather was bad; it rained.

On 5 May, the 1st Romanian Air Corps struck again the Soviet positions in N Moldavia, dropping 52 tons of bombs.

The protection of the Romanian bomber formations was secured mostly by the 7th Fighter Group (which possessed only 13 available Bf-109s on 30 April). On 2 May they flew 15 sorties and on 3 May 37! On 5 May again 15 sorties. They were also joined by the Bf-109s of the 9th Fighter Group. Together they claimed 15 kills 1 and 7 May, of which only 10 were confirmed.

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Victor
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Post by Victor » 09 Nov 2002 15:35

charlie don't surf wrote: At the end of May 1944, the Soviets launched an attack on Targu-Frumos (40 km west of Iasi), in the sector of the Romanian 4th Infantry Division and of the Guard Division. It was repulsed with difficulty with the help of the German "Grossdeutschland" Division and 24th Armoured Division and of the Romanian 18th Mountain Division. The defensive line was stabilized and, until 19 August, the situation on the Moldavian front was calm. There were only small engagements. In these actions the Romanian Army suffered 10,784 casualties, from June to August.

from: http://www.wwii.home.ro/last.htm


The fragment from my site is from the book: Armata Romana 1941-45 by Cornel Scafes, Horia Serbanescu and others. It refers to a Soviet local offensive near targu-Frumos which took apparently place at the end of May and beginning of June. The battle of Targu-Frumos we are talking took place one month earlier. The 18th Mountain Division is mentioned as fighting very hard between 2-4 June. Could this be a mistake? Could they have gotten the dates mixed up? Does anyone know if there was another Soviet offensive in June?
(Note: this would not be the first error in this otherwise excellent book)

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Hans Ulrich Rudel: the iron-man was at Targu-Frumos.

Post by gabriel pagliarani » 10 Nov 2002 01:45

The bravest german soldier (..a pilot, not a tanker :mrgreen: ...) took part at the battle: his Stuka-Kanone unit destroyed a soviet armoured column on the road from Baltoti while attempting to close in a "cul de sac" the german troops...it is written in his autobiography. This lesson is studied at today in any NATO Country Air Force Academy!

http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/ ... rudel.html

Rudel know as the "Eagle of the Eastern Front" destroyed three Soviet ships, 70 landing craft, 519 tanks, and a hand full of Soviet aircraft. He flew 2,530 combat missions, the most by any pilot in any war. He often landed his Ju-87 Stuka to rescue downed comrades. But many people have never heard of this flyer. He was grounded many times by Hitler and Luftwaffe chief Herman Goring, but he continued to fly. During the final stages of the war Rudel was shot down and lost a leg. He refused to give up and soon had an artificial leg fitted so that he may fly again.
During his flight career he flew mainly the Ju-87, but also flew the Fw-190. When flying the Ju-87 his specialty was killing tanks. The squadron for which he flew had special planes fitted with 37mm cannon mounted under both wings. These were perfect for killing tanks. However his skill at killing tanks was not what made him special. It was his dedication to the task at hand that made him a famous. Time and time again he would land his plane to pick up a downed flyer. Sometimes he would do this with in range of the enemies guns. Most of the time he would rescue both flyers and return them to the base. On one such landing his plane became stuck in the mud and was unable to take off. The four grounded German flyers had to make a run for it. After several days running from the Russian's he made it to a village and was returned to his unit.
For his many achievements he was given the highest military honor any German soldier had ever received, the Gold Knights Cross. This special decoration was made just for him as was another award to mark his 2,000 th combat sortie.

Recommended reading:
"Stuka Pilot" by Hans Ulrich Rudel
Published by: Bantam Books
This is a wonderful book written by Rudel about his war time experiences,
the accounts are very interesting and colorful.

A brief summary of Colonel Rudel's exploits...

His story is remarkable to me in this regard: it shows that a man, even when controlled by the most evil political masters, can attain the peak of military success while exemplifying absolute adherence to personal standards of honor, integrity, and faith to his comrades in arms.
His story is especially inspiring when one considers that the man who began the war as a near-washout in pilot training, who was barred from combat flying by his first squadron commander, ended the war as history's most highly decorated aviator.
History has not chosen to make his story widely known because he fought for the losing side, and history is, as we all know, written by the winners
Rudel logged 2,530 combat missions, and was granted almost no leave throughout his four years of active duty. Unlike his Allied counterparts, there was no magical number of missions which would mean a furlough home, once attained. For Rudel, as well as for all German pilots, it was a matter of "fly and fight until the war ends, or you are killed": consequently, almost all eventually fell, and today only a tiny handful survive.Rudel's personal victories as a ground-attack pilot were achieved exclusively against the Soviets, and despite the most primitive conditions imaginable, including operations solely from dirt, mud, and snow covered airfields, his confirmed victories (those witnessed by two or more fellow pilots) include:
518+ Tanks
700 Trucks
150+ Flak and Artillery positions
9 Fighter/Ground Attack Aircraft
Hundreds of bridges, railway lines, bunkers, etc.
Battleship October Revolution, Cruiser Marat, and 70 landing craft
Through direct action, he saved tens of thousands of German infantrymen from certain encirclement and annihilation during the long retreat which began in July 43 and lasted until the war's end, almost two years later.
Shot down 32 times.
Innumerable aircraft brought back to base that were later written off, due to heavy combat damage.
Wounded on many occasions, including the partial amputation of his right leg in the Spring of 45, after which he continued to fly with a prosthetic limb.
March 44: Disaster struck when Rudel landed behind Soviet lines to retrieve a downed German aircrew. Snow and mud bogged down the airplane, making it impossible to take off. Approaching Soviet troops forced everyone to flee on foot, but barring their escape was the 900 foot wide river Dnjestr. The Germans stripped to their longjohns, and swam across the ice-clogged river. Rudel's close friend and crewman, Erwin Henstchel, drowned a few feet from the far shore. They had flown 1490 missions together at the time of Hentschel's death. His body was never recovered.

http://members.aol.com/ab763/rudel.htm

Rudel was pursued by hundreds of Soviet troops who were intent on collecting the 100,000 ruble bounty which Stalin had placed on his head, and he was shot in the shoulder while they chased him with dogs and on horseback. Through incredible ingenuity, audacity, and raw determination, Rudel escaped and made his way, alone and unarmed, back home, despite being more than 30 miles behind Soviet lines when he began his 24 hour trek. He was barefoot and almost naked in the sub-freezing winter weather, without food, compass, or medical attention. His escape stands as the single most legendary example of personal bravery and luck during the Second World War, but he never fully recovered emotionally from Hentschel's death, for which he blamed himself throughout the remainder of his life.Unlike the situation with the Soviets, German decorations were awarded without regard to rank. And in contrast to the Western Allies, they were never awarded for single acts of conspicuous bravery, but rather for a consistent record of personal gallantry and success in combat.
15 Jan 42: Knight's Cross
Equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor or Britain's Victoria Cross.
14 Apr 43: Knight's Cross with Oakleaves
Higher level of above, awarded rarely.
25 Nov 44: Knight's Cross with Oakleaves & Swords
Won by those who had performed the most extreme acts of personal gallantry on a daily basis. Awarded very rarely: most often posthumously.
29 Mar 44: Knight's Cross with Oakleaves, Swords & Diamonds
Extraordinarily prestigious award... like winning four Congressional Medals of Honor or Victoria Crosses. Back-dated to the time of his escape across the Dnjester when conferred on 25 Nov.
1 Jan 45: Knight's Cross with Golden Oakleaves, Swords & Diamonds
Note that the Golden Oakleaves were awarded once during the entire war, the decoration being instituted in answer to Rudel's continuing feats of unprecedented heroism. Rudel was extremely fortunate to avoid capture by the Soviets, who had put a 100,000 ruble bounty on his head, payable dead or alive. Many other pilots who had the misfortune of being captured by the Soviets, or who were handed over to them by the Americans later, during the Summer of 45, suffered up to 11 years of forced labor in the Siberian gulags after the war. Hundreds of thousands of German soldiers, from generals to privates, died in post-war captivity behind the Iron Curtain. There has never been a complete accounting, and many are still listed by the modern German government as MIAs.

Joined former members of Focke-Wulf aircraft corporation in Argentina; close personal friend of Juan Peron.
Despite being disabled, Rudel made a name for himself as a mountaineer in the Andes, even climbing the highest peak in the Americas, Aconcagua (7,020 meters), as well as three times up the highest volcano on Earth, Llullay-Yacu in the Argentine Andes (6,920 meters), the final time to bury a climbing companion who didn't survive the second climb.
Discrimination against former war heroes forced Rudel to become a ski instructor after returning to Kufstein, Tirol, Austria in the early 1960s.
Hans Ulrich Rudel finally followed Hentschel across the river in the early 1980s.

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2nd Ukrainian Front at Targul Frumos

Post by combrig » 10 Nov 2002 03:57

This diagram shows the organization of 2nd Ukrainian Front forces in early May 1944 down to corps level for the armies that were engaged at Targul Frumos.
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Armeegruppe Wöhler OB

Post by combrig » 10 Nov 2002 06:25

The following rough OB for Gen.d.Inf. Otto Wöhler's Armeegruppe Wöhler is based on the Kriegsgliederung for 15 May 1944, with a couple of corrections based on what we already know happened during the battle. I've filled in commanders' names where I knew them.

4th Armata.
General Mihail Racovitza.

17th Gebirgskorps. Gen.d.Inf. Franz Beyer.
    8th Jgr.Div. Gen.Lt. Friedrich-Jobst Volckamer von Kirchensittenbach. Note: Unidentified Rumanian Border Guards Rgt. and Rumanian Security Rgt. attached.

5th Corpul de Armata. General de Corps de Armata Gheorghe Avramescu.
    4th Divizia Infanterie. General de Divizie Ioan Mihaescu.

    Divizia Garda (-). General de Corps de Armata Radu Nicolescu-Cociu.

7th Corpul de Armata. General de Divizie Gheorghe Potopeanu.
    103rd Comandamentul Munte. General de Corps de Armata Mihail Camarasu. Note: One regiment of 8th Divizia Infanterie attached.

    104th Comandamentul Munte. General de Brigada Illie Cretulescu.

1st Corpul de Armata. General de Corps de Armata Radu Gherghe.
    6th Divizia Infanterie. General de Divizie Georghe R. Gheorghiu.

    20th Divizia Infanterie.

57th Panzerkorps. Gen.d.Pz.Tr. Friedrich Kirchner.
    3rd SS-Pz.Gr.Div. Totenkopf (SST). SS-Brigadeführer Hermann Otto Priess. Note: Newly deployed to this sector and rebuilt with a draft of 4,500 replacements from 16th SS-Pz.Gr.Div. Reichsführer-SS on 1 May.

    Pz.Gr.Div. Grossdeutschland. Gen.Lt. Hasso Eccard Freiherr von Manteuffel.

    24th Pz.Div. Gen.Lt. Maximilian Reichsfreiherr von Edelsheim. Note: In Armeegruppe Wöhler Reserve at various times during the battle.

6th Corpul de Armata.
    101st Comandamentul Munte.

    102nd Comandamentul Munte. General de Divizie Gheorghe Constantin Iordachescu.

    7th Divizia Infanterie. General de Divizie Filip Agricola.

    Cojucaru Brigada.

Gruppe Meith (4th A.K.).
Gen.d.Inf. Friedrich Mieth.

4th Corpul de Armata. General de Divizie Nicolae Stoenescu.
    3rd Divizia Infanterie. General de Divizie Corneliu Calotescu.

    18th Divizia Infanterie.

79th ID. Gen.Maj. Friedrich-August Weinknecht.

376th ID & 11th Divizia Infanterie. Gen.Maj. Otto Schwarz/General de Brigada Edgar Radulescu.

Gruppe Hell (7th A.K.).
Gen.d.Art. Ernst-Eberhard Hell.

370th ID. Gen.Lt. Fritz Becker.

106th ID & 14th Divizia Infanterie. Gen.Maj. Siegfried von Rekowski/General de Brigada Mihail Voicu.

Reserve.

    1st Divizia Blindata (-). General de Brigada Radu Korne.

    46th ID. Gen.Lt. Kurt Röpke. Note: This division is listed as a Kampfgruppe as of 15 May and is shown with a regiment from 1st Divizia Infanterie attached, but it is unclear whether this attachment occurs before, during or after the battle.

    198th ID & 13th Divizia Infanterie. Gen.Lt. Hans-Joachim von Horn/General de Divizie Mircea Dimitriu. Note: These units are composed of remnants.

    5th Divizia Infanterie. General de Corps de Armata Grigore Nicolau.

    8th Divizia Infanterie.

    1st Divizia Infanterie. General de Brigada Alexandru Saidac.

    1030th Rgt.

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Victor
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Post by Victor » 10 Nov 2002 11:41

I believe I can fill in the blanks for the commanders and correct some mistakes

1. Mihail Racovita was not a general, but a lt. general (general de corp de armata). There were only two four star generals in the Romanian army in WWII, one of which was promoted to this rank in April 1945. Racovita was not among them.
2. the unidentified frontier-guard regiment could be the colonel Constantinescu Frontier-guard Detachment
Please elaborate on the security rgt. What do you understand through a "security rgt"?
3. the CO of the 5th Corps was maj. gen. was Constantin Niculescu, not Avramescu
4. the CO of the Guard Division, Radu Niculescu-Cociu was only a maj. gen. (general de divizie)
and Mihaescu was only a brigadier general (general de brigada)
5. the CO of Comandamentul 103 Munte, Mihail Camarasu was only a brigadier general. It would be absurd that a CO of a 4 battalion formation outrank the CO of the corps. :wink:
6. the CO of the 20th Infantry Division was brigadier general Damian Rascu
7. lt. gen. Gheorghe Avramescu was the CO of the 6th Corps
8. the CO of Comandamentul 102 Munte, Constantin Iordachescu was a brigadier general, not a maj. gen.
9. Could you elaborate on the "Cojocaru brigada" ?
10. the 18th Infantry Division you mentioned was in fact the 18th Mountain Division and was commanded by brig. gen. Vasile Pascu
11. the 13th Infantry Division' CO was called Dumitriu, not Dimitriu
12. the CO of the 5th Infantry Division, Grigore Nicolau was only a brig. gen, not a lt. gen. as you mentioned
13. the CO of the 8th Infantry Division was maj. gen. Dumitru Carlaont

My suggestion is to use either the English designation for the units and ranks or the Romanian one. This Romanian-English combination is strange.

Generally the number of the unit, in Romanian, comes after its type and then comes the speciality. For example, the 1st Infantry Division would be Divizia 1 Infanterie or the 4th Corps would be Corpul 4 Armata.

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Post by combrig » 10 Nov 2002 14:55

Victor -

Excellent post. Many thanks for all of the corrections and additions. I'll work your material into a revised Armeegruppe Wöhler OB once others have had an opportunity to add their own comments and corrections.

Re: the "Rumanian security regiment." The material in my post originally came from the German 15 May 1944 Kriegsgliederung, so who knows what unit is being referred to? I'm as puzzled as you about what unit was actually meant here. Same with "Cojucaru Brigada." Also, while on the subject of Rumanian units mentioned by the Germans, "Brigada Obris" is mentioned as being part of Divizia Garda at this time. Any info on this unit?

About unit naming conventions, I've generally tried to use native-language terms for precision. But I made one concession to English speakers by using a single convention (English) for all ordinal numbers. Hence "24th Pz.Div." not "24.Pz.Div." and "7th Divizia Infanterie" not "Divizia 7 Infanterie." If people find that confusing, I'll gladly switch to the native-language numbering conventions for Axis units, but I think it would be useful, where possible, to continue using unit designations that are as close to the original as possible.

Final item. My main reason for posting this OB was to get people thinking about what information they could provide about these units and to start sorting out which ones are really significant to the May battle. If you can supply anything more about Rumanian units at Iasi-Targul Frumos during this period, that would be an immense help, as there are holes in the data right now.

The Germans mostly seem to ignore the Rumanians when writing about this battle post-war, though at the time, they were most appreciative of Rumanian efforts. Thus, on the evening of the first day of the battle, Wöhler contacted Antonescu to report on the day's success and specifically singled out for praise 6th Divizia Infanterie, Divizia Garda, 1st Corpul Aerian and a the Rumanian artillery operating on the left flank of GD. Their role seems to have disappeared from postwar accounts, and Manteuffel goes out of his way to denigrate the Rumanians. In a 1948-vintage paper that has been widely quoted, he says of his Rumanian allies:

I had refused to mix them with my force and took the risk -- I spoke of the employment of the Rumanians thus -- on myself of leaving them an independent positional sector. A Soviet attack, if it fell directly on them, would still have to continue through the area around Targul Frumos. I was confident of being able to encircle it there at the latest with elements of my Division -- which is exactly how it came and what happened.


If its any consolation to our Rumanian members, Manteuffel also does a dis on 24th Pz.Div. and doesn't even mention SST's presence at Targule Frumos! But he is not alone in ignording the Rumanians, so maybe we can correct the record.
Last edited by combrig on 10 Nov 2002 15:39, edited 1 time in total.

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