Battle at the Tömöse Pass
After the battles at the Vulcan Pass the 3rd Battalion left the area or Petrozeny and was transported by way of Muhlbach, Hermannstadt, and Forgars to Sarhany. Next followed several days of marching through Kronstadt on to the Altshanz Pass. Here the regiment take command on 16 October of the Ist and IIIrd Battalions, which are in positions on the border heights of the Schanzpass, how reported.
Drawing of the main battle lines.
The Tomosen Pass located to the front of Predal was secured by the sister regiments and the 51st Hungarian troop division. In order to make possible a further advance at this pass the regiment 187 were ordered to start an advance on the morning of 17 October over the 1000m high flank and to the rear of the enemy. The II Battalion with machine gun platoon Grothues would advance to Lacurosu by way of the C. Paduri – Elevator. At the same time the IIIrd Battalion from the direction of Paltinul would advance on the Clabucetu – Azugii. The remainders of the three companies of the Ist Battalion would take over the security of the Shanz Pass and the left flank of the IIIrd Battalion.
A participant of the IInd Battalion made the following report about the days of the battle:
“On the 16th of October we marched to the Schanz Pass and rested by a toll station. There was a collective lunch. For a long time we had been waiting on the mail to bring the private restocking of supplies and various sweet stuffs and cigars. We waited the entire day longingly with expectation. But, when we began the march again, the supply wagon arrived. We were not able to enjoy it because we had to drag it over the mountain. So it never matters what we try to do, with us it just never goes well. So it goes, today something good, no cares, it must be enjoyed.
It appears someone has it out for us, because it is always suspicious, when we were taken to where we were to sleep and there was a half meter of straw. They care about us only in special situations. We didn’t however let it go to waste, give us only a moment and we were sleeping snugly and warm on the soft covering. The guard fire burned brighter because the officers went to a briefing at the toll office. With them went the last disturbances to our rest.
It must have been around 0200 when we were awakened and received the order to prepare to leave. With skill from practice we assembled in the dark, packed up a few items, and were standing, a few still sleepy, in the fresh night air. The battalion began to move. We followed in long lines along the edge of a cliff. The march became increasingly more difficult. The path ran in a dark forest along a rain washed trail and was very difficult. You tripped over tree roots and stumps. Curses were heard when invisible holes were found. It was necessary to stay close to the man in front of you. We were no longer cold, we loosened our collars and pushed our helmets back on our necks. From behind you cold hear “stop” and “the link is broken” but we continued slowly forwards. Here and there you bumped into a “slacker” who would not get out of the way. Finally it began to get light. The forest became lighter. We marched up the steep ridge of the mountain. A patrol met us which had secured our march. This is where we halted.
We had a wonderful view in the valley and could see many mountains and hills. The sky was very clear and there was a fresh wind blowing over the crest causing us to become cold and made the bushy brown grass to wave. The path went downwards into the valley on the other side.
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Burning Bridge Financial guardhouse
Our company had the point. That meant we should attack the
Romanians in the rear or were to march to the flank so that elsewhere along the line the Austrians would get some breathing room. The Romanians, most likely sitting on a small pine covered hill under us, were observing the lift. They could very easily determine with the use of maps and the relatively few hills to choose from see from below exactly which mountain we were on. There was no other route to the valley which could be used and there were also corresponding areas which could be matched up on the map.
The way was really beautiful. Underneath us was the valley covered in the morning grey. Beside us were steep cliffs and meadows which were still covered with grass. To the left were lonely gullies. If you looked behind you could see the entire battalion which moved like a snake in a single file over the bare rocks. In the clear air the men were astonishingly sharply recognizable. If the
Romanians were indeed below us they certainly must have seen us long ago and we expected each moment to be greeted by a rain of shrapnel. Perhaps they were only waiting for us to get closer so they could provide a warmer welcome. The point section below us entered the forest. To the right were old abandoned straw huts. The advance moved back and forth, always becoming more cautious.
Suddenly, just as we came to the edge of the forest, we to the front heard two, three shots fired. We now knew we were near the
Romanians and that the fight would soon begin. Everything however remained quiet. The point had encountered a sentry post which had quickly retreated. The enemy seems not to be alerted to our coming.
Behind us the battalion slowly moved forward. The only noise was the rattling of entrenching tools or drinking cups. We pushed through tall thick evergreens. We stopped on the edge of the woods. To our front was an area of pasture and beyond it the mountain which we were to attack. A not often seen view was opened to us, on the other side of the small valley beyond the small houses was a steaming railroad locomotive. The
Romanians, many of which were in shirtsleeves, were present and loading crates and sacks onto the train.
It was 08:00 Hrs and we were to start the attack at ten because by that time our artillery support should be located on our side of the mountain. What was not in our favor was that we could not stop for breakfast with these other people in the area. We had instead to advance. I didn’t know how this would all work out. I heard an opening of fire from the direction of the advance. The
Romanians disappeared quickly from around the houses, the train puffed steam powerfully and as our people shot at the locomotive it steamed on down the track. The horses which were also tethered there were run off by our rifle fire. A few Romanians tried to escape by climbing the steep bluff but were stopped by our rifle fire.
The first return shots whistled through the pine trees. We could not remain here any longer and a decision had to be made quickly. Our company broke from the cover of the forest. We went as fast as we could in order to cross the open field and to find cover behind the railroad embankment. The bullets whistled over our heads. While running we saw that immediately in front of the railroad embankment that a wide stream cut through the field. The stream bed was deep but the water ran shallowly over the rocks. Without thinking we jumped into it with one big leap and crossed it without noticing the water that came up to our thighs and sprayed up to our ears as we ran through. The
Romanian bullets whizzed to the left and right and hit in front of and behind us in the water. After pausing to catch our breaths and to reorient quickly realized we were being fired upon from the summit of the mountain.
We went a short distance along the bank while bent over, but the bank however was hardly higher than the creek. We advanced to the left to the protection of the houses and from there assaulted the mountain.
Romanians were led out of the house, with four sanitary-man and one wounded officer. The officer is very flippant and the sanitary-man are not willing to bandage and to carry the officer. But our indignation they heard by a harsh sound and so they hurried immediately to there duty. Our men were stormed into the basement with great rage because the Romanians shot one of us in the body, although he would to negotiate with them.
We could hear from the protected side of the houses that at our backs a steady rain of bullets was whistling by. We asked the medics if there were any
Romanians to our rear. They said no. We didn’t quite believe them. Only at dark did we move out because a section to our right had been pushed back and we had nothing to except provide security. The Romanians on the crest of our mountain were kept under fire at least to keep them uncomfortable and hinder any actions.
We went from behind the house on towards the summit. The mountain was steep and covered with pines which stood as thick as boards on a fence. A
Romanian was seen in the undergrowth. He was wounded. As we passed him, he took his rifle and aimed it at one of our soldiers. Another, who was a little distance away in the thick undergrowth, saw it and shot him at close range.
In front of us no
Romanians were to feel. Their bullets whistled over our heads off into the forest where a section of our battalion had halted. We have much trouble to advanced. We did no shooting, only looked carefully as we advanced, occasionally finding a dead Romanian. Higher up the trees were larger but still very close together. At a dried up creek bed was seen for a second, that the right flank of our firing line hang behind in a sharp angle. To our half left Romanian started to fire with an infantry gun into the valley. We moved closer to the gun and the detonations of the gun became louder.
From the left someone called from within the trees “ Do we still have contact with the left?” “Jawohl!” came the answer. And “Do we still have contact with the right?” (I couldn’t see anyone to my left anymore so I aligned myself with the sound of the voice). Immediately came the answer “Jawohl!”. And then came the command from the first voice ”March for advance” which was received like peacefull by the soldiers. We moved forward singly but encountered no enemy. Sure, we still heard rifle fire, but the gun quieted soon.
When you looked down you had a good view of the valley. There were a few people hurrying across the fields, possibly ordnance troops. At on location it appeared as if soldiers were assembling. In any event it looked as if everything was in a hurry down there. Possibly the valley was still under
Romanian rifle fire. This was in complete contrast to the quiet where we were located. All we heard were the question of contacts and the commands "March for advance".
To my right the contact was broken at the second man and we could see no one. We did not know how long the contact had been lost. We moved towards the sound of a voice to our left. It was a Feldwebel with only one other man connected with us who had noticed we had become separated. We halted and tried to locate the left connection. This was a nice situation. All the resulting discussions and military opinions didn’t mean a thing and as a result we completely shut up.
We listened to hear someone either to our right or left in the trees because an assault line can not move soundlessly forward. We heard nothing, all was completely quiet. The Feldwebel wanted to call out again but we cautioned him against it because loud calls were inadvisable. We had no idea of the complete layout of the area and situation to our front.
We stood under large pine trees. It appeared as if we should be at or near the top because the mountain was steeper and one could see the sky through the tree tops.
It was obvious that we were completely alone in the thick undergrowth. We heard neither
Romanians nor Germans. It was very quiet but we knew there were still Romanians in the area who certainly would halt our advance with their reserves.
Turn back? No, that was not possible. And where would we turn back to? Overall we were very tired but satisfied that we had advance so far up the mountain. We still had four rifles and two revolvers. We moved carefully forward, what could happen anyway? It was possible that the
Romanians had deserted the summit long ago, this had happened many times before. Maybe someone to our left was already on the top because it appeared that the assault line was moving to that direction.
Look out! Behind a tree stood two
Romanians without weapons. We waved to direct them to come to us, but they didn’t seem to understand out instructions. This we didn’t understand.
Just when we went to advance again, right from us started a mortal noise. Right? Yes, but quite right behind us, about of the half slope, seen from our position, not quite in our back. Much noise, just like at that time at Krivadia. The
Romanians were in a counterattack, somewhere there must have been a breakthrough. So far away are the other units of us! And at the left starts a rifle fire at the half summit. It seams to be good to move away from this bad situation and to return to our company. At this moment twigs and branches separated in the undergrowth and brown hands reached for the Feldwebel who had gone a short distance in front of us. They suddenly disappeared along with the two Romanians we had captured.
We realized immediately how savagely one could be jerked into the undergrowth. The undergrowth closed behind us as we hurried down the hill as fast as our equipment and the terrain would allow. We went toward where we thought our company was, down into the valley.
Behind us someone started shooting but it soon stopped. The noise moved down into the valley. From a favorable position I could see the
Romanians far below on the right wing of our front. They began to advance downwards the mountain. We have to move more to the left wing of us, otherwise we would come between the Romanians and our own rifle fire.
Suddenly from below someone began to shoot at us. It was our own people who quickly recognized us and stopped shooting.
The Companies (there were one or two more in position) had assembled where we were and way over by the houses. Now the advance was more relaxed but in a tighter formation. It was unanimously agreed upon to give the
Romanians a warm reception. They were entering the valley from the mountain. My company commander was glad to see we had safely returned and thought it humorous that we had returned so mad. We assumed positions close to him and waited on the events that were to come. The Romanians would not have anything on us. The pine trees were not so thick where we were. A short while later we recognized Romanians in the trees. They had put on Germanhelmets and were firing from behind trees. The branches moving gave away their movements. We were able to see where one would soon appear through the undergrowth.
Romanians suddenly came storming in large numbers across the summit, (the elevator lift) stopped after a short distance, and we could see they were without weapons. Then they moved sideways into the firs.
On our side we systematic and very carefully gave rifle fire
We went slowly forward. By this time the assault line was an unbroken well disciplined movement. An enemy machine gun opened up on us unfortunately from our left. Luckily it cause no misfortune, with the exception of two harmless flesh wounds it did no harm at all. It was brought to a quick end by one section who with precise immediate experienced action destroyed the incompetent machine gun crew.
Suddenly we heard a storm roar through the air, it steadily increased in volume. As if a suddenly appearing covey of flight came an increasing rage of artillery steep fire. Rounds flew by and slammed with incredible power in the area of the mountain crest. The roar of the rocks and earth falling back to the ground sounded like galloping cavalry. It must have been a very heavy artillery gun doing the shooting. It was exactly what was needed for destroying the crest. We advanced further and further. The
Romanians deserted the crest and quickly retreated to the left toward the Clabucetu – Azugii line of defense.
We were suddenly rather high up and were able to see if the positions had been cleared of
Romanians or if any were still entrenched on the top. We sent a patrol forward to see. While this was being accomplished out assault line waited in a favorable position. We suddenly wondered how late it was and concluded it must be late in the afternoon. This decision was reached because we realized we were hungry and thirsty. The entire day up until the present we had been running around with heavy equipment and at the most had only taken a drink from our canteens. At was also terribly hot. The sun had burned down on us all day. We only had soldiers bread to eat. Troops were sent below to get water. It makes a difference when a backpack isn’t heavy on your back. There were a few shots fired, overall we heard only one or two, but generally it was quiet in the forest. The patrol soon came back and we began once more to advance. The Romanians were gone.
In a few minutes we reached the top. Then we observe how close we have been to the
Romanians positions at the first advance. There were dead and wounded lying everywhere. It wasn’t only the artillery, which had blown large holes in the position, that had caused a lot of damage, the infantry fire had also been very destructive. Shelter halves, tables, telephone equipment, food, excellent wine in aluminum bottles, all types of equipment, boots, and sheep skin vests were found strewn over the entire area. It appeared as if the troops which had been here were artillery because they were not armed with old style rifles but instead had carbines (the Austrian manufactured ones were very elegant) which we immediately were fond of. We were correct, here was a cannon, a small one, which had obviously not been fired. A little farther down was a larger one.
On the other side of the mountain we saw a distant thickly covered with pines box canyon. The Austrians, who were to the right of us, sent us a greeting salvo which whistled over our heads. We had to wave our black-white-red flag to them.
We had a difficult time understanding why the
Romanians had deserted this mountain. They were very well emplaced and they were much stronger than we were.
The companies took their positions and patrols were sent out which were to go at least as far as the Clabucetu-Azigii, which had also been deserted and which we would later attack again.
It became dark and even the day had been hot it began to snow. I laid down as best as I could and tried to sleep in a trench which we had covered with our shelters. The snow turned into a mush and ran down the sides of the shelters into the trench. We got wet and froze, but in spite of this I still fell asleep being completely exhausted.
Did I sleep for a half or a whole hour? Someone woke me up. “I think the company is pulling back” someone said. I raised my head up from under the shelter. Are you still out there? It was totally dark. I climbed out and it began raining in my face.
“Damn its dark” someone complained.
A foot stomped next to my head.
“Where are you going?”
“I don’t know”
Suddenly my friend came back . He had barely been able to find us. He told us that our company was pulling back to the valley and that we were to occupy a house there.
With an ape like speed we packed up out things, but were very heavily loaded because of 17
Romanian cans of meat which we rolled up in our shelters.
Then we began the descent on the path leading down into the valley to meet our company.
It was totally dark; you could not see your hand in front of your face. The path was extremely slippery from the rain. It must have been clay. We are sliding instead of walking.
At a particularly dangerous place, where the posts and cables of the Elevator began we had to have a light. The descent was not easy but we were unanimous in the opinion we would spend the night in a house. Below us were several houses and now we remembered that they did not look all that great but had to be better than sleeping in an open field.
The path went on and on. Throughout the day we had climbed up and down a mountain twice, completely loaded with equipment both times. During such times you have a thousand different things on your mind and are always afraid, all more important than at the moment than your comfort.
Finally we reached the bottom. Our house had no doors or windows but that wasn’t important. The openings were quickly covered with our shelters. Soon there were small candles burning which we had taken from our packs. A stove was in “our room”, immediately it was lit and soon comforting warmth spread over the room. A can was opened and the
Romanian meat was heated up on the lid of a cooking pot.
Soon we were sitting and eating. The wind rustled the shelters but we were warm and healthy. How comfortable we were in this miserable stall. Let it storm, let it pour on our roof. We take our blankets and after a few conversations and joking comments we went to sleep in boundless total safety."
In the afternoon it had been decided that the Hungarians would take Mt. Susaiu. Because if this it was now possible for the IInd Battalion, which up till now been on the western part of the front to turn to the south on the Clabucetu – Azugii line, and take connection on the right with the Hungarians. The IInd Bat. has been very successful, but the IIIrd Battalion had not achieved its mission.
March over height 1910
Early in the morning of 17 October at 0300 am the Battalion began the advance over height 1910 in order to move against the Clabucetu-Azugii. The climb was very difficult. We passed over the Paltinul (1808) and height 1962 on order to reach height 1910. The Battalion now stood to the rear of enemy batteries which were firing in the valley. Below us in the valley a
Romanian train steamed peacefully loaded with troops. Other troops marched in columns. While the IInd Battalion attacked and the heights at the Elevator snatched away in a hard fight, three companies of the IIIrd Bat. and the 2nd machine gun company from point 1910 were sent against the valley position 1110 southeast of the Clabucetu-Azugii. The rest of the Battalion and the Field Machine Gun Platoon Grothues secured the flank against height 1905. The Field Machine Gun platoon actually should have been with the IInd Battalion, but during the march behind the IIIrd Battalion a carrier animal was tilt. Leutnant Grothues himself stayed behind in order to get the machine gun back into the march. During this time the Machine Gun Platoon went forward with IIIrd Battalion and failed the right way to the IInd Battalion
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2 supply animals of the Regiment Border house on Pass Height 1385m
During the advance into the valley the troops were fired on by
Romanian Field Artillery, they however continued to advance till the valley and took a few Romanians on the valley road under fire. On the Taurului (1523) were enemy rifle trenches present and a firing enemy battery. At that time the Clabucetu-Azugii was not occupied, but from the height 1336, taken by the IInd Bat., we could see how the enemy draw back to the height. We did not get the order to take the Clabucetu-Azugii in a surprise. Instead of this the order came at 0400 to withdraw the whole Battalion to the height 1910 for secure the height 1905. The movement was possible after the darkness fell at 0530 pm. The Battalion reached the height after advancing in pouring rain which later turned into an icy powerful snowstorm and thick fog. They then bivouacked on the back side of the summit. The freezing cold froze several soldier’s hands and feet. The next day brought no change. The enemy had occupied height 1905 located on the flank of the Battalion. The prudent and decisive actions of a patrol from 12th Company took care of this danger. Unteroffizier Bahr and Musketier Christiansen performed especially worthwhile. The Battalion saw their valor and rewarded them after this action by promotions to Vizefeldwebel and Unteroffizier. On Oct 19 the Battalion moved in deep snow over Heights 1926, 1900, then to Lacurosu (1726), on to C. Paduri (Valley Point 1165),and relieved at the Mt. Susaiu (1483) and at point 1322 the Honved Infantry Regiment 306. On the same evening, the 12th Company, a part of the 11th Company and the 2nd machine gun companies threw back three powerful enemy attacks.
During the day of 19 October the 1st Battalion was moved to C. Paduri too. The security of the Schanz passes was taken over by companies of the Infantry Regiment 188.
The attack on the Clabucetu Azugii had to be postponed. Either the required companies could not be brought up at the requested time or if in the correct position at the right time the enemy attacked another position and forced them to relocate in order to support the attacked troops. So then IIIrd Battalion was prepared for attack and placed under the command of Farkas on the 19th of October. On the morning of the 20th the Ist Battalion and sections of the IIIrd Battalion were positioned between the IInd and IIrd Battalions because the
Romanians most likely would attack their sectors very powerful.
With certainty the point of
Romanian attack would be again against height 1322 and along the Susaiu (1483) across a wide front. Each soldier by using his traits of toughness, sacrifice and skills, would do his utmost to prevent any enemy success against the noteworthy Romanian cutting edge attack.
About 10 meters of front of the Platoon of Leutnant Spethmann, who was killed at this action, in front of the machine gun of Feldweberl-Leutnant Schmidt and also in front of the company of Leutnant Bentz they built a real wall of enemy corpses. They were not counted. The companies also suffered many losses. Several machine guns were hit over and over, one alone 36 times, but in spite of this put back into action. At this location returned the Platoon of Leutnants Muller and Meier to the 12th Company, after they have been with the battles at the 4th/189th.
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Mountain Susaiu at Predal Mountains north of Predeal
The report of the events is as follows:
“On 22 September remained in position by orders of the Battalion a platoon of the 12/187th , commanded by Lt. Muller and Lt. Meier with 69 men, were located on the hills south of Grabendorf (Vale) to serve a flank security for the march to Hermannstadt. The individual positions of the platoon were spread over several kilometers along the crest of the mountain. They enjoyed the most very beautiful weather yet encountered in their war experiences. There was no enemy action to disturb them. On 25 September we received the order to pull back to Grabendorfen and to support the Ist Battalion 189th Infantry because our own Battalion was located a long distance from us at Ursului. After a short rest in Grabendorf we continued our march on to Orlat and there early in the morning were involved in the fight at Hermanstadt which had actually begun on September 26th. On the hills southwest of Poplaka a greater patrol from our platoons had the first firefight with the
Romanians. A hard fight developed around Poplaka. The enemy in spite of our strong artillery preparation defended the area with determination. Even though the hard resistance was first broken here there was actually no halt in the fighting of the enemy who more than a few times put up considerable resistance. In a very strainy advance we pursued him to Resina, Kis-Disnod, Heltau, Czod, and to Talmesch in front of us. Without halting we pushed him to the Rothenturm Pass which was blocked by the Alpencorps. Here he was destroyed. Who will ever forget the happiness on this day when we marched into Heltau, where the liberated inhabitants rejoiced at being freed form the enemy. On 29 September the fate of the First Romanian Army had been determined. The Ist Battalion189 received the order to protect the border on the Verful-Muma line and to take positions there. Our platoon remained at this position at a distance of 100 m from the crest of the mountain as reserves. We were spread out with a few NCOs and sentry posts to the north in the forest in front of us. This precaution should prove true. On the morning of 30 September at about 11:00 am the posts were suddenly attacked by a powerful force. The platoon had to quickly get out from under its tents and take cover from the enemy fire which slammed into them at close range from the woods. The Romanians tried again and again to take our positions by fierce attacks. They were thrown back each time by our return fire. After we had been taking heavy casualties for about twenty minutes a large reinforcement arrived to our aid from the summit of the mountain, most important of which were two machine guns. The enemy now had to give up his attempts to attack. Patrols which immediately followed the Romanians took four officers and 160 men prisoner. This was the same unit which had been defeated by the IIIrd Battalion 187. at Götzenberg. They were trying to escape over the border crest back to Romania. Lt. Muller and three other comrades found a hero’s death in this action.
Early on 1 October we moved with the Ist Bat. 189th into the plain and by that evening we arrived Also-Sebes, a small village east of the Rothen–Turm–Pass. While the Battalion continued to march further into the border mountains, we remained in the village a few days and provided guard posts and as supply troops. On 6 October we relieved a column in the in the snow covered mountains with the mission to secure against the
Romanians who still occupied the border summit. We have been busy with Patrol actions. An alternation was only a single cannon appeared at the summit. On 10 October we returned to reserve quarters in Felsö–Sebes and we were happy at all when we heard, that we have return at the 15th of October to our Division which was located near Kronstadt. So we came back to our Company.
The Hungarian railway, as usual in no great hurry, brought is from Talmesch through Fogaras on 17 October to Kronstadt. We then immediately continued on and marched to Hosszufalu in a pitch black night in pouring rain. We were very happy when we found our company baggage located there. Now we could put our well used equipment back into some semblance of order. On the 19th of October we passed through Altschanzpass and by a strenuous force march went over the Lacurosu to height 1322 where we joined our company which we reached at 20.October. On the morning of 21 October we stopped three
Romanian attacks which caused them heavy casualties.
View of Azuga and the Clabucetu-Azugii
Later on the same day the
Romanian attacks were repeated. The next day two Companies of the II. Bat. could relieved and moved back to Hosszufalu as Companies of the 189 Inf. Reg arrieved. This action was necessary. The missing of real shelter, the rain, snow and the cold and very meager nutrition due to the extraordinary supply situation, had been extremely hard on the soldiers. In addition the lack of troops to serve as replacements had made the relieving of units very slow. Then the relieved companies did not get the time for the hoped for recovery. The enemy attacks reiterate until the 25th of October. We were ordered to take the Clabucetu-Azuguii. The attack was postponed because the units of the IR 189 could not be prepared in time.
In front of the IIIrd Bat. the enemy withdraw by the impression of the lost of Predeal. The 12th and the 9th Company, together with the Honved-Inf. Reg. 302 followed until the High 1457. In the valley of Predeal we could see enemy troops withdrawing. On the railway station of Azuga troops were being loaded and train after train pulled away.
Unfortunately our artillery was not ready to make the required quick change of position needed to take theses trains under fire. The infantry had to be quickly repositioned on the threatened flanks and it was very painful for them to watch the events in the valley because they had already taken the Tauruliu (1553) and now it was reoccupied by the enemy. After both companies had spent the night on 1457 they were placed in reserve the following day behind the Honved Regiment 302 during their well prepared attack on 1523. During this attack the 10th an 11th Company advanced up to and in the Limbaselu valley. The prisoners captures at Tauruli ,over 200, were members of the newly arrived Bukarest police. This showed the extent of the previously severe losses of the
After that a patrol of the 9th Company, which served as rear and flank security of the Honved–Reg. 302, moved on 1122 up to Azuga, was called back, the Bat. bivouacked on the edge of the forest east of height 1523. The Ist and IInd Battalions (5th and 7th Companies) were standing ready on the morning of 26 October to make an attack on the Clabectu-Azugii. Because of the deficiencies and overall poor artillery performance of the Austrian batteries on the strongly held enemy positions the situation was not even considered possible for a successful attack. Due to this the battalions did not attack. Later that afternoon the 5th and 7th Companies were relieved by two companies of the 189th and returned back to Clabucetu Paduri to serve as the regimental reserve.
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Regimental band and village street in Hosszufalu
October 27th meant that new preparations for the attack on the Clabcetu-Azugii were ordered. As a result of the Clabectu–Taurului being taken by the Hungarians at 26th October the
Romanians abandoned the positions voluntarily. The Ist battalion 189th and the Ist Bn 187th advanced forward immediately. The IIIrd Battalion received the order to make an assault on the Clabectu- Azugii by advancing through the Limbaselu valley. From here they were to send units against the enemy flanks and rear. This would prevent enemy support from arriving from the rear. In the early morning the 9th and 12th Companies in the Limbaselu valley returned to the battalion. The 10th Company was in the front and moved against groups of houses at 1002. After a strong enemy resistance they attacked from dense undergrowth and captured about 30 prisoners. By midday the attack was successful. Patrols were sent out and the battalion waited on the mountainside. You could see on the opposite mountainside of the Sorica strong enemy forces moving to Azuga. The previously mentioned groups of houses at 1002, which our troops had already left, were hit by our own artillery because to report of the current situation did not reach the artillery jet. Late in the afternoon we advance to the strongly fortified but abandoned churchyard at Azuga, put out sentries and outposts, and later in the night made contact with the Hungarians on 1122. The three other companies put out sentries to the southeast and to the north of the cemetery and began lively patrol actions. The Regiment staff and the IInd Battalion (5th and 7th companies) pulled back to Hosszufalu. The command over this combat line and also over the Ist Battalion, was by the staff of IR 189.
Fights I. and III. Battalion with Azuga
On 28 October the Tömösen Pass up to the cross going valley from Azuga was under
Germanoccupation. The IIIrd Bat. sends already in the early morning some patrols to Azuga. They captured a few prisoners ands returned loaded with food, wine, and champagne. The two nearest companies, the 9th and 12th, moved into Azuga and united with elements of the Honveds. Azuga was a stately village located between high mountains and hills on the Predeal pass. It was an industry town of the first class with a large timber, sausage and chocolate factories. There was also a large brewery and champagne factory belonging to Rhein & Company. There were many stately villas and well built houses. Many Germans and Frenchused to live there. Now however the village was empty and only a few Romanian and Italianworkers had remained behind. After all their suffering in the mountains the soldiers viewed this area as a paradise. NCO guard posts and sentries had well heated houses and between sentry posts and patrol duties the soldiers could sleep on well upholstered mattresses. The brewery with its surrounding grounds was the quarters of the 12th Company, the cement, champagne and timber factory the 9th Company, the 11th Company grouped around fortified positions at the church yard, the 10thCompany was positioned to the east in the valley to protect against an advance from the Sorika. The days passed in fortifying positions and patrol activities. Early on the morning on 1 November heavy enemy artillery fire occurred which meant that an enemy attack would soon follow. At 9 am the Romanians attacked in broad front and moved from the Sorika in the south into the valley. In front of the village they could take no ground. The Germanriflemen in some areas sat in their quarters, had pulled tables up to the windows, and fired “bench rest” through the open windows. Other soldiers positioned on the creek bed south of Azuga flanked the enemy. From above in the roof gables machine guns were positioned. Against this resistance the Romanians attacked against the widely spread positions of the Battalions and east of the valley a unit of Romanians got between companies without realizing they had achieved this advantage. Where the situation in the evening was still confused, spotlights were used during the night to clear the situation. A few prisoners were taken. In the morning no Romanians were remaining in the valley. While the 10th and 11th Companies had already changed positions, the 12th Company were moved to the outside of the village between the 11th and 9th Companies. In the following time the Romanians did not attack up to the 20 November. The own positions were strengthened daily. The Romanians also strengthened the natural fortifications of their high positions. Through investigation the overall layout of the area and the strength became well known.
There was fighting throughout the entire theater of operations in the mountains from the Ojtoz–Pass to the Szurduk–Pass. The
Romanians defended against a breakthrough into their territory with all their power. They fought by taking advantage of their considerable defensive positions and the hard weather conditions. Behind the front new organizations of the 9th Army were formed and prepared for a breakthrough at the Szurduk and Vulcan passes to take place in 6 November. The mission overall was to hold the front line, lock down the enemy powers, and to keep the enemy in the dark as to the real goal in the theater of operations. The enemy also had to be kept occupied because a breakthrough into the Walachai had occurred and the advance against Bucharest had begun.
Our Regiment was located at various points on the and also took part in these battles. While the IIIrd Battalion remained in position at Azuga, the IIst Bat. and parts of the Ind Bat. fought along the Tatrang road. Reports about this action will be provided later. The difficult part of the battle was at the mainpass, the Predalstrasse.
Trucks of the 1st Battalion being loaded on 9. Nov 1916
From the 5th of November onward the Ist Battalion was moved from the Altschantz pass and the Tetrang-road and after several back and forth movements at the 9. November they were transported by trucks through the Tömösen pass to Predal. This location, just a small village town, had been particularly reduced to ruins. The companies were placed in scanty build wooden barracks. The cold was feeling inside very hard. Already at the next day the village was visited by a
Romanian airplane which dropped a bomb in the immediate vicinity of the barracks but caused no damage. On the evening of 10 October the 2nd Company was ordered by the General Command to move to Point 966, just 1 ½ km north of Azuga. Here they would serve as Corps reserve. Two days passed. The time was used for rest and preparation of the outfit. During this time the Hungarian troops were involved in a hard fight west of the pass on the ridge of the Clabucetu – Bajuli (1375). Early on the 13th of November the Ist Bat. 188 and the staff of Ist. Bat. 187 along with 1st and 4th Companies came under the command of the 51st Infantry to their support. At 0500 both companies advanced over Man.–Predeal, 1139, and to the south at 1375. There they remained until the evening as reserve for the 200th Infantry–Troop–Brigade to the rear of the front line. They were however attacked by enemy artillery which caused several to be wounded. At the onset of darkness the 1st and 4th Companies relieved three companies of the 2nd Honved Regiment in the front line. Rifle pits were dug in the positions taken over from the enemy. Under the protection of the fog the position was fortified more within the next days. Due to the steady rain no-one remained dry. As a result of the rain the supply road was soaked so that the pack animals could bring up supply only with the greatest difficulty. Mostly the supply arrived us in the morning, as the moon rise up very late and the enemy artillery made blocking fire behind our positions. A little comfort was the circumstance to send patrols to Azuga in the valley to get from the large winery a quantity of bottles with red wine. We divided it between the groups and when heated up the fond drink helped most of us through the cold nights.
For taking the strongly fortified Sorika–ridge east of the pass, it was necessary to attack from Bajului southwards into the pass winds near R.–Prahova. This would force the
Romanians to give up the Azuga position and then they would be strongly flanked on the Sorika. The attack on the Bajului took place on the 16th of November, Units of the Honved Regiment 302 and 305, Ist. 188, and the 1st. and the 4th Company of Ist Bat. 187 were designated as the assault troops. From 12:30 to 1:30 pm our artillery placed a drum fire on the enemy positions located to the front of the attacking battalions. Close before 1:30 the attacking units cleared their own obstacles and began to move to the enemy positions, about 150 m away from the own line. At about 1:30 the artillery fire was shifted 100m further toward the enemy. Now the 1st Company broke over the crest, the 4th Company in three waves moved to the left of the crest on the enemy line. “Trumpeter, Blow!” The sound of the trumpet called for the assault troops. Hand grenades flew into the severely damaged trenches. A Romanian machine gunner is trying to insert another belt into the gun, but with a crush a rifle butt swung by a tall Mecklenburger shattered his skull. Shouting encouragement to each other they attacked through the log fortified positions. Using every possible bit of cover the troops continued the assault to reach R.Prahova. We captured five officers, including a battalion commander, and seventy men of the IInd Romanian Jaeger Battalion “Queen Elizabeth”. Three machine guns were captured in the assault. The companies had advanced so far forward that the now beginning blocking own artillery fire are behind the our units. It would have been an outstanding success if enough reserve troops would have been present to roll up to the left and right into the ravines. After a short time was the result that gaps have been in the line. Neither the Ist 188 to their right nor the Hungarians with the 80 men of the two companies of the Honved Regiment 302 to their left were not able to accomplish this.Because a heavy fog prevented artillery observation, the Ist 188 in a frontal assault suffered many casualties and advanced very slowly. When darkness fell the 188th and the Hungarians were still not on the crest of the mountain in the high of our companies. The companies have to dig in, the success could not be used full. The companies had to be united. The fog went away and it followed a terrible snow storm which lasted the entire night. Our exhausted troops dug rifle pits and covered them with their shelters but the weight of the snow collapsed them again and again. The cries of the slowly get snowed up wounded howled through the dark forest. Numerous soldiers had fingers and toes frozen. The sickness of the guts became more and more, as the carrier animals with the warm meals could pass in the deep snow very slowly. The wounded could only be brought down much later because there were so few people available for that purpose. Four people were required per litter. It took almost twelve hours to make the trip.
In the morning hours of 17 November the
Romanians made night counterattacks against the 1st and 4th Companies. Some advanced so close to our positions that they were able to shoot those who were not careful. This activity was halted by our machine guns, rifles, and hand grenades. Six mortars were used with success against the enemy sharpshooters and allowed the troops to continue with their fortifying the positions. For six days the company remained in the most front line. The deep snow and icy conditions caused numerous casualties. On the 17th the 4th Company was down to just over 40 men. To make things worse, on the nineteenth the weather changed and thaw with rain were coming. Everything was completely soaked with no possibility of drying out.
We were very happy when on 22 November replacements were sent. They were units of IIIrd 187. In any event both of the relieved companies went from the rain into the gutter.
Together with a Platoon of the 11*th Comp. 187 IR they were put back in the line a little west of the Cerbului valley below the steep cliffs of La Omu (2506). These positions there were so poorly built that we again had to build our own shelters and fortifications. The enemy was not quiet and most every night with no discernable purpose attacked our area and placed blocking fire behind our position which caused difficulties for the battalion staff. Supplies and evacuation of the wounded was especially difficult because the trail over height 1375 to Cerbului Valley was so steep that pack animals could not ascend it. Everything had to be carried by man power. We were lucky that the weather cleared up and we had only light frost. The health conditions also improved.
On the 20th of November the IIIrd/187 was placed under the command of the 51st Troop Division and moved from Azuga. It has then, as we read already, with parts of the Ist Bat. relieved at the Bajului. There the following days were under intense enemy artillery fire. The enemy infantry fired without any purpose for the entire night, only when our mortars fired they interrupted their rifle fire.
Finally, on 26 November, both battalions were relieved by Honved troops and marched to Predeal. Here we were loaded on a train and taken to the area Sepsi–Szt. György in north direction for an unknown mission.