On The Rosca
In the morning hours of 28 October the 5th and 7th Companies while experiencing the most beautiful weather were transported with trucks of the 187th Infantry Div. to the Bratocea Pass and to the Tatrang Valley. Here they replaced the units of the IIIrd Bat. 189th Inf. The day before the 6th and 8th Companies were placed directly at the pass road and for that two companies of the I.R. 189 had been pulled back.
On the afternoon of the 28th the Regiment staff took over command of both sides of the pass road. The units were placed as follows: On the right the IInd Bat. 187, left the Ist Bat. 375. In this sector up to the present time the Romanians had been completely quiet and the opinion was that no major actions would be taken here in the mountains. The Regiment got this placed as a rest area. That this was not the case would soon be shown.
Drawing of the main battle lines
The 29th of October passed in complete quiet. But at the next day, the 30th October, in the morning about 0600, the IInd Bat. 187 reported, that the Rosca (1426) will be attacked by very strong enemy units and in fact of the weak own troops the position can nor be hold. The sector of the IIIrd Battalion covered 6.5 km and was thinly and weakly held. The 5th Company alone, numbering 92 men, had a battle front to defend of 2.5 km. The terrain was mountainous, gullied, thickly overgrown, and very difficult to observe. As a result of this the battle area was very difficult to defend. The distance from one post to the next was an average of 300 to 400 meters because the gullies were not occupied. The Romanians attacked with two closely following lines of men and were undiscovered as they went through gaps in the 5th Company’s position. Then they attacked the isolated posts from both flanks. In order to prevent a complete encirclement and destruction of the company, which was under increasingly strong fire from two enemy machine guns, the Company Commander, Leutnant d. Res.. Möller, gave the order to clear the position and to regroup on the way to hill 1229. The regroup point was reached without being attacked by the enemy. The attack of the enemy was favoured by heavy fog. Romanian prisoners reported that the enemy had attacked with two Battalions from the 22nd Regiment. Meanwhile our Regiment had reorganized the lines to the rear for security and established flank connections. Engineers 187 already present on hill 892 were sent on a patrol to 1229 while an unit of 1st Company IR 375 received the mission to block the summit road by 1147. At the request of the Regiment the 187th Brigade sent the 1st and 3rd Companies of the I.R. 187th , which were located at Husszufalu, by trucks to the Bratocea pass. On 30 October at about 10am they reached point 892. Here the 1st Company received the order to advance at least to 1229, while the 3rd Company was to remain at point 892. Later this Company was also moved to 1229. As both Companies reached 1229 by the time darkness fell, the counterattack had to be delayed until the next day (31 October). Also involved in this time line were units of IR 189 (10th and 11th Companies) which were placed in a support role. The disposition of the attack troops was as follows: 5th Company east of 1229, 1st Company west of 1229, the 3rd Company and both companies of IR 189 remained at 1229. Patrols made contact with the enemy and reported strong enemy forces.
On 31 October at 06:15 our artillery took the enemy positions under fire. But due to the heavy fog did so without observation. At the same time the infantry advanced but had to halt at locations below the enemy occupied heights on the Rosca and 1371. Around 11:00 AM the last traces of the fog disappeared. The sun covered the wonderful autumn scenery with a golden glimmer. The wonderful view of nature made it possible for a short time to forget the war which all too quickly came back to reality. Our artillery preparation began again with a new intensity and thanks to the good communication between the Artillery officer, Leutnant Dümling it was possible for the infantry by 1200 to be in possession of both 1426 (Rosca) and 1371. The enemy had retreated back over his old positions. The positions, taken for a second time, were occupied on the left and right sides by the 1st, 5th, 3rd Companies. Connected with them on the right was the 7th Company which occupied positions on the Orltul. To the left on the pass street were the positions of the 8th and 9th Companies. Both companies of IR 189 were pulled back and placed as reserve on 1229. A strong field reconnaissance was sent toward the enemy on 1364 in order to discover the enemy positions in the direction of height Cailor.
The night of 31 October -1 November and the following morning passed peacefully. The reconnaissance party sent to 1364 approached the position carefully because the heights were occupied by the enemy. The two reserve companies of IR 189 were released and moved into rest quarters.
Around midday the staff of Ist Bat. 187 and the two remaining companies of Ist Bat.187 (2nd and 4th) met, coming from Hosszufalu. The staff of Ist Bat. 187 and the 2nd Company took positions at point 892 while the 4th Company remained at Casiera at point 846. In the afternoon at about 4:30 the guard posts of the 7th Company located on the Ortlatu and at the toll watch house received a weak infantry fire from the south. In general the day passed with no special events.
On the morning of 2 November the 4th Company was carried by trucks to the Schanz Pass in order to assist with road building. The construction activities were not however of long duration. Around 6:00 AM the enemy took the Rosca positions and our batteries under artillery fire. The severity of the fire appeared to be an artillery preparation preceding an attack. At 11:00 AM the Romanians attacked in strength on the line 1080–1371, but were completely defeated.
Earlier enemy columns, estimated to be a half till one battalion, were seen climbing the Piciorul Caprei from Ortlau to the north. About 1200 on 2nd November enemy units were observed by guard posts of the 7th Company near the toll watch house. The enemy attacked these posts. The units were under the command of Leutnant d. Res. Meyer and performed heroically. After a difficult resistance the post was attacked from the left flanks, encircled, and quickly overrun. A strong patrol sent by the 1st Company to assist at the toll watch house was unable to stop the attacking Romanians. Of the fight which happened there and of the individual actions nothing is known. Leutnant d. Res. Johann Meyer and many of his brave soldiers were required to give up their young lives and many others were reported missing. Other regimental positions also were attacked by the broad enemy offensive. During the hours of the afternoon of 2 November the Romanians advance under cover of the rough terrain and deep gullies between the positions of the 3rd and 8th Companies. As a result of this advance they could fire to the left flank of the 3rd Company from behind. To prevent encirclement the 3rd Company was forced to pull its left flank back and give up hill 1371. The newly taken position prevents, that the enemy could rolled up our lines on he Rosca. The enemy could not build up further attacks on the success. Due to this the danger to the Rosca positions was imminent and required immediate actions against it. To strengthen the 3rd Company two platoons of 2nd Company were sent from 892 by way of the crest path of 1147–1262–129. They reached their correct position at darkness. At 830 PM on 2 November under bright moonlight the 2nd and 3rd Companies counterattacked on 1371 without artillery preparation. The attack with attached bayonets was very successful Only suffering small losses. The entire position was retaken and connection with the 8th Company immediately reestablished. During the night the positions were strengthened.
The already in the morning of the 2nd November reclaimed 4th Company came bit by bit with trucks from the Schanzen Pass. The first platoon arrived about 3 PM and was send immediately to point 1912 (Tatrang-Vallay) to strengthen the 7th Company already located there. The other both platoons arrived in darkness and remained at point 892.
In order to prevent the 1st Company on the right wing from being encircled on the Rosca, a platoon already present on 892 from 2nd Company which was under the command of Leutnant d. Res. Andersen, was sent during the night Nov. 3, over 1262 to 1333 in order to insure the connection was made with 1st and 7th Companies. Nothing further was heard from this platoon and it was understood that they must have encountered strong Romanian forces before they arrived there position in the early morning. This opinion was build up by hearing rifle fire from Rosca, from the Tatrang-Valley and also from the area at point 1333. Leutnant d. Res. Andersen reported about the unknown events. His Platoon reach the destination about 0615 in the morning at the 3rd November. During the time Leutnant Andersen met the leader of the 1st Company his Platoon took positions behind the line of the 1stCompany.
By an immediately following attack the enemy was able to make a break through of our lines. These line were build up with patrols between the Rosca an the toll guard house. The right flank of the 1st Company was encircled attacked. To prevent this the Company had to move to the position of the 5th Company, who was connecting at the left flank. At this action the Company Commander, Leutnant d. Res. Kloth was heavy wounded and came in prisoner ship at the Romanians and died two days later in a Romanian hospital.
Leutnant Andersen, who saw the danger of the encirclement, moved his platoon between 1229 and 1333 in a line running from north to south with the front to the west. On his left he attempted to connect with 1st Company IR 187, on his right his platoon was completely up in the air. This movement surprised the enemy and after a short fight began to pull back. They were unfortunately under the cover of the forest and able to completely go around the right wing of the platoon. Now the enemy was to the rear of the Rosca position, hidden from Leutnant Andersen’s platoon, and remained undiscovered by 1st Company. Leutnant Andersen attempted to move rearwards (somewhat in a northerly direction) to break through the enemy lines but was halted by heavy machine gun fire. Approximately 97 members of the regiment were taken prisoner. Nine of them would see home again. The rest died by the inhuman treatment of the Romanians as prisoners.
Encouraged by this success the Romanians now attempted to cut through the entire Rosca line. The 1st, 3rd and 5th Companies had been mixed together because of the flank and rear attack of the Romanians. They were regrouped along the 1229–1080 line which was the operational area of the 8th Company. The enemy was once again in possession of the Rosca–1371 line.
The most important goal now was to reorganize the connection between the companies and take mutually supporting positions even though the security of the front line suffered. From 1229 forward action was taken against 1333 to find out if of the enemy breakthrough on the line between the toll watch house to 1426 was complete. Patrols found 1333 free of the enemy. In the meantime a platoon from 4th Company commanded by Offizierstellvertreter Murmann was sent by regiment from point 892 to the crest path running from 1147 – 1262 to 1229and from here to protect the right flank at 1332. The line 1333 – 1229 – 1080 was occupied from right to left as following:
Platoon Murmann of the 4th Company, 1st Company with 31 men under Vizefeldwebel Lehmann, 5th Company under Leutnant d. Res. Möller with the left flank at 1229, 2nd Company under Leutnan d. Res. Humbke, 3rd. Company under Leutnant d. Res., Rohde, 8th Company under Leutnant d. Res. Bardowicks and the 6th Company under Leutnant d. Res. Eckstein. To the right of the Platoon Murmann was placed the 7th Cpmpaniy under Leutnant d. Res. Lucke.
The artillery received the report, that the Rosca had been lost. It was put under immediate heavy fire and the Romanians retreat from Rosca and 1371 for a time. At the present moment we were unable to occupy the line because our defense line had not been securely established and reserves were not available. The Romanians did not continue to advance but started to dig in at Rosca. 7th Company patrols on the evening of 3 November discovered that the toll watch house was free of the enemy and brought one wounded German back with them.
At the onset of dusk the Romanians attacked the line of 1080 up to the Rosca but quickly stopped mainly by our fast hitting accurate artillery fire.
On midday of November 3rd arrived the staff and two companies of the IInd Bat. 375, peculiarty to replace the IInd Bat. 187. The two additional companies of the IInd Bat. 375th arrived later in the evening. The IInd Bat. 375 and supporting artillery were placed for the attempt to retake the Rosca on 4 November. Two light and two heavy howitzers were brought up in addition to their own artillery. The collective artillery available for the preparation was eight light howitzers, four heavy howitzers, and one mortar. The commander of Ist Bat.187, Hauptmann Biehl, was designated as commander of the attack. He arrived in the evening on 1229. The units available to him for the attack were: The IInd Bat. 375th and the parts, respectively rests of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Companies. The night to the 4th November passed quietly.
It was planed to begin with the preparatory fire of the artillery at 07:30. The artillery was to begin preparatory fire at 0730. The organization of the infantry for the attack took longer than expected. As a result the artillery opened fire at 10:15. Leutnant Dümling again accompanied the infantry as an artillery observer. The artillery fire was so expertly and effectively directed by him that Vizefeldwebel Lehmann of the 1st Company was able to report by telephone that at 10:40 the peak of the Rosca had been taken. Short time later the whole line was taken with very few casualties. The wounded Germans on the Rosca were once again in German hands. All completely agreed the treatment by the Romanians from IR 22 was outstanding. A few had even been given new shirts. The wounded soldiers also reported that the artillery fire was so powerfully and precisely placed that the Romanians, even though ordered by the commander to stay, deserted their positions.
On the morning 4th November patrols from the 7th Company also found the toll watch house occupied by the enemy. He withdraw from there after the lost of the Rosca. A Platoon of the 4st Company arrived and had the mission from the right flank of the 1st Company to move forward to the right down till the toll guard house. They anew occupied the toll guard house together with a platoon of the 7th Company
On the left patrols from the 6th and 8th Companies advancing in the foothills of the mountains took six prisoners. In this action a patrol from the 8th Company under the leadership of Gefreiter Söder performed especially well. They stopped an enemy unit attempting to free the enemy prisoners by the effective use of hand grenades.
The next night and morning of November 5th passed quietly. The assigned removal, as far as possible, were to be accomplished. From the machine gun section, who has had a important role at the passed actions, the 1st and the 2nd. Machine Gun Companies were removed and transported back to Hosszufalu. The Field Machine Gun Platoon 318 remained in position. The 7th Company 187 was replaced by 8th Company 375, except the position on the Orlatu. Through this the 4th Company was unattached and replaced the 5th, 2nd and 3rd Companies at 1371. The 1st Company 187 had previously been placed as reserve on 1229. The staff of Ist Battalion 187 and 1st, 2nd and 3rd Companies moved after their replacement to Altschanz. The 5th Company 187 remained in place as reserve of IInd Battalion 187 and the 7th Company 187 was placed at 892 as reserve of the section. The section from 1371, including, up till the former left flank of the IInd Battalion 187 came under the command of Hauptmann d. Res Thomsen, the commander of the IInd Battalion 187. The 4th Company 187 came under his command too. The II/187 was now under the command of IR 375 and remained in their positions until the 10th of November. After this time the IInd Battalion 187 including the 4/187 were removed form the Rosca area. Only the three platoons of the 7th Company 187 located on the Orlatul remained in this position.
Review of the First Battalion.,187 IR by Major Scheuermann after the Rosca battles
Herewith ended a very important time of the Regiment with very difficult and heavy battles. The atmosphere of the troop was that in spite of the constant battle actions, hard physical exertion, terrain difficulties, and poor supply that every action undertaken was above all praise.
Security of the Schanz Pass
After the difficult and overall changing battles on the Rosca, the regiment with six companies was sent to secure the Schanz Pass. On 12 November the IInd Battalion with 6th and 8th Companies, on the 13 November the Staff, the 5th and the 7th Companies moved up to replace the III/188. Throughout the afternoon of 14 November the 2nd and 3rd Companies were relocated from Predal by trucks and moved as reserve close behind the heights into single isolated posts. This further weakened the already low in numbers companies. They had to assume the defense of a front width of 14km. This could be accomplished only by a dispersed posts and active patrol duty. The duty became extremely stressful although larger action did not happened. The posts were mostly isolated on peaks up to 1910 m. The storms battered the posts which were without any protection. The heavy snowfall either collapsed the shelters or blew into the openings. Especially unbearable was the difficulties with supply. In hour long exhausting marches over steep ridges and deep gullies the supply and building materials had to be brought by pack animals to the individual posts. When possible the companies most exposed to the elements were replaced by reserve units.
The 21st of November brought reorganization in the machine gun arena. The former Machine Gun Platoon 318 under Grothues was reinforced and made into a machine gun company. With this change each battalion had its own machine gun company with its own designated number. The field machine gun platoon became the 1st MGK, the former 1st MGK (von Bulow) became the 3rd MGK.
During the time the 187th was holding weak border posts in the Transylvanian Alps other units of the German army pushed over the Szurduk and Vulcan passes into Romania and advanced toward Bucharest. We waited longingly for the day when we would receive a marching order. Our location was however a threat to our opponent. On the 25th and 26th of November the k.u.k. IR 9 arrived. We received the marching order, part on foot, part by train, to Sepsi-Szt.-György, where on 27 November the entire regiment assembled. The same evening it was moved again. During the night the battalions moved to the train station and tightly packed into cars then transported to the station of Bereczk. Here we received quarters. The Regimental staff, IIIrd Battalion, and the 7th and 8th Companies, were moved to the northern section of Lemheny. Ist Battalion and the rest of IInd Battalion were sent to Kazdialmas. Here the regiment was placed in support of the 24th Reserve Corps.
Leutnants Eckstein, Meicht and Bardovicks on the Schanz Pass
Already at the next day the IIIrd Battalion received a special mission which required it once again to be separated from the regiment for four weeks. Reports of the experiences encountered during this time will be discussed in the “IIIrd Battalion in the Baska Valley” section.
For several days the enemy had been attacking on the front located on both sides of the Ojtoz Pass held by the 24th Reserve Corps, specifically the area north of the Ojtoz passes. New attacks were expected. Due to this on 30 November the Ist Battalion was located to Ojtoz as corps reserve. On 1 December the regiment (minus IIIrd Bn) was placed under the command of the Austrian 71st Inf. Troop Division. It moved the regimental staff and the IInd Battalion to the Bakotetö, and the Ist Battalion to Csengöponk-tetö. The IInd Battalion had planned to arrive at Kishavas the same evening. The terrain was so bad that the field kitchens, even with six teams of horses, only arrived very late in the night at Bako-tetö. The Division then moved only the 7th Company to Kishavas while the other three companies bivouaced overnight at Bako-tetö.
On the 2nd of December the remainder of the IInd Battalion moved to Kishavas while the 3rd Company of the Ist Battalion stayed as reserve at Nagy Sandor in support of the 20th Res. Jäger Battalion, because the Russians had attacked at that location on the day before. On the 4th of December the 3rd Company and the Res. Jäger Battalion were attacked by the Russians without success. The guards of the Hungarian units on their left flank were pulled back. By that the Russians occupied several hill tops north of the Nagy Sandors. In order to retake these hill tops the Ist Battalion was moved forward, during the same time the 8th Company overtake the protection at the Csengöponk-tetö of the own artillery. At 5th December the 2nd Company drove away in a brave attack the guards of the enemy, captured 2 Machine Guns and toke 80 prisoner. At the evening also the 1st and the 4th Companies were place in the front line.
On 4 December the Nagy Sandor had been taken and we established positions on its peaks and cliffs. As we expected in the following nights an counterattack of the enemy it was ordered to be strongly fortified with the highest and sharp guard maintained.
Over these days the Offizierstellvertreter Speckmann reported the following:
“From 10 PM to midnight I had charge of guard duty. I slung my carbine over my shoulder, stuffed my pockets with ammunition, and used my bayonet to cut down a half dead pine tree to use as a walking stick. Then I started through the dwarf juniper and blueberry thickets on my climb up the mountain. “Guard” I called, “Here” replied the answer from a hole in the ground. Sitting in the snow, covered by his gray shelter, sat a descendant of the Mecklenburg line or of a Hamburg shopkeeper. His rifle was in front of him, the moon illuminated the snow covered hillside where the Russians were helping the hard pressed Romanians hold the border positions.
Drawing of the main battle lines
The guard posts became fewer and fewer and soon stopped altogether. Our field guards place to the extreme front of our line were another 1 ½ km north and 130 meters further out and guarded a small valley. Our patrols guarded the security of the left flank and the opening. Soon I was alone in the moonlight flooded high mountain isolation and took in the wonders which I had never experienced before….. Listen. What was that? Russian boots, working their way up the hill? I held my carbine closer and exhaled with guarded breath….. What could it be, in such never cultivated forest a liitle breath my the reason of such snapping and cracking noises…..Finally I controlled the whole line of the company and I thing to dream at the guard fire behind the crest the last few minutes I have to be at the line. But I can't reach the fire. Around the crackling fire are lying soldiers of a group not on guard, covered with coats, blanket and tend shelters the tree limbs are hanging over them and through the darkness the silver crowns on their caps is reflected by the moonlight. I stand to the side, leaning on my walking stick, and allow the view to sink in. Suddenly the voice of the NCO of duty sounds from the crest: "Gets up, Gets ready" an four sleepy figures raise up, cough and stretch a few times, then stumble off over the hill to take their turn for two hours of guard duty. Their comrades now can thaw out their arms and legs over the warm crackling fire and stretch out for a short nap.
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Russian prisoners of the First Bat, 187 IR View from the Battalion battle position on Mt. Sandor to Kis Nemere
Regimental Battle position at 1555 south of Mt. Sandor
Now it is my turn to be relieved. I give up my duty to my replacement and go into the dugout. The Company Commander wakes up.. “Everything is in order. The enemy is quiet” I report. Then I throw myself on the pine straw and don’t have long to wait until sleep arrives.
When we wore our first long pants, our fantasy was to be a guest in a log house in the wild west. Now as soldiers in field grey, we are going in and out of such a log house in the more wilder east and when we are inside, the grim winter and snowstorm cannot do us anything and we have a strange feeling of security, almost we are feeling a little bit the breath of home.
Trunks of the pine trees, decorated with field gray braids and sparkling sap drops forms our floor, ceiling and walls, plank beds, everything. Only the door and table are made of raw cut pine boards. A fire place is made of square shaped cliff stones in which a large amount of wood has been thrown and gives off wonderful warmth. Next, our home’s most valuable item, is a pane of glass which allows the precious light inside of the short winter day to our eyes. It was badly cracked and has a small hole from an assault, but a medical plaster holds the parts together and allows a little air through. The white moss we used in an attempt to stop up the cracks in the walls was not completely successful anyway. This room has the overpowering smell of the “Tobacco for the Army and Navy” brands, something not generally encountered in this wild area.
In this cabin, built by comrades and which we occupy as unhappy interim inhabitants, are living together peacefully the Company Commander, commander of the 1st Platoon, an orderly, an orderly, and sitting in the corner on a hand grenade box is the telephone operator. Scratching itself on a sack of kindling is a female German Alsatian. The tiny lice, with which we also have a bare fisted and unsuccessful fight, are our constant companions.
What we call “blowing hot air” does not happen with us. The company commander draws high mountain landscapes using cedar twins and charcoal, the commander of the 1st Platoon takes care that his writing pen does not rust from lack of use, the orderly, a Hamburger driver of a forwarding agency and one of the telephone operator, quartermaster of the Hamburger free port, the rest of a dual quartet of the time in the Vogesen of the Regiment, singing in two octaves the most beautiful songs, not unlike German traveling journeymen. Their favorite is “When the hedge roses bloom in the forest”. From time to time the telephone brings something different such as reports of “40,000 Romanians captured" or “Bucharest captured”. We work on the improvement of our home daily. The chimney wall holds our cooking utensils and a few Russian ones, which was taken over from a caught patrol consist of very tall Siberian soldiers. For three volumes of “The Reich’s Book of the Week” a board is used, for grease a second one. The rough table is cleanly covered with pages of the “Rostocker Observer”. In its ads someone had a pig with five piglets for cheap sale, in another someone announced his Christmas wishes to meet a young and rich lady for a second happy marriage. We are studying these ads and offers with pleasure knowing that one and a half thousand meters below us is a country where cannons aren’t fired like here from time to time very powerful and German farmers enjoy sleek piglets and where men and women vow to make each other happy
From this land, where men live and train tracks don‘t run, there are columns of carts pulling their torturous way up the mountains. There, where the sharply steeper and steeper climbs stopped the moving, the carts will be unloaded into the kettles of the field kitchens, which are standing in the shadow of the forest. What are cooked in the field kitchen, is running into the pot bellied canisters and hung on the patient pack animals who will continue to climb up the steep mountain path. Finally they stop and won’t have to carry the load much longer. From the top of the hill the soldiers come with rattling cooking utensils. They empty the pots of the bean soup or whatever else it might be and distribute to the sections. Quickly it is warmed up over the fire and the ladling can begin.
The field post also finds its way to us on the high mountains. When it arrives one sees young man sitting in a hole reading a letter from his mother, another smoking a thick cigar, another chewing a smoked eel and the juice dripping on the stubble of his beard. And far from the northwest blows a warm air over the icy Carpathian mountain forests.
“Ring” goes the telephone. This happens every few minutes and no one pays any close attention to it. But what do you see in the eyes of the man who answered it sitting on the hand grenade box? “Herr Leutnant, something very interesting – about peace.” “Don’t talk such crap” reply the Company Commander, but he placed one of the telephone listening devices to his ear. “Peace? How do you even write that word?” he asks me. “You have to look it up in the dictionary” I answered quickly. “ But its certainly not in the latest edition” he answered. “Better we use Grimm’s dictionary or an old smoker of anno tobacco.” But that won’t help anything. That word "peace" was really there in this warlike wire, even if in the connection with an "Offer of Peace" and our highest commander had sent it himself and the request for cease fire message was to be sent to all German soldiers.
I went out to my section! It is bitterly cold outside but I don’t think about it at all or even put on an overcoat. Strange, how a single word can make the blood flow so hot and fast through your veins! I filled my lungs with the aromatic pine air, spread out my arms and looked up to the moon and the golden stars: “Dear God, with the death and destruction going on behind those mountains and the screaming from the throats really be stopped? Will once again peace happen on your wasted earth?”
The dug-out of my first group. No one was exposed to the open sky, all of them had dug in, had a roof of pine limbs and a half meter of woods dirt piled on top of it. The entrance was covered by shelters. I crept in. Those asleep had to be woken up. Then, in the light of the fire in the chimney, I read what the Kaiser had said to his soldiers. At the words “Offer of Peace” I made a short pause, I wanted the syllables of these words to sound like music from heaven. There were deep sighs. “Kinners, Kinners” said a youthful Holsteiner soldier, “We’ll be able to spend Christmas with our mothers”.“For this report we could give you a hug” said a Hamburger merchant emotionally. “Now all we have to do is wait" says a doubtful Mecklenburger, "so, as I know the Englishmen……". I have no more time to wait and listen to more of their comments. It is my duty to bring the wonderful news to the other posts. As I climbed downwards of the steep ground a prophet’s words came suddenly in my mind and the soul began to move in a wonderful rhythm: How precious – to be on the mountain – the feet of the messenger – which announced the peace…..
The dream of the December night was quickly dispelled and the history of the 187th Infantery Regiment from is point is long from being finished.
This is the end of the report from Offizierstellvertreter Speckmann.
The IInd Battalion on 6 December replaced the companies located to the furthest right of the 20th Reserve Jaeger Battalion from Zsiros-tetö to the foot of the Nagy Sandor. The regiment staff took control over the entire section while the IIIrd Battalion fought together with the Hungarians against the Romanians in the Baska valley. The time through Christmas passed without any important events.
Third Battalion in the Baska Valley
At noon on the 29th of November the IIIrd Battalion, quartered in Lemheny, received the alert order. The 10th Company and part of the 11th Company were transported by trucks to Kovaszna. The rest of the battalion marched the same evening in a pouring rain to the train and reached Kovaszna at 1 AM. Here the battalion was subordinated to a k.u.k Calvary brigade who had the mission to defend a sector located in the Bodza- and Ojtoz passes in the area of the Baska valley. Their numerical weaknesses had caused them to abandon several important mountain positions. Now it was expected that the enemy, encouraged by his successes, would now start an overall offensive.
Drawing of the main battle lines
Early in the morning two platoons of infantry were loaded in a small train used for hauling timber from the mountains riding on a small track which was very steep in some areas from which one could see romantic hills and valleys, and were transported to Commando, where the brigade was located and wooden houses were available for quarters. After a few hours the companies were again alerted and placed in support of the 4th and 12th Hungarian Hussar Regiments. The 9th Company, after a night train ride in open cars and a short march reached Musa later that night on 1 December. Here also stationed was a squadron of the 12th Hungarian Hussars. At daybreak the Romanians attacked and in spite of repeated attempts were not able to take the well fortified positions. An enemy attack at dusk cut through a flank position of a platoon of Leutnant. Albers of the 10th Company. The next day passed with heavy patrol actions, some of it in the rear off the enemy and with preparations for an overall attack. The 10th and 11th Companies meanwhile were involved in a common endeavor to retake the lost positions on Csihannyos, Batrin, and Slobodul and were sent forward for this purpose. When these missions, in spite of difficult terrain, were accomplished together of the 4th Hungarian Hussars on the 5th of December, along with the 12thCompany coming from Gyulafalva moving in the valley to the point 911, together with two squadrons of the Hussars, made an quick attack at the fortified point 1241 in such a speedy manner that three officers and 88 men were captured. In this action the previous successes of the Romanians were retaken. Now the 11th Company took bivouac as Regimental Reserve on the D. Batrin and the 10th and 12th Companies went for only one day to Commando in order to be prepared at the 7 December together with the 9th Company and two squadrons of the Hussars Regimen 12 for the the planned attack on 8 December against the strong enemy position to the front of Musa on the right flank and rear of the Romanians. For this purpose several 10.5 cm howitzers were brought into position. The 9th Company had found a good attack position in the enemy’s left flank. Later this day around midday the patrol discovered, that the enemy under the protection of the fog made a withdraw, as a result of the losses of Bucharest and the fast advanced of the Group of von Morgan through Plösci to Buzeu, the Romanian point in the valley at the pass road of Musa. The troops, arrived at Musa after tiring mountain marches and were little satisfied that they were involved in a definite successful operation, spent the night there and the next day continued on through the deeply ravine mountains in freezing weather through Halon and on to Commando. The 9th Company remained as security for an additional day at Musca. They put out strong patrols. One under the command of Vicefeldwebel Evers followed the enemy about 10 km without any contact. On 9 December the Hussars had advanced and the 9th Company returned to Commando back to the battalion and immediately transported to Kovasina. From there they marched on the same night to Gelencze where the battalion remained as a reserve of the 1st Hungarian Calvary Troop Division. They remained in quarters there until 16 December. Early in the morning the battalion marched through Kezdivasarhely on to Kezdizentlelek and returned to the 187th Division. On 18 December the battalion marched to Czomortan and to Lemheny where the troops remained until 24 December as division reserve. During this time a new offensive was prepared for the in mountains and an intelligence section was oriented toward this goal in the regimental staff. On 23 December the companies celebrated Christmas. The advance ordered for 24 December was pushed back one day. On first Christmas day the battalion marched and climbed behind the Nagy Sandor 1639 and took quarters by freezing weather and snowfall.
The advance of the German in Romania continued. The parts, located in the areas of the Cartpathian mountains range, should go with them. This was in preparation for the Christmas offensive. The IIIrd Battalion was once again attached to the regiment. For the offensive the Battalions were placed in the following manner: The IInd Battalion should advance from Zsiros-tetö on the crest path to Hgh, the 1st and 2nd Company of the Ist Bat. under the command of the battalion staff would attack the Russian positions on 1405 and then turn half right on the extended crest path toward the direction to Hgh. The IIIrd Battalion, after the taking of 1405 by the half of the Ist Bat., were to move down the cliffs in direction of Bitca Pufu for taking the mountain. The 3rd and 4th Companies were held as regiment reserve. As an extended long term goal Tirgul Ocna was to be taken.
The last days before Christmas were filled with strong patrol actions. On 25 December the IIIrd Battalion, as already reported, left Lemheny and moved behind the Nagy Sandor. The attack was to start on 26 December. The companies were in their attack positions at 7:00 AM. Thick fog covered the mountains which increased as time passed, so the artillery ceased firing after a few rounds because of the futility in observing the impact.
The attack had to be postponed. Only the 6th Company was not able to be contacted. On this day they experienced their own personal hard fisted war, who’s own personal role as reported by Leutnant Wittmark:
’‘The frontal advance of the IInd Battalion on the small crest path on both sides of which twisted back and forth with thickly forested overhangs with valleys on both sides ran over the mountain toward the strongly horseshoe like fortified Russian positions.
The positions were that the 6th Company outflank from the right and the 8th Company from the left and then meet in the rear on the crest path. Than from each Company one platoon should attack the Russian horseshoe like Position from the rear. The other Platoons should advance downhill into the Slanic Valley
On the morning of the second day of Christmas the 6th Company went into action in its part of the encirclement. A few men remained in the assault position in order to keep the enemy to their front occupied and to cover the advance of the assaulting troops. The moving was with success, far to the right the moved unperceived into the left flank of the enemy and climbed in line uphill with two platoons in the front line.
Drawing of the main battle lines
We climbed at a slow pace because our artillery would begin preparatory fire at 0900 on the enemy positions. To our disappointment this did not happen except for a few rounds. Was this going to be the expected the drum fire? Disappointed, we continued forward. There was nothing to be seen of the enemy. We heard nothing from the other attacking units. The tension grew. It was almost 9:00, we must be at the top soon.
The forest began to clear. We reached the top. In front of my astonished eyes, just a few steps ahead, was peaceful the crest road. I called the company commander. “ Hey, Baumert, here is the road.” A moment of high tension passed. We were in behind the Russians. There was nothing to be seen of the enemy nor any sign of 8th Company. Every minute could bring about our discovery. What next???
Following my first instinct, I attempted to build a barrier. But a few shots rang out form right down the slope. Leutnant Hinrichs had encountered an oncoming Russian wood carrying group. At the same instant a man to my left called “ Herr Leutnant, I just saw a Russian”. Now there was no use in being quiet, the enemy in seconds could have alarmed the entire Russian position.
“Forward, Hurrah!” In this manner we stormed on the crest road, about 12 till 15 man with me. We reach the protecting barbed wire at the rear of the enemy position. A small zig-zag path has been open. Spanish obstacles lie next. We snaked our way through them. The forest opened up and the path became wider. A few steps to our front was the first Russian dug-out. Four Russians were sitting there, shinning bayonets in their hands. But they didn’t move. They were too stunned or shocked. I hit the closest of the idiots in the chest and posted a man as guard. Then we hurried on.
It became lively in front of us. Dug-outs right and left. Hand grenades flew into. Through the cleared forest we could see from above in the right wing of the Russian trenches, more to the half right but deep in depth. Our fire distributes the Russians there. Some fled to the left to the top of the trenches in their front and on the crest road in front of us. Here they were pushed tightly together so that only the tips of their bayonets here and there and a fur hat were visible. From this position we received fire. The Russians had turned a machine gun around and fired upon the crest road with it. We had to jump into cover. About 80 meters separated us from the enemy. But to continue the attack against the enemy machine gun and the thickly compressed soldiers would have been stupidity.
We returned their fire. Three or four men were with me. The rest were working their way quickly jump by jump to us.
More and more bullets flew across. We tried the Russian to understand, that they shall surrender. A few of our native born Polish soldiers called to them in Polish: “Ruski, Ruski, Wutki, Wutki” sounds like a courtship. Rifle shots cracked back and forth again. This went on for maybe fifteen minutes.
It seemed as if no one over there could come to a decision. Suddenly immediately in front of us a few Russians stood up. It appeared as if they wanted to die. “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot” I called. A few seconds of expectant silence passed. Then one of them, wounded, climbed completely out of the trench. His chest bandage was fully visible under his coat. Hesitantly he came closer. Behind him a few more climbed out of the trench.
One of my men called: “They don't have rifles! In this case Herr Leutnant can move some steps forward to them." Indeed, carefully I took my rifle and go between the lines to the nearest, the one wounded, and slapped him friendly on the shoulder. This observing, for the Russians that was the sign of people’s brotherhood. Immediately the Russian surrounded me, shakes my hands, kissed my hands.
Suddenly I was standing in a trembling crowd of joyful dark brown figures. Before I fully realized what was happening a elegantly uniformed Russian came up to me, pointed to his shoulder insignia, and said something. I also made a bow, put my hand on my hat and said “Wittmark”. The commander of the Russians stood before me. Now my company commander arrived, Leutnant Baumert, and was very happy. He said to me: "Tell this man, that his people shall lined up." One of our upright Polish soldiers translated for us to the Russians. The leader gave a command and the brown group, now our prisoners, lined up in a completely organized column.
It was for me a pleasure to count the amount by tapping each one on the chest as he passed. I counted one officer and 107 other soldiers. We also captured two machine guns, ammunition, and the usual equipment. Along with these there were maybe a dozen more from Leutnant Hinrich’s 2nd Platoon of the wood cutters captured earlier. We were very happy. Our losses were one killed.
Leutnant Baumert sent the prisoners to the battalion. There they were very happy, also along with the Regiment, because they had given us up for lost. The planed attack was cancelled because the bad weather condition stopped the artillery to shoot. The runners of the Battalion , send to the 6th Company, did not find us. So they believed we had been lost to the Russians, especially after the shooting began. They were very pleased not only that the 6th Company had not been lost, but that we were successful in occupying the Russian position and had also captured a large number of prisoners and equipment. Because of our actions the possibility of the attack being a success in the following day had greatly increased."
The next day brought beautiful clear weather for the attack. The attack was able to follow its planned course of action.
The IInd Battalion assembled at Zsiros-teto and at 9 AM were to begin the attack under a signal from the machine guns. The difficult terrain and the strongly fortified enemy positions allowed only a slow advance. Even though four enemy machine guns fired without stopping, the 6th Company with relatively few casualties took the position at 10:45 AM. The enemy quickly retreated and the 6th Company was now in a position to support the advancing attack of the 8th Company on their flank. By 11:00 AM all enemy positions on the north side were occupied by the battalion. The enemy continued to retreat back into the southern gullies. Fifty prisoners and one machine gun were captured. In fast follow up action by both 6th and 8th Companies allowed them to push back the disorganized enemy to his strongest line of resistance at Kord. By onset of darkness the battle was halted in place.
At height 1405 was located the 1st Company, a platoon of the 2nd, and two platoons of the 11th. At 11:00 AM the entire mountain was in our hands. Over 100 prisoners and two machine guns were the catch. The next goal of the IIIrd Battalion was the Bitca Pufu (1070). While the 10th Company and a platoon of the 11th Company immediately began an advance to reinforce this position, the 9th Company (to the left) North of point 1405 climbed up to make an encircling attack on the steep cliffs and then down into the valley. The 12th Company was quickly moved from its staging area and went north through the thick virgin forest into the valley in order to attack from 847 the Bitca Pufu. They reached at first the foot of the steep, barren high and immediately the attached, but realized that realized that even without the strong machine gun fire pouring down on them they would not be able to take the position without assistance. For assisting the in meantime arrived 10th Company and the Platoon under Leutnant Lütge of the 11th Company was send to flank the position. At 3 PM the attack was successful. Two machine guns and fifty prisoners were captured. It was then decided that positions 769 and 930 were to be attacked, but due to oncoming darkness, the uncertainty of the flanks, and the loss of communications with the regiment we not to do so. They did secure the positions occupied to the southeast and to the north.
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Photos of the mountains in the battle areas
On the morning of the 28th the IIIrd Battalion advanced. They left behind a telephone guard station and moved to 769 and on to 930 without encountering the enemy. They secured these positions with two companies against attack from Baile Slanic and point 1050. The 11th Company were placed as reserve, the 10th Company was places to protect the back about 600 meter east of 769. At about 11.30 AM patrols of the 9th Company, which have been under rifle fire, reported that a strong Russian rifle line was advancing from the east to south. At the same time the phone station on the Bitca Pufu reported to the 10th Company, that they were attacked by the Russians: " Here are Russians, 3, 6, 10, 20!" Then the line went dead. The 10th Company immediately sent the platoon of Leutnant Dähling to this high. As he reported, that the Russians are more than one Company, the whole 9th and 10th Companies, one Platoon of the 11th Company and two Platoons of the 12th Company were send against the high. The rest of the battalion protected position 930 from rear attack. At 2:30 PM the Bitca Pufu was once again in our hands. The enemy suffered heavy losses and more prisoners were taken. Out telephone operators were captured and the equipment destroyed. Our doctors, who during this event were unarmed and were fired on by the Russians, and even though possessing only walking sticks, took a few prisoners then joined up with the battalion on the mountain. Later in the afternoon the telephone connection with the battalion had been reestablished. Now the battalion reinforced its position and advanced no further. They waited for supply which did not arrive until the following evening because the pack animals could only with great difficulty climb on the snow and ice on the steep paths.
On the 28th Of December the 2nd Battalion went ahead with its offense as planned. The battalion received the mission to occupy Hgh and to force the entrance to the Slanict valley. Patrols, which had been sent to toward the Russian positions at about 0830, were able to determine that the Russians had deserted their positions during the night. The battalion now advanced past Hgh on to Kord P. where it linked up with the 1st and 2nd Companies, which advanced from 1405 to here. The planned continued advance to 930 and occupying this high had to be postponed because of the difficult terrain and the late time of day. While the 7th Company, which has been left as reserve, take over the security of the Par. Pufu valley, the Battalion took alert quarters nearby of Kard P.
On the 29th of December the advance to and if possible go beyond point 930 was to take place. At about 0700 the battalion advanced in the Pufu valley and south of 622 in open formation began to climb. Patrols and security units sent ahead engaged the enemy after a long climb. The enemy held 930 and also a strong flanking position in southeast. Although the maintenance of connection with the dispersed climbing companied and the forested terrain caused extreme difficulties, the battalion arrived at the frontal positions in the attack area at the same time. The following attack went so well on the left wing and in the middle that the 7th Company almost reached the crest road. The attack of the 8th Company on the right wing then came under a heavy flanking fire and its advance was halted. In order to keep the enemy in the flanking position occupied and to set up a flank attack by the 7th Company and than push down from the upper position, a Platoon of the Ist Battalion, which arrived in the meantime, was sent to extend the right wing of the attack. During the preparation for this attack the IIIrd Battalion was to join the IInd Battalion at so that the increase in strength of the two Companies of the IIIrd Battalion attacking from the location of 5th Company would start a flank attack at the onset of darkness which had complete success and destroyed the enemy. The day’s rewards were forty prisoners and one machine gun.
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Height1405 and a patrol in the snow on same
After a quiet night, at 7 in the morning the following morning the Ist Battalion with attached 7th Company and the 2nd Battalion as reserve began the attack on hill 1050 with the day’s mission to take Pravila. The enemy companies which held 1050 were throw back after a short artillery attack. The advance from 1050 to 956 was preceded by a precise blocking fire on the mountain crest which brought an end to the enemy located there. In order to prevent unnecessary and heavy losses a position was established on 956. Then an attempt by the Russians to encircle and cut off our forward positions on the mountain ridge was prevented by quick security measures.
The IIIrd Battalion took over the security of 930 up to Bitca Pufu because their neighbor to the left, Reserve Regiment 217, was advancing very slowly because of heavy fighting on Mt. Cleja. On 31 December another heavy snowfall occurred and the supply columns were stuck in the snow. The overall mission of the campaign which was to reach the Tirgul Ocna was cut back because of this situation. Also the neighboring regiments on the right, the 188th and 189th, the attack had been stick fast in the Baile Slanic and Satu Nou valleys on the southern highs. The 12th Company was sent to support this attack on hill 650 which was to reach the saw mill at Santu Nou. The IIrd Battalion received the mission to attack with the 5th and 7th Companies hill 650 from the north. This was a nice New Year’s present! The participants of this episode will remember this night march through the ravines full with deep snow. First at the day of New Year the high 650 could occupied without fight as the enemy withdraw in the night before. After one day rest in Baile Slanic the ½ Battalion Thomsen with the 5th and 7th Companies together with the 6th and 8th Companies replaced the 1st Battalion at 956. The whole Ist Battalion was stationed in Baile Slanic and took over the barrage at Satul Nol. The further experiences of the Ist Battalion will be described in the next section.
The 12th Company remained as reserve in the Baille Slanic. On 5 January 1917 they were sent against hill 650 where a strong enemy patrol was encountered. On 12 January they were together with the 10th Company under the command of the 188th Regiment in preparation for an attack on point 828. The interim time was used, especially for the IIIrd Battalion, to regroup and organize, send out powerful patrols, and other preparations for the advance of the RIR 217’s arrival from the Sararii valley to the Mt. Cleja. Otherwise there were no significant events.
On IInd Battalion’s front there were significant indications were observed of a Russian attack. On the 5th of January in the early morning a strong artillery fire of the enemy was placed on the entire section which were indicating preparations for an attack. After a lasting fire at 10 AM the enemy attacked the section of the 6th Company on its front and flank. It was possible by rifle and hand grenade defence fire the stocking attack with caused severe enemy losses to stop the attack. Enemy attack columns which had assembled on the northwest side of hill 913 were scattered because of accurate artillery fire against the northern slope and were not able to continue their offensive. Smaller enemy units were able to approach closer in the forest covered terrain and close with our units. These were repulsed by hand grenades. Several attempts by the enemy to encircle the battalion from the west were attempted but were prevented with bloody losses for the attackers. After the battle had settled patrols were sent out in the area to the front and over 100 hundred dead Russians were counted.
The human hardships was very enormous, apart from the heavy fighting, deep snow, freezing temperatures, and the companies living in tents or scanty huts in the outside. The supply of food and ammunition was extremely difficult to provide. On the 14th it was ordered that no further advances were to be made and to hold positions where they stood which was a difficult task due to the terrain on the frozen ground, cliffs and mountains. In addition to the listed problems the enemy occasionally sent greetings by means of artillery. But it was also possible during this period to rotate the companies for a few days to the wonderful bath town of Beile Slanic for recuperation. This was very beneficial for the troops as they were able to bathe and repair equipment and clothes. One day the news arrived of the increase in the U-Boat war and the termination of diplomatic relations between Germany and the USA.
Bath Place Baile Slanic
1st house - Regiment #2 High Command Staff #3 Regiment Lower Staff #4 Brigade Lower Staff #4 V.O 1/187th
The 1st Battalion at Bolohan
Baile Slanic, the modern bath for the Romanian upper society, has had a the winter season. During peacetime the upper classes sought relief when brutal heat lay over the Moldau territory. The Baile Slanic was not designed for the winter. In the treatment house were located quarters for sick soldiers, in the casino an office, and in the villas and dance halls were field grey soldiers of the 187th Inf Div. Open aired summer villas and the Carpathian winter fit poorly together. Was it any wonder that one night a house went up in flames? Our freezing comrades build up an open fire in the living room, as they could not find any stove. But thet is the war. – – The Russian did not left so much undestroyed. But the theater and the gambling halls in the casino still retained some of their former elegance.
Meanwhile the battle actions in the first week of the New Year had not ceased. The Slanic Valley was dominated by a rounded hill-top in the southeast, the Vfr Bolohan, which in soldier’s jargon was named the “Bullerjahn” because of the constant fighting happening there, A bitter back and forth fight lasting several days had developed in an attempt to occupy and hold this position. On 4th January the attack of the I:R. 189 was not successful. On January 4th IR189’s attack was not successful. Now the Germans and Russians positions were very close to each other. A decision had to be made. The German assault troops under the command of Oberstleutnant Beyer, commander of I.R. 189, were strengthened to three battalions of I.R. 189, two battalions of I.R. 188, and one battalion of I.R. 328 received on the 4th and 5th of January the Ist Batl. 187th for filling a position on the right flank located between the 187th I.D. and the 71st Inf Troop Div.
The 187th were also involved with the anew ordered attacks. This attack began at the 10th January, to long for from the troops. They were forced to wait in the cold wet forest ravines of the Bolohan without shelter, in continuous snow, rain, under strong enemy artillery fire and having to perform strenuous patrol duty. The battle began after hours of drumfire on the fortified Russian positions. At 11:45 the attack columns advanced, the Ist Batl. 187th on the right wing of the Division had the mission to attack and advance to the Ungureana and to cover the right flank. In the first line the 1St Comp. 187th attacked under the command of Leutnant Witte on the right, on the left was the 3rd Comp.187th commanded by Leutnant Achilles, and, behind that as reserve was the 2nd Comp. 187th. The 4th Comp. 187th , which moved on 10 January to the Bolohan and till now had been fighting enemy commandos in the Slanic valley, was attached to IR 189 as regimental reserve. The Russian positions to the front of I.R. 187 were in thick virgin forest and also a ravine blocked with barbed wire. They extended to the west face of the Bolohan and as a result had not been hit by our artillery. An exact observation was not possible through the gigantic trees. Shortly before the beginning of the attack a shell from the Austrian Hungarian artillery put one officer and 18 men of the 3rd Company I.R. 187 out of the battle. Nevertheless at exactly 11:45, as our own artillery fire walked overhead, the attack began with a “hurrah” from the both companies and without stopping attacked through the enemy wire obstacles and trenches, and advanced over ravines and trees shot in pieces. More that 100 prisoners, all strong brave men from a Siberian rifle division, and several machine guns were captured quickly. An enemy counterattack on the right wing was defeated. The advance continued. At evening the battalion stood at the foot of a strong Russian position which the Romanians had obviously built during peacetime. The enemy was using this fortified position to defend against advance of the 189th on the crest road. Here the attack was halted. Our own artillery was not firing because the location of enemy positions was not known. The commander of I.R. 189 gave 1Ist Batl. 187 the order to try and approach the position from the west under giving up the flank protection of the division and to take the Russian positions which would open up a path to Ungureana. The battalion pushed through thick overgrowth and deep ravines into the left flank of the enemy. After darkness fell the 1st and 3rd Companies attacked the enemy with a loud “Hurrah” and drove him into the Slanic valley. Awful sounds the harrah and the explosions of hand grenades in the dark forest. The same night the 189th occupied Ungureana while the Ist Batl. 187 completed its own mission by taking the western front and went into position to protect the right flank of the division. The 4th Comp. 187 was subordinated to the Ist Batl. 187 again. Rifle positions were dug in the snow, tents set up, and resting fires lit which illuminated the forest. This day had been a very good battle for the warriors from the Waterkant (Seaside). He had shown that a soldier with the thirst of action without strong artillery support could defeat a tough enemy and that the German infantryman regardless if born by the ocean or in the Bavarian mountains, could fight equally well in any land.
The enemy, which during the night had slowly reorganized, was felt out by our patrols. On one of these patrols, the horn-blower Weiher, 4th Company 187th, encountered alone a group of Russians. He shot two and the others ran like rabbits. The 11th of January passed without any events. That evening one half of the battalion, the 1st and 4th Companies, were pulled out and sent as reserve to Baile Slanic. This was however done too early. On the 12th the Russians mounted a counterattack. This counterattack hit the 187th not so much than the other regiments, but still put the battalion staff of the Ist Batl. 187th in danger so that they had to defend themselves in the primitive shelter in the so called Russian hut. The Russians were thrown back. But the 1st and 4th Companies which had barely arrived at the Baile Slanic had to make the four hour march the third time. In complete darkness, up and down the mountains and over the battlefield of the Bolohan. This was no pleasure especially when thaw and sudden rain like cloud-burst began which soaked everyone to the skin. On the 13th the 4th Company returned to the fomer line and the 1st Company remained as division reserve a little further to the rear. In the meantime we received from the Division the order to establish a long term position at the locations currently held.
The bloody losses of the battalion during the battles around the Bolohan and Ungureana were not severe. But now the weather took its toll. The nights in the snow at a temperature down to often –20° Celsius. On guard posts in completely soaked clothes and shoes, the missing shelters, that all could not pass without any consequences. With resolute freshness led till now Hauptmann Biel with his age the Ist Batl. through all exertions.
The example of the white haired man with a constant good humor had very often given the young soldiers a new strength. Now he was forced to take a rest for a longer time, because he had dysentery. On the 14th of January Oberleutnant Bentz from the Regimental staff took over command of the battalion. He came from the regiment staff. The well trained talented officer only had a few hours in his new position. On the morning at the 15th January at 10 o'clock he was killed by an Russian bullet, fired from an ambush, while he was observing the front line together with the company leaders. So the young life of a hopeful leader ended. The Battalion sent as his replacement Lt. Neumann I.
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Path to Hgh Ojtoz Pass road
The position which Group Beyer held was not particularly favorable. The domineering mountain Vdf Ungureana, (779) remained in Russian possession. The possession of this position also made it possible for the Russians to establish a position on a small ridge which ran south of the Ungureana into the German line. Group Beyer’s front and the linking 71st Honved Inf. Troop Division ran about 1000 meters in width and about 500m in depth.
On the 17th of January the group received an order to attack and improve their overall position. The order should not be criticized here because the attack failed and the front line commanding officer was doomed to failure form the beginning. The courage of the fighting men was not lacking. At 7 m of the front line just one German rifle were available. The artillery observer declared that i would be impossible to take the sack position of the enemy under artillery fire. Missing mortars and the fact the Hungarian troops refused to attack at the planed time. The failure of the attack was inevitable. In any event the Division ordered on 20 January, that an attack on both sides of the Ojtoz road would not taken place. Now the preparation of the present position had a new priority.
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1st Lt. Bentz died 10 days after his 23rd birthday Company Headquarters position
Meanwhile the Carpathian winter again arrived in full strength. It snowed daily and the temperature regularly dropped below – 24° Celsius. No wonder that the demands on every man were great, apart from the molestation by the Russian Artillery during the decreasing combats.
Guard and patrol duties, fights and the unceasing fortification building, always wet and frozen, this made up the daily schedule. Frozen feet and dysentery began to take a toll. The battle strength of the Battalion on 19 January was 400 rifles, by the 27th it had dropped to 297 rifles. And nevertheless the men worked unremitting, so that slowly the dug outs became seenable better. The positions of the battalion was not predominately in trenches, but had developed into a system of log huts buried in two thirds in the ground and covered for protection from shrapnel. They were mutually supporting with machine guns located on the flanks. Wearing snow camouflage the guards and patrols went to designated positions in the forest. The interiors of the log huts were made more bearable with the arrival of Hungarian practical collapsible field stoves. Also the exhausting task of supplying ammunition, building material, and food should to be remember. Often one wondered at the stamina and toughness of the sled horses as they brought food in warm containers up the steep mountain paths. The supply animals performed their important task in a remarkable manner and brought the supplies to the men’s satisfaction and assisted in their morale.
The battalion staff, because of the constant shelling on the Russian huts they occupied, had to clear out of them and moved into a board hut in a nearby ravine. This is where Rittmeister von Jouanne took command of the battalion. After they had become accustomed to the situation the front settled down for the men for the rest of the winter, when suddenly arrived the order of replacement. On 6 February the battalion was replaced by the Honved I.R. 313. In the dark of night and heavy snow fall the battalion moved down to the Ojtoz valley, often falling more than marching, then again a strenuous march in the deep snow to the Ojtoz road to the rear. After a night in windy barracks in Ojtoz followed the last march through the mountains and left the not homely area. No one was sad even they did not know what the future would bring.
The end of fighting and the transport of the battalion to the west .
At the beginning of February the offensive on the entire front was halted and the divisions could and must pulled out. So the Honved I.R. 315 arrived and dissolved us.
From 8 to 10 February the stand down was enacted. In marches of several days the battalion moved back through Ojtoz, Ozdola, or Lemheny, to Kovasna.
The stand down was also necessary due to the large number of losses in personnel. During the Vogesen battles in the time from beginning July 1915 up to the move into Romania at the end of August 1916, six officers were lost. From the time of the fighting in the mountains of Romania from September 1916 to the beginning of February 1917, five months, sixteen officers were killed. The losses were also high in NCOs and regular soldiers.
On the 20th till 22nd the Regimental Staff, three machine gun companies and the Ist Battalion were loaded at Botfalu, and the IInd and IIIrd Battalions were loaded in Kovaszna. The train transport went through Szegesvar, Arad, Budapest, Oderberg, first to Oppeln. Here the men were disinfected. Afterwards it went through Görlitz, Dresden, Chemnitz, Zwickau, Nürnberg, Heilbronn, and to Oberhofen. Here the division was placed under typhus observation and once again disinfected. After a short halt they went on to Finstingen.