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Gentleman's Military Interest Club
Morar Andrei

Romanian cavalry against german machineguns

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That happens on the autumn of 1916 during the battles for the Argeș Valley. A colonel sent the cavalry squadrons, just like in the Napoleonic Wars, to charge a German machineguns post, taking huge casualties: out of 327 soldiers, there remained only 84, and out of 14 officers 5 survived. What happened more exactly that day and which was the determination to make such a bold move? Thank you very much!

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Edited by Morar Andrei

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Andrei : Do you know what Romanian regiment charged ?

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Morar Andrei ; I assume that you are Romanian speaking so i suggest you to take a look to the following site : Discutie , Monumentul Eroilor Cavaleristi din Primul Razboi Mondial . 

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Great story and photo. It appears that the lance is his primary weapon with rifle being present “just in case”. A formidable adversary either way.

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A formidable adversary at lance length from the enemy.  I speak to hundreds of high school students every year about WWI, with a group that sets up at museums around southern Ontario.  We man as many as 15 stations and one I have been doing lately is 'Lance Drill'.  It gives me a chance to talk about how vital the horse was to war, before and even after WWI, for transport and how the 'arme blanche' was properly used - to scout and screen. 

The students practice some basic lance drill and 'tent pegging'.  I also explain how frightening a cavalry charge would be , especially against unprpepared infantry in the open, most of who would have had single shot rifles.  Finally, I pull out my 10 round SMLE and explain how many shorts I could get off in the time it took horsemen to cross 200 meteres of ground.  They inveriably get the point: MGs turned cavalry charges into a complicated form of suicide!

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I found out more exactly which battle was this. It was the battle of Robănești, also known as "the charge of Robănești". This is what happened:

 

On 23 November 1916 at 6 a.m. under dense fog, captain Alexandru Filitti, commander of the 3rd cavalry squadron is called from Lăcrița Mare where his squadron was stationed to Popânzălești to join the main forces of the Brigade. At 7 a.m. the entire Brigade starts advancing towards Bojoiu, Robănești and Pielești.

At 8 a.m. the Romanian vanguard, including part of the 9th Roșiori regiment and a squadron of machine guns encounters the German lines east of Bojoiu and its advance is stopped. Receiving reinforcements, the Romanian troops attack and after a strong exchange of fire the Germans retreat and the Romanians occupy the village.

In the meantime, two battalions of the 11th Bavarian Division, reinforced by machine-gun units and artillery occupied a front line form Pârșani to Robăneștii de Sus. At 8.15 a.m. the 9th Roșiori regiment is ordered to attack the German left wing located in the village Pârșani behind the Pârșani forest. The regiment advances west of the village of Bojoiu, towards Lăcrița Mare along the valley of the Vlașca River being kept out of sight by the Robănești hills. Shortly afterwards, at 8:30 a.m. the rest of the vanguard of the brigade continues to advance, crossing Robăneștii de Jos, advancing despite some German attacks till about 8.45 a,m. where it encounters strong enemy fire. The Romanians decide to attack the German positions. The 4th Roșiori Regiment is ordered to carry out the frontal attack and consequently dismounts. The fourth squadron takes position preparing for the attack along the Robăneștii de Jos - Pârșani road. On the right flank, three platoons of the third squadron take position covering the terrain to the Teslui River. To the left another platoon of the same squadron takes position, reinforced by the machine-gun unit. The first squadron of the regiment is kept as reserve. A unit of the horse-drawn artillery, under the command of captain Vasilescu, is also positioned on the left side. 

In the mean time, the 9th Roșiori regiment had stopped near some straw stacks, at about 800 meters south-west of the Pârșani forest. Lieutenant Emil Mora, who had scouted the area, reported to Colonel Călinescu that he had identified the position of the German artillery and could indicate the line along which the Romanian cavalry could charge that position. However the Romanians had no information about the position of the other German troops. Colonel Călinescu accepted the advice and ordered his second in command to select the squadron for the charge. At this moment, captain Alexandru Filitti volunteered to lead his squadron to charge the German positions.

Having lost some of its men in previous combats, the squadron was only 110 swords strong, and all other officers besides its commander had been sent on various missions. Captain Filitti decided to have two platoons, under the command of sergeant Ion Bălașa, advance northwards, under cover of a small hill and then to attack the flank of the artillery position. Captain Filitti decides to lead himself the main charge. Lieutenant Emil Mora, who was in charge of the supplied of the regiment and lieutenant Iuliu Roșca aide-de-camp of the regiment commander volunteer to take command of one of two platoons. Another volunteer is 67-year-old sergeant Gheorghe Donici who had participated in the Romanian War of Independence. When the charge approached the German positions, the Germans hastily pulled back their cannons. The entire 3rd squadron continued its charge to pursue the retreating artillery. In doing this they came under the fire of the German machine-guns which had been hidden behind the haystacks and the fire of the German infantry which had been hidden in trenches along the Craiova-Balș road. Captain Filitti was wounded by fire but continued his charge until his horse was killed by a hand-grenade and he himself was heavily wounded and taken prisoner. The result of the charge was the total annihilation of the 3rd squadron. Only two officers and 16 soldiers survived and were taken prisoners. The losses amounted to one officer and 94 soldiers.

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Finally, after finding more about the other cavalry charge from Prunaru - because this is the name of the battle I was looking for,  "sister" of the same charge from Robănești - I covered it into a video, to make it more interesting. Hope you will enjoy! 

 

Edited by Morar Andrei

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