Romanian Army
    Introduction

    In fear of losing more territory, on the 23 November 1940, the Romanian government adhered to the Tripartite Pact alliance that was signed by Germany, Italy and Japan. Prince Michael became heir of the throne however General Antonescu who was Commander-and-Chief of the military took control of the whole country.

    The Germans were aware of the importance of the Ploesti oil fields. They proceeded to support Antonescu who had sought a military alliance.

    On 22 June 1941, 325,685 Romanian troops followed their German allies towards Russia. By the end of July 1941, the Romanian territories of Besarabia and Northern Bucovina were liberated but in the process Romania lost 4112 men plus 5506 missing and another 12,120 men wounded.

    On 22 August, King Michael promoted General Antonescu to Field Marshal. Antonescu and about 17 Romanian officers received the conveted Knigth�s Cross of the Iron Cross, twice the numbers the Germans awarded than any other allies.

    Romanian Stamps

    Odesa

    On 27 July the already over stretched German Army required Romania�s 4th Army to capture the important port railway center of Odesa. On August 5, the Romanian Divisions under V Corps crossed the River Dnestr. Its mission was to descend on the Black Sea coast in the rear of the Russian forces, which were being heavily reinforced with manpower to defend Odesa.

    The battle involved in tacking the major port of Odessa between 2 and 28 August, cost the Romanian 4th Army losses were 27,307 men, the attempt to take Odessa had failed. On 28 August the Romanian assault resumed without further significant success.

    Romanian Soldiers

    Between 28 August and 11 September, the Romanians lost another 31,552 casualties. A third assault to retake Odesa was attempt by the Romanian Armies on the 9 to 21 September. Fresh Romanian troops were deployed, bringing 4th Army up to 12 infantry divisions, 3 cavalry brigades and 2 fortress brigades. Meanwhile the Russian Coastal Army, which was counterattacking, was being reinforced with men and large ammunition stocks from the sea. After much stubborn defense from the Russian coastal forces, it was decided to withdrawal the last of the Soviet garrison on the night of 16 October.

    The Romanians finally took Odesa but lost another 7684 dead, 25,624 wounded and 5993 missing. The total Russian commitment had exceeded 120,000 men, on whom 60,000 casualties were inflicted.

    Romania Odesa Stamps


    Romania Holy War against Bolshevism

    The capture of Odesa was commemorated on a set of three semi-postal stamps and a souvenir sheet, which show the overprint and the date it was captured "ODESA/16 Oct. 1941." These stamps captured "ODESA/16 Oct. 1941."have the inscription "RAZBOIUL SFANT CONTRA BOLSEVISMULUI" (Holy War against Bolshevism). The sheet shows two stamps with a face value, in the background it shows the Romanian coat of arms with the inscriptions "22 IUNIE 1941" on top, and below the "FRATIA DE ARME" (Brotherhood in Arms). These stamps went on sale on 16 October 1941 for two months.

    Stalingrad

    During autumn 1941, the Romanian 3rd and 4th Army and 80% of Romania�s fighting divisions were dispersed amongst the German 6th and 17th, and 1st and 4 Panzer Armies.

    The 3rd Romanian Army with eleven divisions was initially deployed along the Don River bend with the mission of defending 150Kms while the German 6th Army made head ways towards Stalingrad. The Romanian 4th Army, was tasked to hold 200Kms of front-line.

    The 3rd Romanian Army eventually received some relief support from the Hungarian 2nd and Italian 8th Armies. Unfortunately like the rest of the Axis forces they were missing heavy weapons, supplies and manpower. Meanwhile the Russian forces new about these weaknesses and was preparing to attack the Axis flanks. When the Russian winter counter-offensive was launched on 19 November 1942, the Romanian 4th Army was considerably reduced in manpower and was guarding a vast opened area devoid of any natural cover.

    During the summer of 1942, the Romanian 4th Army had 101,875 men by November it amounted to 75,380 men. The Russians launched its offensive on 20 November against the 3rd and 4th Romanian Armies.

    By 4 December 1942, the Romanian 4th Army was attacked by 149,000 Russian troops and 635 tanks, which destroyed the weak forces of the Romanian 4th Army and German 57th Panzer Corps. During the battle of Stalingrad the 20th Romanian Infantry Division and the 1st Romanian Calvary Division were destroyed.
    The Russian attack on the Romanian 3rd Army met stiff resistance, which managed to make a very difficult fighting withdrawal.



    Romanian Heroes Stamps

    Romanian Campaign Issues

    On November 10, 1943 the Romanian post office issued a set of six values commemorating the Centenary of Romanian Artillery. Notice the battle scenes and the names of the Russian cities that the Romanian Army participated:
    Odesa 1941
    Caucasus 1942
    Sevastopol 1942
    Stalingrad 1943

    Caucasus

    For the German 1942 summer offensive to take Crimea, the Romanian Mountain Corps (1st and 4th Mountain Divisions) were instrumental in neutralizing the Russian partisan threat. The Romanian Cavalry Corps (5th, 6th, & 9th Cavalry Divisions) covered the right flank of the German 17th Army as it advanced into the Caucasus.

    Romanian Soldiers

    The 2nd and 3rd Romanian Mountain Divisions were also used in the drive into the Caucasus as was the 19th Infantry, 6th and 9th Cavalry Divisions. These divisions were employed mainly on coastal defense and anti-Partisan duties throughout 1943. However by April 1944, Romanian morale had deteriorated. The Soviets launched a major assaulted in the Crimea, the defending Romanian 10th Infantry and 6th Cavalry Divisions collapsed.

    The rest of these divisions were evacuated and sent to Romania for refitting. The Romanian Army was needed to defend Besarabia and in May 1944 the 3rd and 4th Armies were back in defensive positions.

    In August the Russians once again opened their offensive causing the Romanian Front to collapse. By 23 August 1944, young King Michael signed an armistice with Russia under the terms that the Romanian government was obliged to take arms against their former Axis partner.

    King Michael had Antonescu arrested (he was tried and executed). The Germans now found themselves fighting their former Axis partner. Between 22 June 1941 and 23 August 1944, Rumanian losses amounted to 71,000 killed, 234,000 wounded and 310,000 missing or prisoners of war.

    Romanian Postal History

    The Romanian army postal service (Oficiul Postal Militara OPM) was organized in principle separate from the German army postal service. The Romanian government provided free franking privileges for military personnel serving in Russia. Each military unit was assigned a two or three OPM code number. There were no regulations on showing the word field post on Letters and cards.

    Agreements to use Feldpost services between the German and Romanian servicemen came in 1942, however a small postal charge was applied. Additional domestic postal rate was applied for mail weighing up to 1000gms. By December 1943, Feldpost was free of charge for German and Romanian servicemen came in 1942, however a small postal charge was applied. An additional domestic postal rate was applied for mail weighing up to 1000gms.

    Free franking cards showing Prince Michael imprint and the Romanian coat of arms were issued, however, certain postal cards valued from 3Lei to 10Lei were also available to military personnel. All military mail was subject for censorship, mail had usually rectangular or oval censor markings. Sealing tapes were also used on letters that were examined. Mail sent from the Eastern Front bore "De Pe Front" markings.

    Romanian Field Covers

    Romanian Postal Mail

    On the top is an interesting cover that was mailed to Bruxelles, Belgium on 6 November 1941. The postal cover shows the complete set of the anti-bolshevik stamps. It was Register and has both Romanian and German censor markings and a German sealing tape.

    Romanian units were attached to German Divisions, which used the German Feldpost service as shown in the example above. The field card with a 5 Lei postal charge was mailed from the Eastern Front and shows both Romanian and German Field cancels. In addition, it has both Romanian and German Censor markings.

    By December 1943, Feldpost was free of charge for German and Romanian servicemen. A 20Rpf fee was charge for packages weighing from 250 to 1000gms. All packages were subject for customs inspection and censorship. Official mail was sent free for mail weighing up to 1500gms. Letters and postcards up to 100gms could be sent free from Romania to Germany, but normal fees were charge for all other mail. The personal effects of deceased members of the German forces were sent free up to 1500gms. Registered official mail up to 1000gms was allowed in Romania, and insured packages were permitted for values up to 72,000Lei or 1200RMs.

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