By Joshua Boyle
Until now the order of battle of our specific unit has remained somewhat a mystery; English-language sources are somewhat difficult to come by for the Romanian Army in WWII, or at least not ones where the Romanians aren’t been scapegoated for the failures of the Wehrmacht. In Jonathan Trigg’s Death of the Don book however details many previously unknown details about our unit, which I have been slowly updated the front page of the website with.
The 39th Infantry Regiment is one of the many Infantry Regiments within the Romanian Army. Within the Army, there were two types of Infantry; pușcași and dorobanti. When Romania first formed an army in the 1870s, as with many nations at the time, distinguished between line infantry and light infantry/militia. The pușcași are more akin to the line infantry of pre-World War One Armies, whilst the dorobanti are more like the skirmishing light infantry that would go ahead the main columns of infantry. On their uniforms, the pușcași would wear red collar tabs whilst the dorobanti would wear more a light blue. However, by the Second World War, the distinctions between pușcași and dorobanti would all but vanish in real terms. Additionally, you had vânători (hunter) units, which had more specialised roles, similar to the German Gebirgsjagers.
Each regiment consisted of 3 battalions (each battalion of 3 companies, each company of 3 platoons, each platoon of 3 sections), a heavy weapons company (a 81.4 mm Brandt mortar platoon, a 37 mm Bofors AT gun platoon and a 47 mm Schneider AT gun platoon; each one with 6 artillery pieces) and a recon company. At battalion level there was also a heavy weapons company: a machine-gun platoon (8 MGs) and one mortar platoon (6 60 mm Brandt).
The 39th Infantry Regiment fell under the 14th Infantry Division, which consisted of two Infantry Regiments; the 13th Stefan cel Mare (Which recruited from Iasi), the 39th Petru Rares (Which recruited from Floresti, Cluj), one hunter regiment; 6th Vanatori (Which recruited from Balti), and two artillery regiments; the 24th (recruiting from Ungheni) and the 29th (recruiting from Balti). The 14th Infantry Division recruited from the Balti Country, although it moved to Iasi in June 1940.
The 14th Infantry Division, alongside the 9th Division formed II Corps. Along side I, III and IV Corps, they formed the 3rd Army. In 1942 in the Battle of the Caucasus, the 3rd Army initially consisted of the Cavalry Corps (5th, 6th and 9th Cavalry Divisions) and the 1st Army Corps (2nd Mountain Division and German 298th Infantry Division). The 3rd Army was subordinated to the German 17th Army. It also had 3 observation squadrons assigned to it. The 3rd Army would follow the German 17th Army all the way to Stalingrad, where it was almost entirely destroyed. During Operation Bagration and Little Saturn, the unit was pushed back toward Romania, and took part in the final battles in Romania during Iasi and Targu Frumos.
The commanders of the 3rd Army included:
General lieutenant Petre Dumitrescu, 25 March 1941 – 20 March 1943
General lieutenant Dumitru I. Popescu, 21 March 1943 – 20 April 1943
General Petre Dumitrescu, 21 April 1943 – 29 August 1944
General lieutenant Nicolae Dăscălescu (acting), 29 August 1944 – 10 September 1944
The Romanian Army of World War II by Mark Axworthy
Death on the Don: the destruction of Germany’s allies on the Eastern Front, 1941-1944 by Jonathan Trigg
The Organization and Order Of Battle Of Militaries In World War II: Volume VII – Germany’s and Imperial Japan’s Allies & Puppet States by Charles Pettibone