7/1/1917 Romania overrun

Romania’s rash decision to declare war on Austria-Hungary has proved a terrible mistake. The country has now largely been overrun by the Central Powers, her armies smashed by the implacable might of Falkenhayn and Mackensen.

Bad weather and Russian reinforcements now bring an end to the enemy’s advance. Bucharest has fallen, together with the south and centre of the country. The remnants of the Romanian army hang on in Moldavia, where they desperately hope that they can preserve the independent existence of their country.

image source (Wikipedia)

24/12/1916 Germany seizes Romania’s granaries

The German food situation is grim. The British navy prevents Germany from importing food or fertilisers from overseas. The dislocation of war has led to a significant decline in domestic agricultural production. This year’s potato harvest has been struck by blight. Germans are calling this the “turnip winter”, as they are having to eat turnips (normally used as animal feed) instead of potatoes.

But there is one bright star on the horizon. When Romania joined the Allies, there was consternation in Berlin as Germany no longer had access to Romanian grain exports. Now, though, Romania has mostly been overrun by Falkenhayn and Mackensen. In their advance they have managed to seize the country’s granaries intact. The Germans will be able to eat bread made from Romanian wheat after all. Their food situation is still desperate but the conquest of Romania will allow Germany to continue fighting the war.

6/12/1916 Bucharest falls

Romania’s bold counter-attack against the invading armies of Germany, Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary has failed. The shattered remnants of the Romanian army are now in retreat, hoping to find some safety towards the Russian frontier.

With the defeat of the Romanian army, Bucharest is now untenable. The Romanian king has already abandoned the city. Now it falls to the enemy, with Germany’s Mackensen installing himself in the royal palace.

image source:

German mounted troops in Bucharest (Wikipedia)

3/12/1916 Romania’s counter-offensive fails

Romania is engaged in a desperate battle for national survival in the face of invading German, Bulgarian and Austro-Hungarian armies. Mackensen leads a mainly Bulgarian force from the south while Falkenhayn commands an invasion force advancing from Transylvania in the west.

The Romanians have concentrated their forces and launched counter-attack on Mackensen’s force, hoping to smash his army before Falkenhayn can come to his aid. In some respects they are trying to emulate the 1914 German victories at Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes, where widely separated Russian armies were defeated in detail.

The battle started well for the Romanians. Mackensen was pushed back and many prisoners taken. But Mackensen and Falkenhayn are not incompetents like Samsonov and Rennenkampf, the unfortunate Russians defeated in 1914. Mackensen quickly recovers from the initial shock and mounts a spirited defence, aided by a contingent of Turkish reinforcements. Falkenhayn meanwhile launches attacks all along his front to aid his colleague.

The Romanian counter-offensive collapses. Flung back in all sectors, the Romanians now retreat to avoid encirclement. The gates of Bucharest lie open for the enemy.

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map (Wikipedia)

August von Mackensen (The First World War in 261 weeks)

1/12/1916 Romania’s desperate counter-attack

It is barely three months since Romania’s rash decision to enter the war. The Romanians are now engaged in a desperate battle for survival, with German, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian forces pushing into their country from the south and west. The Romanians hope for Russian assistance but help is not arriving quickly enough.

Knowing that if they remain on the defensive they will be overwhelmed by the superior forces against them, the Romanians decided to strike back. The two invading armies are still separated from each other, so the Romanians concentrate against the force invading from the south, a mainly Bulgarian army commanded by Germany’s Mackensen. The Romanians hope to destroy or at least push back this army before Falkenhayn’s men advancing form Transylvania can come to their aid. In this kind of bold Napoleonic stroke they are trying to emulate the German victory at Tannenberg in 1914, which saved East Prussia from Russian invasion.

Today the Romanians attack. The attack appears to be going well, with Mackensen’s men being pushed back and the Romanians taking many prisoners.

23/11/1916 Bucharest threatened, but Romania prepares to strike back

Romania’s unwise decision to join the Allies now sees its armies engaged in a desperate battle for national survival. German, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian troops have invaded the country, with Mackensen leading one force attacking along the coast while Falkenhayn pushes into Romania from the Carpathians. German and Austro-Hungarian forces have also pushed into Moldavia, but here they have been checked by Russian forces. However the Russians do not have enough men to spare for the defence of the rest of Romania. Allied diversionary attacks in Macedonia have also done little to help the Romanians.

Now the fighting enters a new phase. Mackensen moves some of his men to the west, where they make a surprise crossing of the Danube at Sistova. Mackensen’s plan is for this Danube Army to march on Bucharest and bring Romanian resistance to an end.

But the battle for Romania is not over yet. Romanian commanders note that Falkenhayn and Mackensen’s armies are still widely separated from each other. They plan a desperate counter-attack, hoping that if they commit their reserves against one of the enemy armies they might be able to destroy it and then turn on the other. Even if they are unable to achieve a Romanian Tannenberg, they may be able to buy time for Russian reinforcements to arrive. So the Romanians begin their preparations for a last desperate offensive against Mackensen’s Danube army.

25/10/1916 Romania: Mackensen storms Constanza

Romania’s dreams of easy victory have long been forgotten. Now it is being overrun by its enemies. Its allies are unable or unwilling to send forces to its aid. In Britain there is some disquiet at Romania’s fate and talk of launching some kind of offensive in the Balkans to assist it, British leaders realise that Romania will most likely be completely in enemy hands before any kind of relief attempt can be effected.

Falkenhayn is commanding a German and Austro-Hungarian battlegroup that is crossing the Carpathians into Romania from Transylvania. Mackensen meanwhile leads a mainly Bulgarian force pushing along the coast. Today Mackensen’s men storm the port of Constanza. This victory means that no help will come to the Romanians by sea. Their only hope is that the Russians will be able to send an army to save them.