Defence of the Lower Danube region by the Szívó-Group

In the surprise attack of the Romanians, troops in the Lower-Danube area were hurriedly raised against the Romanian Cserna group, which was threatening Banat region. These troops were essentially armed irregular units: 3 miners’ battalions, 1 auxiliary battalion and 32 gendarme crews, and some cavalry, as well as four artillery batteries. Their job was to slow down the break-in. The town of Orsova, a few kilometres from the border, changed hands several times, but the outnumbered Romanians did not make it further.

On September 17, 1916, Colonel Sándor Szívó von Bunya, the former commander of the 10th Cavalry Brigade arrived in Orsova. At that time, the Szívó Group (officially known as the 145th Insurgent Infantry Brigade) was strengthened with regular units. Its staff was composed of the Bosnian battalions 3/V and 1/VI, the 28/I. Honvéd Battalion, the 48/VI and 69/V K.u.K. Battalions, and the 19th Feldjäger Battalion. They were complemented by about a squadron of cavalry and 6 artillery batteries (4-4 guns each). The group was supported by technical and train units. By number and composition, the group’s strength was roughly that of a regular brigade. It was outnumbered at least twice by the enemy force.

A detailed description of the fights would be an exciting story, but here it is only possible to describe the results. The Cserna Group, attacked by Colonel Szívó, was forced to retreat after allied successes on the Transylvanian front, especially the breakthrough in the Strait of Vulcan (23 October). In November, amid the permanent attacks of the Austro-Hungarian units, the Romanian group, which had been already attacked also from the north, withdrew first to the river Zsil and then to Olt. As there was neither a bridge nor sufficient technical means for the crossing on the Olt river, on 6 December the Romanian commander Colonel Dimitrade decided to surrender. The number of Romanian PoWs exceeded 14,000, more than four times the number of The Szívó Brigade.

The group’s badge commemorates this operation. Below the Romanian field cap in the middle you can see the number of enemies captured. Down the route reads: From Orsova to the Olt (Alt in German). The contemporary post card shows the Kasan Narrows of the Lower Danube that starts few miles to the east from Orsova.

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