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General
 
                                              General Mociulschi's bayonet (WW1)                                              
 
Leonard Mociulschi
 

 

 

Descendant of a landed gentry family, Leonard Mociulschi was the last commanding officer of the Romanian Mountain Corps at the end of the World War II. He was born on the 27th of March 1889 and joined as cadet the Officers Infantry School in Bucharest (1910). He graduated two years later and participated for the first time in a combat mission, as second lieutenant, in the Second Balkan War (1913). At the beginning of the World War I, Leonard Mociulschi was assigned to the 10th company of the 29th Infantry Regiment. His bravery during the fights for liberating the Romanian lands had reflected his commitment for strength and honor inherited from his noble ancestors. Due to his brave behavior in battles he was awarded by the Romanian and French Armies. He was highly appreciated by all his commanders, including the commander-in-chief of the Romanian Mountain Corps, the Prince Carol of Romania (the nephew of the Queen Victoria) who valued him as an outstanding and brave warrior. At the beginning of the World War II, Leonard Mociulschi was already commissioned colonel and assigned deputy commander of the 1st Mixed Mountain Brigade. In 1940, the Kingdom of Romania adhered to the Tripartite pact following the aim to liberate the Romanian provinces annexed by the U.S.S.R. as a consequence of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact.
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Major Mociulschi amongst his NCOs
The Maj. L.Mociulschi amongst his comrades, during a trainig exercise (1923)
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The Romanian troops handled to break through the fortified Stalin Line in 1941, joining the Axis forces in the framework of the Barbarossa operation. The colonel Leonard Mociulschi was personally heading up the forcing of the Nistru River despite the Soviets’ intense fire. In the giant battle from Malaya Belozherka only 3 elite divisions of the Romanian Mountain Corps faced for life and death 18 Soviet infantry divisions, with AFVs and air support. The colonel Leonard Mociulschi had been demonstrating bravery and skills of an outstanding warrior since the beginning of the war. For this combat he was awarded with the Romanian Order of "Michael the Brave", 3rd class, the highest Romanian military award.  The colonel Mociulschi said the following words in front of his troops, on October, 11th: "Soldiers of the 1st Mixed Brigade! /.../ under the heavy fire of the enemy aviation, being attacked by superior forces and tanks, you have resisted with bravery under the Soviet bombs. The often attacks of the enemy were blocked by your strength and cold blood... In front of the graves that have just opened, there are the brave warriors of the 21st Mountain Battalion killed in action during 11 days and nights of the bloody fight. I pray for all of them...". After the Mountain Corps had left behind the Nistru River, the Romanian Army contributed to the Axis military effort in Crimea. In 1942, Leonard Mociulschi was assigned deputy commander of the 4th Mountain Division and promoted to the rank of brigadier general. This unit had a principal role in the successfull Axis offensive in Sevastopol area. He was awarded at this time with the German Cross in Gold.
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Mountain troops ready for combat
The renowed patrol from the 10th Mountain Batallion (of the Lt.Gen.Dumitrache)
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Leonard Mociulschi was soon in charge of the 3rd Mountain Division, replacing the defeated general Falfanescu in the battles for the Caucasus. Mociulschi led this large unit to many victories on the Eastern Front, as well on the Romanian Western Front later. His division was in Kuban, near Krasnodar at that time. Its strategic mission was to defend the communication line between Kramskaia and Krasnodar. Under the command of the valiant general all his units defended their positions with obstinacy. The general Mociulschi was found many times in the first line, being very popular amongst his soldiers. He was also concerned about their moral during the war. For instance, he was not fighting only on the battlefileds, he fought also with the Romanian authorities to set up a cinema for the soldiers. When his proposal was refused he did it by his own achievement. He was concerned about the civilian population, too. He had contributed to the reconstruction of the villages damaged by war and even builded a church in the former U.S.S.R. Together with the brave lieutenant-general Ioan Dumitrache, he provided large quantities of food in Simferopol. The Moscow Radio broadcasted appreciations for the general Mociulschi's concern and support offered to the Russian civilians during the war. After the Soviets' advance into Crimea, in April 1944, the heroic resistance both of the 2nd and the 3rd Romanian mountain divisions in front of the powerful Red Army allowed the Axis forces to evacuate the ultimate apocalyptic battlefield.
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Fight scene from the battle for Sevastopol
Mountain troops using a machine gun (Z.B. 07, 92 mm) on the Eastern Front
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The casualties of the Romanian Army on the Eastern Front were estimated at 624.740 military (71.585 KIA, 243.622 wounded and 309.533 disappeared). On the 23rd of August 1944, the Pro-Axis leader, Marshal Ion Antonescu, was arrested and the young Romanian King Michael I announced the armistice with the Allies. The Romanian participation on the Western Front was the totality of the national armed forces (50 divisions, 1.646 planes, 71 war ships). According to the Sunday Times of January 7th, 1945, Romania was the fourth country as number of military offered to the Allied coalition. In the autumn of 1944, the general Mociulschi was in command of the Crisuri Group, in Transylvania. In few days of heavy fighting he delayed long enough the Hungarian offensive and so the reinforcements could arrive in time. The 3rd Mountain Division played also a key role in the battle for the liberation of the Romanian City of Oradea, as well as the Town of Beius, facing the superior enemies' troops, aviation and tanks (including the famous Panzer and Tiger) in cooperation with the Russian allies. The general Mociulschi remembers in his war memoirs, The Charge of the Mountain Troops (Editura Militara Publishing, Bucharest, 1967), that "the recall of the fight with so many tanks is still fresh in my memory. The mountain troops never had any occasion to fight amongst so many tanks before. The ground was shaking... The sky was a huge fire... The sounds of the engines made an infernal noise... It was like a fire hurricane... Shells exploded all around... The hit tanks had exploded and began to burn fiercely in blazes. The enemy resisted forcefully, counter-attacking with tanks and infantry, throwing a heavy concentrations of artillery fire against the hundred of Soviets tanks. We had begun to take a heavy fire from the German anti-tank guns, too. The enemy used the <Armored Fist> (Panzerfaust) in close range against our tanks, being hidden in circular holes in the ground. Single shot, manually reloaded weapons, the antitank grenade launcher destroyed many Soviet armored vehicles. The head of the grenade contained enough high explosive to penetrate even the thickest tank armor. The Soviet tanks made also considerable efforts to avoid the anti-tank fields of mines. These movements slowed down their advance. A German counter-attack followed very quickly. The cadence of the fight had been severely increasing for few hours. We tried to move forward with our command vehicle. An anti tank mine had detonated one moment near by our position and damaged the ACV. The Soviet and German tanks were fighting each-other in a deadly noise while not far from the place where our engine has stopped I heard another loud explosion. I saw a Tiger tank halted in blazes. A Red Army tank from behind was within reach of the Tiger when a shell had hit its own cab and exploded in the body of the Soviet vehicle, stunning the crew. Because of the destroyed tanks there was a giant smoke which could be seen for kilometers... ".
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The mountain troops at war
The brave mountain troops of the 3rd Mt. Div. during a charge, in a village
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On the Western Europe, the paratroopers of the Polish general Sosabowski were succeeding to reach the German positions at the Nijmegen Bridge while on the Eastern Europe, "the Romanian mountain troops launched a long fight way, ending next to Prague", according to the war memoirs of the general Mociulschi. Another excerpt from the war memoirs of the general Mociulschi reflects the dramatic situation on the battlefields: "The deputy commander of the division, the colonel Constantinescu, urged that all the units should focus on a new line of attack: Gurbediu - South Sititilec Forest - Osand. But any communications were jammed or intercepted by the enemy, so I gave him permission to go by a tank to accomplish this difficult mission. Fatefully, the enemy artillery fire concentrated on the surrounding area. The bombs had exploded so intensely I could feel the destructive shock wave even from my position. By a miracle, his armored vehicle escaped in one piece. Few enemy heavy tanks had begun to pursue our unit, firing while moving with the cannons and the machine guns. A channel full of water (approximately 4 m length and 1, 50 m depth) blocked-up their advance. Our mountain troops courageously left their damaged vehicle and crossed the water stepping on a floating death horse. Passing all the obstacles, the colonel Constantinescu and the captain Lupescu had reached the already dispersed units from the first line and begun to reposition them in order. By this measures and the personal example of such commanders, the mountain troops had been placed promptly on the new locations ready for action". The brave warriors of the 3rd Mountain Division were engaged in the battles from the Bukk Mountains, in Hungary; after their opponents were push back, they courageously scaled over the hills of Lucenec, in Slovakia this time, forcing the Axis units to back down. In February, in Javorina Mountains, Mociulschi and his division successfully faced the German mountain troops from the 8th Division. He was awarded for his bravery in front of the enemy with the Romanian Order of "Michael the Brave" with swords, 3rd class. Only few Romanian generals were awarded with this model of the year 1945 (amongst them being the famous Ioan Dumitrache, a brave friend and a fight comrade of Leonard Mociulschi). On the 8th of April 1945, the lieutenant general Leonard Mociulschi was assigned commanding officer of the Romanian Mountain Corps until the end of the World War II.
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The horse and the mountain troop
The horse was on of the best friends of the mountain troops
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In the Communist epoch, after the war, Leonard Mociulschi was retired. The last moments of the democracy were lost already. In 1948 he was arrested by the new regime of the Popular Republic of Romania, without any prosecution. Leonard Mociulschi, one of the most brilliant military tacticians of the World War II, spent more than 7 years in the awful prisons of Jihlava and Aiud until he was released, in 1955. Homeless and living in misery, he wrote in the coming years his war memoirs, The Charge of the Mountain Troops.  These history pages were later published, during the first decade of rule by the President Nicolae Ceusescu. There was a rumor that Charles de Gaulle, the President of France, during his official visit in Bucharest in May 1966, asked about the Romanian general awarded once with "Croix de Guerre". We certainly know that Mociulschi was rehabilitated that time and even awarded with the Order of "August 23rd", in a period dominated by a pro-Western orientation. Leonard Mociulschi died in Brasov, on the 15th of April 1979, close to the mountains he so much loved. At his death he received military funeral honors. He was incinerated and his ashes were scattered by the mountain troops of the 21st Mountain Battalion over the highest peaks of the Carpathian Mountains: Moldoveanu (2.544m), Omu (2.507m) and Postavarul (1.801m).  Today, the personality of the general Mociulschi knows the full acknowledgment for his outstanding merits. Since 2007, the 21st Mountain Infantry Battalion has received the honor name "General Leonard Mociulschi" in the presence of the former Romanian head of state during the Second World War. HM King Michael granted thrice the general Mociulschi the highest Romanian military award, the Order of "Michael the Brave", for valor and bravery. There are also several streets in Romania bearing Mociulschi's name and monuments to honor the memory of this noble warrior of the First and Second World War, one of the most dignified ancestors of the Romanian Mociulschi Family.
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General Mociulschi street (city of Brasov)
 

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Commemorative website, devoted to the World War II personality of the Lieutenant General Leonard Mociulschi

* On January, 30th, it has been granted the Trophy "General Leonard Mociulschi" to the 22nd Mountain Battalion "Ciresoaia" of the Romanian Army. *

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