King Ferdinand I and Queen Marie of Romania awarding decorations to Romanian soldiers (Photo © IWM Q 77084)

100 Years Ago Today: Romania enters First World War

Posted on on 27 August 2016
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Romanian troops attacked Transylvania on August 27th 1916, opening a new front of the Great War in the Balkans.

Romania joined Britain, France and Russia in the fight against the Central Powers, hoping to seize the disputed region of Transylvania, with its significant Romanian population, from Austria-Hungary. 

The Kingdom of Romania was encouraged by offers of support from the Allies, and the success of Russia's Brusilov Offensive on the Eastern Front. 

However its army was poorly-equipped and trained, and sandwiched between the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the west and the Central Powers' ally, Bulgaria, in the south.

The counter-offensives against Romania were led by two prominent German commanders: Erich von Falkenhayn, newly-transferred to the Balkans after his demotion as Chief of the General Staff, and August von Mackensen, whose Gorlice-Tarnów offensive forced a major Russian retreat in Poland in 1915.

Bucharest falls

Romanian troops were pushed out of Transylvania in October 1916, and the capital, Bucharest, fell to the Central Powers in December. The government retreated to Moldova.

British agents sabotaged the country's valuable oil installations to stop them being used by the German-led armies.

As the fighting dragged on into 1917, Romania was further isolated by the events of the Russian Revolution. 

A peace treaty was signed with the Central Powers in May 1918, only to be repudiated months later as Romania again entered the war hours before the November 11th Armistice.

It gained control of Transylania, the starting point for its original assault, under the Paris peace treaties of 1919.

The war divided loyalties in Transylvania, where thousands of ethnic Romanians served in the Austro-Hungarian Army.

Sources: Wikiepdia/various

Images courtesy of Imperial War Museums © IWM (Q 77084)

Posted by: CN Editorial Team