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French Farman two-seater planes on the Romanian front.
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French Farman two-seater planes on the Romanian front.

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Saturday, November 25, 1916

"The small unit of Romanian militia that responded to the initial cry of alarm on 23 November quickly retreated. The first serious Romanian counterattack was carried out early on 24 November by two battalions under the command of French colonel Ernest Mercier. 'After a semblance of resistance,' his Romanians panicked and fled. Mercier, left alone on the field, was seriously wounded. Despite these early encounters, the Romanian command failed to recognize the magnitude of the threat. A Romanian aerial reconnaissance flight on 25 November reported seeing a bridge but no troops on it or in the vicinity—this on a day when the greater part of the two infantry divisions, cavalry, and artillery passed over it. An operational order of MCG on the same day erroneously concluded, 'Weak enemy force has crossed the Danube.' Berthelot reflected the confusion existing at MCG: 'Some say only one regiment has crossed the river at Zimnicia. . . . Others are more pessimistic [saying] there are already three divisions north of the Danube.' Upset by the failure of air reconnaissance, he sacked the French officer heading the joint Romanian—French aerial operations."

Quotation Context

Four infantry divisions — two Bulgarian, one German, and one Turkish — and one cavalry division, nearly 100,000 men in total, crossed the Danube River from Bulgaria into Romania between November 22 and 26, 1916, putting them 130 kilometers southwest of the Romanian capital of Bucharest. The French provided military advice and material to Romania, and sent a French Military Mission led by General Henri Berthelot. MCG was Marele Cartier General, the Romanian High Command.


The Romanian Battlefront in World War I by Glenn E. Torrey, pp. 137–138, copyright © 2011 by the University Press of Kansas, publisher: University Press of Kansas, publication date: 2011


1916-11-25, 1916, November, Romania, air reconnaissance, Danube, Berthelot