source : ‘romanian army of world war 2’ men at arms 246, Osprey publishing
B1 : fruntas, 13th infantry division; Odessa, 1941
This ‘fruntas’ is a section LMG gunner and wears the standard M1939 infantry uniform widely worn in 1941. The helmet is the dutch M23/27 pattern adopted by Romania in 1939 after extensive comparative testing. Pre-war issues had an embossed badge bearing the double ‘C’ monogram of king Carol, as here, but wartime examples were without. It was painted the greenish shade of khaki also adopted for Romanian army vehicles. At the outbreak of war it was not yet in universal service and khaki Adrian helmets were still common amongst the artillery, service and reserve troops. The other ranks’ tunic was a simple practical design which was further simplified later when shirt cuffs were adopted. This fruntas wears the cotton summer tunic, but in winter a woolen tunic of the same cut was worn. With exposure to the sun and repeated washing the summer tunic commonly bleached to a very pale shade whereas the woollen tunic and the woollen trousers worn in all seasons kept their colour well. Soldati, fruntasi, caporali and sergeant, all conscript ranks, had no collar patches, but all ranks above soldat wore their rank insignia on their shoulder straps. This fruntas wears a yellow cotton slip-on band edged in blue piping, the infantry colour. Such piping on the other ranks insignia was a peacetime practice and decreasingly common during the war, but was the only indication of their arm of service, Soldati of different arms could not be distinguished by insignia. A general order of 1939 stipulated that the army should adopt straight khaki trousers tucked into leather anklets, as shown here. A further order of april 1941 decreed a return to breeches and puttees, so both types of legging were to be seen in the 1941 campaign. However, by mid-1942 puttees were again universal.
The fruntas is wearing the equipment specified for an LMG gunner: pouches containing the anti-aircraft sight accessories on the belt and a magazine case and a holstered Steyr M1912 9mm automatic pistol slung over his shoulders. The gunner commonly stuffed extra magazines in his bread bag, while his no. 2 carried others and a spare barrel in a rucksack. The universal issue canvas bread bag was slug over the left shoulder with the standard dark green enamel mess tin fastened to its flap by web strap. The olive green canvas bag for the M1932 or M1939 gas mask was slung over the right shoulder. An enamel canteen covered in khaki felt was suspended by a clip from the waist belt over the left hip in front of the gas mask. Slung diagonally over his right shoulder is a rolled sheet which formed half of a two man tent, and could be tied with cord at the neck to form an improvised rain cape. A blanket was often rolled within it. The main weapon carried is the licence-manufactured ZB30 7.92mm LMG which was the standard section weapon throughout the war (and entered british service in modified form as the Bren gun). He also carries the ZB24 rifle bayonet on his right hip and the standard Inemann pattern entrenching tool on the left.
B2: locotenant, 10th infantry division, summer 1943
This officer is the commander of a platoon in the Kuban bridgehead. The ‘boneta’, very French in style, was adopted in july 1940 and was intended to replace the traditional ‘capela’ field cap. By regulation, officers bore rank devices in gold braid chevrons on the boneta front which were similar to those worn on the shoulder straps, but it was known for the shoulder insignia to be sewn onto the left front of the boneta, as here. Other ranks had a plain boneta of a coarser material. In april 1941 the restoration of the capela was ordered but it only supplanted the boneta in 1943. The weapon carried is the Romanian Orita M41 9mm SMG which entered service in 1943. The Romanians entered the war without SMG and the Orita was the local solution. It was a comparatively well-made and advanced weapon of its type, and by 1944 was the most common SMG in the army. The pistol is the officer’s standard issue Beretta M1934 9mm automatic.
B3: locotenant colonel, 7th mountain rifle battalion, 1942
The mountain rifles wore khaki chasseur alpin-style berets. Officially the officer’s beret bore an oval rifle green patch bearing an embroidered hunting horn like the rifle regiments but within additional ‘pine needle cluster’ which formed the letters VM (‘vanatori de munte’ – mountain rifles). Generals added a central ‘starburst’ badge to the beret, while junior NCOs and soldati wore plain berets. This locotenant colonel wears the M1941 officer’s tunic with the M1920 ski specialist badge on his sleeve. Above it is the german Crimea shield; romanian troops were eligible for both this and the Kuban shield. Below it is a gold lace wound chevron. Also seen occasionally was the german mountain troops’ edelweiss badge, probably worn by officers of units subordinated to the german 49th mountain corps in the Caucasus. On his left chest he wears the order of Mihai Viteazul 3rd class, an ‘iron cross’ and the 7th battalion badge. Most units had discarded such badges in 1940 as they contained the discredited king Carol’s monogram. The plus-four style trousers, puttees, white ankle socks and mountain boots were prescribed for all ranks, but officers often wore standard officer’s boots. The pistol is the Beretta M1934.