The Romanian Artillery in 1917



In winter 1916-17 the Romanian Army was reorganized by a French Military Mission, composed by 1150 French officers and men commanded by gén. de division Henri Berthelot. His chief of Staff was colonel Petin. Gen. Berthelot was appointed “Adiviser attached to Rumanian High Command for the direction and the development of military operations”. His mission begun at the beginning of December 1916, when he was integrated into the Romanian Army general inspector’s staff. On 12 March 1918 the French Military Mission was expelled from Romania by Germans.


The Mission introduced radical changes into the structure of the Romanian Army. The number of the infantry divisions was reduced from 23 to 15. The artillery was provided by modern French quick firing guns and heavy guns and howitzers coming from France and Great Britain. Also a little number of Russian guns was utilised. Everything had to come or via Murmansk or Arkhangelsk, through the White Sea, a way that was useless in winter because of the ice, or via Vladivostok, in Siberia. But the major problem was the little cooperation of the Russian authorities, that greatly delayed the arrive of weapons and equipments.

Col. Charles-Ernest Vouillemin was charged to the mission of reorganizing Romanian Field Artillery, while Leit-col. Leon Steghens was assigned to the heavy artillery. Col. Augustin Ungerer (Engineer Corps) had to train Romanian in trench warfare. French artillery officers were attached to the Romanian Armies : col. Pierre Henri Lafont to the 1st Army, and col. Paul-Joseph Marie to the second Army.

As for artillery the first aim of French Mission was the standardization of guns. The calibres adopted were:

-      field artillery : 75mm

-      mountain artillery : 75mm

-      light field howitzers : 105mm, 114mm

-      heavy field howitzers : 155mm and 152mm

-      heavy guns : 120mm and 155mm

-      trench artillery : 58mm mortars

There was a great need of heavy artillery. British Minister Loyd George proposed to send in Romania twenty-five 152mm howitzers, but only eight of them arrived in Moldavia in September 1917, and most of them had been sabotaged by Bolsheviks. Waiting for them, Great Britain offered thirty-two 127mm old howitzers.


In mid June 1917 the four Infantry Divisions of 1st Romanian Army had :

- 9 Field batteries with 75mm Krupp guns

- 2 batteries with 105mm howitzers

- 1 battery with 53mm light guns

- 1 battery with 58mm French mortars;

while the six Infantry Divisions of 2nd Army had :

- 9 Field batteries with 75mm Krupp guns

- 1 battery with 105mm howitzers

- 1 battery with 120mm howitzers

- 1 battery with 53mm light guns

- 1 battery with 58mm French mortars.

The remaining five Infantry Division had to be equipped with French Field guns (75mm Puteax), but only 63 guns had left France and had reached Romania (some of them without their ammunition wagons) while another 35 guns were still in Russia. The remaining guns were still in France. As for heavy guns in 1917 the Romanian Army received only twelve 155mm C Mle. 1917 Schneider and fourteen 155mm C Mle. 1915 Saint-Chamond. Also a little number of Italian QF mountain guns (12 “cannoni 65 A montagna”) was delivered in 1917 and employed as infantry support guns.


In 1917 Romanian Army had:

-     114 field artillery batteries

-     14 mountain artillery batteries

-     80 field howitzers batteries

-     2 heavy howitzers batteries

-     47 heavy guns batteries

-     15 trench mortars batteries.

On 1 September 1917 the Romanian anti aircraft artillery had 76 – 57mm guns, 70 – 75mm guns, 23 machine guns and 12 searchlights. During WW1 the Romanian anti-aircraft artillery shot down 11 planes and 1 Zeppelin.





gen. Henri Berthelot

chef of French Military Mission in Romania (22.09.1917-17.05.1918)



col. Petin with some members

of French Military Mission in Romanian