Operation Battle of Paulis

The 'Battle of Păuliș' was fought between Hungarian and Soviet-supported Romanian forces in the Arad county of western Romania within the content of the larger 'Campaign for Romania' (14/19 September 1944).

The battle took place after the coup d’etat of King Michael I had paved the way for the transfer of Romania’s allegiance from the Axis to the Allied powers. During the battle, the Romanians fought off heavy Hungarian attacks for four days and then, with the arrival of Soviet reinforcements, counterattacked and drove the Hungarians back to their original positions.

Advancing on the northern bank of the Mureș river in the direction Sâmbăteni and Miniș, at the same time as an enveloping manoeuvre by the Romanian forces' right flank, Hungarian forces in the shape of Ezredes Ferenc Koszorus’s 1st Armoured Division and Ezredes György Vukovár’s 6th Field Replacement Division made contact with the Romanian 'Păuliș' Detachment to the west of the village of Păuliș (Ópálos in Hungarian) on 14 September. Commanded by Colonel Alexandru Petrescu, the 'Păuliș' Detachment included three battalions of cadets from the Reserve Infantry Non-Commissioned Officer School of Radna, present-day Lipova (Lippa in Hungarian).

The first Hungarian assault, carried out with two infantry battalions supported by tanks, was repulsed by the cadets' 2nd and 6th Companies. Five more attacks were then made against the Romanian defenders, but by the fall of nightl the Romanian units still firmly held their positions. The Hungarians lost 18 tanks and three other armoured vehicles, all destroyed by the four anti-tank guns of the 'Păuliș' Detachment. On the next day, the Hungarians concentrated their attack against the 1/96th Regiment on Hill 471. After a strong artillery preparation, the Hungarian assault forced the Romanian troops to fall back on successive defence lines, and were brought to a halt in the Cladova valley only after they had taken the villages of Cuvin and Ghioroc. On the morning of 16 September, a surprise Romanian counterattack, without artillery preparation and carried out by the cadets' 5th Company, managed to destroy a large part of the Hungarian force which had broken through the defence perimeter in the course of the previous day.

The climax of battle was reached on 17 September, when the Hungarian command committed all available forces to the attack. After a 45-minute artillery preparation, the Hungarians managed to breach the Romanian lines to the south-east of Miniș, where they clashed with the cadets' 3rd Company on Hill 365. The attempt to overrun the Romanian unit failed.

On 19 September, reinforced by Soviet units of General Leytenant Ivan M. Managarov’s 53rd Army, including tanks and mechanised infantry, the entire 'Păuliș' Detachment attacked the Hungarian lines, and by the evening had recaptured their initial positions.