| Prokofiy Logvinovich Romanenko|
Прокофий Логвинович Романенко
Official portrait of P. L. Romanenko.
|Allegiance:|| Russian Empire (to 1918)|
Soviet Union (to 1939)
|Service/branch:|| Imperial Russian Army|
|Years of service:||1917 - 1939|
|Battles/wars:|| First World War (1917-1918)|
Russian Civil War (1918-1920)
Spanish Civil War (1937-1938)
Invasion of Czechoslovakia (1938-1939)
|Commands:|| 11th Mechanised Brigade|
8th Mechanised Corps
|Awards:|| Order of Lenin|
Order of the Red Banner (2)
Czechoslovak War Cross 1938-1939
|Born:|| February 2, 1897|
Romanenki, Sumy, Russian Empire
Prokofiy Logvinovich Romanenko (Russian: Прокофий Логвинович Романенко, born February 2, 1897) was a Soviet general and was the commander of the 8th Mechanised Corps, which participated on the side of Czechoslovakia in their war against Germany and Hungary between October and March 1939 until he was captured on March 15, 1939.
Early life and military career
Romanenko was born on February 2, 1897 on the Romanenki farm in the Sumy district of the Russian Empire. He attended the Cadets Graduate School in 1917 while participating in the First World War. In 1918 he joined the Red Army, and commanded a regiment during the Russian Civil War. In 1920 he became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
After the Civil War Romanenko attended the Nachsostava Training Courses in 1925, the Superior Officers Training Course in 1930 and the Frunze Military Academy in 1933. In 1934 he was given the command of a mechanized Cavalry Regiment.
In 1937, Romanenko volunteered to fight for the Republicans against right-wing nationalists of General Francisco Franco and their Italian Fascist and Nazi German allies in the Spanish Civil War. In 1938, he returned to Moscow, being awarded the top Soviet decorations Order of Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner in recognition of his service in Spain.
On February 19, 1938 he was promoted to the rank of Komdiv. Later that year he was given the command of the 11th Mechanised Brigade, and later a tank brigade.
Invasion of Czechoslovakia
- Main article: Invasion of Czechoslovakia (1938-1939)
The Soviet Union had already on September 30 supported the Czech refusal to abide the agreements made in Munich, and promised to send military aid in case of a German attack. At 12:30 the next day, 7 hours after war had broken out, the Czech government led by President Edvard Beneš and Prime Minister Arm. Gen. Jan Syrový met at the Prague Castle to discuss the further political and military situation, now as war with Germany had broken out. Seeing that the French and British had abandoned them (as a response of the statement made by their prime minister earlier that morning), they urged their Soviet ally to intervene militarily.
At 14:00, Vyacheslav Molotov secretly proclaimed that he would at least send the promised 70,000 men and material through Romania as soon as they were mobilised and got a permission from the Romanian government to pass through their territory. Until then, he urged the Czechs to withstand the German attack and use the Soviet military aircraft already present in Czechoslovak territory.
STAVKA thus began to mobilize a corps which should be sent to Czechoslovakia. On October 2, 1938, Romanenko was promoted to the rank of Komkor and appointed the commander of the newly created 8th Mechanised Corps, with orders to support the Czechoslovak Army with resisting the Germans. The 8th Mechanised Corps at first consisted of only the 23. Tankovaya Briygada, the 15. and 218. Motorizovannaya Diviziya, but was reinforced by additional units during the following days. On October 4 of the following units:
- 7. Strelkovaya Diviziya
- 41. Strelkovaya Diviziya
- 96. Strelkovaya Diviziya
- 9. "Krymskaya" Kavaleriyskaya Diviziya
- 15. Motorizovannaya Diviziya
- 218. Motorizovannaya Diviziya
- 23. Tankovaya Briygada
- 26. Tankovaya Briygada
The corps amounted to 70,000 men, the land force was of the size that Voroshilov had promised to send in case of a conflict between Czechoslovakia. With them were 350 tanks, which was a mixture of various T-26 tanks supported by T-28 medium tanks, while the 750 artillery pieces consisted mostly of 76.2 mm regimental guns and 122 mm howitzers.
On October 5, five days after hostilities broke out, the corps was loaded on trains heading for Czechoslovakia. While the men and equipment were preparing for transport, Romanian Foreign Minister Petrescu-Comnen was called to Moscow on October 8 to discuss further the dialogue on the passage of Soviet troops through Romania of September 14 with Commissar for Foreign Affairs Molotov. The Czechs decision to fight had spawned a solidarity movement among Romanians in support of Czechoslovakia, but they would not themselves intervene on the behalf of ČSR. However, in the meetings, the passage was granted as long as did not stop on Romanian territory. Molotov agreed on the term of the Romanian Foreign Minister, and on October 9 the first trains with Soviet troops crossed the Soviet-Romanian border. On October 13 the Corps had been unloaded in Užhorod.
Romanenko ordered two of his infantry divisions, the 41. and 96. Strelkovaya Diviziya, to reinforce the Czechoslovak forces stationed along the Slovak-Hungarian frontier, while the main force of the 8th Mechanised Corps was loaded on trains owned by the Czechoslovak State Railways (in Czech Československé státní dráhy, ČSD). On October 17 they were unloaded in Banská Bystrica, and by October 24 they were deployed on the Brno front.