“Psalm and blare sound together” – HAW Commander supports Pápa commemoration ceremony
16/1/2012- PÁPA, Hungary - The Pápa Hussar Association and Jókai Mór Cultural Centre organized a joint commemoration on the occasion of the 69th anniversary of the tragic break through by Don River on Sunday, 15 January. Dr. Tamás Áldozó, Mayor of Pápa and several members of the Local Government of Pápa also attended the ceremony.
The ceremony started with the recitiation of poetry by Mr. László Kincses, accompanied on the guitar by Mr. László Orgona. Chaplain Pál Apostol, Calvinistic priest, addressed the crowd and quoted from the 89th Psalm.
The participants of the memorial service presented wreaths at the local World War II Heroes’ Memorial. Col Keith Boone, Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) Commander, assisted Lt Col Zsolt Magasy, Pápa Air Base Commander, by laying a wreath on behalf of Hungarian Defence Forces Pápa Air Base.
On 12 January 1943, the Soviet Army launched its massive attack across the Don to break through and encircle the 2nd Hungarian Army.
The Soviet Army was numerically superior in ammunition, artilleries and tanks, and had nearly inexhaustible reserves as well. Their soldiers were well fed and clad in fur hats and gloves, unlike the soldiers of the Hungarian 2nd Army, whose winter clothing was not issued until just before the Soviet attack, and only allotted one warm but inadequate meal per day. The Hungarian soldiers, suffering from cold and hunger, impatiently awaited replacements.
Despite losing 70-80 percent of their effective force, the units of the 2nd Hungarian Army displayed a splendid sense of duty, courage and heroism by only withdrawing from the Don banks when the Soviet troops outflanked them. The army suffered terrible losses in the great battle of the Don from January l2-30, l943. According to the latest historical research, the numbers indicate 100,000 dead, and 60,000 prisoners annihilated in a period of less than three weeks. Only 40,000 returned home. No other nation suffered as much bloodshed during World War II in such a short period of time.
“It is an important experience for our unit (HAW) and me personally to be able to participate in national and local celebrations in Pápa, side by side with the Hungarian Defence Forces”, said Colonel Boone. “Increasing our awareness about the history of Hungary deepens the understanding and cooperation between the members of the HAW and our fellow citizens of Pápa.”
The tune of the last post sounded to mark the end of the commemoration, while participants lit candles in memory of the deceased soldiers.
Text by 1st Lt Miklós Pelsőci & Public Affairs Officer Annele Apajakari Mil of 3rd gr/HAW
Photos by Tamara Tóth/papa-ma.hu
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