Operational History of the Hungarian Armoured Troops in World War II

In 1938, concurrently with German territorial demands, Hungary forwarded her claims for the return of her lost territories.

After the Munich Agreement, the Czechoslovakian and Hungarian governments carried out unsuccessful negotiations concerning the Hungary’s territorial requests. The forces of both countries were placed on a state of alert.

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The seven tankette companies of the Hungarian Army were formed and equipped with crews and material ready for combat, should the need have arisen. The companies created their own unit insignia and waited for deployment.
Following the Vienna Arbitrage, Hungarian troops peacefully occupied Upper-Hungary from 5 to 10 of November 1938. Four infantry corps (former mixed brigades), I, II, VI, VII, took part in this mission with their tankette and cavalry companies, and bicycle battalions. The armoured trains also were deployed as vanguard units of the advancing troops.
This was the first realistic field manoeuvre for the Army as a whole and for the armoured troops. It also provided a good opportunity to recognise problems, which were not experienced during training in peacetime.

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1939 Trans-Carpathian Ukraine

After the first Vienna Arbitrage the situation between Hungary and Czechoslovakia nevertheless remained unresolved, due to further Hungarian demands. Both sides carried out small-size actions on each other’s territories.
The Hungarians used Rongyos Gárda (Hungarian clandestine operational unit) to carry out sabotage missions, having previously informed the Polish Chief of General Staff. On March 6, 1939 a border incident occurred when Czechoslovakian forces advanced into Hungarian territory at Francsika (Francikovo), supported by three Tatra OA vz. 30 armoured cars. The counter attacking Hungarian forces confiscated one of the armoured car, when it went into a ditch and was unable to extricate itself.
After the total occupation of the Czech state by Germany and the establishment of a Slovakian puppet state, Hungarian forces began to occupy the disputed territory on 14 March.  The 2nd Motorised Rifle and the 2nd Cavalry Brigades’ cavalry, bicycle and motorised infantry battalions, tankette companies and troops of the VI and VII Corps advanced and reached the Polish border on 17 March.

 

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The reconnaissance and armoured cavalry battalions were lack of armoured cars and light tanks that time.  In January 1939, the 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion had one tankett company with 18 x 35. M FIAT Ansaldo tankettes, the light tank company had five FIAT 3000 light tank and the armoured car company had one Corssley, two Vickers armoured cars plus four training vehicles. The 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion was temporarily reinforced with two previously captured ex-Czech armoured cars.  The 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th Bicycle Battalions had one-one tankett platoon each with six 35. M FIAT Ansaldo tankettes. The 101st Armoured Train also involved in the operation.
The advance was not peaceful.  The tankette platoon of the 12th Bicycle Battalion was commanded by 1st Lieutenant Tamás Fráter. He led the advance of his battalion to take a small village, Őrhegyalja. He surprised the defenders, and put out of action a Slovak machine gun with the twin machine guns of his 35. M FIAT Ansaldos.
The tankette companies also involved in the fighting on 17. and 23. of March.  The first clash between the Hungarian and former Czechoslovakian forces occurred on the road between Francsika (Francikovo) and Nagyszöllős (Novy Sel) at 07.45 hours on 15 March.
The 24th Hungarian Frontier Guard Battalion was deployed in this area and its patrols reported advancing Czechoslovakian tanks on the road.
Two LT vz. 35 belonged to the Skoda Factory, manned by Skoda mechanics arrived to Slovakia from Soviet Union via Romania. The tanks were on test trial in Soviet Union. The tanks were confiscated and incorporated to the temporary Slovakian armoured company. The two   Lt wz.35 were deployed with volunteered civilian drivers against the advancing Hungarian troops on the morning of 15 of March.

 

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The Hungarian Frontier Guard Battalion had an anti-tank platoon with two 36. M 37mm anti-tank guns towed by horses. When received the signal, the platoon commander , Lieutenant Elemér Czékus confiscated a civilian taxi cab and transported one anti-tank gun and its crew to the front line. The crew had to man handle the anti-tank gun for 1.5 kilometres to the firing position on the road. The advancing Czechoslovakian tanks did not see the hidden Hungarian gun and were ambushed. The leading Lt wz.35 tank was hit several times and burned out totally, the civilian driver Antonin Seidler being killed and the rest of the crew captured. This was the first clash between a Hungarian anti-tank gun and an enemy armoured vehicle during the war. Another Lt. wz.35 tank was captured intact by the Hungarian troops on 24 of March.
As the motorised rifle brigades were still being organised, only a few of their units were deployed in this operation. The Hungarian troops continued their advance into Slovakian territory in order to secure a vital railroad line.
Slovakian Letov S.328 aircrafts attacked the advancing column of the 2nd Motorised Artillery Battalion on the road between Ladomér (Ladomer) and Szobránc (Sobrance) on 24 March. One of the Hansa Lloyd half-tracked artillery tractors was set on fire by machine gun fire from the Letovs.
On the same day the Slovak forces supported by five armoured cars, attacked at Alsóhalas. The village was defended by the Rifle Company of the 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion reinforced by the anti-tank platoon of the 14th Bicycle Battalion.  The Hungarian anti-tank gunners knocked out three Slovak armoured car and the attack collapsed. 1st Lieutenant Tibor Kárpáthy, commander of the Tankette Company of the 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion brought his Ansaldo tankettes to improve the defence positions and take over the command keeping the troops morale high.

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