Didn’t Romania used to be Rumania or Roumania to us? Well, it seems to be Romania now, and however you spell it, we have spent time fighting here.
Captain John Smith, he of Pocohantas fame, rather less famously at one stage may have ended up with other English mercenaries and volunteers fighting in Transylvania (no vampire jokes here please), though the historical facts are a little unclear. In the Crimean War, the Royal Navy blockaded the Danube, and a landing party attacked the small Romanian town of Sulina, drove out its Russian garrison and set light to it. The town not the garrison.
In the First World War, in a now almost entirely forgotten episode (see also Moldova) that deserves to be more widely known, the Royal Naval Air Service’s armoured cars were dispatched into Romania to help the Russians fight the army of the advancing German General Mackensen. There used to be a joke that RNAS stood for ‘Really Not A Sailor’. The armoured car unit didn’t operate as airman either. Also in the area were nurses of the Scottish Women’s Hospital and a unit of the British Red Cross Society.
Amid the chaos of fleeing refugees and appalling road conditions, the armoured car crews carried out their duties bravely and some of them were commended for their courage by the Russians. The fighting at Viziru ended in defeat for the Russian forces, but at least the RNAS armoured cars had performed well.