Tudor Greceanu – a short biography

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The following biography of Tudor Greceanu is based on his book published in 2000 under the title: “Drumul celor puţini. Amintirile unui aviator” (The Road of the Few. Memoirs of a Fighter Pilot).  The edition published by Eminescu Publishing House was coordinated by the author’s sister, Martha Greceanu.

Tudor Greceanu was born in Bucharest, on 13 May 1917; his father, Scarlat, was a railroad engineer and his mother, Alexandrina, a homemaker. Tudor Greceanu was a descendant, through his father, of an old aristocratic family in Moldova. In maternal line he was the great-grandson of Ion Ghica – one of the leaders of the Revolution of 1848 and also a writer, economist, politician and elite diplomat.
In 1919 the family moves to Topliceni, a village in Râmnicu Sărat county, where Tudor attends primary school; starting with 1928 he is enrolled in the Boarding School in Iași.

Fighter pilot training

Between 1937 and 1939 he attends the aviation school; he graduates as Second Lieutenant and on his demand is assigned to the army garrison in Iași. Encouraged by his first flight instructor, Captain Marin Ghica, himself a fighter pilot, he insists on being transferred to the Pilot Training School in Buzău where he would be trained as a fighter pilot. At first, his training squadron uses PZL 11B and 11F.

On November 1, 1940 he is assigned to the 52 Fighter Squadron (Group 5), where he flies the fighter aircraft Heinkel 112.

On March 1, 1941 he is transferred to the newly established 56 Fighter Squadron (Group 7). On March 6, 1941 he flies a Messerschmidt 109 F for the first time, an event that he describes as “a first contact with a good friend that would be with me in good times and bad times throughout the war”[1].

The War

Starting on June 22, 1941, Romania is in war with the USSR.

Here is how Tudor Greceanu concisely describes this period:

“Despite intensive preparations, the Romanian army was, numerically and in terms of technical equipment, at a much lower level than its Eastern neighbour. We had 2000 planes, and this number included medical and passenger aircraft. Nevertheless, we fought with and inflicted heavy losses upon the world’s largest air forces at that time: Russian, American, German and British air forces. Few of our pilots were professionally trained to fly. Most of them were civilians who had acquired flight practice as a sport. These pilots fought at Odessa, broke out of the encirclement in Stalingrad and at Don River bend and were awarded the Iron Cross.”

After August 23, 1944, Tudor Greceanu takes part in the fights on the Western Front. On October 1, 1944, he was promoted to the rank of captain. At the beginning of 1945, together with the Fighter Group 9, led by Constantin (Bâzu) Cantacuzino, he fights in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

After the War

For his conduct during war, Greceanu receives a “reward”, as he bitterly calls it. On April 1949 he is arrested for having allegedly participated in a “subversive” organization led by Ion Vulcănescu (Romanian mathematician, teaching assistant with Politehnica University in Bucharest). He is first sentenced to 10 years in prison, and after the appeal the sentence is reduced to 8 years in several communist prisons (Aiud, Canal, Cavnic mines).

On December 20, 1952, together with two other political prisoners (Valeriu Șirianu and Gheorghe Spulbatu), Tudor Greceanu attempts to escape from Aiud prison, in order to join the anticommunist armed resistance groups that were active in the mountains. The attempt fails and all three are caught. His two comrades are shot and he is sentenced to death.  The sentence will be after a while commuted to forced labour for life.

After the amnesty for political prisoners in 1964, Tudor Greceanu earned his living doing various jobs in documentation institutes and factories. He retired from the School of Architecture, where he had a research and teaching position with the Materials Resistance Chair.

He is the author of several inventions that were patented (time measuring device, radio emitter, fluid dynamics device for propulsion, hydraulic clamping plate for lathe, cutting and piercing machines).

As a result of relentless demands addressed to Romanian officials, he succeeded to have his legal rights as a war veteran and former political prisoner recognized.

He died in December 1994, after a long suffering.

 


[1] Tudor Greceanu: The Road of the Few. Memoirs of a Fighter Pilot

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