Karl Freiherr von Ungár

Karl Ungár was born on the 30th of Janauary 1892 in Budapest. He graduated from the Infantry Cadet School in Budapest on the 18th of August 1911 from which he was assigned to the Komárom based Infanterieregiment Schikofsky Nr. 83 as a Fähnrich. Commissioned as a Leutnant on the 1st of May 1913,[i] he entered World War I in this rank with his regiment as part of the 33rd Infantry Division, V Corps in General der Kavallerie Viktor Dankl’s 1st Army.

During the advance of the V Corps south of the River Vistula during the first days of October 1914, Infantry Regiment 83 moved against the village of Borki, 20 kilometres southwest of the mouth of the River Wisloka and there received from the brigade commander on the 3rd of October the written order to deploy the regimental pioneer platoon to the Wisloka to prepare wood for a bridge to be built by a pioneer company the following day.[ii]

At around 15:00 hours Leutnant Ungár, the commander of the 68 strong regimental pioneer platoon ascertained from the locals that approximately 3 kilometres south of the Wisloka’s junction with the Vistula on the road leading east from the village of Ujscie, a sturdy wooden bridge was available. On the map only a ferry was marked at this location and consequently Ungár decided rather than carry out his original task, he would secure the bridge. On reaching the bank of the river, his platoon was met by concerted rifle fire but he immediately deployed the platoon in a bayonet assault on the bridge. By 16:00 hours he had cleared the bridge of enemy riflemen and secured the eastern bank. The assault had lasted only twenty minutes.

Some twenty kilometres distant from the nearest friendy forces, Ungár's platoon defended the newly won bridgehead until reinforced the following morning by an infantry battalion. That same morning Austro-Hungarian troops were able to utilize the 130 metre long bridge and continue their advance.

Promoted to Oberleutnant on the 1st of March 1915, he was already the holder of the Order of the Iron Crown 3rd Class with War Decoration, the Military Merit Cross 3rd Class with War Decoration and the Bronze Military Merit Medal. At the end of March 1915 his regiment was holding positions along the crest of the Beskids Mountains between Bukowe Berdo (height 1238) and height 1313 with orders to maintain contact with the flanking brigade units at all costs. The Regimental Pioneer Platoon were the regimental reserve whose mission was to expel any Russian breakthrough in the forward positions. Three times Ungár's platoon was able to repulse the superior Russian attacks and after the third attempt the enemy withdrew leaving at least 200 dead and about 130 prisoners. Oberleutnant Ungár's platoon had itself suffered considerable casualties during the engagement- 12 dead and 14 wounded.

Karl Ungár was awarded the Military Order of Maria Theresia at the 184th Promotion on the 17th of August 1918 and raised to the nobility with the rank of Baron. Following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy he joined the army of the independent state of Hungary rising by 1940 to the rank of Colonel. Promoted to Major-General on the 1st of October 1942 he was appointed commander of the 1st Light Infantry Division until 10th August 1943 when he became commanding General of the 13th Infantry Division. He commanded the 13th Infantry Division until March 1944 and retired on the 1st of February 1945. Karl Freiherr Ungár von Bukove-Berdo und Ujscie died on the 23rd of June 1975 at Marcali.

[i] Schematismus für das K.u.K. Heer und für die K.u.K. Kriegsmarine für 1914.

[ii] Der Militär-Maria Theresien-Orden: Die Auszeichnungen im Weltkrieg 1914-1918 by General der Infanterie z.V. Dr. Carl Freiherr von Bardolff, Generalmajor a.D. Oskar von Hofmann and Oberst a.D. Gustav von Hubka, Vienna 1944.

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