FRENCH GUNS PROVED BETTER THAN GERMAN
Officier of Kaiser’s Army, Present at Fighting, Is Alarmed for His Country.
THE FIRE WAS ANNIHILATING
No Army Could Stand Against It. He Declares – Turkish General Staff Joined in the Panic.
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.
“Think you I dare tell truth?”
Thus spoke a German artillery officer – who had stood with a Turkish battery during the battle of Lule-Burgas and afterward has ridden past the rabble of defeated troops and past the Tchatalja lines to Hadikeni – as he ended a most dramatic and most annihilating account of the Bulgarian campaign which had been no campaign, but a butchery. The account took four hours in the telling, and when it was ended in the small hours of the morning only myself and one English officer heard the last broken-hearted admission that the war was won not by rifles but by the overwhelming superiority of the French guns employed by the Bulgarians.
“Their batteries,” said the German officer, “pitched shell after shell with amazing rapidity within five feet of each other with precision, automatic in the nicety of the fire and annihilating in its effect. I do not believe any troops in the world could have stood before that cruel fire.”
“As for the Turks, they did not run, for if a man runs he still has some go in him. They crawled away and their officiers led the rout for many miles. Only after we had left the firing line far behind us did we begin to come upon detachments with officiers and, even oftener, officiers without detachments.
when all is said that can be said of the hopeless disorganization, ignorance
and stupidity of the Turks and the great daring of the Bulgarians, it must be
admitted that material, not men, won Kirk Kilisseh
and Lule-Burgas. My honest impression now is that
as a result of this war
“I don’t want to be unjust and am aware that the Turkish artillery was badly served, and, indeed, I myself saw Turkish guns that came out of action with their covers still on and just as clean as when they went in. But the Krupp guns can fire neither so fast nor with anything resembling the accuracy of these deadly Creusots.
“Of our ride across the country through the Tchatalja lines it is difficult to give an idea. We broke away from the correspondents’ camp when we saw how they were being led about like sheep. More than once we were threatened with shooting and throughout one whole night we lay under low bushes in pools of water while a party of Turkish soldiers looked for us with bayonets.”
Pitiful General Staff.
“Once we came across the General Staff. Now, I am accustomed to the work of the General Staff, and I naturally expected to find busy men sitting at a table with maps and plans, and orderlies coming and going with messages. What we found a group of shiftless individuals sitting about munching crusts of dry bread.
“That was the Ottoman General Staff – no orderlies, no messages, no maps. They no more knew where their own regiments were than we did.
we rode through the famous Tchatalja lines. At the
time we passed them one German brigade with a few guns could have swept
through them. Doubtless an army of some sort will collect behind those defences,
and the probable that the Bulgarians can get their heavy guns up inside a
week. But will the defence of Tchatalja be any
better organized, and any more effective than the defence of Lule-Burgas?
Short of a miracle, I do not see what can stop the Bulgarians from reaching
“The only Ottoman Army we have seen was a disorderly mob. It is the worst débacle in the history of the world, and I only fear that much of the discredit of it will fall upon us.”
Published by The New York Times on 9 November 1912.