The coast artillery during the Balkan Wars



At the beginning of the Balkan war the coast defences of the Varna Bay were reinforced with 13 batteries with 43 old guns and 7 ten-barrel Nobel machine guns from Shumenski and Vidinski fortress battalions :

4 – 150mm L/12 Schneider-Canet howitzers M. 1897/1905 (from Shumenski battalion),

8 – 24 pdr long Russian guns M. 1867 (from Vidinski battalion),

3 – 24 pdr short Russian guns M. 1867 (from Vidinski battalion),

12 – 9 pdr Russian guns M. 1867 from (from Vidinski battalion),

6 – 75mm Krupp not QF field guns M. 1886 (from Shumenski battalion),

10 – 57mm Gruson “turret” guns M. 1892 (2 from Shumenski and 8 from Vidinski battalion).


On 22 September 1912, in order to increase the defences of Varna Bay, the two 100mm guns stored in the arsenal were placed south of the 240mm coast battery, in an old Turkish redoubt. On 2 October also the two 100mm guns of the torpedo gunboat Nadezhda were removed from the ship, and given to the coast artillery. They were placed at Trakata, in a battery built in 1900, to protect the minefield laid down from 17 September to 4 October 1912. In addition two old guns taken from Ruse, (1 – 76.2mm and 1 – 57mm gun) supplemented the defense of the Varna coastline, being placed at Karantinata. They were almost completely worn out, and without sights. They were regarded so ineffective that no head was appointed to the battery composed by them. On 28 November the Nadezhda was rearmed using the coast guns placed at Galata.

Only two of the fortress batteries in position along the coastline were able to fire to an attacking fleet: 1st 24 pdr battery was placed on 7 October 1912 at Tash Tabia and later, on 9 October, near Sv. Konstantin monastery, where were placed also 2nd 150mm Schneider howitzers battery of the Shumenski fortress battalion.

To defend the Bay of Burgas only 2 – 75mm not QF firing batteries with 12 guns were sent (3rd battery of Sofiyski and 3rd battery from Shumenski fortress battalions) and 3 ten-barrel Nobel machine guns (1st battery from Vidinsky fortress battalion).


On 21 September 1912 Col. Rusi Ludogorov, who had been the head of the Black Sea Fleet since 31 May, was appointed head of the Varna strongpoint with the Order Nr. 153 of the War Ministry, confirmed by the Army High Command on 9 october 1912. The batteries assigned to the place of Varna were distributed among three sectors, with twelve guns as reserve. The batteries of the first two sectors and the reserve were subordinated to head of the artillery, Lt.Col. Konstantin Kirkov, while the coast batteries of the Eastern sector were subordinated to the heads of the fixed sea-defence, Commander Lt. Mihail Popov. On 14 October 1912 even the coast batteries was subordinated to the head of the fortress artillery. The emplacements of the batteries were choosen by the head of the artillery and the artillerymen built them with the help of civilian workers.


During the war the Turkish Navy made some raid along Bulgarian coastline, shelling the ports, and sometimes landing little detachments, that were always easily repelled. The coast artillery had little chances to fire against the enemy fleet.

On 8 October when a Turkish squadron composed by the cruiser Hamidie and Medjidie and two destroyers of the Yadighiar-i-Millet class shelled Ekrene, Sv. Konstantin and Evskinograd, the 24 pdr battery placed at Tash Tabia (2nd Lt. Hristo Kamenov) fired fourteen rounds against them. Unfortunately its fire was too short, and the shells fell on the coastline, west of the sanatorium, in a sector held by the Vidinski Opalchenie battalion.

On 11 October the 240mm battery fired two salvos against the Turkish cruiser Medjidie: at 2h 20’ PM at a distance of 9750 m, and again at 2h 40’ PM at its maximum range, 10500 m. The cruiser replied to the Bulgarian fire, with three 150mm salvos. Not even a shot hit the target.

At the beginning of November 2nd 150mm Schneider howitzers battery of the Shumenski fortress battalion was assigned to 2nd Army, and took part in the siege of Odrin. On 23 February 1913 the Burgas garrison was strengthened with 1st and 2nd batteries of Shumenski fortress battalion.


The liberation of Thracia caused a lot of problem to Bulgaria, since it had to defend the Aegean Sea coastline, even if it had not even a little ship there. The Turkish Fleet tried to take advantage of its superiority landing X Provisional Corps (31st and 32nd Infantry Division with 15.000 rifles, 16 machine guns and 48 guns) at Sarkoi in order to overtake the Bulgarian 4th Army deployed in the Gallipoli peninsula. This amphibious invasion failed thanks to the reaction of Macedonia and Odrin Volunteer Corps (8 and 9 February 1913). Here, as during the fighting along the Chataldzha, the Bulgarians, lacking heavy coast artillery, had to fire against the powerful Turkish ships with their light infantry and mountain guns, obviously with no effect.


At the end of the war the Aegean Sea coastline was defended with a little group of 120mm and 150mm guns, became available after the fall of Odrin.

The main contribution was offerd by Shumenski fortress battalion, that sent also some units formed with war trophies. On 17 April 1913, 1st 150mm L/30 Krupp battery with 2 guns was deployed at Dedeagach, while the third gun was attached to the 2nd battery of the same regiment. On 28 May it was followed by a 87mm not QF battery armed with Turkish guns. On 10 June came also 1st 150mm howitzers battery, and two batteries armed with Turkish weapons taken at Odrin : one with two 150mm L/14 howitzers, the other with ten-barrel machine guns. Sofiyski fortress battalion sent one of its 150mm L/30 Krupp battery with two guns.

At Portolago the Bulgarian garrison received 1st battery of 9th not QF artillery regiment and a ten-barrel machine guns battery with 4 pieces, while a 150mm howitzers battery from Sofiyski fortress battalion was sent to Seres.




The coast defence of the Bay of Varna during after 8 October 1912