Drill regulations for quick-firing field artillery
The tactics of the field artillery was dealt in the manual Устав за строевата служба в полската скорострелна артилерия (Field service regulations for quick-firing field artillery) published in 1906 and finally adopted with modifications and additions in 1908. It was an adaptation of the French Règlement de manovre de l’artillerie de campagne published on 8 June 1903, but with the introduction of some interesting alterations. The main difference was that in France the gunner (tireur), who opened and closed the breech-block, also fired; in Bulgaria this duty was assigned to the aimer.
It was divided into two parts:
I. Firing instructions and activity of the artillery in the field : gun, battery and division instructions, foot formations, signs with trumpet and with flags, auxiliary activities (repairs, overcoming local obstacles, swords exercises), writing reports, firing with the revolver, tasks of the platoon commanders.
II. Honours, parades, inspections, manoeuvres.
Composition and subdivision of the units
The 75mm Q.F. battery was organized as follows :
– fighting unit : 4 guns with 4 ammunition wagons subdivided into two platoons, 2 ammunition wagons (1 with H.E. shells) as first supply echelon, 92 men and 83 horses;
– battery reserve : 6 ammunition wagons, field forge, a cart carrying entrenching tools, reserve troops, reserve horses, hors rang troops, 92 men and 73 horses;
– transport train : 1 field kitchen, 1 food supply cart, 6 forage carts, 1 officers’ baggage cart, 26 men and 22 horses.
The fighting unit carried 740 rounds, the battery reserve 588. Since 9 ammunition wagons carried shrapnel, and 3 H.E. shells, every gun had 332 rounds at its disposal. The guns and the ammunition wagons were drawn by six horses, the forage carts by four, all remaining by two.
battery had one cart carrying 6 Linnemann spades, 6 picks, 2 axes and 8
little hatchets. In order to provide communication between the units every
battery had 4 field telephones with
The batteries were grouped by three in artillery division (or detachment – отделение, like the German Army Abteilung). The division general staff was composed the head of the division (later designed division commander), an officer as scout, another officer as adjutant, a trumpeter and a N.C.O. as orderly.
Every artillery division was organized as follows :
– fighting unit : the division command and the fighting units of the three batteries;
– battery reserve : the battery reserves and 1 spare carriage;
– transport train : the transport train of the three batteries and the transport carts of the division.
A quick firing artillery piece (оръдие, pièce) consisted of a gun (оръдие, arrière-train de canon) and its ammunition wagon (ракла, arrière-train de caisson) with its crew and horses and was commanded by a non commissioned officer, the gun commander (командир на оръдието, chief de pièce), and was attended by six gunners (прислужници, servants):
– the aimer (мерач, pointeur) gave the angle of sight and the deflection, pointed and aimed the gun, fired;
– the breech-blocker (затворач, tireur) opened and closed the breech-block;
– the loader (пълнач, chargeur) put the cartridge into the chamber;
– the fuze-cutter (поставач, déboucheur), placed behind the caisson, set the fuze and gave the cartridges to the loader;
– two shell-handlers (подавач, pourvoyeur), the right one and the left one, kneeling on the ground, each behind one of the armoires of the caisson, placed the shells in the fuze-setter.
In battle formation (боен строй) the gun was unlimbered, with the spade sunk into the ground and the ammunition wagon tilted on its left on the same line. Guns and ammunitions wagon could be limbered and unlimbered only if they were in double column, when they were one after the other, it was not allowed. Limbering and unlimbering were carried out always at walk, but the limbers were usually conducted to the guns and caissons at trot, unless a different gait was ordered.
In route formation (строй за движение) the gun and the ammunition wagon were limbered and moved in gun column (оръдейна колона), with the ammunition wagon behind the gun, 3 paces away; or in double column (вдвоено оръдие), with the ammunition wagon alongside the gun, 4 paces away on the left. When they were withdrawing, they swapped their places, the ammunition wagon going before or on the right of the gun, keeping the same distances. A gun team moving in column had a length of 47 paces and a front of 3 paces, in double column a length of 25 paces and a front of 7 paces.
The gun squad was composed by 14 men :
– the gun commander and the ammunition wagon commander on riding horses;
– six drivers (three for each team) mounted on the left horses;
– six gunners (right to left) :
a) on the gun limber – aimer, loader, breech-blocker;
b) on the caisson limber – left shell-handler, fuze setter, right shell-handler.
When the gunners were not on the limbers, they walked in a line behind the gun and the ammunition wagon respectively.
There was three different gaits for field artillery :
In broken ground and during
prolonged marches the speed might be reduced. During uninterrupted marches
the rate of the march changed, alternating walk and trot. Marching alone the field
artillery usually moved
The headquarters of the battery were composed by the commander and the following men :
– two subaltern officers (possibly NCOs) as platoon commanders, the senior one commanding the first platoon;
– a senior NCO as commander of the first supply echelon;
– a NCOs detached from the park company as commander of the battery reserve;
– a NCO as commander of the transport train;
– a feldwebel, assigned to the rear of the battery during the marches, and responsible of the timely transport of the ammunition from the park company and the replacement of the missing men during the combat;
– two senior NCOs as observers, the first attached to the battery, the second detached to an observation post, linked to the battery commander by phone or signals;
– three junior NCOs as orderlies, in charge for keeping the communications with the head of the artillery division, the head of the Detachment, and so on;
– three NCOs as scouts, assigned to the reconnaissance of the targets and of the roads;
– three junior NCOs as signallers-telephonist, in charge for linking the battery with the commander, when his was away from the battery, the head of the artillery division, the observation post, and so on;
– two trumpeters, assigned to the fighting unit and the battery reserve respectively.
In route formation the battery could move :
– in column (колона), with the pieces at a distance of 3 paces in column or in double column, according with the conditions of the road and the war-demands; the battery reserve with the ammunition wagons always in column, at a distance of 20 paces from the last wagon of the fighting unit; the transport train, if not detached, at a distance of 20 paces from the last cart of the reserve. A battery moving in column had a length of 402 paces and a front of 3 paces, in double column a length of 292 paces and a front of 7 paces;
– in open formation (разгънат строй) with the pieces in column or paired at fixed interval; the ammunition wagons of the 1st Echelon at 3 paces behind the first and the fourth gun; the battery reserve with the ammunition wagons in open formation, at a distance of 20 paces from the fighting unit; the hors rang and reserve troops with reserve horses following at a distance of 10 paces from the last cart; the transport train, if not detached, at a distance of 10 paces from the reserve. The interval between the gun could be : great – 40 paces, middle – 20 paces, small – 10 paces, arbitrary – the number of paces ordered by the battery commander. At trot, the hors rang and reserve troops were carried by the ammunition wagons or formed an independent detachment and were left behind. The fighting unit of a battery in open formation moving in column had a length of 70 paces, in double column of 50 paces, the front was 120, 60 or 30 paces, depending on the interval chosen.
order to make the battery more agile, mobile and flexible, the battery
reserve could be detached and move also far from its fighting unit, up to 500
In battle formation the guns unlimbered were deployed side by side at great intervals of 40 paces (as a rule, but exceptionally at 20 or even at 10 paces).
The ammunition wagon tilted with the armoured doors opened was put alongside the gun. The extension of the whole firing line was around 120 paces.
The ammunition wagons of the 1st Echelon were positioned unlimbered at 20 paces behind the first and the fourth gun of the firing line. The ammunition wagon carrying the observation ladder could be placed near the observatory of the battery commander.
The limbers of the fighting
unit were placed in shelters up to 300 paces away from the battery. With
opportune shelters they could be placed even near the front, but if there was
no shelters they were placed 300 paces behind and 50 paces on the side of the
battery, side by side on two line. The battery reserve was placed covered
from the enemy sight and fire, at a distance of 500-
The artillery division
The headquarters of the artillery division were composed by the head of the division (later designed division commander), a scout officer, an adjutant NCO, a trumpeter junior NCO and an orderly NCO. In addition every battery detached an orderly from the fighting unit and another from the battery reserve for the communications, and some NCOs and scouts for the reconnaissance.
In route formation the artillery division could move move :
– in open formation (разгънат строй) with the batteries in open formation abreast in one line, the intervals between them were 10 paces greater than the gun’s; the battery reserves, if not detached, in open formation, at a distance of 30 paces from the fighting unit; this formation was used to advance and retire from an open place under the enemy fire, in inspections and reviews;
– in column of batteries (батарейна колона), with batteries in open formation, in succession at a distance of 30 paces; the reserve like the fighting unit, 30 paces behind it; at great intervals it was used to approach a place near the enemy, but out of its fire, at little intervals it was used to deploy the artillery in mixed formation with other troops;
– in guns column (оръдейна колона) or marching column (походна колона), with batteries in column of guns, in succession at a distance of 30 paces; the reserve like the fighting unit, 30 paces behind it; the transport train, if not detached, at a distance of 30 paces from the reserve; this was the common marching formation, but it could be also used to come into position in broken ground under the enemy fire;
– in line of guns columns (линйя оръдейни колони), with batteries in column by guns, in succession at a distance of 170, 90 or 50 paces, the number of paces increasing or decreasing according to the place; the reserve like the fighting unit, 30 paces behind it; it was the common manoeuvring formation: at great intervals it was used to advance in enemy’s beaten zone depending on the site, allowing the quick deploy of the troops and their retreat with little losses; at lesser intervals this formation was used to manoeuvre in broken ground under the enemy fire.
The battery reserves usually travelled joined together, under the command of an appointed senior NCO, and were attached to the respective battery only exceptionally, when the division commander ordered it.
When the artillery division travelled independently, the transport train was always detached, except in column of route, and followed under the command of an appointed senior NCO, moving according with the orders of the division commander.
In battle formation the batteries were deployed in fighting formation, along one line or by levels, with the limbers, the battery reserves and the transport trains placed like in battery battle formation. The deployment by levels allows a greater freedom of action, hampered the enemy adjustment and diminished the effect of its fire.
Signals. At the beginning of the march every battery and every reserve sent an orderly to the division commander. Similarly the division commander sent an officer or a good NCO to the head of the artillery of the Infantry Division. In action every battery connected with the division commander even by telephone. The artillery heads was connected with the reserve, the park company, the covering infantry and the infantry fighting troops. With infantry the communications were mainly visual.
Command. On march the division commander conducted and directed the division through signals or by means of adjutants, orderlies and trumpeters. In battle he set the targets, according with the instructions of the head of the artillery, gave to the battery commanders all the data about their targets and fixed when each of them had to open fire. The battery commanders could change the target only on his order, except when they had to repulse an unexpected enemy attack or the communication with the command was cut off. The division commander did not interfere with the adjustment fire, except when some inaccuracies in the fire direction or errors were noticed during the adjustment.
Other artillery units
The artillery regiment was composed by the headquarters, two or three artillery divisions, the hors rang platoon, the medical staff, the artillery park company from the Division artillery park, and the artillery supply platoon.
The artillery brigade was composed by the headquarters, two artillery regiments with four to six artillery divisions, and the artillery park company from the Corps artillery park.
As for their subdivision and their operations, the text referred to the Direction for the employment of the field artillery in combat and the Field service regulations.