On the eve of the Balkan Wars



The last reorganization of the Bulgarian artillery before the beginning of the Balkan wars was introduced with Edict N° 99/29 December 1910 and executed with the Order on the military administration N° 412/31 December 1910 and N° 40/24 February 1911. The purpose of these measures, which affected all the branches of the artillery, was not only to raise new units after seven years of inaction, but also to make easier the mobilization of the artillery units in a war that was regarded as imminent.

The reduction of the number of the guns in the quick-firing battery from 6 to 4 had been already introduced in the secret establishments published in 1906, but was finally approved by the Supreme Military Council only in 1910. The decision had been delayed for years for budget savings, since a little number of six-guns batteries were less expensive than a greater number of four-guns batteries. Also the mountain batteries armed with Krupp guns, which were at first composed by six guns, were reduced accordingly. In order to form 14 batteries from the existing 9, 2 more guns were ordered in 1911. In not quick-firing batteries on the contrary the number of the guns stood the same, six as before.


Field artillery. After the delivery of the quick-firing guns ordered in France in 1904, the Bulgarian artillery at last had enough guns to standardize the structure of all the existing artillery regiments, assigning 9 four-guns field batteries each. Therefore the regiments that in 1904 had only 2 divisions (2nd, 6th and 9th) raised its third division. In peace only 6 batteries were horsed, the remaining 3 should be equipped at the mobilization. Previously these batteries were attached to the 2 active divisions existing in peace, while the third division should be entirely formed at the declaration of the mobilization. In order to speed up the mobilization of the regiment and to form all the batteries simultaneously, the Edict established that in peace the regiment should be composed by 3 divisions, but with only 2 batteries horsed, while the third ones would be formed in wartime.

To accomplish this plan all the quick-firing guns of the regiment was equally divided among its three divisions and fully subordinated to the division commanders. In peace he should elaborate the mobilization plan of its division according with the instructions of the regiment commander and the direction for the mobilization. One of the senior subaltern officers of the division was appointed as director of the properties belonging to the third batteries that were all stored with the horsed batteries. He was the future battery commander. Already in peace a third of the men and horses of the two horsed batteries was detached and regarded as cadre of the third battery. Its future commander had the list of men, horses and items assigned to its battery. Mounted instruction, manoeuvres and firing instruction were carried out by the division with a composition of three batteries, as in wartime, while in any other circumstance it operated only with the two horsed batteries.

In peace all the horsed batteries of the regiment were numbered consecutively, with 1st and 2nd batteries in 1st division, 3rd and 4th in 2nd division, 5th and 6th in 3rd division, but at the mobilization, with the creation of the third batteries, they were renumbered, the new ones being respectively 3rd, 6th and 9th batteries.

The old not quick-firing guns were equally divided among the divisions of the regiment, assigning 2 batteries to each of them. They were subordinated to the deputy regiment commander, a charge established with the Edict N° 99, instead of the regiment steward (домакин) as before. At the mobilization he became the commander of the not quick-firing regiment.


Mountain artillery. In order to make more regular their training in peace and to make easier their mobilization, the old mountain artillery divisions were renamed artillery regiments, composed by 2 divisions with 2 four-guns batteries each. In wartime they should form 3 divisions with 3 batteries each, but for lack of guns, 1st and 3rd mountain artillery regiments had only seven batteries instead of nine. Therefore their 2nd and 3rd division had only 2 batteries. They were armed with the Krupp guns, while 2nd regiment received the Schneider guns.

Therefore the quick-firing guns of the regiment was equally divided among its two divisions, as follows : in 1st and 3rd mountain artillery regiment, 1st division had four batteries and 2nd division only three, in 2nd mountain artillery regiment, the divisions had five and four batteries respectively. As in field artillery, they were fully to the division commanders, who were commissioned to plan their mobilization. Mounted instruction, manoeuvres and firing instruction were carried out by the two divisions with a composition of three and two batteries respectively, as in wartime, while in any other circumstance they operated with the two horsed batteries. The batteries were numbered consecutively as in the artillery regiments. The old not quick-firing guns were subordinated to the president of the supply commission.


Howitzers batteries. In order to establish a cadre for the field howitzers division that should be formed at the mobilization, a cadre howitzers batteries composed by 3 two-guns sections were raised in each Military Inspection and attached to one of its artillery regiments. The personnel for the batteries was provided by the fortress battalion, which detached one of their companies. The batteries were raised as follows :

    the howitzer battery of 1st Military Inspection was formed by 3rd company of Sofiyski fortress battalion and was attached to 4th artillery regiment in Sofia;

    the howitzer battery of 2nd Military Inspection was formed by 3rd company of Vidinski fortress battalion and was attached to 8th artillery regiment in Stara Zagora;

    the howitzer battery of 3rd Military Inspection was formed by 1st company of Shumenski fortress battalion and was attached to 5th artillery regiment in Shumen.

Every cadre battery at the mobilization formed a field howitzer division with 3 four-guns batteries. It should have in peace at least three officers as section commanders. They were the future battery commander and all the artillery materiel and the properties of the batteries were under their full control. In every section a re-enlisted non commissioned officer was appointed as warrant officer of the future battery.

The instruction of the cadre howitzer battery was different from the common instruction of the artillery regiment and was conducted under the direction of the battery commander. Therefore the regiment commander should give specific directives for it, according with the Instruction for the employment of the field artillery in combat. Mounted instruction, manoeuvres and firing instruction were carried out by the cadre battery with a composition of four guns, as in wartime. Training fire was directed by the section commanders, fighting fire directly by the battery commander. The regiment commander should take care that the cadre battery received men and horses enough to equip 4 guns and 4 ammunition wagons.

The old not quick-firing howitzers were divided among the sections of the cadre battery in order to keep training with them. At the mobilization they would form a not quick-firing division with 2 six-guns batteries, but, since the howitzers available were only 30, the cadre battery of 8th artillery regiment raised only 1 battery.


Fortress artillery. With the Order on the military administration N° 82/8 March 1910 every fortress battalion detached one of its batteries to form the howitzers cadre batteries. They remained with only two companies that were renamed “fortress-siege groups”. This change reflected the two tasks of the battalions in wartime : 1) to arrange the defence of the fortress and the fortified position that were assigned to them, 2) to form the artillery siege park required for the attack of enemy fortress or fortified position. No change was introduced in the instruction of the troops. The distribution of the artillery materiel among the groups was established by the Inspector of Artillery wit a specific Instruction, according with the materiel on hand and with the Directives for the mobilization published in 1910.