French analysis of the war
Germans, who were directly involved into the Balkan war with some officers
fighting in the ranks of the Turkish army, no Frenchman served during the war
under the flag of any of the belligerent armies.
The links with the Balkan powers were nevertheless very strict, especially with
distinguished among the French observers was brigade general Frédéric-Georges
Herr, who would be the commander of the Verdun strongpoint before the German
attack in 1916 and after the World War became the General Inspector of the
French Artillery. At that time he was the head of the 6th Army
Corps artillery at
From 17 November to 15 December 1912 general Herr travelled the seat of war in the Balkans, when, with the permission of the Serbian and Turkish authorities, he was able to visit, first the Serbian lines as far as Uskub and the battlefield of Kumanovo, afterwards Tchataldzha as far as Hadankevi. In June 1913 he published his journey daily record, where he repeatedly asserted that his visit was unofficial and that his only aim was to satisfy his own curiosity and to complete his military knowledge, especially about everything was related with his job as artilleryman. Actually the truth was different, since the archive of the French Ministry of Defence keeps a “Rapport du général Herr en mission dans les Balkans (1912)”.
General Herr published his comments first on the French Revue d'Artillerie and later in a little book: La guerre des Balkans. Quelques enseignements sur l’emploi de l’artillerie. His essay had a great success and was translated in many languages (English, German, Italian) and prestigious military journals, like Journal des Sciences Militaires and Revue d’Artillerie, published several articles that advocated the deployment of three or four batteries of light field howitzers with every army corps. It was much esteemed, but also much criticized, especially because he studied the employment of the artillery in the Balkans without following too strictly the lessons of the French war school. General Joffre himself in his Mémoires that “the publication of this report caused a great anxiety among military and parliamentary circles; a great controversy begun once more between the supporters of the 75mm and the partisans of the introduction of a heavy artillery.” But this time general Herr’s experience could persuade who hesitated and on April 1913 the French Army ordered their first heavy field guns, 220 – 105mm Schneider long guns.
French Army sent in Thrace also an official mission composed by colonel of
the Engineers Jean Piarron de Mondesir, who during World War 1 was charged to
reorganize the Serbian Army after its defeat in autumn 1915, captain Georges
Bellenger of the fortress artillery, a pioneer of French military aviation,
and captain Louis Ripert d’Alauzier,
of the Chasseurs à pied. They reached Odrin on 7 April 1913 and stood in the
Balkans till 3 June, having many meetings with Bulgarian high officers and
visiting the principal battlefields in
de Mondesir published in
Captain Bellenger published his “Notes
sur l’emploi de l’artillerie dans la
campagne des Balkans” on the French Revue
d'artillerie in November
Also captain Ripert d’Alauzier published the notes taken during his mission in the book Sur le pas des Alliés, published in 1914, reporting not only his own remarks, but also the records of the officers of the allies armies (Bulgarian, Serbs and Greeks), who had accompanied him during his recognitions.
In February 1914, another officer of the fortress artillery, captain Pierre Alvin, who in 1916 would be the author with major Felix d’André of the French Manuel d’artillerie lourde, published on the French Journal des Sciences Militaires a detailed essay about the employment of the field artillery during the Balkan war, where he gave also an account of the main features of the artillery material used by the opposite armies: “L’artillerie de campagne dans la guerre des Balkans”. This essay too was translated into English and published on the American Journal of Field Artillery in 1914.
All the dates in this page are according the western – Gregorian – calendar.