Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Future Great War Allies Clash at Kirk Kilisse

A Turkish Artillery Unit Fleeing the Battlefield

A resounding Bulgarian victory over Turkish forces at Kirk Kilisse opened the First Balkan War. Immediately after declaring war on 17 October, Bulgarian forces invaded Ottoman territory in Thrace. After turning back an ill-conceived spoiling offensive, the Bulgarians mounted a major attack before Turkish reinforcements could arrive from Anatolia. The ensuing fight on 22–24 October is known as the Battle of Kirk Kilisse or the Battle of Lozengrad. It involved a successful flanking operation against a 36-mile front stretching easterly from Lozengrad to Adrianople.

Retreating Turkish Infantry
During the battles around Lozengrad, Bulgarian infantry were supported by artillery and often attacked in poor light, at dawn, or even at night. The Ottomans were unable to withstand the Bulgarian charges, which were supported by artillery and machine gun fire, and by 24 October were in an ill-disciplined retreat all along the line between Adrianople and Lozengrad. Six days into the war the Bulgarians had won a major victory and the Ottoman forces had suffered a strategic and demoralizing defeat.

After the victory, the French minister of war, Alexandre Millerand, stated that the Bulgarian Army was the best in Europe and that he would prefer 100,000 Bulgarians for allies than any other European army. During the two Balkan Wars, Ottoman and Bulgarian forces would face off in 11 battles. The Bulgarians would decisively win nine, while two were indecisive. Nevertheless, a French-led coalition would sweep away the exhausted and abandoned. Bulgarian Army in the last days of  the Great War on the Balkan Front.

Source:  A War Photographer in Thrace by Herbert Baldwin

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