had practically no war industry. Only the manufacture of explosives,
cartridges, and hand grenades of the Odrin type had been mastered. At the artillery arsenal in Sofia and in the ordnance
factory in Kazanlyk, some repairs of artillery
pieces, machine-guns, and rifles were carried out. To obtain weapons and
had to rely on its allies.
military convention between Bulgaria, Germany and Austria-Hungary signed by col.
Dimitar Gantchev, gen.
von Falkenhayn and gen. Conrad at the German
headquarters in Pless on 6 September 1915 should
have regulated the mutual wartime duties and obligations of the allies, but
their haziness and ambiguity led to considerable misunderstanding and
friction between the Bulgarian and the German headquarters.
seventh article of the convention stated that “Germany
declared to be ready to deliver to Bulgaria war material of all kind
as far as this is possible depending on the German own needs of supplying.
The Chief of the General Staff of the German Army have the final decision if
here any differences of opinion should result.”
Just after the signature of the
convention, during the first meeting with the German head of the General War
Department of the Prussian War Ministry, col. Ernst von Wrisberg,
col. Gantchev, as head of the Bulgarian delegation,
demanded the most urgent requirements for the Bulgarian Army : infantry
weapons, artillery, ammunition, optical devices, entrenching tools, signal
equipment, cars and lorries, field bridges, aircrafts, medical materials, but
also clothing and equipment for the troops and harnesses. The total amount of
the first Bulgarian order was around 300 000 000 gold marks.
It was followed by further request, and, according with col. von Wrisberg, the total of the military hardware delivery by Germany to Bulgaria during the World War
amounted to more than 1 billion of gold marks.
With the beginning of the military operations, col. Gantchev
was attached to the German Great General Headquarters as Bulgarian
plenipotentiary, but the Bulgarian delegation remained in Berlin to work with the Prussian War
Ministry, was even then subordinated to him. At first this delegation was
composed only by col. Yonkov and lt.col. Stoenchov,
but during the war the number of its members increased greatly, and in 1917
it formed a separate bureau, under the direction of col. Marko Nikiforov. This made more difficult the relationships
between the two allies, because col. Wrisberg, who
had a great respect for col. Gantchev, regarded his
successor “der Typus eines
and considered his arrival not favourable to the negotiations, that until
then had been frank and correct.
Germany too felt the necessity to
make easier the relationship with its allies. Therefore at the beginning of
1917 the Allied Armies section of the Prussian War Ministry (Abteilung für verbündete Heere,
A.11) untill then under the direction of maj. Theodor Duesterberg, was subdivided into three
different departments : Referat 1 for Turkey,
Persia and Transcaucasia, Referat 2 for Bulgarian
and the Greek troops interned at Görlitz, Referat 3 for Austria-Hungary and, after the peace of Bukarest, Romania. They were directed by majors von
Ramsay, Jansen and von Bülow, under maj.
In Bulgaria at first the task of
examining the requests of the Bulgarian War Ministry was entrusted to the
German military attaché, col. Ewald
von Massow. But he was so loaded down with political-military
tasks that he was not able to pick over personally the great amount of orders
that came to him, and could not correct their amount according with the
requirements of the German industry. To free him from this demanding task,
the Prussian War Ministry
sent to Sofia
an officer acting as its own plenipotentiary, at first maj. von Weller, and then maj. Kämmerling. Working in close
collaboration with the military attaché himself they could understand the
mechanisms of the Bulgarian bureaucracy and in a short time they were able to
fulfil their task effectively.
collecting area for all the supplies assigned to Bulgaria
was established at Ober-Leschen (Silesia). All the delivery facilities of the Reich
– both government departments and private companies – should inform it
whenever a delivery was finalized. The shipment could take place only after Ober-Leschen had
commanded the delivery. The collecting area, to which some Bulgarian officers
were assigned, received the orders from the Bulgarian General
Intendant through the
Plenipotentiary General Staff Officer of the Direction of the Field Railway
Service assigned to the Railway Transport Section South-east. The
supplies were delivered to Sofia almost
entirely via Beograd – Nish, and in the capital they were re-directed to the
Field Army operating in Macedonia.
This diversion meant a great waste of time, and the Bulgarian Command itself
asked to send the most urgent supplies directly from Nish. This change, even if
functional, met considerable opposition and could be introduced
only with great difficulties.
begun to fulfil its obligations after the defeat of Serbian Army, when direct
communications with Bulgaria
were established via Beograd. But the
priority accorded to Turkey
during the last phase of the fighting at Gallipoli and the lack of artillery
of German Army at that time slowed down the supplying of Bulgarian Army.
in late 1915 German Army had no enough guns to equip its new Divisions. The
number of guns of a Division decreased from 72 at the beginning of the War,
to 48 at the beginning of the 1915, to only 24 in spring
of 1915. In mid 1915 four units were designed brigades – even if they
had 9 infantry battalions like a Division – because they had only a division
– Abteilung – of field artillery (12 howitzers)
each. This lack of artillery ended up in the second half of 1916. Therefore
in 1915-16 Germany could
ship to Bulgaria
only a little number of guns.
situation was further worsened by the poor railroad system of the Balkan that
delayed the delivery of the weapons ordered by the Bulgarian Government. The
Bulgarians often thought that the Germans were failing to fulfil their
alliance obligation. For instance on 25 April 1917 a report denounced
that since the beginning of the war only 680 of the 1150 machine guns ordered
had been actually delivered.
many guns did Germany
give the Bulgarian Army during First World War? I was not able to find an
answer in western sources and I hoped that Bulgarian sources can solve this
problem. Unfortunately although it is relatively well known what was the
inventory of the Bulgarian army in 1915, so far I have not been able to
locate much information on what was available as quantities of military
hardware throughout the years up to 1918.
we can make some suppositions. In October 1915 Bulgarian Army had 1231 guns.
In September 1918 it had 1395 guns in the field (British Official History :
1597 – 202 German guns). According with История на
въоръжение"…, p. 97, on 15 September 1919 the
Bulgarian Army had 1956 guns. This means
an increase of 725 artillery pieces. To them we must add the guns that were
lost during the war because destroyed due to faulty ammunition, worn out and
captured or destroyed by the enemy. In 1921 the Interallied
Military Control Commission found in Bulgaria 1468 guns of different calibres
and patterns (История
на служба "Артилерийско
въоръжение"…, p. 102
says 3400 guns, but it is certainly a misprint).
with Кратък обзор на бойния състав…, p. 118, the Central Powers delivered
3127 heavy machine guns, 284 light mortars, 162 medium mortars, 1932 grenade launchers,
8 flame-throwers and 528
artillery pieces. For a comparison, during WW1 Germany gave to Turkey
557,000 rifles, 100,000 carbines, 559 guns, 30 flame-throwers, 1570 light and
30 heavy machine guns (Erickson). Since Austria-Hungary sent to the Bulgarian
Army at least 144 mountain guns, Germany may have delivered approximately 380
guns. This amount is very close to the data furnished by col. Wrisberg, who stated that during World War 1 Germany gave to Bulgaria 80 field batteries, 13
heavy batteries and 31 individual field guns.
did not give to his allies the most modern weapons it had. In addition Germany
usually did not give the heaviest guns. During the war in Macedonia there were a little
number of heavy guns, but they were under the direct control of German Army.
was not satisfied with old guns discarded by the German Army. General Kalin Naydenov, who was the Bulgarian
Minister of War during the whole conflict, stated that some heavy guns
ordered in Germany were not accepted, although ready
for the shipment, since they were not of the last model. Therefore the German
factories had to manufacture new guns, which met the expectations of the
Bulgarian purchasers. Unfortunately this slowed down the delivery of the
guns, so much that they could not arrive before the truce was signed (Снабдяването на армията въ време на война,