beginning of 20th Century the cultural and historical ties between Russia and Bulgaria were strong, and
Russophile sentiments characterized much of the Bulgarian people. The Russian
Army was the author of the liberation of the country after five centuries of
Ottoman rule, and this feed a sharp sense of Slavic solidarity among the
Bulgarians. At the beginning of the World War, a number of Bulgarian
officers, among whom the Balkan Wars hero general Radko Dimitriev,
volunteered to serve in the Russian Army. In 1915 the decision of the
Radoslavov government to join the Central Powers provoked the dissatisfaction
of part of the army officers. Another hero of the Balkan Wars, general Ivanov,
the conqueror of Odrin, having received an appointment in the General Staff,
left the Army, refusing to fight against Russia.
In this context Bulgarian High Command hoped that a direct engagement against
the Russians should be avoided. However during the war the Bulgarian Army had
to faced the Russian troops both in Macedonia
and in Rumania.
at first the two Special Brigades sent by the Russian Head Quarters had not
their own artillery and were supported by French and Serbian batteries deployed
in their sector of the front. Only in July 1917 the recently formed 2nd
Special Division received its artillery brigade, but it was armed with French
75mm Mle. 1897 field guns. Consequently the Bulgarians had not any chance to
capture Russian-built guns in Macedonia.
the Russian Army at first deployed only two infantry and one cavalry
divisions, but the defeat of the Rumanian Army in the initial stages of its
offensive forced the Russian Head Quarters to send more and more troops to
support its staggering alley, and to avoid the collapse of the front. By the
end of 1916 thirty-six Russian infantry and eleven cavalry divisions were
sent to Rumania
in addition to the three divisions originally sent at the outbreak of
military operations. This comprised 23% of total Russian infantry and 37% of
cavalry divisions on the entire front from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Without doubt during the battles fought in
1916-1917 and the advance towards Bucharest
the Bulgarian Army could capture some Russian guns. The Bulgarian inventory
listed 76.2mm field guns and 152mm heavy howitzers.
During the war
German Army delivered as well to Bulgaria a number Russian guns
captured in the Eastern front, especially the trophies taken in great numbers
in the surrendered Polish fortresses. Some of them were nearly unfit of use:
the 254mm guns assigned to the defence of the Black Sea
coast were worn out to the tune of 90%, and the 152mm guns of 75%. In 1917
the Bulgarian Army received also at least twelve 76.2mm Russian anti-aircraft
guns, in all probability standard Russian field guns modified by the Germans.
In 1915-18 the
Bulgarian artillery received 98,400 rounds for 152mm Russian howitzers and in
1915-16 54,000 rounds for 76.2mm Russian field guns. This meant that if the howitzers were intensively used
during the whole war, the field guns were probably not used in great number,
and was only regarded as stop-gap guns. The fact that in 1917 no ammunition
for these guns were delivered, prove that as soon
as better guns became available, the Russian field guns were discarded.