Following the quick Bulgarian victory on the Petra – Seliolu – Geckenli line and the capture of Kirk Kilisse , the Ottoman forces retreated in disorder to the east and south. The Bulgarian Second Army under the command of gen. Nikola Ivanov besieged Adrianople but the First and Third armies failed to chase the retreating Ottoman forces. Thus the Ottomans were allowed to regroup and took new defensive positions along the Lule Burgas – Bunar Hisar line. The Bulgarian Third Army under gen. Radko Dimitriev reached the Ottoman lines on 28 October. The attack began the same day by the army’s three divisions – 5th Danubian Infantry Division on the left flank, 4th Preslav Infantry Division in the centre and 6th Bdin Infantry Division on the right flank. By the end of the day 6th Division captured the town of Lule Burgas. With the arrival of First Army on the battlefield the following day, attacks continued along the entire front but were met with fierce resistance and even limited counterattacks by the Ottomans. Heavy and bloody battles occurred on the next two days and the casualties were high on both sides. At the cost of heavy losses, the Bulgarian Fourth and 5th Division managed to push the Ottomans back and gained 5km of land in their respective sectors of the front-line on 30 October.
The Bulgarians continued to push the Ottomans on the entire front. The 6th division managed to breach the Ottoman lines on the right flank. After another two days of fierce combat, the Ottoman defence collapsed and on the night of 2 November the Ottoman forces began a full retreat along the entire front-line. The Bulgarians again didn’t immediately follow the retreating Ottoman forces and lost contact with them, which allowed the Ottoman army to take up positions on the Catalca defence line just 30km west of Constantinople.
PALL MALL MILITARY SERIES THE CAMPAIGN IN THRACE 1912
The First Balkan War was fought between Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Montenegro (known as the Balkan League) and the Ottoman Empire. Montenegro opened hostilities by declaring war on Turkey on Oct. 8, 1912, and the other members of the league followed suit 10 days later. The Balkan League was soon victorious. In Thrace, the Bulgarians defeated the main Ottoman forces, advancing to the outskirts of Istanbul and laying siege to Edirne.
The bloody battle of Lule Burgas – Bunar Hisar gets good coverage in this excellent tactical study that forms part of the “Pall Mall military series”. In terms of forces engaged it was the largest battle fought in Europe between the end of the Franco-Prussian War and the beginning of the First World War. Written by an officer who visited the battlefield and who was well acquainted with the Bulgarian Officer corps , he viewed the opening phase covered in this study from their point of view.
The war was a comprehensive and unmitigated disaster for the Ottomans, who lost 83% of their territories in Europe and 69% of their European population.