24th Black Sea Infantry Regiment

24th Black Sea Infantry Regiment

24th Black Sea Infantry Regiment in the Balkan wars 1912 - 1913.

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24th Black Sea Infantry Regiment of Her Majesty Queen Eleanor was created on January 19 1889 with a government decree. It was filled in from the military district of Burgas. The Russian graduate Major Fodulaki, a Bulgarian from Bessarabia, was appointed as the 24th Black Sea Infantry Regiment's first commander. 24th Regiment was formed on the base of the 3rd and 4th Divisions of the 11th "Sliven" Infantry Regiment. In the following decades the regiment improved structural and undertook active combat training. The battle history of 24th Infantry Regiment is told in considerable detail in the book of Jordan Venedikov from 1939, which is also our main source for basic information about the regiment's participation in the Balkan Wars of 1912 - 1913, the battles of Lozengrad, Lyuleburgas, Bunar Hissar, Chataldja, Edirne fortress attack and others.

After the military mobilization and the declaration of war on 5 October 1912, 24th Regiment advanced to the Turkish border and managed to cross it at the village of Konstantinovo, place of its baptism by fire. Followed heavy fights in Erikler and the offensive operation to Lozengrad Fortress, which began on 9 October, 1912. The success of the Bulgarian army didn't wait for long and on October 11 the fortress was conquered as the Turks left the city in panic. But this battle will remain in history as the most severe test for the Bulgarian soldier. For the battle of Lule Burgas - Bunar Hisar, General Ratko Dimitriev have said, "This is the greatest battle of the Balkan war." The six days of fighting with variable success will be remembered for some of the bloodiest battles in the Balkan War. The soldiers of 24th Regiment were part of the successful Bulgarian force. 2nd Eastern Turkish army was defeated and Bunarhisar was captured.
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"While the Bulgarians rested and set up on the conquest battleground Luleburgaz - Bunarhisar, the Turkish commander, tried to stop the fleeing army and prepare to take a very comfortable position behind the upper reaches of Erkel. It was very possible, because the Bulgarians did not pursue. However, the Turkish army was so broken and scared, especially after the defeat at Bunarhisar as well as overwhelmed by such a panic of cholera, which was taking thousands of casualties a day that nothing was able to stop it and put in order. Therefore, the Turkish commander, was forced to order the first and second Eastern armies to retreat behind the fortified positions after Chataldzha and under the guise of a reserve army focused there, to come together and rebuild creating a barrier against the Bulgarians on the way to Constantinople".*

The fighting for Chataldja on 4 and 5 November remained without definite outcome and Bulgaria adopted the previously proposed negotiations for an armistice. On November 20th, an agreement to end the fighting was concluded after a week of talks near Chataldja. 24th Regiment was quartered and the resumption of fighting on 21 January 1913 it was stationed in Corlu. Nears the crucial for the development of the Balkan War battle, namely the taking of the Edirne fortress. "24th Regiment did not take direct part in the battle. It did not offer sacrifices in the attack and it did not give casualties in this battle. But the regiment suffered the full mental unrest and fluctuations of the battle and with its presence influenced greatly the spirit of the attackers. Both front lines attacked boldly and decisively, because they knew that there was a third line immediately behind, which keeps their rear and flanks and in case of need will come to the rescue."*

With the fall of Edirne fortress the warfare moved on Chataldzha and Gallipoli line. In anticipation of deployment, 24th Regiment was quartered in the town of Eski Baba. On March 18, Queen Eleanor, the patron of the regiment, visited the soldiers to encouraging them. She donated clothes, tobacco, soap, etc.., and visited a hospital in the city. The morale was high, but the news coming from the army headquarters were not good.

The concentration of Bulgarian troops on Chataldzha startled Turkey and Russia, and other European countries. The former allies, Greece and Serbia took advantage of the commitment of the Bulgarian army on the Eastern Front and persecuted Bulgarian population in Macedonia. Due to the aspirations of the "good neighbours" except the Macedonian-Adrianople militia, the Bulgarian government was forced to divert to Macedonia the 2nd Army, first to Alexandroupoli and then to Komotini and Doiran. It was commissioned to guard the area from Vardar to the Bay of Kavala in order to curb the possibility of Serbs and Greeks to penetrate deep in Macedonia.

On June 17, a peace treaty was signed in London. According to it all the lands west of the Midia - Enos and all Aegean Islands were ceded to the Allies. The question of Thessaloniki was yet to be resolved.

Yana Ivanova - curator Department "History", Regional Burgas Museum
Ivanka Deleva - curator Department "History", Regional Burgas Museum

*From the book "History of 24th Black Sea Infantry Regiment of Her Majesty Queen Eleanor"

We will not forget the heroes - the bloodiest battle in the entire Balkan war, the attack Luleburgaz - Bunarhisar