Order of battle of the Hellenic Army in the First Balkan War

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The following is the order of battle of the Hellenic Army during the First Balkan War.

Background[edit]

Greek artillerymen with 75 mm field gun.

Greece, a state of 2,666,000 people in 1912,[1] was considered the weakest of the three main Balkan allies, since it fielded the smallest land army and had suffered a humiliating defeat against the Ottomans 16 years before in the Greco-Turkish War of 1897.

Following the defeat, starting in 1904 and especially after the Goudi coup of 1909, serious efforts were undertaken to reorganize and modernize the Army. From 1911, this task was undertaken by a French military mission.[2] The peacetime establishment of the Hellenic Army in 1912 comprised four infantry divisions (1st at Larissa, 2nd at Athens, 3rd at Missolonghi and 4th at Nafplion) newly reformed as triangular divisions, a cavalry brigade, six Evzones battalions, four field artillery and two mountain artillery regiments, one heavy artillery battalion and various support units, including two engineer regiments and an aircraft company. From 25 March 1912, Crown Prince Constantine assumed the position of Inspector-General of the Army, becoming its de facto commander-in-chief.[3]

Mobilization[edit]

The army was still in the process of reorganization when the war began. With the escalation of the crisis between the Balkan states and the Ottoman Empire, on 29 September [O.S. 16 September] 1912, a general mobilization was declared. The existing units were brought up to full complement, and the 5th, 6th, and 7th infantry divisions were set up. This brought the peacetime establishment of ca. 25,000 men up to ca. 110,000. In contrast to pre-war planning, no army corps were established; instead, the divisions were directly subordinated to GHQ.[4][5]

The available forces were grouped into two main commands: the Army of Thessaly (Στρατιά Θεσσαλίας), under the Crown Prince, which comprised the bulk of the Greek Army, and the Army of Epirus (Στρατιά Ηπείρου), under Lt Gen Konstantinos Sapountzakis.[6]

Army of Thessaly[edit]

The Army of Thessaly comprised in total 59 infantry and 4 Evzone battalions, eight cavalry companies (of the Cavalry Brigade), seven engineer companies (organic to the infantry divisions), 32 artillery batteries with 96 field guns, 24 mountain guns and 70 machine-guns, and various support troops including an aviation company with four aircraft. The force totalled some 100,000 men, with ca. 80,000 effectives.[6] On 19 October [O.S. 3 October] 1912 these were organized in the following formations:

  • Gennadis Detachment (Απόσπασμα Γεννάδη), under Col Stefanos Gennadis, covering the army's left flank
    • 1st Evzone Battalion
    • 4th Evzone Battalion
  • Konstantinopoulos Detachment (Απόσπασμα Κωνσταντινοπούλου), under Col Konstantinopoulos, covering the army's right flank
    • 2nd Evzone Battalion
    • 6th Evzone Battalion

Army of Epirus[edit]

The Army of Epirus was tasked with the secondary strategic direction, towards the strongly fortified city of Ioannina and beyond. As the main initial strategic effort was to be against Thessaly, it was relegated to a secondary role, and was initially outnumbered by the Ottoman forces in the area (Yanya Corps under Esad Pasha). It nevertheless pushed back the initial Ottoman assaults, took Preveza and advanced to the approaches of the Ioannina fortified zone. Two attacks on the city in December and January were repulsed by the Ottoman forces, but after extensive preparations and transfer of forces from Macedonia, the city fell following the Battle of Bizani. It was commanded until 23 January [O.S. 10 January] 1913 by Lt Gen Konstantinos Sapountzakis, and thereafter by Crown Prince Constantine.

Order of battle at the outbreak of hostilities[edit]

The Army of Epirus was composed of several independent units of roughly divisional strength. Its forces numbered eight infantry and Evzone battalions, one cavalry company and 24 guns, totalling some 10,000–13,000 in the early phases of the war.[6] At the outbreak of the war, it comprised the following units:

  • 15th Infantry Regiment
  • 3rd Evzone Battalion
  • 3rd Independent Evzone Battalion
  • 7th Evzone Battalion
  • 10th Reserve Evzone Battalion
  • 2nd National Guard Battalion

To these were later added two battalions of Cretans, as well as the volunteer Garibaldini legion.[6] On 25 December [O.S. 12 December] 1912, these forces formed the Epirus Division (Μεραρχία Ηπείρου), renamed in February 1913 as the 8th Infantry Division (VIII Μεραρχία).[4] In early December, the Army of Epirus was reinforced with the 2nd Infantry Division,[7] followed on 27 December by the 4th Division, by mid-January by the 6th Division and the 7th Infantry Regiment.[8] In preparation for the Battle of Bizani, the Crown Prince brought in additional troops and artillery, while a Mixed Brigade was formed to attack the fortifications of Ioannina from the northeastern flank.[9]

Order of battle before the Battle of Bizani[edit]

Sketch plan of the Greek left wing's flanking manoeuvre
Plan of the Greek flanking move that led to the fall of Ioannina.

Before the Battle of Bizani, the Army of Epirus comprised the 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th Infantry Divisions, the Mixed Brigade, a cavalry regiment and the three independent detachments of Acheron, Preveza and Himara, in total 51 infantry battalions and other units, comprising 41,400 men with 48 machine guns and 93 field and mountain guns. These were grouped as follows, from the right to the left of the Greek front:

  • First Army Detachment (Α′ Τμήμα Στρατιάς), under Lt Gen Konstantinos Sapountzakis, on the right of the Greek front:
    • Mixed Metsovon Brigade (Μικτή Ταξιαρχία Μετσόβου), under Col Ioannis Papakyriazis, formed from the 4th Infantry Regiment (from 1st Division) and the Metsovon Detachment of Lt Col. Mitsas plus other units, in total six battalions, six machine guns and eight mountain guns
    • 6th Infantry Division (VI Μεραρχία), under Col Konstantinos Miliotis-Komninos
      • three battalions
      • 12 field guns
    • 8th Infantry Division (VIII Μεραρχία), under Col Dimitrios Matthaiopoulos
      • Cretan Regiment, of 3 battalions and four machine guns
      • 2nd Evzone Regiment, of 8 battalions and eight machine guns
      • 8 field guns and four machine guns
  • 2nd Infantry Division (II Μεραρχία), under Maj Gen Konstantinos Kallaris, comprising four and a half battalions, eight machine guns, twelve field guns and a cavalry half-company.
  • Second Army Detachment (Β′ Τμήμα Στρατιάς), under Maj Gen Konstantinos Moschopoulos, CO of the 4th Infantry Division on the left of the Greek front. It comprised mainly the 4th Division (IV Μεραρχία) plus units from the other divisions, organized in three columns:
    • First Column (Α′ Φάλαγγα) under Col Dimitrios Antoniadis, with six battalions, eight machine guns and eight mountain guns
    • Second Column (Β′ Φάλαγγα) under Col Ioannis Giannakitsas, with eight battalions, fourteen machine guns and eight mountain guns
    • Third Column (Γ′ Φάλαγγα) under Col Nikolaos Delagrammatikas, with six battalions, eight machine guns, 10 mountain guns, a cavalry half-company
      • Olitsikas Detachment (Απόσπασμα Ολίτσικα) of three battalions
  • Army Reserve or independent units within the Army's operational zone:
    • Epirus Cavalry Regiment (Σύνταγμα Ιππικού Ηπείρου), of three companies and two machine guns
    • Army Artillery, of six field and two heavy batteries, with 34 guns
    • Acheron Detachment (Απόσπασμα Αχέροντος) of 4 battalions, 4 machine guns and five field guns, at Paramythia
    • Preveza Detachment (Απόσπασμα Πρεβέζης) of two battalions, around Preveza and Filippiada
    • Himara Detachment (Απόσπασμα Χειμάρρας) of one battalion, two machine guns and two field guns, at Himara

References[edit]

  1. ^ Erickson (2003), p. 70
  2. ^ The history of the organization of the Hellenic Army, 1821–1954 (2005), pp. 219–282
  3. ^ The history of the organization of the Hellenic Army, 1821–1954 (2005), pp. 239–241, 285
  4. ^ a b The history of the organization of the Hellenic Army, 1821–1954 (2005), p. 287
  5. ^ Hall (2000), p. 17
  6. ^ a b c d Oikonomou (1977), pp. 289–290
  7. ^ Erickson (2003), p. 293
  8. ^ Erickson (2003), p. 299
  9. ^ Erickson (2003), p. 301

Sources[edit]

  • Erickson, Edward J. (2003). Defeat in Detail: The Ottoman Army in the Balkans, 1912–1913. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-97888-5. 
  • Hall, Richard C. (2000). The Balkan Wars, 1912–1913: Prelude to the First World War. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-22946-4. 
  • (Greek) Oikonomou, Nikolaos (1977). "Ο Α′ Βαλκανικός Πόλεμος: Οι επιχειρήσεις του ελληνικού στρατού και στόλου" [The First Balkan War: Operations of the Greek army and fleet]. Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους, Τόμος ΙΔ′: Νεώτερος Ελληνισμός από το 1881 ως το 1913 [History of the Greek Nation, Volume XIV: Modern Hellenism from 1881 to 1913]. Ekdotiki Athinon. pp. 289–326. 
  • (Greek) Η ιστορία της οργάνωσης του Ελληνικού Στρατού, 1821–1954 [The history of the organization of the Hellenic Army, 1821–1954]. Hellenic Army Historical Directorate. 2005. ISBN 960-7897-45-5.