Siege of Odrin (1912–13)

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Battle of Odrin
Part of First Balkan War
Siege of Adrianople 1912-13.png
Siege of Odrin
Date3 November 1912 – 26 March 1913
Edirne District, Vilayet of Edirne, Ottoman Empire
(present day Edirne, Turkey)
Result Decisive Bulgarian and Serbian victory
 Kingdom of Bulgaria
 Kingdom of Serbia
 Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of Bulgaria Nikola Ivanov
Kingdom of Bulgaria Georgi Vazov
Kingdom of Serbia Stepa Stepanović
Ottoman Empire Kölemen Abdullah Pasha (POW)
Ottoman Empire Mehmed Şükrü Pasha (POW)
Ottoman Empire Mustafa Kemal Pasha
106,425 Bulgarians (424 guns);[1]
47,275 Serbs (62 field guns, 34 howitzers)[2]
60,000[3] - 75,000[1] (Bulgarian claims)
52.597 (340 guns)[4][5]
Casualties and losses
Kingdom of Bulgaria: 1,298 killed, 6,655 wounded[1]
Kingdom of Serbia: 453 killed, 1,917 wounded[6]
Bulgarian claim: ca. 7,000 killed
65,000 soldiers, 15 generals, 2,000 officers, 600 artillery guns, 16 flags[1][7]
Turkish claim:13,000 killed and wounded
42,500 captured[4]

The Battle of Odrin or Siege of Odrin (Bulgarian: Обсада на Одрин, Serbian: Опсада Једрена, Turkish: Edirne Kuşatması) was fought during the First Balkan War, beginning in mid-November 1912 and ending on 26 March 1913 with the capture of Edirne (Adrianople) by the Bulgarian 2nd Army and the Serbian 2nd Army. The loss of Edirne delivered the final decisive blow on the Ottoman army and brought to a close the First Balkan War.[8] A treaty was signed in London on 30 May. The city was re-occupied and kept by Turkey in the Second Balkan War.[9]

The victorious end of the siege was considered an enormous military success because the defenses of city were carefully developed by leading German siege experts and were dubbed 'undefeatable'. The Bulgarian army, after 5 months of siege and two bold night attacks, took the Ottoman stronghold.

The victors were under the overall command of General Nikola Ivanov, and the commander of the Bulgarian forces on the Eastern sector of the fortress was General Georgi Vazov, brother of the famous Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov and General Vladimir Vazov.

One early use of an airplane for bombing took place during the siege: the Bulgarians dropped special hand grenades from one or more airplanes in an effort to cause panic among Turkish soldiers. Many young Bulgarian officers and professionals who took part in this decisive battle of the First Balkan War, later played important roles in the politics, culture, commerce and industry of Bulgaria.[citation needed]

Siege artillery arriving before Adrianople, 3 November 1912.
Serbian artillery at siege.
Edirne people living under siege, 1913

Final battle[edit]

The final battle consisted of two night attacks. Preparations for the battle included covering all metal parts of the uniforms and weapons with tissue, in order to eliminate any shine or noise. The several armies that took part in the siege were put under joint command, creating a prototype of a front. Some light artillery pieces towed by horses followed the advancing units, playing the role of infantry support guns. Attempts were made to perturb all Ottomans' radio communications to isolate and demoralize the besieged. Beginning on 24 March 1913 the external fortifications were captured in one night, and in the next night the fortress itself fell into Bulgarian hands. Early in the morning of 26 March 1913 the commander of the fortress, Mehmed Şükrü Pasha, surrendered to the Bulgarian army[10] and thus ended the siege of Odrin.

After the surrender, large parts of the city, especially the houses of Muslims and Jews, were subjected to looting for three days. However, it is disputed who actually carried out the looting; some accounts accuse the Bulgarian army and other sources accuse the local Greek population.[11]

The Bulgarian achievements up to this point were fairly summarized by a British war correspondent: "A nation with a population of less than five million and a military budget of less than two million pounds per annum placed in the field within fourteen days of mobilization an army of 400,000 men, and in the course of four weeks moved that army over 160 miles in hostile territory, captured one fortress and invested another, fought and won two great battles against the available armed strength of a nation of twenty million inhabitants, and stopped only at the gates of the hostile capital. With the exception of the Japanese and Gurkhas, the Bulgarians alone of all troops go into battle with the fixed intention of killing at least one enemy." There were a large number of journalists who reported on the Siege of Adrianople, whose accounts provide rich details about this event.[12]

Serbian units involved were the 2nd army under command of general (later vojvoda, equivalent to Field Marshal) Stepa Stepanović (two divisions and some support units) and heavy artillery (38 siege cannons and howitzers of 120 and 150 mm purchased from French Schneider-Canet factory in 1908) dispatched because the Bulgarians lacked heavy artillery (though they were well supplied with Krupp-designed 75 mm field artillery).

Coming of the Serb forces[edit]

Serbian forces under the command of General Stepa Stepanović arrived on 6 November 1912. In the place Mustafa Pasha (railway station outside of Odrin), General Stepanović immediately reported to the supreme commander General Nikola Ivanov. The Serbian Second army was formed from the Timok Division without the 14th Regiment, the Second Danube Division reinforced with the 4th reserve regiment and the Second Drina artillery division. There was a total of 47,275 Serbian troops with 72 artillery guns, 4,142 horses and oxen and 3,046 cars.[13]

The arrival of the Serbian soldiers greatly improved the morale of the Bulgarian troops at Odrin. Both Serbian divisions were immediately sent to the front. The Timok Division strengthened by a Bulgarian regiment occupied the north-western sector between the rivers of Maritsa and Tundzha. Its sector was 15 km long. The Danube Division occupied a 5 km long stretch of the western sector between the Maritsa and Arda rivers. A combined brigade was formed from the Timok Cavalry Regiment and the Bulgarian guard Cavalry Regiment to scout the Maritsa valley. [13]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d ЦВА, ф. 48, оп. 1, а, е. 3, л. 86; а. е. 5, л. 205-206; Иванов, Н. Балканската война... с. 332-335
  2. ^ Alexandar Vachkov: The Balkan War 1912-1913, p.124
  3. ^ Dictionary of Battles and Sieges: A-E, Tony Jaques, page 12, 2007
  4. ^ a b Necdet Hayta, Togay Seçkin Birbudak: Balkan Savaşları'nda Edirne[permanent dead link], T.C. Genelkurmay Başkanlığı, Ankara, 2010, Genelkurmay Askerî Tarih ve Stratejik Etüt (ATASE) Başkanlığı Yayınları, sayfa 96.
  5. ^ Richard C. Hall: The Balkan Wars 1912-1913: Prelude to the First World War, Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0203138058, sayfa 39.
  6. ^ Jaša Tomić: Rat u Maćedoniji i Bugarskoj, p. 75
  7. ^ Николета Николова. "Одринската епопея — венец на българската войнска слава". Archived from the original on 29 June 2007. Retrieved 27 May 2008.
  8. ^ Monroe, Will Seymour. "'Bulgaria and her people : with an account of the Balkan wars, Macedonia, and the Macedonia Bulgars (1914)'". p. 114.
  9. ^ T. B. Harbottle, George Bruce (1979). Harbottle's Dictionary of Battles (second ed.). Granada. p. 11. ISBN 0-246-11103-8.
  10. ^ История на Българите: Военна история, София, 2007
  11. ^ Jews, Turks, Ottomans: a shared history, fifteenth through the twentieth century, Avigdor Levy, page 187, 2002
  12. ^ David Johnson (August 1997). "Splendid Fellows, Splendidly Led". Military History. Vol. 14 no. 3. Archived from the original on 22 August 2001. Retrieved 2 June 2007.
  13. ^ a b Skoko & Opačić 1990, p. 11.


  • Skoko, Savo; Opačić, Petar (1990). Vojvoda Stepa Stepanović u Ratovima Srbije, 1876–1918 [Vojvoda Stepa Stepanović in the Wars of Serbia, 1876–1918] (6 ed.). Belgrade: BIGZ. ISBN 86-13-00453-9.
  • Зафиров, Димитър; Александров, Емил (2007). История на Българите: Военна история. София: Труд. ISBN 954-528752-7.

Coordinates: 41°40′28″N 26°33′39″E / 41.6744°N 26.5608°E / 41.6744; 26.5608