BULGARIAN Army in 1920s-1930s (organization, equipment)

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BIGpanzer
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BULGARIAN Army in 1920s-1930s (organization, equipment)

Postby BIGpanzer » 18 Dec 2004 20:25

Hello, everybody!
I need the detailed information about the uniform and insignia of Bulgarian Army in interwar period (1920-1939). I have only the book by Andrew Mollo "ARMED FORCES OF WORLD WAR II: Uniforms, Insignia and Organisation". There are only several pages about Bulgaria there :cry: .

I am trying also to find exact information about organisation and equipment of Bulgarian army, air force and navy of the interwar period (WWI-WWII). Could you help me, please?
There are a few information about Bulgarian Army in literature and Internet....Please, help!!!!!

Some facts about Kingdom of Bulgaria (Царство България)
Population: 6.077.939 (1934); 6.319.000 (1938)
Ethnic groups (1934): Bulgarians 86%, Turks 10.2%, Gypsies 1.3%, Jews 0.5%.
Area: 103.100 sq.km (1938)
Borders: with Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey
Access: to the Black Sea
Largest cities: Sofia (capital, population 287.095 in 1934) and Plovdiv (population 99.883 in 1934)
Economy: agricultural country with small industry, export products: tobacco, eggs, wheat.

Bulgarian map (1920-1940) is from http://www.zum.de/whkmla/histatlas/balkans
Bulgaria lost some western regions (given to Yugoslavia), W. Thrace (given to Greece) and S. Dobruja (given to Romania)
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Bulgarian Flag (1879-1947)
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Bulgarian Coat of Arms (1926-1946) - ceremony and small versions
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Bulgarian Coat of Arms (1883-1925)
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Pictures are from http://tribal.abv.bg/gerb/
Last edited by BIGpanzer on 21 Sep 2005 17:16, edited 26 times in total.

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Boris III - king of Bulgaria

Postby BIGpanzer » 20 Dec 2004 21:50

Here is the photo of Bulgarian King (Tsar) Boris III (1894-1943) in military uniform. He came to the Bulgarian throne in 1918 upon the abdication of his father - Ferdinand I, following Bulgaria's defeat in WWI. Boris III was a Supreme Commander of Bulgarian Army in 1918-1943 and had the highest rank - field marshal. In April 1935 Czar Boris III took power in Bulgaria himself, ruling as an absolute monarch. In 1941, Boris reluctantly allied with the Axis powers and joined Germany's war against Greece and Yugoslavia in an attempt to regain territories lost under the Treaty of Neuilly. In 1943, he tried to interrupt the union with nazi Germany after the defeats of German Army on Eastern front occured. Boris III mysteriously died on 28 August 1943 in Sofia after visiting the Hitler`s headquarters (where he agreed to declare war on UK and USA, but again refused to get Bulgaria involved in the war against the USSR), probably he was poisoned by German agents.

I tried to find the information about organization and equipment of Bulgarian Army in 1920s-1930s (infantry, cavalry, artillery, tank units). Could somebody help me, please? May be members from Bulgaria know more about it?

The photo is from http://www.macedoniainfo.com
BORIS III - tsar of Bulgaria (b. 1894 - d. 1943)
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Last edited by BIGpanzer on 21 Sep 2005 17:17, edited 8 times in total.

arpitec
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Postby arpitec » 20 Dec 2004 23:30


dibo
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Postby dibo » 21 Dec 2004 14:45

I may be able to help, but please specify your request. :)

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Postby BIGpanzer » 21 Dec 2004 19:18

Hi, Arpitec!
Thank you very much for the link. It is very interesting and contains many other useful links. But I need now the information about Bulgarian Army of interwar period (1920-1939), not of WWI or WWII....

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Postby BIGpanzer » 21 Dec 2004 19:27

Good day, Dibo!
Thank you very much for promising help!
OK, I need the information about Bulgarian Army of interwar period (1920-1939) - organization (list of infantry and cavalry divisions, regiments, independent units, military police and frontier units etc., their commanders, localization in Bulgaria, if possible) and equipment (types of rifles, MGs and guns, their amount per division/regiment). Not whole information at once, of course, only little by little....
I found recently some short info about small Bulgarian Army of 1920s, need to analyze it. But the info is very few, unfortunately...

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Postby BIGpanzer » 23 Dec 2004 12:01

I need the information about Bulgarian Army of interwar period (1920-1939) - organization (list of infantry and cavalry divisions, regiments, independent units, military police and frontier units etc., their commanders, localization in Bulgaria, if possible) and equipment (types of rifles, MGs and guns, their amount per division/regiment). Not whole information at once, of course, only little by little....

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Postby dibo » 23 Dec 2004 13:09

BIGpanzer wrote:I need the information about Bulgarian Army of interwar period (1920-1939) - organization (list of infantry and cavalry divisions, regiments, independent units, military police and frontier units etc., their commanders, localization in Bulgaria, if possible) and equipment (types of rifles, MGs and guns, their amount per division/regiment). Not whole information at once, of course, only little by little....


OK :) Will do :) But not all at once :)

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Postby dibo » 23 Dec 2004 20:48

Starting with the uniforms. There is very litle info on the subject even here in Bulgaria. I know only of two books and three articles concerning the Bulgarian uniforms for the entire period of the Third Bulgarian Kingdom (1879-1946). Below is a listing of these:
"Българските военни униформи. Балканската война 1912-1913г." ("The Bulgarian military uniforms during the Balkan war 1912-1913") - Author Александър Въчков (Alexander Vychkov). ISBN 954-90162-2-6. 48 pages. Text in Bulgarian and English.
"Сръбско-българската война - 1885г." ("The Serb-Bulgarian war - 1885") - Author Александър Въчков (Alexander Vychkov). ISBN 954-90587-1-9. 79 pages. Includes color plates of the uniforms of the Bulgarian and the Serbian army. Text in Bulgarian and partly in English.
"Военните ни униформи през Втората световна война" ("Our military uniforms during WW2") - article in "Оръжеен магазин" ("Weapons magazine") 4/1995, p. 14-15 by Александър Въчков (Alexander Vychkov). Text is in Bulgarian only.
""Ние побеждаваме или умираме". Униформи, снаряжение и въоръжение на българските танкисти в периода 1935-1945г." (""We win or die". Uniforms, equipment and armament of the Bulgarian tankers during the period 1935-1945") - article in "Клуб Модел" ("Club Model (Kit)") 1/1999, p. 28-30 by Венцислав Чаков (Vencislav Chakov). Text is in Bulgarian only.
"Униформите във Въздушните войски в периода 1936-1940г." ("The uniforms of the Air force in the period 1936-1940") - article in "Клуб Модел" ("Club Model (Kit)") No 15, p. 15-17 by Венцислав Чаков (Vencislav Chakov). Text is in Bulgarian only.

As you can see none of these deals specifically with the period you are interested in. However I'll post some of the color drawings for 1936-1945 from the articles mentioned, as these are the closest I have found.

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Postby dibo » 23 Dec 2004 21:15

Cavalry
Cavalry corporal in full combat gear. Winter uniform. Armed with Manlicher carbine 1895/34
Cavalry Rotmistyr (Captain). Winter uniform. Armed with saber and pistol.
Last edited by dibo on 23 Dec 2004 22:20, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby dibo » 23 Dec 2004 21:40

Left to right:
Pilot in Flight Gear
Pilot with winter jacket.
Paratrooper armed with MP-40, Luger and knife.
Seaman from the Danube flotillia. Winter form. Summer form is the same, but in white.
Midshipman in winter form.
Podporuchik (Lieutenant) of the Armoured Regiment of the Armoured Brigade armed with pistol.
Soldier of the Motorized Regiment of the Armoured Brigade armed with Mauser 98k and knife.
Motorcyclist from the reconaissance company of the Armoured brigade in winter form armed with Manlicher 1895 rifle and knife.
Last edited by dibo on 23 Dec 2004 22:19, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby dibo » 23 Dec 2004 21:55

Left to right:
Soldier in winter form (artillery) armed with Manlicher 1895 rifle and knife;
Podporuchik (Lieutenant) of the infantry in full combat gear armed with Luger;
Lieutenant-Colonel from the General Staff in winter form armed with a pistol;
Major-General;
Infantry soldier in winter form in full combat gear armed with Zbroyovka ZK-383;
Infantry soldier in winter form with 7.92mm Bren MG;
Soldier in summer form armed with Mauser 98k carbine and knife.
Last edited by dibo on 23 Dec 2004 22:19, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby dibo » 23 Dec 2004 22:16

BIGPanzer, when you read this please drop me a PM with your e-mail, so I can send you some more colour drawings of Bulgarian tankers and pilots of 1936-1940. Also everybody please have in mind that I'll now remove the drawings I have posted, as it appears that these may be copyrighted. Whoever wants them please drop me a Pm with an email.

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Postby BIGpanzer » 24 Dec 2004 18:19

Hello, Dibo!
Thanks a lot for your information about Bulgarian uniform. It is a pity that even in Bulgaria there are no enough publications about Bulgarian Army of 1920s-1930s. And, of course, it will be quite hard for me to get Bulgarian journals and books. So I am writing to you a PM with my e-mail, as you asked me for. Please, send me the drawings that you`ve mentioned 8O :D .
I found some new info about Bulgarian Army of 1920s (after Treaty of Neuilly), so I`ll try to add it this evening to the topic. If you have something interesting about the organisation of Bulgarian army, please let me know. Also your notes and comments are very welcome!!

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Bulgarian Army in 1920s (according to Neuilly Treaty)

Postby BIGpanzer » 24 Dec 2004 19:47

After the defeat of Bulgaria in WWI as the ally of Germany Bulgarian Army was heavily restricted by Neuilly Treaty (27.11.1919).

The total number of military forces in the Bulgarian Army should not exceed 20.000 men, including officers and depot troops.

The proportion of officers, including the personnel of staffs and special services, should not not exceed 1/20 of the total effectives with the colours, and that of non-commissioned officers should not exceed 1/15 of the total effectives with the colours. All officers, including the gendarmerie, customs, forest and other services must be regulars (officers de carriere). Officers newly appointed must undertake to serve on the active list of the army, gendarmerie or the above-mentioned services for at least 20 years. Officers at present serving who were retained in the army, gendarmerie or the above-mentioned services must undertake to serve at least up to the age of 40. Officers at present serving who did not join the new army, gendarmerie or the above-mentioned services should be free from any military obligations. They must not take part in any military exercises, theoretical or practical, according to Neuilly Treaty. The total length of engagement of non-commissioned officers and men should not be less than 12 years consecutive service with the colours. The proportion of men dismissed before the expiration of their term of service for reasons of health or discipline or for any other cause must not exceed in any year 1/20 of the total effectives.


The number of gendarmes, customs officials, forest guards, local or municipal police or other like officials who were armed with rifles should not exceed 10.000 men. These officials, as well as those employed in the railway service, must not be assembled for the purpose of taking part in any military exercises, according to Neuilly Treaty.

In addition, Bulgaria could establish a special corps of frontier guards, which were recruited by means of voluntary enlistment and not exceeded 3.000 men, so that the total number of rifles in use in Bulgaria was near 33.000 in 1920s.

According to Neuilly Treaty in Bulgarian Army should not be the units of greater size than a division, but each of the units may have a depot: a regiment of infantry; a regiment of cavalry; a regiment of field artillery; a battalion of pioneers.

Universal compulsory military service was abolished in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Army in 1920s was constituted and recruited by means of voluntary enlistment. Bulgaria should have only one military school, strictly set apart for the recruitment of officers for the authorised units.
All measures of mobilisation were forbidden. Formations, administrative services and staffs must not in any case include supplementary cadres.
It was also forbidden by Neuilly Treaty to carry out any preparatory measures for the requisition of animals or any other means of military transport.

The maximum stock of ammunition for guns in Bulgaria was reduced to 1.500 rounds per gun for calibre 105 mm and under and to 500 rounds per gun of higher calibre. The manufacture of arms, munitions and of war material was carried on in only one single Bulgarian factory according to Neuilly Treaty. The importation into Bulgaria of arms, munitions and war material of all kinds was forbidden. The use of flame throwers, asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and all similar liquids, materials or processes was prohibited, their manufacture and importation were strictly forbidden in Bulgaria. The manufacture and importation into Bulgaria of armoured cars, tanks, or any similar machines suitable for use in war were also forbidden.

No new fortifications or fortified places should be constructed in Bulgaria, according to Neuilly Treaty.

Composition and maximum effectives of Bulgarian infantry division by Neuilly Treaty (officers/men): headquarters of an infantry division - 25/70; headquarters of divisional infantry - 5/50; headquarters of divisional artillery - 4/30; 3 regiments of infantry - 65/2.000 per regiment; 1 squadron - 6/160; 1 batallion of trench artillery (3 companies) - 14/500; 1 batallion of pioneers - 14/500; regiment field artillery - 80/1200; 1 batallion cyclists (3 companies) - 18/450; 1 signal detachment - 11/330; divisional medical corps - 28/550; divisional parks and trains - 4/940; total - 414/10.780.

Each infantry regiment comprised 3 battalions of infantry. Each battalion comprised 3 companies of infantry and 1 machine gun company.
Battalion of pioneers comprised 1 headquarters; 2 pioneer companies; 1 bridging section; 1 searchlight section.
Regiment field artillery comprised 1 headquarters; 3 groups of field or mountain artillery, comprising 8 batteries, each battery comprising 4 guns or howitzers (field or mountain).
Signal detachment comprised telegraph and telephone detachment; 1 listening section; 1 carrier pigeon section.

Composition and maximum effectives of Bulgarian cavalry division by Neuilly Treaty (officers/men): headquarters of a cavalry division - 15/50; 6 (max) regiments of cavalry - 30/720 per regiment; group of field artillery (3 batteries) - 30/430; group of motor machine-guns and armoured cars - 4/80; miscellaneous services - 30/500; total - 259/5.380.

Each regiment of cavalry comprised 4 squadrons.
Group of motor machine-guns and armoured cars comprised 9 fighting cars, each carrying 1 gun, 1 machine gun and 1 spare machine gun; 4 communication cars; 2 small lorries for stores; 7 lorries; including 1 repair lorry; 4 motor cycles.
According to Neuilly Treaty the large cavalry units may include a variable number of regiments and could be divided into independent brigades.

Composition and maximum effectives for a Bulgarian mixed brigade by Neuilly Treaty (officers/men): headquarters of a brigade - 10/50; 2 regiments of infantry - 65/2.000 per regiment; 1 cyclist batallion (3 companies) - 18/450; 1 cavalry squadron - 5/100; 1 group field or mountain artillery (3 batteries) - 20/400; 1 trench mortar company - 5/150; miscellaneous services - 10/200; total - 198/5.350.

Each regiment comprised 3 battalions of infantry. Each battallon comprised 3 companies of infantry and 1 machine gun company.

Maximum (minimum) effectives of Bulgarian units - divisions, mixed brigades, etc. - whatever organisation was adopted in the army by Neuilly Treaty (officers/man): infantry division - 414/10.780 (300/8.000); cavalry division - 259/5.380 (180/3.650); mixed brigade - 198/5.350 (140/4.250); regiment of infantry - 65/2.000 (52/1.600); battalion of infantry - 16/650 (12/500); company of infantry or machine guns - 3/160 (2/120); cyclist group - 18/450 (12/300); regiment of cavalry - 30/720 (20/450); squadron of cavalry - 6/160 (3/100); regiment of artillery - 80/1.200 (60/1.000); battery of field artillery - 4/150 (2/120); company of trench mortars - 3/150 (2/100); battalion of pioneers - 14/500 (8/300); battery of mountain artillery - 5/320 (3/200).

Maximum authorised Bulgarian armaments and munition supplies by Neuilly Treaty (quantity for 1.000 men/amount of munitions per arm - rifle, gun, etc.): rifles or carbines - 1.150/500 rounds; machine guns, heavy or light - 15/10.000 rounds; trench mortars, light - 2/500 rounds; trench mortars, medium - 2/500 rounds; guns or howitzers, field or mountain - 3/1.000 rounds.

Automatic rifles or carbines were counted as light machine guns.
No heavy gun, i. e., of a calibre greater than 105 mm., was authorised, wlth the exception of the normal armament of fortified places.

Bulgaria, however, had the right to maintain on the Danube river and along her coasts for police and fishery duties not more than four torpedo boats and six motor boats, all without torpedoes and torpedo apparatus. The personnel of the above vessels should be organised on a purely civilian basis, according to Neuilly Treaty. The vessels allowed to Bulgaria must only be replaced by lightly-armed patrol craft not exceeding l00 tons displacement and of non-military character. The construction or acquisition of any submarine, even for commercial purposes, was forbidden in Bulgaria. All arms, ammunition and other naval war material, including mines and torpedoes were finally surrendered to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, according to Neuilly Treaty.

The high-power wireless telegraphy station at Sofia should not be used for the transmission of messages concerning naval, military or political questions of interest to Bulgaria without the assent of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. This station was used for commercial purposes, but only under the supervision of the said Powers, who decided the wave-length to be used. Bulgaria could not build any more high-power wireless telegraphy stations in her own territory.

The armed forces of Bulgaria should not include any military or naval air forces, including dirigibles. The manufacture, importation and exportation of aircraft, parts of aircraft, engines for aircraft, and parts of engines for aircraft were forbidden in all Bulgarian territory. Complete, repaired and assembled aeroplanes and seaplanes; dirigibles able to take the air, manufactured, repaired or assembled; engines for aircraft; nacelles and fuselages; armament (guns, machine guns, light machine guns, bomb-dropping apparatus, torpedo-dropping apparatus, synchronization apparatus, aiming apparatus); munitions (cartridges, shells, bombs loaded or unloaded, stocks of explosives or of material for their manufacture), Instruments for use on aircraft; wireless apparatus and photographic or cinematograph apparatus for use on aircraft - were delivered by Bulgaria and at her expense to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. The plant for the manufacture of hydrogen, as well as the sheds for dirigibles were left to Bulgaria until the time when the dirigibles were handed over to Principal Allied and Associated Powers.
In other words all Bulgarian planes were destructed and war aviation under any form was prohibited for 20 years. The planes in the future civil aviation could be bought only from the countries that won the war and the capacity of the engine (or the summary capacity of all engines for one plane) could not exceed more than 180 hp. But however several aircraft were secretly retained with machine guns to later be used for clandestine training. In the 1920s a number of light aircraft were bought and built in local factories and used to train hundreds of aircrews under civilian cover
Last edited by BIGpanzer on 15 Jan 2005 17:38, edited 5 times in total.


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