Sunday, April 17, 2016

Battlefield Visit: Chataldja, Turkey

I was lucky to go on a excursion last summer with friends from the Istanbul war-gaming scene to the Chataldja lines, sites of the First and Second Battles of Chataldja during the First Balkan War between the Ottoman and Bulgarian armies.  After the war, the lines were updated and modernized as the final line of defence of Istanbul against enemies attacking from the west (Bulgaria, Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia).

The fields is large and we used a car to get around. It is also not developed at all, so part of the excursion was to explore it and find artifacts and sites of the Balkan War battles. It is doted by villages settled by Muslims expelled from Bulgaria and Greece in the sad and tumultus history of this region of the world. There is no commemoration of the battlefield by the state, and very little private work. A scenario of the First and Second battles will be developed in the future for Bloody Big Battles.

The vistas are breathtaking, and to be frank the decision of the Bulgarians to attack the Ottoman positions, over open ground, cannot be seen as anything but bravery married to stupidity and arrogance.  We took lots of photos, so here they are.

Also here is a map of the dispositions of he two armies in the first battle from the Official Turkish history.

The First Battle saw an woefully under-strength Bulgarian army lunch frontal assaults against the Ottoman entrenched positions at high ground. While Bulgarian elan might had carried the day in Kirkilise and Lule-Burgaz, it failed here in the face of determined Ottoman resistance, excellent defensive ground, and good works.

behind me are the Bulgarian starting points on the hills

The gang. We are in the ground between the two armies, closer to the Ottoman positions. The hill behind them is Bulgarian positions

The southern flank of the line

The Bulgarian troops descended the hills behind me into the valley in order to get at their lunch positions.

Looking towards the no-mans land.

Ottoman Positions

1930s-1950s concete bunkers

looking towards the Bulgarian positions, in the back

the old railway embankment. The railway does not exit anymore

The railway embankment

1930s-1940s  Fortifications

Looking towards the south part of the field. Our first pictures were taken deep in the back.

The Bulgarian positions in the depth
Ottoman Positions in the depth

Ottoman positions in the depth at the high ground

Bulgarian Positions

1930s-1940s fortifications on a hill

Our first discovery, potential redoubt remnants.

On the hill, the Bulgarian starting points in the background

Overgrown remnants of a trench

looking towards the north

The killing ground. We are on an Ottoman hill. Across is the Bulgarian high ground. In the middle the ground crossed by the Bulgarians.

Driving towards the Bulgarian side

lines of conrete bunkers

Looking towards the Ottoman lines

Privately built, monument for the Ottoman Troops killed in the taking of Ilari Tabiya. No government monuments exist to this crucial battle. No attempt at conservation.

1930s fort used as stable

Human ingenuity in action. A buner turned into a restaurant.

A panoramic view from out second major finding. A hill with definite remnants of artillery entrenchements

What a panorama

You cannot see it, but we are actually at the bottom of a depression with evidence of use as a gun emplacement. 

Indicators of constuctions

To the right is the pit, which is quite steep. Its not the only one, and they are positioned with a plan. Trenched run between them, and there are wheel grooves in the ground.

everything is overgrown. A poor battlefield given no love.

back to 1930s-1940s bunkers

staff discussions


Our team, me, Emir, Doruk, Onur


The hill where we found the artillery positions.

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