Yesterday I visited the site of the Battle of Kilkis-Lachanas, fought between Greek and Bulgarian armies over three days in June 1913.
This was the 2nd Balkan War, in which former allies, after defeating the Turks, fell out over the spoils. The Bulgarian 2nd Army commanded by General Nicolai Ivanov, had advanced into Macedonia in May and held the line between Kilkis and Lahanas with around 70,000 men. He faced a much stronger Greek army, commanded by King Constantine, totalling around 117,000 men.
Despite being outnumbered, Ivanov was relying on his more experienced troops and advanced towards Thessaloniki on 15 June. The offensive came to a halt by 18 June and the Greeks counterattacked. The Greek 10th division advanced toward the heights of Kallinovo north of lake Artzan, the 3rd, 5th, 4th and 2nd divisions attacked Kilkis, the 6th and 1st attacked Lachanas and the 7th the Karakoli saddle and Nigrita.
I visited the site of Lachanas battle that is marked by a fine memorial and a small museum, sadly closed despite published opening hours!
The Bulgarians prepared the area of Lachanas with defensive works, the low lying hills provide excellent fields of fire. The Greek 6th division attacked on 19 June and captured the line Dichalo-Klepe, losing 500 casualties, while the 1st division captured Vertiskos. On 20 June the two Greek divisions linked up near Lachanas. However, the Bulgarians spotted a detachment moving away to support the Kilkis battle and successfully counterattacked it.
When Kilkis fell, the troop shift was cancelled allowing the two Greek divisions to successfully attack the Bulgarian position capturing 16 guns and 500 prisoners. The Greeks suffered 2,701 killed and wounded at Lachanas.
The defeat of the 2nd Army was the most serious military disaster suffered by the Bulgarians in the 2nd Balkan war. The Bulgarian army suffered 6,971 casualties and the Greeks suffered 8,828 casualties. However, they succeeded in withdrawing through the Struma Pass before the outflanking Greek units reached them.