Battle of Sarantaporo

The Bridge of the Axios River

The Battle of Sarantaporo (Greek: Μάχη του Σαρανταπόρου) took place on October 9-10 (O.S.), 1912. It was part of the First Balkan War

The Greek "Army of Thessaly", under Crown Prince Constantine (with General Panagiotis Danglis as his chief of staff) crossed the border on 5 October. The army consisted of 6 divisions (1st-6th) with the 7th Division forming at Larissa, a Cavalry Brigade and 4 independent Evzones battalions. After small-scale engagements with Turkish border forces, it occupied Elassona and reached the Sarantaporo straits on the 7th.

The Ottomans deployed their 8th Corps, with 2 divisions, against the Greek Army, hoping to hold the Sarantaporon straits, which had been extensively fortified by a German mission before the war. The total Turkish force equalled 14 infantry battalions with further 11 in reserve, supported by substantial artillery and three machine-gun companies.

The Greek offensive began on 9 October, with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Divisions attacking the Turkish main line frontally, the 4th Division attempting a flanking move to the west, in order to bypass the fortifications and thence occupy the Pota straits, in the rear of the Turkish positions, while the 5th Division was ordered to execute an even broader maneuvre. The advance of the Greek troops on open terrain, under Turkish artillery fire, caused many casualties, but by the night the three Greek divisions had established contact with the main Turkish line. The 5th Division run into stiff resistance, but the 4th Division managed to push back the Turkish flank and to occupy its designated objective. During the night the Turks, after becoming aware of the 4th Division's move, retreated in good order under the cover of the darkness and the heavy rain to avoid being completely encircled.

Wilhelm Leopold Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz , German military expert who organized earlier the Ottoman Army against the Greeks

Battle of Sarantaporo
Part of First Balkan War
Date: October 9€“October 10, 1913 (O.S.)
Location: Sarantaporon, Greece
Result: Greek victory
Greece Ottoman Empire
Crown Prince Constantine
182 dead, ca. 1000 wounded

The battle, although not very successful, was nonetheless of major significance to the Greeks. Despite the somewhat clumsy Greek plan, the Greek soldiers performed well, and the victory helped expunge the stain of the 1897 catastrophe. Furthermore, the Sarantaporo straits were the only position where the numerically inferior Ottoman Turkish forces had any hope of stopping the Greek Army. Indeed, Field Marshal von der Goltz had confidently preclaimed that the straits would prove to be "the graveyard of the Greek Army".


Museum of Sarantaporo with map (Greek)

Prefecture Larissa, Sarantaporo in the North

Battle of Sarantaporo, Battle of Sarantaporo,

First Balkan War

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