Englishman Preserves Bulgaria’s Military History by Collecting Artifacts from World War I, World War II
Patrick John Brown, an Englishman living in the Bulgarian town of Avren near the Black Sea city of Varna, is helping preserve Bulgaria’s exciting military history from the first half of the 20th century, including the periods of World War I and World War II.
Brown’s interest in Bulgarian military history was brought about by the stories of Bulgaria’s military victories over the British forces in the First World War, reports Bulgarian state-owned channel BNT 2.
The reports point out that the British, or least those interest in history, usually express respect for the Bulgarian military from that period.
In World War I, the Tsardom of Bulgaria (also known as the Third Bulgarian Tsardom, 1878-1946), which was an ally of Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary, i.e. the Central Powers (in fact, it was their only ally besides Ottoman Turkey), fought British and other Entente forces on the Balkan Front in today’s Northern Greece, and the Republic of Macedonia.
The Bulgarian-British faceoff on the Balkan Front lasted throughout almost the entire First World War, between 1915 and 1918. The British troops were stationed near Salonika (Thessaloniki), Greece, after the fiasco of the Gallipoli landing operation in 1915.
Led by its dreams of national unification (which came to a complete collapse in 1919), an agrarian Bulgaria was facing troops from a total of 22 Entente nations (including British dominions and British and French colonies), but mostly British and French, in trench warfare similar to the Western Front.
In most of their battles up until the autumn of 1918, the Bulgarians either scored victories or managed to stand their ground against the Brits and the other Entente forces which enjoyed an overwhelming superiority in manpower, artillery, munitions, and food supplies.
15 years after starting his collection Englishman Patrick John Brown owns dozens of medals and orders, uniforms, manifestos, and photos of Bulgarian officers dating from the First World War until the 1950s.
These include the uniform of Gen. Stoyan Stoyanov (1913-1997), the highest scoring Bulgarian fighter ace of the Bulgarian Royal Air Force during the Allied Bombing of Sofia in World War II, who had a total of 14 victories.
“This is Bulgaria’s most decorated military pilot. He was made general after the end of the communist regime. His rank during World War II was a major,” Brown is quoted as saying.
The Englishman is especially proud of a find that he discovered in an antique store in Varna – a business card of Rear Admiral Ivan Variklechkov (1891-1974), the first active-duty Bulgarian officer ever to reach an admiral rank in the Bulgarian Navy, a person whom he really admires.
“He saved the Bulgarian military from destruction. Just like me, he served in the Navy. After they tried to destroy the Bulgarian military, Variklechkov brought it back on its feet again. That is why he is a national hero,” explains Brown.
The Englishman continues to increase his collection of 20th century Bulgarian military artifacts saying he hopes to be able to learn the stories behind them.