[Scheme of the Location of the German-Bulgarian-Turkish Army on the Dobruja Front according to information available as of 3 October 1916].
This extraordinary map was made within an active military theatre by Imperial Russian Army cartographers, it shows the forward lines of the combined German-Bulgarian-Ottoman army that was attempting to invade the Dobruja (Black Sea coastal) region of Romania in the Autumn of 1916. With text mainly in Russian Cyrillic (with few place names also transcribed into Latin text), the map shows the enemy lines as extending from a point just north of the Romanian Black Sea port of Mangalia (lower-right corner), up diagonally north-westwards across Dobruja up to the banks of the Danube at Raşova. The map names specific Central Powers divisions, along with their troop strength; in the bottom left corner it notes the estimated total size of the invading force as consisting of between 85.5 and 87.5 battalions. This information was likely acquired by Russian or Romanian spies in the field. The Russian cartographers who made the map are singed in lower-right.
The present map is likely a unique survivor, as it was made at local Russian army headquarters through the technique of hectography, a process of duplicating manuscripts employing gelatine, creating a very small number of copies. This technique was invented in Russia in 1869, and since became popular in military and administrative circles throughout Europe for quickly creating documents for limited confidential use.
Romania and the Dobruja Front during World War I
Romania, primarily backed by Russia, joined the Entente side in World War I on August 27, 1916, over two years into the war. The country was immediately attacked by Central Powers forces led by Germany, but also including Bulgarian, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian armies. The main German army, under Field Marshal General Erich von Falkenhayn, descended upon the scene from the Transylvanian Alps, placing the Romanians on the defensive in Wallachia (the region that contained the capital, Bucharest).
Meanwhile, on September 19, 1916, along the Black Sea coast, a German-Bulgarian-Ottoman force under Field Marshal August von Mackensen moved northward into Romanian territory attempting to take the key port city of Constanța. However, Russian-Romanian forces under
Russian General Andrei Mederdovici Zaioncikovski counterattacked and after much back and forth, the line of control settled for some days along the front depicted on the present map.
On October 19, 1916, Mackensen’s force made another advance, which successfully broke the Russian-Romanian lines, forcing their retreat northwards towards Moldova. By the end of 1916, the Romanians have been routed in their own country (Bucharest fell on December 19), and were relegated to controlling only the area around Iași, in the northeast. The Romanian cause would only be saved upon the end of the war, when the country received credit for having joined the winning side at the Treaty of Versailles (1919). Not only were all of Romania’s pre-war territories restored, but the kingdom was given vast new lands at the expense of Bulgaria (southern Dobruja); Hungary (Transylvania); and Moldova (Russia), so creating ‘Greater Romania’.
References: N / A – Map seemingly unrecorded.