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Remembered Today:

Ottoman Army Tunics 1914-1918


Julian Evan-Hart
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Hi all,

recently I went to Jordan as part of the Great Arab Revolt Project, in the capacity as a detectorist. It was a really superb survey of archaeological features including trenches, forts and encampments. Whilst metal detecting one such encampment we located many Turkish tunic buttons with star and crescent moon emblem on them. However one was very special in that it was attached to a large section of textile...further excavation brought about the unearthing of a tattered but near complete tunic front section....it still had Ottoman printed decorated cigarette rolling papars in what remained of the breast pocket and had several sections of decayed red piping. Intriguing was a possible bullet hole in the fabric, as staining was seen on the inside of the jacket lining around the hole....there were no associated Human remains with this item. I was wondering if anyone knows of any detailed photographs of Turkish / Ottoman basic (very basic) uniforms issued to low ranks. The colour of this one is of a blue / white threaded fabric giving an overall blue colour...similar to a very heavy coarse denim. It is both machine and largely hand stitched (around button holes)

Cheers all Julian

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Photo of very ordinary Turkish soldiers in roughly the same area. All accounts suggest that Turkish uniforms were "drab coloured"

post-9885-1195840455.jpeg

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Great stuff cheers Centurion.

I have several accounts of there also being low rank blue tunics in the Ottoman forces, and when I gave fragments to Jordanian Historian / Archaeologist who was with us, before I even said anything he said "Ottoman". I think what I found may not even have been general issue, perhaps issued to very low rank irregulars. Thanks for the photo its superb. Cheers Julian

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Take a look at "The Ottoman Army 1914-18 (Men-at-Arms) by David Nicolle (Author), Raffaele Ruggeri (Illustrator)"

I don't have it, however the front cover shows three soldiers and one is in a sort of blue uniform

It may be 'Ottoman' but not 'Turkish' ie from one of the units raised in an Arab country rather than a Turkish one from Anatolia

regards

Michael

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I'd find the idea of a sort of cheap denim as a sort of uniform for very low ranks (what Terry Pratchet once refered to as acting lance privates) quite likely but the reference to red piping doesn't fit with this. Ordinary Turkish privates don't seem to have had piping on their uniforms and if you are going to economise on the Private Baldricks of the Turkish army by giving them cheap denim why increase the cost by adding piping? It would more suggest something out of the normal run of the mill - perhaps some form of specialised support unit, medics, commissary etc etc.?

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Hi Greg / Centurion many thanks for your replies.......the red "piping" was not sewn onto to any fragments so may indeed have been something else, it was in the bundle of rags when found. Perhaps the "uniform" may be earlier as it was found on an encampment along the Hijaz railway so it may have belonged to a military construction worker

All good stuff eh,? gets the old brain doing some overtime......Jules

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What we really need here is some advice from a Turkish member of the GWF

It seems that all sorts of units were involved in this campaign, both west and east of the Jordan. This naval signals unit was photographed near Nebi Samuel, a very long way from the sea!

TurkishMarineSignalUnitNebiSamuel.jpg

from the Library of Congress (USA)

Unfortunately the British OH is not much help either

Their Appendix 5 Order of Battle of Yilderim skips over the part we are here interested in, with the footnote

'Single battalions in the heterogeneous collection of troops east of the Jordan are not included'

Keep looking and good luck

Michael

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here is a description of various Turkish uniforms/colours from Capt. O. Teichman DSO., MC., etc. in his book 'Diary of a Yeomanry M.O.'

"There seemed to be representatives of many races amongst them [Turkish prisoners] from the desert Arab and negro soldier to the fair-haired and blue-eyed European Turk. Infantry wearing the enverene hats, brown fezzes or skull-caps, dressed in dark-brown khaki and corduroy breeches (most unsuitable for this climate), gunners in astrakhan caps and blue uniforms, Arab irregulars in flowing garments, transport drivers with red facings to their uniforms and yellow sashes, and German machine gunners in khaki drill and wearing yachting caps."

This is after Romani, August 4th, 1916.

regards

Michael

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Also, from the same good doctor,

for December 27th, 1916

"At three o'clock a regiment of the Anzac Division marched their Turkish prisoners along the seashore towards railhead; they were a motley-looking crew, mostly Syrians and Arabs; many were dressed in quaint canary-coloured uniforms, which combined with light blue trousers looked somewhat theatrical."

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centurion

In the photo you posted of the Turkish soldiers, can you tell what type of rifles they are carrying? Great photo!

Difficult to tell probably either the standard German Gewehr 98 made by Mauser or the Turkish model 03 which was based on it (also made by Mauser)

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Hi Jules

Attached is a photo of an Ottoman other ranks tunic from the Austaralian War Memorial accompanying text is as follows:

ID Number: REL/01208.001

Title: Other ranks service jacket : Turkish Army

Maker: Unknown

Object type: Uniform

Place made: Turkey

Date made: c 1914-1919

Physical description: Cotton; Ferrous metal; Wool; Model 1909 pattern pale khaki jacket, coarsely woven with fine cotton warps and slubbed wool wefts in a 3/3 twill. Single breasted has a stand and fall collar with rounded points. Front of jacket fastens with six ferrous metal buttons; five plain and coated with grey and the lowest button bearing the Prussian crown of the German army. On each front, below the waist is a welt pocket with three pointed flap, the outside points rounded. Sleeves are wide and cuffs plain. The back of the tunic has a centre back seam and each back panel narrows towards the hem. There is a short vent at each side seam. Seams have been stitched with either grey or pink thread. Most are machine stitched but some are hand sewn. Jacket was once fully lined with a plain weave grey and white striped cotton; the lining inside the right front has been mostly cut out leaving remnants of lining at each edge and exposing the slubbed plain weave pocket lining. At the back waist lining a rectangular panel has been stitched to house a cotton drawstring of printed blue and white fabric. The sleeves have been lined in the same cream plain weave fabric used for the pocket linings. Neck edge fastens with single small ferrous metal hook and eye.

Summary: This uniform was collected during operations in Palestine, possibly from a Turkish prisoner of war, and brought back by the Australian War Records Section around 1919.

I wonder if the jacket you found has undergone some slight colour change due to being buried for 90 years. Other ranks did have coloured collar tabs on jackets and red is interesting because it indicated Gendarmerie units (I think!?) I do know there were Gendamerie units deployed along the Hejaz Railway in that area.

Cheers

Dominic

post-3023-1196096170.jpg

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In fact just flipped through my copy of 'Handbook of the Turkish Army' 8th edition (Feb. 1916) and the section on Gendarmerie Regimental unform says:

'Single breasted jacket of cornflower blue, with scarlet collar patches. Trousers of the same stuff and colour as jacket. The winter suit is of serge, the summer suit of a cotton twill. Black Kalpak with scarlet top and silver stripes'

Bingo! Gendarmerie Regiment jacket I reckon.

Cheers

Dominic

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