Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms

1876 TILL 1922 OTTOMAN FIREMEN'S REGIMENT 

1876-1908 Firemen Regiment

Right - A 23mm French manufactured M1876 Gilt Ottoman Turkish Military School or Firemen regiment tunic button. Back mark: T.W.&W. PARIS (with anchor and flaming grenade).

Below - A WW1 war-time workshop made solid cast brass large (4.6 cm across; 4.1 cm high) 1832 Order of Orta (long-horn crescent type). With attachment lugs, and a length of brass retaining wire through these. This is the same insignia fitted to the Firemen's helmets.

Right - Extracted from an 1873 photograph, by Pascal Sebah of a Fire fighter in Constantinople. He wears civilian cloths, but is equipped with an early version of Firemen regiment's helmet.

Right - A picture of the only 'known' steel helmet used by the Imperial Army, prior to WW1. This helmet was used into WW1, for the Fireman's regiment. The ball final sat on a brass rosette base, and the helmet completely lacquered red, and the displayed of the 'Order of Orta' (Crescent) badge (discussed above). Officers wore a red version with a polished brass brow- 'turban' band. Senior officer's helmets were in polished brass only [1].

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[1] NOTE - David Nicolle. (1994) The Ottoman Army 1914-18. Osprey Publishing, somewhat inaccurately represents the Firemen regiment as wearing white helmets.

Right - The 1876-1908 embroidered collar badge patterns for the Firemen's regiment.

The first battalion began duties on 3 January 1876 [1], and three other units were added later, there was one of two battalions in Pera (the Headquarters of the Corps), Stambul, and Scutari and at the Admiralty. All these together formed the Regiment of Firemen, which formed part of the Imperial Guard. The firemen regiment was largely based on the model of the the first fire company created by Napoleon of as a military sapper company, and was organised into two branches - the fire-fighters and an elite infantry regiment of the Ottoman Imperial Guard, largely dedicated to the security of Constantinople [2].

Right - The battalion's commander, ranked as a general of division (Ferik) [3]. He wears a Firemen's helmet, with a standard senior Imperial Army officer's long coat. He also has shoulder, and cuff-insignia for a Ferik

Firemen’s regiment junior officers, and the Onbasi (NCO) wore Imperial Army insignia:

  • Onbasi (NCO-Corporal): Red sleeve chevron, and red helmet.
  • Cavus (Sergeant): Two Red sleeve chevrons, and red helmet.
  • Bascavus Muavini (Assistant Sergeant-Major): Three Red sleeve chevrons.
  • Bascavus (Sergeant-Major): Four Red sleeve chevrons, and red helmet with brass brow-turban.

“Each of the battalions ... [of 580 men] ... was commanded by a Binbashi" [4]. The rank insignis for the senior officers, was:

  • Battalion Binbashi (commander): Three gold cuff chevrons, and brass helmet.
  • Captain: Two gold cuff chevrons, and brass helmet.
  • Lieutenant: Gold cuff chevron, and red helmet with brass brow-turban.
  • Brigade Secretary: Three silver cuff chevrons, and red helmet with brass brow-turban.
  • Battalion Secretary: Two silver cuff chevrons, and red helmet with brass brow-turban.

The Firemen's regiment Sanjakdar (standard bearer), wore the 1861 –till 1908 special officer's uniform, and sword (with a lower grade officer’s sword portepee). He displayed a single silver cuff chevron as rank (which in the 1861 rank system was a 2nd Lieutenant equivalent).

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[1] First Encyclopaedia of Islam: 1913-1936. BRILL: 833.

[2] B. Tasyakan. (2008) The volunteer firefighters of İstanbul, 1826-1923 [İstanbul'un gönüllü tulumbacıları, 1826-1923]. Masters Thesis, Bogazici University, Turkey: 50.

[3] E.J. Brill. (1936) First Encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936: Vol. IV: 53.

Firemen's Regiment (1909 - 1918)

Right - Drawn from the foeld, by Fransiz Ressam Charles Fouqueray tarafindan 1916 yilinda yapilan turk ordusu kiyafet eskizleri [Drawn in 1916 by the French painter Charles Fouqueray (1869 - 1956) Turk army clothes sketches]. (Tunca Orses. Necmettin Ozcelik. (2007) Dunya Savasi'nda Turk Askeri Kiyafetleri 1914-1918. Militärmuseum, Istanbul: 145).

The Firemen’s regiment, along with the First Lancers remained in service after the disbanding of the Imperial Guard, in 1908 in the imperial army. The Firemen’s regiment saw extensive service in WW1, included fighting at Gallipoli. This is supported by the 1916 British Army handbook on the Turkish Army, which lists the “Fire Brig. Regt. (6 Bns.) in Theatre C” (p.214), which is identified as the 1st,5th and 6th Army areas (p.209), which ostensibly is Gallipoli. Further, at the beginning of January 1916, battalions 1, 4, 5 and 6 are reported in the Gallipoli Peninsular (p.201). It should also be noted, that in the Australian Official History of the Gallipoli campaign, it was recorded that the Firemen Regiment (called the Fire-extinguishing Regiment), was an addition to the (Turkish) crack divisions there (at Gallipoli), and were four battalions, “which is probably the best fighting regiment in the Ottoman Army” (Charles W. Bean (editor). The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918: Volume II – The Story of ANZAC from 4 May, 1915, to the evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula (11th edition, 1941: 522).

Right - The WW1-period Firemen regiment collar badge (Imperial War Museum collection). This shows the 1873 Firemen's helmet (discussed above). Note the back reinforcing ridge, which can also be seen in the WW1 photograph (below). as well, the additional brass brow- 'turban' band seen on the officer's helmets.

Right - A WW1-wartime inspection parade of the Firemen's regiment field combat battalions. Note, they have been issued with brown leather halter straps, using German 'Y' harness metal hooks for attaching to the ammunition pouches. This is highly unusual for the Turkish Army, as most soldiers used cord tied to the pouches [1].

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[1] NOTE - David Nicolle. (1994) The Ottoman Army 1914-18. Osprey Publishing, somewhat inaccurately represents the Firemen regiment as not wearing line-infantry equipment, but rather the firemen’s fire fighting harness.

Firemen's Regiment Parade Torch

Right - This post-1910 photograph of a firemen-herald, shows the regiment was awarded a large brass oil burring 'Firemen's Parade Torch'.

1922 Firemen Regiment

A 1922 Newspaper article noted elements of the Firemen Regiment uniform, still used after WW1, identifying - "His red helmet and drab grey cloth" [1]. "The senior fireman, a resplendent brass helmeted figure armed with sword and pistol, directs operations" [2]. "A runner precedes ... carrying a symbol of authority — a brass star and crescent upon a short staff — which ensures a free passage through the crowd." [3].

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[1] A PECULIAR FORCE (Constantinople) THE DAILY NEWS WEDNESDAY 17 May 1922.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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