Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms

1918 TILL 1922 OTTOMAN ARMY

Maison Militaire De S.M. Imperiale Le Sultan Mehmet VI (1918-1922)

The Maison Militaire de S.M. Impériale le Sultan Mehmet VI (1918-1922), consisted of the following forces:

  • Mounted Sultan's Body Guard Escort.
  • Palace Guard Company.
  • Firemen's Regiment.

All these soldiers appear in 1918-1920 photographs wearing high quality 1909 period uniforms.

Right - This photograph of Mehmet VI, who became Sultan in 1918, and was later removed from the throne when the Ottoman sultanate was abolished in 1922. He is wearing a high quality Ottoman Imperial Army wartime fly-fronted uniform with plain collar (this is edged in red cord). As well, he has a newly introduced Officer's buckle (this incorporates the older 1876 base plate, with the Officer's buckle plate from the 2nd pattern wartime buckle).

Right (Below) - There was wide spread use of the late delivered M1918 Eisenhüttenwerk Thale 'Steel Turkish Army Helmets', from Germany towards the end of the war in 1918, some 5,400 helmets arrived (before the Ottoman Turkish rejected any more deliveries).

The Eisenhüttenwerk Thale M18 helmet, is often referred to as the Ottoman contracted M18 helmet with a ‘full visor’ (see pictures below). This is to distinguish it from another version made at the same time, called the ‘visorless’ [1] [2]. This later version, was intended for the German army, however it only actually came into use by the German Freikorps in 1919/20. It appears that Eisenhüttenwerk Thale only delivered 5,400 of the helmet (which in some sources is identified incorrectly as the visorless version [3], before the Ottoman Turkish rejected any more deliveries) [4].

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[1] Interestingly, the Imperial War Museum’s Collections Catalogue notes, on their M16 Helmet number UNI 12244, describing this as “peakless”.

[2]  Confusingly, books on German steel helmets accidentally transposed the Ottoman Turkish contracted M18 helmet, with the visorless helmet. This mistake has persisted for now 30 years - till this day. The original quote which began this confusion, reads (from ‘Stahlhelm: A History of the German Steel Helmet’, Floyd R. Tubbs (1971, 2000: p. 24):

This commentary is totally incorrect, and should be disregarded entirely.

  • It mistakenly makes the M18 visorless helmet the subject of the original Eisenhüttenwerk Thale contract with the Ottoman Turkish.
  • It wrongly links the helmet design with the 1247 (European date of 1832) decree of Sultan Mahmud II declaring the Fez to be the Ottoman Turkish national headdress.
  • The remaining point of contradiction is that the M18 helmet visorless variant was only used by the German Army, and Freikorps in 1919/20.

[3] The Eisenhüttenwerk helmet was intended as an improvement on the modified German M16 (which if issued to the Yildirim Army would date these to 1917).

[4] Its early cancelation could have been due to the destruction and surrender of the remaining Yildirim troops after the Mudros Armistice, which took effect 31 October, 1918.

The Sultan′s Army (1920-1922)

The sultan's government organised a force under the name of the Caliphate Army (the 'Kuva-i Inzibatiye'). This force consisted of 4,000 soldiers.

Post-WW1 Officer Insignia Changes (1921-1922)

Right - The well known photograph of "Gazi Mustafa Kemal", who was declared Gazi (combat veteran), on September 19, 1921, by the Turkish Grand National Assembly, with the rank of Marshal. Wearing here a WW1-wartime period Ottoman army tunic, with fly-covered buttons, and the 1921 Marshal's collar patches.

The major post-WW1 uniform change was officers abandoned the 1909 imperial army rank system, and no longer wore shoulder boards, either wearing no rank insignia, or transferring the rank stars to the collar (following the Austo-Hungarian model, and the 1909 Turkish Officer's Wet Weather Cape Collar Rank Patches. Turkish officers typically favour wearing British Army Sam Browne belts (Below/Right).

Right - Photographed by Peter Suciu (from a display in the Askeri Muze), this is an example of a general-officer's tunic from 1921-1922. General officers now wear simplified collar tabs with rank stars.

Above/Right - The officer's lamb wool kalpak-hat changed shape following Russian examples, being taller, with a lose fitting coloured top (partially falling out of the top), as the sides were folded flat towards the top. Typically made in black wool.

By 1921, the ordinal turkish soldier was wearing a small-sized version of the new officers' lamb wool kalpak, which folds flat-sided, as these have been folded flat towards the top.

By 1921, army officers and soldiers are wearing the WW1-wartime Ottoman Imperial Navy officers' shako fitted with new green/brown covers for army use.

 

Laz Tribal Troops

The www.britishpathe.com arcival films of the "Turkish Army makes triumphal entry into Constantinople" (dated 1920), shows the black uniform costume, likely identifies this soldier is from the Laz (North-west Turkish people), who into the 20th century formed a militia regiment in the Ottoman Imperial Army, and fought in the Turkish Nationalist Army in the 1919-1922 period.

Gendarmerie Officer (1921-1922)

Right - This post-1921 Gendarmerie officer, wears the 1921 Turkish state badge (dicussed below). He displays a diagonal coloured stripe with two buttons on his left sleeve. This is not his rank insignia, as it is more likely a Military Supervisory Commission sleeve badge (as a similar version had existed 1876-1908). His rank is shown by two small coloured collar tabs, indicating a lower-grade Lieutenant in 1921.

Right - The 1921 new badge of state consisting of the Turkish star and crescent with light rays emitting from it (worn by Imperial Gendarme and Sultan's Court Officers).

  • The same badge is shown on the picture above, displayed on the 1921 Gendarmerie Officer's lamb wool cap.
  • The badge is used with a red, or red (and yellow edged) shield, on the 1921 Nationalist Army Officers' peakless shako (discussed below).

Right - Taken around '1921', these three officers wear the 1921 Turkish mationalist army officers' peakless shako. Over a broad red band, display the 1921 Turkish State Badge (Turkish star and crescent with light rays emitting from it). The badge is used with a red, or red (and yellow edged) shield backing.

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