Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms

WW1 OTTOMAN ARMY SCHOOL UNIFORMS

Right - The cast brass Orta (crescent) badge worn on army school headgear.

Right - Pictured in Tunca Orses. Necmettin Ozcelik. (2007) Dunya Savasi'nda Turk Askeri Kiyafetleri 1914-1918. Militärmuseum, Istanbul: 67, a first-year War Academy student, prior to WW1. Highlighted is a typical example of the Turkish 1876 buckle, for Artillery.

In 1914, upon mobilization, the Military Academy and Military Engineering Schools were closed [1].

  • The cadets were sent to the units as Brevet-Lieutenants (these were the ZABIT VEKILI – officer substitutes).
  • Several officer training courses (Zabit Talimgahları) were opened to provide junior officers for the units – Training at Pancaldi [2].
  • Military Secondary School Graduates, and civilian high school graduates were enrolled to these courses.

“Cadets took basic officer training for 6-8 months and were sent to fronts with the rank of corporal” [3]. However, it stated in the eye-witness account in the ‘1916 Turkish Army Handbook’, that [4]:

  • “After three months’ training the more efficient of the cadets were promoted to the grade of ONBASHIS (corporals). After another month the ONBASHIS were promoted to the rank of CHAUSH (sergeant) or BASH CHAUSH (sergeant-major). These promotions were only nominal. The stripes were only worn in the barracks not outside.”
  • “The cadets of the rank of BASH CHAUSH (sergeant-major) were formed in a separate company called MURETTEB BULUK (Composite Company). After inspection by Enver Pasha and the O.C. the 1st Army Corps those who were considered sufficiently trained were sent to the Army” (as the ZABIT VEKILI – officer substitutes).

According to regulations, unit commanders would decide to commission them officers or not after examining them for 6 months [5].

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[1] Mesut Uyar. Brothers in Arms: Turkish Officers in the Canakkale (Dardanelles) Campaign.

[2] British General Staff. (1995) 1916 Handbook of the Turkish Army. Battery Press, Nashville: 116.

[3] Mesut Uyar. Ibid.

[4] British General Staff. (1995) 1916 Handbook of the Turkish Army. Battery Press, Nashville: 116.

[5] Mesut Uyar. Ibid.

1917: Officer Training - Later War Changes

Junior Officer Training: Cavus & Bascavus

Mesut Uyar states the following about ‘NCOs’ [1]:

  • The officer candidates, by acting as NCOs, for the first 6 months or more fulfilled a very important duty for the army.
  • The Ottoman Army did not have professional NCO Corps and often, experienced soldiers were left to perform the NCO tasks.
  • Military School graduated NCOs were a very small minority, and most of the time they were assigned as junior officer positions - not to NCO positions.

However, it should be noted that in actual fact, in the Ottoman period - only the ‘Onbasi’ (normally translated as Corporal - his origin was the Janissary Barrack Room Chief) whom held a rank in Army but was not regarded as a Junior Officer [2], in fact he was the only actual NCO in the whole Imperial Army, in this period. The KUCUK ZABITANI (Junior Officers), in the infantry were the:

  • Cavus (Company Sergeant).
  • Bascavus Muavini (Assistant Sergeant-Major).
  • Bascavus (Sergeant-Major): Who also wear's an 1909 Officer's Portepee.

These grades of Junior Officers, are more likely to be the ALAYH - officers who had risen from the ranks, as well as be regarded as the AGHA (those who had risen from the ranks - but could not read and write; whereas the EFENDI, was an officer who had passed his literacy exam). These officers were basically appointed by the battalion/regiment they belonged too, as well were educated with the unit [3] [4].

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[1] Mesut Uyar. Brothers in Arms: Turkish Officers in the Canakkale (Dardanelles) Campaign.

[2] Askeri Müze ve Kültür Sitesti Komutanligi. (1986) Osmanli askeri teskilat ve kiyafetleri: 1876-1908 [Ottoman military organization and uniforms] Yayinlari: 16.

[3] Mesut Uyar:

[4] British General Staff. (1995) 1916 Handbook of the Turkish Army. Battery Press, Nashville: 126:

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