Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms

WW1 OTTOMAN FOREIGN AUXILIARY EGYPTIAN (SUDANESE); AND AFGHAN SUPPORTERS

Abbas II Hilmi Bey Khedive of Egypt and the Suez Campaign (1915)

When the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers in World War I, the United Kingdom declared Egypt an independent Sultanate under British protectorate on 18 December 1914 and deposed Abbas Hilmi II as the Khedive of Egypt.

  • It is generally accepted that Abbas Hilmi supported the Ottomans in the war, including leading an attack on the Suez Canal.
  • This widely quoted reference may not be entirely correct. In his book - Berlin-Baghdad Express: the Ottoman Empire and Germany's bid for world power (Penguin, 2011: pp 169-170), Sean McMeekin notes that Abbas Hilmi was never actually involved in the raid, as he had been summering on the Bosphorus when the 1914 July crisis began and had been the wounded in a failed assassination attempt.
  • It was during a surprise visit to the German Embassy (4 September) that an altercation occurred between himself and Enver Pasha, who shouted “charges of treason at the flustered Abbas and challenged him to demonstrate his loyalty to the Sultan by leading the Turkish columns toward the Suez Canal”.
  • Abbas departed Constantinople in November-December 1914, not for the war-front, but to his vacation home in Vienna, where he remained for a short while and then moved to Switzerland, spending most of the war years there.
  • McMeekin's book mention that the “Egyptian officers the Khedive had seconded to the Suez mission were sent back to Constantinople soon after they arrived in Damascus” (p 171) by Djenal Pasha. These officer’s are likely to have been members of the Maison Militaire de S. A. Le Khedive [1].

The Turkish attacking force, had Bavarian Colonel Kress von Kressenstein appointed Chief of Staff of the VIII Corps, Fourth Army on arrival from Constantinople on 18 November 1914. The VIII Corps comprised five infantry divisions, the 8th, 10th, 23rd, 25th, and 27th with contingents from Sinai Bedouins, Druzes, Kurds, Mohadjirs, and the Circassians from Syria, as well as Arab contingents. These Muslim contingents were to intended to foment revolt against the British in Egypt.

Right - Sold in 2011 by Hermann-Historica.de this high quality Kalpak made in Egypt prior to 1914 (which was still part of the Ottoman Empire). This can be confirmed as it displays the pre-1914 Khedive of Egypt crest on the high quality sweatband. The Green top denotes the rifles/machine-gun units in the Ottoman imperial army.

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[1] The Maison Militaire de S. A. Le Khedive, was the military part of the royal household serving as the Khedive’s personal guard, attendants and secretaries. The Ottoman Higher Military Supervisory Commission: The Office of the Khedive of Egypt, as Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan, was indicated by the three gold cuff stars and crescents (from 1885).

Egyptian-Sudanese Coastguard Camel Corps (1915)

A photograph is known of the 1915 Egyptian-Sudanese Coastguard Camel Corps who were Sudanese deserters serving as guides, 1915. LC-DIG-ppmsca-13709-00015 (digital file from original on page 6, no.14). The Sudanese deserters were from the Egyptian Coastguard Administration, and they were camel mounted troops. On 19 November, 1914 a detachments of 20 coastguards and their camels deserted at Bir al-Nuss in the North of Sinai, over to the Ottoman army. Thet wore standard Egyptian army uniforms, with the following uniform insignia (worn by the senior NCO leading the troop):

  • Tall plume 'hackle'  (likely blue - to match the puggaree flash).
  • British Army officers' Sam Browne belt.
  • A blue 'flash' on the fez puggaree.

Afghan Supporters (1914 till 1917)

Enver Pasha conceived an expedition to Afghanistan in 1914, and was envisioned ‘as a pan-Islamic venture directed by Turkey, with some German participation’.

  • This consisted of a German delegation, as well as an escort of nearly a thousand Turkish troops and German advisers to accompany them through Persia into Afghanistan, where they hoped to rally local tribes to jihad. This was followed by a second attempted Niedermayer-Hentig Expedition/Afghan Mission consisting of a collective of Indian, German and Ottoman military and diplomatic personnel sent to Kabul to try to convince Emir Habibullah of Afghanistan to join the Central Powers and rise up in a Jihad against the British in India.
  • The Indian nationalists hoped this would lead to a free and independent India while the German and Ottoman plan was to disrupt British and Russian interests in the area enough to force them to withdraw troops from other fronts. The mission travelled overland on a gruelling and perilous march through Persia to Afghanistan splitting into small groups at times to avoid British and Russian patrols.
  • The survivors reached Kabul on 2 October 1915. They ultimately failed to convince the Emir to join the war and the Germans left Kabul via different routes in May 1916. The Indian nationalists remained to set up a Provisional Indian Government in exile which was disbanded in 1918.

Colloquially known in Australia, as the 'Battle of Broken Hill' otherwise known as the Broken Hill Massacre, was a fatal incident which took place near Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia on 1 January 1915.

  • Two local men shot dead four people and wounded seven more, before being killed by police and military officers. While the attack was politically and religiously inspired, as declared by the perpetrators in notes, the men were not members of any sanctioned armed force. The attackers were later identified as former camel-drivers working at Broken Hill.
  • They were Badsha Mahommed Gool (born 1874), an ice-cream vendor, and Mullah Abdullah (born 1854), a local Imam and halal butcher.
  • Gool was a member of the Afridi (a Pashtun clan, from Afghanistan).
  • Gool's ice-cream cart was well known in town and was used to transport the men to the attack site.
  • The attackers left notes connecting their actions to the hostilities between the Ottoman and British Empires, which had been officially declared in October 1914.
  • Believing he would be killed, Gool left a letter in his waist-belt which stated that he was a subject of the Ottoman Sultan and declaring himself a jihadist; They also fashioned a home-made Ottoman flag which they flew.
The 1917 Delegation of pro-Ottoman Afghan leaders visited Constantinople, and an Afghan Prince, with the group was given a Turkish imperial army General's uniform [1], The Nicolle illustration shows a late-war Turkish imperial army jacket, with fly-covered buttons as grey; however the standard colour for these was sand, beige, or light earth brown.
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[1] Based on the account contained in David Nicolle's 'The Ottoman Army 1914-18 (Osprey Publishing: 1994).
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