Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms

WW1 OTTOMAN MACHINE GUN CARS; AUTO-TRANSPORT UNITS AND VEHICLE MARKINGS

1917 Automobile Units

The Transport Branch controled the Automobile units. For example, for Yildirim Army Group (1 October 1917), the following units were known to have existed:

  • Army Auto Unit no.701 (In Meslimiye near Aleppo).
  • Army Auto Unit no(s). 702, 703, 704, 706, 707, 709 and 711 (moved to Jerusalem from Aleppo).
  • Army Auto Unit no.705 (In Meslimiye near Aleppo).
  • Army Auto Unit no. 708 (Transported by train from Haydarpasa Main Train Station at Constantinople).
  • Army Auto Unit no. 710 (Left temporary at Ankara).
  • Army Auto Unit no. 713 (at Konya).
  • Army Auto Unit no. 715 (In Aleppo at the order of Chief District Commander).
  • Army Medical Auto Unit no. 731.
  • Army Auto Unit no. 751 (Still in Constantinople).

At the battle of Megiddo, 1918, the advancing British cavalry later found among abandoned Turkish equipment, 55 motor-lorries, and four motor-cars. These likely belonged to the wartime Automobile units of Ottoman Yildirim Army Group, in 1917-18 at the battle. 

The Turkish Imperial Army set-up several auto-motorised transport companies in WW1, and no armoured cars appear in these records.

  • However, mention in the official Australian War history, which refers the 1918 capture of a 'Turkish' armoured car, with no mention made as to what type of vehicle it was [1].
  • It is suggested, that the 1918 capture of a 'Turkish' armoured car, was used for protection of an Automobile unit supply convoy; and was likely an Imperial Army officer's staff car, equipped with a machine gun (based on the French 1906-07 Panhard-Genty modification) [2] [3].

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[1]  H.S. Gullet, The AIF in Sinai and Palestine, v. VII, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918 (University of Queensland Press, 1984): 778:

[2] Flaherty, C. (2013) The 1909 Turkish Machine-Gun Carrier Car. The Armourer Militaria Magazine, Issue 117 (May-June): 51-52. "The French 1906-07 Panhard-Genty Modification - Historically, French development of the machine-gun armed cars after 1900, began in 1904 with the French Army purchase of a ‘Panhard & Levassor’ 24 hp touring car, and used it as an un-armed reconnaissance vehicle during the 1905 manoeuvres. In 1906, Captain H. Genty converted this vehicle into a motorized machine-gun carrier (or Auto-Mitrailleuse), by simply mounting a light machine-gun on a pivot behind the rear seat".

[3] Right - A 1917 Ford Model T Light Car, and Lewis gun, belonging to the Australian No. 1 Light Car Patrol. This vehicle is based on the French 1906-07 Panhard-Genty modification - which had also been adopted by the Ottoman Imperial Army and Police, in the Turkish service 1909 Hotchkiss 'Automitrailleuse'.

1918 Ottoman Convoy MG Protection Cars

The French 1906-07 Panhard-Genty Modification - Historically, French development of the machine-gun armed cars after 1900, began in 1904 with the French Army purchase of a ‘Panhard & Levassor’ 24 hp touring car, and used it as an un-armed reconnaissance vehicle during the 1905 manoeuvres. In 1906, Captain H. Genty converted this vehicle into a motorized machine-gun carrier (or Auto-Mitrailleuse), by simply mounting a light machine-gun on a pivot behind the rear seat [2].

  • During WW1 the Ottoman Imperial Army, used a wide selection of touring cars, of various makes as staff officer's cars. Any of these could have added a bracket mount to hold a machine-gun in place. As well as, mount a heavy-calibre maxim gun and tripod stand in the rear tray if the vehicle had one of these.
  • The Imperial Army insignia carried on these cars was commonly a red circle, and white star and crescent painted on the door.

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[1]  H.S. Gullet, The AIF in Sinai and Palestine, v. VII, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918: 778.

[2] Flaherty, C. (2013) The 1909 Turkish Machine-Gun Carrier Car. The Armourer Militaria Magazine, Issue 117 (May-June): 51-52.

Ottoman Military Drivers

Right - Several Ottoman staff car drivers are pictured in photographs in the US Library of Congress collection, however apart from drivers goggles being worn, they are wearing typical Turkish uniforms without any insignia.

Little is currently available describing the organisation of Ottoman Imperial Army military vehicle drivers.

In 1909, an actual Transport Branch Colour was established for collars, and shoulder boards, which was:

  • Orange (Train Battalions), 1909-1916;
  • Then changed to Violet (Transport Branch), in 1916. 
  • in 1909, each Train Battalion had provision for "24 Drivers (for wheel transport)" [1].

The personnel account of Ludomil Rayski, who returned to Turkey in 1915 (as he had dual Ottoman citizenship), began his service in the Ottoman Imperial Army as a car driver in the 'Dardanelles Fortified Zone's Transportation Unit'. This had two vehicles to transport the Turkish high commanders in the region [2].

  • The Ottomans traditionally 'hired drivers with their animals, for transporting the Imperial Army' [3]; and it appears this was still the case in WW1, where drivers with their vehicles were hired by the Imperial Army, and then allotted to the various Transport Units.
  • It is stated in the '1916 Turkish Army Handbook', that: "A system for registering at Redif headquarters animals and vehicles fit for transportation duties has been in existence for many years, and the registering commissions were supposed to be responsible for collecting and allotting these animals, and vehicles on mobilisation" [4]. 

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[1] The British General Staff. (1995) 1916 Handbook of the Turkish Army. Battery Press, Nashville: 93.

[2] Piotr Nykiel. The Poles in the Gallipoli Campaign. Naval Operations in the Dardanelles 1915.

[3] Mesut Uyar, and Edward J. Erickson. (2009)  A Military History of the Ottomans (Greenwood): 63.

[4] The British General Staff. (1995) 1916 Handbook of the Turkish Army. Battery Press, Nashville: 96.

WW1 Turkish Army Vehicle Markings

Left - This photograph of an abandoned Turkish Army ammunition wagon from the 1912 Balkan War Turkish defeat, at the battle of Kumanova illustrates the typical vehicle markings - a white star and crescent badge painted facing right-hand.

Right - Extracted from photographs made by the American Colony of Jerusalem in WW1 showing Turkish staff vehicles recognition insignia.

  • This vehicle has the 1882 Hamidiye Coat of Arms Badge, in full colours painted on the mid-row seats door.
  • Additionally on the wind screen a more elaborate set of insignia has been painted on the glass. This is the star and crescent quartered in red/white. Flanking this are two swallow-tail flags in red/white. These are Turkish army’s Corps Command flags.

Right - Another extract from photographs made by the American Colony of Jerusalem in WW1 showing Turkish staff vehicles recognition insignia. This staff car has a red circle and white star and crescent badge painted on the rear sedan seat doors. This is similar to the 1911 cart illustrated above.

Right - From WW1 this Imperial Army train car, has identical vehicle markings - a white star and crescent badge painted facing right-hand, to the photograph of an abandoned Turkish Army ammunition wagon from the 1912 Balkan War Turkish defeat, at the battle of Kumanova (above).

Right - Fixed to Imperial Army railway locomotives, these cast brass (with painted red backgrounds) star and crescent badges are 21cm diameter. The Imperial War Museum collection contains a similar badge 23cm in diameter.

Right - Stencilled in large white stylised German gothic letters, this designation for a Turkish heavy battery can be seen on the gun trail from WW1. The rest of the lettering disappears behind equipment attached to the side of the gun trail. However it appears to read as '.2.turk.s.F.H.B ....'

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