Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms


Turkish Contingent Ottoman Infantry

Right - An 1856 British Government Parliamentary Report extract, with reference to the Turkish Contingent clothing expenses. Clearly shows, the purchase of NCO chevrons, as the Turkish rank system did not make sense to the British officers [1]. The Ottoman Army between 1853, and 1861 was in transition: The Abdülmecid I period had introduced a system of orders, badges and insignia made and issued by the Imperial Mint. During the Crimean War, many of the officers in service, would have still retained these ranks, even though no more were being appointed after 1853; and these officers retained their pre-1853 ranks, till they were promoted into new ranks, or their ranks were withdrawn through retirement or death.

During the Crimean period, Ottoman junior officers, (NCOs in the British Army), were identified by the red tape chevron on the collar - all three ranks wore the exact same collar distinction [2]:

  • Bascavus (Sergeant-major).
  • Bascavus Muavini (Assistant Sergeant-Major).
  • Cavus (Sergeant).


[1] [2] The fact that they all wore the same rank insignia (as a band of ranks), would have caused considerable confusion among the British, as C.A. Norman notes both Vanson and Constantin Guys commented on the apparent lack of any form of rank insignia among the Ottoman officers (C.A. Norman. Turkish Uniforms of the Crimean Era, Soldiers of the Queen: Issue 85).

Turkish Contingent British Artillery Officers and NCOs (1853-1855)

Right - Extracted from Illustrated London News, for the 23 June 1855, as well as the 21 July 1855, shows soldiers, NCOs and officers of the Turkish Contingent, likely the horse, or field artillery. Both (see Below/Right as well) have a crescent badge (on both caps) is the ‘Order of Orta’. Commonly used by the Ottoman army, to indicate auxiliary troops under the Sultan. The crescent badge and 'VR' monogram (of Queen Victoria), on the cuffs.

Right - Extracted from the Illustrated Times (21 July 1855) the officers are shown wearing dolman jackets and loose-hanging pelisse over-jackets.

This uniform appears similar to the uniform used by the 'Osmanli Horse Artillery'.

Turkish Contingent British Infantry Officers and NCOs

Right/Below - Extracted from Illustrated London News, for the 23 June 1855, as well as the 21 July 1855, shows soldiers, NCOs and officers of the Turkish Contingent: The Illustrated London News pictures from 1855, of the soldiers, NCOs and officers of the Turkish Contingent, shows their uniform details: A crescent badge is displayed on the caps. The ‘Order of Orta’ was commonly used by the Ottoman army, to indicate auxiliary troops under the Sultan. The crescent badge and 'VR' monogram (of Queen Victoria), can be seen on the cuffs. The shell jacked of the foot figure is similar (use of button-tape), to the figures (seen Below/Right).

The collection of the National Army Museum (London, UK) possesses the portrait of Lieutenant Thomas Murphy of the Turkish Contingent (1857), "he is depicted here, after the war wearing the undress uniform of the Turkish Contingent and his Crimea War Medal." (NAM Image Number 17827).


There is also a coloured Photograph by Mayer and Pierson, Paris, 1856, of Colonel Robert Cadell, "in the uniform of a British officer attached to the Turkish Contingent." (NAM Image Number 98678)

In both cases an almost identical uniform is shown, consisting:

  • Ottoman fez, or red peak cap with gold tape boarders (same cap is shown worn by Captain of Beatsons’s Horse Edward Money).
  • Red shell jacket, with gold button-tape edging.
  • Long black frockcoat with black cords.

Turkish Contingent Ottoman Officers

Right - Extracted from The British Library collection: Photo 183/(12) "Group of officers, 1st Div. Turkish Contingent."  This shows, British and Turkish officers, likely from 1855-1856, at Kerch (one is identified as a "Bimbashi 4th Regt."). The book 'Observations on the Turkish Contingent, by a Field Officer of the Force (1856), Kertch, February, 1856 (London: Printed by Smith, Elder and Co., 65, Cornhill)', states that Ottoman officers, above the rank of NCO - Bascavus (Sergeant-major), were effectively sidelined when their regiments were transferred into the Turkish Contingent. An example, is also given in the same book - 'that a small number of the sidelined Turkish officers were re-employed by the Turkish Contingent.' [1]


[1] Flaherty, C. (2014) Turkish Uniforms of the Crimean War: A Handbook of Uniforms. Partizan Press. "The Turkish ... [Contingent's Ottoman officer's] ... uniforms, display a distinct variation from normal Ottoman Imperial Army officers’ uniforms, as they have extensive floral embroidery visible on the tunic round cuffs, and collars - which is a feature only seen on Pasha’s uniforms ... and not the ordinary officers in the Ottoman Imperial Army, in the Crimean War period ... There is a statement in Edward Rice. 2001 Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: A Biography. Da Capo Press, p.344. “Beatson ... who wore a gorgeous uniform blazing with gold to impress the Turks.” This supports the view, that the British officers (and this includes the Turkish officers also in this group) who had Turkish officer’s uniforms made for them, for service in the Turkish Contingent were likely to have had these improved with gold embroidery."

Turkish Contingent Engineers

Right - Extracted from the British Libary collection, there are portraits taken at Kerch, taken by Allied Forces in May 1855 and subsequently fortified through the winter of 1855-56 by engineers of the Turkish Contingent under the command of Major John Stokes (from "Photo 183/(11): Engineer standing by a cart with 'Turkish Contingent, Engineers, Fifth Company' painted on the side"):

This photograph shows short tunics, with five large buttons, with hip pockets, and pointed cuffs (which are clearly in a contrasting colour - see discussion below on 'facing colours' below): Additionally, these Engineers are wearing:

  • Peaked caps.
  • Two figures have Sergeant chevrons.
  • One figure has inverted cuff chevrons (with a badge above these).

Turkish Contingent Ottoman Infantry Regiments

Above - The 1856 British Government Parliamentary Report extract, with reference to the Turkish Contingent clothing expenses. This clearly shows, the purchase of: tunics [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]; along with trousers; boots; stable jackets; and overalls, for the Turkish Contingent Cavalry, Infantry and Artillery soldiers and NCOs, in the 1855-1856 period of the Crimean War. The "Observations on the Turkish Contingent, by a Field Officer of the Force (1856). Kertch, February, 1856. London: Printed by Smith, Elder and Co., 65, Cornhill." This shows three references to clothing/replacement uniforms being organised 1in 1855-1856.

A total of 16 Ottoman infantry regiments were transfered into the Turkish Contingent. These were organised into four brigades, of four regiments each. The National Army museum's full dress uniform of Major (later lieutenant-colonel) Dawson Cornelius Greene,(which is actually one of the 1857 ‘Landon, Morland & Landon’ uniforms), for one of the 16 infantry regiments, has blue collar and cuffs; whereas the 1857 ‘Landon, Morland & Landon’ uniform for an infantry officer shows black collar and cuffs (discussed below). It may be that each infantry brigade received its own collar/cuff colour (it can be speculated) [7]:

  • 1st Brigade: Black collar/cuffs.
  • 2nd Brigade: Blue collar/cuffs.
  • 3rd Brigade: ?
  • 4th Brigade: ?


[1] The reference to the word "Tunic", in this 1856 dated report, with a reference to the previous year's expenses is significant, as in 1855 a new pattern tunic was introduced, with was a considerable departure from the British Army's tailed 'coatee' (see the example in the British National Army Museum collection): (i) Instead of being cut away at the front, the skirts of the tunic reached all the way round; (ii) No lace was used; and, (iii) Single breasted line of brass buttons introduced.

[2] There is a debate - unresolved - as to when these new "Tunics", actually reached British soldiers in the Crimean War theatre; if these did at all.

[3] On 28 March 1856 it was announced that the double-breasted tunic would be replaced by a single-breasted version on 1 April the following year.

[4] The post 1857 'Landon, Morland & Landon' Turkish Contingent uniforms (discussed below), actually follow the 1856 British Army regulations -  double-breasted tunic .

[5] Note the uniform depicted in the Turkish Contingent Electric Telegraph Detachment (Above), which is a single breasted short tunic, form 1854-1855, which is similar to the Beatson's Horse Artillery (Osmanli Horse Artillery), with the cord loops removed, and buttons only used.

[6] The Ottoman Imperial Army's "tunic", adopted well befor the British Army, who were still wearing the long tailed post-Napoleonic War 'coatee'. According to the Ottoman Imperial Army laws established in 1826, a soldier received a new uniform every two years (officers, however had to be well-presented at all times); and as most period accounts show, that well into WW1 after two years of service these uniforms were well worn-out, but still worn till they were officially replaced. It appears from the 'Turkish Contingent' accounts, this system was circumvented, with the immediate purchase of new uniforms; and it seems that that the "tunic" being purchased, were likely from the Ottoman Imperial Army's factory in Constantinople. This can be verified, from the Edward Money book (discussed below), the British officers in Beatson's Horse, actually bought their uniforms from Mr. Lawrie, the tailor, in Constantinople, in 1855.

[7] Alternatively, it can be speculated that each regiment had its own colour facings; and the Ottoman army over the preceding 40 years had used a range of colours to distinguish infantry uniforms , between 1826-1832, and in the 1850s (for corps - yellow); green for rifle units; corps cavalry and artillery Uniforms in 1850s,  to show various regiments.

Turkish Contingent Electric Telegraph Detachment

The TELEGRAPH AT WAR 1854 - 1868, page describes the following about the Turkish Contingent detachment:

  • "The British outfitted the Turkish Contingent Force, a mercenary corps, in 1856 with another telegraph detachment. Unlike its own unit this was provided with galvanised wire and lightweight porcelain insulators for attaching to trees and fencing, with only a few miles of gutta-percha insulated underground cable."
  • "Attached was a single Electric Telegraph Wagon. It was intended to connect the several divisional headquarters' of the Contingent when it was in a near- permanent location with ten miles of wire and instruments for two terminal and two intermediate stations. The wagon was part of the First Company of Engineers, in the headquarters' reserve. In addition to communication duties its sappers operated the "Voltaic Apparatus" used to electrically detonate explosive charges."

Right - Extracted from TELEGRAPH AT WAR 1854 - 1868, the caption reads "The Electric Telegraph Company's War Wagon 1854: The outfit for the first war telegraph, usually hauled by three pair of horses, it even had a gutta percha boat inverted on the top. The sketch oddly shows a heavy cavalry trooper riding position rather than a sapper." 

However, the mounted figure in this illustration, appears to show the distinctive spiked helmet, with long horsehair mane, associated with the Turkish Contingent: This features in the uniform of the "Osmanli Horse Artillery/Beatson’s Horse". In particular, note the illustration clearly shows a brass browband, identical to the "Osmanli Horse Artillery/Beatson’s Horse" helmet, A similar helmet became part of the 1857 ‘Landon, Morland & Landon’ uniforms (discussed below).

Turkish Contingent Flag

The Turkish Contingent flag, would have been the Ottoman national flag of the period. The actual 1843-44 Sultan Abdulmecid regimental standards would have remained in the custody of the Sancaktar: Ottoman standard bearer officer - who ranked between a Bimbashi (Major), and the Kolagasi (Adjutant-Major); as these officers, as with all the other regimental officers were sidelined on the transfer of the Ottoman infantry regiments to British officers and NCOs in the Turkish Contingent (discussed above).

It is also a possibility that the words "TURKISH CONTINGENT" (same as the officer’s belt buckle/Turkish Contingent badge identified below in the discussions), as well as Divisional/Regimental designations were painted in lettering on the individual flags - which was a common British Army practice in the period, but it is not known if this actually happened. However, there are clear examples where this marking was being made on other Turkish Contingent property: a sword in the National Army Museum collection [1]; marhed on the Engineers' Wagon (discussed above).


[1] National Army Museum, Study collection: Royal Artillery officer's sword, Turkish Contingent, 1855 (c). "this sword, marked to the Turkish Contingent, has a much heavier blade than the standard pattern; indeed, its unfullered blade is similar to those found on weapons carried by officers of the East India Company's armies". (NAM Accession Number NAM. 1985-07-55-1).  However, according to the Collections Care Manager, National Army Museum, the museum's records "have no further information", as to how the sword is actually marked, and it cannot be examined, as it has been stored from view (31 March 2014).

Turkish Contingent Badge (Buckles and Button Design)

The Turkish Contingemt belt buckle displaying a Queen Victorian period crown, over the monogram ‘VR’, within a circle inscribed ‘TURKISH * (six-point star) CONTINGENT * (six-point star) ’ in block letters. This has been sighted in the collecting market. This buckle, is clearly illustrated in the ‘Landon, Morland & Landon’ uniform deisign, from 1857 (pictured below); and replicates the same button design for the Turkish Contingemt (discussed below).

Right - It is possible that this is an early Turkish Contingent officers’ buckle, made in the 1855-1856 period, along with other uniforms manufactured or brought together from Honourable East India Company, as well as Ottoman sorces. The particular combination of Ottoman/Arabic script, and British garter, and European-styled 'Turkish Shield', suggest the Turkish Contingent, as the origin of this buckle type. At least two of these have been identified on various web forum in the last few years [1].

Right - This button displays the Queen Victorian period crown, and the monogram ‘VR’, inside a garter inscribed ‘TURKISH CONTINGENT’ in block letters. This was used in the ‘Landon, Morland & Landon’ designed uniforms after the Crimean War (in 1857). These buttons were made by the following companies:

  • Doughty & Co. St. Martins Lane, London (at the time Benjamin Doughty, was known as a maker of livery buttons).


[1] Translation of the four words in Arabic script, has proved impossible so far. One possible interpretation is "Almighty Force". However, a further search of Ottoman dictionaries has not supported this.

Post-Crimean War Anglo-Turkish Contingent (1857)

(Landon, Morland & Landon 1857 Uniform Deisign)

Right - An illustration of the three Turkish Contingent officers are taken from a coloured aquatint by J. Harris after Henry Martens - from uniform designs by Landon, Morland & Landon, and are number 11 in the series ‘R Ackerman’s Costumes of the British Army’. It should be noted that the Crimean War, was near its end (October 1853 – February 1856). These were a post -Crimean War development [1].

The collection of the National Army Museum (London, UK) possesses uniform items and paintings from circa-1857 (a full year after the Crimean War’s end), however these are missdated to year earlier -1856; and represent 1857 ‘Landon, Morland & Landon’ uniforms [2]. The National Army museum published the image of the full dress uniform of Major (later lieutenant-colonel) Dawson Cornelius Greene, whilst serving with one of the 16 regiments of infantry (which is actually one of the 1857 ‘Landon, Morland & Landon’ uniforms). This particular uniform has blue collar and cuffs. The 1857 ‘Landon, Morland & Landon’ uniform for Infantry Officer shows black collar and cuffs. This feature on both uniform variations suggestes that each Turkish Contingent infantry regiment had different uniform facings (see previous discussion - Above).

Right - The collar detail shows an 'O' (behind the British rank crown) which is likely an Ottoman 5 numeral.


[1] [2] Subsequent research has found that the company of ‘Landon, Morland & Landon’ were only known by this name after 1857, and only till 1863, when they had moved to new premises at 7 New Burlington Street, London. According to the ‘Official Catalogue of the Great Exhibition, of 1851’, they were known as ‘Designers and Inventors’, where they displayed a design for an Officer’s Infantry Helmet (that was never adopted).

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