Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms


1st Battalion Engineers (1908 Field Brown Uniform)

Right - The Turkish Army's Field brown uniform adopted by the 1st Engineers' Battalion before 1908 (extracted from Askeri Müze ve Kültür Sitesti Komutanligi. (1986) Osmanli askeri teskilat ve kiyafetleri: 1876-1908 [Ottoman military organization and uniforms] Yayinlari). Note the distinctive:

  • Two small pockets (one-over-the other) on the sleeves.
  • Extreme wide cut of the jackets's sleeves, and body.

There was also a 'dark brown version' of the blue dress uniform designed and issued for a short period, prior to 1908 (discussed below), as a for-runner to the lighter brown field uniform trailed by the 1st Engineers, which became the basis of the 1909 field brown uniforms of the WW1 period; and this uniform re-appeared in 1914 as en emergency issue.

The British General Staff. (1995) 1916 Handbook of the Turkish Army. Battery Press (Nashville), states (p.63): "On mobilisation, 1914, all sorts of uniforms made their appearance, ... dark brown with red piping".

  • Right: Figure 'A', is extracted from Askeri Müze ve Kültür Sitesti Komutanligi. (1986) Osmanli askeri teskilat ve kiyafetleri: 1876-1908 [Ottoman military organization and uniforms] Yayinlari. This shows the 'dark/chocolate brown' officers' shoulder board, associated with the 1st Engineers 1908 field brown jacket. However, as this board is in dark/chocolate brown, and not sky blue (the Engineers' branch of service colour), it can be assumed that it was actually designed for an altogether different uniform.
  • Right: Figure 'A', is extracted from the New York Public Library’s Digital Gallery, the Vinkhuizjen Collection, and is dated between 1896-1909, and shows an Ottoman soldier wearing an 1876-1908 dress tunic, in brown cloth, instead of blue, with red facings.

1908 Field Brown Uniform

Right - The Macedonian Army battalions were dressed in the Turkish Army's Field brown uniform adopted by the 1st Engineers' Battalion before 1908 (discussed above).  According to this NYT article, these soldier also wore 'white leggings' and 'sandals'; these are likely the traditional slip-on wool felt boot-socks, with leather shoes. The wearer winds black tap or leather strap around the boot-socks in order to secure these more.

Right - Enver Pasha, in 1908 when he was a Bimbashi (Major) in the Ottoman Imperial General Staff. He is modelling the newly designed field brown tunic, which had been tested by the 1st Engineering Battalion, in 1908. There are several pictures of Enver Pasha wearing this uniform, taken from a number of angles. In this particular picture, he is wearing his General Staff collar badges. The early brown field uniform from 1st Engineering Battalion, and retained items such as:

  • Two small pockets (one-over-the other) on the sleeves.
  • Extreme wide cut of the jackets’ sleeves, and body.
  • On his fez, he displays the Order of Orta (Crescent) Badge, for a Staff Officer/Aides-De-Camp to the Sultan.

Right - The picture of Enver (above) features prominently this buckle type which appears very similar to a type assumed to be a WW1 Emergency Issue type, first seen in 1916; however, as it is seen in the 1908 photograph it was likely a test version befor the 1909 German buckles were later introduced, as it has the same prong fittings on the back (as found on a German buckle). Prior to 1908, French field equipment was used in the Ottoman imperial army.

Above - The picture of Enver (above) features a white over red armband. In Mesut Uyar, and Edward J. Erickson. (2009)  A Military History of the Ottomans. Greenwood: 197, a photograph of “Officers of a Macedonian garrison with some civilians, proudly showing the armlets of the 1908 Constitution Revolution.” This shows the armbands also displayed a ribbon rosette (Below).

1908 Young Turks' Revolution

Above - Army Flag of the 'Young Turks' Movement' (from a recent Herman Historica sale).

  • Founded in the late 19th century in the wake of the reformations of the Ottoman Empire they revolted against the reigning Sultan Abdul Hamid, in 1908.
  • Made from dark red silk with gold fringe edging on three sides and the following inscriptions in white chain stitch embroidery: "Adalet" (justice), "Hürriyet" (liberty), "Müsavit" (equality), "Uhuvvet" (fraternity) and "Ittihat" (unity).

Left - Hung on a pain red ribbon the 1908 Revolution 'donation' copper medal. Struck by civic athorities for public sale supporting the revolution.

The 1908 End of the Imperial Guard

The only modern account of the fate of the IG is actually contained in a New York newspaper account, from 1908. This is the - Foreign Correspondence’s "SOLDIERS OF TURKEY FAVOR NEW REGIME", THE NEW YORK TIMES (December 27, 1908).

  • The NYT records, how the "Zouave of the IG were hostile to the new regime". The NYT article goes onto report how the “Young Turks brought to the capital several battalions of Macedonian troops, those who had precipitated the revolution... These troops have replaced the old IG, the members of which have gradually been sent home and mustered out of service”.
  • The significance of this point is that up to that time it was the IG, in particular the Zouaves who were personally devoted to the service of Sultan Abdul Hamid.
  • The NYT article also notes the presence of the 1st Army in Constantinople as well. However, modern military history of the O-T Army make no distinction between the two formations, and interestingly only report that the Ertugrul Cavalry and the First Lancers were engaged in place protection (and are part of the Hussa).
  • However, this is a post 1909 Revolution organisation, where presumably these two regiments were more favourable to the new order, and hence found employment with the newly restructured 1st Army.
  • As well, from that time the 1st Army also became known with the title - Hassa. Modern accounts interpret this as meaning 'Imperial', but in actual fact if means 'special purpose'; as in maintaining political control in the Ottoman national capital, as well as managing the relationship with the Sultan Abdul Hamid (who was ultimately deposed in 1909 in favour of Mehmed V Reshad).
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