Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms


Sultan Mehmed V & His Personal Staff

Right - The white beaded senior officer is actually Sultan Mehmed V Reshad, in his post 1909 Dress Uniform (which is the first time that a specific rank was created for the Sultan in the Imperial Army.

  • His collar/cuffs have two strips of gold tape.
  • His gold epaulette appears to display a gold ‘Tugra’ badge [1] [2].

Next to him is an officer called "Leibwache des Sultan" (Bodyguard of the Sultan). This was his personal imperial security detail.

  • This officer, was originally from the Maison Militaire de S.M. Impériale le Sultan Abdul-Hamid II. Police des Palais.
  • This unit is the pre-1908 organisation for the Maison Militaire de S.M. Impériale le Sultan Mehmed V Reshad. "Leibwache des Sultan" (Bodyguard of the Sultan).
  • As well, there is a likely link to the Imperial Gendarmes.

Behind, is a group of mounted lancers called the "Leibgarde-Kavallerie-Regiment" "Ertogrul", which is actually the former - Ertugrul Cavalry Regiment of the Imperial Guard (pre-1908).

The award of the 1876 "Honorary Aide-de-camp to His Majesty Sultan", aiguillette continued after 1908, and in 1918-19, Mustafa Kemal Pasha writes in his memoir that the importance of his position, and his status as the "Hero of Anafartalar" after the Gallipoli Campaign, and his title of Fahri Yaver-i Hazret-i Şehriyari ("Honorary Aide-de-camp to His Majesty Sultan") gave him credentials in is campaign.

Right - Post-1909 "Honorary Aide-de-camp to His Majesty Sultan" versions of the aiguillette used into WW1, were designed as massive insignia, that cover the whole right chest of the wearer. These later versions, have five cords that come out from the right (facing) of this shoulder attachment. In particular, the quite visible two single cords that completely encircle the wearer’s right arm.


[1] The special rank insignia for Sultan Mehmed V Reshad (ruling from 27 April 1909 – 3 July 1918), was a badge based on his ‘Tugra’ (the imperial cipher, and symbol of authority).

Sultan's Palace Guard (1909-1918)

Right - A wartime picture of an officer in the Sultan’s Palace Company, wearing a high quality post-1909 red uniform.

  • The collar displays an Ottoman Imperial sunburst with a five-point star.
  • His white sheepskin M1909 kalpak includes a Cast Brass 1882 Hamidiye Coat of Arms Badge.
  • Interestingly, while he is a Lieutenant, along with his Ottoman Silver Sanayi Medal, with its red/white ribbon he appear to be wearing two lower order German/Prussian (Warrior Merit Medal on combatant’s ribbon (Krieger-Verdienst-Medaille am Kämpferband), 1888-1918 issue, and the Austro-Hungarian Iron Cross of Merit on wartime ribbon (Eisernes Verdienstkreuz am Kriegsband), 1916-1918 issue.


The Palace Guards wore 1909 White cloth and cotton tape dress epaulette identical to the version used by the police. The British General Staff. (1995) 1916 Handbook of the Turkish Army. Battery Press (Nashville), states:

  • "One hundred bodyguard infantry" (p.44).
  • "The Sultan's bodyguard are dressed in a red silver braided tunic and red trousers with broad white stripe, while kalpak with scarlet dome" (p.51).

Below - A parade of the Sultan’s Palace Company, wearing a high quality post-1909 red uniform, 

Left - A post-1909 Ottoman imperial army officers’ buckle with a white silk gold embroidered dress brocade belt, Used with the white uniform in the Selamlik – The public reception area for the Sultan to receive guests.

Sultan's Ertugrul Escort (1909)

Right - In 1909 the re-incorporated Ertugrul cavalry had became the basis for the newly formed  Sultan's Guard Cavalry Escorts.

  • The 1916 British Army handbook on the Turkish Army. However, this gives somewhat contradictory information about the lancers. Firstly, describing – “Lances are carried by the Bodyguard Squadron (these troops were the personal attendants to Sultan Mehmed V Reshad) and the First (Lancer) Regiment” (p.63). 

Right - Another 1908 illustration of the Sultan's Guard Cavalry Escorts (which were the former Ertugrul Cavalry).

Sultan's Mounted Escorts (1909-1918)

Right - Displayed in the Turkish National Army Museum a Sultan's escorts uniform. The British General Staff. (1995) 1916 Handbook of the Turkish Army. Battery Press (Nashville), states: "The Bodyguard Squadron are clothed in crimson pantaloons and jacket, and while kalpak with red top" (p.63). However, this appears to be a confusion with the Sultan's Bodyguard uniform. As well, the dress uniform of the "1st (Lancer) Regiment" ... [is described as] ... "dark blue tunic with scarlet collar and cuffs: black kalpak, with black bag and silver stripes" (p.63).

  • The dress uniform of the 1st (Lancer) Regiment, was still the 1876-1908 uniform.
  • The Bodyguard Squadron did have a black toped kalpak, with gold trim.

Right  - A small  buckle-plate (brass plate stamped 40 x 45 mm). displays the star & crescent badge, with crossed-lances used by the Bodyguard Squadron.

Right - Two officers in the Sultant's escorts. It is not entirely clear, if these Sultan's Guard Cavalry Escorts, are the same unit as the former Ertugrul Cavalry (discussed above), or a completely separate unit. They are wearing post-1909 Army Officer's brocade belts.

Below - A mounted parade of the Sultan's Mounted Escorts prior to WW1.

Imperial Gendarmerie

Right - Displayed in the Turkish National Army Museum, a high quality example of an Imperial Gendarmes officer's uniform, from after 1909. Note, in particular the imperial sunbust badge on the collar. This is either:

  • A star.
  • Sultan's Tugra on a shield.

This uniform uses the pre-1908 Gendarme officer's rank insignia (discussed above). This is the gold/silver cord chevron, under the gold triple cuff knot (which also incorporates an imperial sunbust badge inside the top knot):

  • One silver cord chevron:
  • Two silver cord chevron:
  • One gold cord chevron:
  • Two (one gold/one silver) chevron:
  • Two gold cord chevron:
  • Three gold cord chevron:
  • Four (one gold/one silver/one gold/one silver) cord chevron:
  • Four gold cord chevron:

Right - A pre-WW1 picture of an Imperial Gendarme, wearing the same uniform as that displayed in the Turkish National Army Museum (above), combined with a 1860s period Ottoman busby:headgear.

Below/Right - Imperial Gendarmes pictured, they wear a Light Blue or Red collar patch - reflecting pre- and post-1916 uniform collar changes.

Right - The collar patch displays the Ottoman Imperial sunburst with a five-point star, or the oval badge with the Sultan's Tugra.

As can be seen the shoulder boards are either for a ‘Bascavus Muavini’ (Assistant Sergeant-major, with two gold bars across the shoulder board), or a Cavus (Sergeant, with one gold bar across the shoulder board).

These shoulder boards are also coloured Light Blue or Red, to match the collar patch.

Maison Militaire de S.M. Imperiale le Sultan Mehmed V Reshad. Corps des Pages (Topkapı Palace School)

Maison Militaire de S.M. Imperiale le Sultan Mehmed V Reshad Corps des Pages at the Topkapı Palace School were selected from the Ottoman Boy Scouts in WW1.

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