Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms


Right - An 1870s buckle worn by local provincial gendarmerie. The  Ottoman script on the buckle reads: 'Vilaet (perfecture) of Girit (island of Crete)'. This style of buckle was used from the 1870s till 1898, with the end of Ottoman rule in Crete. This buckle likely relates to events in Crete, which from the mid 1880s (till end of the 1890s), formed under its vila (governor) special units of Gendarmerie [1].


[1] Senisik, P. 2011 The Transformation of Ottoman Crete: Revolts, Politics and Identity in the Late Nineteenth Century. I.B.Tauris.

1914 Lebanon Gendarmerie

Below/Right - A picture of Lebanese soldiers, 1861-1914. The .British General Staff. (1995) 1916 Handbook of the Turkish Army. Battery Press, Nashville: 56, describes the Lebanon Militia, "where its duties are chiefly those of police". Also describing the ranks -soldiers as wearing uniforms that, "resemble that of a French Zouave: blue jacket with red braiding; they were in 1915 put into ordinary gendarme uniform".

Right - A French Zouave: blue jacket with red braiding', is a specific reference to the 1876-1908 pattern uniform for the Imperial Army Iiave Battalions (or Active Army Reserve) - which was the standard uniform from 1860-1876.

Right - A very high quality made WW1 Turkish shoulder board, from a French private collection, which is accompanied with a period souvenir label identifying "Beirut, 1918" as the origin. This board represents some type of rank (similar to other WW1 Ottoman rank insignia in this period). Combination of double silver metallic cords around the edge, and what appears to be two silver metallic bars, separated by a red line (as well as the two red edging lines).

Gendarme Officers (1909)

From 1909, the Gendarmes, and in 1915/16 the Army junior officers, adopted alternative cuff ranks. The ‘Onbasi’ wore one cuff stripe, in red service/branch colour.

  • Cavus (Sergeant/'Colour Sergeant' rank): Two cuff stripes (the top one, was a thin line).
  • Bascavus Muavini (Assistant Sergeant-Major): Two cuff stripes.
  • Bascavus (Sergeant-Major). Who also wear's an 1909 Officer's Portepee: Three cuff stripes.

Right - Gendarmerie Lieutenant (around 1916). The mid-level Gendarmerie officers –

  • Lieutenant.
  • Full- Lieutenant (one-star).
  • Captain (two stars).

All adopted new style of shoulder cords/boards with a 1cm thin red line beginning from the button. This 'red line', was the red base of the board, with gilt cord-lace added around the edge.

  • This style of construction is identical to Imperial German Police, and Gendarmerie shoulder insignia of the same period.

Officers above the rank of Captain (ie Major and above), were drawn from the Imperial Army, and wore that rank insignia.

1916 Gendarme Battalion and Regiment Clerks (Secretary Officers)

1916 Regiments of Gendarmerie

Right - This illustration is extracted from WW1-period Gendarmerie Dress Regulations: Article 29: "The (Gendarmerie) Jacket collar is flat, with a 7 centimeters x 3.5 centimeters light red color patch, set half-a-centimeteredge from the front side of the collar's edge. Provided with yellow metal plates sewn-on. The right-hand side, containing the individual soldier's  regiment number, and the left side containing the name of the province as belonging to."

Above - The extracted page from the dress regulations show two two types of 'Province' plates, one displaying the word for "school" as well as the province location. When enlisted, a "grendarme is trained at the local recruit school, the course lasts five months". [1]

According the 1916 Turkish Army Handbook, this identified approximately eight standing regiments of Gendarmerie composed of brigaded foot battalions, and mounted squadrons [2] [3] [4]:

  1. Constantinople. It should be noted that the collar insignia plate, illustrated in the extract reads as "Dersaadet" (در سعادت 'Gate of Felicity'), which is one of the historical nicknames for the city of Constantinople.
  2. Adrianople.
  3. Trebizond.
  4. Shaban.
  5. Sivas.
  6. Angora.
  7. Van.
  8. Smyrna.


Above/Right - WW1-period Gendarmerie with collar plates.

Right - An 1876 buckle with star and crescent badge similar to the buckle seen in the photograph of the WW1-period Gendarmerie.


[1] British General Staff. (1995) 1916 Handbook of the Turkish Army. Battery Press, Nashville: 200-201.

[2] Ibid: 98.

[3] According the 1916 Turkish Army Handbook, this identified approximately eight standing regiments of Gendarmerie brigaded foot battalions, and mounted squadrons. Right - Extracted from the 1916 Turkish Army Handbook (p.101), this table shows the total numbers of mounted Gendarmes, in 1912.

[4] Right  - One of a number of variation cavalry cross-belt slung cartridge box. Used in any period from the Crimean war, till 1908, and by Gendarme mounted troops well into WW1.

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