Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms


1916 Ottoman Imperial Navy Officers Blue Dress

1916 Ottoman Imperial Navy Officers White Dress

1916 Higher Ranking Petty Officer Grades

Right - A post-1916 Ottoman Imperial Navy ONBASI (in which case this insignia would be red). He could also be a lowest-grade Petty Officer (Third-Class) - as gold/yellow can photograph as black in period pictures. In the 1916-1918 period additional junior officers were created.

  • Mainly a ‘Team Leader’ role (much like the Artillery in 1876-1908, and the Army in 1916), who was senior to the BASCAVUS (Sergeant Major);
  • As well, created a new Third-Class Petty Officer (making three grades of Petty Officers);
  • In addition, to three more grades of Chief Petty Officers.

Ottoman Imperial Navy Midshipman & Ensigns (Grade 1-3 Years)

The Naval School consisted of the:

  • Naval High School (Navy Middle School): Which educated cadets for four years.
  • Naval Academy: They trained four more years. The last two years were spent on board the School Ship.

From 1909, the educational system was modified; and the Navy Academy graduates, received:

  • Sea training for one year on board the school ship as a Midshipman.
  • Followed by three years training in the navy in the rank of Ensign.
  • Upon graduation, they assumed their duties by being promoted to Lieutenant.

Some of the Year-Four students in the Navy Academy, were training as Ship's Engineers (these were schooled at the HADDEHANE), and after this year joined the fleet as Ensign-Engineers, and were educated for three years on board the school ship as engineers. After that, they would be promoted to Lieutenant (Engineering).

The 1876-1908 rank of Second Lieutenant, was represented as one ring, and knot (which in the later/modern Turkish Navy is a TEGMEN - Ensign) [1] [2]. Post-1908 the same rank insignia is called a MUHENDIS (indicating an Ensign/2nd Lieutenant) [3]. After 1916, the Midshipman adopted new special rank insignia [4] [5].


[1] Askeri Müze ve Kültür Sitesti Komutanligi. (1986) Osmanli askeri teskilat ve kiyafetleri: 1876-1908 [Ottoman military organization and uniforms] Yayinlari: 74.

[2] In the later/modern Turkish Navy, two ranks: (i) TEGMEN (Ensign); (ii) ASTEGMEN (Midshipman), covers the transition of Navy Officer Cadets, into Lieutenants.

[3] Tunca Orses. Necmettin Ozcelik. (2007) Dunya Savasi'nda Turk Askeri Kiyafetleri 1914-1918. Militärmuseum, Istanbul: 97; 115.

[4] A 2013 study by Kadir Turker Gecer, ‘Birinci Dunya Savasi Doneminde Turk Ordusunda Kullanilan Uniforma Ve Rutbeler [The Uniforms and Ranks of the Turkish Army During the First World War].

[5] Right - A post-1924 Turkish Navy Petty Officer. Note the use of chevrons on the shoulder boards.

  • The same pattern chevrons is shown on the illustration of a shoulder board for a Ensign (described as a “Warrant Officer”, in the publication this was extracted from - above, Kadir Turker Gecer).
  • However, the Ottoman Imperial Navy adopted in 1916 Imperial Army insignia, and the new regulations describe these ranks as ‘wearing gilt lace across the shoulder board’, which would correspond to that used in the army at the same time.
  • As well, the button shown on this illustration is from Egypt, or a merchant marine, and not for the Ottoman navy.

WW1 Ottoman Imperial Navy Headgear

Top/Right - An Imperial Ottoman Navy ratings cap. Note, the peculiar 'bump' (the same as on Ottoman Navy Officer's caps), which may be a Fez tassel; which means that the Imperial Ottoman Navy ratings cap, may in fact be a cover that has been pulled over a Fez, as at this time the red Fez was still part of the uniform.

In the 1914-1923 period, the Ottoman Imperial Navy officers typically wore a red Fez, as well as adopting a pill-box cap or shako. This was made in both white and black top versions. Both versions had a lower back band, covered with gold-gilt tape. This was in three grades:

  • Junior officer - no tape.
  • Mid-level officer - thin band of gold-gilt tape.
  • Senior officer - thick band of gold-gilt tape.

It was also fitted with a black leather chinstrap. The main peculiarity of the Ottoman Imperial Navy officers’ pill-box cap/shako, was the 'bump' appearing at the top, and inside from the front edge above the officer's badge.

The officer's badge, as can be seen illustrated in this picture. Various badge patterns can be seen in used between 1914-18:

Type A: Ottoman Imperial Navy officers’ badge on white top cap. In particular, this variation has a ‘dragoons’ teeth patterned edge, and the ‘open’ floral design to the wreath.

Type B: Ottoman Imperial Navy officers’ badge on white top cap.

Type C: Ottoman Imperial Navy officers’ badge on white black cap (same version as ‘A’).

Osmanische Turkische Marine 1914

Right - Extracted from a German publication more examples of the headgear tally for various ships in the German Contingent, including - Imperial Ottoman Navy (Osmanische Türkische Marine). When the SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau were transferred to Ottoman service in 1914, their crews continued to wear the same German naval uniforms as before, but replacing their usual naval caps with an Ottoman red felt fez with a black tassel. They continued to wear this combination of German and Ottoman uniforms on board ship throughout WW1, though some period photographs show them wearing still their old German caps. Several different cap tallies have been seen in modern collections such as [1]:

  • "S.K.O.M.O.S. JAVOUS SULTAN SELIM I." for the renamed SMS Goeben;
  • "S.M.S. MIDILLI" for the renamed SMS Breslau.

According to "Dunya Savasi'nda Turk Askeri Kiyafetleri 1914-1918" by Tunca Orses and Necmettin Ozcelik, a cap tally was issued which read "Türkische Marine" or "Osmanische Türkische Marine", as the sailors were now officially in the Ottoman Imperial Navy [2].


[1] Die Mutzenbander der Verbinde der Kaiserlichen Marine im Mittelmeer und auf dem Balkan.

[2] Tunca Orses. Necmettin Ozcelik. (2007) Dunya Savasi'nda Turk Askeri Kiyafetleri 1914-1918. Militärmuseum, Istanbul: 110.

1917 Ottoman Imperial Navy Air Troops

The Ottoman imperial navy added an air service in 1915, setting up a seaplane base and naval aviation school at Yesilkoy, on the shores of the Sea of Marmara.

  • Six Turkish naval officers were sent to Germany for training.
  • By the end of the war, four naval seaplane squadrons were created.
  • In 1917, the Ottoman imperial navy "1st Seaplane Squadron" is recorded as active, commanded by Cpt. Savmi Bey, based in Izmir.
  • In addition, Turkish naval air service personnel provided support for German seaplane squadrons in the Turkish theater.

Right - The Ottoman Imperial Navy pilot's Graduation Badge (created in 1917), for graduates of the Naval Aviation School.

  • This badge, like the Army badge, does not appear to have held official status, but a few examples of the badge are known to exist.
  • The badge is oval in design, with a laurel wreath around the edge, and a Sultan's turban at the top of the wreath.
  • In the center is the image of a biplane over an aerial view of the Gallipoli peninsula and the Dardanelles.


Right - The Ottoman imperial navy pilot's hat badge (WW1 period). Key features of this particular badge:

  • The Imperial Army ‘flying wings badge’, has wings attached to a star and crescent.
  • Right/Below - The Imperial Navy badge is different from the army version, it has the wings knotted-together (no star and crescent),and this badge is super-imposed over the standard Imperial Navy Officer’s hat badge. The wing's knot, is attached over the central-bar of the anchor, that is displayed inside the wreath and under the top-side star and crescent badge.

Ottoman Imperial Navy Clerics

Right - A WW1 period Ottoman imperial navy cleric officer. The uniform and rank insignia had remained unchanged from earlier periods, and dates back to the 1860s.

Ottoman Imperial Navy Medical Branch

Ottoman Imperial Navy Ship's Administration (Secretary) Officer

The ship's Administration (Secretary) Officer wore an officers' uniform with two silver cuff rings.

Mustadieh Ombashi Captured French Submarine (1915) and the Constantinople Flotilla

The French Émeraude class submarine, the 'Turquoise' (designated Q46) commissioned on 3 August 1908.

  • Damaged by Turkish gunfire and beached on 30 October 1915.
  • Re-floated, and named the 'Mustadieh Ombashi (Mustecip Ombasi)'.
  • Was taken into the Turkish Navy but never recommissioned [1].
  • Was crewed (total crew of 21 officers and sailors), and operated as a testing ship (see the German post card below showing it in Ottoman service).
  • The conning tower was painted with a large rectangle (likely to be red), with large white Ottoman script.

It is stated this ship "saw no further surface", and in 1919, was Returned to France and scrapped [2]. 

The Turquoise/Mustadieh Ombashi (Mustecip Ombasi) remained under the Turkish flag, docked at Constantinople, and unable to find suitable parts for ongoing maintenance, the ship remained in service as a fixed battery charging station for German submarines [3].

The Constantinople flotilla (U-Halbflottille Konstantinopel), also known as the U-boats of the Mediterranean Division in Constantinople" (U-Boote der Mittelmeerdivision in Konstantinopel),  was an Imperial German Navy formation set up duringWorld War I to prosecute the U-boat campaign against Allied shipping in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea in support of Germany’s ally, the Ottoman Empire.

  • Operating mostly against Russian shipping in theBlack Sea.
  • Had a maximum strength of 11 U–boats , and some sorces indicate 14 U-boats served in the Constantinople Flotilla (six 6 were lost operationally).

In 1917 the force was amalgamated with the Pola Flotilla, coming under the command of the U-Boat Leader, Mediterranean (Führer der U-boote im Mittelmeer); and the unit was renamed the Constantinople Half-Flotilla (U-Halbflotille Konstantinopel [4]). In 1918, with the collapse of the Central Powers, the U-boats were scuttled, or fled to join the Pola boats in their evacuation to Germany.


[1] John F. O'connell. (2010) Submarine Operational Effectiveness in the 20th Century: Part One (1900 - 1939), iUniverse (17 Aug): 54.

[2] Paul E. Fontenoy. (2007) Submarines: An Illustrated History of Their Impact, ABC-CLIO (1 Jan): 80.

[3] Gérard Garier. (2002) Technical and Human Odyssey Submarine France, in 'Volume 3: A test of the Great War', Marines Publishing: 150-161. 

[4] Die Mutzenbander der Verbinde der Kaiserlichen Marine im Mittelmeer und auf dem Balkan.

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