Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms


New Officers System of Rank Insignia (1921-1922)

Below - Extracted from the full-chart of the New 1921 till 1922 System of Rank Insignia, to be worn on tunic collars: In the top-right corner can be seen the special Marshal's collar patch. This was a red tab, with a gold star, and the edge pattern consists of the top-two sides - a laurel branch, and the bottom-two sides - a palm branch, making a wreath (based on the 1876, and 1909 Ottoman Imperial Army's officer's buckle pattern). 

General officers wore a larger red collar (square or swallow-tail) patches with one star (Mirliva), two stars (Ferik), three stars (Birinci Ferik). In addition, they could also be wearing gold lace cords, set on a colour stripe around the mid-point of the shako.

Right - Extracted from the full-chart of the New 1921 till 1922 System of Rank Insignia army officers' peakless shako, was originally adopted from the WW1-wartime Imperial Navy version. 

The 1921-22 army shako version was taller and shaped as an actual shako. However, this form was lower and less bell-shaped than the post-1924 pattern, as well had a more prominent edge/reinforcement than the later version. Typically, there is no colour flash under the star and crescent badge. However, some pictures do indicate the following variations, such as a coloured band running around the mid-point of the shako. A coloured flash was also commonly used under the star and crescent badge. The brass shako star and crescent cap badge was often covered with a camouflage cover, and a printed black star and crescent on a detachable cloth badge is also known.

Right - The officer in this photograph only displays rank cords on his shako. This picture is back-dated 10/3/1339, which is 1921. No other rank insignia appears on his simplifed jacket, except for the British officer's Sam Browne belt he is wearing. One-to-Five 'rank cords' running around the mid-point of the shako, to correspond with the rank callar patches was also known, in one of three versions:

  • Green cord.
  • Gold (or gold tape) cord.
  • Black cord.


Medical Officers

The former Ottoman imperial army's Medical Branch in WW1, underwent considerable expansion, as well as rapid succession of various uniform insignia. By 1916, the Medical Doctors wore Blood Velvet facings, and this was retained in the 1924 Turkish Army uniform regulations (Right). However, the 1909 Ottoman Imperial Army black collar tabs with the silver/white embroidered olive branch entwined with a snake, as well as the German Army metal Rod of Asclepius badge (also adoped my the WW1-wartime Ottoman Army Medical Branch) was transferred to many wartime variations of the medical officer's uniforms (and this situation remained during the 1919-1921 period). Wearing the Ottoman Red Crescent Society armband, also wrapped around his shako, to aid identification (this was also a common WW1 practice).

New Junior Officers System of Rank Insignia (1921-1922)

Right - Extracted from the full-chart of the New 1921 till 1922 System of Rank Insignia were sleeve rank patches for:

  • Bascavus (Sergeant Major)
  • Bascavus Muavini (Assistant Sergeant Major)
  • Cavus (Sergeant)
  • Onbasi

The junior officers (NCOs), in the 1921-1922 period were also still wearing the 1909 shoulder board rank system.

Army Departments (1919-1922)

Right - Extracted from the full-chart of the New 1921 till 1922 System of Rank Insignia officer's collar badges: Lyre rank badge for a Music Bandmaster (Top). Dividers-tool badge for blacksmith, carpenter ,electrician, mechanic, used by men in all technical purposes (Botton).

Cavalry Lancers

Army Police

Right - This Army Police officer wears a mix of WW1 wartime 1909 tunic and brass gorget plate and the 1922 period shako. Wearing an Imperial Army Police Gorget, relates to the 1920-1922 years; The three cords on the shako, match the three diagonal bars - which also appears to indicate Gendarmerie Officers - Lieutenant to Captain [1], on the triangular red collar tabs (matching the red flash behind the star and crescent shako badge) [2].


[1] WW1-wartime Gendarmerie Officers - Lieutenant to Captain, wore a distinctive shoulder board, and the higher Gendarmerie Officers - major (and above), wore army insignia.

[2] The explanation for the above picture of the Gendarmerie Officer, wearing an Army Police Gorget, is that the remaining Gendarmerie units, remained part of the army during the War of Independence, and were reorganised as a Mobile Forces, starting in 1919 and ending in 1922. As well as took on Military Police functions. According the 1916 Turkish Army Handbook, this identified approximately eight standing regiments of Gendarmerie composed of brigaded foot battalions, and mounted squadrons, in particular the remaining units in territories’, held by the Turkish Nationalists (1919-1920), were the Van Gendarmerie Regiment.

Army, Corps and Division Sleeve Insignia

Right - Pictured in the early Turkish Republic (prior to the 1927 as he is still wearing a post-1923 veesion of the shako), a Turkish Army officer, with a sleeve insignia for the Division HQ. These 1909 insignia continued throughout the 1919-1922 period.


Right - A mounted infantryman. By 1921-1922, the ordinal soldier was wearing a simple version of the peakless shako, with an optional light brown cloth camouflage cover. In addition, there were three other variations in use:

  • Shako with a back flap fitted, and ear protectors tied-off at the top (in WW1 there was an Enver-hat made this way).
  • Black oilskin version of the shako.
  • Shako with a printed black star and crescent on a detachable cloth badge.

By 1921, the ordinal soldier was wearing a small-sized version of the lamb wool kalpak, which folds flat-sided, as these have been folded flat towards the top. Most soldiers also wear caps made of white felt or thick blanket wool. This is a simple hood cap, with the side folded up, and attached a printed black star and crescent badge (Right).

The mounted soldier wears a white armband with an upturned crescent (Right), In the Ottoman army this was used as the Order of Orta (crescent) badge for the army. The crescent could be red, or black [1] [2].



[1] This is not a WW1 'Ottoman Red Crescent Society' armband, as the crescents faced right or left.

[2] There is photographic references to Turkish mounted infantry (or cavalry) wearing white armbands in the early 1920s period.

Military School

During the Turkish War of Independence period, the Military Academy was moved temporarily to Ankara. The first officers graduated in November, 1920. 

Air Troops

In 1919, Turkish aviators established new aviation units in Istanbul, İzmir, Konya, Elazıg and Diyarbakır with planes left over from World War I and tried to bring together flight personnel. In the Turkish War of Independence, Turkish pilots joined the Konya Air Station (Konya Hava İstasyonu). The 23 April 1920, formation of the Grand National Assembly (GNA) by Mustafa Kemal and his colleagues, in Ankara re-established the Branch of Air Forces (Kuva-yı Havaiye Subesi) under the Office of War (Harbiye Dairesi) of the GNA. A few damaged aircraft belonging to the GNA were repaired, and afterwards used in combat.On 1 February 1921, the Branch of Air Forces was renamed as the General Directorate of Air Forces (Kuva-yı Havaiye Muduriyet-i Umumiyesi) at Eskisehir and on 5 July 1922 reorganized as the Inspectorate of Air Forces (Kuva-yı Havaiye Mufettisligi) at Konya.

The post 1919 Turkish army flyers, retained their WW1-wartime Air Troops uniforms, however by 1921 appear to be wearing as well the new shako (with the large brass 'flying wings star and crescent badge' [1], with a broad light colour band (which can be seen in photographs in this period), which was likely ‘Bitter Orange’, as this had been the Branch Service colour for the Air Troops, from 1916 (previously it had been Light Blue 1909-1916)Airplane makings remained as they had been in WW1, with the addition of white Ottoman numerals, or Script words written inside the black square (outlined in white) national markings.

[1] The 1915-1933 Winged Air Pilots’ Badge: The large winged star and crescent badge for head gear was used far wider than WW1, from 1915 (it’s likely introduction), and until 1933. See Flaherty, C. (2012) WW1 Ottoman Turkish Kalpak. The Armourer Militaria Magazine, Issue 114 (November-December): 53-55.

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