Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms


Post-1909 Imperial Army Water Bottle

The WW1 Ottoman 'Imperial Army' oval aluminium water bottle, is generally assumed to have been introduced around 1909, and appears to be similar to the aluminum German M1893 Feldflasche (water bottle); and the Russian version from the same period looks identical (Model 1909 Aluminium Water Bottle). An identical British version (said to be private purchase items) to all these bottles was used in the Boar War (1899-1901). The Turkish version does have some distinctive features:

  • Indented back face;
  • Flattened bottom (which gives it a similar appearance to the version used by the Ottoman Army prior to 1908, and in use by 1890).

Above - The 'British General Staff. (1995) 1916 Handbook of the Turkish Army. Battery Press, Nashville: 51-52'., clearly describes the Ottoman Imperial Army water bottle, as being of Turkish manufacture: "The water bottle is of aluminium, with a felt cover, and is attached by a spring hook to an eye sewn on to the flap of the haversack. These water bottles are weekly built, and the mouthpiece is badly put on."

The bottles can have a cover, of green wool or brown leather stitched on to them, with either hooks mounted on the side (to attach to a US styled canteen carry strap - see Below), or more usually a metal button-stud attached to the 'face-side' (Right - German bottles have the same type of button stud, however this is on the base), to button-on the carry harness. There are three types:

  1. Pre-1908 (1876 issue) cradle harness on carry strap).
  2. A carry harness, with snap hook.
  3. Carry harness with belt loop.

Above - A typical post-1909 Imperial Army water bottle. These are made from aluminium, and are copies of the German bottle. However, the bases are flat, as are the backs of these. These have Ottoman script for 'Asakr-i Shahaneh' meaning the 'Imperial Army' written on the mouth. 

Right - Seen in a photograph of pre-WW1 Ottoman soldiers, from Tunca Orses. Necmettin Ozcelik. (2007) Dunya Savasi'nda Turk Askeri Kiyafetleri 1914-1918. Militärmuseum, Istanbul. This clearly shows the water bottle hooked onto a Turkish army haversack, These were 1870s French pattern, and fitted with a ring (similar to German haversacks), after 1909 to accommodate the water bottle hook.


Right - Standard Ottoman Imperial Army water bottle stopper.

Below/Right - The stopper on this Australian War Memorial WW1 Turkish water bottle, "has been replaced with a sewn, folded plug of cotton. This plug is attached to the leather harness with a cord of twisted cotton sewn to the plug; there is evidence that this cord has been broken and retied at least once."

This is an actual modification, making a simple water filter (which is a common survival technique).

Specifically made to drain water through or to suck-on without removing it from the mouth of the bottle, as a desert survival technique.

The reason for this modification was to overcoming the Ottoman army operating in areas where they only had access to poor quality or brackish water. This item was sourced originally in Palestine in 1919, by the Australian War Records Section, who collected a number of full sets of Turkish uniforms to serve as an example of the general appearance of the WW1 Ottoman soldier who fought the ANZACs.

The Ottoman script 'Imperial Army', is clearly engraved on the mouth; which is common to all WW1 Turkish water bottles (Right).

Drum Canteens

Above - A Tin drum canteen with cotton cover was used. One of these is in the Imperial War Museum collection. These have a very wide screw top - and look very much like a US Army version made prior to 1905 [1] [2] [3].


[1] These types of canteens have been seen in other pictures of Turkish soldiers in 1911, and WW1. These came into the Turkish Army during US weapons buying, as the Army was still procuring, and using the Smith & Wesson revolver in WW1. 

[2] The American Colony in Jerusalem, was a likely source of medical stocks, after their agreement with the Turkish provincial government to manage Imperial Army hospitals during the later part of WW1 (Flaherty, C. (2014) The Ottoman Imperial Army in the First World War: A Handbook of Uniforms. PARTIZAN HISTORICAL 16). 

[3] In the IWM collection the US waterbottle has usually been linked with the WW1 Turkish Medical Orderly's Pack (EQU3806).

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