Turkish Artillery

Discussions on the final era of the Ottoman Empire, from the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 until the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
Osman Levent
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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by Osman Levent » 12 Apr 2013 12:43

Xristar,
Yes, I do take into account the 13 Day difference between Julian and Gregorian Calenders. The dates I have mentioned are based on the Gregorian Calender.
Best Regards, Osman Levend

Idomeneas
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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by Idomeneas » 12 Apr 2013 21:03

Hey,
Before the battles of December, according to the Directorate of History of the Greek Army, the greek intelligence regarding the kemalist forces in the western front, was not accurate. According to the intelligence report of November there were not available accurate data for the strength and equipment of each enemy division (one of the reasons that this reconnaisance attempt was decided). Therefore there were only available information about 64 artillery pieces:
25 in GHQ and various units at Eski-Sehir -23 stored in a mosque-,
4 pieces 12th Army Corps at Afion Karahisar,
2 pieces 57th Infantry Division at Denizli,
6 pieces 41st Infantry Division at Ahat Kioi,
7 pieces 23rd Infantry Division at Banaz,
6 pieces 24th Infantry Division at Biletzik,
3 pieces 9th Infantry Division at Simav Demirtzik,
2 pieces Blue Battalion at Yeni Sehir,
9 pieces by irregular forces.
No data were available for any artillery regarding 14th, 20th Army Corps, 1st, 4th, 61st, 56th, 11th Infantry Divisions and the 165th Infantry Regiment (or they actually didn't have any?).
Total forces around 55.600 men, 64 artillery pieces, 115 machine guns and 6 airplanes.
It was after the battles that POWs provided the information according to the Greek Army Officail History that 4th, 11th, 24th, 1 regiment from the 1st Infantry Division and 1 cavalry regiment were supported by 12x75mm, 4x105mm and 1x155(!)mm artillery pieces (no models were specified).
Can our Turkish friends clarify the situation according to official turkish sources?

Idomeneas

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belisarius21
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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by belisarius21 » 12 Apr 2013 23:01

Osman Levend,

Thank you very much for your answer. It is very much appreciated.

With regard to the clarification you asked, the problem arose from the use of the Julian Calendar ("Old Calendar") that is often used in Greece for the history of that period (sometimes with a double reference, like: 14Dec/6 Jan). You use the "New" (Gregorian) Calendar. So, there is no problem with the time frame. We are referring to the same time, place and units.

(However, I was somewhat confused with your placing of the 24th Division. If I understand what you have written, you place the division very far to the south, close to Banaz, on 2/1/21 (NC). Is this correct? The impression here is that at the time, it was in the north – it is placed on Bilecik on 6/1/21. Is this inaccurate? When did the 24th Div join the battle?)

In any case, my main interest at this point lies in the artillery complements of the aforementioned divisions. I also have the numbers Idomeneas cites from the official Greek Army History, but i am not convinced they are accurate.

Reconstructing the artillery strength of the turkish divisions as they were reconstituted and/or being transformed is a serious problem in assessing the battles. Obviously the divisions started off with very weak complements and were gradually strongly reinforced.

Any further information would be appreciated.

Best regards,
Belisarius

(PS: Inadvertently, I referred to the whereabouts of the 4th Division instead of the 24th, which troubled me. I edited the original post.)

Osman Levent
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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by Osman Levent » 13 Apr 2013 14:47

Belisarius,
After some tribulation on everyone's part, I believe we have finally resolved to establish a common ground for what has been described as the "Offensive Reconnaissance of December" by Greek Military Historians and as the "First Battle of İn Ön'ü" in the War Annals of the Turkish General Staff. Apparently the reference to December by the Greek side actually pointed to the operations which started by the first week of January 1921 and were to extend to the very end of the month. I will try to summon the deployment of Turkish units rushed to the region when the said "Reconnaissance" of Greek Forces was to commence on the 6th Day of January at 07.00 Hours.

On the 5th of January, the positions of the Turkish Infantry Divisions you are interested in are as follows;
1) The 4th Inf. Div. in Ankara. This Div. was to arrive at İn Ön'ü Station on the 8th and was immediately deployed at Kovalca village approx. 5 miles to the southeast of Böz Üyük. One Heavy Howitzer Battery was positioned at the Station.

2) The 11th Inf. Div. at Yunuslar village approx. 25 miles to the northwest of Banaz. This Div. was to arrive at İn Ön'ü Station on the 9th and was immediately deployed at nearby Poyra village. One Field Artillery Company was positioned at Ak Pınar village.

3) The 24th Inf. Div. at Baş Köy / Küplü village approx. 3 miles to the south of Bilecik. This Div. was to be ordered on the 8th to deploy at Teke village approx. 8 miles to the east of Boz Üyük and were to take their new positions on the 9th. One Howitzer Battery was positioned in the village whilst another Howitzer Battery was positioned at Oluklu village approx. 5 miles to the east.

At the time of these operations a Turkish Artillery Company usually carried 6 pieces whereas a Battery included only 3.

Apart from these Artillery formations the only other unit known to have operated in the region is a Field Artillery Battery brought in to the theater of war by the 3rd Cavalry Division which had arrived on the 11th of the month from Ankara.

Best Regards, Osman Levend

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belisarius21
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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by belisarius21 » 14 Apr 2013 11:22

Osman Levend,

Thank you for your answer. It is important for our better understanding of the engagement.

If I may, let me come back to my original question:

Is there any clue as to the actual types and numbers of the artillery pieces used by the Turkish forces in the engagement?
I cited the Greek Official Military History (GOMH) which estimates a total of 17 guns: 12 75mm Skodas, 4 105mm Skodas and 1 150mm Skoda pieces). But this is based on POW evidence, and in any case, there is a tendency in GOMF to call almost all guns as Skodas (of any of the three types :75mm, 105mm, 150mm), which is dubious.

If I count correctly, you give a total number of 15 artillery pieces (3+6+6), but I understand that this is based on the nominal strength of the artillery complements of the Turkish divisions. Is there any way to determine the actual numbers and types of guns in the engagement? Is there any such evidence either in the Turkish Official Military History (of the General Staff, I believe) or in memoirs of participating officers?

By the way, I was somewhat confused by your use of artillery companies and batteries. Could that actually be artillery battalions and batteries, which would be more consistent with standard terminology? I would think that, even understrength, the division's artillery complement would be an Artillery Battalion, especially given the highly concentrated artillery command structure that the Turkish Army adopted as a result of its Balkan Wars experience.

Any contribution on these, admittedly esoteric questions, will be appreciated.

Best regards,
Belisarius

(PS: In Greek historiography, military and other, the operation is called the "December Offensive Reconnaissance" because the New Calendar was not adopted until 1923 in Greece. The operation having been controversial in Greece from the very beginning, it had already acquired a name which was not easy to change later on. Obviously, it is the operation known as the "First Battle of Inonu" in Turkish historiography.)

Osman Levent
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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by Osman Levent » 14 Apr 2013 19:02

Belisarius,
First and foremost, I must express my gratitude for your kind note on "Batallions" and "Batteries". You are absolutely right, I should have used the correct terminology for these units.
On the number of Artillery pieces I have mentioned; I should say that these figures are not the usual compliment of a Division but real numbers given by the official account of the offensive in the day to day record of the War of Independence published by the History Department of the Turkish General Staff. One must remember that following the Armistice of 30.10.198; the Ottoman Army and especially the Artillery contingent had been thoroughly stripped of its arsenal by the Allies. Those remaining in the hands of units which had refused to heed the orders of the Allies had to be divided amongst the Divisions old and new, now under the command of the National Government in Ankara. The largest contribution of Artillery capability to the new Army was to come from the Eastern Front where a large portion of the retreating Russian Army had abandoned their weaponry and ordnance in troves when and if not turned over to the Armenian Militia. Amongst these pieces, French (acquired by the Romanians and turned over to the Russians), Austrian (captured in Galizia), German (acquired or captured in Galizia as well as in Caucasia) and even old Ottoman (captured in Caucasia) material could be found. The Artillery situation was in such a dire state of multiple models and various types of ordnance that prior to the Battles along River Sakarya [i.e. Sangharios], young volunteers from the Technical University had to thin some of the Russian live shells on the lathe so they could be used in French or German pieces with slightly smaller bores. In short, I believe it would be quite difficult to find the make and model of such materiel used by a particular Division at a given theater of operations; since under present day conditions unless one goes through the individual files of each unit kept in the archives of the General Staff, no known Annal mentions Artillery contingents other than by Batteries or by Batallions. To complicate matters a bit further; this acute absence of Artillery capability meant that whenever a unit was under attack or was ordered to take the offensive, nearby batteries or batallions absconded to other Divisions were rushed to the scene and sometimes were to remain under their new command for months.
I hope this short and incomplete bit of information helps you in your studies.
Best Regards, Osman Levend

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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by Osman Levent » 14 Apr 2013 19:37

Belisarius,
Here's a bit more of information;
According to the VII. Volume of "Turkish War of Independence / Organization and Logistic Operations" published in 1975 by the "War History Department Directorate of the Turkish General Staff"; Turkish forces facing the Greek "Reconnaissance Offensive of December" on a front from Banaz to Bilecik, had 8500 men, 5500 rifles and 28 Artillery pieces.
Best Regards, Osman Levend

nuyt
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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by nuyt » 15 Apr 2013 10:49

After reading a bit in Balkan Battles(r Tarnstrom) I understand Turkish divisions in 1920/21 numbered between 2000-3000 men, so the low number of guns is a bit in line with the size of the units. Early 1921 the Turks had 103 guns in total, again fitting with the low numbers reported. During the war the artillery park of the Turks would grow from 103 to 181 guns mid 1921 to 323 guns by mid 1922, according to Tarnstrom.

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belisarius21
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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by belisarius21 » 17 Apr 2013 03:37

Osman Levent,

I apologize for the belated reply.

Thank you for your answers. Even though they do not contain numbers of types, which are, I perfectly understand, an extremely demanding request, they are still very enlightening and helpful.

May I further tax your patience with one more relevant question? Artillery being the critical factor in engagements of the era, I am trying to get as complete a picture of this combat arm as possible. Only let me change my focus this time, just in case this proves any easier.

I am particularly interested in the heavy artillery of the war, and in particular the 15cm guns of the Ottoman - and, later on, Turkish - Army.

I understand that at the beginning of the war, Turkey had 12 15cm Skodas and an unspecified quantity of 15cm schwere Feldhaubitze 13 L/14, which I cannot identify (Krupps?). In the summer of 1920 the Greek Army captured in depots in Balikesir a total of 36 skodas(?), both 10,5s and 15s, previously confiscated by the Allies and with their breech blocks removed. The 15cms had their breech blocks manufactured in Greece later on, but where transferred to Thrace and don't seem to have been used in Asia Minor at all.

So, my question would be: any knowledge - even fragmentary - of the situation with the turkish heavy artillery during the conflict? How many pieces of what type (still talking about 15cms) at the beginning and during the conflict?

Again, I am thankful for all the valuable information provided to me. It is much appreciated.

Best regards,
Belisarius.

(Edit: Let me suggest another possible (easy) way to deduce more about the state of Turkish artillery during the conflict. Due to the Mudros Armistice conditions, the bulk the larger part of the Turkish guns was confiscated by the Allies and kept in depots all over Asia Minor, lightly guarded. Later on, once the conflict erupted openly, Greek and Turkish forces layed hands on any of them they could. Since most of them had their breech blocks removed by the british, both opponents had to manufacture breech blocks in order to render the guns operational.

I suspect that this technical accomplishment could be widely referred to in Turkish sources, and it would be some further indication as to what became operational from this source. Have you ever come across this kind of reference?)

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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by CharlieC » 18 Apr 2013 03:41

There were a number of types of 15cm howitzers used by the Ottoman Army during WW1:

15cm M1893 (Krupp) - 36 acquired in 1913, there may have been survivors
15cm M1905 (Krupp design) - the original 18 of these were lost in the Balkan Wars but Top Hane built about 20? during WW1
15cm sFH 13 kurz L/14 - a number of these were supplied by the Germans during WW1
15cm sFH 13 lang L/17 - ditto - there is an image of one of these rebuilt by Top Hane after WW1 further back in this sub-forum - the sFH 13s were built by Krupp and Rheinmetall.

There also may have been 12cm Krupp M1892 howitzers - these were built at Top Hane before WW1.

Regards,

Charlie

Osman Levent
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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by Osman Levent » 19 Apr 2013 16:10

Belisarius,
Great thinking a propos the conditions following the Armistice of Moudhdos about the dismantling of the Ottoman Army. Here's what I found in the I. Volume of the work published by the Turkish General Staff :

The Artillery pieces the British had forced the Ottoman Authorities and the Army to deliver by March / April 1919 were
. 15 Heavy Artillery Pieces (undoubtedly the 15 cm's) without Beach Blocks
199 Heavy Artillery Breach Blocks
151 Field Guns without Beach Blocks
. 46 Field Gun Breach Blocks
. 74 Mountain Guns without Beach Blocks
. 23 Mountain Gun Breach Blocks

what remained in the hands of the Turkish Army were (including Southern and Eastern Forces)
713 Heavy Artillery Pieces (most of these guns were at the Eastern Front)
. 84 Field Guns
148 Mountain Guns (most of these guns were at the Eastern Front)

Furthermore we should remember that the 11th Infantry Division from the Eastern Front had joined the Nationalist Army in Niğde on 12.09.19 whilst the 24th Infantry Division from the Syrian Front had also joined the Nationalist Army in Ankara on the same date whereas the 4th Ottoman Infantry Division already de-commissioned in Iraq by May 1917 was re-commissioned on paper as a Turkish Division in Ada Pazar'ı from local militia groups on 07.09.20 and was immediately brought to Ankara for further conscription and training. When this last and very weak unit was ordered to İn Ön'ü positions by early January, 1921; had only one regiment and one brigade with a Heavy Howitzer Battery. The 11th Division had their Artillery Batallion minus one Field Gun lost to the British in aj Jarablous in Syria whilst the 24th had their Heavy Howitzer Batallion as explained previously.

Best Regards, Osman Levend

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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by jwsleser » 20 Apr 2013 02:15

belisarius21

I am using:
Hellenic Army General Staff’s Army History Directorate’s English edition of the Concise History of the Campaign in Asia Minor 1919-1922 (Book uses Old Style (OS) dates.
ATASE Türk Istikal harbi II nci cilt Bati Cephesi 3 ncü kisim Birinci, Ikinci Inönü, Aslihanlar ve Dumlupinar muharebeleri (9 Kasim 1920-15 Nisan 1921) Book uses New Style (NS) dates.

I assume you are looking for data pertaining to the operations of Greek Army Corps C during the period 24-28 December 1920 (OS). Army Corps C consists of the VII (formerly Archipelago) and X (formerly Smyrna) Divisions.

The Turkish force facing them was basically the 24th Division on 5 Jan 1921 (NS) consisting of (from pages 147-148)

24th Infantry Division:
2nd Infantry Regiment – 2 mountain guns.
143rd Infantry Regiment – 1 mountain gun, one howitzer.
126th Infantry Regiment – 1 field gun battery (4 guns)
32nd Infantry Regiment – no artillery.
Total in the division is 2,266 infantry, 27 MGs, 10 guns (doesn’t state where the other 2 guns are assigned).

Early on 8 Jan 1921 (NS) a 150mm howitzer battery (4 guns) and a mountain gun platoon (2 guns) arrives with the 4th Division.

In the evening of 8 jan (NS) a mountain howitzer battery (4 guns) arrives.

The first column of the 11th Division arrives on 9 Jan (NS) with one field gun battery (4 guns).

The second column of the 11th Division arrives on 9 Jan (NS) with one field gun battery (4 guns).

By 10 Jan (NS) the total number of guns for the 4th, 11th, and 24th Divisions is 28 (page 196).

v/r Jeff
battaglione Alpini sciatori Monte Cervino (Reenacted)
5th Greek Regiment
9th reggimento bersaglieri

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belisarius21
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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by belisarius21 » 21 Apr 2013 17:52

Thank you all very much for your answers and input. It has been most helpful and enlightening, and it is very much appreciated.

I have come to understand that, as with the Greek ΔΙΣ, the Turkish Official Military History is not much concerned with the actual models of the guns taking part in engagements but rather with their general types.

jwsleser, out of curiosity: do you speak turkish (or read it, at any rate), or have you found it possible to gather information from the turkish volumes even without it?

I am tempted...

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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by jwsleser » 21 Apr 2013 21:09

belisarius21

if you plan long term research in war that involved the Ottoman Army, the Turkish officials are well worth the time and money to collect. They are detailed accounts of the army's operations. Each volume contains numerous maps and OB charts. Note that the maps show location of forces but at times lack detail topographical information. These maps are best used in conjunction with other accounts with detailed maps.

After learning a little Turkish, there is more OB data in the text. A little more and you can understand the basic outline of the operations from the Turkish viewpoint. The Turkish I do know I learned while working with these volumes.

If you do collect some of the volumes, it is best to finds first editions. Many of these have been reprinted. In the later editions, the maps have been reduced in size to fit on one page. In the original volumes, many of the maps and OB charts are folding. This can be important, as there is data noted on the maps that is not always contained in the text. The larger maps make these details easier to read.

Below is a picture of the volumes I have collected. I have the Balkan War, the 1GM, and the War of Turkish Independence complete sets. That is 51 books. The the ATASE also publishes broader history of which there are two volumes that cover the Balkan, 1GM, and the TWI. The ATASE is currently publishing a series that focused on selected units during the 1GM.

Jeff
Turkish Officials1.jpg
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battaglione Alpini sciatori Monte Cervino (Reenacted)
5th Greek Regiment
9th reggimento bersaglieri

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belisarius21
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Re: Turkish Artillery

Post by belisarius21 » 21 Apr 2013 22:30

Well, Jeff, that's a very impressive collection.

However, from what I've read from Erickson, the ATASE volumes are hard to come by. How did you get yours? And, more to the point, how does one buy them?

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