El Magruntein-execution of German officer

Discussions on the final era of the Ottoman Empire, from the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 until the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
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Peter H
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El Magruntein-execution of German officer

Post by Peter H » 27 Apr 2007 07:46

During the fight at El Maguntein in January 1917,"after the white flag was shown,a German officer ordered a machine-gunner to fire,killing a Camel Brigade officer.The German was captured,court-martialled,and shot by firing squad 11 days later."(The Australian Light Horse,Ian Jones,1987)

Has anyone got details or the name of the German officer involved?

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Bill Woerlee
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Post by Bill Woerlee » 27 Apr 2007 09:55

Peter

G'day mate

406,000 men joined the AIF means at least 406,000 furphies. This is one of them. It gets a run every so often but it is sheer bunkum. Ian Jones was quoting from Rex Hall's book called "The Desert Hath Pearls" at p. 69 where, with hand on heart, he tells the story of Captain George Smith's death:
He was caught by a burst of MG fire after the enemy had hoisted the white flag.

It was poor compensation that the German officer who was responsible for the MG being fired after the surrender of the enemy was on the 12th January Court Martialled and shot at El Arish.
Well, let's have a look at this story.

Let's have a look at the number of captives taken at Rafa:

POWs - 35 Officers [1 German], 1 German WO, 1,437 other ranks [9 Germans]

The Marquess of Anglesey in his book "A History of British Cavalry - Volume V - The Cavalry Operations in Palestine and Syria 1914-1919", at p. 86 he says:
The police post at Rafa was galloped by the CMR yielding six Germans and two Turkish officers and 16 Turkish soldiers.

A second gallop by the AMR over some outlying trenches yielding two German officers and 20 Turkish Soldiers.
Lets see what the notes of Descorps say for the day:

Here is the report received from the NZMRB at 1040:

"At 1020, a report was received from NZMR Brigade to Divisional Hdqtrs that the enemy was retiring and that they were pushing the Canterbury Mounted Rifles round to cut them off. By 1040 this was done, Canterbury Mounted Rifles moving at a gallop over the hills cut off the Turks retiring on camels and on foot. Rafa was occupied at the same time and 6 Germans, 2 Turkish officers, 163 Other Ranks, 21 Bedouins and some camels, mules, and 5,000 rounds SAA were captured. A line of half completed works running SE from Rafa was found."

So we have 6 Germans in this catch.

This report at 1100 is also revealing:

"A message was received from NZMR Brigade at this time to say that they were endeavouring to get command of some dead ground between their right and the sea, by means of which some enemy were escaping. This was successfully done, and some 40 or 50 men, camels and donkeys were taken."

Now the report that casts doubt on the Enzed unit accounts:

"1500 A report came in from the NZMR Brigade that they had caught a Turkish MG officer and 4 Germans on the coast 2 miles NE of Rafa Police Barracks."

So now we have another 4 Germans making to total so far 10 captured before the fall of the garrison - all caught outside the perimeter of the garrison.

Well let's have a look at all these prisoners.

the German Other Ranks captured at Rafa - you can count 8 men in this pic.

http://img167.imageshack.us/img167/6928 ... capdp5.jpg

And then there is Siekmann's pic of German officer riding off with all the other captured officers as they went into captivity.

http://img104.imageshack.us/img104/1364 ... aa2ob1.jpg

And finally, both the officer and WO.

http://img114.imageshack.us/img114/7523 ... aa1ho4.jpg

If this officer was about to be executed, he certainly was not being treated like a condemned man. Here he is, in the open, having a chat and smoke with the Australians - unrestrained. There is nothing to indicate that he is due for execution.

Now if there was a court martial and he was sentenced to death, then this would have been a big call. There would have been a record of it at Descorp. Not a mention. De nada.

There was no execution. It is just a yarn.

As for the veracity of Ian Jones' history, I have made it a policy to double check everything he says since he only has a 50% success rate in getting his facts correct. He is even happy to take the word of charletans, such as Richard Meinertzhagen, rather than examine the records. It would be an understatement to say that Jones' history lacks a certain quality and rigor of research principles.

Cheers

Bill

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 27 Apr 2007 11:20

Bill,

Thanks for your detailed feedback.Much appreciated.

Another myth demolished. :)

Regards
Peter

stevebecker
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Post by stevebecker » 28 Apr 2007 01:47

Mate,

I posed this same question some time ago on the LH Assoc site and as bill shows is a myth started by Rex Hall.

I posted two Camel Corps accounts of the death of Capt Smith, one by Hall who was not at that battle and another by a soldier in the ranks who wittnessed the fight and clearly tells a different account.

So If Hall's story is incorrect about Smith's death then how much can we beleive in Hall's account of the death of this German officer?

Mate, he may of heard a story that this officer was shot but from my research on the Camel Corps there were no Germans in the Southern trenches when captured by the Camel Corps and the accounts you read that there were are just pure racsisum on the part of the aussies or british who don't believe the Turks could put up such a good fight or to explain the death of one of there own.

Cheers

S.B

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 28 Apr 2007 02:51

Thanks Steve.

Its good that Bill and you have clarified the events of January 1917 here.Our aim should be to get the historical record correct and take it from there.

There does seem a populous view pushed that the Germans controlled the Turks both at the strategic and tactical level.In most cases this is not so.I think the approach being pushed is that the gallant Johnny Turk was a victim of German militarism as well.

Turkish postwar criticisms of Falkenhayn and Liman von Sanders are suggested though.The later can be partly blamed for the events of September 1918.The view is that he was still in the mindset of Gallipoli 1915 and had not absorbed the flexible,defensive tactics that had been developed since then.Kress von Kressenstein's acceptance of the Beersheba attack being a diversion(as planted by British Intelligence) is another blunder as well.

I think myths abound with any research on this theatre of war.For example some accounts mention a German Hauptmann Schiller as an Intelligence officer at Beersheba but I can find no record of such a person serving under German command with the Ottomans.

Regards
Peter

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Bill Woerlee
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Post by Bill Woerlee » 30 Apr 2007 08:52

Peter

G'day mate

This tale is the reiteration of the "German machine gunner" legend of Gallipoli. Steve has touched upon the origin - no one believed that the Turks were capable of mounting a strong defence and hence any quality leadership came from Germans. So at Gallipoli, where ever there was a machine gun that was effective, it was always supervised by a German NCO. Of course, this flew in the face of facts - none arrived during the whole campaign. No Germans advised any formation below a Regiment so the concept of a German machine gunner is just nonsense. And yet it played out in all the major publications of the day, even the old Thunderer, the London Times where this myth was recited as if it were fact.

So too at Rafa. While a German officer was captured, he was no where near a machine gun when this happened. Indeed, he missed the whole battle as he was a guest of the Enzeds. Yet still the myth of the German machine gunner is trotted out by some folks as if that explains things, especially the dastedly Hun who while waving a flag of truce and surrender, shoots at our officers. Only a Hun would play unfair ... why Jacko was a gentleman. And so it went on.

Had the German officer in question have been executed, it would have had a disasterous impact on the campaign. The idea was to illustrate how good the Allies were at treating prisoners so that others would desert. As mentioned about the Arab troops, they and the Armenians were only too happy to desert. The conditions were good enough. There were no stories of ill treatment reaching the Turkish lines so they were confident in their own safety if they deserted or surrendered. An execution would remove this important factor in the Allied war effort. Men motivated to fight to the end when they realise that the only options are death in battle or as a captive are dangerous. So an execution would be counter productive and indeed force the Allies to outlay many times that number of troops to win the battles. One only needs to look at the friendly way the Nazis took over Russia - their behaviour was so counter productive that it cost the Germans dearly. The Allies were not that stupid.

Cheers

Bill

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Post by malmö » 30 Apr 2007 11:39

Hi:
This tale is the reiteration of the "German machine gunner" legend of Gallipoli.
But what is with the 39 German Seamen ( no officers or NCO ) who are KIA during the Dardanelles Operations and listed name by name date by date , place by place in the records of German naval personal dead 14/19 ? Most of them were `` German machine gunner `` Exampel? 4.5.1915 Kirte ObMtr.G. Brilla ( Göben), ObMtr. A. Adthe (Göben ) and so on and so on.
Wilhelmson Poppinghausen 8-)

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drewsart
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Post by drewsart » 30 Apr 2007 23:43

Hi there Wilhelmson

These men were probably and as you have indicated next to their names, members of the crew from the Goeben who were sent ashore to assist with the defense of the Helles Sector against the British landings early in the opening of the campaign.

The crew members were mistaken for British sailors by the Turkish defending forces and fired upon those who survived were captured and presented to the local commander who rightly identified them as German allies and released them so that they could help with the defence of the area.

regards
Andrew

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Bill Woerlee
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Post by Bill Woerlee » 01 May 2007 00:54

Wilhelmson

G'day mate

Thanks for your post. My post was obviously too loose for you. I should have been more specific - opposing the landings of the Allied forces on 25 April 1915 at 5am when the landings commenced until midnight 25 April 1915 as described in the London Times article to demonstrate why the British had made no headway on that first day. Hopefully that qualifies the statement. When I made the statement, I made the presumption that most people had heard of the story but your post reminded me that this was too presumptuous. The reason for not expanding it is that the post becomes unwieldy when making a quick point. However, to accommodate you, I have now expanded the notion expressed in the post.

Now that I have qualified my statement I would be very interested to see the list that you do have - that is a list of all the personnel from the Göben who were KIA with place and date.

It would also assist if you could actually specify the Turkish units to which they were attached as machine gunners.

As you appreciate, many Germans were KIA in the Gallipoli campaign, especially those German "volunteers" who made their way to Turkey via a circuitous route. Once we know the formations to which these men were assigned, and the times they were assigned, then we will have a good idea as to whether they did indeed take part in any opposition to landings as you infer. We all know that the designation of a person's position is not necessarily how they met their death in battle. So the title "machine gunner" does not indicate that the person was firing a machine gun on 25 April 1915. This requires the connection process mentioned above to give the nexus between "German" - "machine gunner" - "Gallipoli" - "25th April 1915".

I am not saying that there eventually were German machine gunner - there were - just not opposing the landings.

Liman von Sanders says:
The Turko-German fleet took no direct part except that it furnishcd to the Fifth Army two machine gun detachments with about twenty-four machine guns which were of great benefit.
This is a note regarding the entire campaign rather than opposing the landings.

Cheers

Bill

malmö
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Post by malmö » 01 May 2007 17:19

Hej Bill,
the list shows not only crew-members of the Göben, but allso from Breslau the So.Ko. Türkei and other duties of the M.M.D. My post was only a small remark to your statement. A small remark notthing more. I have a large collection of maps, photos and other german, turkish document of the Dardanelles Operations. Most of them are from the estate of an Finnish author , as well from ducoments I bought from S. Remus ( Freiburg-Germany).
I do not post here extrates of this collection because of the unbearable nationalisum shown here in a good number of posts. Any way, I will like to make time by time here a comment.
God Kväll , Wilhelmson Poppinghausen

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 02 May 2007 00:59

malmo,

Cut the baiting and let it rest.

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