An Ottoman Officer's Career

Discussions on the final era of the Ottoman Empire, from the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 until the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
turcoscot
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An Ottoman Officer's Career

Post by turcoscot » 29 Aug 2008 04:30

My father recently sent me a copy of the military resume of my grandfather, Col. Munip Uzsoy, which was written by himself. I have translated it to the best of my ability, and offer it below. Our non-Turkish readers may find this of interest, as I believe my grandfather's career was probably quite typical for a successful regimental officer in the Ottoman Army in the first quarter of the century.

Infantry Lieutenant Colonel
Munip Bey son of Osman Zuhtu

Curriculum Vitae

Admission to Academy: May 1892

Lieutenant: After graduating from the academy in March 1895 I was assigned to the 2nd Company, 2nd Battalion, 11th regiment, 3rd Division which was part of the Second Imperial Army (Orduyu Humayun). I served with this company guarding the Bulgarian frontier at Demirkoy, and with the Bekir Pasa Brigade at Yanya-Loros-Garib during the Greek War. I was awarded the Greek War Medal in this war.

First Lieutenant: In march 1898 I was assigned as a First Lieutenant to the Seyitgazi Redif Battalion as Supply Officer. After serving one and a half years in Seyitgazi, on July 21, 1899 I was given duty in Istanbul as Supervising Officer (Dahiliye Subayi) at the Military High School in Sogukcesme (Sogukcesme Askeri Rustiyesi) and the Military Veterinary School (Askeri Baytar Rustiyesi) in Istanbul.

Captain: Upon being promoted to Captain on June 10, 1905, I served as Supervising Offier for the Staff and Special Branches at the Military Academy (Harbiye).

Major: Upon promotion to the rank of Major in November 1911, I was assigned to the command of the 1st Battalion, 79th Regiment. Since at that time the war with Italy was in progress and my battalion was in Yemen I was unable to take up this appointment. I was temporarily assigned to the Second Bureau of the General Staff (Genelkurmay Ikinci Subesi) and served there until October 1912. In October 1912 I was given command of the Samsun Redif Battalion, , which I joined on the battlefield at Conkara. I served with this battalion through the recapture of Edirne until the end of the war. After the battalion was demobilized in Samsun, upon my request I was transferred to the command of the 8th Army Corps Sharpshooter (Nisanci) Battalion stationed in Damascus. Moving with my battalion to Beirut, I served as Beirut District Commander (Mevki Komutani). On April 13 1914 I was ordered by headquarters to the Command Training Center (Umera Talimgahi) in Istanbul. After three months of school at the Haydarpasa Headquarters, I went to Acre as Executive Officer (Komutan Muavini) of the 79th Regiment. After serving with that regiment until August 22, 1914 I went to Jerusalem as commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 80th Regiment. On November 2 1914 I left Jerusalem with three companies of the 2nd Battalion, 80th Regiment and went to Maan as Aqaba Task Force (Mufreze) commander. After serving in Maan until 16 December 1914, I served in Aqaba as as Aqaba Task Force Commander until April 13, 1915, having under my command three (infantry?) companies, two batteries and two gendarme companies. I was occupied by several attempted landings by the British and the French. After the battalion was relieved I rejoined the 80th Regiment in the Hartepe area behind Haifa. On May 26 1915 I was urgently ordered to the Gallipoli Front, and on 25 June 1915 I took command of the 36th Regiment in the firing line at Seddulbahir Kerevizdere, where I I participated in the attach of June 26th. On August 8 1915 upon the landings at Anafarta (Suvla), the entire division was ordered to Anafarta to join the offensive. In particular the British attack of 12 August on the regiment’s lines in the direction of Kavaktepe was repulsed. (NOTE: This is the famous engagement with the 1/5th Norfolks Battalion, where the battalion incurred very heavy casualties and which started the “Vanishing Norfolks” story).

Lieutenant-Colonel: On September 14, 1915 I was promoted to lieutenant-colonel due to my seniority. I served until the enemy evacuated Anafarta until October 22, 1915, when we moved to the Seddulbahir front. After that front was also evacuated we moved to Edirne and remained there resupplying and refitting until May 1916, when the division traveled via Mamure, Islahiye, Malatya and Harput , to the Kigi front on the left flank of the 2nd Caucasus Army, where it took part in the battle of Enguzek with the Russians. In May 1917 I was ordered to the 4th Army and departed for Damascus. In Aleppo I was assigned to the command of the 140th Regiment, and remained in the Ceyhan-Yumurtalik area under the command of the 2nd Division until 15 June 1917. Later upon receipt of orders I went to Maan as Maan District (Mintika) commander and commander of the 178th Regiment. I served for a year under Cemal Pasa (note:Mersinli Cemal Pasa, Cemal Pasa the Lesser), commanding a task force (mufreze) consisting of the 178th and 146th Regiments, the Ester Cavalry Regiment and two batteries, taking part in actions against the Arabs at Koylapa. Later I returned to Damascus as Damascus District Commander and commander of Huran.
In March 1918 I was appointed Quartermaster-General (Levazim Baskani) for the 4th Division (I think this is an error; several other sources have him as QG for the 4th Army), serving in this capacity during the April-May battles of Salt Vadi-i Kefreyn. Although I was given command of the 53rd Division on 15 July 1918, I was unable to take up my post due to illness, and was sent to Istanbul for recuperation. Although I left Istanbul to take up my post, I got as far as Aleppo and returned to Istanbul with the army. On May 17 1919 I was posted to Konya as commander of the 33rd Regiment, and upon orders from the inspectorate served as provost-marshal (merkez komutani) there. In October 1919 I returned to Istanbul and was appointed Deputy to the Istanbul Garrison Commander (Istanbul Muhafiz Muavinligi), from which I resigned in May 1920. In November 1920 I was appointed to the ???(other sources say Personnel - Zatisleri) Commission. On December 27, 1920 I was given command of the 10th Regiment. On February 8th 1921 I left Istanbul for Inebolu, from here I went to Ankara (Note: The first person report ends here, listing his medals: Greek War medal in 1897; 5th Degree Mecidi Medal in 1905; 4th Osmani Medal in 1906; Award of a Year’s Seniority in 1914; Silver Combat Merit Medal in 1915; Silver Recognition (Imtiyaz) Medal with Swords, 1917; German Iron Crosses first and Second Class, 1918; Award of one year three months Seniority, 1918). He went to Ankara from Inebolu to join the Kemalists. He was infantry commander for the 24th Division at the Second Inonu Battle, was promoted to Colonel in 1921, and was given command of the 61st Division just before the Greek offensive which drove the Turkish forces back to the Sakarya River. As my father tells it, who heard the story from my grandfather’s orderly who was standing outside the door during the discussion, during the Eskisehir-Kutahya battle, where the Turkish front under command of General (later President) Ismet (Inonu) collapsed, Inonu apparently ordered two lieutenants from my grandfather’s division who had got lost shot for desertion in the face of the enemy. The two men had what we shall diplomatically call a major difference of opinion, which ended with my grandfather being relieved of his command and posted at district (mevki) commander to Polatli, where he served during the critical battles on the Sakarya River that stopped the Greek offensive before Ankara. He later became chairman of the Court-Martial for Senior Officers, and in 1922 was appointed commander of the Manisa Military District, where he retired in 1931 as a colonel.)

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Peter H
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Re: An Ottoman Officer's Career

Post by Peter H » 29 Aug 2008 12:43

Thanks for sharing details on your grandfather's military career turcoscot!

Peter

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jwsleser
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Re: An Ottoman Officer's Career

Post by jwsleser » 29 Aug 2008 15:21

turcoscot

Excellent bit of family history. Have you tried to research the details of these actions/battles from you grandfather's involvement?

Thank you very much for sharing.

Jeff

turcoscot
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Re: An Ottoman Officer's Career

Post by turcoscot » 29 Aug 2008 18:36

Thanks for the positive feedback. A lot of the specifics in the bio have been new to me, although my grandfather's involvement in the 12 August 1915 engagement at Gallipoli with the Norfolks has been written up by Birten Celik and Tim Travers, in the Journal of Military History a few years ago. There are several other fragments that I am beginning to assemble, but it's hard to put it together when I'm in the US, the records are in Turkey and I don't read the Ottoman script. I have learnt a lot on this forum, and continue to learn!

Reha

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Bill Woerlee
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Re: An Ottoman Officer's Career

Post by Bill Woerlee » 29 Aug 2008 22:46

Reha

G'day mate

Excellent summary mate and I join with Peter and Jeff in saying that it was a pleasure to read it.

As to the Ottoman Script, you have set yourself a task which should be readily attainable - to master the script and thus access documents. Below is the front page of THE best book on this subject in English:
P1290001aa1.jpg
Although over a 100 years old, it is still in print although for sale at about $120. If you want, I can send you the description pages which give transliteration details. This is pretty short. The rest of the dictionary is filled with all the known Turkish words written in Ottoman Script, transliterated into Roman Script, and then the English translation of the term. It is an invaluable language tool for this type of work. If you work at it for a bit, you will soon pick up the technique.

Cheers

Bill
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turcoscot
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Re: An Ottoman Officer's Career

Post by turcoscot » 31 Aug 2008 05:52

Thanks a lot, Bill, for the good advice - as always! I think I used to have a copy of this lying around in my parents' house, I'll see if I can track it down. Alas, I don't think time will permit a lengthy study of this until I retire, but hope springs eternal...

domster
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Re: An Ottoman Officer's Career

Post by domster » 05 Sep 2008 12:29

Hi turcoscot

Thanks for posting this information-part of it covers my area of interest, the Ottoman Army in southern Jordan. It seems your grandfather was in charge of the task force assembled to fight the Arab Northern Army (and T E Lawrence) after its capture of Aqaba in July 1917. This force was assembled at Ma’an in August 1917, by Mersinli Cemal Pasa (GOC 8th Army Corps). The 146th Regiment was detached from the 46th Division at Ramleh in Palestine and sent across the river Jordan and down the Hejaz railway to Ma’an arriving at the end of July 1917. This is detailed in intelligence reports and the letters of the regiment’s translator Moshe Sherratt, Israel’s second Prime Minister. Sherratt and his regiment arrived in Ma’an on the 1st August 1917 and he describes the force at this time as;
‘On our arrival in Maan Jemal already had a unit and a half of infantry, 2 mountain guns, a unit of cavalry, mules and 8 machine guns near a spring, 15kms away from Maan’ (this was probably the 178th Regiment which was reported in the Maan zone at this time and part of the 7th Cavalry regiment?). Sherratt mentions that an Oberleutnant Rudolf Shirholtz became commnder of the Maan district so maybe he replaced your grandfather, he also mentions various battles and skirmishes south west of Ma’an? However ‘Koylapa’ is not a name I am familiar with.

Hope this helps

All the best Dominic

turcoscot
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Re: An Ottoman Officer's Career

Post by turcoscot » 05 Sep 2008 19:06

Dear Dominic,
This is very interesting information. My grandfather must have been involved in these battles with Lawrence; in the book "The Secret Lives of Lawrence of Arabia", there is a photo of him standing next to the Bey of Deraa. I suspect Koylapa is one of the places whose name has changed; it will take some research to find where it is. Tosun Saral might know, and there might be a clue in the Turkish Official Histories by the Turkish General Staff, which, unfortunately, I don't have available here in the US.

Thanks again, and I look forward to continuing to learn more,

Reha

turcoscot
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Re: An Ottoman Officer's Career

Post by turcoscot » 14 Sep 2008 05:50

I just came across an interesting archaeological study of Ma'an and another Ottoman army camp along the Hijaz railway in Southern Jordan, the area my grandfather served in as commander of the Aqaba task force (Akabe Mufrezesi). Here's the link.

http://www.jordan1914-18archaeology.org ... 20GARP.pdf

Reha

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