Turkish Stormtroops

Discussions on the final era of the Ottoman Empire, from the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 until the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
Kaan Caglar
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Post by Kaan Caglar » 01 May 2006 13:15

Dear Peter H.
Upon your request I'll be checking out the university library which has like a hundred books on Turkish Army in WWI hopefully I'll be able to post tomorrow :)
Kaan

trickcyclist
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Turkish assault detachments

Post by trickcyclist » 02 May 2006 03:51

The Erickson book does indeed mention Turkish assault companies. On page 141, third paragraph, it says that in 1917 the 19th and 20th Infantry Divisions of the XV Corps formed assault companies in Galicia. It doesn't offer any more information.

I've also seen a photo of a Turkish flamethower shock troop of two Kleif squads, four hand-grenade throwers, and one NCO. It was taken in Rohatyn, in Galicia, in early 1917. Somewhere in this forum this was discussed before. The XV Corps received only two Kleif, so maybe this photo showed the only Turkish flamethrowers in the whole theater.

TC

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 02 May 2006 09:57

Thanks Kaan for your efforts. :)

I assume the photo I posted is in Turkey or the Middle East.A German officer in Galicia most likely would not be wearing Ottoman Army kit.After Galicia both the 19th and 20th Divisions moved to the Palestine front in 1918.If their assault companies were still active then this is were they would have ended the war.Neither division fought in the Abu Tellel action which was in the zone of the Turkish 24th Division.

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Re: Turkish assault detachments

Post by bob lembke » 02 May 2006 18:24

trickcyclist wrote:The Erickson book does indeed mention Turkish assault companies. On page 141, third paragraph, it says that in 1917 the 19th and 20th Infantry Divisions of the XV Corps formed assault companies in Galicia. It doesn't offer any more information.

I've also seen a photo of a Turkish flamethower shock troop of two Kleif squads, four hand-grenade throwers, and one NCO. It was taken in Rohatyn, in Galicia, in early 1917. Somewhere in this forum this was discussed before. The XV Corps received only two Kleif, so maybe this photo showed the only Turkish flamethrowers in the whole theater.

TC
TC;

I have mentioned seeing a photo of a Turkish FW team training in Galicia, and I now remember that it was at Rohatyn, on a manuver ground, but the picture I saw was of a FW team firing a FW in a trench, seen from the side, so the uniforms, etc. are not visable, but the special Turkish visorless steel helmets are visable on the men. So they must be different photos. (I actually have an image of the photo, but the photo is the property of another person, so I feel that I cannot post the photo, only describe it, which I am doing from memory.)

If you mean a FW team of two or three men, especially if you mean two (the Kleif=Traeger and the Brandrohr=Traeger - "small flame thrower carrier" and "fire tube carrier"; Kleif was an abbreviation of Klein Flammenwerfer, and was the standard portable German FW for about the second half of 1915 {maybe} and 1916, and would have been a better FW to give to the Turks, rather than the new Wex, as it was heavier, probably more robust, had a greater oil capacity and was probably a bit simpler.), was a standard FW Trupp.

A group of two teams of two men with one FW for each team, and four grenadiers or other support troopers, and a NCO (either a Gefreiter or Unteroffizier) was the standard German Flammenwerfer=Trupp, the basic FW unit of manuver.

The existence of two separate photos confirms the training of Turkish FW teams at Rohatyn. Can I ask where you found a reference to the XV Corps receiving two Kleif? I would think that the Corps would have been a good place to dump the whole 30 FW, enough to equip a German-style FW company. Researching this stuff is murder. I even conned myself into an interview of the Turkish colonel commanding the Military Library at the Askeri Müze (Military Museum) at Istanbul, leading to very little. I have to apply to the General Staff in Ankara, across the way in Asia, for permission to use the Library, although the Turkish General Staff has a large office tower (complete with sand-bagged MG posts) right next door in Istanbul. And the language is murder; my wife, who reads 11 languages well, and dozens more badly, looked at Turkish briefly and dropped it like a hot potato for al-arabi.

Thanks, TC

Bob Lembke

PS: This second photo is great news. Anyone with more info please chime in.

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Post by trickcyclist » 02 May 2006 19:45

Bob:

The information on the XV Corps receiving two flamethrowers is in the forum here http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... ethrowers.

Forum member Mehmet Fatih posted this reply to me on September 19, 2005.
The info about the 2 flame throwers is given on page 61.

The name of the book is ; Birinci Dünya Harbinde Türk Harbi-Avrupa Cepheleri(Ozet)
If we roughly translate it; Turkish War in World War 1-European Fronts(Summary)
The publisher is; Genelkurmay Askeri Tarih ve Stratejik Etud Baskanligi
If we roughly translate it; Turkish General Staff Military History and Strategic Studies Unit
The author is; Military historian Gulhan Barlas.But in fact Barlas only prepared and edited the book because this book is consisted of 3 books published in 1967 by the same publisher.The books are; Galicia by Retired Infantry Colonel Cihat Akkanoglu, Romania by Retired Infantry Colonel Fikri Gulec,Macedonia by Retired Artillery Colonel Fazli Karlidag and Retired Staff Colonel Kani Ciner. But as i say this book is a unity of these three books.
The book i have is published in Turkish General Staff printing office in Ankara/Turkiye in year 1996.
ISBN number is 975-409-074-2.
The photo I saw belonged to a French collector I met at a militaria show. It wasn't very good, but it matched the description of the one you saw. Maybe it was the same image.

TC

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TC's Info

Post by bob lembke » 03 May 2006 15:53

TC;

I seem to have the book, in English translation, on disk! (If memory serves, God willing.) I am buying about one book a day, mostly in Germany (e.g., bought one in Germany and one in a used book shop in Philadelphia yesterday, and plan to bid seriously on a set of 13 today) and the book slipped my mind. Obviously my buying is outpacing my reading. I have prowled the bookshops of Istanbul (to the extent that you can in a city of 12-15 million on two continents) and found almost nothing, except for being offered the English translation of the interesting diary of a young Turkish officer at Gallipoli. (A very good book, unfortunately bound with a very brittle glue; my wife's library has it, and with her faculty borrowing privileges I could have it semi-permamently on my shelf if I wished, so I passed on the book.) The title has "Lone Pine" in it, probably "Lone Pine Diary". The origins of the book are interesting. Someone found a diary or set of diaries in some sort of shop or market, written in old Turkish in the Arabic script. (Which, incidentally, is worse than it looks. It supposedly has about 55 letters, but there is a set of marks that are applied to many letters which, practically, increase the number several-fold.)

The diaries were written at Gallipoli by a young officer, lieutenant, I think; he later became a senior officer in the Turkish Army. It took the diary-finder several months to find someone who could translate the diaries into modern Turkish. There is not only the problem of the combination of the extremely complex Turkish language and the lovely but difficult Arabic alphabet, but the educated writer would strive to express his erudition by inserting a lot of Arabic and Farsi (Persian) phrases and poetry into his Turkish text. You would think that a city such as Istanbul, with something like 13 or 19 universities, there must be lots of little old extremely scholarly men of limited means who would love such a job. But it is really hard, and as the oldsters die off the situation quickly becomes worse.

The Turks were master bureaucrats (even the German advisors complained about the paperwork burden; supposedly the Turkish company commander had to produce and submit 144 different reports on various schedules), and I am sure that they must have vast archives, but in this lovely, impossible language.

Lets tie up this question of the two (?) photos, as if we confirm this we are confirming the most concrete thing we have uncovered on the use of FW by the Turks. The photo that I have, supposedly taken on the same Galician training ground (Rohatyn), seems to have been taken at a distance of about 50 or 60 feet, if a normal focal length lens was used. The camera angle was perpendicular to a trench, which probably was about 5' deep. There is a file of about five soldiers advancing down the trench, and the first is firing a FW down the length of the trench. You can only see the soldiers' heads, and they are wearing the Turkish-style visorless steel helmets that the Germans made for the Turkish Army.

It sounds like the picture you saw was a different one, as you were able to identify two Kleif teams, four grenadiers (in the photo I saw they could have been juggling grapefruits or cradling rabbits, due to the depth of the trench), and a NCO Trupp leader, and I recall about 5-6 men visable, but only their heads.

Of course, two people having seen two different photos strengthens the case for this training at that location. Can you recall if the soldiers in your photo were wearing the visorless helmet? German practice was to issue steel helmets first to their most elite units; they first issued them to Sturm=Bataillon Nr. 5 (Rohr) at Verdun, and I believe that the German FW troops got them shortly thereafter. Does anyone know if they were generally issued to XV Corps?

Bob Lembke

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Post by trickcyclist » 04 May 2006 08:55

Bob:

The photo I saw showed the men running through barbed wire. They were wearing the visorless helmets produced by cutting the brim off the German version, and the grenadiers had the typical sacks of grenades on their chests, their rifles slung. Several of the helmets were camouflaged in vertical bands of color separated by black lines. The photo was taken in 1917, which means that the Turks used steel helmets much earlier than is usually stated.

The guy who owned the photo refused to sell it or copy it for any price. He was convinced that letting it be published anywhere would diminish its value. He reminded me of the millionaires who pay someone to steal a Van Gogh from a museum and then gloat over it in private.

History (and art) should be shared, I say!

TC

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TC's Photo

Post by bob lembke » 04 May 2006 09:48

TC;

Clearly they are different photos. The one you saw and described certainly contains more information than the one I have seen, and clearly shows that this Turkish Flammenwerfer=Trupp was organized exactly like the standard German Flammenwerfer=Trupp of the period. (The German Flammenwerfer=Kompagnie also had other specialized Truppe to accomodate light MGs and special light 76 mm spigot mortars that they took with them into combat.) It also demonstrates that the Turks also followed the German practice of first distributing steel helmets to their most elite units, demonstration units.

As for the odd information from a Turkish pal and the publication previously cited, that XV Corps only received two FW, it could be true. The Trupp pictured may have been formed for demonstration purposes, and the rest dumped in a warehouse somewhere. As previously mentioned, although not terribly complicated, a considerable amount of specialized information, supplies, and spares was required to keep them running satisfactorily (e.g., the Germans used at least five different types of flame oil, and the different ones required different maintenence and adjustment regimes), so attempting to keep just two running at an obscure location would seem difficult and pointless; rather keep the bulk of them together, with possibly some spares stored somewhere. Enver Pasha sometimes made odd and possibly illogical decisions, IMHO, and his fingerprints may be found here. This would have been a good weapon for the Turks to use on the Eastern Front; repeatedly the Germans were able to mount a large, well-planned flame attack on the Russians and achieve spectacular local results, thousands of POWs, hundreds of MGs and cannon captured, extremely strong fortified positions successfully stormed.

The French collector is, unfortunately, correct, in a narrow sense. If his pic is copied, it might possibly decrease the value of the original; however, the increased publicity might also elevate the value of the original. There are serious dillemmas involved in the area of the inherent conflict between the private and public interest in the area of collecting items of historical or intellectual value. This is a big issue in archeology. I personally think that the French collector's karma may be to be crushed by a shifting eight-foot pile of old Life magazines, and then to have his snot-nosed grand-nephew have his collections, including the FW pic, pulped to make toilet paper roll cores for export to Miramar.

This question is why I will not supply the photo entrusted to me by someone to this forum, by post or other means, as it might (or might not) erode its monetary value.

Bob Lembke

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Post by Boco8 » 09 May 2006 01:26

This link may be of interest: The Project Gutenberg EBook of How Jerusalem Was Won, by W.T. Massey

It contains the following:
On December 1 (1918) the 10th Division relieved the 52nd in the sector wadi Zait-Tahta-Kh. (Khan?) Faaush, but on that day the 155th Brigade had had another hard brush with the Turks. A regiment of the 3rd Australian Light Horse on a hill north of El Burj in front of them was heavily attacked at half-past one in the morning by a specially prepared sturmtruppen battalion of the Turkish 19th Division, and a footing was gained in our position, but with the aid of a detachment of the Gloucester Yeomanry and the 1/4th Royal Scots Fusiliers the enemy was driven out at daybreak and six officers and 106 unwounded and 60 wounded Turks, wearing steel hats and equipped like German storming troops, were taken prisoners. The attack was pressed with the greatest determination, and the enemy, using hand grenades, got within thirty yards of our line. During the latter part of their advance the Turks were exposed to a heavy cross fire from machine guns and rifles of the 9th Light Horse Regiment, and this fire and the guns of the 268th Brigade Royal Field Artillery and the Hong Kong and Singapore battery prevented the retirement of the enemy. The capture of the prisoners was effected by an encircling movement round both flanks. Our casualties were 9 killed and 47 wounded. That storming battalion left over 100 dead about our trenches.
Although I can't confirm its accuracy, the account is consistent some of the information in earlier posts.

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Post by bob lembke » 09 May 2006 05:48

Boco8 wrote:This link may be of interest: The Project Gutenberg EBook of How Jerusalem Was Won, by W.T. Massey

It contains the following:
On December 1 (1918) the 10th Division relieved the 52nd in the sector wadi Zait-Tahta-Kh. (Khan?) Faaush, but on that day the 155th Brigade had had another hard brush with the Turks. A regiment of the 3rd Australian Light Horse on a hill north of El Burj in front of them was heavily attacked at half-past one in the morning by a specially prepared sturmtruppen battalion of the Turkish 19th Division, and a footing was gained in our position, but with the aid of a detachment of the Gloucester Yeomanry and the 1/4th Royal Scots Fusiliers the enemy was driven out at daybreak and six officers and 106 unwounded and 60 wounded Turks, wearing steel hats and equipped like German storming troops, were taken prisoners. The attack was pressed with the greatest determination, and the enemy, using hand grenades, got within thirty yards of our line. During the latter part of their advance the Turks were exposed to a heavy cross fire from machine guns and rifles of the 9th Light Horse Regiment, and this fire and the guns of the 268th Brigade Royal Field Artillery and the Hong Kong and Singapore battery prevented the retirement of the enemy. The capture of the prisoners was effected by an encircling movement round both flanks. Our casualties were 9 killed and 47 wounded. That storming battalion left over 100 dead about our trenches.
Although I can't confirm its accuracy, the account is consistent some of the information in earlier posts.
"Boco8",

Very interesting. However, I may be an "old fart", but this "EBook" business gives me pause. What is this book? Is it a book written in 1919 but never published, but put on the Internet in 2001? It is it a previously published book now put up on the Internet? If this source is creditable, it is quite important.

Does this jibe with the Australian (Bean) official histories, which, wonderfully, are accessible on the Internet? I think that this information should be pursued. I, personally, know next to nothing about the Palestinian events.

Bob Lembke

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 09 May 2006 09:49

A great find Boco. :) Welcome to the forum.

Refer pages pages 506-8 of the Australian Official History here,the action at El Burj:

http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/histor ... ers/29.pdf
It was afterwards learned that the attacking force was a battalion of 'storm-troops',selected in Galicia from the 19th and 20th Divisions,and specially trained by German officers.Physically they were the finest Turks seen by the Australians in the war...
It was estimated the force numbered 500 men--the Turkish losses given are 100 dead,178 captured(including 60 wounded).The Australian/British losses were 9 killed,42 wounded.

The 3rd Light Horse refered to was the 3rd Light Horse Brigade.

My impression is that the Stormtroop concept used here was a failure and effectively destroyed the unit.

This sketch from another link( http://www.grantsmilitaria.com/militari ... sp?key=416 ) locks up with the photo and insignia as can be seen in the photo.

Image

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What Suns are setting for the sake of a Crescent

Post by Tosun Saral » 09 May 2006 11:16

I found a little information which I like to share with you.
"On July 28th the British gained positions and strenght on the Zigindere/Seddulbahir Front. Turks decided to take necassary steps to prevent the coming danger. They made a plan to throw the British back. The plan was to establich a assoult force called "üçler taburu" (Battalion of Thirds). Those battalions were selected from every 3rd battalion of every Regiment of the same Division. The land was not suitable for ab assault attack. The land was controlled from land and sea by British fire. Dead was obvious. The 3 battalions began to move at first in deep trenches then they rub along the ground and then they run on the open area. On the front was Major Resat Bey (Col. Resat Cigiltepe who suicied on August 26, 1922 at the great attack againts invading Greek armies, because of his delay to conquer Cigiltepe Hill) the commander of 3rd battalion, after him was his orderly officer Under Lt. Sadi Efendi, a litte at the back was one of the company comanders captain Huseyin Husnu Efendi and Under Lt. Halit, Regimental Imam (priester) Husnu Hodjaefendiand the soldiers.
British began immediately to fire after they saw Turks coming. The British fire coused dead and wounded among Turkish lines. One of the wounded officers was Vasif Efendi (Lt. Col Vasif Bey who fell at Caucasus Front later on the Hill of Ognot)
The Imam of the 3rd Company was also wounded. All the officers were dead. Half of the 3rd battalion of the 71tg Regiment were wounded of dead. But most demage had the 3rd Battalion of the 70th Regiment. There were only 400 remained from 1000. The assoult was un succesful."
May they rest in peace.
"WHAT SUNS ARE SETTING FOR THE SAKE OF A CRESCENT"

28 Haziran Seddülbahir Zığındere Savaşlarında İngilizler gerekli üstünlüğü sağlamışlardı. Bu tehlikeyi önlemek için l. Türk Tümeninin her alayından Üçler Hücumu denilen 3. Taburlarla oluşturdukları kuvvetlerle saldırıya geçecekler ve İngilizleri geri süreceklerdi. Şu kadar ki arazi taarruza müsait değildi. Sahayı İngiliz ateşi karadan ve denizden yalıyordu. Yani ölüm muhakkaktı.
Bu vaziyet karşısında üç tabur arka arkaya önce bir insan boyunca, gittikçe diz kapaklara inen ve nihayet büsbütün açığa çıkan hendeklerden tek kol halinde ilerliyorlardı. En önde 7. Alayın 3. Tabur Komutanı Binbaşı Reşat, / İstiklâl Savaşı'nda Çeliktepe'de tümeninin ilerleyememesinden müteessir olup intihar etmiştir/ gerisinde emir subayı Asteğmen Sadi, daha geride bölük komutanlarından Yüzbaşı Hüseyin Hüsnü ve Asteğmen Halit, Tabur İmamı Hüsnü ve daha geride ise askerler geliyordu.
Türk tarafındaki bu hareketlenmeyi anlayan düşman, derhal ateşe başladı. Muvasala hendekleri şehit ve ölülerle dolmuştu. Sonradan Kafkas Cephesi'nde Oğnot ilerisindeki sırtlarda şehit olan Yarbay Vâsıf Bey de yaralılar arasındaydı. 3. Bölüğün imamı da yaralı idi. Subayların tamamı ise şehit olmuştu. 71. Alayın 3. Taburunun da yarısı yaralı yarısı şehitti. En ağır kayba 70. Alayın 3. Taburu uğramıştı. 1000 kişiden 400 asker kalmıştı. Bu durum karşısında harekât durduruldu. Çünkü kayıp ağırdı ve başarı sağlanamamıştı. Yani savaş sahifesi bizim aleyhimize kapanmıştı.
http://www.forumuz.biz/showthread.php?t=49829&page=2

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Post by Boco8 » 10 May 2006 00:56

Thanks for the welcome, gentlemen. Having an interest in the Great War in Palestine, I've lurked here on many occasions. Glad I could finally contribute a little.

It seems that the British and Australian sources are describing the same battle. Here's a better reference for Massey's book on Historion. The byline is "W.T. Massey OFFICIAL CORRESPONDENT OF THE LONDON NEWSPAPERS WITH THE EGYPTIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE". BL, you must be a "young fart", since you never saw the book in print. :wink: AFAIK, these eTexts are faithful to the original book. Copyright expiration allows their legal transcription to the internet.

Tosun, your text describes a similar battle, but the date doesn't match the Allied accounts. Do you think it's a wrong date or a different battle? Would the 70th and 71st regiments belong to either the 19th or 20th divisions? Btw, is this right: Kasim = November, Haziran = June, and Temmuz = July?

[Edit]
Oops I think I goofed. My skim of your link suggests a battle at Gallipoli (Çanakkale, Zigindere, Seddulbahir)
[/Edit]

Since we're talking about the 19th Turkish division, I have another question. Erickson refers to the parent formation (in September 1918) of the 19th Division as the "Left Wing Corps", which also commanded the 16th Division and the German Asia Corps. Osprey books (Megiddo 1918) refer to the entire Turco (2 Div)-German (1 Bde) force as the Asia Corps. Does anyone have any information as to what the Turks themselves called it?

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Post by Tosun Saral » 10 May 2006 10:11

First correction: Thanks for your notice= Haziran = June

Yes a battle at Gallipoli (Çanakkale, Zigindere, Seddulbahir)

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 10 May 2006 14:30

Boco,

The British Official History refers to the 16th & 19th Divisions,Asienkorps as the "Yilderim Corps".

I assume they have misspelled Yildirim.However this description appears not to be from a Turkish source.


Regards,
Peter

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