Thursday, October 11, 2012

Turkish Army Uniforms

Shoulder cords/boards, including the epaulettes used in WW1, by Ottoman Turkish officers have been poorly represented and collectors do not presently have a reliable description of these, or the actual rank system used in WW1.

Example of the Turkish M1909 (Pre-war type) army FERIK (Lt.-General) shoulder board. With plain silver (German made) button. Uses a cast brass French-style rank star. SIZE: Approx. 5 x 11 cm.The general’s shoulder board, illustrated in Figure (below): ‘B’ is based loosely on German rank insignia. Post-1909 the original design was distinctive using a five-cord yellow cotton weave and indicating rank using the older 1876-period French five-point stars (as can be seen in Figures: ‘C-D’. Early, in WW1 the pattern changed to more closely resembled the German period pattern using a three-cord weave, made with gold cords incorporating red-flecks. The rank insignia for a Marshal (‘Mushir’) has two different versions: ‘D’ is the Army rank, whereas ‘E’ is a Marshal in the Imperial Ottoman Navy (ION), displaying a star and crescent badge . Figure: ‘F’ is the special rank insignia for Sultan Mehmed V Reshad (ruling from 27 April 1909 – 3 July 1918), displaying a badge based on his ‘Tugra’ (the imperial cipher, and symbol of authority). It should be noted that these boards are typically small (like all Ottoman Turkish insignia), as Figure: ‘B’ example is only 4.6 cm x 9.2 cm, and appear broad and rectangular.
 Harp Madalyasi. K-Model A:2. Nickel coined with fused horizontal pin. This has been cut and turned into attachment loops for sewing to a ribbon. Pined through and sewn-on Austrian made kappenabzeichen for XV. Türkisch Korps (Deutsch Südwest Armee) Award Badge for Eastern front action in NOVEMBER 1916. Gilt bronze. Marked: ENTW.U.AUSGEF.ATEL. G. GURSCHNER WIEN VII / 2
1333/1915 Ottoman Turkish Harp Madalyasi. K-Model A:3 variation. Nickel coined. Vertical fused pin removed, replaced with lead-soldered thick steel slide-clip. Red lacquer infill removed.

Austrian Militär-Verdienstkreuz (Cross for Military Merit) 3rd Class breast badge. With 1860 "Kriegsdekoration" (War Decoration). Mounted on tri-folded war ribbon (without the 1916 gilt crossed swords), with bronze pin.
In order to receive the Austrian Militär-Verdienstkreuz or German Iron Cross, Ottoman Turkish officers in most cases needed to have the Mejidie Order, and or the silver Liyakat/ Sanayi Medals.December 13, 1916 authorized for Austro-Hungarian officers only gilt crossed swords on the ribbon as a higher grade of wartime merit.Ottoman Turkish officers,
did not receive this particular distinction.

This is very much a work in progress. I have been reconstructing the rank insignia system used by the Ottomans in WW1, and meshing the original illustrations (which most people are used to seeing), with actual insignia, as well as the missing ranks left out of most descriptions of the WW1 Turkish Army.

Model 1909 German made Mauser three-pocket cartridge pouch. Brown pebble grained leather with brass hardware. One has the interior pocket dividers have been removed. Manufacturer’s stamp - "MAURY & Co OFFENBACH A/M" and the Hijri date of 1327 (1909 AD). Has a circular ink stamp in Ottoman Turkish under the middle pocket flap.
Another, Post-1909 German made Ottoman Turkish ‘Imperial Army’ buckle shield. A ‘Type B’ version. Has plainer Ottoman Turkish script for 'Asakr-i Shahaneh' meaning the 'Imperial Army', contained within the crescent. This was found in Haifa, Israel.

Post-1909 German made Ottoman Turkish ‘Imperial Army’ buckle. A ‘Type A’ version. The more florid Ottoman Turkish script for 'Asakr-i Shahaneh' meaning the 'Imperial Army', contained within the crescent.


  1. Congratulations on a really wonderful post - there is more information contained in the one article than in most books on the subject, thanks to you both for passing it to a wider readership.


  2. Special thanks to Dr.Chris Flaherty.he published a book also for Turkish Army Uniforms.We are lucky as being grand grandsons of an Imperial Army.They really look gorgious!