Topic: Tk - Bks - Air Force
Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918
[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 203.]
Part 1 - A Token Force
With the outbreak of the 1st World War in August 1914 it was planned that the Palestine Army Command in Damascus should be equipped with a Tayyare Boluk (Aircraft Company) of two flights, each with two aircraft. As the previously ordered French aircraft not were delivered the unit was formed initially with only a Rumpler Doppeltaube taken over from the German flyer Dr. Elias. (Dr. Elias later served as aircraft company commander for FA305 in 1918 in Palestine.)
This aircraft was chosen as it had the longest range of any available Turkish aircraft. Lieutenant Sakir who had received biplane training in Germany was selected to pilot the aircraft. This token force was to provide reconnaissance for the planned Turkish assault on the Suez Canal.
An aircraft named "Fazil" arrived at Aleppo on 28 December 1914. Here luck ran out and it crashed the next day during take-off when the engine failed. Lieutenant Sakir escaped unhurt and was soon sent to Germany to procure new aircraft for the 4th Army in Palestine.
In May 1915, Austria promised to deliver 12 LVG B.I's, but the first crashed during delivery and another 2 were delayed for many months during their transport through Romania. The rest of the order was never delivered.
Meanwhile the Turkish attack on the Suez Canal had been repulsed largely due to lack of Turkish aircraft to provide reconnaissance.
In this situation, for the task the unsuitable acrobatic training aircraft of Ponnier design was rushed to Palestine. However, it was the only Turkish aircraft available and it safely arrived at Damascus on the 17th of March. After a few flights however it crashed on the 9th of April.
While the Ottoman Army was trying desperately to get aircraft to Turkey the German Major E. Serno arrived to reorganize the flying units. Another German named Dittmar took a commission in the Ottoman Army and was soon sent to Palestine where he organized an airfield near Beersheba in late 1915.
Source: The above extract is obtained from a self published work by Ole Nikolajsen called Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919. A Token Force comes from Chapter 8, Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918, p. 174. The text has been edited to remove errors and make it readable for an English speaking audience.
Next Chapter: Pasha I
Citation: A Token Force