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Tuesday, 24 February 2009
The First and Second Battles Of Gaza
Topic: Tk - Bks - Air Force

Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918

 

German Colonists visiting Ramle air field, May 1917.

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 204.]

 

Part 4 - The First and Second Battles Of Gaza

By March 1917 the British forces moving through the Sinai desert had pushed forward the supporting railway line and moved enough forces and equipment forward to attempt an attack on the Turkish defence line between Beersheba and Gaza. These moves by the British forces were carefully observed and reported by the highly spirited and efficient crews of FA300, who had just arrived from Germany. A forward detachment of 2 Rumpler C.Is were maintained at Huj in close contact with the forward Army Headquarters so no time would be lost in forwarding new observations. To counter the British intentions, three Turkish divisions (the 3rd, 16th and 53rd) were rushed to the front.

When the British forces attacked in the early morning of the 26th of March 1917 the advance was dutifully reported by a Rumpler, flying low in the morning haze. While the 3 Turkish divisions hurried marched forward 6 Rumplers provided accurate artillery observations and attacked any British aircraft. Several air-battles ensued but neither side claimed any aircraft shot down. The British air units could call upon 21 BE2C's, 14 Martinsydes and 7 Bristol Scouts half of which were air worthy whereas FA300 possessed only 7 flyable Rumplers. The 2 Fokker E.III's being on charge were kept at Ramleh as the unreliable rotary engines made them unsuitable except for short flights over friendly territory. In the evening of the day of attack the British forces had to withdraw with more than 4,000 casualties. The war in the air continued for another 2 days.

After this battle the German commander of the front, General von Kress, officially gave credit to FA300 for having won the day [181] due to its timely and accurate observations and later artillery directions.

Meanwhile in the air the new Rumpler C.I's with their forward firing gun dominated the skies so effectively that they were widely reported by the Royal Flying Corps as "new Halberstadt fighters". Despite the fact that the Rumplers had orders to avoid battle to save precious machines for the vital reconnaissance duties, one BE.2C was downed on the 27th of March, another on 6 April and a Martinsyde on 19 April.

 


Map of air activities covered by this extract

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 182.]

[Click on map for larger version.]

 

During the crucial period from mid March to mid April FA300 succeeded in almost completely keeping the British aircraft away from the Gaza lines while these were heavily fortified. In the process 210 flying hours were logged. In the first days of April keen aerial reconnaissance again revealed that a new attack on Gaza was eminent. Consequently two attacks by a force of 5 Rumplers were made on the main British airfield at Rafa inflicting heavy damage.

On 19 April, a British head-on attack was launched upon the by now well prepared Gaza lines. The assault was headed by a small force of armoured cars and therefore succeeded in penetrating the first lines. Now again excellent artillery direction by the wireless equipped Rumplers halted the attackers, wrecked the armoured cars and turned the assault into a complete failure.

On the day of attack an unorthodox attempt was made to stop the British advance by Captain Felmy (the Commanding Officer) and his observer Captain Falke. The British forces were dependent for their water supply on a pipeline following the railway track having been constructed through the desert. The two officers in a daring flight flew a Rumpler 150 km's behind the British lines, landed beside the railway track and blew up the pipeline with explosives. The damage was soon repaired but another similar attack made on 24 May was more successful.

Both on 20 and 21 April, the British tried to renew their attack but all attempts were quickly spotted by the “all present” Rumplers and dealt with by artillery or stubborn infantry counterattacks. The lines of Gaza remained unbroken despite the sacrifice of 6,444 British casualties. A Turkish follow-up counterattack failed to gain ground and was repulsed.

The British air units by this time were apparent completely demoralized and from May to September the small German unit, FA300 swept the sky around Gaza clear of enemy aircraft. The British airfields were also attacked at will and the railway track [183] bombed to such an extent that the traffic for long periods of time came to a standstill as the Indian and Egyptian workers refused to work.

During these five months of stalemate on the ground and German
air superiority, 7 more British aircraft fell to the Rumplers, the losses occurring on 11 May, 25 June, 26 June, 29 June, 8 July, 8 July and 13 September. After 20 June, when two Albatros D.III's were received, these fighters claimed a further 5 aircraft on 25 June, 26 June, 29 June, 8 July and 13 July. These successes were accomplished without any combat losses to FA300. Despite this fact the unit was in August down to only 2 airworthy Rumplers and the 2 Albatros fighters due to attrition and worn out aircraft.

Parallel to this far reaching changes had been made on the British side of the front where General Allenby had taken charge. New modern and more suitable British aircraft started to arrive at the front in August in large numbers.

 

Source: The above extract is obtained from a self published work by Ole Nikolajsen called Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919The First and Second Battles Of Gaza comes from Chapter 8, Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918, pp. 181-4. The text has been edited to remove errors and make it readable for an English speaking audience.

 

Further Reading:

The German Ottoman Air Force 

Air War on the Palestine Front, December 1915 to January 1917

Turkish Units - The Ottoman Air Force

Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, Yildirim

 

Go To:

Previous Chapter: 3ncu Tayyare Boluk (The 3rd Aircraft Company)

Next Chapter: Yildirim Ordu (The "Lightning Army") 

 


Citation: The First and Second Battles Of Gaza

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 1 March 2009 9:08 AM EAST
Monday, 23 February 2009
Yildirim Ordu (The "Lightning Army")
Topic: Tk - Bks - Air Force

Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918

 

Dismantling an Albatros DIII of FA304(b) for transport through the Taurus Mountains.

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 207.]

 

Part 5 - Yildirim Ordu (The "Lightning Army")

The news of the fall of Baghdad to British forces on 11 March 1917 was received with shock and disbelief by the Turkish public. Immediately it was demanded that this important city should be retaken. The Turkish Army Command consequently drew up plans for the reconquering of the city by forming two new armies (the 7th and 8th) and by securing a new German Corps (the "Asian Corps") of 15,000 men. Four German and two Turkish aircraft units were to be formed for these armies. In Germany the former Commanding Officer of FA300, Major Heemskerck was promoted to "Kommandeur der Flieger" (KOFL) and entrusted with the formation of 3 Prussian and 1 Bavarian "Fliegerabteilung", FA301, FA302, FA303. and FA304(b).

During June and July these units with each 6 AEG C.IV's and 2 Albatros D.III's as well as 4 reserve AEG's and 2 Albatroses were formed. The large quantities of material and men for both the armies and flying units started to arrive in Istanbul in late July. At this point it realized that the Gaza force was so depleted of men and material that, drastic measures were needed. Consequently in the first week of August the "Yildirim Ordu" (the "Lightning Army"), as the venture was known, was ordered first to Gaza to defeat the British Army there and then to divert towards Baghdad.

The build-up of the entire force was painfully slow however as the railway through Anatolia and the unfinished tunnels [184] in the Tauras mountains were bottlenecks unable to absorb the flow of masses and material.

Major Heemskerck arrived, as the first of 80 officers and 800 NCO's and men in the beginning of September 1917 at Ramleh, the Headquarters of the FA300, together with the first aircraft unit, FA301 under command of Captain Bieneck. Initially 4 AEG C.IV's and 2 Albatros D.III were available. The rest of the units were held back at Istanbul when on 6 September the railway station at Haydarpasha on the Asian side of Istanbul was demolished in a devastating fire. FA304(b), the Bavarian unit, under Captain Walz had been caught by the fire at Haydarpasha and lost 5 of its aircraft.

FA302 with Commanding Officer Captain König and FA303 with Capt. Schumburg, each with 6 aircraft, arrived at the front on the 11th of October and they were based at new fields prepared near El Safid and El Tine. It was not until 25 October that FA304(b) arrived at its designated field close to the railway station of Arak el Menshiyeh. All aircraft units based in Palestine had their fields located alongside the railway line to facilitate supply.

At this time the former advantage of the German units at the front had deteriorated. New aggressive tactics in the air from squadrons of the recently formed Royal Air Force had resulted in the downing of a newly arrived AEG on 25 September and on 8 October one of FA300's Albatros D.III's was forced down by enemy fighters and captured. [See: Gustav Adolf Dittmar.] Four British SPAD fighters surprised a formation of AEG's on 15 October and shot down one. Soon large formations of British aircraft blocked any attempts by the German aircraft to reconnoitre the front as was a prerequisite for victory in March and April. Despite this, a few missions got through and on 22 October, ships were observed moving north along the coast. On 25 October an aircraft reported that large formations of British cavalry were moving towards the central Gaza lines. [See: The battle of El Buggar Ridge.] A British attack was evidently imminent. This time however every effort had been made by the British to hide the objective of attack. Large dummy camps had been constructed in Cyprus to make the Ottoman Army Command believe that the attack would be made behind the lines in Lebanon and the French navy aircraft launched an attack on Beirut. On 17 October this deception was revealed by a four hour reconnaissance performed over the island by 2 AEG's from FA302 from which had started out from Silifke, in southern Turkey. [185]

The cavalry formations observed on the 25th near Gaza were in fact also a plot conceived by the British to make the Turks believe that the attack would come there. The actual attack was initiated with complete surprise in the evening of the 27th on the feeble garrison at Beersheba and the post fell the next day. [Editor’s note: The battle fought on 27 October was at El Buggar Ridge. The Battle of Beersheba was fought on 31 October 1917 with the first attacks launched at about 8am.]

 


Map of air activities covered by this extract

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 182.]

[Click on map for larger version.]

 

A Rumpler from FA300 had managed to spot this on 27 October, but luckily for the British, the aircraft was shot down on its way back and the crew taken prisoner. Its observer was the famed Captain Falke. The British attack now rolled towards Gaza from the flank and another German aircraft was lost on 28 October. In the next 2 days seven more air battles were fought without victors. The Gaza fortifications were attacked on the 2nd of November and on this day 5 British aircraft were claimed shot down by the able gunners of the Austrian anti-aircraft battery and two more by fighters. The British having learned from previous experience managed with fighters and anti-aircraft guns to keep the artillery spotting German aircraft away from the front. [Editor’s note: The breakthrough at Tel el Sheria and Gaza occurred on 7 November 1917.]

Then the British intensified their efforts and on the 8th of November a large formation of aircraft bombed the field at Arak el Menshiyeh, the newly arrived FA304(b) being taken by surprise. [See: 9th LHR AIF War Diary, 8 November.] One aircraft was destroyed and 4 others damaged. When the airfield was evacuated later in the afternoon, after the British had broken through the front, these aircraft had to be burned by its crews. While most of the personnel of FA304(b) were rescued by the unit's trucks, only two aircraft were flown to safety. On 9 November, FA303 was bombed at its field near El Tine and when this field was evacuated three aircraft were left behind. The FA300 did not possess trucks and was rescued with vehicles coming from the German colony at Sarona. The British advance had such momentum that Ramleh was overrun by 15 November and it was only on 21 November that it was stopped, 5 miles from Jerusalem. This mainly because of heavy rain.

During the advance an Albatros fighter was lost on 12 November and two AEG's were shot down by enemy ground fire on 17 November. By the 2 December the rain ceased to such a degree that the British advance was resumed. On the same day a formation of 20 AEG's escorted by 5 Albatrosses attacked the new British airfield at Julis. The formation was during its attack intercepted by SPAD's but no losses were suffered.

Jerusalem was taken by Allenby's forces on 7 December 1917.

At the beginning of December most of the German aircraft and their units had been relocated to Tul Karm, but this was [186] observed by the British and after having been bombed, the units retired further north. The FA300 went to Samach, FA301 and FA303 went to Jenin, FA302 went to the German Jewish colony at Waldheim and finally the FA304(b) went to Afuleh. From these new locations both an AEG and an Albatros were lost on 17 December.

The British attack finally came to a halt south of a line 20 km north of Jaffa to Jericho.

In the effort to halt the enemy advance, however, 10 German aircraft had been lost in the air and 8 on the ground, with 9 pilots and 2 observers killed and 8 pilots and 5 observers wounded. Against 18,000 British army casualties the Turkish and German forces lost about 25,000 men while another 12,000 were captured as Prisoners of War.

By the New Year, 1918, the front had stabilized and the German air units somewhat recovered and reorganized at their new bases. In order to counter the enemy fighter squadrons the 7 remaining Albatros D.III fighters were collected into a provisional fighter "staffel", called JASTA 1, at Jenin. The unit came under command of Lieutenant Felmy, younger brother of Captain Felmy, Commanding Officer of FA300 and personnel was drawn from the other units as well as FA300.

 

Map of air activities covered by this extract

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 188.]

[Click on map for larger version.]

 

The JASTA 1 operations were organized with in conjunction with FA301 and FA303 from Jenin being attached to the 7th Army commanded by Fevzi Pasha (area C and D on map.). FA300 from Samach and FA302 from Waldheim were attached to Cevat Pasha's 8th Army (area A and B on map) whereas FA304(b) was entrusted with general reconnaissance (area F). The Turkish aircraft companies 3ncü and 4ncü Tay. Böl. as well as a detachment of FA302 were given duties on the eastern front (4th Army area E on map). From February onwards the new FA305 and 14ncü Tay. Böl. at Dera were assigned area G. For these large operational areas and numerous duties about 30 AEG C.IV's were available for the German units and 4 Albatros C.III, 6 Rumpler C.I’s and 10 AEG C.IV’s for the Turkish units.

 
Source: The above extract is obtained from a self published work by Ole Nikolajsen called Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919Part 5 - Yildirim Ordu (The "Lightning Army") comes from Chapter 8, Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918, pp. 184-7. The text has been edited to remove errors and make it readable for an English speaking audience.

 

Further Reading:

The German Ottoman Air Force 

Gustav Adolf Dittmar 

The Battle of Beersheba

The battle of El Buggar Ridge

9th LHR AIF War Diary, 8 November 

Air War on the Palestine Front, December 1915 to January 1917

Turkish Units - The Ottoman Air Force

Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, Yildirim

 

Go To:

Previous Chapter: The First and Second Battles Of Gaza

Next Chapter: A Fight against Rising Odds
 
 

Citation: Yildirim Ordu (The "Lightning Army")

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 1 March 2009 9:12 AM EAST
Sunday, 22 February 2009
A Fight against Rising Odds
Topic: Tk - Bks - Air Force

Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918

 

Sergeant Fehmi of 3ncü Tayyare Bölük in an Albatros C.III at Amman, 1918.

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 213.]

 

Part 6 - A Fight against Rising Odds

The ratio between German and Turkish as compared to British aircraft in Palestine was in the beginning of 1916 about 1:5 while- decreasing to about 1:12 in the spring 1917 and then rising with the arrival of the new units to about 1:2- in October. This ratio continued to dwindle during 1918: Jan. about 1:3; May about 1:5; August about 1:10 and on 19 September about 1:15. The operations in 1918 can be divided into two main periods: The war of attrition from January to September and the period of defeat from 19 September until the armistice on 30 October 1918. [187]

The New Year 1918 started out with an exceptionally black day for the German units. On 2 January, a mixed formation of aircraft from FA302 and FA304(b) attacked the old German airfield of Ramleh, now used by RAF squadrons. Unfortunately for the Germans, the formation was intercepted and four AEG's were lost. Later in the day the British retaliated and 14 of their aircraft attacked Jenin. The casualties were one defending Albatros fighter lost in the air and one AEG on the ground. The British lost one aircraft shot down. Again on 12 January, an aircraft was lost with its crew and on 17 January both an Albatros and an AEG went missing. The German units managed to shoot down a British aircraft both on the 4th and 20th of January.

At this time the Arab attacks on the 4th Army to the east of Jordan river and on the Hejaz railway had grown to such an extent that more aircraft units were needed on this front. In the beginning of the year the Turkish 4ncü Tayyare Bölük was transferred from Adana in Southern Turkey to Amman. The unit, under command of the famed observer, Captain Huseyin Sedat, had 4 pilots and 5 observers and operated one Albatros C.III (AK51) and 3 recently issued AEG C.IV's (AEG2, AEG3, and AEG22). In February the German FA305, under command of Captain Elias, arrived at Dera with 12 AEG C.IV's to protect this vital railway junction against Arab insurgents.

Also the newly formed Turkish 14ncü Tayyare Bölük under command of the German Captain Zelich, arrived with 7 additional AEG's (AEG26, AEG27, AEG28, AEG29, AEG30, AEG31, and AEG32).

With these relative large reinforcements to the 4th Army a separate aircraft command was set up for the eastern front under command of KOFL, Captain Beltz.

Since the beginning of 1918, the all Turkish 3ncü Tayyare Bölük had a very busy period in its effort to control the Hejaz railway line between Dera and Medina now with 4 Rumplers at Maan (R11 50, R1837, R1847, and R2626) and detachments of Albatros C.III's at Medina (AK30) and Dera (AK4). In addition to this task the unit was also ordered to harass and bomb Aqaba several times as well as performing reconnaissance as far away as Suez. In January, 23 sorties were flown and in February, the number was 21 sorties. The operations took its toll however and on 4 February, Rumpler R1837 was lost and its crew taken prisoners.

 

Map of air activities covered by this extract

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 188.]

[Click on map for larger version.]

 

A Turkish force crossed the Jordan River under the protective screen of three Rumplers on 2 March and later on the [189] same day the same aircraft made bombing attacks on British counter-attacking formations. In the end of the same month British forces also tried to cross the river and formations of up to five aircraft from FA305 and 3ncü, 4ncü and 14ncü Tayyare Bölük, bombed and strafed the advancing cavalry units. The effect was such that the British were forced to retire to the west bank of the Jordan River.

During April large Arab forces had concentrated around Maan and 25 sorties were flown against them. This was however to no avail and 3ncü Tayyare Bölük was forced to withdraw with its main force of three aircraft to Amman. Only one Rumpler, R1150, was left at Maan, but on 8 May, this aircraft was wrecked.

In late April, under cover from the Arab attack, British forces again tried to attack the 4th Army with an advance towards Es Salt. This called for a major effort and 4 AEG's from FA305 and 3 from 14ncü Tayyare Bölük made almost continuous attacks on the advancing troops. Fifty bombs were dropped in the vicinity of the village Ezrak alone. These operations, though successful, took a heavy toll on the units and in the beginning of May, 3ncü Tayyare Bölük was left with only Rumpler, R2626, and 4ncü Tayyare Bölük having lost its Albatros C.III on 5 March and an AEG on 28 March, was left with only two aircraft. Heavy pressure was now made by British aircraft upon Amman and Dera. One of the attacking DH4's was shot down on 1 May. Soon after 1 May, JASTA 1 transferred from Jenin to Amman with 6 Albatros D.III fighters. This was no success for after a week at Amman where no interceptions were made the unit returned to Jenin. At this time only 3 fighters remained air worthy as the other 3 aircraft had been damaged beyond repair during landing accidents. To counter the British air attack in another way a force of 7 aircraft from FA305, 4ncü and 14ncü Tayyare Bölük attacked the British home base outside Jerusalem on 24 May. This British promptly retaliated on 31 May when they dropped more than 100 bombs on Amman, inflicting heavy damage.

After these events in the air, activity was cut down significantly due to the intense heat during the summer.

British aircraft nevertheless managed to make a surprise attack on both Amman and Dera on 24 June and in this raid, the 14ncü Tayyare Bölük lost two aircraft (AEG29, and AEG32) and two pilots. In addition most of the equipment belonging to 3 ncü and 4ncü Tayyare Bölük was burnt when a hangar was hit at Amman. More luck was experienced two days later when 2 AEC's on reconnaissance towards Maan succeeded in [190] shooting down a British aircraft. Attrition continued however and FA305 lost two aircraft in June thus resulting by the end of the months in a total of only 8 airworthy aircraft being present at the front. In a desperate move, the commanding officers of 3ncü, 4ncü and 14ncü Tayyare Bölük, together travelled to Istanbul to plead for new aircraft. This was to no avail however and FA305 lost another aircraft on the 3rd of July. At this time 14ncü Tayyare Bölük only had one aircraft left.

Two aircraft made a reconnaissance over Aqaba and bombed it on 12 July but thereafter only three aircraft were available. In the last days of July and in August, Dera was being attacked daily by British aircraft but in 19 sorties three of these attackers were shot down by fighters transferred from Jenin, respectively on 9, 18 and 24 August. By 19 August, the hard working mechanics had again managed to make 2 aircraft flyable for each FA305 and 14ncü Tayyare Bölük, and 150 bombs were dropped in 22 sorties, most near the village of Katrane. On the 21st the British counteracted by bombing Dera and the three aircraft of the two resident aircraft units were burnt. In the first week of September another 2 aircraft were received from the aircraft park at Rayak.

When Arab forces attacked on 15 September, 8 aircraft were transferred from Jenin. Under command of Captain Elias, these 10 aircraft flew 47 sorties between 16 and 21 September and were successful in keeping the vital Dera railway junction open. After this, most of the personnel withdrew to the north.

 

Source: The above extract is obtained from a self published work by Ole Nikolajsen called Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919A Fight against Rising Odds comes from Chapter 8, Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918, pp. 187-191. The text has been edited to remove errors and make it readable for an English speaking audience.

 

Further Reading:

The German Ottoman Air Force 

Air War on the Palestine Front, December 1915 to January 1917

Turkish Units - The Ottoman Air Force

Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, Yildirim

 

 

Go To:

Previous Chapter: Yildirim Ordu (The "Lightning Army") 

Next Chapter: The Pasha Units on the Southern Front

 


Citation: A Fight against Rising Odds

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 1 March 2009 9:14 AM EAST
Saturday, 21 February 2009
The Pasha Units on the Southern Front
Topic: Tk - Bks - Air Force

Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918

 

(L.) Major Weyert, KOFL, and (R) Major Walz, CO FA304(b) in front of a LVG C.V prior to a reconnaissance mission, April 1918.

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 209.]

 

Part 7 - The Pasha Units on the Southern Front

The Palestine front finally received the long awaited reinforcement in the beginning of March when Captain Maierdirch arrived with 16 experienced fighter pilots and 8 brand new Albatros D.V's. They were formed into JASTA 2. Unfortunately the aircraft were too new as the design had not yet properly been tested and during their first flights in Palestine two aircraft lost their wings, killing their pilots. Consequently the new JASTA was absorbed into JASTA 1 in which 6 of the old Albatros D.III's remained. During the next 3 months this unit tallied an impressive score of 14 enemy aircraft and 3 balloons.

The "Kommandeur der Flieger" of the Yildirim Army, Major Heemskerck was relieved by Major Weyert in late March and upon his return to Germany he managed to ship 12 new modern reconnaissance aircraft to [191] Palestine with the utmost haste. These aircraft, four Rumpler C.IV and 8 LVG C.IV's were readied at the new Aircraft Park at Rayak in mid April. Three Rumplers and 2 LVG's were issued to FA304(b) for the vital long-range reconnaissance task, one Rumpler and 2 LVG's went to FA303 and two LVG's went to each of FA301 and FA302. Unofficially, FA300 had been disbanded after all its aircraft had been lost. Its Commanding Officer began acting as liaison officer to the 7th Army and most of the pilots serving as fighter pilots in other FA groups.

During February and March the German Pasha units, FA301 to FA304(b), once more succeeded in helping to contain British attacks in the Nablus area and their artillery spotting proved particularly effective. Bad weather prevented large scale operations and it was not until April, when fortunately new equipment had been received, that fighting on the southern front was stepped up. Then in late April more than 22 airworthy reconnaissance aircraft and 6 fighters were available after a month which had seen 7 large air-battles, 39 short-range and 10 long-range reconnaissance missions and 22 fighter sorties.

On 22 April, a Nieuport fighter was shot down and further on 25 April, two aircraft and a balloon were downed by JASTA 1. A second balloon was destroyed on 28 April.

The air-battles continued in May and 3 British aircraft were claimed shot down on the 4th, 11th and 15th May respectively, as well as two balloons destroyed on 9 and 10 May. Between the 23rd and 29th of May, before and during the British attack over Jordan, ground fire accounted for downing of additional 5 aircraft and one balloon.

 

Map of air activities covered by this extract

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 188.]

[Click on map for larger version.]

 

The German units however were also receiving grave losses and between January and June, they being 39 pilots and observers killed and 20 wounded.

During these months the surviving AEG's were finally relegated to bombing missions only as they were totally outclassed by the Bristol Fighters used by the British. In fact only the 4 Rumpler C.IV's had a speed that made them able to evade the enemy. During May these four machines managed to take 2,500 photographs over enemy lines and even strayed as far as Beersheba. At the end of May, JASTA 1 was left with only 3 fighters after the unsuccessful move to Amman. [See: A Fight against Rising Odds.] Fortunately this situation eased when 8 Albatrosses were received in June. In addition, 6 D.V's were modified to D.Va's and 2 repaired D.III's became available.

From August onwards the RAF squadrons naturally enough dominated the skies. Where the German aircraft in the first week of June could mount 100 sorties only 18 were flown in the last week of August and every one of these was challenged and attacked, being pursued down to ground level or destruction. Even as the Aircraft Park at Rayak managed to repair many of the damaged aircraft and started to issue the newly received replacements it was futile because between the 1st of June and the 19th of September 59 aircrew members were killed, wounded or taken prisoners. The standard farewell greeting of pilots taking off on a mission became in this period: Wiedersehen im Heliopolis, [“See you at Heliopolis.” See: Turkish Prisoners in Egypt - Heliopolis Camp] referring to the British prisoner-of-war camp in Egypt.

The units continued to receive new or repaired aircraft, but to no avail as FA301 alone lost an aircraft on 3 August, another on the 16th and two on the 28th and 31st respectively. FA304(b) lost one of its valuable Rumplers on 10 August. When JASTA 1 started to get its new Pfalz D.III fighters only 4 experienced fighter pilots were alive. Shortly after, on 24 August, when two Pfalz's were attacked by the ubiquitous Bristol Fighters, one was shot down in flames whereas Lieutenant Walter in the other was badly hit. He tried to escape with the help of his parachute, but it failed to open. This was the first recorded use of a parachute in Palestine. [193]

On 1 September 1918, a total force of 8 reconnaissance and 5 fighter aircraft were available to the Pasha units, but only 4 sorties ware flown up to the 15th of the month.

 

Source: The above extract is obtained from a self published work by Ole Nikolajsen called Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919The Pasha Units on the Southern Front comes from Chapter 8, Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918, pp. 191-5. The text has been edited to remove errors and make it readable for an English speaking audience.

 

Further Reading:

The German Ottoman Air Force 

A Fight against Rising Odds

Turkish Prisoners in Egypt - Heliopolis Camp

Air War on the Palestine Front, December 1915 to January 1917

Turkish Units - The Ottoman Air Force

Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, Yildirim

 

Go To:

Previous Chapter: A Fight against Rising Odds

Next Chapter: The Final Destruction

 


Citation: The Pasha Units on the Southern Front

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 1 March 2009 9:18 AM EAST
Friday, 20 February 2009
The Final Destruction
Topic: Tk - Bks - Air Force

Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918

 

A DFW D.V of FA304(b) at Afuleh, September 1918

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 210.]

 

Part 8 - The Final Destruction

The preparations for the final British breakthrough of the Turkish fronts in Palestine began with Arab attacks on the railway junction at Dera on 15 September 1918. This was a move to make the defenders believe that the main attack would come upon the widely dispersed 4th Army.

In order to secure the lines of supply and retreat for the whole front, on 16 September, 8 aircraft from Jenin were flown to Dera. This was a fortunate move as Jenin was attacked by two waves of enemy aircraft in the same afternoon. Two new aircraft however which just had arrived from Rayak were destroyed. During the whole day of 18 September, large formations of RAF aircraft prevented any German reconnaissance flights from being made. In the night, a Handley Page bomber dropped 2 tonnes of bombs on the Afuleh Junction, completely wrecking the important telephone and telegraph stations as well as the railway station and airfield. The Headquarters at Nazareth was thereby cut off from the front. The attack on the 4th Army was a feint and in the morning of 19 September, 3 cavalry divisions assisted by armoured cars first cut through the 8th Army, which was down to 8,000 fighting men and so hardly an army, in the coastal area and then swung towards Nablus in the south and Nazareth to the north.

 

Map of air activities covered by this extract

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 194.]

[Click on map for larger version.]

 

The airfield at Afuleh was overrun and the personnel and 4 unserviceable aircraft of FA304(b) were captured together with the Commanding Officer Major Walz. The Major was particularly unfortunate in that he had just landed after a reconnaissance mission in an Albatros fighter. Almost at the same time, at Jenin, most of the personnel of FA301, under command of Captain Bieneck, was captured, together with 11 wrecked aircraft, 3 reconnaissance and 8 fighters of JASTA1. A major part of the personnel of FA303 and JASTA 1 had deployed to Dera on 15 September, but the ground crew under command of the Commanding Officer Capt. Steiner escaped north. FA302 under command of Captain König at Waldheim received sufficient warning to escape north along the coast in their Lorries. The two serviceable aircraft of the unit were both flown to Dera.

Already the next day, 20 September, the 8th Army had been [195] completely overrun. In order to avoid encirclement, on 21 September, the 7th Army began a withdrawal north in good order. Such was the power of the RAF squadrons that they were able to catch this army in Wadi el Fara and bomb and machine-gun almost all of its 10,000 men into destruction.

Meanwhile the remnants of the Pasha units in the 4th Army area had been taken under command of Captain Elias and operated as a single unit. At Dera, with 10 barely operational aircraft, it managed to keep Arab forces far enough away from the station and the railway line to save a large part of the fleeing troops, who were sent by train to Damascus. On 21 September, 2 DFW's were shot down, whereas 2 Pfalz fighters were forced to surrender when they ran out of ammunition. The next day one more DFW and one Pfalz were lost.

Most of the personnel of the Turkish units, 3ncü and 4ncü Tayyare Bölük were killed or captured when their evacuation train from Amman was attacked at Mafraq on 21 September and still more personnel of both 14ncü Tayyare Bölük and the German units were captured in a train outside Damascus on 30 September. Major Beltz, the KOFL, was taken prisoner after a forced landing outside Damascus.

 

Map of air activities covered by this extract

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 196.]

[Click on map for larger version.]

 

A quick reorganization was affected at the Rayak Aircraft Park on 30 September and, despite the fact that many aircraft were serviceable, only 15 could be flown north to Homs due to shortage of aircrew. One AEG, 1 LVG and 4 DFW's being flyable were destroyed in addition to a score of aircraft in more or less derelict condition. Two DFW's were sent north to Iskenderun (Alexandretta) to cover the sea-flank against attacks and two reconnaissance flights were made over Cyprus. During the withdrawal two aircraft were lost between the 1st and 5th of October on flights from Homs. Between the 6th and 23rd October, another three were lost while operating from a field north of Aleppo near the railway junction at Mouslimiye.

At this time the front froze after newly formed Turkish units dug in near Islahiye where the terrain prevented the British from using their greater mobility. The Commander of this new front was Mustafa Kemal Pasha. When operating from a field near Islahiye between the 23rd and the armistice on the 30th, further two aircraft were destroyed by British bombing attacks and three in landing accidents on the rather unsuitable field.

Before this on the 12th of October a small force of Turkish mechanics had been ordered to the depot at Konya Aircraft Station in the middle of Anatolia to prepare aircraft for the front. Only 2 Albatros C.III's and 4 AEG C.IV's were found and prepared for flight but no pilots were at the station.

When the German Asian Corps under Command of General Liman von Sanders surrendered on 2 November at Adana only 600 aviation personnel including 20 officers were present out of an original force of 190 pilots and observers and 1400 other personnel which had been sent to Palestine since September 1917. Of the 155 aircraft delivered 3 were handed over to the 7 surviving Turkish pilots and observers and 8 mechanics the day before. They managed to escape to Konya and later formed the nucleus of the new air force of the independence forces in 1919.

 

Source: The above extract is obtained from a self published work by Ole Nikolajsen called Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919The Final Destruction comes from Chapter 8, Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918, pp. 195-8. The text has been edited to remove errors and make it readable for an English speaking audience.

 

Further Reading:

The German Ottoman Air Force 

Air War on the Palestine Front, December 1915 to January 1917

Turkish Units - The Ottoman Air Force

Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, Yildirim

 

Go To:

Previous Chapter: The Pasha Units on the Southern Front

Next Chapter: Aircraft Delivered To German Units in Palestine 1916-18
 


Citation: The Final Destruction

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 1 March 2009 9:21 AM EAST

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